At the Half: Top 10 albums of 2021 (so far)

The usual disclaimers apply: These rankings can and will change (though I’d be very surprised if my #1 and #2 looked any different come December). There’s still plenty that I haven’t heard, and a couple of these are still new enough that my assessment of them might change. But for now, if you’re looking for recommendations or just want to catch up…

  1. Allison Russell | Outside Child
  2. Natalie Bergman | Mercy
  3. Jon Batiste | WE ARE
  4. Tyler, The Creator | Call Me If You Get Lost
  5. Olivia Rodrigo | SOUR
  6. Valerie June | The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers
  7. Sons of Kemet | Black to the Future
  8. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis | Carnage
  9. Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi | They’re Calling Me Home
  10. Blake Mills & Pino Palladino | Notes with Attachments

Counting Bodies: Sons of Kemet get moving

At FLOOD, I wrote about the tremendous new Sons of Kemet record, Black to the Future.

An excerpt: “… though the undertow of Black to the Future is curdled indignation, let it be said that while the music is thrillingly visceral, it’s never violent. Rather than impose suffering on the listener, this music channels suffering into music of coursing momentum, vibrant interplay, and hip-shaking groove. Shorthanding it as a jazz record feels inevitable, and isn’t wrong, but don’t miss out on just how eclectic the album is in its sense of motion. It occasionally moves like bop, but just as often moves like dub, like hip-hop, like calypso, like highlife. Say, have you heard that this is a dance record?”