2021 AOTY – L’Rain, Fatigue

Well, well, well. Can you believe it? 2021 is coming to an end and I’ve actually kept up with this blog. I was worried that The Peeling, like my mod podge phase, would lie to rest in the graveyard of Things We Did To Pass The Time Last Winter. There was a lull in posts over the summer because I was simply too busy eating inside of a restaurant and then hugging my grandparents and then rubbing shoulders with a sweaty stranger on the dance floor and then going to three music festivals in a row and then crying in a movie theater. And yet, here we are, celebrating our first birthday. If you are reading this, thank you for taking some degree of interest in my rampant thoughts and lukewarm takes. Engaging with music here, on this level, is my second favorite way to do so (next to seeing it played live, of course), and I hope that if anything, this blog has introduced you to some new styles, concepts, and ways of listening.

I cannot and will not write EOTY blurbs, but I will say this—L’Rain is an ethereal, avant-garde experimental goddess, Fred again.. taught my friends and I how to dance again, and Lana Del Rey… well… I’m still alive and breathing in her chokehold.

Please note: Arca, the queen of 2020, and her four freaking albums (KICK ii, KicK iii, kick iiii, and kiCK iiiii) are excluded from this list because I am simply too overwhelmed. Over the moon, yes, but overwhelmed. I might just have to make a listening guide so we can wage a war with this electronic opera together.

Please note, again: this list is fully biased towards my own, superior taste, meaning it’s mostly pop, electronic, and experimental. But please do check out Brooklyn Vegan’s 50 Best Punk Albums of 2021, NPR Music’s 25 Best Hip-Hop and R&B Albums of 2021, and other lists of the sort.

So without further ado, let’s ride:

2021 favorite albums of the year:

1. Fatigue – L’Rain
2. Reflection – Loraine James
3. GLOW ON – Turnstile
4. Inbred – Ethel Cain
5. Chemtrails Over the Country Club – Lana Del Rey
6. Actual Life – Fred again..
7. Cavalcade – black midi
8. Blue Weekend – Wolf Alice
9. Memoryland – CFCF
10. Simple, Sweet, and Smiling – Kacy Hill

2021 favorite tracks of the year:

1. Find It – L’Rain
2. let all the poisons that lurk in the mud seep out – Kelsey Lu, Yves Tumor, Kelly Moran and Moses Boyd
3. Secrecy Is Incredibly Important To The Both of Them – Yves Tumor
4. Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing) – Fred again.. and The Blessed Madonna
5. Somewhere – Back Marble
6. Little Things – Big Thief 
7. Mohabbat – Arooj Aftab
8. Crush – Ethel Cain
9. Blue Banisters – Lana Del Rey
10. Running Like That – Loraine James and Eden Samara
11. Billie (Loving Arms) – Fred again..
12. Chemtrails Over the Country Club – Lana Del Rey
13. Crushed Velvet – Yves Tumor
14. Good Days – SZA
15. Michelle Pfeiffer – Ethel Cain
16. White Dress – Lana Del Rey
17. “Quotations” – Water From Your Eyes
18. Royal Walls – Black Marble
19. Two Face – L’Rain
20. Hold U – Indigo De Souza
21. Superstar – Beach House
22. Tu t’en lasses – La Femme
23. Posing In Bondage – Japanese Breakfast
24.  Kelso (Blue sky) – Grouper
25.  Bunny Is A Rider – Caroline Polachek

Bonus round: favorite (in person!!!!) live performances of 2021:

1. The Blessed Madonna, Smartbar, Chicago
2. Jamie xx, Governor’s Ball Music Festival, New York
3. Yves Tumor, Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago
4. Caroline Polachek, Governor’s Ball Music Festival, New York
5. Ela Minus, Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago
6. Kelly Lee Owens, Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago
7. Alex G, Riot Fest, Chicago
8. Big Thief, Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago
9. Jamila Woods, Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago
10. DEVO, Riot Fest, Chicago

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