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CHIRP Radio writesCHIRP Radio’s Top Albums of 2021

CHIRP Radio Best of 2021

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio has been sharing its volunteers’ top albums of 2021. The list below shows the most-often cited records out of the 200+ albums mentoned.

The most-often cited recording is the third release from the band fronted and led by creative force Michelle Zauner. It's a record that, like many on the list, uses music to express hope, joy, anger, amd optimism in a world that seems to take two steps back for every step forward. In his review of the album, Austin Harvey describes it as "...the sound of Zauner accepting the past and moving into an unknown future with the sun shining." That's pretty much all anyone can ask for, and it's a joy that these records can help us with that. 

From all of us at CHIRP Radio, HAPPY NEW YEAR and best wishes for 2022!



#1 Jubilee by Japanese Breakfast (Dead Oceans)

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Japanese Breakfast Jubilee

A sharp, shimmering wide-ranging classic of an album (Slinky dance numbers! Warm and fuzzy dream pop! Smart singer-songwriter tracks!) that I'll be listening to for years to come. --Shawn Campbell












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

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Little Simz Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

So many solid jams. I could throw this record on while doing anything and end up in a good groove. --Marites Velasquez












#3 Collapsed in Sunbeams by Arlo Parks (Transgressive)

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Arlo Parks Collapsed in Sunbeams

Collapsed 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. --Eric Wiersema












#4 Afrique Victime by Mdou Moctar (Matador)

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Mdou Moctar Afrique Victime

Tuareg artist Mdou Moctar lays down blistering guitar lines over an insinuating desert blues groove. Captivating music from start to finish. --Al Gabor












#5 Home Video by Lucy Dacus (Matador)

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Lucy Dacus Home Video

Lucy Dacus came back with a vengeance this year in an album that was both a shower AND a grower. She gives us glimpses into her past relationships and friendships, turmoil with sexuality and religion and the insecurity of living in a small community. She presents herself as the kind of friend who will tell you the hard truths you need to hear and destroy herself for her love for you. May we all try to be that friend to someone. --Bobby Evers












#6 New Long Leg by Dry Cleaning (4AD)

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Dry Cleaning New Long Leg

There's something about the way Florence Shaw delivers her musings in these post punk songs in her deadpan voice that captured my fancy. I suspect that I am not the only one who feels this way. --Stephen Perkins












#7 Occult Fractures by Arthhur (self-released)

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Arthhur Occult Fractures

Chicago 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. --Alisson Parssi












#8 Emphatically No. by Cheekface (New Professor)

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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.) --Tony Breed












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

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Illuminati Hotties Let Me Do One More

After her latest mixtape “FREE I.H…” was released to fulfill the obligations of her exit agreement with label Tiny Engines, Sarah Tudzin, aka Illuminati hotties, is back with “Let Me Do One More”- an album packed with hooky-as-hell rippers. The record is indie-pop at it's finest - catchy and intimate with dream pop meets mania stylings. Try 
“MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” if you dare! The cutesy sing-song melodies become wonderfully manic cheer-chants with fun to sing along to lyrics, “Love me, fight me, choke me, bite me/The DNC is playing dirty/Text me, touch me, call me daddy/ I’m so sad I can’t do laundry!” It’s the perfect line to sum up 2021. ==Danielle Sines












#10 Spread Joy by Spread Joy (Feel It Records)

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Spread Joy Spread Joy

The 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. --Austin B. Harvey










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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2021

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