This year was a truly magnificent year for music. The records I've listed below saw me through the many highs and lows that are our modern life these days. I hope you enjoy them!
21. Saturday Night, Sunday Morning by Jake Bugg
A return to form for this Nottingham native. He's back to the style to the style that made him. Along with some surprises...
20. In Another World by Cheap Trick
I'm quite pleased to see that these iconoclasts of rock are still making great music. More importantly, it's THEIR style of music and theirs alone.
19. How Beautiful Life Can Be by The Lathums
The next big band in the UK. These Wigan lads are northern souls through and through.
18. The Beautiful Liar by X Ambassadors
I am completely addicted to this band. Their music keeps leveling up with each new release. They are just so so good.
17. Colors For Chameleons by Primitive Broadcast Service
This Milwaukee outfit is at the forefront of the post-punk movement. This record is easily the best in that genre this year and would make anyone's overall best of the year based on the group's sheer audaciousness and lack of fucks left to give. Can more bands be like this? Please?!!?
16. The Quest by Yes
The journey of this amazing art-rock outfit, now in their seventh decade of making music, continues with another fantastic entry. And it's a double album! How miss double albums...
15. Scaled and Icy by Twenty One Pilots
It's been a real treat to watch this duo evolve into Gen Z's go-to pop band. Their latest effort pays quite a bit of homage to AM radion in the late 1970s. Amazing...
14. Big Colors by Ryan Adams
One of two releases this year from DRA. His ongoing deep dive into late 1970s/early 1980s pop music continues to be more and more fascinating.
13. In Heaven by Strand of Oaks
I'd like to hire this band to make the soundtrack to my life...past, present, and future. Every note of this record is mystical and mind-expanding. And very autumnal which makes me most happy!
12. Keeping The Faith Series 3 by Amy Wadge
How can utterly depressing music be so beautiful and inspirational? I guess that's the magic that lies in the medium. Wadge did an amazing job on the last series of this compelling BBC drama
11. Querencia by Chung Ha
The Queen of K Pop? How about the Queen of the fucking world? Chung Ha kicks all of our asses up and down the street.
10. Free To Live In Colour by Pixey
Liverpool residents should be most proud of their new star. Pixey somehow manages to combine psychedelia with 80s pop. The result is extraordinary.
9. The Ultra Vivid Lament by the Manic Street Preachers
The many reasons why I love this band would fill up multiple posts. These Blackwood lads have been the soundtrack to three generations now. Their latest is a pure Brit-Rock treasure.
8. Utopian Ashes by Bobby Gillisepie and Jehnny Beth
Speaking of Brit Rock, a solo record from the Primals frontman is reason enough for celebration. Add in French phenom Jehnny Beth and it is dragon-level magic.
7. The Blue Elephant by Matt Berry
Matt Berry is a treasure to the world. Not merely an accomplished thespian, Berry is an extremely talented musician who just happens to dig the same genres that I do. This record just blew me away this year. I played it so much that it's in my soul forever.
6. Wednesdays by Ryan Adams
The other release from DRA this year came out very early on (the digital release actually came out the last week of 2020). It was with me all year like an older brother and a good friend.
5. Stand For Myself by Yola
Yola is the premiere artist of our time. She perfectly melds the genres of R&B with country while also adding in stellar soul and pop. 12 tracks of sheer perfection.
4. A Muse In Sunglasses OST by Bill Patten
Minneapolis native Patten turned out an impressive score for the film A Muse in Sunglasses. The key track is a perfect summation of the Minneapolis sound in 2021.
3. Coral Island by The Coral
These Merseyside lads already have an impressive catalog of work that spans two decades. With this fascinating concept record from this year, The Coral are officially legends. The story told on this album is ageless and for every person. We all dream of places of wonder.
2. Fat Pop by Paul Weller
The Modfather rules all. That is all.
1. Future Past by Duran Duran
And the Album of the Year goes to Duran Duran for their ridiculously amazing return to their roots. It's a great album even for the casual fan. Every track is 80s pop gold. My sixteen-year-old self went completely bananas the first time I heard this record. An instant classic for any genre!