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Eric Wiersema writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2021: Eric Wiersema

CHIRP Radio Best of 2021

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2021. Our next list is from DJ and Assistant Music Director Eric Wiersema.

2021 was far from a perfect year, but I will take it any day over the dumpster fire that was 2020.

Thanks to modern science (and begrudgingly Big Pharma), we were able to get vaccinated and sort of resume our normal lives. Despite the initial social awkwardness resulting from spending nearly a year and a half in isolation, it was great to reconnect with the people that we love in person.

An equally awesome benefit of getting vaccinated was being able to see live music again! The first show I attended since March 2020 was Archers of Loaf and Smoking Popes at Wicker Park fest on July 25tth. While I am only a casual fan of both bands and not a particularly emotional person, I couldn’t hold back the tears of joy and I vowed to never again take live music for granted.

This year was also my first full year as a regular DJ and an Assistant Music Director for the station. I was exposed to an even larger amount of fantastic new music than ever before. Please take these rankings with a grain of salt since I will likely change my mind as soon as this is published. However, each and every one of these albums is well worth your time!

#1 For the First Time by Black Country, New Road (Ninja Tune)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Black Country, New Road For the First TimeThis is the debut album from the London seven piece and is unlike anything I have ever heard before! This album takes influence from post-rock, post-punk, and free jazz resulting in a truly original sound that takes several listens to fully appreciate.

I have been listening to this album since it was released back in February and still discover something new with each and every listen! RIYL: American Football, Black Midi, Slint, Tortoise. Favorite Track: Sunglasses

 

 

 

 

#2 Collapsed in Sunbeams by Arlo Parks (Transgressive)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Arlo Parks Collapsed in SunbeamsCollapsed In Sunbeams, like For The First Time, was released early in the year and I haven’t been able to put it down. The 21 year old British R&B singer-songwriter has crafted a great debut that was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 2022 Grammys. This album is simultaneously dreamy, jazzy, and upbeat and heavily influenced by ‘90s trip hop. RIYL: Cleo Sol, Lianna La Havas, Lava La Rue Favorite Track: Hope

 

 

 

 

#3 Let Me Do One More by Illuminati Hotties (Hopeless)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Illuminati Hotties Let Me Do One MoreIlluminati Hotties is the project of L.A producer, mixer, and audio engineer Sarah Tudzin. Tudzin considers her music to be “tenderpunk” because of its wide emotional range. Let Me Do One More is a fun blend of grunge, pop-punk, and power pop.

The album even goes full riot grrl on the bizarre “Joni: LA’s No. 1 Health Goth” and delves into alt-country on “uvvp”, which features guest vocals from Big Thief’s Buck Meek. RIYL: Charly Bliss, Diet Cig, Speedy Ortiz Favorite Track: Knead

 

 

 

 

#4 New Long Leg by Dry Cleaning (4AD)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Dry Cleaning New Long LegThe British post-punk revival is rapidly becoming one of my favorite new music scenes and 2021 was nothing short of a banner year for the genre. What really separates Dry Cleaning from the pack is frontwoman Florence Shaw’s bizarre lyrics and deadpan, spoken word vocal delivery. RIYL: The Fall, Protomartyr, Sonic Youth, Favorite Track: Scratchyard Lanyard

 

 

 

 

 

#5 CRAWLER by IDLES (Partisan)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

IDLES CRAWLERIDLES, in my humble opinion, is the most promising recent band on the more aggressive side of post-punk and hardcore. Ultra Mono was my AOTY last year and this year’s follow-up ends 2021 with a very respectable ranking.

While Ultra Mono had more of a straightforward, in-your-face, hardcore sound, CRAWLER is a bit more subtle, experimental, and places more emphasis on the band’s post-punk and noise rock leanings. RIYL: Fontaines DC, METZ, Shame Favorite Track: Car Crash

 

 

 

 

#6 Ultrapop by The Armed (Sargent House)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

The Armed UltrapopThe Armed are an anonymous experimental hardcore collective from Detriot. I have been a fan of post-hardcore since At The Drive In’s Relationship of Command blew my 14-year old mind back in 2000, but it has been a minute since I have heard something truly original and memorable like Ultrapop.

This album blends traditional hardcore with noise and electronic music and blurs traditional genre boundaries. Easily one of the most intense listener experiences this year! Favorite Track: Big Shell

 

 

 

 

#7 The Turning Wheel by SPELLLING (Sacred Bones)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

SPELLLING The Turning WheelThe Turning Wheel is the third album from the progressive pop artist Chystia “Tia” Cabral. The sound of this album is hard to pin down but it contains some elements of baroque pop, jazz, lounge, and synth pop. A truly expansive album that would make Kate Bush proud! Favorite Track: The Future

 

 

 

 

 

#8 Nine by SAULT (Forever Living Originals)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

SAULT NineAfter releasing 2 albums in 2019 and another 2 in 2020, the insanely prolific British R&B collective shows no signs of slowing down or a decline in quality.

This album was released at the end of June and was only made available online for 99 days before disappearing from all streaming and downloading platforms on October 2nd. Nine provides an unvarnished insight into the Black experience with all of the associated exhaustion trauma using a potent blend of funk, house, reggae, and neo soul. Favorite Track: Trap Life

 

 

 

 

#9 Illusory Walls by The World is a Beautiful Place and I'm No Long Afraid to Die (Epitaph)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

The World is a Beautiful Place and I'm No Long Afraid to Die Illusory WallsThe Connecticut post/rock emo outfit returns with their fourth album and continues their gradual progression from ‘90s emo revivalists to bombastic prog rockers. This album is sonically closer to Circa Survive than Sunny Day Real Estate and shows that the band is unafraid to spread their wings and experiment outside of traditional genre constraints. I am loving the crunchier production and the epic tracks on this one! Favorite Track: Died in the Prison of the Holy Office

 

 

 

 

#10 Doomin Sun by Bachelor (Polyvinyl)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Bachelor Doomin SunBachelor is a collaboration between Ellen Kempner of Palehound and Melina Duterte of Jay Som. Doomin Sun combines the best elements of both Kempner’s and Duterte’s primary projects- the lofi ‘90s indie rock sheen of Palehound and the dreamy bedroom pop elements of Jay Som. Bachelor is greater than the sum of its parts and released some of my favorite indie rock tracks this year! Favorite Track: Spin Out

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Foxing - Draw Down The Moon - Hopeless
Shame - Drunk Tank Pink - Dead Oceans
Marissa Nadler - The Path of the Clouds - Sacred Bones
Turnstile - Glow On - Roadrunner
Failure - Wild Type Droid
Black Midi- Cavalcade- Rough Trade
Bnny - Everything - Firetalk
Snail Mail - Valentine - Matador
Sleater-Kinney- Path of Wellness - Mom+Pop
Julien Baker - Little Oblivions - Matador
The Hold Steady - Open Door Policy - Positive Jams
Geese - Projector - Partisan
Colleen Green - Cool - Hardly Art
Deafheaven - Infinite Granite - Sargent House
Squid - Bright Green Field - Warp
Courtney Barnett - Things Take Time, Take Time - Milk!/Mom + Pop
Garbage - No Gods, No Masters - Stunvolume
Aaron Frazer- Introducing - Dead Oceans
Durand Jones & The Indications - Private Space - Dead Oceans
Wavves - Hideaway - Fat Possum

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2021

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