ALBUMS OF THE YEAR – 2021

There’s not a lot of consistency in the world these days, but one thing you can always count on is the Spinning Thoughts team sharing our favorite albums at the end of each year! We work hard to interview your favorite artists, review the hottest new albums and introduce you to the best new music out there. It’s quite cathartic to get to the end of the year, reflect on all the incredible releases and anxiously create a list of albums that impacted us the most.

Let us know on Twitter the albums that meant the most to you this year. Here’s our Top 10 Albums of 2021!

Ally DeMotte – Contributor

10. girl in red – if I could make it go quiet

  • AWAL – April 2021
  • Standout track: “Serotonin”

9. Lil Nas X – MONTERO

  • Columbia Records – September 2021
  • Standout track: “THAT’S WHAT I WANT”

8. Olivia Rodrigo – Sour

  • Geffen Records – May 2021
  • Standout track: “Traitor”

7. Twenty One Pilots – Scaled and Icy

  • Fueled By Ramen – November 2021
  • Standout track: “Choker”

6. Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

  • Darkroom/Interscope Records – July 2021
  • Standout track: “Halley’s Comet”

5. Andrés – Adventures of a DIY Astronaut

  • Andrés – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Shit Could Be Worse”

4. Tilian – Factory Reset

  • Rise Records – April 2021
  • Standout track: “Anthem”

3. Clairo – Sling

  • FADER/Republic Records/UMG Recordings – July 2021
  • Standout track: “Amoeba”

2. The Home Team – Slow Bloom

  • Revival Records – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Eat You Up”

1. Waterparks – Greatest Hits

  • 300 Entertainment – May 2021
  • Standout track: “Magnetic”

Even though 2021 was less isolating than last year, it couldn’t provide that full sense of normalcy for me that I have been craving. I feel lucky enough that I got to attend 3 concerts this year and got to have that slight sense of normalcy temporarily fulfilled, but the feeling didn’t stick around. I had to find some type of way to fill that void of normalcy, and what better way to do that than to dive into new bands and new genres in between the albums I anxiously waited for.

I bonded with many albums this year that were unexpected to me. My top 10 made the biggest connection to me by providing some catharsis to the feelings I’ve kept inside during these lockdowns. No matter if that’s the type of catharsis that had me dancing in my living room during the whole play-through or the type that had me crying over it all, I was feeling all the feels. Here, I present to you, my top 10 albums of 2021 that truly stuck with me!

Dawn Anna Trout – Graphic Designer

10. Trash Boat – Don’t You Feel Amazing?

  • Hopeless Records – August 2021
  • Standout track: “He’s So Good”

9. Grayscale – Umbra

  • Fearless Records – August 2021
  • Standout track: “Dirty Bombs”

8. Taylor Swift – Fearless (Taylor’s Version)

  • Taylor Swift – 2021
  • Standout track: “Today Was a Fairytale”

7. A Story Told – American Made

  • A Story Told – July 2021
  • Standout track: “Better Than Heaven”

6. With Confidence – With Confidence

  • Hopeless Recods – August 2021
  • Standout track: “What You Make It”

5. A Day To Remember – You’re Welcome

  • Fueled By Ramen – March 2021
  • Standout track: “F.Y.M.”

4. Mayday Parade – What It Means to Fall Apart

  • Rise Records – November 2021
  • Standout track: “Think of You”

3. Settle Your Scores – Retrofit

  • Mutant League Records – August 2021
  • Standout track: “Meant for Misery”

2. Between You & Me – Armageddon

  • Hopeless Records – November 2021
  • Standout track: “Goldfish”

1. The Home Team – Slow Bloom

  • Revival Recordings – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Watching All Your Friends Get Rich”

I have to say that most of my favorite new music came out in EP or single form this year, so this was a bit of a challenge but these albums definitely include some new lifelong favorites. The Home Team was a new band I discovered this year, but their album is incredible. Between You and Me, I have been a fan of for a while, and while I wasn’t a huge fan of their singles put out, once I heard the whole album I fell in love.

Despite the challenges the last two years have been, these bands and many others definitely had a successful year with music and released some really great singles, albums, eps, etc. Overall, a lot of new music was put out this year and these albums are just some of my favorites.

Sammi Mika – Contributor

10. A Story Told – American Made

  • A Story Told – July 2021
  • Standout track: “Home for the Summer”

9. A Day To Remember – You’re Welcome

  • Fueled By Ramen – March 2021
  • Standout track: “F.Y.M.”

8. Strange Bones – England Screams

  • FRKST Records/300 Entertainment
  • Standout track: “Napalm Über Alles”

7. Lil Nas X – MONTERO

  • Columbia Records – September 2021
  • Standout track: “LIFE AFTER SALEM”

6. Mud Whale – Everything In Moderation

  • Mud Whale – August 2021
  • Standout track: “Scapegoat”

5. Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

  • Rise Records – September 2021
  • Standout track: “Yellowjacket”

4. Ashnikko – DemiDevil

  • Parlophone Records – January 2021
  • Standout track: “Slumber Party”

3. Asking Alexandria – See What’s on the Inside

  • Better Noise Music – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Find Myself”

2. Black Veil Brides – The Phantom Tomorrow

  • Sumerian Records – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Blackbird”

1. Ice Nine Kills – Welcome to Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2

  • Fearless Records – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Ex-Mørtis”

As a whole, my music taste is diverse, from heavy metal to pop punk to pop, but out of all the genres these are my top ten albums. There is a theme throughout my favorite albums let alone the standout tracks; Though there are drastic differences in genre the messages can still hit home. A lot of these albums focus on finding oneself which is what 2021 has been all about for a lot of people, myself included. All of these are just masterpieces that have been released this year alone. 2021 has been a year about overcoming obstacles; live music is back, bands are able to promote their music and interact with their fans, and on a personal level its overcoming the pandemic we all were dealing with from the past two years. 

The artistic tendencies of all these albums played into their respective roles on my list. Welcome to Horrorwood and The Phantom Tomorrow were both concept albums, and had  meticulous choices that were made to bring a certain story to life or in the case of Welcome to Horrorwood, many different stories to correlate to the overall story that Spencer Charnas had. Every album has a theme or a certain message the band wants to get across, and it all affects individuals differently. In my brain, the themes of overcoming life obstacles, leaving toxicity in the past all while finding oneself was what caught my attention the most with all the albums I chose. 2021 was the year to find and define myself and each of these albums helped me discover a piece of myself to really define who I am at 24.    

Ian Thompson – Contributor

• BROCKHAMPTON – ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MAHCINE PLUS PACK

  • Sony Music Entertainment – June 2021
  • Standout track: “COUNT ON ME”

• Grayscale – Umbra

  • Fearless Records – August 2021
  • Standout track: “Dirty Bombs”

• J. Cole – The Off-Season

  • Rock Nation Records – May 2021
  • Standout track: “a p p l y i n g . p r e s s u r e”

• Joyce Rice – Overgrown

  • Joyce Rice – May 2021
  • Standout track: “So So Sick”

• The Night Game – Dog Years

  • The Night Game – March 2021
  • Standout track: “Our Generation”

• Porter Robinson – Nurture

  • Mom+Pop – April 2021
  • Standout track: “Look At the Sky”

• Silk Sonic – An Evening With Silk Sonic

  • Aftermath Entertainment/Atlantic Recording Corporation – November 2021
  • Standout track: “After Last Night” (with Thundercat & Bootsy Collins)

• Sydney Sprague – maybe i’ll see you at the end of the world

  • Rude Records – February 2021
  • Standout track: “Object Permanence” (feat. Danielle Durack)

• Tyler, The Creator –  CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST

  • Columbia Records – June 2021
  • Standout track: “WUSYANAME” (feat. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Ty Dolla $ign)

• Vacation Manor – Vacation Manor

  • Nettwerk Music Group – June 2021
  • Standout track: “Parachute”

So 2021… I honestly don’t know if it was better, worse, or some weird in between than 2020. But what I do know is that it at the very least was another solid year for music. As always for the album lists, it was tough putting together what I thought was my favorites. There’s a lot of albums (and EP’s, that list is coming soon) that I wish could’ve been on here, but I’m still limited to 10 and I’m still not trying to keep you here all night. So, without further ado, here are my Top 10 Albums of 2021, in no particular order other than alphabetical by artist. Oh wait, I guess that is a particular order… 

Skylar Cleland – Contributor

10. Waterparks – Greatest Hits

  • 300 Entertainment – May 2021
  • Standout track: “American Grafitti”

9. The Maine – XOXO: From Love & Anxiety in Real Time

  • Photo Finish Records/8123
  • Standout track: “Pretender”

8. Against The Current –  fever

  • Fueled By Ramen – July 2021
  • Standout track: “shatter”

7. Grayscale – Umbra

  • Fearless Records – August 2021
  • Standout track: “Carolina Skies”

6. Loveless – Loveless

  • Loveless – June 2021
  • Standout track: “I Don’t Miss You Anymore”

5. jxdn – Tell Me About Tomorrow

  • Elektra Records – June 2021
  • Standout track: “BRAINDEAD”

4. THE WLDLFE – Repaint My Mind

  • THE WLDLFE – May 2021
  • Standout track: “Blood Orange”

3. Halsey – If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power

  • Capitol Records – August 2021
  • Standout track: “honey”

2. Olivia Rodrigo – SOUR

  • Geffen Records – May 2021
  • Standout track: “good 4 u”

1. The Band Camino – The Band Camino

  • Elektra Records – September 2021
  • Standout track: “Just a Phase”

2021 was an incredible year for music. While I revisited a lot of favorites, I discovered SO many new artists and coming up with JUST 10 albums was a challenge. With so much good music this year, I can’t wait to see what 2022 has in store for us.

Nobody is shocked to see The Band Camino at the number one spot on this list. According to Spotify, I spent a whopping 2,230 minutes with them this year- and that doesn’t include the hours I spent at shows and watching their YouTube videos. Olivia Rodrigo may not be our typical genre, but her whole album was a bop and good 4 u is very reminiscent of early Paramore. Halsey, Grayscale, The Maine, and Waterparks have made appearances on my AOTY before- and if they continue to make music like this, it won’t be the last time they do. Loveless and JXDN, however, are making their first appearance on my AOTY. It’s insane to me that JXDN rose to this level of stardom from TikTok. I had the pleasure of seeing him with MGK earlier this year and the kid has real talent. Loveless has been around for a while, but this album is incredible. I don’t skip a single song on it and for me, that’s saying something. I can’t wait to see what these artists- and the ones I haven’t discovered yet- have in store for 2022.

Dan Bowyer – Canadian Contributor

10. Thrice – Horizons / East

  • Epitaph – September 2021
  • Standout track: “Scavengers”

9. We Were Sharks – New Low

  • Revival Recordings – May 2021
  • Standout track: “Shameless”

8. Like Pacific – Control My Sanity

  • Pure Noise Records – December 2021
  • Standout track: “Rest In the Dirt”

7. Settle Your Scores – Retrofit

  • Mutant League Records – September 2021
  • Standout track: “Staring At the Ceiling”

6. The Starting Line – The Best Of (Live at Studio 4)

  • Memory Music – August 2021
  • Standout track: “Classic Jazz”

5. Corbin Giroux – Docile

  • Corbin Giroux – September 2021
  • Standout track: “Torn”

4. Calling All Captains – Slowly Getting Better

  • Equal Vision Records – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Tailspin”

3. Hawthorne Heights – The Rain Just Follows Me

  • Pure Noise Records – September 2021
  • Standout track: “Spray Paint It Black”

2. Capstan – SEPARATE

  • Fearless Records – July 2021
  • Standout track: “Shade of Us”

1. Youth Fountain – Keepsakes & Reminders

  • Pure Noise Records – November 2021
  • Standout track: “Century”

Although 2021 remained a very challenging year all around the globe, the world was blessed with some amazing music from artists that appear on this list and beyond.  From veterans Thrice illustrating that they still have a lot of gas left in the tank, to The Starting Line including the ultra-rare “Classic Jazz” in their Best-of compilation, to Calling All Captains continuing their ascent from being a local band in Western Canada to now having over 50 000 monthly listeners on Spotify, 2021 was a year not to forget.

Without a doubt, the top album of the year was “Keepsakes & Reminders”, the sophomore album from Vancouver, Canada’s Youth Fountain.  Tyler Zanon’s project has an uncanny way of unlocking visceral, raw, real emotion, primarily seen on one of the album’s singles, “Century”.  Don’t be surprised if “Keepsakes & Reminders” is seen as a legendary offering within its genre a decade from now. 

Tyra Brunz – Contributor

10. Ice Nine Kills – Welcome to Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2

  • Fearless Records – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Funeral Derangements”

9. Beartooth – Below

  • Red Bull Records – June 2021
  • Standout track: “Skin”

8. Newgrounds Death Rugby – Pictures of Your Pets

  • Sun Eater Records – June 2021
  • Standout track: “Cary”

7. Youth Fountain – Keepsakes & Reminders

  • Pure Noise Records – November 2021
  • Standout track: “Aimless”

6. Save Face – Another Kill for the Highlight Reel

  • Epitaph Records – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Sharpen Your Teeth”

5. We Are The Union – Ordinary Life

  • Bad Time Records – June 2021
  • Standout track: “Morbid Obsessions”

4. Vial – Loudmouth

  • Get Better Records – July 2021
  • Standout track: “Piss Punk”

3. Free Throw – ­Piecing It Together

  • Triple Crown Records – June 2021
  • Standout track: “Down & Out”

2. Like Pacific – Control My Sanity

  • Pure Noise Records – December 2021
  • Standout track: “Adored”

1. Action/Adventure – Pulling Focus

  • Pure Noise Records – April 2021
  • Standout track: “Barricades”

My AOTY list begins with two of my heavier choices, but that is not because my 2021 was without angst or hardcore vibes. Both Ice Nine Kills and Beartooth held their own in 2021 and kept right in line with their brands to secure a spot on my list. But back to The Angst™, my list tends to lean a bit more emo and punk than hardcore/metalcore and under this description I would place both Youth Fountain and Save Face. I very much enjoyed Save Face’s throwback emo vibes in their newer music as well as Youth Fountain’s refined version of their own emo/hardcore blend this year. Like these previously mentioned bands, many spots on my list contain old favorites and their highly anticipated albums, but a new group has found their way into my #8 spot with their album, Pictures of Your Pets. I simply do love myself some of that noodley math guitarwork and I have found a plethora of that good stuff within Newgrounds Death Rugby– I definitely recommend checking them out if you love Macseal, Sincere Engineer, or Retirement Party. You’re welcome. And speaking of mathy punk, I’m sure no one could ever guess it, but I do also love myself some Free Throw and in 2021, Free Throw did not disappoint. For more of my thoughts on this outstanding album, check out my album review here.

Toward the top of my list is a relatively young band that formed in 2019. Vial brings unforgiving, high-energy punk with Loudmouth,which has absolutely secured a solid spot in my lineup. These folks are on the fast track to turning the scene on its head, so you better strap in for their rise to the top. While I’m talking on meteoric rises in the scene, let’s talk a bit about the latest release from ska pop band, We Are The Union. Ordinary Life blends crushingly relatable lyricism with infectious poppy hooks and insanely catchy choruses to present my favorite ska album of 2021-and the competition was fierce. This album came out mid-year, but I keep finding myself drawn to spinning it again and again. Another one I cannot seem to get enough of is the new Like Pacific album. I love the angst and controlled intensity in each track-I actually had a pretty hard time choosing only one standout track for this piece, but I am happy with my choice of “Adored,” so go listen to it. And finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Standing tall atop my AOTY list for 2021 is Action/Adventure; they have actually become a bit of an obsession. I enjoyed their previous works, but A/A seriously knocked it out of the park with their debut LP, Pulling Focus. The album is filled to the brim with nostalgic pop punk hooks with a fresh punchy energy that left me returning again and again when I needed a mood booster…which was often in 2021.

Jay Matthey – Metal Thoughts Editor

10. GOJIRA – Fortitude

  • Roadrunner Records – April 2021
  • Standout track: “Another World” and “The Chant”

9. Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

  • Rise Records – September 2021
  • Standout track: “Circle with Me” and “Hurt You”

8. DED –  School of Thought

  • Suretone Records – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Kill Beautiful Things” and “Love Song”

7. A Day To Remember – You’re Welcome

  • Fueled By Ramen – March 2021
  • Standout track: “Brick Wall” and “Resentment”

6. Asking Alexandria – See What’s on the Inside

  • Better Noise Music – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Alone Again” and “If I Could Erase It”

5. Beartooth – Below

  • Red Bull Records – June 2021
  • Standout track: “Below” and “Devastation”

4. The Pretty Reckless – Death By Rock And Roll

  • Fearless Records – February 2021
  • Standout track: “Only Love Can Save Me Now” and “And So It Went”

3. Wage War – Manic

  • Fearless Records – October 2021
  • Standout track: “High Horse” and “Death Roll”

2. Of Mice & Men – Echo

  • Sharptone Records – December 2021
  • Standout track: “Obsolete” and “Bloom”

1. Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon

  • Roadrunner Records – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Feast of Fire” and “The Shadow of the Abattoir”

2021 was anything but forgettable.  This year saw a ton of new releases that took me by surprise.  Trivium’s In The Court Of The Dragon remains one of the most technically sound albums I‘ve ever experienced, earning it the top spot without question on this list.  Of Mice & Men came in hot at the end and threw a late wrench in the gears with Echo, which is an amazing collection of three extended singles released during the last 18 months.  

There were a ton of great releases that didn’t make the list because of how deep the quality of releases were in 2021. Foo Fighters remain my all time favorite band, and Medicine at Midnight is an album I still listen to often, but it wasn’t quite one of the 10 best of the year for me.  Angelo will certainly get on me about the absence of Welcome to Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2 from Ice Nine Kills, which is another album I loved in 2021, but there was just so much great content in contention.  But at the end of the day, all that matters is that Wage War cracked the top 3.  So maybe we can finally put that chapter of Spinning Thoughts history to bed…

Share music, spread love (and be safe) in 2022!

Angelo Gargaro – Founder/Podcast Host

10. Between You & Me – Armageddon

  • Hopeless Records – November 2021
  • Standout track: “Change”

9. Save Face – Another Kill for the Highlight Reel

  • Epitaph Records – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Bury Me (Tonight!”

8. Origami Angel – Gami Gang

  • Counter Intuitive Records – April 2021
  • Standout track: “Caught In the Moment”

7. The Best Of The Worst – Better Medicine

  • Bad Time Records – February 2021
  • Standout track: “Rotten Dichotomy”

6. Like Pacific – Control My Sanity

  • Pure Noise Records – December 2021
  • Standout track: “Waste of Breath”

5. Ice Nine Kills – Welcome to Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2

  • Fearless Records – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Rainy Day”

4. Jetty Bones – Push Back

  • Rise Records – February 2021
  • Standout track: “Nothing”

3. Wage War – Manic

  • Fearless Records – October 2021
  • Standout track: “Death Roll”

2. Youth Fountain – Keepsakes & Reminders

  • Pure Noise Records – November 2021
  • Standout track: “Take One Capsule a Day”

1. We Are The Union – Ordinary Life

  • Bad Time Records – June 2021
  • Standout track: “December”

AOTY content is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it’s a lot of fun to look back on all the releases throughout the year and reflect on how they made me feel. On the other hand, this task sucks. There are too many talented bands/artists out there that released incredible music, and all deserve love and attention. Anyone who put their heart and soul into their art this year, I see you. Anyone who risked it all financially and mentally to navigate the music industry in this crazy world we’re now in, I see you. Anyone who thinks no one listens or cares, I see you.

When it comes to my AOTY list, I will never be fully satisfied. There’s just not enough love to spread around to 10 spots, but I accept the responsibility to narrow it down and present it to all of you, as the leader of Spinning Thoughts. Between You & Me may have been the best surprise of the year – Armageddon hits so hard, and if this album released earlier in 2021 I could see it being MUCH higher on my list. Save Face had one of the most artistic, creative and bold albums of the year. Origami Angel cannot do wrong and the proof is in Gami Gang. That album is dynamic and ends before you realize it even started. The Best Of The Worst came out the gate strong in 2021 and Better Medicine made my AOTY list almost immediately upon its release. Like Pacific is one of those bands that really can’t release a bad song and I would support 45 minutes of Jordan Black just screaming nothing into a microphone. Ice Nine Kills brought the theatrics with Welcome to Horrorwood… and I want there to be a genre dedicated to just making music about horror movies. In case you forgot, Jetty Bones released a lyrically intense album that is paired nicely with catchy music that only excites me more for what the future holds for Kelc and JB. Wage War is a band that blows me away every time they release new music and Manic was one of my most-anticipated albums of the year. If I could be in a band, I would want it to be Youth Fountain. The emotional capacity of these tracks, paired with the angsty vocals of Tyler Zanon can be quite the experience, and Keepsakes & Reminders seriously brings a tear to my eye every time I listen to it. Finally, We Are The Union is probably one of the best things to happen to me in 2021. I feel so inspired by this band, their album and the communities associated with them. Bad Time Records deserves a damn medal for putting out some of the best records in 2021. Also, getting my hands on a first pressing of Ordinary Life remains one of the best moments I had in 2021.

I started Spinning Thoughts as a passion for music and to support the bands I love the most. AOTY is one of the many exciting ways we get to do that here at Spinning Thoughts and I cannot wait to do it all again in 2022. Thank you all for being friends, fans and supporters of what we do here and I hope to share more music, and spread more love as we head into the New Year.

From all of us here at Spinning Thoughts, have a healthy and happy Holiday and New Year! Reflect on the challenges of 2021 and be hopeful that 2022 will allow us to share music, spread love.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s