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Tony Breed writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2021: Tony Breed

CHIRP Radio Best of 2021

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2021. Our next list is from DJ and Board Emeritus Tony Breed.

Every year I pick a song—either a single or something not from my top 10—to be song of the year. It’s got to be one of those songs that stops you in your tracks whenever it comes on, one of those songs where you stay in the car to let it finish.

My choice for this year is a single I suggested for the station; every time it came on I thought, OH WHAT’S THIS, completely forgetting I was the reason we were playing it at all. Anthony and the Mountain, “Not Enough”

 

But I’ve got a whole slew of runners-up and each of these songs deserves your undivided attention:

  • The Fratellis, “Half Drunk under a Full Moon”
  • Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble, “Now (Forever Momentary Space)”
  • Kay Young, “White Teeth”
  • Left at London, “Pills and Good Advice”
  • Nubiyan Twist, “Tittle Tattle”
  • Circuit des Yeux, “Neutron Star”

 

#1 Collapsed in Sunbeams by Arlo Parks (Transgressive)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Arlo Parks Collapsed in SunbeamsFrom the moment I started listening to this album obsessively in the spring, I knew it would have to be my #1 album of the year. Songs about depressed queer teens… sign me up! Parks’ gorgeous voice and the rich melodies really evoking the stories she tells and you can just get lost in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2 Sometimes I Might Be Introvert by Little Simz (AGE 101)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Little Simz Sometimes I Might Be Introvert2021 seems to have given us a lot of very personal, introspective album—being trapped at home for months will do that I guess—and for my money the best of the bunch is Little Simz’ Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. The music is unexpectedly lush, with a lot of variety that carries you through and makes the album feel like a journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3 t.i.a.p.f.y.h. by Left at London (Fourth Strike)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Left at London t.i.a.p.f.y.h.After a handful of EPs, Seattle’s Nat Puff, aka Left at London, gives us a full-length, and boy is it good. Starting out with the epic 10½-minute Pills and Good Advice, Puff gives us bits of indie rock, hip hop, and techno coupled with an emotive vocal style and deftly written lyrics. Prepare to have feelings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4 The Sticky Fingers by Albertine Sarges (Moshi Moshi)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Albertine Sarges The Sticky FingersWeird, but in the best possible way. The kind of weird I loved as a teenager: she sings about slimy fish, but with catchy melodies you keep humming to yourself. This album came out early in 2021 and has had time to prove itself to me: I keep listening to this; I must love it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5 Dream Version by Dream Version (self-released)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Dream Version Dream VersionWith this third album, Dream Version gave up on their dreams of rock stardom to focus instead on making the music they want. The result is more varied, more complex, and very satisfying. Their record release show was the first live show I saw in two years, and if felt like a community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#6 Emphatically No. by Cheekface (New Professor)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Cheekface Emphatically No.Oh Cheekface, why do I love you so? Is it the deadpan delivery? The catchy tunes? The funny but relatable lyrics? Cheekface is the other live show I saw this year; to be in a crowd of people shouting back “NO” during the refrain of “‘Listen to Your Heart.’ ‘No.’”, well, that’s what live music is all about. I even turned my 8-year-old nephew on to Cheekface; he also likes to shout back “no” at the radio. (He’s outside my window singing it right now.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#7 Occult Fractures by Arthhur (self-released)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Arthhur Occult FracturesWe got a new full-length from Arthhur this year and it is good dance punk with a slow burn (that is to say, it benefits from repeated, deep listening). The songs are more complex and denser than previously, but you can still crank it for a party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#8 HokuPsychosister by Karate School Dropout (self-released)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Karate School Dropout HokuPsychosisterSometimes you meet a guy in a social situation and he says, “Oh hey you’re at a radio station? I just put out an album….” And sometimes you listen to that album and it is not just good, but actually great. HokuPsychosister is sweet and sensitive and earnest—an album you can take home to mother—with new wave hooks galore. It is at the same time deeply personal, with songs about family, about being gay, and about his dog Trey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#9 Due North by Liam Kazar (Woodsist/Mare)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Liam Kazar Due NorthIt seems to me that Liam Kazar is awfully young to be making music that sounds like what was on the radio when I was 10, but who am I to judge. This music has that late 70’s/early 80’s groove, not quite new wave and not quite roots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#10 Evolving by Neptune’s Core (self-released)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Neptune’s Core EvolvingThe sophomore effort from our favorite extremely local (in our own neighborhood!) teen band is solid stuff. The lyrics are about teen things—how is a song about driving lessons so good?—but still relatable to a 50-year-old like me. These young folks are doing everything right and I hope they keep at it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions

These are all spectacular albums I was certain would make my top 10… I needed a top 16 I guess.

  • Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble, NOW
  • Lisa Gerrand and Jules Maxwell, Burn
  • The Fratellis, Half Drunk under a Full Moon
  • Push33, Tales of Time
  • Parquet Courts, Sympathy for Life
  • Kay Young, This Here Feels Good

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2021

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