Thursday, December 16, 2021

Year In Review 2021 - Favorite Albums Part 3 (#5-1)

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 3 (Numbers 5-1):

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.

This ends our top ten and we have a wrap up of the full list below. You can see the first part of this list and the Just Misses if you haven't yet. 

Like all of our lists or 'best of' roundups, these are meant to start conversations, not end them...
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 so close. 

In a year chock full of top notch blues albums, Burnside's I Be Tryin' rises to the top of our list as the talented artist puts it all together with an excellent supporting cast of Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi All-Stars), bassist Zac Cockrell (Alabama Shakes), and drummer Reed Watson (John Paul White). While all of the supporters are great, this is Burnside's record through and through. He shows off his cool, no nonsense blues using his ingrained hill country style as a base while injecting, funky lines, gospel singing and a great sense of soulful style. His most complete and best album of his still young career.   

The first album post pandemic that truly perked up our ear holes was this gem of garage rockin' soul from Greg Cartwright and the Memphis version of his Reigning Sound. From the opening winking "Let's Do It Again" to The Parting Gifts reunion track "Just Say When" to the album closing sweet swells of  "On and On", each song just swings a little easier and freer. With the spring came a hope of making it out of the darkness and A Little More Time was the perfect soundtrack. Even removed from the pandemic, these are fun, catchy, great tunes to get down with and those are always needed. 

The amalgamation of funk, soul and New Orleans second line which runs through one of the best albums of 2021 is exhilarating as Cha Wa's My People checks all of the boxes for RtBE. The bumping bounce and horns of the title track, the extra percussion throughout that adds to that masking Mardi Gras Indian feel, the killer energy of "Fire Water" and the hip hop of the bright "Second Line Girl" are all awesome. Throw in a well executed Bob Dylan cover and RtBE couldn't be happier; a hell of a record. 

A different slice of New Orleans also delivered a damn good record in 2021, and it was a debut at that! Silver Synthetic's self titled, first release pulls from classic rock of the past and formulates itself a respectful tribute, but also a burner in its own right. Lots of influences like The Velvet Underground, Television, The Beatles and Neil Young on tunes like "In The Beginning", "Chasm Killer", "Unchain Your Heart" and "On The Way Home". Taking those major influences, breathing them in and exhaling Silver Synthetic's own version of classic rock was the true magic on this debut. A really cool, tight, enjoyable, throwback rock and roll record from a band that needs to be followed.      

Yola's debut is an excellent record and made our top ten back in 2019, but Stand For Myself is a huge step forward; a supremely confident release from a rising star. It brings in soul, funk, and dance ready disco to mix with her easy country style. "Starlight" follows producer Dan Auerbach's guitar line, and "Like A Photograph" slows down to a ballad so Yola can deliver her stunning vocals. For an artist who can hit every note, her restraint and commitment to the sound/song is admirable. 

This record just feels like a coming out party for a superstar in waiting, Yola addresses social issues throughout, especially on "Diamond Studded Shoes" as production, instrumentation and singing all facilitate her songs. Tracks like "Barely Alive", "Be My Friend", "Great Divide" and the Donna Summer inspired "Dancing Away In Tears" all work wonderfully. Stand For Myself is RtBE's pick for our favorite album of 2021. 

Here is our full Top Ten List.  How did we do?  Agree? Disagree? Feel free to comment below and as always, thanks for reading. 

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