MMM Staff Picks: Richard John Cummins’ Top Ten Favorite Albums of 2021

#10. H.E.R. – ‘Back of my Mind’

R&B vocalist, rapper, and guitar virtuoso are not a trio of hats which are typically worn on the same head, at least not until Back of My Mind, the spectacular twenty-track debut album by Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, better known as H.E.R. (that’s pronounced “her” – make note of that, as you will be hearing it again).

#9. The Blips – ‘The Blips’

True to their name, Birmingham, Alabama alternative rock band the Blips are yet to make a major impression on a wide scale, but their self-titled debut – a monumentally fun ride of jangly garage pop – suggests that they could soon turn up on every indie-rock fan’s radar (Best track: “Throw Me Around”).

#8. Black Honey – ‘Written & Directed’

With their second album Written & Directed Brighton, UK band Black Honey has written and recorded a can’t-miss tribute to garage punk, new wave, and psychobilly. Lead singer Izzy Phillips’ vocals are the perfect mix of vampiness and don’t-f*ck-with-me bravado.

#7. Silk Sonic – ‘An Evening with Silk Sonic’

Two current music superstars, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, join forces to create this thoroughly enjoyable tribute to Seventies R&B with exactly the right touch of satire (“Got her badass kids runnin’ ‘round my crib // Like it’s Chuck E. Cheese”).

#6. Blanketman – ‘National Trust’

Trust us when we say that National Trust, the latest EP by Manchester, UK band Blanketman should cover just about anyone’s desire for a rock sound inspired by classic punk and ’60’s British pop.

#5. Lana Del Rey – ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’

The first of two full-length releases in 2021 from impossible-to-ignore pop diva Lana Del Rey is another collection of deceptively understated, emotional dream pop. Del Ray’s vocals continue to be the loudest whisper in music.

#4. The Snuts – ‘W.L.’

Already a number one sensation in the UK, Scotland’s young band the Snuts, are the next best hope for Britpop in the 2020s and beyond. Though comparable to the Arctic Monkeys, Blur, and The Killers among others, the Snuts’ sound is true all their own.

#3. Hayley Williams – ‘Flowers for Vases / Descansos’

Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams’ second solo album is a one-woman show (she wrote all the songs and plays all the instruments) in the vein of classic female singer-songwriters that are tight, sincere, and engaging in addition to being just the right balance of pleasant and haunting.

#2. Matthew Sweet – ‘Catspaw’

Veteran alternative rocker Matthew Sweet’s fifteenth studio album Catspaw is the cat’s meow, the cat’s pajamas, or any other antiquated term of “f*cking awesome” that you can think of. The whole record reminds us that in 2021 there were still people wholly dedicated to making real music.

#1. Wolf Alice – ‘Blue Weekend’

With their third album (and first in four years), one of the century’s best British alternative rock bands (so far) delivers a phenomenal collection of slick-but-raw, atmospheric-but-intense shoegrunge (shoegaze + grunge) which even includes nods to punk and psychedelia. Street-level rock opera for the 2020s (that Blue Weekend went to #1 in the UK but hasn’t even charted in the US is too sad to even contemplate).

Written by: Richard John Cummins

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