My favorite albums of 2021

Once again, I pushed myself to listen to lots of new music this year. A full six of my top ten records were by artists who are either new or new to me… seven if you count Aeon Station, who are technically a “new” band. That’s pretty good, I think!

10. Dan Campbell: Other People’s Lives

I had foolishly dismissed The Wonder Years as kiddie emo that Wasn’t For Me (I was wrong!) until I read this piece on Campbell’s reasons for writing and releasing this record. Campbell has that rare gift for making the extremely specific feel universal.

9. Ani DiFranco: Revolutionary Love

I always have and probably will always have a soft spot for Ani DiFranco, and this record’s “Ani as funk bandleader” vibes really agree with me.

8. Julien Baker: Little Oblivions

She still manages to bring the same level of emotional devastation, even with full band arrangements on many tracks and a more produced sound.

7. Lunar Vacation: Inside Every Fig is a Dead Wasp

Right in my sweet spot: vaguely shoegazy indie with female lead vocals. (See also: Snarls from last year’s list.)

6. Grace Vonderkuhn: Pleasure Pain

An absolute ripper of a rock-and-roll record from my favorite Wilmington, DE-based power trio, and a huge leap forward from their last record.

5. Geese: Projector

There’s no way a bunch of teenagers made this record, right? Either way, Geese have spent a bunch of time with their dad’s Talking Heads records and their older sister’s Strokes records and turned out this impossibly tight, ambitious and mature record.

4. Aeon Station: Observatory

I could write a book about this record, which I’ve been waiting for, in a roundabout way, for about 15 years. I hate that it came out under these circumstances but I’m glad this record is finally available to the public, because it is a triumph. (I am still very eager to hear the Charles Bissell portion of what was to be the follow-up to The Meadowlands, of course.)

3. William The Conqueror: Maverick Thinker

An incredible Scottish swamp-blues record that sounds like a lot of things I love but also not quite like anything I’ve ever heard before.

2. Katy Kirby: Cool Dry Place

Hard to overstate how much this record came out of nowhere and smacked me right between the eyes. It has an emotional resonance for me unlike any record since maybe Bark Your Head Off, Dog.

1. Japanese Breakfast: Jubilee

Reading Crying in H Mart this summer was… a lot, but it helped me understand this record for the celebratory masterpiece it truly is. If joy truly is an act of resistance, this record is as punk as it gets.


Honorable Mentions:


Playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify.

Len Damico @len