Welcome to October 2021’s edition of Recommended Albums, one of the most stacked and exciting months of music I’ve had the privilege of diving into and exploring. Plenty of high quality albums from artists that I’ve been a fan of for a while, along with some really great surprises from newcomers. You will undoubtedly see many of these records in my Top 50 list at the end of the year, and if there are any that you have yet to check out – these get my two-thumbs-up guarantee. Check them out below.
Anz – All Hours EP [Ninja Tune]
Utilizing a technique similar to circular breathing but for maintaining a self-sustaining energy to dance all night long.
Circuit des Yeux – -io [Matador]
Slow dancing with a marble statue version of yourself at an abandoned citadel at the top of a mountain before toppling your statue down a cliff.
Dummy – Mandatory Enjoyment [Trouble In Mind]
Being a test subject in experimental utopian capsule habitats that unexpectedly malfunction, rapidly shifting the climate, furniture arrangement and simulated time of day.
Foamboy – My Sober Daydream [Self-Released]
A waterbed full of fruit juice dangerously close to bursting sloshes around a room with walls lined with smashed-but-still-functional smart phone screens.
Grouper – Shade [Kranky]
Having a conversation with a past version of yourself through an unstable time portal in an abandoned old house.
Lunar Vacation – Inside Every Fig Is A Dead Wasp [Keeled Scales]
Drawing a dark magic summoning circle with your friends from high school to bring back a lost stuffed animal from childhood.
Marissa Nadler – The Path of the Clouds [Sacred Bones]
A mysterious carriage emerges from the fog to take you away to a wooded manor, where you see your past lives’ deaths depicted in woven triptychs.
Natalie Jane Hill – Solely [Dear Life]
A locket with a picture of a deceased loved one buried in a plain of tall wheat grass.
Sam Evian – Time To Melt [Fat Possum]
Lucid dreaming your way to the corner store to buy scented candles, kombucha and a mini oasis scene snowglobe while imagining the cashier is morphed like a funhouse mirror.
Vanishing Twin – Ookii Gekkou [Fire]
Space time-morphed crew members of a lost 50s space exploration conduct experiments on rogue matter caught in their tractor beam and provide a transmission hub for incoming intergalactic correspondence.
Going a little deeper, this really seemed to be the most busy month of the year for new releases (at least ones that I had some investment in). Even with that, I was still bear-hugged by some newcomers and their debuts: Dummy is one of the coolest, most versatile and warping rock bands I’ve heard all year and surpass any pigeonholing Stereolab or Broadcast-worship labels that may be placed upon them (but I mean, if you like those two bands, you owe it to yourself to check this album out). In Foamboy I found some of the best grooves of the year in “Peach Smoothie” and “Logout”, along with some relatable lyrics and super performances; hopefully a duo to watch in the coming years. I was hooked the instant I heard Anz’s “You Could Be” earlier this year and the full EP did not disappoint, her first for Ninja Tune. Then of course we have the explosive debut of Lunar Vacation, flexing a songwriting ability that will hopefully put them on the maps of many Alvvays + The Beths fans in the next year. And even though this isn’t Natalie Jane Hill’s first LP, it was my introduction to her music and I was absolutely swept away in her immaculate guitar playing and luminous voice. Can’t stop going back to that record! Reminds me of some tendencies that Aldous Harding brought to her first two records – a huge plus from me.
As for tried and true favorites returning with their new offerings, Grouper is the obvious standout for me on the list: she’s one of my most listened-to artists of all time, for crying out loud. I’m going to have to give more time to this new one since it flips between fidelities and moods on nearly every track, but I mean, it’s Grouper. It’s great. Just how great is what I’m still calibrating. For other highly anticipated returns, Circuit des Yeux delivered a devastating work that I got the pleasure of seeing performed live with string ensemble – Haley Fohr’s voice is a national treasure. This record is another I’m going to need to spend more time with, dissecting its majestic movements and learning to stabilize myself in its gravity. For now though it stands as truly singular, peerless release of 2021. I was redeemed by both Marissa Nadler and Sam Evian’s new albums, finding immense flavor in both of them after being lukewarm on their last few. Brilliant turns and changes to their formulas that worked brilliantly. Then Vanishing Twin, who absolutely floored me in 2019, return with an album much more peculiar than I was expecting, going hard in establishing a sonic weirdo sci-fi pop universe all of their own.
Also for posterity, I listened to A LOT MORE records this month outside this ten I’ve listed here, including Pond, Kedr Livanskiy, Ducks Ltd., Lone, Hand Habits, Charlotte Cornfield, La Luz, Geese, Wet, Black Marble, Lily Konigsberg, Xenia Rubinos, Wiki, Ross From Friends… pretty much everything you see in my “Upcoming Releases” sidebar I’ve checked out. I’m sure I’ll return to some, but for most I pulled my fav tracks and placed them in my GR8 TRACKS section, which you’ll find below, as well as my Spotify playlist. There’s plenty still more to check out, but this is what immediately grabbed me this month and what I’d tell you to snag as well.
GR8 TRACKS OF OCTOBER 2021::
Listen to all these and more on my Best of 2021 Spotify playlist HERE.
- Anz – “Inna Circle”
- Anz – “You Could Be (feat. George Riley)”
- BADBADNOTGOOD – “Timid, Intimidating”
- Black Marble – “Say It First”
- Circuit des Yeux – “Sculpting The Exodus”
- Circuit des Yeux – “Vanishing”
- Circuit des Yeux – “Walking Toward Winter”
- Dummy – “Daffodils”
- Dummy – “Fissured Ceramics”
- Dummy – “H.V.A.C.”
- Dummy – “Punk Product #4”
- Foamboy – “Laundry”
- Foamboy – “Logout”
- Foamboy – “Peach Smoothie”
- Geese – “Fantasies / Survival”
- Geese – “Rain Dance”
- Grouper – “Disordered Minds”
- Grouper – “Kelso (Blue sky)”
- Grouper – “Promise”
- Grouper – “The way her hair falls”
- Grouper – “Unclean mind”
- Hand Habits – “Clean Air”
- Hand Habits – “No Difference”
- Helado Negro – “Gemini and Leo”
- Helado Negro – “La Naranja”
- Kit Sebastian – “Agitate”
- Lily Konigsberg – “True”
- Lunar Vacation – “Mold”
- Lunar Vacation – “Shrug”
- Lunar Vacation – “Where Is Everyone?”
- Magdalena Bay – “Chaeri”
- Marissa Nadler – “If I Could Breathe Underwater”
- Marissa Nadler – “Well Sometimes You Just Can’t Stay”
- Natalie Jane Hill – “If I Were A Willow”
- Natalie Jane Hill – “Little Teeth”
- Natalie Jane Hill – “Plants and Flowers That Do Not Grow Here”
- Ross From Friends – “Love Divide”
- Sam Evian – “Dream Free (feat. Hannah Cohen)”
- Sam Evian – “Never Know”
- Sam Evian – “Time To Melt”
- Soshi Takeda – “Deep Breath”
- Sylvie – “Sylvie”
- Tirzah – “Send Me”
- Tirzah – “Sink In”
- Tonstartssbandht – “Pass Away”
- Vanishing Twin – “Phase One Million”
- Vanishing Twin – “Tub Erupt”
- Wet – “Blades of Grass”
- Wet – “On Your Side”