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Alt Revue Top 30 Albums of 2021

It's time for the annual Top 30 albums of the year! With a return to some semblance of normalcy from last year's COVID stricken year, this year was an extremely difficult year to decide on the Top 30 . However, after much discussion, anguish, and jamming we were able to get our list down to what you'll find below. Did we get it right? Let us know your top albums of the year! - Alt Revue


30. Lorde - Solar Power: Lorde returned with her first release since 2017's Melodrama. Solar Power, saw the New Zealand singer-songwriter tangling with more light thematic fare. It fit in as a perfect end of summer album. What really shines on Solar Power beyond the bright melodies are Lorde's dynamic vocals. While it may not be as strong as her previous releases, we still felt it was an important album of this past year. - ml


29. Turstile - GLOW ON: A monster of an album released in late August by Baltimore hardcore punk band Turnstile, GLOW ON made waves. Featuring an appearance from British singer/songwriter and producer, Blood Orange, Turnstile went somewhere different with this one. Featuring their traditional hardcore stylings, with distorted guitars and frantic energy, GLOW ON gave listeners a previously unseen view of the band as they turned the genre of hardcore on its head. - ml


28. Sault - Nine: If you have not been listening to this band, you are missing out. With a mystery lineup, they are a mix of blues, funk, house, disco, and pop with a message. And this album was only out for 99 days before they took it off all streaming platforms. - jrs


27. Brijean - Feelings: I listened to this album more than any other album this year. My wife and I liked it so much that it was the pre-ceremony music for our wedding. For those who haven’t listened to it, Feelings is daytime disco at its best. Check out our full review here. - jrs


26. Dry Cleaning - New Long Leg: The South London four-piece dropped their debut album New Long Leg, in April. New Long Leg is chock-full of post-punk goodness. For a debut release this album has a bit of everything and really should be a part of your regular rotation. For our full review, visit. - ml


25. Low - HEY WHAT: A listen from start to finish, HEY WHAT gives me hope for the world because people should listen to albums that way. For the full scoop on the album visit. - jrs


24. Claud - Super Monster: Claud dropped their debut release on Phoebe Bridger's Saddest Factory Records and it didn't disappoint. This thing was chock-full of alt-pop goodness and was one of the highlights of the February release calendar. A great introduction to Claud, we are excited to hear more from them! Check out our full review here.


23. LP - Churches: One of the last entries of the year, LP crushed it on their new album Churches. Their soaring vocals are virtually unmatched in music today and something you need to hear. To read the entire review, visit. - ml


22. Bachelor - Doomin' Sun: In late May, the team of Jay Som and Palehound released Doomin' Sun as the supergroup Bachelor. The album centers on themes of queerness and climate change and describes the issues so beautifully. The full review can be found here. - ml


21. Faye Webster - I Know I'm Funny haha: A rising star on the indie folk scene, Faye Webster released I Know I'm Funny haha, the follow-up to her 2019 release Atlanta Millionaires Club. The result was a smashing success with the album crushing charts and receiving numerous critical acclaim. We loved this one. - ml


20. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Butterfly 3000: Australian psychedelic rockers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are just a different breed. They are relentless in their output of music, having released two LP's and a live album this past year. We decided to go with the astoundingly bright Butterfly 3000 as our favorite release from the band this year. And for good reason, it's a great album that if you're looking to get into the band, it's pretty accessible for listeners. Give a listen, we're sure you'll love it. Check out our review! - ml


19. We Are Scientists - Huffy: Indie rock stars We Are Scientists made their triumphant return to the scene with the frantically energetic stylings of Huffy. From front to back this one brings the energy and just begs the listener to sing and dance. Check out our review here. - ml


18. Wilderado - Wilderado: Wilderado is a longtime favorite of the site and we were so happy for them to release their full-length self-titled debut. Man it didn't disappoint, every track was filled with the infectious energy that the alt-rockers have been known for. Wilderado is definitely worth your time. Check out our review here. - ml


17. Suuns - The Witness: This album is not getting enough attention. One of the reviews that was extremely difficult for me to write, I listened to it over and over. The best description I’ve seen was from Annie Jo Baker: “most easily described as gentle terrifying.” A top ten of the year for me. Read my review here. - jrs


16. Courtney Barnett - Things Take Time, Take Time: We were so happy when Courtney Barnett announced her return with Things Take Time, Take Time. Her signature indie style is simply incomparable to anything else out there. She continued that quirky, bright, style of indie on her newest LP. Barnett can tackle any subject and make it a track worth vibing to. - ml


15. The Joy Formidable - Into the Blue: A perfect album for pandemic escapism as it's chock full of themes about love, magic, and new adventures, Into the Blue by The Joy Formidable was a treat at the end of the summer of 2021. Bringing back their signature shoegaze rock sound, the band also has some dueling vocals on the album that are fantastically done. Read our review here. - ml


14. Leon III - Antlers in Velvet: A band with an unequivocal ability to channel their influences, Virginia's Leon III dropped their latest release Antlers in Velvet in early March. Channeling the psychedelic spirit of Pink Floyd and the roots of the Grateful Dead, Antlers in Velvet is simply something to be experienced, not just heard. Check out my full review here. - ml


13. The Killers - Pressure Machine: A concept album about the ups and downs of small town life, based on lead singer Brandon Flowers' hometown in Utah. The album forced a type of heartland rock and their typical new wave sound together to much success as the release was yet another critically acclaimed album for the Las Vegas band. At this point in their career, we wouldn't expect anything less from The Killers. Check the full review here. - ml


12. Dinosaur Jr. - Sweep It Into Space: Alt rock legends Dinosaur Jr. continued their storied career with the release of their twelfth studio album, and their first since 2016. Sweet It Into Space burst on the scene in late April with the all too familiar riveting guitar solos provided by bandleader J. Mascis. This one was can't miss, read our review here. - ml


11. Manchester Orchestra - The Million Masks of God: Perhaps one of the more emotional entries on this year's list, Manchester Orchestra's The Million Masks of God takes the listener on a journey like few bands can. The album is filled with themes of loss, guilt, grief, and pain. An emotional rollercoaster, The Million Masks of God provides the listener with a rare cathartic experience. Read our review here. - ml


10. Lucy Dacus - Home Video: Lucy Dacus is one of the strongest songwriters on the indie scene today and she really flexed that gift with Home Video. A brutally honest album about her past and present, Home Video is perhaps the best self-reflection effort we saw this year. Read our review here. - ml


9. Indigo De Souza - Any Shape You Take: The immensely talented Indigo De Souza dropped her sophomore album Any Shape You Take in late August and it again displayed why the young artist is one you need to keep an eye on. With bright melodies, accompanied by deeply emotional messaging, De Souza showed that she's soon due for crossover success. Check out the full review of Any Shape You Take here. - ml


8. CHVRCHES - Screen Violence: It's simply amazing. I think it's one of their more "real" albums in the sense that the lyrics share quite a bit of vulnerability. Lauren describes a lot of distinction in relationships and events of the past, but rather than painting this rose colored picture, she shares her shortcomings in the situation as well. And the track with Robert Smith of The Cure is an absolute banger. To read our review, see here. - nl


7. Julien Baker - Little Oblivions: An early entry into the Album of the Year fray, having dropped in late February, Little Oblivions had staying power throughout the year. Little Oblivions is one best just to put the needle down and let your record player do its work. There's not a bad song on it and I'll continue to stump for Baker to be considered among the best lyricists in music today. Here's our review! - ml


6. Villagers - Fever Dreams: Since this is on Top 30 Albums of 2021, to say this is one of my favorites, I should be handed the Mr. Obvious title. However, this one has moved into my Top 50 Albums of All Time. The mood, movement, and vocals are all on point. Check out the full review here. - jrs


5. Strand of Oaks - In Heaven: Tim Showalter delivered one of the most complete albums of the year and my favorite album of his career with In Heaven. That's saying a lot, as I have been a longtime fan of his. Hell, "Galacticana" might be one of the best songs I've heard in years, and that's just the tip of the iceberg with In Heaven. If you missed this one, please correct this. Check out my full review here. - ml


4. Snail Mail - Valentine: Musical prodigy Lindsey Jordan released her follow-up to 2018's Lush with November's Valentine. What amazes me about this one is that while Jordan had checked herself into a rehabilitation facility, she plotted out much of the lyrics and musical arrangements of the album without any instrumentation. We know that Jordan is a one of a kind talent and we're glad to see her get back in the game. For our full review read here. - ml


3. My Morning Jacket - My Morning Jacket: The return of one of my favorite bands of all-time after a long absence was great to say the least. My Morning Jacket's self titled release had some bangers on it that will immediately join the pantheon of great MMJ songs. Most notably, "In Color". For the full review read here. - ml


2. The War on Drugs - I Don't Live Here Anymore: The top albums of the list are always so hard and I was really biting my nails between My Morning Jacket and The War on Drugs I Don't Live Here Anymore. It came down to the wire (especially because My Morning Jacket and I Don't Live Here Anymore were released a week apart!), but I just felt that Adam Granduciel and company put out the more complete album. It's exquisitely written, performed, and mastered. Since it's release in late October, it's still on rotation for me. Check out my full review here. - ml


1. Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee: Michelle Zauner was everywhere this year. She released Jubilee in June and a New York Times best-selling book, Crying in H Mart: A Memoir in April. Both of these releases vaulted Zauner into well-deserved superstardom. We're glad she's experiencing the crossover success she deserves, that's why Jubilee is our number 1 album this year! The review of Jubilee is right here! - ml


Thanks for checking out our list of top albums from the past year. We're already reviewing some great records that are going to be released next year and we can't wait to share that with you!

Featuring Contributions from:

  • ml - Michael La Torre, Founder

  • nl - Nicholas La Torre, Managing Editor

  • jrs - Jesse R. Stowe, Contributor

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