TOP 5 ALBUMS
Loney Dear ‘A Lantern and a Bell’ (5/5)
After we named “Habibi (A Clear Black Line) premier music, there has been no album we have been more exicted for! Loney Dear has not unimpressed us in any possible way, the production is intimate and beautiful, the songwriting is close to the vest and heartbreakingly personal. I love how he has taken this album in a much quieter direction then his last effort, much less electronics than used before as well. The piano notes and bells make for a theatrical listen, and with endings in songs like the perfect “Trifles” the experience only gets better as the song goes on. Another example is the excellent “Interval / Repeat” which carries the best instrumentation on the album. I am extremely impressed with this just under a half hour album from one of my favorite current songwriters.
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis ‘CARNAGE’ (5/5)
Nick Cave has been releasing some of the best music of his career lately and honestly it’s a lot better than most current artists and bands. The music is heartbreaking and strong willed. The songwriting is glorious and exquisite. ‘CARNAGE’ contains the best song of the year so far in “Albuquerque” which is written around the 2020 lockdowns. “Shattered Ground” is another perfect song with the end singing “goodbye, goodbye” tears my heart out of my chest. Nick Cave is used to creating music for soundtracks with Warren Ellis, and this album’s songs could be featured in virtually any great, emotional film and would be the highlight of the scene. I personally traded in 3 Rolling Stones records to get this beautiful album on vinyl.
Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine ‘A Beginner’s Mind’ (5/5)
Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine have created one of the strongest albums of the year so far and a work more consistent than either of the albums Sufjan put out last year. The vocals are intimate, breathtaking at times and consistently glorious throughout. The songwriting is very relevant and should be studied to understand how the world works and how God provides. Sufjan has an incredible approach to songwriting and Angelo De Augustine really shines brighter than he ever has before when reflecting off one of the best musicians of the last 20 years. “The Pillar of Souls”, “(This is) The Thing” and “Lost in the World” have unbelievable songwriting and lyrical value, consider looking deeper into their meanings. “Olympus” is easily one of the strongest tracks of the year by anyone. Following it is “Murder and Crime” which is mind blowing in its intimacy and the production absolutely slays me.
Mogwai ‘As the Love Continues’ (4.5/5)
Mogwai are the greatest post-rock band of all-time and their latest full length effort ‘As the Love Continues’ continues on their trend of releasing stellar albums. “F**k Off Money” hinges on a highly effected vocal performance like some of their previous best songs, then opens up to a full throttle tilt of post-rock expression. “Ceiling Granny” is full on rock at its core and a true banger. The ender “It’s Not What I Want to Do, Mum” is the standout track and one of the best rock songs of the year. It starts very simple and restrained and at around the 2 minute and 20 second mark it really takes shape into a gorgeous guitar driven track with brilliant synth work and glorious angelic backing vocals. This may not be their best album or even their 4th best album but it’s still a strong album in its own right.
Liars ‘The Apple Drop’ (4.5/5)
Liars have always had a penchant to write an experimental album unlike their latest effort, or any of their efforts for that matter. ‘The Apple Drop’ is huge, and at times extraordinary. Songs like “Sekwar” and “Big Appetite” are perfect examples of their experimental-pop. The drums are loud and the guitars crunch and the tones are brilliant. The vocals are always strong, with imaginative melodies.
TOP 10 SONGS
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis “Albuquerque”
Nick Cave has created some of the most beautifully haunted songs ever, and since the unfortunate passing of his son, he has been creating timeless music like a mad man. With “Albuquerque” from his latest full-length, accompanied by Warren Ellis, he has created an exquisite song about not being able to travel. The piano tone and production is perfect, the strings are bright and sad at the same time. The genuine quality of work that has went into this song alone is admirable, but Nick seems to pull this off with ease.
Loney Dear “Habibi (A clear black line)”
Loney Dear is one of my favorite indie musicians and has consistently had one of my favorite songs of the year with every album. “Habibi (A clear black line)” is brilliant and has an emotional quality to it that you’d be hard pressed to find in another artist these days. The songwriting is as authentic as it gets. The piano is produced wonderfully and his vocals are sang with the perfect falsetto. This is the type of song you could put on late at night and with a warm cup of tea and be in perfect serenity. Though this song may not be for everyone, I couldn’t think of any way to improve it and find myself constantly going back to it, as no other song can give this special quality.
Gia Margaret “Solid Heart”
Gia Margaret delivers one of the best songs of the last few years with “Solid Heart.” It’s a stampede on your heart that seems to claw at your nostalgia and teen angst. It’s a familiar chorus that you’ve never actually heard. Such a beautiful way of blending the the guitar with the easy going drum percussion section. The lo-fi production on her vocals serve as a sort of instrument as well, and carry her floaty voice into oblivion.
TORRES is easily one of the strongest musicians currently in the business. Her new single “Thirstier” is an epic, fascinating song. It starts like a Michelle Branch song from two decades ago, then it breaks open into the best indie-rock instrumentals of the year. The vocals soar and the songwriting is poignant.
Casper Skulls “Monument” 2021
Casper Skulls open “Monument” with simple percussion that seemingly drives the song forward. Once the exquisitely produced guitar comes in you then realize this is going to be a song to remember. The gorgeous vocals then bring the songwriting to the forefront, and for a moment it all drops off except the drums like the opening. Then the insanely amazing chorus comes in and blows the lid off the whole thing.
Sylvie “Falls On Me”
Sylvie’s single for their upcoming self-titled EP is an instant classic in its conception and gorgeous in its inner workings. It would sound amazing on vinyl or in a television show set in the past. The songwriting is very strong and the opening vocals floor me every time I hear them. The instrumentation is exquisitely written and produced.
David Gray “Laughing Gas”
“Laughing Gas” is one of my favorite songs of the year, as the piano is intimate and glorious. The way the vocals match the songwriting is perfect and on another level in terms of music this year. David Gray is truly a timeless talent and one of the greatest creators of the the last 20+ years. I consistently stay inspired by his works and he’s had an unprecedented premier music for the second time this year.
Wy “Dream House”
‘Marriage’ the upcoming album from Wy is the album I am most excited for. They are currently firing on all cylinders, production, songwriting and arranging. “Dream House” which will be the 8th cut on ‘Marriage’ is indie-pop perfection. The drum machine beat is reminiscent of prime Future Islands and the songwriting gives me my School of Seven Bells fix. When she says “it doesn’t matter where I am or what we do” it couldn’t have been sung better and it leads into the song picking up steam with overlapping vocals and a louder synth with beautiful production quality.
Azure Ray “Remedy”
With “Remedy” Azure Ray are back with their strongest song in 20 years since “Rise” from their debut. The beauty surrounds the production value, and the songwriting is glorious as the lyrics “for all the devils that dance under the sun / you’re a remedy or there’s none” is very spiritually uplifting. The acoustic guitars bounce wonderfully off the intimate vocals.
Keaton Henson “Limb”
Keaton Henson’s latest release is an EP titled ‘Fragments’ and the second track is “Limb” which is perfectly produced and beautifully intimate. The melancholy is flowing from the lips of Keaton Henson and the result of his singing style nearly brings you to tears. An incredible effort in songwriting and the listening experience demands to be remembered.