Thursday, December 9, 2021

Year In Review 2021 - Favorite Albums Part 1 (Honorable Mentions and Let Downs)

Another year is finishing up and @RockBodElec wouldn't be a proper music site if we didn't end the year with a "Best Of" list, so RtBE presents 2021's Favorite Albums Part 1 (Honorable Mentions and Let Downs):

In the instance that RtBE has reviewed the album, either on this site or elsewhere, we will link to that review and just give a quick summation; click on the name/title and you can read our full opinion. RtBE worked with the Glide Team to give input on their Top 20 so you can expect some overlap if you already have seen that list.

Again the focus here is on full albums, not singles, but long playing releases you can slap on and listen all the way through. We know these are a dying breed, but it still is the way we consume music, no shuffle, Spotify or singles for us.

These are the albums that just missed out on being included in our top ten favorite for the year. After that we have s few albums from artists we dig that we were let down by. 

Like all of our lists or 'best of'' these are meant to start conversations more than end them...
2021 was a good year for new music releases. Remote recording technology allowed a ton of artists to craft tunes during the pandemic and a lot of artists who had full albums recorded pre-pandemic chose to wait until this year to release and tour. 

That said the pandemic also fucked up artists like everyone else, even more so in some cases and some efforts delivered a weird feeling. RtBE are not sure how many of these records will stand the test of time, or just be pigeonholed as "pandemic releases", but perhaps more than any other year, these 'just misses' presented today could easily be in the top ten for 2021. 

Since we started doing these lists back in 2009, there has never been a year where the gap from our just misses selections and the number one album has been this small. 

Every artist mentioned below is worth your time and money. But enough pre-amble, in no particular order except maybe the last few...

Honorable Mentions:

This funky record is a quick blast of cinematic 70's soul and funk from some of the best around who dabble in these waters. 

A restrained record that dabbles with nature, reemergence and hope as the violins, acoustic sounds and Jenkins singing shine. 

It was a good year for NOLA funk releases. The Meters backbone/legend dropped his first studio album in a long time as Porter was restricted from touring. Solid funk from the bassist extraordinaire. 

The best NOLA funk outfit doing it today gives another solid studio effort to their discography. 

Here is another NOLA funk legend...only he goes the singer songwriter route with a very solid album that only took fifty years to see the light of day. 

The first two selections on this list are from Brooklyn artists, the next three are New Orleans players and now there is Jon Batiste who represents both cities. Admittedly more NOLA during WE ARE, but there is a lot to like on this break out, pop leaning effort from the late night jazz man.   

Taqbir - Victory Belongs To Those Who Fight for A Right Cause
Now going half way around the planet for some blazing lo-fi/punk/noise that is screaming to literally change the world in which Taqbir live. 

Some more righteous, slamming and catchy female fronted punk rock. This one from an up and coming outfit out of Melbourne, Australia. 

The Screaming Females front woman went an electro-gloomy dance route and it worked. Peace Meter took a few listens, but it gets better and better the more RtBE hears it. 

A post-bop jazz record from some of the greats of that era who are still going strong. This jazz super group delivers a set of originals that really live up to the bands name. 

An overload of good blues based rock from the Mule on this one, nothing earth changing, just a stout mix of cover tunes and originals.

Speaking of blues, few currently do them better than the young phenom Kingfish, whose debut made this list back in 2019.  His sophomore release 662 is chock full of dope blues rockers. He is an artist to follow closely. 

(The following three albums all spent considerable time in our top ten but just missed out on chairs when the music stopped. Consider these 11-13 for the year.)

A sweet crisp collection of Buddy Holly like tracks that glide by.  The secret weapon in the Drive-By Truckers delivers the solo tunes excellently, especially RtBE's favorite "(I Wanna) Hold You". 

A lush sounding 80's pop-rock record that has a ton of layers to it. More transitional and a bit less engaging than A Deeper Understanding, but still a solid effort. 

Displaying RtBE's favorite album cover along with one of our favorite songs of the year (the title track) this is a good record, but a step below their previous to these ears as a full length offering. There are just a few too many songs we skip these days to put the full length into our top ten. That title track though....woah, it is dynamite. 

The Let Down's:

Now for the bad news...some albums that let RtBE down...we had high hopes for dice. These are by no means the worst albums of the year; they are just from artists RtBE like/respect that went a different route which we didn't particularly care for.

There are always releases we don't particularly like that others seem to, but these let downs are harder for us to swallow because these are artists we enjoy, love, or at least respect:

Always love this band, but this record just never struck any nerve, well it did strike a negative one. Musically the band lost power by moving more towards a Craig Finn solo record sound and Finn's lyrics just didn't seem to connect this go around.

Another all-time fav of RtBE but this record just never clicked. Too Steely Dan, not enough oomph, very pandemic/retreating feeling and not in a good way. 

Th1rt3en - A Magnificent Day For An Exorcism
Rap and rock rarely work, but there was legit hope for this experiment as all parties involved are talented. Woof, this one was rough. 

The band left metal for light shoegaze/dream pop in a Morrissey vein and while RtBE is all for trying new things, this one never connected.  

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