With the end of September, comes the beginning of 2021’s final quarter. However, before we get to the all-important end of the year, it would be criminal not to look back on all of the phenomenal music that the Summer of 2021 has blessed us with. This leads to the very purpose of this article; to cover all of the musical tidbits of July, August, and September of 2021.
This is the third seasonal round-up I have created. If you want to see my previous round-ups for other seasons, I have added some links below.
As always with these round-ups, I will be beginning by going over some of the strongest albums the warmer quarter of the year has had to offer.
Top 10 Favourite Records of the Season
[in no particular order]
Spellling — The Turning Wheel
I vividly remember my initial full listen of this album. Oddly enough, it was in the historic town of Arundel, yet I felt that it was a pretty ideal setting for an album as grand and as gorgeous as this one. The melodic intricacy and mystifying atmosphere that The Turning Wheel undeniably has in spade-loads, serves as the most shining quality for sure.
IDK — USEE4YOURSELF
While some have criticised this album as being packed with a little too many pop-rap cliches, I would have to disagree. I feel that IDK does a marvellous job of adding a brilliant sense of vibrance and versatility that makes USEE4YOURSELF pop out as a highly enjoyable listen. On top of that, IDK offers a deep and thought-provoking narrative with a refreshing resolve.
Horsey — Debonair
Branching off of what some might call the “King Krule tree”, I feel that Horsey, a band comprising of Archie Marshall’s brother, stands on its own as a completely bonkers record (in every good way describable). There truly hasn’t been another album in 2021 that quite sounds like Debonair, so I would highly recommend this project to anyone looking for something a bit different.
Nas — King’s Disease II
While Nas’ 2020 album King’s Disease was still a more than solid project, my hopes for a swiftly released sequel weren’t initially too high. However, King’s Disease II arguably blows its predecessor completely out of the water. There were so many tracks that stuck with me, and the whole “tough love” presence this album has is something that Nas undeniably champions.
Lingua Ignota — SINNER GET READY
Ever since hearing bits and pieces of Lingua Ignota’s 2019 album, I’ve been trying to break through the strenuous feeling of fully getting into her music. I feel like I am finally there thanks to SINNER GET READY, and all of the godly ballads it strikes the listener with. To say that this is an awe inspiring project is a gross understatement. It is both beautiful and horrifying, but above all else, truly artistic.
Jungle — Loving In Stereo
When it came to just flat-out feel-good vibes, Jungle’s Loving In Stereo really had that covered. There was such an uplifting and motivational aura about the album, whilst also being a really chilled listen as well. There was a great range to choose from when it came to all of the awesome tracks this album carries. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album end to end.
Kanye West — Donda
I know, I know; Donda is a very controversial album to place onto this round-up. On top of this, I initially feared that I was giving in to the hype of this album, much like how I did for Jesus Is King. However, the more I listen to this album, the less I believe that this is just a hype album. in fact, Donda has to be one of the most memorable projects that Kanye has put out in years.
Turnstile — GLOW ON
With the release of their newest album, I firmly believe that Turnstile have completely found their own unique niche. While this was foreshadowed in their previous album Time & Space, it feels truly cemented with GLOW ON. This niche I speak of, is a unique but perfect blend of hardcore punk and funky dance, with a little sprinkle of dreamy vibes added for good measure.
Little Simz — Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
As if I thought that the previous masterpiece from Little Simz, 2019’s GREY Area, would be almost impossible to top, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert arrives with a near perfect mixture of grit and grandeur, with a splendid narrative to boot. With all of that said, this album is even bigger, and even better, than its already phenomenal predecessor.
Baby Keem — The Melodic Blue
Of course, I wouldn’t say that Baby Keem’s The Melodic Blue is the most polished album here. However, there is no beating around the bush when it comes to just how fun the record is. As well as being the closest thing to a Kendrick Lamar project that we’ve had in a while, it also sheds a promising light on the exciting hip-hop upcomer that is Baby Keem.
Top 30 Tracks of the Season
[in no particular order]
Spellling — Little Deer
A fantastically whimsical opener for the amazing album The Turning Wheel, “Little Deer” gets the project off to an anthemic and grand start.
Sam Fender — Seventeen Going Under
Encapsulating everything I loved about Sam Fender’s music surrounding his previous album cycle, “Seventeen Going Under” proves that he’s still got it.
IDK, Westside Gunn, Jay Electronica & MF DOOM — Red
Combining the efforts of IDK, Westside Gunn, Jay Electronica, and the late MF DOOM, “Red” is both extremely classy, and extremely catchy.
Yves Tumor — Secrecy Is Incredibly Important To The Both Of Them
Yves Tumor’s latest EP felt like an explosive burst of the much loved surreal energy of the artist, and this track was certainly one of the reasons why.
Genesis Owusu — What Do I Fear?
Even with his bonus tracks, Genesis Owusu just doesn’t seem to miss with a single track. This one in particular was another awesome and gritty tune.
VUKOVI — Hurt
It didn’t take long at all for this track to grow on me. And now, “Hurt” has done so to the point where it may be the best of VUKOVI’s potential new album cycle.
Obongjayar & Sarz — If You Say
Obongjayar and Sarz proved to be a match made in heaven as shown by their new EP. The nocturnal funk of this track made it one of the highlights the EP had to offer.
Blue Lab Beats & Ghetto Boy — Sensual Loving
Very few tracks came as close to being more of a warm and summery tune than the vibrant atmosphere that “Sensual Loving” brought to the table.
Horsey — Arms and Legs
On an album that was jam-packed with weird and wonderful tunes, I felt that “Arms and Legs” served as one of the most memorable moments.
Silk Sonic — Skate
The collaborative project of Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars is indeed hyped up, and with a track like “Skate”, it’s not hard to see why.
Ghostemane & Scarlxrd — маг
Out of the three tracks from the collaborative EP of Ghostemane and Scarlxrd, this one certainly did the best job of combining their two musical styles.
Nas — Store Run
It was incredibly tricky to try and pick a best track of “King’s Disease II”, but the powerfully soulful production of “Store Run” ended up taking the cake.
Lingua Ignota — I WHO BEND THE TALL GRASSES
To say that this track had me on the very edge of my seat is underselling it. Lingua Ignota has rarely sounded as dramatic as on this track, which is really saying something.
KSI & Lil Wayne — Lose
I have to give it to KSI; not only did he bring on an artist as renowned as Lil Wayne, but he also matched his energy on “Lose” as well.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes & Lynks — Go Get A Tattoo
An unlikely alliance of two artists I love, and an outstandingly catchy anthem as the resulting product; what more could I have asked for?
Aj Shabeel — MAD
The debut single from Aj Shabeel turned out to be a more than pleasant surprise. Not only that, but it served as a pretty vibey summer tune as well.
Jungle — Can’t Stop the Stars
A truly majestic and glamorous way to conclude the awesomely optimistic project that was Jungle’s latest album. Can’t Stop the Stars is true musical gold.
YUNGBLUD — fleabag
YUNGBLUD stands as a prominent figure when it comes to me enjoying live music again. A vital part of that, is this absolute banger of an anthem.
Turnstile — WILD WRLD
Out of all of the amazing tracks on Turnstile’s new album, I feel that “WILD WRLD” is arguably one of the best representatives of the band’s unique niche.
Westside Gunn & Mach-Hommy — Margiela Split Toes
I think it was primarily the production that propelled this tracks as one of my favourites on Westside Gunn’s new mixtape, as it reflects that flashy sense of grandeur exceptionally well.
Kanye West, Kid Cudi & Don Toliver — Moon
There is simply no denying how gorgeous this track sounds, from Don Toliver’s vocals, to the percussion-less instrumental, it is absolutely heavenly.
JPEGMAFIA — TRUST!
Yet again, JPEGMAFIA never ceases to have us hooked with his quirky and surreal brand of hip-hop, with “TRUST!” being the newest great example.
Little Simz — I Love You, I Hate You
What can quite easily be a contender for my favourite song of the year, every aspect of “I Love You, I Hate You” pulls at the heartstrings, from its epic instrumental, to the heartfelt lyrics.
Mastodon — Pushing the Tides
The explosive energy of “Pushing the Tides” brings me somewhat back to the days of Mastodon’s debut album Remission, which can only spell promise for what’s to come.
Amyl and The Sniffers — Choices
Not only does the instrumental of “Choices” absolutely slap, but I could most certainly enjoy the empowering sentiment behind this punk banger too.
Baby Keem & Kendrick Lamar — Family Ties
With regular beat switch-ups, an almost royal feel, and an incredible amount of catchy appeal, this track was perfect for the union between Kendrick and his cousin.
Lady Gaga & Dorian Electra — Replay (Remix)
As If i thought I couldn’t enjoy one of my favourite Chromatica tracks any more than I did, Dorian Electra takes the wheel, and creates something entirely new with this remix.
Lil Nas X & Jack Harlow — INDUSTRY BABY
A “feel good anthem” is simply understating it; “INDUSTRY BABY” is Lil Nas X’s unwavering self-love in musical form, and I absolutely cannot get enough of it!
alt-J — U&ME
Seen as this is the very first original song alt-J have put out since 2017, it’s fair to say it’s been a while. But “U&ME” proves that the band have still kept their uniqueness.
Dua Saleh & Amaarae — fitt
Dua Saleh weaves her confidence into this gritty and catchy new track, making for an undeniably enjoyable and memorable listen.
CASISDEAD & La Roux — Park Assist
I don’t know how it had been done, but the galactic production of “Park Assist” finds a way to perfectly compliment both La Roux and CASISDEAD.
Listen to these tracks, along with many more great tunes of July, August, and September, on the playlist below.
My Favourite EP of the Season
Tkay Maidza — Last Year Was Weird, Vol.3
Following the year of 2020, when Tkay Maidza had already release a smashing EP, in the form of Last Year Was Weird, Vol.2, Tkay Maidza strikes gold again with her follow-up. Not only that, but I feel that she did an even more stellar job with this one. There’s a perfect balance of serenity and big booming grit on this EP, meaning that no corner of it gets boring.
Music Video of the Season
Lil Nas X — INDUSTRY BABY
It should just be said here and now; Lil Nas X has established himself as a G.O.A.T when it comes to music videos this year. I mean, how could it not be the video that has naked synchronised shower dancing, a Jason Momoa cameo, and a prison, break in the space of just under 4 minutes? Perfectly shot, edited, and directed, if this video triggers you, all I have to say is that you need to loosen up a little.
Album Cover of the Season
Lil Nas X — MONTERO
Apologies, but I couldn’t refrain from putting Lil Nas X twice on this round-up. Not only did he put out my favourite music video of the season; the same praise can be given towards the cover art for his debut studio album. While MONTERO wasn’t musically my favourite album of the season, it definitely sports one of the most vibrant and visually appealing covers for sure.
So that concludes my third round-up of the year. Given the nature of how hectic the end of the year is for a music reviewer like myself, the final seasonal round-up will arrive in mid December, shortly before my famous “last-minute reviews week”, and then the final lists of 2021. Stay tuned for all of the good things to come.