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Wildewoman writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2021: Allison Parssi

CHIRP Radio Best of 2021

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2021. Our next list is from Music Co-Director Allison Parssi.

When going back and thinking about my favorite releases this year I asked myself, what albums did I come back to in my free time? What would I listen to on my commute to work, while I cleaned the house, while on a bike ride? There were a lot, and I didn’t limit myself to a set number. Many of them break genre barriers. Many are emotional. Many are danceable. All of them are beautiful.







Occult Fractures by Arthhur (self-released)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Arthhur Occult FracturesChicago rockers are back with their high energy sophomore release. Arthhur pairs witty and political lyrics with a cacophony of sounds you can’t help but dance to. The project is ambitious in the best way. What else can you say of an album that successfully combines elements of disco, funk, soul, punk, and krautrock? The group’s ever-expanding imagination takes center stage and brings the listener on a wild adventure with them.







CROSSOVER by Dua Saleh (Against Giants)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Dua Saleh CROSSOVERWith their previous releases, Dua Saleh has carved out a musical space for themselves by merging R&B, hip-hop, art-pop, and rap in a spellbinding way. Saleh’s third EP is still a product of this sorcery, but their focus has shifted to the dancefloor. They pair dark, thunderous bass lines with lyrical themes of identity and rebirth. Saleh’s voice is dripping with confidence as they explore this new territory. CROSSOVER shows us that they are truly unstoppable.







Kabul Fire Vol. 2 by Farhot (Kabul Fire)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Farhot Kabul Fire Vol. 2Farhot released his second record in January and it was one of the few records I played on a regular basis the entire year. His collaging of Afghani documentaries, string orchestrations, and tabla drums with Western beats and samples creates the most beautiful tapestry. Kabul Fire Vol. 2 was intended to be a mixtape of leftover beats, but it goes far beyond that. It is an exploration of Farhot’s own heritage he thought he’d lost. A sense of wonder is woven throughout the record as he honors the past and celebrates the present.







Mood Valiant by Hiatus Kaiyote (Brainfeeder)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Hiatus Kaiyote Mood ValiantHiatus Kaiyote opens their third record with a lush, 35 second string arrangement. After being away for six years, this short instrumental serves as a beautiful reintroduction to the group. What follows is a kaleidoscope of sounds. Lyrically, the band celebrates the natural world and its healing powers as the music seamlessly fuses jazz, soul, funk, and psych. The quartet’s most cohesive and expansive project yet, Mood Valiant is a product of the band’s individual and collective metamorphosis.







Fatigue by L'Rain (Mexican Summer)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

L'Rain FatigueWith her sophomore release, Taja Cheek intentionally builds a space for herself that defies any kind of genre classifications. Cheek invites the listener into her world of healing. She understands that the process is not linear and creates sonic movements to mimic that. By posing the question, “what have you done to change?”, in the album’s opening track Cheek places collective accountability at the forefront. The natural ebb and flow of Fatigue leaves room for mistakes to be made and the door open for possibility.







Home Video by Lucy Dacus (Matador)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Lucy Dacus Home VideoLucy Dacus wrote my favorite lyric in 2021, which is not a surprise. Her storytelling abilities shine on her third record as she takes us through her coming of age struggles with relationships, her sexuality, and her faith. She sings of these teenage trials and tribulations not with contempt or judgment, but with compassion and acceptance, as if to give the listener permission to accept those parts of themselves too. Seeing her sing these songs live back in October left my heart overflowing with feelings. Being in a crowd who also sang along to every song was all I could ask for from this year.







damnshestamil by Priya Ragu (Warner)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Priya Ragu damnshestamilTamil-Swiss artist Priya Ragu gives us her electrifying and genre-defying, debut mixtape this year. Collaborating with her producer and brother, Japhna Gold, Ragu combines R&B, electro-pop, and rap while honoring her Sri Lankan roots. The album is vibrant and full of textures as Ragu’s voice, singing in English and Tamil, shape shifts from track to track. This release also happens to be the exact length of my bike ride home from the Empty Bottle - offering the perfect late-night soundtrack.







Tell Me What You Miss the Most by Tasha (Father/Daughter)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Tasha Tell Me What You Miss the MostAnother stunning record that grants the listener permission to be with their feelings. Tasha’s voice is gentle, comforting, and confident as she sings about transitional periods within herself, with family, and with romantic partners. The swelling musical arrangements that support her offer a warm embrace after a long day. A fellow CHIRP volunteer compared the record to stumbling upon a secret garden, and I think that is magically accurate. Personal confession: I listened to this record 75 times in November alone. My true album of the year.







This is Tehran? by Various Artists (30M)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Various Artists This is Tehran?The second release from 30M Records is a compilation filled with contemporary Iranian musicians who are bringing new interpretations to traditional music. The sounds range from jazz and classical to trip-hop and experimental music... While my Dad and I were on a long drive over the summer, he picked this record from a large selection of music I have saved on my phone. As the album played, he told me what region of Iran each track is from and about the instruments being played. He eventually started singing along to the songs… That memory will forever be linked to this incredibly special find.







Stand for Myself by Yola (Easy Eye Sound/Concord)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Yola Stand for MyselfYola is a powerhouse and her sophomore album, Stand for Myself, undeniably confirms that. Knowing how to wield her voice is only one of her strengths. Changing tones and moving through multiple octaves, Yola is able to pull at every heartstring humanly possible. We see her expand her sound to no longer be confined to any one genre, hearing influences of classic soul and R&B throughout the record. With lyrics that are both political and personal, she bears her soul as she takes the listener on a journey of self-acceptance.







Honorable Mentions

Adia Victoria / A Southern Gothic (Atlantic)
Altin Gün / Yol (ATO)
Balkan Taksim / Disko Telegraf (Buda Musique)
Brijean / Feelings (Ghostly International)
courtney barnett / Things Take Time, Take Time (Milk/Mom+Pop)
Dawn Richard / Second Line (Merge)
Devin Shaffer / In My Dreams I’m There (American Dreams) - LOCAL!
Dos Santos / City of Mirrors (International Anthem) - LOCAL!
Eris Drew / Quivering in Time (T4T LUV) - LOCAL!
Genesis Owusu / Smiling With No Teeth (House Anxiety/Ourness)
girl in red / if i could make it all go quiet (world in red/AWAL)
Hannah Jadagu / What Is Going On? (Sub Pop)
Helado Negro / Far In (4AD)
Justice Hill / Room with a View (Miner Lake) - LOCAL!
Kacey Musgraves / star-crossed (MCA Nashville/Interscope)
Little Simz / Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (AWAL)
megiapa / diddies vol. 1 (self-released) - LOCAL!
Middle Kids / Today We’re the Greatest (Domino)
Molly Lewis / The Forgotten Edge (Jagjaguwar)
Muqata’a / Kamil Manques (Hundebiss)
Nate Smith / Kinfolk 2: See the Birds (Edition)
NAO / And Then Life Was Beautiful (Little Tokyo)
Orla Gartland / Woman on the Internet (New Friends)
Prequel / Love Or (I Heard You Like Heartbreak) (Rhythm Section International)
Pixel Grip / ARENA (Feeltrip) - LOCAL!
Raquel Rodriguez / Sweet Side (self-released)
Sault / NINE (Forever Living Originals)
Sycco / Sycco’s First EP (Future Classic)
Theon Cross / Intra-I (New Soil/Marathon)
Walt McClements / A Hole In the Fence (American Dreams)
Xenia Rubinos / Una Rosa (ANTI-)

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2021

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