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algabor writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2021: Al Gabor

CHIRP Radio Best of 2021

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2021. Our next list is from Volunteer Al Gabor.





#1 Home Video by Lucy Dacus (Matador)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Lucy Dacus Home VideoLucy Dacus looks back at her adolescence and early adulthood, evoking people and places with deft concision: a friend’s deadbeat dad, vacation bible school, crushes, boyfriends and girlfriends. Dacus’s most immediate and moving album yet.






#2 Afrique Victime by Mdou Moctar (Matador)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Mdou Moctar Afrique VictimeTuareg artist Mdou Moctar lays down blistering guitar lines over an insinuating desert blues groove. Captivating music from start to finish.





#3 An Overview on Phenomenal Nature by Cassandra Jenkins (Ba Da Bing)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Cassandra Jenkins An Overview on Phenomenal NatureIn 2019 Cassandra Jenkins was set to join David Berman touring as Purple Mountains when she learned of his suicide. Then the pandemic hit. Overview’s songs of loss and the painful road back to recovery focus on the need to reestablish connections, between ourselves and nature, between ourselves and loved ones. Jenkins’ whispery vocals and the deft vignettes shaped in her lyrics create a profound intimacy. Songs seem like memories recovered rather than stories overheard.




#4 Second Line by Dawn Richard (Merge)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Dawn Richard Second Line“Don’t mess with a Louisiana girl” warns Richard’s mom. Good advice. You’d be a fool to mess with Dawn Richard. Second Line is a beguiling mix of R&B, electro, funk, hip hop, and spoken word. Just like the second line drummer riffs off the main line in New Orleans parades, Richard uses conversations with her mother to inspire songs of pride, desire, and the vulnerability risked when falling in love.




#5 On All Fours by Goat Girl (On All Fours)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Goat Girl On All FoursCompelling, protean post punk by a London-based quartet.





#6 New Long Leg by Dry Cleaning (4AD)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Dry Cleaning New Long LegFlorence Shaw’s deadpan vocals and hilarious non sequitur lyrics (“I'd like to run away with you on a plane/But don't bring those loafers”) are set off by crunchy guitar and a propulsive rhythm section. The musical tension makes for a witty and winning album.





#7 Three Little Words by Dominique Fils-Aimé (Ensoul)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Dominique Fils-Aimé Three Little WordsThree Little Words is the final album in Dominique Fils-Aimé’s trilogy examining African-American musical history through the filter of musical genres. The previous two albums focused on Jazz and Blues; Words explores soul music. Fils-Aimé penned all but one of the songs on this mesmerizing album, which couples her commanding vocals with her unique take on soul conventions.




#8 Jubilee by Japanese Breakfast (Dead Oceans)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Japanese Breakfast JubileeIt’s been an amazing year for Japanese Breakfast leader Michelle Zauner. Her memoir, Crying in H Mart, is a bestseller. She has been profiled in national periodicals like Vogue and The New York Times and even had time to put out Sable, a highly regarded video game soundtrack. All this and the release of Jubilee, with her most effervescent music.




#9 Love & Rage by Carsie Blanton (self-released)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Carsie Blanton Love & RageCarsie Blanton works at the intersection of Americana and pub rock, writing protest songs with heart and love songs with grit. Feisty and slyly funny stuff.





#10 Collapsed in Sunbeams by Arlo Parks (Transgressive)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Arlo Parks Collapsed in SunbeamsArlo Parks’ songs of connection ease the anxieties of these isolated days. A remarkably assured debut album.





Honorable Mentions

Low - Hey What
Bachelor - Doomin’ Sun
Allison Russell - Outside Child
Julien Baker - Little Oblivions
The Weather Station - Ignorance
Eleventh Dream Day - Since Grazed

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2021

Next entry: CHIRP Radio Weekly Voyages (Dec 20 - Dec 27)

Previous entry: CHIRP Radio Best of 2021: Mike Bennett