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Austin B. Harvey presents: The Liquid Diet writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2021: Austin B. Harvey

CHIRP Radio Best of 2021

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2021. Our next list is from Softball Team Manager/DJ/Assistant Music Director Austin B. Harvey.

We made it. Here we go.









#1 Spread Joy by Spread Joy (Feel It)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Spread Joy Spread JoyThe Chicago band's debut is a tight 10 songs in 13 minutes. What you get from this mini-album is a heaping helping of spastic, delirious post-punk that marries the distorted yelps and angular beats of Love Is All with Dadaist monologuing, Gang of Four-adjacent guitar work, and basslines off in a plane of their own. Deliriously technicolor rock that you can dance to. It so satisfying seeing members of bands from Chicago's scuzz-punk era of the 2010's reconstitute newer and better bands, making records that are as much statements of purpose as they are statements of potential.







#2 För Allthing by Makthaverskan (Run for Cover)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Makthaverskan För AllthingSweden's most consistent dreamy punk band branch out with some of the heaviest, fuzziest, haziest, and poppiest material they've ever produced. Amazing sounds from Göthenburg.









#3 Afrique Victime by Mdou Moctar (Matador)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Mdou Moctar Afrique VictimeNigerien guitar god Mdou Moctar leads his quartet of assouf (desert blues) musicians into an album of anti-colonial jams that veer from choral folk numbers to soaring feats of psychedelic grandeur that haven't been seen this century.









#4 Ignorance by The Weather Station (Fat Possum)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

The Weather Station IgnoranceTamara Hope's musical project goes full disco-adult contemporary on its fifth album. The result is an immersive, urgent record that marries deft arrangements, lilting melodies, and exceptional vocal performances. One of the most pleasant surprises of the year.









#5 The Asymptotal World EP by Yves Tumor (Warp)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Yves Tumor The Asymptotal World EPYves Tumor and band fully become the rock stars of today and tomorrow on this EP, which is the goth-y successor to last year's best album, Heaven to a Tortured Mind. The sampledelia, psychedelic soul, and dream pop that characterized last year's album see a goth-y, shoegaze-y evolution here. "Jackie" could be a Veldt tune from 1994, but instead it wins noise wars in 2021.









#6 Quivering in Time by Eris Drew (T4T LUV NRG)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Eris Drew Quivering in TimeChicago's Eris Drew decamped to New Hampshire during the pandemic, and DJ sessions in the woods birthed this incredible collection of dance tunes, which are as much history lesson as they are a floor-filling party. Shouts especially to "Ride Free", a reimagining of Primal Scream's "Loaded" that bursts with love for the original. A joyous romp in a year in need of many.









#7 Jubilee by Japanese Breakfast (Dead Oceans)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Japanese Breakfast JubileeMichelle Zauner aims for the moon and lands among the stars on the third Japanese Breakfast full-length. Instead of the album-length keen of Psychopomp or the space-age mood board that was Soft Sounds from Another Planet, Jubilee focuses on joy, hope, lust, and resolution. Sometimes, finding peace means one can finally pursue their dreams.









#8 Established! by RP Boo (Planet Mu)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

RP Boo Established!Boo's pinch-hit home run at Pitchfork Fest was followed up by the Chicago footwork legend reimagining his influences on this wildly satisfying LP. RP Boo vanquishes the haters, samples Phil Collins, abuses exclamation points, and sonically explains to his listeners where he comes from and where he's going.









#9 The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings by The Besnard Lakes (Full Time Hobby)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

The Besnard Lakes The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm WarningsThe Canadian shoegazers made one of the genre's most sprawling and ambitious records after deciding they didn't need a label getting in the way of an album this huge. A former film score-turned double album, The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is a great way to pad a word count, but also the proof of concept for a band always looking to make something bigger than themselves.









#10 Observatory by Aeon Station (Sub Pop)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Aeon Station ObservatoryThe nearest we've gotten to a new Wrens album since 2003 is this solo-ish record from Kevin Whelan. It feels like a victory but also the announcement of a new regime. What the listener loses in Charles Bissell's painstaking sonic perfectionism is gained in Whelan's urgency and earnestness. Observatory is rock music about the passage of time, regret, and achieving peace with what one has. I wish it didn't have to go like this with the Wrens, but the music can't be argued with.









Honorable Mentions

11. Floatie - Voyage Out (Exploding in Sound) This mathy Chicago quartet were like nothing else this year, creating excitingly vague, melodic tunes that meander just enough to keep the listener occupied, yet the vocals buried just deep enough to keep the listener entranced and perplexed.
12. Lingua Ignota - SINNER GET READY (Sargent House) What’s the point of the Contemporary Gospel Grammy award if this haunting collection isn’t going to even see a nomination? Have some guts, NARAS.
13. Chime School - Chime School (Slumberland) For fans of Primal Scream’s first album, Another Sunny Day, and Felt, these 12-string-driven indie-pop tunes are a balm for the sensitive kid’s heart.
14. Low - HEY WHAT (Sub Pop) Though not quite as emotionally cathartic or brutal as 2018’s Double Negative, Parker and Sparhawk once again utilize BJ Burton’s abilities to deconstruct and reassemble a song to the best and most haunting degree.
15. 파란노을 (Parannoul) - To See the Next Part of the Dream (self-released) A mysterious Seoul musician makes an emo-inflected brand of shoegaze from their bedroom that is maximalist in sound and emotional devastation. Listen to this album.
16. Sault - NINE (Forever Living Originals) The London collective are still the best band on the planet right now. R&B mixes with disco and post-punk to create an in-yer-face sound that disappears after 99 days, but the memory remains.
17. for your health - In Spite Of (Twelve Gauge) This screamo-metal quartet describe themselves as “violence from Columbus”, Ohio. The description is accurate. The best metal record of the year may as well namecheck Converge and Slipknot in the liner notes. RIYL
18. The Umbrellas - The Umbrellas (Slumberland) If it sounds like The Vaselines had a stateside party where the Flying Nun stable of bands all showed up, you better believe it’s coming out on Slumberland. Twee boy-girl pop.
19. Greenlights Music - Eye in Team (self-released) The Chicago hip-hop collective bring another stellar collection of bops full of conscious rhymes and earworm samples.
20. The Veldt - The Veldt EP (Record Store Day) This RSD exclusive shows the Raleigh soul-shoegazers at their soaring best, compiling tracks recorded at various places in various times into a surprisingly cohesive whole.
21. Mandy, Indiana - … EP (Fire Talk) Mancunian no-wave that puts the Dry Cleaning in a tumble dryer and lets it run indefinitely. Harsh, brutal, and heaps of fun.
22. Arthhur - Occult Fractures (self-released) Local dance-punk that recalls DFA’s heyday.
23. Indigo de Souza - Any Shape You Take (Saddle Creek) The North Carolina singer-songwriter sorts her feelings over an album’s worth of bedroom pop rife with 90’s-indebted grunge tone. Infinitely relistenable.
24. Leanne Betasemosake Simpson - Theory of Ice (You’ve Changed) The Mississauga Nishnaabeg poet, writer, and musician from Wingham, Ontario marries softly cooed melodies, gentle spoken-word odes to nature, and lush adult contemporary arrangements into a record full of environmental love and urgency.
25. CHVRCHES - Screen Violence (Glassnote) The Scottish synthpop trio return to form with an excellent collection of motivational mood pieces.
26. Water From Your Eyes - Structure (Wharf Cat) The Brooklyn duo’s fifth album oscillates between industrial harshness and gentle melody. Imagine a proggy, less-snotty Sleigh Bells or if Kate Bush wondered the gain button on the amp did.
27. SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE - ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH (Saddle Creek) Paranoid psychedelia from Philly that almost feels like sound collage.
28. The War on Drugs - I Don’t Live Here Anymore (Atlantic) I finally get TWOD now. Am I turning 40 at the end of the year? Mind your business.
29. The Armed - ULTRAPOP (Sargent House) The weirdest heavy music album of 2021 came from this ever-evolving Detroit collective. Brash, blindingly bright, and incessant.
30. Arooj Aftab - Vulture Prince (New Amsterdam) The Brooklyn composer from Pakistan melds music forms and languages from all over the planet to create an album full of feeling and resolution.
31. Black Country, New Road - For the first time (Ninja Tune) This klezmer-influenced proggy collective had one of the year’s best tunes in the cathartic “Opus”.
32. Lorraine James - Reflection (Hyperdub) The top Bandcamp review for this album calls it “aphex twin for people who have sex” and I couldn’t describe it better.
34. aya - im hole (Hyperdub) There’s a track on this SOPHIE-esque collection of abrasive hyper-pop called “If [Redacted] Thinks He’s Having This As A Remix He Can Frankly Do One” and I appreciate that so much.
35. Tyler, The Creator - CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST (Columbia) Tyler adds an alter-ego and has a blast with his friends over 16 ridiculous (and ridiculously good) tracks.
36. Anna Fox Rochinski - Cherry (Don Giovanni) The former Quilt singer’s solo debut is a slightly more electronic take on the melodic psych that characterized the work of her previous band. Very enjoyable.
37. Bomba Estéreo - Deja (Sony Music Latin) Bogotá band make an immersive record of tropical dance, perfect to perk you up during winter’s cold.
38. Jeff Parker - Forfolks (International Anthem) The Tortoise guitarist gets loopy with this ambient set of mostly solo-guitar work with effects.
39. Neptune’s Core - Evolving (self-released) Chicago grunge quartet hit all the right benchmarks while never sounding derivative. Definitely a band to watch.
40. Floating Points/Pharaoh Sanders/London Symphony Orchestra - Promises (Luaka Bop) Sanders steals the show on this sweeping, modern masterpiece that will likely influence composers for years to come.
41. Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (Age 101) Desiring self-definition and validation, the Sault-adjacent rapper has a conversation with herself and her listeners about the nature of self-expression that moves beyond internet buzzwords.

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2021

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