100 Favorite Albums of the Year 2021 – Part Three

Part Seven
Part Six
Part Five
Part Four
Part Two
Part One

Aaron Frazer – Introducing (Dead Oceans / Easy Eye Sound)

A soulful start to this one and kicking it off with Aaron Frazer’s awesome solo debut. I perhaps even prefer this over the new Durand Jones & The Indications album, but both are must listen.

Curtis Harding – If Words Were Flowers (ANTI)

A late soul gem this year is the new Curtis Harding album that just came out a month ago. Absolutely superb stuff all around.

St. Lenox – Ten Songs of Worship and Praise for our Tumultuous Times (Don Giovanni Records)

Next St.Lenox and his unique indie pop brilliance. Again ten fabulous songs. This time of worship and praise for our tumultuous times. Arthur is at a Shiva is a big favorite and I highly recommend checking out the music video for it too. Baking tips, life lessons and a great song. What’s not to love.

Doc Feldman & The Alt + Cntry + Delete – A Healthy Dose of Anxiety

Next a healthy dose of anxiety from Lexington, Kentucky by long time favorite Doc Feldman. Another one of those awkward transitions, because my favorite song here is the almost hymn-like Help Never Comes from Above and therefore it fits nicely after that St. Lenox album. Anyway, it’s a great album full of exceptional darker kind of americana.

Buffalo Nichols – Buffalo Nichols (Fat Possum Records)

Moving over to Wisconsin for the deeply moving Buffalo Nichols album. You might previously know him as one half of the roots duo Nickel&Rose and there’s at least one song here that can be found from their catalogue too. The new solo record is most likely his finest work yet. A really powerful album full of captivating blues songs.

David James Allen – The Architect (Garment District Records)

Back in Canada and Prince Edward, Ontario to be more precise. I’ve been somewhat familiar with country folk songwriter David James Allen for a while, but perhaps didn’t fully understand how great he was until the advance singles for this album started to drop. I loved each and everyone and later on found that the full-length lived up to my sky high expectations.

Joshua Ray Walker – See You Next Time (State Fair Records)

Back to Texas for the third Joshua Ray Walker album. I’ve loved his stuff ever since I heard the Canyon few years back. Perhaps that one album where everything clicks perfectly is still missing, but it’s hardly an issue because there’s so much to love on each album. Another great one for sure.

Kevin Carducci – Home Sweet Nowhere

Then some obscure California country from Kevin Carducci. Back when I bought this, this was under the moniker Lowstar Rodeo, but it seems like Kevin has changed that and uses his own given name nowadays. Toward the Light is probably my favorite song that anyone has written about this pandemic shit. I love it so much.

Turner Cody & The Soldiers of Love – Friends In High Places (Capitane Records)

Songwriter Turner Cody is one of my long time favorites and has pretty much guaranteed spot on these lists. This time he teamed with The Soldiers of Love and together they created a timeless album full of gorgeous songs.

Esther Rose – How Many Times (Full Time Hobby / Father/Daughter Records)

I fell for the music of Esther Rose when I heard the song Don’t Blame It on the Moon a few years back. How Many Times keeps my feelings toward her songs intact. Songs Remain is the big favorite here and one of my absolute favorite songs of the year.

Jeremy Ferrara – Everything I Hold (American Standard Time Records)

This year we also got more folk magic from Portland’s Jeremy Ferrara. Just guitar and a beautiful voice, but that’s often all I really need.

Johanna Samuels – Excelsior! (Mama Bird Recording Co / Basin Rock)

Next a couple of treasures from the Mama Bird vaults. First LA-based songwriter Johanna Samuels who has previously been featured on the EP list and now does the same on the album list with this awesome Sam Evian-produced debut album.

Tristen – Aquatic Flowers (Mama Bird Recording Co)

We also have a new Tristen album in this world and what a delightful pleasure it is to be able tp spend a day or a month in the arms of such a great album.

Josienne Clarke – A Small Unknowable Thing (Corduroy Punk)

A rare visit to Scotland on this list, but more than a worthy one because the new Josienne Clarke album is really strong and impressive.

Lucy Dacus – Home Video (Matador Records)

Wrapping this third chapter with one of the bigger names here, but I won’t hold that success against Lucy Dacus. After all, that’s the kind of recognition I hope all the artists on this list gets. Home Video is a mighty good album and Going Going Gone is one of my favorite songs of the year.

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100 Favorite Albums of the Year 2021 – Part Two

Part Seven
Part Six
Part Five
Part Four
Part Three
Part One

Strand of Oaks – In Heaven (Galacticana Records)

We’ll kick chapter two of the year end saga with the great new Strand of Oaks album. Jimi & Stan is a big personal favorite here, because it’s a song dedicated to his cat Stan who is now partying with Jimi Hendrix in heaven. We lost our own dear Luna early in the year and that made the song even more meaningful. I hope Luna gets to hang out with Jimi & Stan too.

Pony Bradshaw – Calico Jim (Black Mountain Music)

More captivating storytelling from Georgia-based songwriter Pony Bradshaw. I’ve been fan since I heard Josephine years back and I don’t expect that situation to change.

Austin James Craig – Violet and Still

Ohio-songwriter Austin James Craig is a bit more obscure favorite, but I’ve loved his dark storytelling since the early releases that aren’t even available anymore. Such a great release once again.

Damien Jurado – The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania (Maraqoba Records / Field Painting Music)

Well this man doesn’t need an introduction. Damien Jurado is one of the finest songwriters of the past twenty years and hardly ever fails to impress. Another great addition to his catalogue.

Quinn Pilgrim – Jericho Dream (Partially Sealed Records)

Next we travel to Louisiana for another bit more obscure pick. I’ve loved this one from Quinn Pilgrim from the beginning. Nothing fancy, but if you just want to listen to great folk songs, your heart will find a home here.

Jeremy James Meyer – Alive & OK (American Standard Time Records)

Back in the state of Washington for the new American roots album from Jeremy James Meyer. I’m especially fond of the ballad Thought That You Could Tell, but the whole thing is great. Also kudos to American Standard Time Records for releasing a lot of excellent albums this year. A couple made the cut on this list, but they would all be worthy of a spot.

Garrett T. Capps – I Love San Antone (Vinyl Ranch)

Carrying our bags to San Antone, TX for a real country monster from Garrett T. Capps. If you think my favorite list is dreadfully boring (and it’s a totally fair criticism, because I love a lot of those sad and beautiful ones), give a spin to this one. A tearjerker or two here too, but for the most part this is a great country album with a whole lot of rock’n’roll and listening to it is a whole lot of fun.

Charley Crockett – Music City USA (Son of Davy)

More old school country gems from Charley Crockett. He actually released a couple of albums this year. I’ll go with the original one on this list, but highly recommend also checking out the tribute album 10 for Slim – Charley Crockett sings James Hand.

Amythyst Kiah – Wary + Strange (Rounder Records)

Amythyst Kiah’s powerful song Black Myself already appeared on the wonderful Our Native Daughters album and now it was time for a new solo full-length. Wary + Strange is an impressive American roots album with a lot of variety.

Hiss Golden Messenger – Quietly Blowing It (Merge Records)

Hiss Golden Messenger has a pretty much guaranteed spot on these year-end lists. M.C. Taylor again crafted a beautiful sanctuary for my soul. There’s also a brand new seasonal album O Come All Ye Faithful, if you need some new Christmas music.

Scott Hirsch – Windless Day (Echo Magic)

As you may have noticed, instead of ranks, there’s some awkward transitions from an album to another. Some probably are very forced. This one not so much, because moving from Hiss Golden Messenger to a new Scott Hirsch album is almost too obvious. Anyway, Windless Day is again a gorgeous sonic adventure in folk, soul, psych and what not.

Michael James Tapscott – The Only Dance There Is

More blissfully strange California folk sounds. This time from Oakland from a long time favorite Michael James Tapscott who quietly self-released this lovely album. It may be only 20 minutes long, but there’s plenty that I love so there’s not a chance I’m going to leave this one out.

Sam Tudor – Two Half Words

This chapter needs some Canadian music too, so let’s travel to Vancouver, British Columbia. Sam Tudor’s Two Half Words has been somewhat surprise favorite, because this well-crafted pop beauty definitely challenges my simple taste here and there. Somehow I still find this totally irresistible and get lost in his comfortable sonic world whenever I put the headphones on and hit the play button. Such a beautiful album.

Karen Peris – A Song is Way Above the Lawn (Bella Union)

Next we have a tremendous solo album from Karen Peris (The Innocence Mission). I think this is technically a children’s album, but one that seem to work equally well for middle-aged men like yours truly. So don’t get caught up in that minor detail. You are going to love this.

Bea Troxel – Gettin’ Where (Ruination Record Co)

Wrapping this second chapter in Nashville, Tennessee with a deeply moving album from folk songwriter Bea Troxel. This has been a big grower for me and I’ve played this a lot during he last weeks. What a beautiful treasure.

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100 Favorite Albums of the Year 2021 – Part One

Year end madness continues with the mega list of my favorite international albums of the year. I’ll use similar kind of method as I did last year. So this list will have some kind of not-that-serious ranked top 10 and outside of that the order will be completely random. I’m fully aware that music is love and not a competition, but I also listen an insane amount of music and therefore these lists will be really long. That’s why I think it might be helpful to give readers some kind of vague ranking of the releases I’ve loved the most. For example, everyone might not be into listening to all 100 albums that I will select.

I’m of course just one man with a subjective taste. These are my own favorite releases and I’m not even trying to make an objective best of the year list. It’s just a list of albums that I love. Also my apologies for everyone who didn’t make the cut. I started making this by going through year’s worth of new music weekly posts and felt like was I being hard and only included albums that I really liked. The end result and the first draft had 197 albums. So even though 100 must seem likely a ridiculously large number, it was extremely difficult to cut it down to a 100. Anyway, enough of this pointless rambling and on to the list. It will all roll down during the next days or week. Hard to give exact time frame. I’ll go as fast as I can and won’t write much. There will be a Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music playlist after the final part, if you are into such things.

Part Seven
Part Six
Part Five
Part Four
Part Three
Part Two

Kirty – We Are All On Fire (Postwar Records)

First some car smashing together with Toronto-based songwriter Kirty. All the singles are pure gold and the full thing doesn’t fall far behind that description.

Mitch Dillon’s Compulsive Ramblers – Mitch Dillon’s Compulsive Ramblers (Ragged Gum Records)

A giant leap to Australia for the wonderful self-titled debut from Mitch Dillon’s Compulsive Ramblers. 90s alt-country vibes with early Wilco coming to mind here and there. Damn good stuff.

The Reds, Pinks and Purples – Uncommon Weather (Tough Love / Slumberland)

Next stop San Francisco and some jangly pop magic from Glenn Donaldson aka The Reds Pinks and Purples. One of the pop records that seem to be on everyone’s favorite list and rightfully so.

Mt. Misery – Once Home, No Longer (Prefect Records)

Hartlepool, UK wants to join this indie pop party. I fell in love with Mt. Misery approximately a split second after I start listening to this album last summer. If you grew up listening to TFC and Sarah Records and so forth, you are going to love this one.

Michael Cormier – More Light!! (Dear Life Records / OOF Records)

Moving to Maine, but maybe not falling that far from the indie pop spectrum. Going more into the folk territory though with some experimental sounds too. Besides co-running one of the finest indie labels Dear Life Records, Michael Cormier is also a mighty fine solo artist. More Light!! has been a big riser for me and I love it more with each listen. A couple of months ago it probably wouldn’t have made the cut, but now it would have been included even on a much shorter list.

Astral Swans – Astral Swans

Back on the Canadian soil for some experimental psych-folk brilliance from Calgary-based Matthew Swann aka Astral Swans. The hero of almost everyone, Julie Doiron lends a helping hand or well voice for several songs.

Julie Doiron – I Thought Of You (You’ve Changed Records)

Next almost too logical step is to go to Montreal, Quebec to meet up with Julie Doiron and her fabulous new album. A late release date, so I’m still in the process of introducing my heart to these songs. Perhaps with more time, this could have even entered into top ten discussion. Already easy to say that it has to be on this list.

Steve Sloane – Chewing the Shadow / Time is a Threat

Staying in Canada for more big personal favorites. Singer-songwriter Steve Sloane isn’t that well-known though, but his poignant songs matter a great deal to me. He actually put out two records this year and these beauties can share this place together because I can’t decide which one is better. Both have so many moving moments.

Jeremy Squires – Unravel (Blackbird Record Label)

Moving across the border to the US, but sticking with long time personal favorites. Prolific North Carolinian singer-songwriter Jeremy Squires releases a hauntingly beautiful albums pretty much every year and this one is not an exception.

Harrison Whitford – Afraid of Nothing (Screwdriver Records)

One more devastingly beautiful one from LA-based Harrison Whitford. Besides being a guitarist for Phoebe Bridgers, Harrison is also a mighty good songwriter. A few years back he knocked me out with a stunning debut album Afraid of Everything and now it was time for a gorgeous follow-up. This one’s a bit more evolved and rich, but thankfully without losing that fragile down-to-earth beauty of the debut.

Tim Easton – You Don’t Really Know Me (Black Mesa Records)

Time to chance the pace a little and go to more roots, blues, soul journey for the last few entries in this part of the year end saga. Kicking things off in the usual place Nashville with a great new Tim Easton album.

Queen Esther – Gild the Black Lily

Traveling on to New York for this next one. And what a special country blues treasure this album from singer-songwriter Queen Esther really is. I’m especially fond of her own original songs like The Whiskey Wouldn’t Let Me Pray

Kashena Sampson – Time Machine (New Moon Records

A few years ago, Nashville-based roots songwriter Kashena Sampson stormed into my world with a phenomenal debut single Wild Heart. I’ve been a fan ever since and this second full-length is again mighty good.

Yola – Stand For Myself (Easy Eye Sound)

This new Yola album maybe isn’t stylewise totally my cup of tea, but I’m not gonna let such a minor detail stop me from loving this wholeheartedly. She is still amazing.

Durand Jones & The Indications – Private Space (Dead Oceans)

And last but not least some soulful brilliance from the fabulous Durand Jones & The Indications. This entry and the forthcoming playlist will have a lot sad stuff, so I wanted to end this with something hopeful. Don’t you ever doubt that Love Will Work It Out.

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