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Top 10 Albums of 2021 - Ron C's Picks

Whether you noticed yet or not, music is a pretty significant part of our brewing culture. With that in mind, we thought it would be fitting to start a tradition of our top 10 albums at the end of each year. Maybe you'll know these albums, maybe you'll find something new. Either way, we hope it sheds a bit more light on who we are as brewers and people.

Without further ado, here's Ron C's Top 10 Albums for 2021:

10 - Chvrches - Screen Violence

These guys and gal have been one of my guilty pleasures for years now. I think I can confidently say that Lauren Mayberry is my favorite modern female vocalist, and the trio's ability to gel with each other has only improved over the years they've been around. Despite this, the only other album of theirs I'd put near a top 10 list is their debut album "The Bones of What You Believe" back in 2013, so I'm glad to see another LP of theirs resonate with me enough to be on a top 10.

9 - John Mayer- Sob Rock

Somewhere in my past there's a scene kid rolling his eyes, but here we are. Sob Rock is a great album by any measure. Mayer's ability to bring classic rock guitars into modern pop rock ballads continues to be the reason he's the only one of the "guy with a guitar" artists that managed to stay in frame since the trend died off in the early 2000s. Sob Rock runs the gamut of sappy love and heartbreak songs, and it does it all very well.

8 - Every Time I Die - Radical

I'm really bummed this isn't higher on the list.

7 - Teenage Wrist - Earth is a Black Hole

These guys are completely new to me. This album was shared by the other Ron one day as I was running out the door to catch a plane, and I've had it consistently in the rotation ever since. Something about the 90s Rock passages and the catchy pop-punk vocals just makes this one really special. I'm looking forward to diving deeper into their back catalog and hearing what comes from them next.

6 - Porter Robinson - Nurture

Porter Robinson really created something special with Nurture. His pseudo-debut album Worlds planted a flag in a new artistic direction after Robinson lost interest in heavier EDM electro and dubstep. Now with Nurture he’s taken that direction further and evolve Porter's sound into something really enjoyable.

5 - Arm's Length - Everything Nice

Spotify recommendations almost never resonate with me, but this definitely did. The 5 song EP from Canadian Zoomer Emo band Arm's Length brought it all back to high school for me. The group takes a fresh approach to the emo genre, while honoring the genre's roots tastefully. My only gripe with this EP is that I wish there was more of it.

4 - Tyler, the Creator - Call Me if You Get Lost

When Tyler dropped Flower Boy, I was really thrilled to see his talent move into some more mature themes and concepts. Like the album title suggests, Tyler really blossomed on that album. His follow up 'Igor', while an incredible concept in both theme and execution, is an album I don't revisit often. I think that's because I wish there was more rap on it. Now, with CMIYGL, I'm thrilled to see Tyler steer back from the diversion of Igor and get back to what he does best. Tyler's thematic continuation of his struggles with success, love, money, and fame go even further on this album, documenting a love triangle that doesn't go his way, and his attempts to escape his sadness while traveling around the work, living the high life and projecting the rapper lifestyle.

3 - Knocked Loose - A Tear in the Fabric of Life

This EP is absolutely devastating. If you aren't aware of it, I suggest listening along with the full length animated story that was released with it. The EP documents the story of a young couple who gets in a car accident while driving home in a storm. The woman in the story dies at the scene, and the EP follows the man's struggle to cope with the loss, and his descent into madness. It is hellish, and made worse by the fact that it's at times relatable. Forcing the listener to grapple with what they might do in a similar situation. Knocked loose has come a long way since barking before breakdowns as a meme.

2 - Turnstile - Glow On

This album is incredible. Influences everywhere-- from hardcore classics to Beastie Boys and Jane's Addiction, and so many others. Glow On is such a refreshing album. I'm not even sure how to elaborate on it. Just go listen to it. It's fantastic.

1 - Deafheaven - Infinite Granite

Man, this one was polarizing. Deafheaven rose to prominence in 2013 with their genre bending album Sunbather. Their ability to combine black metal vocals and elements with post rock guitars quickly made them a band everyone wanted to argue about. With each successive album since, they've continued to develop in their own unique direction, challenging expectations all along the way. Infinite Granite takes that evolution and turns it to a level that would make most wonder if it's even the same band anymore-- but it is. While I've never really caught the Shoegaze bug, some really specific elements of Infinite Granite caught on with me in a surprisingly big way. Namely, the percussion. While Kerry McCoy and Shiv Mehra soar over the entire album with reverb soaked guitar passages, Daniel Tracy reigns in his blast beat tendencies to provide some truly excellent percussion to each song on the album. His contributions push the entire record forward and give each song a feel all its own. I've always liked Tracy's drumming but blast beats, while fun, don't necessarily showcase much of a drummer's talent beyond raw speed. With the toned down more melodic approach on Infinite Granite, Tracy has a chance to really create some memorable moments across the album, and as I said earlier, it's the perfect compliment to the reverberant guitars. Combine all of this with George Clark's subdued new vocal melodies, and the album feels tonally and thematically different from anything the band has every produced, and yet in hindsight feels exactly like where they should be going. I really look forward to more and more from them in the future.



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