For those who have been long-time followers of the blog, you may have been wondering where my monthly round-up articles have ran off to. Due to my aim to invest my time more thoughtfully this year, my answer to that comes in the form of my decision to create “seasonal” round-ups instead.
When I say “seasonal” in this case, it essentially means that I will be compiling a round-up for every quarter of 2021, with the first edition of these highlighting everything we’ve received so far this year, spanning from the very first day of January, to the final day of March.
This time of year is an important one for artists to establish either themselves or the newest of their great projects early on in the year, giving them much more of an advantage when it comes to building up sentimentality gradually over the course of the year. That being said, these picks of mine are special cases of ones to watch.
I will be compiling this round-up similarly to how I would’ve done for the monthly round-ups last year, with some minor adjustments, tweaks and conveniences along the way.
So with all of that out of the way, let’s jump right into the round-up, starting with my first category; my favourite albums of the season.
Top 10 Favourite Records of the Season
[in no particular order]
R.A.P Ferreira & Scallops Hotel — Bob’s Son
Released at the very start of the year, Rory Allen Phillip Ferreira brought two of his musical projects together into one piece. Successfully combining the more raw qualities of R.A.P Ferreira, with the trippy and artistic production that feels more synonymous with Scallops Hotel, Bob’s Son stood out as a very unique project, even amongst the artist’s numerous catalogues.
In The Pines — Slow Blink
Another album which arrived in the earliest part of the year, Slow Blink instantly gave off that warm and feel-good rock vibe; one that’s only become more enjoyable with the warmer days of spring rolling in. This project is absolutely brimming with bright and upbeat energy, and with a jazzy twist to boost, Slow Blink makes for a pretty wicked project.
Madlib — Sound Ancestors
I remember going into Madlib’s Sound Ancestors not really knowing what to expect, given that my only real exposure to the producer up to that point was his 2019 collaboration with Freddie Gibbs Bandana. But with the sheer versatility and technical skill that Sound Ancestors has to offer, this album ultimately became one that sticks out as a fantastic project.
Kid Kapichi — This Time Next Year
It was definitely fair to say that This Time Next Year was amongst one of my most anticipated releases of 2021, with Kid Kapichi releasing a generous helping of hard-hitting and highly engaging teaser tracks. The full album, upon its release, most certainly didn’t disappoint. Giving listeners even more modern punk bangers to enjoy, it ended up being everything I’d hoped for.
slowthai — TYRON
Another highly anticipated 2021 project was of course the sophomore effort from slowthai. Following on from his phenomenal debut, TYRON offers a more introspective side to the artist, splitting this album into halves, with hard-hitters followed by more mellow tunes, it was easy to see that there was a lot of thought, effort, and passion that went into TYRON.
Tash Sultana — Terra Firma
Following her awesome 2018 album Flow State, Tash Sultana brings us yet another album whose amazingly colourful sound shines vibrantly through. There is so much life and passion that this album carries, that it felt way to easy for me to sink deeply in to its atmosphere. I imagine with the more hazy summer days on the way, Terra Firma will grow on me even more.
Architects — For Those That Wish To Exist
While For Those That Wish To Exist was another 2021 album I had highly anticipated, I still wasn’t expecting it to stands as my favourite album the band had put out since Lost Forever // Lost Together, but it easily managed to stand as such a record. A rally cry for listeners who are desperate to find a better life for themselves in a world like this, this project’s engagement is truly unreal.
Genesis Owusu — Smiling with No Teeth
The debut album from Genesis Owusu absolutely blew me away, for just how many different moods and atmospheres the artist managed to champion so effortlessly. The sense of ambition that Smiling with No Teeth holds is totally awe-inspiring. It’s the kind of album that I could only dream of creating myself if I was an artist, as it is a true treat for the eclectic listener.
Black Honey — Written & Directed
The sophomore project from Brighton band Black Honey, I was utterly impressed with how far the aesthetic of the band has seemingly grow with this project. Not only do they stray further away from being your “typical indie band”, but they do so in a way that feels greatly unique to them. On top of this, the bright and warm feel this album has me pumped for the summer.
serpentwithfeet — DEACON
The latest album to make it to my top 10, DEACON had no trouble at all when it came to giving me the sense that it was a special album. With its bright, heavenly, and very affectionate presence, this album feels like a guaranteed way to feel good through music. By injecting his signature artistry into a more accessible framework, serpentwithfeet creates a lasting appeal with DEACON.
Top 30 Tracks of the Season
[in no particular order]
Bakar — Having a Good Time, Sometimes
Bakar has a brilliant knack for creating wholesome-feeling tracks, and what better way to start the year off, than with this atmospheric and uplifting tune?
R.A.P Ferreira & Scallops Hotel — yamships, flaxseed
One of Bob’s Son’s finest examples of Rory Ferreira’s talent when it comes to switching things up, and creating a real artistic sense.
Gary Numan — Intruder
Bewitchingly dark and foreboding, and incredibly engaging too, “Intruder” had my hope skyrocketing in regards to Gary Numan’s upcoming album.
Years & Years — It’s A Sin
After this track ultimately persuaded me to watch the Channel 4 series of the same name, this minimal rendition of it’s theme song felt truly connective.
Arlo Parks — Portra 400
It felt apparent from her new album, and especially this track, that Arlo Parks was highly talented when it comes to creating sentimentality through music.
Brent Faiyaz, DJ Dahi & Tyler, The Creator — Gravity
A colourful and surreal musical experience with a highly catchy edge, I loved how Brent Faiyaz was introduced to me through this awesome tune.
Madlib — Road Of The Lonely Ones
“Road Of The Lonely Ones” was where I felt the strongest sense of effective sampling and minimalism on Madlib’s Sound Ancestors project.
Kid Kapichi — Don’t Kiss Me (I’m Infected)
Ultimately becoming one of my favourite tunes that arrived with the full album, this track is gritty, and insanely engaging.
Foo Fighters — Making A Fire
I have to admit, Foo Fighters really managed to add a unique twist to their beloved energy on “Making A Fire”
Zella Day & Weyes Blood — Holocene
Incredibly beautiful, serene, and warm, Zella Day and Weyes Blood come together beautifully on this track.
Black Country , New Road — Track X
I absolutely loved just how well this track flowed, and how it really showed off the chemistry behind Black Country, New Road.
Rebecca Black, 30H!3, Big Freedia & Dorian Electra — Friday (Remix)
Almost a full decade after the original song’s release, and I was clearly able to see how far Rebecca Black has come independently.
slowthai — focus
The beauty of this track is truly in its subtlety, and “focus” ultimately became my favourite track within a very strong album.
JPEGMAFIA — PANIC ROOM!
While EP2! wasn’t as beloved by me as its predecessor, “PANIC ROOM!” still stood as a track that brought that unique JPEGMAFIA energy.
Alfie Templeman — Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody
Alfie Templeman takes one giant step forward in developing his style, as shown by this warm and vibrant summer-made anthem.
Bob Vylan — CSGB
The closing track to Bob Vylan’s incredibly hard-hitting and unapologetic new EP, “CSGB” is awesomely gritty and menacing in tone.
Architects & Winston McCall — Impermanence
To see Architects come together with Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall was a real treat to behold, and I’m glad this awesome song did them both justice.
Greentea Peng — Nah It Ain’t The Same
Even as far as Greentea Peng’s tracks go, “Nah It Ain’t The Same” is brilliantly warm and hazy in its atmosphere, and carries an engaging premise.
JID — Skegee
It was hard to pick amongst the four incredible tunes that JID released in February, but ‘Skegee’, with its historical reference, spoke to me the most.
Freddie Gibbs — Winter In America
An awesome cover of Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘Winter In America, that was recontextualised to keep awareness raised for Black Lives today.
Genesis Owusu — Bye Bye
Out of all of the track I could’ve chosen off of Genesis Owusu’s amazing debut album, I feel that the impactful closer feels most apt.
Gengahr — Under the Skin
Gengahr inject their captivating indie sound into something that feels phenomenally layered, and even epic to an extent, with this new track.
KSI, YUNGBLUD & Polo G — Patience
KSI really threw a creative curveball towards fans with his latest single, which defies my expectations in all of the best ways.
Nubiyan Twist — Keeper
I felt that from Nubiyan Twist’s latest record, Freedom Fables, it was “Keeper” that truly felt like the fullest and most passionate musical experience.
IDK — Just Like Martin
Much like IDK’s 2020 single “King Alfred”, this new track does another brilliant job of showing the artist’s unwavering attitude.
Black Honey — Fire
When it came to my opinion that Black Honey’s sophomore album really captures that warm spring vibe, it was “Fire” that was at the front of my mind.
serpentwithfeet — Hyacinth
A beautifully radiant and highly soothing start to the amazing new album by serpentwithfeet. “Hyacinth” really set the stage for the rest of the album.
BROCKHAMPTON & Danny Brown — BUZZCUT
Awesomely psychedelic, well-crafted, and frankly like nothing the BROCKHAMPTON group have ever done before.
Gojira — Amazonia
A brilliantly awe-inspiring hard-hitter that carried a powerful environmental message, “Amazonia” has me highly excited for Gojira’s next album.
Lil Nas X —MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)
It was easy to see how more refined the sound of this new track is compared with Lil Nas X’s 2019 EP, but it still remains as adventurous as ever.
Listen to the full playlist of all of my favourite tracks of January, February, and March below.
My Favourite EP of the Season
Bob Vylan — We Live Here
How could it honestly not have been this EP? Not only does We Live Here carry such a hard-hitting and fiery energy throughout, but it does an incredible job of addressing racism in the UK, from the perspective of the artist themselves. Not to mention, it’s great to see one of my favourite tracks of last year become the title track for its very own EP. You need to give this one a listen!
Music Video of the Season
Lil Nas X — MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)
It’s still hard for me to believe that we exist in a reality where we get to see Lil Nas X pole-dancing to hell to give the devil himself a lap-dance; we are honestly not worthy! But what really made this music video so great was how it intentionally rocked the homophobic boat, attracting negative criticism from insecure straight people, just as Lil Nas X had planned all along.
Album Cover of the Season
Architects — For Those That Wish To Exist
I’m glad that Architects have been breaking further away from re-hashing the letter A with each recent release, and the cover art for their newest venture is easily the most eye-catching in my opinion. Seeing a person in a space suit standing inside a church is uncanny enough, but the use of light and the subtle symbolism is also ingenious.
And that conclude the first of four seasonal round-ups, as well as the first quarter of 2021. Keep your eyes peeled for the next round-up, arriving at the end of June.