My 2021 soundtrack, by blackbear, Lynn Gunn, Awsten Knight and many others
Hello and welcome to Alternative Press’ end-of-the-year celebration! We know that for a lot of people, 2021 has been less than ideal, to say the least. That’s why we wanted to bring you a little holiday cheer — with the help of some of our favorite artists.
We asked each artist we interviewed for our December 2021 issue of AltPress magazine to answer two specific questions: what was the best thing you heard in 2021, and who should we look out for in 2022? We’ve compiled those answers for your reading pleasure as this year comes to a close.
In this article, blackbear, Awsten Knight of Waterparks, Lynn Gunn of PVRIS, and many others answer the first question and share their favorite music from 2021. In the next article, Eyedress, Remi Wolf and more will answer the same question.
Sit down, grab a cup of hot chocolate and find out what your favorite artists couldn’t stop listening to this year. Make sure to keep an eye out for the rest of the installments of this series, coming soon.
I’m really stuck on this new album that was released on Halloween, and it’s called Ghost With Skin by Corbin. He’s a really good friend of mine, and his producer Bobby Raps is a great friend of mine as well, and I really want to shout them out. I love, love, love the new album.
Awsten Knight of Waterparks
Greatest Hits, for one. Best album of the last 100 years. I really liked the [Justin] Bieber album [Justice] a lot. There’s so many pop bangers. It’s crazy. The new Limp Bizkit’s [STILL SUCKS] dope. New Kanye [Donda], of course. The Zeph EP [scared of everything], very dope. Oh, and the Lil Nas X album [MONTERO], of course.
I have to say PinkPantheress. That’s the best thing that I’ve heard that’s come out this year. The energy of it is very beautiful and very new but also so vulnerable. I think that record is really cool. It’s usually not what I listen to at all, but man, I really dig that record a lot. I also really enjoyed WILLOW’s latest record. I thought it was really great. All my friends that put out stuff, I really love their records too. But mostly PinkPantheress and WILLOW.
Edith Johnson of Meet Me @ The Altar
Spiritbox’s new album [Eternal Blue], they’re up there. That album is so good! You can hear the musicianship in their music, and also people talk about them as a band without automatically saying it’s female-fronted. They’re part of a metalcore scene and not as a female-fronted band. Courtney [LaPlante] is a musician, and she’s a singer, and that’s what she is. People talk about how good her vocals are, as they should. The songs are amazing. Everything about them is fantastic. They should not be talking about anything else, really.
Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills
I really like the new Badflower record [THIS IS HOW THE WORLD ENDS]. I just think that they’re doing something very interesting, and Josh Katz is a great lyricist. He takes me back to the glory days of when I loved alternative rock. It just has a timeless feel to me that I love.
Lynn Gunn of PVRIS
Oh man, there’s been so much incredible new music out this year. I have definitely been loving Yves Tumor’s EP The Asymptotical World. Specifically, “Jackie” and “Crushed Velvet” have been the soundtrack to my fall this year. I’d say Kyle Dion’s SASSY is great for a mood boost. Little Simz’s Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is perfect for cooking and hanging around the house. My favorite tracks are “Speed” and “Rollin Stone.” Also, definitely a big fan of Turnstile’s GLOW ON for a gym pump up. The visuals and film they made for that album are also incredible.
A couple of the new Olivia Rodrigo songs are pretty good. A lot of that is very well written. We definitely need someone like her. When I’m writing an album, I intentionally don’t listen to new music because I don’t want to subconsciously be inspired by it, or even worse, I’ll think I came up with an idea, and it’s actually just another song I’m forgetting about. I try not to think about that, so I think I just listen to older stuff.
Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice
I loved the Lorde album Solar Power. I think it’s pretty brave to write a happy record. To me, it’s like a concept album. When I saw some of the reviews come out about it, I thought, “Chill out.” They took it a bit too seriously. I think it’s a testament to how good she is. People want her to make the best [album] in the whole world, and if she writes something that could be divisive, that doesn’t mean it’s bad, and it doesn’t mean you need to get upset about it.
The record I’ve been listening to the most this year is called The Meters. You’ll recognize a lot of music on this. It’s just been repurposed in so many ways, but it’s an old record from the late ’60s. It’s from this time where you could write pop music without vocals, and that’s [a] whole pop lane that’s so gone now. Then I started thinking, and I was like, “Well actually, Khruangbin is like that.” So I’ve been getting caught up in these hooky-ass bands that don’t have vocalists and starting to understand it slash deconstruct because it’s pretty sick.
Jason Aalon Butler of FEVER 333
I’m not just saying this: Everyone that’s on the 333 WRECKORDS label, and I’ve got a couple that I’m announcing that people should look at. Seriously, that’s probably the most exciting shit I’ve heard. I’m not even playing. Maybe it’s because I’m involved. [Laughs.]