The 10 Best Albums of 2021


Iosonouncane, Porter Robinson and Yola

Nico Peragine, Reporter

2021 was a tumultuous year, to be blunt. The return of many established and respected artists and bands like ABBA, Arab Strap and Liz Phair made comebacks this year. Unfortunately for the returning artists and bands, the best musical work released came from many artists who debuted this year. I’m very passionate about music-listening and finding new music that aligns with my taste. I have decided to take on the task of compiling the best collections of music from 2021 as I have listened to around 1,000 releases from this year alone. That’s about 2.7 full albums listened to per day. These are the 10 best albums of 2021.


10. Between The Buried And Me: Colors II
Well-known progressive metal outfit Between The Buried And Me follow up their 2007 release “Colors” with “Colors II,” blowing it out of the water. With 10 albums already under their belt, the band still shows a stunning display of creativity. Each track brings exciting new genre interpolations into the mix such as fun synth and organ adaptations with hints of power, thrash, funk, and sludge metal interpolations that can all be considered under the avant-garde metal genre. Leaving the modern sound of djent behind, the band sticks to their progressive rock roots, furthering their progressive metal niche. With beasts of tracks that can span up to 10 minutes, Between The Buried And Me must have experimented in every metal subgenre on the record.
Recommendation: Fix The Error


9. Porter Robinson: Nurture
Once-disregarded EDM (Electronic Dance Music) producer Porter Robinson has made a complete turnaround in his music. The release of “Nurture” opened the door to Robinson’s world whilst many doors of opportunity opened for him as a new side of him emerged out of this release. Folktronica is new territory for Robinson and he does it tremendously. Not only are the folk aspects clear within his electronic opus, but he manages to provide folk themes throughout the whole record. Porter Robinson quite literally morphed nostalgia as a concept into album form. “Nurture” should want to make you get up and dance whilst flashy house beats reel you in alongside sparkling synth patterns and pitched vocal work.
Recommendation: Something Comforting


8. Spiritbox: Eternal Blue
Hailing from British Columbia, Canada, a band collectivized of experienced metal musicians is Spiritbox, making one of the strongest and most anticipated metalcore debuts in a decade. “Eternal Blue” is the title of the debut record from the band, largely consisting of progressive djent riffs and a mix of traditional and metal vocal work. Spiritbox has a clear electronic edge with its overproduced and well-saturated quality sound. The record features Sam Carter from another metalcore outfit known as Architects – Spiritbox lead vocalist Courtney LaPlante still shines significantly brighter than Carter vocally. With the talented musicians of Spiritbox already displaying solid amounts of skill, they can only go up from here.
Recommendation: Yellowjacket


7. black midi: Cavalcade
Well known to the modern British post-punk world, black midi is another band to have emerged out of the windmill scene that left a lasting impression with their debut record “Schlagenheim” back in 2019. Releasing their sophomore record in 2021, the direction in which they’re traveling has taken a sharp left turn. From their math-rock antics and chaotic punk sound comes their newly equipped jazz-infused avant-prog sound on “Cavalcade.” Drawing inspiration from bands like King Crimson, the progressive rock sound is clearly defined on this record. The charismatic Gordie Greep still shines bright as the band’s lead vocalist. A clear quality incline is present on this project, with higher fidelity and piercing electronic adaptations ridden about the record. Again, for those who believe rock is dead, you need to listen to black midi.
Recommendation: Slow (Loud)


6. Low: HEY WHAT
Upon walls upon walls of distorted noise is “HEY WHAT” by Low, a husband and wife duo that formed back in 1993. With 12 full-length releases already under their belt, they managed to top their previous work with a heavily amplified industrial art-pop project. With the theatrical nature of both of their vocal inflections, they invite renowned music producer BJ Burton to accompany them in production, this was most definitely the best artistic choice they could have made. Burton deserves serious credit on this one, without his experimental efforts to make the record sound like endless voids of static, this record would not be what it is today. Putting aside the rhythms and melodies laced within the record, what you’re sure to be dazzled by is the noisy droning of almost every second of its 46-minute runtime.
Recommendation: Disappearing


5. Yola: Stand for Myself
The country-soul heroine Yola has moved up to her sophomore release “Stand for Myself,” pushing a strong message and doing it powerfully. “Stand for Myself” will be unique for many who know the classical genre of country music. Yola has a unique niche, one that many who appreciate the older sounds of country and soul music can appreciate. Dabbling in topics that had risen out of the pandemic such as loneliness, purpose, and equality, Yola set her standards high and created some of the highest quality work to be released all year. The endless personality displayed in her music mixed with her compelling vocal performances is sure to reckon with those who can admire her lyrical depth.
Recommendation: Barely Alive


4. S280F: 28
S280F is the name of the mysterious electronic producer based in Los Angeles, California. “28” combines elements of ambient, industrial, collage, wonky, modern classical, and many other vast genre umbrellas to create a relentlessly cinematic epic collage of an experience. Due to the hyperspecific nature of S280F’s sound, this is likely one of the most excellent releases in its field. Weaved into the delicate layers of atmospheric classical passages are the impressive sound design experiments. To name a few, animals growling, horses galloping, pigs squealing, and flies buzzing are just a few of the many integrated sound adaptations that fit into the piece so seamlessly, never feeling like clunky and isolated sound effects, always grabbing your attention with grandiose cinematic force.
Recommendation: 28


3. Black Country, New Road: For the first time
“For the first time” is the highly anticipated debut record of 7-piece experimental rock band Black Country, New Road. Emerging from the British windmill scene, one of many post-punk debuts were released this year, among those, Black Country, New Road stood out the most by far. With a violinist and saxophonist as designated members of the group, the avant-garde instrumentation styles they bring to the group are largely defining of their sound making their sound so unique. Infused into their sound is the traditional Ashkenazi sound that is Klezmer. No one can make it past the second track of the project without recognizing the vocalists’ intriguing vocal style beloved by fans. Many of their tracks built stress with distraught vocals, and chaotic instrumental passages mixed with free jazz instrumentation. If you’re interested in the modern punk scene or if you believe that rock is dead, this is a record to check out.
Recommendation: Sunglasses


2. Floating Points / Pharoah Sanders / The London Symphony Orchestra: Promises
Progressive electronic artist Floating Points teamed up with critically acclaimed 60s jazz musician Pharaoh Sanders accompanied by The London Symphony Orchestra to create a third stream milestone in post-minimalism called “Promises.” The record is comprised of seven notes from a harpsichord repeating throughout the full 46 minutes. Under the notes are unique orchestral, jazz, and electronic implementations for nine total movements. The hypnotic repetition of the 7-note harpsichord is never grating. If you’re patient enough to pay attention to the slight changes in each movement, you may find great appreciation for this musical landmark.
Recommendation: Movement 6


1. Iosonouncane: IRA
Iosonouncane, meaning “I’m a Dog” in Italian, is the solo project of Jacopo Incani. Created as his product of the pandemic in 2020 is “IRA,” released early this year. “IRA,” meaning “Anger” in Italian, is a post-industrial epic with a total of 17 tracks and a 108-minute runtime. With around 8 unique languages dispersed throughout the entirety of the record, Incani developed a dark and atmospheric fantasy, a fantasy so fantastical, a project this fantastical comes out scarcely ever. With influences from around the Mediterranean Sea, the ritualistic ambient interpositions are to be expected. With prevalent diabolical tones, anyone who may prefer a dark twist in their music will find something to enjoy in the record.
Recommendation: hiver