The SoCC Favorite Albums of 2021

Check out what some of our DJs and writers consider their favorite albums of 2021.

Whole Lotta RedPlayboi Carti

(Although it came out in 2020, it’s been considered a 2021 album since it came out at the very end of 2020). This album made me respect Playboi Carti as an artist. The experimentation on this album, both vocally and production-wise, is like no other hip-hop project of the past year. On Whole Lotta Red, Carti does everything outside of the box. While maintaining his simple, often repetitive lyrics that have made him such a polarizing artist, he pushes the boundaries of hip-hop even further by introducing distorted production and chaotic, punk-inspired vocals. This album is unpredictable in a good way. At one moment he could be screaming over a WAKEUPFILTHY beat while in the next song we see Carti hinting at his Die Lit/Self-Titled era with much mellower vocals over Pi’erre Bourne’s iconic production. The influence of this work of art is already being seen, with WAKEUPFILTHY producing more and more songs and similar vocal experimentation emerging in the underground Hip-Hop world (see Turban by Yeat). This album was very divisive when it came out (understandably), a common trend in albums that subvert expectations and break barriers. This album may not appeal to you on the first, or even second listen, but give it some time and you’ll understand why this album is going to be so important for hip-hop in the years to come. -Oliviero Zanalda

Home Video, Lucy Dacus

In Home Video, Lucy Dacus artfully talks about the parts of youth that only make sense in retrospection. An intimate and honest look at young and naive love, coming to terms with her sexuality and grappling with religious beliefs weave the songs together. A combination of the usual ballads that Dacus writes and a new look at some poppier songs with background vocals from her boygenius bandmates Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker creates the perfect album. – Margalit Goldberg

It Won’t Always Be Like This, Inhaler

Talk about a smashing debut! Inhaler, a four-piece indie rock group based in Dublin, came out with their first record in July, 2021 after a series of singles and EPs scattered over the course of the last couple years (some oldies and goodies of which are on their new album). Inhaler succeeds in proving their emotional and technical range on this album, drifting back and forth between grittier, higher-energy alt. rock tracks and slower, melodic, passionate ballads, all with strong guitars and punchy hooks. The titular song, “It Won’t Always Be Like This,” as trite as it may sound, provides a lot of hope for those stuck in old routines and patterns as of late, wishing to move onto something fresh and new, making this the perfect album to ring in 2022 with! – Jane Harris

Inside Every Fig is a Dead Wasp, Lunar Vacation

Lunar Vacation fully delivered after their 4-year hiatus, with some of their most layered and beautiful production. They’ve stayed true to the indie rock genre but just mastered their sound. Each song keeps you on your toes and it’s a lovely 30 minute listen. -Sadie Fleig

Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, Little Simz

This album felt like listening to a coming of age story, with every song sounding like an epic outro that made me savor the album from beginning to end. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert was a big departure from minimalist rap common in her 2019 album GREY area, now sprinkling musical motifs and whimsical interludes throughout- creating a fairytale-land of Simz making. The instrumentals drew from the African diaspora, with Afro-Caribbean heavy beats and West African inspired chorus’ behind her grimey bars, which speaks to Simz’ British-Nigerian background and tied into the album’s theme of contemplating her current identity. The lyrics were introspective and poignant and made the album an emotional and spiritual experience to listen to. I have been listening to it on repeat! Honorable Mention: Call Me If You Get Lost- Tyler the Creator – Emily Faulks

Any Shape You Take, Indigo De Souza

I haven’t stopped listening to this album. De Souza’s sophomore album experiments with synth pop while still having just as much crunch as her 2018 album I Love my Mom. New sounds, new energies, and a really good listen -Tim Smith

Ok Orchestra, AJR

OKO is a pandemic anthem! It conveys so many raw emotions with alternative sounds. I would highly recommend it- everyone can relate to some of these lyrics! – Tess Rittenberg

Sidetrack My Engine, Nora Brown

Short listen – Appalachian folk songs as haunting as the hills they come from that have never been mixed this well. -Connor Rogers

Concert Review: Madeline the Person

By Tamar Crump

A blue-haired fairy girl grazed the stage with her guitar on a cool Saturday night in Denver, Colorado at the Marquis Theater to tell a few stories about herself. Neon purple light eliminated the stage, which was covered in colorful drawings and various stuffed animals, signaling both the growth from child to adult but also the stories and experiences that shaped the girl and the music. Madeline is a 19-year old sing-songwriter from Bellaire, Texas embarking on an exciting journey telling her stories of growth and pain to the world. The melodic singer gained fame after sharing videos of her singing song covers on Tiktok gaining thousands of followers and even getting recognition from singers such as Lizzo and Billie Eilish. 

My friend and I attended the show, excited especially since both of us were concert deprived since the pandemic. The crowd was small and intimate and were really able to feel as though Madeline was just a friend speaking to us about her experiences growing up. She opened the night singing songs from her EP CHAPTER 1: Longing, such as” As a Child” an ode to her late father, and “Gladly” a song that delves into the aching pains and the grieving process of losing someone you love. The EP has a more stripped-back instrumental and soft vocals, emphasizing the stories being told. Madeline did sing a cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” a Queen classic with a melodic twist. Madeline’s soothing voice singing the chorus really highlighted her ability to express herself through tone. The crowd proudly sang along to the words, waving phone lights as she sang “nothing really matters”, the song really showcased how powerful her voice range is as well as her versatility. She introduced a few new songs from her latest EP Chapter 2: The Shedding, which takes on the idea of growing up moving forward, playing songs “Unrecognizable” and “Growing Pains” which were my favorite from the set. This show being the last of her tour seemed extra special,  Madeleine was often overwhelmed with the excited and interactive crowd as we sang along with her songs. My other favorite song showcases at the concert were “August” a song about a person this blue-haired fairy had a crush on that unfortunate moved across the country. The song detailed the lovesick feeling and completely losing oneself when missing someone, the dreamy piano really stands out in this song. She has a unique knack for building worlds within her songs and creating a sense of nostalgia and longing. Madeline’s soft bubbly demeanor is so sweet and magnetic you’ll instantly feel as though you’re just chatting with a friend. If you ever see that Madeline the Person is playing at a show near you, I encourage you to take the chance to listen to a fairy’s story.

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