Once upon a time, I aspired to write for a national publication such as Rolling Stone, Spin, or Entertainment Weekly, but, given how diametrically opposed our tastes are in 2021, it’s hard to believe that I ever felt that way. My time spent perusing their lists of what they consider to be the finest albums of the year confirmed as much, because it’s almost as if they put no thought at all into the selection process.
What follows is a list of what moved me during the past 12 months, and, regardless of how much they tried to force it, I remain in an Adele-free zone.
As Langston Hughes would say, life for Ayron Jones ain’t been no crystal stair, but he harnessed all that adversity into one of the most urgent rock debuts I’ve heard in at least a decade.
The 9-minute, 32-second opener, “The Alien,” drew me in and never let up. For me, it’s the band’s finest album of the post-Portnoy era.
There’s no rational explanation for why Glenn Hughes should still be dominating the way he is given his history, but he and guitarist Doug Aldrich make magic here.
She’s kind of the anti-Adele with how antagonistic she can be with the mainstream media, but her songs just keep getting better and better.
They’re a grittier Greta Van Fleet and vocalist Marc LaBelle would be a household name if it were 1976.
These six outtakes from the “Road Apples” sessions were a Christmas gift that came seven months early.
Taylor Momsen took the death of Chris Cornell understandably hard and came back with her best album yet.
Browne’s first album in seven years is another gem in a catalog full of them.
Tony Levin, John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy, and Jordan Rudess made the most of quarantine with this instrumental masterpiece.
The more she strips away Halsey and reveals the Ashley inside, the more compelling her music becomes.
Bruce Dickinson crushes it vocally and the complexity of the compositions brings a slew of thrilling moments.
Styx – “Crash of the Crown“
The band builds on the success of “The Mission” with an album that could fit right alongside the classic material without fail.
After a muted yet still beautifully executed journey through the Mediterranean on his previous album, Hackett goes electric once again with riveting results.