It’s certainly been a year; while countless albums finally saw their release dates come to pass after having held off last year, others burst straight out of the gate and into the zeitgeist with nary a look about. We’re throwing the conch to our esteemed album reviewers to hear their top two LPs (out of the pool they reviewed for us) of 2021.

Bryget Chrisfield

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Carnage

Carnage‘s amorphous song structures and illustrative orchestration demonstrate glorious technicolour in full flight. Cave‘s menacing growl conjures voodoo magic; often his macabre, poetic delivery is the stuff of toddler nightmares. Ask Uncle Nick to tell your kiddies a bedtime story at your own peril. By the time [White Elephant‘s] The Flaming Lips-level celebratory chorus kicks in – “A time is coming/ A time is nigh/ For the kingdom/ In the sky…“ (a recurring motif) – it sounds as jubilant as a carousel horse galloping to freedom.“ (Goliath/AWAL)

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

HONOURABLE MENTION:

Amyl and the Sniffers, Comfort to Me (b2b)

Denise Hylands

Charley Crockett, Music City USA

“Charley Crockett sings and plays in his own style, steeped in the heritage of country music while reviving and staying true to it‘s originators. He‘s survived the life of a travelling musician, no money, petty crime, open heart surgery, a pandemic and long distance rides in a van, to get to where he is, and Music City USA is his 10th album in
six years… If you like true real deal country, there‘s no one doing it quite like Crockett.“ (Cooking Vinyl)

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

HONOURABLE MENTION:

Sierra Ferrell, Long Time Coming (Rounder/Concord)

Jeff Jenkins

Vika & Linda, The Wait

“This is the sound of two women taking control of their careers and refusing to play it safe. The result is as close to perfect as any record you‘ll ever hear… Fixtures of the Australian music scene for more than three decades, they now well and truly take centre stage after being 20 Feet from Stardom. “I won‘t back down, this is my world now,“ Linda declares in Raise Your Hand. It‘s no idle boast, just a statement of fact. Their time is now. The Wait is the album of the year.“ (Bloodlines)

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

HONOURABLE MENTION:

Liz Stringer, First Time Really Feeling (Milk!/Remote Control)

Jacqui Picone

girl in red, if i could make it go quiet

“In an ever-changing, tumultuous year, girl in red offered a reflective, warm embrace in if I could make it go quiet. Laying herself bare in a strikingly honest debut record, she offered solace and reassurance that the dips and swells of being alive are in fact the best part, no matter how chaotic and convoluted they may feel.“ (AWAL)

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

HONOURABLE MENTION:

IDLES, Crawler (Partisan/Liberator)

Simon Winkler

Little Simz, Sometimes I Might be Introvert

“‘Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens,’ Carl Jung wrote. Little Simz takes both views. The North London artist is recognised as one of the most original and gifted young voices in hip hop. A creative, curious, and empathetic writer, Simz finds clarity in confusion. Last year‘s Drop 6 EP landed in the midst of lockdown with lines on confinement and connection. GREY AREA from 2019 was a vivid coming-of-age record, describing the doubts and discoveries of youth… [Sometimes I Might be Introvert] is a generous display of talent and insight… showcasing
Simz‘ commanding flow.“ (Age 101)

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

HONOURABLE MENTION:

Tirzah, Colourgrade (Domino)

Jake Cleland

Genesis Owusu, Smiling With No Teeth

“Across a double album‘s worth of multi-genrespanning tracks, Genesis Owusu transmogrifies himself through  cutting edge personas so fully you‘d swear he invented them. More like: when someone swims deeply through the last decade‘s most innovative records, Genesis Owusu is who coalesces. Growing up in a post The Money Store/Yeezus world, Owusu embodies snarling political rap between avant-funk takes. He goes all Pharrell falsetto and then turns in retro-rock with a feature from guitarist Kirin J Callinan… Smiling With No Teeth is a must-listen.“ (OURNESS/House Anxiety)

HONOURABLE MENTION:

Porter Robinson, Nurture (Mom + Pop)

Holly Pereira

Dry Cleaning, New Long Leg

“With a surrealist bent that would make Noel Fielding green with envy, [Dry Cleaning] cleverly capture millennial ennui within their idiosyncratic lyrics, somehow effortlessly treading the line between being relatable and odd. The group tap into themes of 21st century disconnection on each track, wielding razor-sharp lyrics and angular guitars while musing about capitalism, food and the banality of existence. Put any preconceptions aside and immerse
yourself in a band that will surprise with every turn, yet leave you wanting more after every listen.“ (4AD/Remote Control)

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

HONOURABLE MENTION:

black midi, Cavalcade (Rough Trade/ Remote Control)

Billy Pinnell

Rhiannon Giddens, They‘re Calling Me Home

“When singer-songwriter-banjo-fiddle player Rhiannon Giddens and her multiinstrumentalist husband Francesco Turrisi were forced to quarantine in Ireland (where they live when not on the road), they found themselves drawn to the folk music of their adopted land – as well as their native countries of North America and Italy. Those locales informed the assemblage of a list of songs that would reflect the situation that they, and the entire world, were dealing with…“ (Warner)

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

Tori Amos, Ocean to Ocean (Decca)

Christone “Kingfish“ Ingram, 662 (Alligator)