Since 2014, I’ve tried to keep track of songs that have impacted or defined my year (see all those posts tagged in the “Retrospective” section). The songs that I pull into this playlist are usually favorite discoveries of mine that blow my mind (and embarrass me occasionally, as in “why didn’t I listen to this sooner?” Lots of that in this post here), obsessions that I sink into like quicksand (usually new songs that come out that year) or more rarely, soundtracks to true moments that I’ll forever associate with said song. I still have records from 10 years ago that I associate with some mundane or every day happening, but it warps me back there all the same. I spend nearly my entire day listening to music. Mostly in headphones, soundtracking my time on the computer, cooking, walking around the city or in basic leisure time. It’s no wonder I get these things all twisted up in my mind.
As a quick aside, I wanted to say thanks to all the readers of the blog out there. 2021 was by far Warm Visions’ best year yet, cresting past 10k views for the year. I know that’s pretty chump change, but look at it this way: in 2016, Warm Visions had 1,440 views total. In the month of December 2021, Warm Visions got 1,397 views. I realize that an accumulation of posts will help draw more people in in general and I was still reeling from nearly abandoning the blog in 2013/2014, but it feels good to see people coming here to see me write about new music, especially now with so many “dead” blogs out there. Definitely keeps me going! Thank you to the readers, thank you to the musicians! I’ll keep trying my best too.
Check out the playlist of 100 songs that defined my year (in chronological order) and catch my overall listening stats for 2021, as well as my paltry “other” media consumption stats.
Listen along with my 2021 Retrospective Spotify playlist HERE.
- The Cure – “Plainsong”
Started off the first work day of the year, a cold, cloudy day, by blasting Disintegration in my apartment. I don’t think I had listened to the album that loud before, and the opener just kicked me in the face. Makes me wish I had a CD of this album in high school so I could have blasted it in my car. Don’t really need to say anything more – it’s The Cure’s Disintegration. If you haven’t listened, let this be your warning.
- David Bowie – “Stay”
Always gotta listen to David Bowie at the start of the year. Realized I somehow had never listened to Station To Station, which kind of broke my brain. Of course I’d listened to everything of his, right? Nope, turned out to be a weird blindspot. It might be my favorite record of his now.
- Insides – “The Softest Bonds Resist Resistance”
My biggest obsession of 2020, Insides, released a new album out of nowhere this year. Their last album came out in 2000. What a funny coincidence. Check out the new album, but seriously, their 1993 album Euphoria is incredible and was a constant listen for me in 2020.
- Steely Dan – “Time Out Of Mind”
Heard this track in a goofy video circulating around twitter early this year, which got me into listening to Gaucho like once a day for two weeks. Thinking back to then, it really did feel like the world was on an upswing. The vaccines were coming and it was time to boogie. Let’s not talk about that though, just listen to “Time Out Of Mind”.
- SOPHIE – “Whole New World / Pretend World”
RIP SOPHIE. Still crushed. Even typing this now, nearly a year later, feels surreal.
- Cassandra Jenkins – “Hard Drive”
This is Warm Visions’ final warning that if you delayed listening to Cassandra Jenkins’ “Hard Drive” or An Overview on Phenomenal Nature, now is the time.
- Suzanne Ciani – “The Second Wave – Sirens”
I dedicated a lot of early 2021 to listening to classics from the 80s that I had overlooked for far too long. One of my early picks was Suzanne Ciani’s Seven Waves, and man, is it a delight. Listening to this in my apartment as snow fell one morning felt like a religious experience.
- The Cleaners From Venus – “Time In Vain”
Finally checked out The Cleaners From Venus. I’m glad I finally did, especially this year, so I can happily trade off ever listening to Ariel P•nk ever again. Just masterful. And so much music to get through too! A trove of delights.
- Laurie Anderson – “O Superman”
Ashamedly, I had never listened to Laurie Anderson’s Big Science until this year. There are a lot of classic 80s records I’ve just overlooked since I thought “oh, they’re so well-received, I don’t even need to take a listen for myself”, or maybe just forgotten to do so. I’m very glad I did. Immediately when “O Superman” came on, I knew I was in for something special. It’s her biggest song for a reason. I was in a supermarket looking for creamed corn while listening and I was just standing in an aisle, looking at cans, but I was really just frozen by this song. It rocked.
- Enya – “On Your Shore”
One of my earliest musical memories is listening to Enya. She was popular in my household growing up, but I hadn’t ever seriously revisited her material. Turns out after years of listening to artists like Julie Byrne and Gia Margaret, some of the tracks on Enya’s Watermark sound really damn good. Give Enya a chance if you haven’t. This album is a classic.
- Black Country, New Road – “Sunglasses”
I know a lot of people who were early on the Black Country, New Road wave, but I’m here now and I’m putting the album version of “Sunglasses” on here. This was my AOTY on my building list for a few months, still an absolutely huge album.
- Brijean – “Softened Thoughts”
One of my first 2021 obsessions. 2021’s winter was the first one in a while where we’ve actually had substantial snow, in NYC at least. It didn’t just all melt immediately the next morning. Instead of a snowy wasteland, listening to this album helped me transport to a luxurious, humid hot spring.
- Prefab Sprout – “Tiffanys”
Always gotta have a new Prefab Sprout obsession for each year. Protest Songs is an underrated album. I also want to point out that I listened to their full discography this year for the first time. They’ve still got heat in their later albums, too. But yeah – in my top songs for Prefab for sure.
- Lizzy Mercier Descloux – “Funky Stuff”
Part of my 80s mining. Had never listened to Mercier Descloux before this year (always time to discover new things!) and this absolute heater stuck out to me. It’s a great Kool & The Gang cover.
- The Knife – “Silent Shout”
There was a week early this year where I basically only listened to Silent Shout. It’s one of those albums you just fall deeper into. A kind of pleasure you cannot escape from.
- Horsegirl – “Sea Life Sandwich Boy”
This was an instance where I was like “who the heck is this band? Horsegirl?”. After checking them out I decided “ok, this is gonna be a thing”. Clearly. This song made it into my Favorites of 2021.
- Rebbie Jackson – “Centipede”
Heard this song randomly in an old archival video by Nelson Sullivan of RuPaul in the 80s. In it, Sullivan follows RuPaul and some friends around in NYC, riding around in cars and standing around on the street. I first noticed the car radio playing one of my all-time favorite songs, “Madam Butterfly” by Malcolm McLaren, then heard the glittering synth and punchy bass on this song, “Centipede” and had to figure out what it was. No surprise it was produced by Michael Jackson. Then I went on a little deep dive on Sullivan videos. Truly a landmark collection of culture, preserved.
- Hildegard – “Jour 2”
This was a true obsession. Just listening to this song over and over until the next single dripped from the project. Love this style of hypnotic, dark music.
- Shygirl – “TASTY (Boys Noize Extended Dub)”
A staple on my running playlist. Makes me feel invincible.
- Tradition – “Frenzied Friends and Fiends”
My bliss state is listening to dub reggae with a mouthful of chocolate chips. Dub reggae is the pinnacle of human achievement. Expect more dub in this list.
- The Radio Dept. – “Sleeping In”
- Camera Obscura – “Do It Again”
One day I decided to listen to exclusively The Radio Dept. and Camera Obscura, two bands I really love and maybe hadn’t given enough attention to, outside of the one or two albums I usually return to from each artist. No surprise here but I found new favorite songs in each discography. As much as I hate what streaming has done to our musicians, I think being able to jam through an entire catalog of albums, letting yourself check into albums you hadn’t really dove into before, is nice. Gotta give them that. That’s literally it though. Go listen to Camera Obscura and The Radio Dept.
- Bernice – “It’s Me, Robin”
Definitely did a lot of singing of the open lines out of the blue in my apartment with my partner. “Who are you? Who ARE youu? Who ARE YOUUUU?” (not the opening lines but still).
- Katy Kirby – “Cool Dry Place”
BIG record for Q1 2021, an album that my partner and I listened to a lot together. Nearly every song off this LP was stuck in my head at some point this year.
- Ben Seretan – “Fog Rolls Out Rabun Gap”
Had a few moments with this gorgeous piano record this year. The first was on my initial listen, late at night as it rained, as I watched lights flicker in buildings I could see from my window. Second was on a drive up to the Catskills from NYC. Just gorgeous. Brought me a lot of peace.
- Cassandra Jenkins – “Crosshairs”
Another moment with Cassandra. This record really soundtracked my Q1 2021, as the weather slowly but surely started getting warmer, the sun was out just a touch longer and the sunrises greeted us a bit earlier every day. I was also getting up really early around this time just because my partner had to be at her work at 5am/6am most mornings. Looking out from my apartment and seeing the light cut through the slats between buildings and onto sidewalks while listening to this song: really beautiful. The sentiment behind this song also somewhat rang true to this time in the year as well – we just want to connect with someone strange to us, we’ve been cooped up for so long. We need companionship. Fun to look down to people walking and imagine what their days will be like.
- Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The LSO – “Movement 6”
If you know, you know. The moment.
- Ted Lucas – “It Is So Nice To Get Stoned”
Lots of time spent listening to Mr. Ted Lucas with my partner this year. One memory that comes to mind was when we drove up to the Catskills for the weekend in early April. Just sitting in comfy chairs, looking out on a nice view and being cozy and happy in each others presence. Ultimate peace. We don’t even smoke. This is just a nice song.
- For Those I Love – “The Shape Of You”
Phewww – what a gut punch. Happy tears!
- JIMMY EDGAR – “Be With You (feat. Millie Go Lightly)”
The whole JIMMY EDGAR LP is fine, but the sonic alchemy that happens on this song is why EDGAR is one of the best producers in the game. Reminds me of stretching out a big plastic hose. Where are you getting those kind of sounds in other music? You’re not. That’s right.
- Rochelle Jordan – “Next 2 You”
Rochelle’s record was a true obsession immediately after I first heard it. So happy once it was finally released in the late spring. This is the best song on there, but there are so many hits – don’t skip it!
- SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE – “The Server Is Immersed”
SPIRIT out here doing ancient wizard stuff to indie rock. What the hell?
- Dry Cleaning – “Her Hippo”
I think I had been going through a little dip in desire to listen to new music – nothing was impressing me or sticking with me. This Dry Cleaning record really snatched it out of me, especially this track here. I remember going on long weekend walks listening to this album in late April / May and feeling like the coolest dude out there. I shouldn’t feel cool crossing the street. But yeah, this song makes you feel cool while crossing the street, going up stairs, etc. It’s real.
- Hiroshi Sato – “Blue and Moody Music (Wendy’s Version)”
A stark contrast to the original, Wendy Matthew’s version of Hiroshi Sato’s “Blue and Moody Music” should be entered into the canon of city pop greats, if it isn’t already. Matthew’s voice hits every stereotypical beat you’d need to make a classic of the time (or reappraised classic, at least). Despite the lyrics being kind of despondent, the chorus is so triumphant and fun and melodramatic. It’s wonderful.
- Nora Guthrie – “Home Before Dark”
Another find for a playlist. Just an amazing, romantic song. Originally released in 1967, and I found this on the Sky Girl compilation. You can put it in whatever playlist you’re making too, I won’t be mad.
- Gloria Ann Taylor – “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing”
Very happy to have discovered this song this year. U.S. Girls – flaunt your samples more!
- The Rah Band – “Sam The Samba Man”
I’m pretty sure I included this song in a previous retrospective post when I first found it, but I put it in a great spring/summer playlist this year and it became a massive obsession once again. How can you not love this song? Easily fits into my catalog of “favorite songs of all time”.
- Gilligan Moss – “Special Thing”
Now THIS is a fun track. Holy smokes. How can you not have fun with this thing? Funnily enough I’ll always associate this track with buying a fan at Bed Bath & Beyond on one of the first warm days of the year.
- Indigo De Souza – “Kill Me”
First time I heard this song I knew it was gonna be a THING. It was like ok, this is HAPPENING. Sure enough when I saw it performed live a few months later it was a madhouse.
- The Blue Nile – “Tinseltown In The Rain”
Everybody loves Hats but where’s the love for A Walk Across The Rooftops? I’ve got it right here.
- Dawn Richard – “Bussifame”
Another great entry into “tunes to get your excitement for summer” hype playlist. Could have picked multiple tracks off this Dawn record but “Bussifame” fit the best for me.
- Doss – “On Your Mind”
This was an obsession throughout the whole year – one of my most listened-to tracks, if not THE most listened-to. A go-to choice for coming back from shows. So happy Doss came back to the world.
- Erika de Casier – “Busy”
I enjoyed the new Erika de Casier record enough on my first few listens, but when I started the album on the back half, I realized how each of the last five or six songs are just pure heat. The album grew on me a ton. I recommend anyone still feeling lukewarm or underwhelmed by it to start the album at the halfway point for a change + get a fresh listen to “Busy”, “Friendly”, “Better Than That”… so good.
- John Carroll Kirby – “Rainmaker”
Listened to this song on loop while cooking dinner on an early summer evening. Managing multiple pans on a stovetop with goodness baking in the oven while jamming to some JCK? It rocks.
- Izzy Johnson – “Existing”
A summer listening obsession. Love how this track slowly unfurls – a must for the early morning. It also became a staple in my partner’s listening routine. Perfumes out with peace, filling the whole space with tranquility. Shout out to Luca and Mia and Noa, if they’re reading.
- Junko Yagami – “BELIEVING”
Took a stab into some city pop classics I hadn’t listened to in the early summer. This is a JAM.
- Caroline Rose – “Feel The Way I Want”
My partner discovered Caroline Rose this year, which led to a lot of singing and dancing to her biggest hits around the apartment. Highly recommend it. What I don’t recommend is thinking that Rose is playing a show at a venue in the wrong borough, so you have to hightail it to Brooklyn to try and catch the gig. Don’t recommend that.
- Moonshine – “Peter Pan (feat. Banga & Andy S)”
West African electronics + some US party flair = a really engaging banger with near limitless replay potential. Huge crossover here between Gabonese + Ivorian talents coming together, collected by a Canadian-based production.
- SPELLLING – “The Future”
For a while I was cycling through different songs on SPELLLING’s new record calling them “my favorite”. “The Future” is definitely up there. As of writing though, it’s probably “Legacy”. But let’s keep it at “The Future” for now, so if you somehow haven’t taken my advice to listen to this album you finally do it.
- L’Rain – “Blame Me”
What a gorgeous song. I mean, how can you not love this? I’ll always associate it with hot summer nights, seeing L’Rain after a massive thunderstorm delay at Elsewhere, and the slivers of hope I felt for the world in late June after attending a beautiful wedding.
- The Velvet Underground & Nico – “I’ll Be Your Mirror”
This is a perfect song. A salve for pained, anxious times.
- Panda Bear – “Drone”
There’s more to this song being here than just the fact that I listened to Panda Bear’s Tomboy more in 2021. This song is a spiritual marker of all the 2011 releases I revisited this year to celebrate their 10th birthdays. 2011 was a huge year for me, since it’s when I graduated high school / started college + my family moved states. Lots of high-impact records that year, whether they wanted to be or not. Tomboy was just one of the many that I returned to, others being Black Up, Era Extraña, Ravedeath 1972, Kaputt, Eye Contact, Replica, Strange Mercy, and so many more. Just a monster year for music, I think beyond me even. Pretty well-regarded in the previous decade.
- Lightning Bug – “I Lie Awake”
Was pretty unimpressed by the Lightning Bug album on first listen, but came back to it a few weeks later to find myself fully infatuated. When I was listening on Spotify this track had pretty low stats compared to the rest of the album. How can that be? It’s by far the best song on the record!
- Cocteau Twins – “Athol-brose”
Listened to three Cocteau Twins and two Prefab Sprout records while making two cakes for my partner’s birthday. One was lemon cardamom pistachio and the other was coconut blueberry. Have you tried making two cakes as a surprise while listening to chunks of your favorite artists discographies? It’s a lot of fun. Ultimate sonic bliss tied with euphoric tastes & smells.
- Yo La Tengo – “Little Eyes”
Decided to take a deep dive into Yo La Tengo’s Summer Sun, which led to an obsession with “Little Eyes”, a HUGE highlight in YLT’s discog. Maybe a little underrated? It’s so good.
- Phillip Fullwood – “Word – Version”
More dub. Always more dub.
- Bright Eyes – “Four Winds”
Got invited to a Bright Eyes show and despite the show not being a great time for me, I got to hear this song played live for the first time; one of the only Bright Eyes songs I know. That was nice! Shout out to my dear friend Ryan, who I was definitely thinking about during this song.
- Grouper – “Unclean mind”
I mean, it’s new Grouper. How could it not impact life in massive ways?
- yes/and – “Learning About Who You Are”
…And then this is essentially like, early ambient Grouper. Drifting, caustic ambient drone. In case you’re unaware, this is a collab between Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy & producer Joel Ford. Get to it!
- PDP III – “Walls of Kyoto”
Was listening to this harrowing collab while deep-cleaning my apartment after finding pantry weevils all over the place. Let me tell you – when your privacy has been invaded by ultra-tiny bugs everywhere, this is not the music to listen to, even though that’s what I did. It made me feel like I was being invaded by aliens or something. Extra-terrestrial space energy manipulation.
- Minus the Bear – “Double Vision Quest”
Got back into the magic of “Knights”, which inspired me to revisit Minus The Bear’s Planet of Ice for the first time since high school. Solid record, but “Double Vision Quest”? Incredible! A high watermark of 00s alternative rock.
- Yola – “Dancing Away In Tears”
This record just blows me away. How can it not? If you say “eh”, it means you haven’t heard it.
- Portishead – “The Rip”
This is the song that defined the latter half of 2021 for me. Became fully obsessed with Third with “The Rip” leading the charge. Just aching, haunting music. Full of paranoia and most of all just TIRED. Tired of all this hurt that’s surrounding us all. Third has this quality of restlessness that’s so ingeniously wound – no other album even comes close. A hypnotic paranoia. Brutal, but beautiful.
- Shannon & The Clams – “Vanishing”
This song will hit you like a load of bricks. Shannon Shaw is the truth, y’all.
- Alexalone – “Unpacking My Feelings”
More heavier indie rock bands in 2022 please.
- Innovations – “Seabird”
Been a fan of this song for a while but had never heard it in the wild until I saw Lightning Bug at Baby’s All Right. I walked into the venue with this playing and witnessed random people around in the audience really connect with the song, despite it not really being a well-known hit. Many attempted Shazams foiled by Baby’s bad service. Sneak this into any DJ set to improve the morale of your audience by ten-fold.
- Ryuichi Sakamoto – “Thousand Knives”
Heard this before Jessy Lanza’s set and it kept blowing my mind. I’ve gotten into Haruomi Hosono’s back catalog but not really Sakamoto’s. Need to change that. I also saw the group of people in front of me share that meme about flipping out over Japanese jazz fusion records from the 80s when this came on. People in the know here.
- Jessy Lanza – “Anyone Around”
PHEW! Seeing Jessy Lanza outdoors (her first show since lockdown) was one of my most magical showgoing moments ever. I danced like a maniac surrounded by other dancing maniacs. No self-conscious thoughts, just movement. The outpouring of love from the audience got Jessy emotional onstage, and hearing all the slappers from All The Time got me emotional. So pure, effortless happiness.
- Badge Epoch – “Please”
Badge continue to keep a stranglehold on my listening for a third straight year. This is just an amazingly killer groove.
- Cocteau Twins – “Theft, And Wandering Around Lost”
More Cocteau Twins, because how can I not? Lots of Cocteau Twins this year.
- Mdou Moctar – “Taliat”
What I saw at Mdou Moctar’s live show is what inspires me to keep going to live shows. Pure magic. A huge mosh pit that was basically a giant hug. (I was not in said mosh). Obviously COVID paranoid but it felt like such a wonderful moment of unity, bonded together by North African shredding.
- Leonard Cohen – “First We Take Manhattan”
I’m Your Man is a funny record. This is a funnier track, especially as an opener. But wow I love it. “They sentenced me to 20 years of boredom for trying to change the system from within.”
- Neil Young – “Time Fades Away”
Saw Yo La Tengo cover this song and it kicked ass.
- Broken Social Scene – “7/4 (Shoreline)”
Had a craving to listen to the Broken Social Scene 2005 s/t record and yeah, “7/4 (Shoreline)” is still an incredibly kickass song. I hate that I get nostalgic for the 00s since it was such a cultural trash fire but damn. Seeing this song live when it was hot would have been incredible. This also kicked off a string of listening to exclusively 2005 records for a few days, including Silent Alarm, Tender Buttons, Frances The Mute, Feels, etc. I was a super awkward middle schooler that only listened to Evanescence at the time, so I’m just trying to make up for lost time.
- Dummy – “H.V.A.C.”
Listened to this record maybe five times in a row one weekend. Soundtracked my entire weekly chores trip. A delight to replay over and over, remembering different individual things from each previous play-through. Just an awesome collage of sounds, another great weekend record. A good chaotic farmer’s market record.
- Richard Hawley – “The Ocean”
My favorite 2005 discovery by far. My friend Jesse had recommended me this album some time ago but I never got to it. Silly me! Many nights spent walking back home listening to this album. A perfect city nights record. Also shout out to my friend Joel. I know he loves this record. You will too.
- Art Blakey – “Moanin'”
This is me telling you that I watched Kids On The Slope this year without me directly telling you that I watched Kids On The Slope this year. Marvelous anime mini-series about two high schoolers that start a jazz band in 1960’s Japan. For those with minimal anime knowledge like myself, this was directed by the same guy who did Cowboy Bebop and likewise features the same composer, making it very music-heavy. It’s great. It got me to listening to more entry-level jazz standards. Baby steps!
- John Coltrane – “Giant Steps”
Ok I know I just said “baby steps” up above on “Moanin'” and this is called “Giant Steps”… uhh… that’s one big baby (a play on “Giant Baby Steps”). I rode a bike on the beach in Hilton Head while playing this from my phone in the front basket and it was a fantastic experience. Beautiful day, just listening to Coltrane and feeling the sun and wind on my face. Peace.
- Tatsuro Yamashita – “Nostalgia of Island (Part 1: Wind Bird, Part 2: Walking on the Beach)”
If you didn’t think I would listen to Pacific while bike riding on the beach, you’re mistaken. I played this record until my phone died for the day. I also had the original Pokemon Red/Blue surf theme in my head, blasting from my memory banks as I watched the current spray against my bike tires.
- Dead Can Dance – “Mesmerism”
Found a copy of Dead Can Dance’s Spleen and Ideal at Graveface Records in Savannah – one of the few underpriced records at the store (no offense y’all!). Very happy I found it, especially after listening to a bunch of Dead Can Dance this year while I’ve been 80s music searching. Great album! I listened to it again recently (as in December) and it instantly transported me back to my train ride back up to NYC from Savannah, being shaken around and trying to sleep (it was an overnight train) with dreams being invaded by the beautiful hanging Spanish moss, and being excited to listen to my vinyl purchase on nice speakers.
- Joe Henderson – “Blue Bossa”
A little continuation of my jazz moment. Put this album on as I was unpacking from my trip, gently bringing life back into the dusty, still apartment, and had a lovely time being welcomed to NYC as I organized my life back into place.
- Slowdive – “Catch The Breeze”
It was October and ’tis the season for Slowdive. Upon a realization that I hadn’t spent much quality time with Just For A Day, I made it a point to make it a regular listen. I tried to, anyways. I ended up just getting stuck on “Catch The Breeze”, a major highlight in Slowdive’s catalog and features some of the most gorgeous, almost bagpipe-like shining melodies on the back end of the track. It’s magical. Definitely a track I’d just keep slamming replay on.
- Wet – “Blades of Grass”
Been pretty obsessed with this song since I heard it. Maybe the most beautiful, devastating song in Wet’s discography. I went longer on this song in its own standalone post, so go check that out. In short, it conveys the feeling of exhaustion and defeat so well, without being wallowing: “being bowled over by a gentle breeze”.
- Sam Prekop – “Faces and People”
Shout out to Ryley Walker for constantly shouting this album out. I could also sub in that I listened to a ton of Tortoise’s TNT late in the year as well, but I featured them on last year’s Retrospective. Shout out to Chicago’s music scene in the late 90s / early 00s.
- Grouper – “Promise”
It took a few weeks after release, but I finally sat down to listen to the new Grouper record with no other distractions. Love the simple lyrics and vulnerable delivery on this one.
- TOPS – “Colder & Closer”
Finally got to bring my partner to her first TOPS show (my sixth). They’re as great as ever, and it was incredible to hear songs off I Feel Alive at long last. Ultimate party bangers.
- Misha Panfilov Sound Combo – “Together”
Not sure how I came across this record, but perfect Sunday morning vibrations. Another great farmer’s market record. Also reminds me of meeting up with my friend Dylan AT the farmer’s market when he visited the city. Nice memory!
- Sam Evian – “Dream Free (feat. Hannah Cohen)”
Even though this song has an eerily similar bassline to a song off Evian’s first solo album, it feels like a whole new experience. This LP was a great surprise + a companion to many farmers market trips.
- Open Sky Unit – “Open Sky”
You ever go into a record store and are shopping for a bit but every so often your attention keeps drifting back to what they’re playing on the speakers? This happened to me at Encore Records in Ann Arbor, MI and they were playing the very cool comp Utopic Cities : Progressive Jazz in Belgium 1968-1979 and every track was giving me funky stank face + getting blown away by some outrageous solos. I went up and asked what it was once, but when I asked if they were still playing the same thing when I went to check out I was like “ok, it’s time to buy this” and without hesitation added it to my record pile.
- Yo La Tengo – “You Are Here”
This just in: Yo La Tengo’s There’s A Riot Going On is incredible to listen to at like 5am, on three hours of sleep, while driving to the airport in a rental car at the end of a vacation. I’ve listened to this record plenty of times, but in this situation it was really hitting. I also saw YLT open a set with this earlier this year – great opener all around!
- Yasmin Williams – “Dragonfly”
My partner and I saw Yasmin Williams at City Winery on a nice Friday fall evening and it was one of my favorite shows of the year. We both have loved Williams’ record from this year and have listened to it pretty regularly while just doing stuff around the apartment. Williams is also a great performer and presence onstage, so she had the audience laughing in between being awed by her playing. I know the LP has brought my partner a lot of peace in the mornings before she heads to her work, so when Williams started playing “Dragonfly”, a particularly lightweight and beautiful tune, I pictured the music aligning with my own feelings and desires of calmness and sanctuary that I try to bring to domestic life and give to my partner + started tearing up. Overly sappy and cheesy here, but it’s true!
- Mr Twin Sister – “Fantasy”
Been waiting to hear a studio version of this track for ages! And it’s finally here! It’s great!
- Mountain Man – “Sewee Sewee”
Can’t be the end of the year without a little Mountain Man. A favorite trio of my partner and I, Mountain Man held a livestream celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut album, Made The Harbor, which at the time of the livestream was actually 11 years old. Some truly angelic harmonies and melodies in this track.
- Ovlov – “Baby Shea”
In the short amount of time between the release of this album and the year’s end, Ovlov’s Buds became one of my most listened-to records of 2021. This was easy to accomplish with such an incredible opener as “Baby Shea”. Gimme the riffs!
- Mary Lattimore – “On the Day You Saw the Dead Whale”
Saw Mary Lattimore at Union Pool (with Ana Roxanne opening!) and was spellbound from start to end. I had seen her twice before, but never headlining a show. She’s a master, and this song starting off the set was a memorable one, as at a certain point the whole song started playing in reverse overtop the ending; a great effect.
- Laura Marling – “I Was An Eagle”
My last show of the year was Laura Marling at new venue Brooklyn Made. Marling opened up with a medley consisting of the first five songs off her 2013 album I Was An Eagle. 12 minutes of pure magic. The explosion of applause that resulted after was well deserved. Whole show was amazing, but wow. That’s how you start a show, and it reminded me of how good that album is.
- You’ll Never Get To Heaven – “Eye Soul and Hand”
A late-year favorite, this You’ll Never Get To Heaven album really surprised me. I remembered them as a pretty good dream pop group that I learned about via Gorilla Vs. Bear. I didn’t even knew they had a new one out until I saw the album on, you guessed it, GvsB’s year-end list. Turns out this album has a ton of super dreamy, like beyond the usual palette that bands use these days, on it. Fretless bass abound. Lovely harmonics. Shimmering piano. Each song sounds like a serene pond, surrounded by mist, with little ripples from dew drops falling from bare tree branches overhead. One of the last records I found myself constantly returning to in December.
- Hiroki Kikuta – “Phantom and a Rose”
Found myself listening to the whole Secret of Mana soundtrack over and over, which if ya don’t know, is one of the best game OST’s I’ve heard. I have never played the game. But boy howdy, it sounds good. If anyone reading this has any other SNES-era soundtracks like this that rip (aside from the DKC series, I’m already fully into those), let me know.
- Jazmine Sullivan – “The Other Side”
After enjoying Jazmine’s album a bit when it first came out, I dropped it off for nearly the entire year until the very end. Then I re-listened to this song and wow, I mean, I put it as my #3 song of 2021 for a reason. I think I listened to it 15-20 times in a span of four days.
- Wye Oak – “Holy Holy”
Finished off the year with a fond celebration of all my favorite records from 2011, marking their 10th birthdays. Revisiting a bunch of albums from the year was a lot of fun, but I didn’t remember how much Wye Oak’s Civilian rocked. The whole album is super solid and I wish I had listened to it more in the years in between. I also could have swapped in “Doubt” off this album. Such a good closer.
LISTENING STATS FOR 2021::
2020 was by far my slowest year in music listening according to my last.fm. In 2021, I wanted to pick up the pace a bit, which I did. A little over 4,000 more monitored plays (or last.fm calls them “scrobbles”), and a general increase of 11 per day, from 2020 to 2021. One caveat is that I share my Spotify with my partner, so she would listen to a few artists in the morning before I got up, which inflated my stats a bit. Overall though I tried to listen to more music and not have random YouTube videos playing in the background instead. I think I succeeded, but it’s still a work in progress!
TOTAL STATS FOR 2021:
- 27,079 total plays / 74 plays per day
- 1,735 different artists
- 2,731 different albums
- 11,491 different tracks
MOST-PLAYED ARTISTS OF 2021:
Grouper back into the Top 20 after missing the list in 2020. Also continuing the trend that YLT, Cocteau Twins and Prefab Sprout are just the only things I listen to with regularity over the last five years. Mary Lattimore, Jessica Pratt, Cassandra Jenkins, Izzy Johnson and Katy Kirby are all artists that my partner and I would have on in the apartment constantly this year as well.
- Yo La Tengo – 442 plays
–> (prev. #17 in 2020 w/ 141 plays, #2 in 2018 w/ 431 plays & #14 in 2017 w/ 314 plays)
- Cassandra Jenkins – 331 plays
- Jessica Pratt – 273 plays
–> (prev. #15 in 2019 w/ 196 plays)
- Mary Lattimore – 264 plays
- Cocteau Twins – 261 plays
–> (prev. #15 in 2020 w/ 144 plays, #21 in 2018 w/ 193 plays & #8 in 2017 w/ 382 plays)
- SPELLLING – 260 plays
- Prefab Sprout – 254 plays
–> (prev. #1 in 2020 w/ 344 plays & #2 in 2019 w/ 339 plays)
- Izzy Johnson – 238 plays
- Portishead – 236 plays
- Erika de Casier – 226 plays
–> (prev. #18 in 2019 w/ 187 plays)
- Katy Kirby – 223 plays
- L’Rain – 216 plays
- Dummy – 204 plays
- The Radio Dept. – 186 plays
- Grouper – 185 plays
–> (prev. #6 in ’19 w/ 298 plays, #4 in ’18 w/ 356, #3 in ’17 w/ 456 & #6 in ’16 w/ 485)
- Lightning Bug – 182 plays
- Ovlov – 177 plays
- Doss – 170 plays
- The Cure – 169 plays
- Hildegard – 167 plays
MOST-PLAYED ALBUMS OF 2021:
Only four non-2021 records in this lineup here. I need to do better!
- SPELLLING – The Turning Wheel (2021) – 256 plays
- Cassandra Jenkins – An Overview on Phenomenal Nature (2021) – 240 plays
- Katy Kirby – Cool Dry Place (2021) – 220 plays
- Izzy Johnson – earth tones (2021) – 214 plays
- Erika de Casier – Sensational (2021) – 208 plays
- L’Rain – Fatigue (2021) – 202 plays
- Portishead – Third (2008) – 195 plays
- Dummy – Mandatory Enjoyment (2021) – 192 plays
- Lightning Bug – A Color of the Sky (2021) – 182 plays
- Ovlov – Buds (2021) – 170 plays
- Doss – 4 New Hit Songs (2021) – 162 plays
- Brijean – Feelings (2021) – 157 plays
- Spirit of the Beehive – ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH (2021) – 147 plays
- Ted Lucas – Ted Lucas (1975) – 137 plays
- Yasmin Williams – Urban Driftwood (2021) – 136 plays
- John Carroll Kirby – Septet (2021) – 133 plays
- Richard Hawley – Coles Corner (2005) – 131 plays
- Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg (2021) – 123 plays
- Tortoise – TNT (1998) – 122 plays
- Hildegard – Hildegard (2021) – 121 plays
MOST-PLAYED TRACKS OF 2021:
(only one song per artist/album)
- Doss – “On Your Mind” – 78 plays
- Cassandra Jenkins – “Crosshairs” – 51 plays
- Hildegard – “Jour 2” – 49 plays
- Izzy Johnson – “Existing” – 44 plays
- Jimmy Edgar – “BE WITH YOU (feat. Millie Go Lightly)” – 43 plays
- John Carroll Kirby – “Rainmaker” – 39 plays
- Brijean – “Softened Thoughts” – 38 plays
- Portishead – “The Rip” – 37 plays
- L’Rain – “Blame Me” – 36 plays
- Dummy – “Final Weapon” – 33 plays
- Katy Kirby – “Eyelids” – 32 plays
- Lightning Bug – “I Lie Awake” – 32 plays
- SPELLLING – “Turning Wheel” – 32 plays
- Ovlov – “Baby Shea” – 30 plays
- Rochelle Jordan – “Next 2 You” – 30 plays
- Blue Hawaii – “No Drama” – 29 plays
- Erika de Casier – “Drama” – 29 plays
- Jessica Pratt – “Back, Baby” – 29 plays
- Dry Cleaning – “Her Hippo” – 28 plays
- Hiroshi Sato – “Blue and Moody Music (Wendy’s Version)” – 27 plays
- January – 1,496 plays <– low
- February – 1,657 plays
- March – 2,001 plays
- April – 1,668 plays
- May – 1,806 plays
- June – 1,839 plays
- July – 2,611 plays
- August – 3,095 plays
- September – 3,286 plays <– high
- October – 2,215 plays
- November – 2,461 plays
- December – 2,944 plays
MORE MEDIA CONSUMED IN 2021::
Always keeping track of what I’m consuming, media-wise. As usual it was mostly music but I snuck in a few other things as a change. I usually include a video games section, but I really only dabbled in games this year, playing games for little pockets of time and not dedicating a good amount of time to one specific game. But I did play Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Minecraft. I played maybe 20 minutes of Hades on a train. Need to play it more, I know.
A paltry showing. To be fair, I didn’t read a single book in 2020. That sucked. I read one this year, which I enjoyed heartily. I’d read it again in a heartbeat. Also, this isn’t a book, but I started reading a few magazines this year, namely Love Injection fanzines and a copy of Wire I bought because it has Grouper on the cover. Physical media! It rocks!
- A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
A decent amount of movies this year. More I wanted to watch but just continually put off. I loved Before Sunrise and can’t wait to see the other two movies. Best In Show made me laugh more than anything else this year, I think. Yes I had never seen The Royal Tenenbaums before. It was great. And oh baby, Carol was amazing.
- Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar
- Before Sunrise
- Best In Show
- The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins
- Dark Days
- The Favourite
- George Washington (2000)
- It’s Such a Beautiful Day
- Little Women (2019)
- Love Streams
- Persepolis (rewatch)
- Pom Poko
- The Royal Tenenbaums
- Secrets & Lies
- The Starling
- World of Tomorrow
- 20th Century Women (rewatch)
Taking baby steps here. Loved Kids on the Slope. Need more anime miniseries like that. How To With John Wilson is fantastic. I love NYC. Good Timing with Jo Firestone is also hilarious. Long live comedy like that. Meant to watch more of Kyle Mooney’s SMASH but uh, blog stuff got in the way.
- Good Timing with Jo Firestone (comedy special)
- How To With John Wilson
- Kids on the Slope
- One episode of Saturday Morning All Star Hits