The Concordian staff delve into their 2021 favourites.
Silk Sonic – An Evening with Silk Sonic
Guillaume Laberge – Music Editor
With life returning to more or less normal, 2021 was an incredible year for music that saw the release of countless quality records that I will be coming back to in the upcoming years. While Tyler, The Creator and Kanye West dropped some of the best albums of the year, it is Silk Sonic that takes the cake with An Evening with Silk Sonic. Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak team up to deliver nine ‘70s R&B/soul and funk infused tracks that make you want to put on the tightest pants possible, a silky shirt, and go dance all night at your local club. The nostalgic, sexy, and luxurious sound it provides is unmatched and this album has been assembled meticulously to near perfection.
The War On Drugs – I Don’t Live Here Anymore
Saro Hartounian – Assistant Music Editor
Four years after their release of A Deeper Understanding, Philadelphia-based rock band The War On Drugs came out with their fifth and latest LP I Don’t Live Here Anymore. Frontman Adam Granduciel stays true to his writing style filled with melancholic lyrics of grief and the epic quest for love that, during COVID, sounds nigh impossible. The influence of shoegaze bands like Slowdive and Cocteau Twins explains the record’s tragically bittersweet undertones. Adam and his band are revitalizing the ‘80s genre of yacht rock with their Bruce Hornsby-esque lyrical stories and Christopher Cross-like rhythm. Heck, even the intro of their fourth track “I Don’t Wanna Wait” sounds like Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.”
Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
Maggie Morris – Managing Editor
Sorry not sorry, this album was everything I needed in 2021. While some fans were disappointed by the change of vibe from Eilish’s last album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, I found it to be the perfect next step for the artist. As Eilish matures, so does her voice, and this album showcases the vocalist at her best. The title track is probably my favourite off the album, but shoutout to “Billie Bossa Nova” and “Getting Older” (I mentioned that she’s maturing before our eyes right?).
Genesis Owusu – Smiling with No Teeth
Evan Lindsay – Co-News Editor
I had never heard of Genesis Owusu before this album, and I don’t know if many people had, considering this is his debut record — and what a debut it was. Smiling with No Teeth successfully delivers an incredible mix of alternative hip hop, R&B, pop and rock in a way that feels entirely original and familiar at the same time. Wearing his influences (like The Talking Heads) on his sleeve in a way that’s entirely his own, Owusu’s sound is frantic and chaotic in all the best ways, with dark and hard-hitting bangers like “The Other Black Dog” and more soulful R&B tunes like “Waitin’ on Ya.” There’s a little something for everyone on this album (there is also a song about his love for fishing if that sounds like your bag). Constant stylistic changes and themes of racism and depression create an ambitious and engaging concept album that should not be missed. This album felt so fresh, new and exciting to me that it had to be my album of the year. Go listen to it, it’s sick.
Feu! Chatterton – Palais d’argile
Ashley Fish-Robertson – Arts Editor
I’m the type of person who, after finding a catchy album, will play it on loop every morning during my commute. When I first heard “Un Monde Nouveau,” Palais d’argile’s opening track, I was instantly hooked. Lead singer Arthur Teboul’s voice is absolutely haunting, especially on “Avant qu’il n’y ait le monde” and “La mer,” as he churns out surreal lyrics that sound as if they were plucked directly from a Louis Aragon poem. This album offers something for every mood, whether you feel like dancing or curling up in the fetal position while fretting over all the assignments you have yet to start.
Taylor Swift – Red (Taylor’s Version)
Mélina Lévesque – Features Editor
She’s happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time and I am living for it. Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) reminds listeners of the growing pains of getting older, falling in and out of love, and learning about who you are during this journey we call life. Yes, I absolutely adored Red in 2012, but Red (Taylor’s Version) radiates a different level of poetic perfection.
Whether it’s the new badass breakup anthem “I Bet You Think About Me” featuring the one and only Chris Stapleton, or the tear-jerking “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” this album has both broken and filled my heart in more ways than I could have imagined. Swift’s superpower truly lies in her ability to reflect moments from her life through her music and unite listeners through the emotion in her songs. As a life-long Swiftie, I am incredibly grateful that this woman exists and continues to bless us with her passion for storytelling.
Hans Zimmer – Dune (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Hunter Walwaski – Head Copy Editor
2021 saw my purveying love for music take somewhat of a backseat to my newfound interest in film, so it only made sense that my AOTY pick followed suit. While Denis Villeneuve’s masterful take on the Dune-iverse shouldn’t go unnoticed, Hans Zimmer’s accompanying score played a major role in the film’s enveloping atmosphere. From the Sahara-tinged operatic screams on “Gom Jabbar” and “Ripples in the Sand,” synonymous with the spiritual mysticality of the planet Arrakis, to the clockwork-like percussion on “Blood for Blood,” Zimmer helped bring chills to my (multiple) viewing experience of this film. Without a soundtrack as solid as this, it’s fair to say that one of 2021’s biggest flicks wouldn’t have been nearly as impactful, making the album deserving of a spot on this list.
Radiohead – Kid Amnesiae
Cris Derfel – Copy Editor
Bundled together with a double reissue of Kid A and Amnesiac is Kid Amnesiae, Radiohead’s love letter to their own most important albums. Not only have I had new tracks like “If You Say the Word” on repeat since release, I’ve rediscovered songs I’ve listened to hundreds of times — “Like Spinning Plates” reimagined as a haunting piano arrangement was an instant favourite, as was “How to Disappear into Strings.” The album somehow manages to evoke both the frigid emptiness of Kid A and the uncanny nostalgia of Amnesiac while simultaneously bringing something new to the table, and with each listen I notice something new. Radiohead continues to reinvent themselves, and I’m here for it every step of the way.
Tyler, The Creator – CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST
Victor Vigas – Former Music Editor
Akin to 2020, 2021 was a great year for music; we as listeners got to reap all the creativity that was brewed over months and months of shutdowns. Thankfully, Tyler was there to headline it with CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST. I know, I know, Tyler and album of the year have felt synonymous since Flower Boy, but I can’t think of another record that surprised me more than this, especially as a follow up to 2019’s Grammy-winning IGOR. There’s just something about DJ Drama making his voice heard from top to bottom alongside a Tyler that raps introspectively over beautifully executed samples that takes the cake for me. I do have to give credit to Little Simz, Young Thug, Twenty One Pilots, and Silk Sonic, though.
The Weather Station – Ignorance
Aviva Majerczyk – Former Commentary Editor
The Weather Station, a.k.a. Toronto-based singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman, is at the peak of her form on her latest album, Ignorance. Backed by a jazzy band, Lindeman’s heartfelt singing feels painful and urgent. The instrumentation of this album is dissonant as fluttery melodies are overlaid by Lindeman’s themes of heartbreak and loss. However, it is more than just a breakup album, as Ignorance’s lyricism parallels the loss of a relationship to the existential loss of our planet to climate change. The perfect album for a crisp, moody fall day, Ignorance is A-tier folk rock.
Graphic by James Fay