2021 is coming to close. It many ways, this year has been both quicker AND longer than 2020. Also consistent from the previous year was the immense catalog of amazing music released. I was just looking over NPR Music's Best Music Of 2021 lists and, even after eliminating what I was already familiar with, I would have to sit and listen to music for nearly 24 hours to catch up. And that's just NPR's list.
Speaking of lists, it's that time! I've tossed together a collection of my favorite tracks from the year. I've tried to avoid duplicating artists, though there are plenty of those who could easily have multiple tracks on my list. I've also only included music new in 2021, though I'm always exploring the forest of music history and finding meaning in my year through music that didn't necessarily come out during the year in which I'm hearing it. You can find plenty of those tracks on our Weekly Virtual Mix Tapes, which will resume in January.
In addition, my end of year lists would not be complete without an Album of the Year, though anyone who has spent 15 minutes with me this year probably already knows the answer to this one. Yep, you guessed it. The Red Chuck Productions Album of the Year is 1975 by No-No Boy.
No album has given me more joy, more tears, or brought out more singing along than this beauty of an album exploring American history, stories of immigration, the complexities of becoming and being an American. Folk rock, storytelling, and an immersive soundscape bring the stories of each track close to home. I encourage many listens, from thoughtful headphone spins to singing at the top of your lungs while crying your eyes out.
The stand out track for many has been The Best God Damn Band in Wyoming and with good reason, but for me, the best track has to be Where the Sand Creek Meets the Arkansas River. Exploring the horrific damage of the Sand Creek Massacre, in which American troops slaughtered and mutilated a peaceful group of Native Americans, as well as events in a related cemetery, the track is a haunting tale of forgotten histories. It sounds like a heavy listen, and it is, but it's also absolute in its beauty. I'm genuinely crying now as I simply type about it.
I absolutely insist you head over to No-No Boy's Bandcamp page and purchase the 1975 album. Get a physical copy and thumb through those liner notes. Hell, buy a copy for a friend. Buy a copy for all of your friends.
OK. I've said my piece. Cheers, all. Here's to a happy, healthy, and compassionate new year.
See ya in 2022.