While this year was only slightly more normal than last, some notable things did come out of it for me, as well as a bunch of really rad music. When it came to incredible new music releases, 2021 delivered in full on countless occasions. Some of the records on my list were from bands I’d never truly listened to, and others were some much-anticipated releases from longtime favorites of mine. While there was some great music that dropped, there were also some personal milestones that happened for me that I’m incredibly thankful for. This year, my list isn’t just about my favorite records, but about experiences and personal goals I achieved. Some of my top 10 things might be a little out there or dumb, but that’s why they’re mine and not yours. Well, here goes:
Top 10 Favorite Records
1. Fiddlehead – Between The Richness (Run For Cover Records)
This was my favorite record of the year. It absolutely rips from start to finish and I’ve probably listened to it at least 15 times since it came out. If this were the only band I saw live in 2022, I would be totally fine with that.
(Favorite Songs: “Loverman” and “Eternal You”)
2. Sydney Sprague – maybe i will see you at the end of the world (Rude Records)
Sydney Sprague released a record this year that should be on everyone’s AOTY lists. It’s one of those records that comes around every so often that’s sort of supernaturally good. Like, it doesn’t make sense how someone can make something so great.
(Favorite Songs: “staircase failure” and “steve”)
3. Turnstile – GLOW ON (Roadrunner Records)
I slept hard on this band because I’ve never found a [Hardcore] band that made me think “Oh, this is sick.” But this record blew me away because it had elements I couldn’t remember ever hearing from a band. It also has some of the catchiest fucking riffs I’ve ever heard.
(Favorite Songs: “UNDERWATER BOI” and “LONELY DEZIRES”)
4. Kings of Leon – When You See Yourself (RCA)
This has been one of my favorite bands for 10+ years now and they’re one of the few bands I feel continue to put out consistently incredible records time after time. Also, they’re still underrated as fuck and I don’t get it.
(Favorite Songs: “A Wave” and “Echoing”)
5. Deafheaven – Infinite Granite (Sargent House)
Some people might not have liked how different this record was, but I loved it. It was like a greatest hits record of all the things that made me fall in love with DH in the first place. Super stoked for whatever this new sounds evolves into.
(Favorite Songs: “In Blur” and “Villian”)
6. Buckley’s Angel – Pinnacle Room
The one thing I hated about this record was it was way too short. I had gone to LA the weekend this came out and it’s all I listened to while I was driving around. It was the perfect summer record and one of the dreamiest, most beautifully composed records that came out this year.
(Favorite Songs: “Sweet James” and “Exit Culture”)
7. Quiet Fear – Hasta la muerte si es precioso
Some of my LA friends released one of the hardest, sickest, rawest records of the year with this one. If you ever get a chance to see them live, I highly suggest it. They’re also some of the most talented musicians/songwriters I know and it shows every time I see or listen to them.
(Favorite Songs: “Nudo” and “Great Divide”)
8. Matt Caskitt & The Breaks – Welcome Home
This was an introductory record to the band for me, and now they’ve set the bar too damn high. They remind me of some of my favorite San Diego bands, but somehow also manage to sound nothing like them, if that makes any damn sense. I’m really hoping they tour sometime in 2022 so I can see some of these songs live.
(Favorite Songs: “Paint Me By Number” and “Fall Weather”)
9. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee (Dead Oceans)
This was a super fun record and one of my most listened-to records of the summer. I’m not a fan of the older JB stuff, but this record was poppy as fuck and really fun to listen to on my commutes home from work. I missed my chance to see her when she came through Arizona, but I can guarantee I’ll be at the next AZ date. I also picked up major Til Tuesday vibes on this record and I loved that.
(Favorite Songs: “Be Sweet” and “Kokomo, IN”)
10. Mannequin Pussy – Perfect (Epitaph Records)
I love this band so fucking much, and I was super butthurt that they didn’t come through AZ on their most recent tour so I could scream these new songs out loud in a room full of sweaty strangers. This little EP was such a perfect transition from their last record, Patience, and it sets them up for an already-anticipated release, whenever that may be. If you haven’t checked this band out yet, don’t let their name fool you. They absolutely rip and they have a little something for everyone in their catalogue.
(Favorite Songs: “To Lose You” and “Darling”)
Top 10 Favorite Moments
- I got engaged! – We met on Tumblr in 2014 and for the first time in-person at an Emo Nite in 2018. I’d say the rest is history, but we’re still working on it.
- I paid off my car! – This was a huge one for me since I had zero late payments and somehow managed to make them on time even when I was living in San Diego.
- I got a new camera! – I took a ton of photos with it and I can guarantee a lot more photos in 2022.
- I started a new position at my job! – I took on an Inventory Manager position for Hello Merch. I’m truly grateful to work for such a dope company.
- I got approved for my first real credit card! – Credit is a fucking scam and no matter what you do, it somehow manages to never truly get any better. I busted my ass to get my score up, and it went down by over 40 points once I paid my car off. After that, I gave up on caring about it.
- I got a vasectomy! – This shit was easy and over super quick. And thanks to the Diazepam they gave me, it was pretty painless and I didn’t have a care in the world. The best part was being super high and pigging out on Taco Bell after. I don’t remember actually eating it, but I know that it happened.
- I secured a PS5! – I finally got to catch up on years of games I couldn’t play on Xbox. I also now realize how fucking heartbreaking the TLOU games are.
- I made my own friends since moving to AZ! – Kinda sad it took me two years, but turns out making friends in your 30s is weird and hard.
- I got vaccinated! – I got knocked on my goddamn ass when I got vaxxed and I was 10-15% convinced I was going to die.
- I got Covid! – Thanks to advancements in modern medicine, I only felt shitty for about two days. It started as a runny nose and a headache on the first day. Then, on the second day, the body aches and fever came. On the third day, I felt slightly better but then my taste/smell went away. Once those went away, I didn’t eat until they came back a few days later. My fever never really got over 102 degrees, and I’m incredibly lucky my taste/smell were only gone for a few days. I’m also super thankful nobody else in our household got it from me. If you’re not already, and don’t have any religious restrictions/allergies, please get vaccinated. I felt like shit when I got Covid, but I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like had I not been vaxxed.
If you have any big plans for the new year, please get vaccinated and be responsible with whatever you do. I hate to be preachy on here, but just because things seem to be getting better, doesn’t necessarily mean that they actually are. And also, I wanna see my friends and live music! We can’t do that shit if everything gets shut down again! Also, if you took the time to read any of this, know that I appreciate you. Here’s to a hopefully-slightly-better-year and godspeed.