Suffer Club – Tar and Feather
This was my most listened release from 2021. I listened to it while at work, while driving, while writing at home… I adore this alt-rock EP. Tasteful songwriting, incredibly catchy vocal lines, a lush, dreamy, reverb-washed production value; all of these qualities combined receive a chef’s kiss from me.
FFO: Loathe, Spiritbox, Turnstile
Foodman – Yasuragi Land
Electronic music always has strange things going on if you know where to look. Every time I come back to this album, the same word comes to mind: “peculiar.” You won’t find Reese bass here. No drops. In comparison to EDM, Foodman’s music is completely alien. Yasuragi Land is a collage; a colourful painting filled with small, bizarre details; a rare item imbued with childlike curiosity.
FFO: Giant Claw, Oval, Nico Niquo
Bull of Heaven – 19 Mental Breakdowns (I’m about to Have)
Bull of Heaven is the experimental drone/ambient duo of Clayton Counts and Neil Keener. After Clayton died in 2016, Neil has continued to produce several records that feel as if they still contain the spirit of Clayton. Through these albums, the flames of his memory continue to burn, and I can’t help but feel a sense of love when I listen to them. This album is one of many that acts as a smouldering eulogy for Clayton. It is a respectful love letter to a friend whose body is gone, but whose soul is still with us.
FFO: Coil, Current 93, Aaron Dilloway
Blessed – Ⅲ
This EP is four songs, each with a unique personality that picks up from the previous track. At times it reminds me of Codeine—slow, nearly bursting with potential energy. Just when you anticipate Blessed’s music to explode in your face, they trick you and pull back, creating even more tension than before. But then they trick you again, and they do explode, with energy reminiscent of At the Drive-In’s Relationship of Command. A solid, engaging, and inspired math-rock-ish release.
FFO: Don Caballero, Battles, US Maple
Stolen Kidneys – Maailma loppuu
You will know within 60 seconds of “Ovi sulkeutuu,” the album’s opening track, if you enjoy this record. It does not beat around the bush. Ugly, loud, dissonant sludge made exactly as it should be. Desperate screaming, distorted guitar, and bass, and a great drum sound. What more do you need?
FFO: Unwound, Helms Alee, Eyes
Nursing – Self Care
Technical and ear-piercing. Easily one of the most face-punching, hair-pulling, jaw-clenching, unhinged, off-the-wall releases of 2021. “Hydrangea Bouquet” not only exceeds the band’s mission statement in 10 seconds, it destroys it. Buries it. Wonky guitarwork, confusing song structures, and black metal vocals. I can only fantasize about what their next release will sound like.
FFO: Machinist, Psyopus, Destroyer Destroyer
Cloak of Altering – Sheathed Swords Drip with Poisonous Honey
This album confuses me. I like albums that confuse me. It’s… experimental black metal with electronic elements. I’m fascinated by this record, because after multiple listens, I’m still not entirely sure what the goal is. I’m not sure what it’s “supposed” to sound like. What is the desired emotional response from writing this music? I have no idea. I’m genuinely unsure what to make of this one, but I keep coming back to it, no less confused than when I listened for the first time.
Orphan Donor – Unraveled
Emotional. Stressful. Passionate. Versatile. A wonderful marriage of screamo, sludge, and grindcore. You could work out to this and hit a PR. You could drink a fifth of whiskey and sit with your head in your hands to this album. You could skate to this record. The album heals you as it hurts you. Absolutely love this one.
FFO: Ken Mode, Secret Cutter, The Secret
Bummer – Dead Horse
I appreciate noise rock that makes me want to take my shirt off and start drinking, and this album makes me want to do exactly that. Dead Horse caters to no one. This is music to break your arm to. An album that makes you want to grow your hair out and start smoking again. Did your dad make you listen to Steel Pole Bathtub when you were a kid? If so, you’ll like this, and so will your dad. Trust me.
FFO: Whores, Young Widows, USA Nails
Warehouse – Ridgeview
This EP checks a lot of boxes for me. It’s technical, sludgy, noisy, and absolutely pissed off. In the words of Adam Neely: “repetition legitimizes.” Riffs repeat until they become commands, commanding the listener to be immersed in the swirling, enraged rhythms. The songs sweat with frustration. The vocals express a vivid pain, as if there were no other way to illustrate these emotions; these songs had no choice but to be made. This EP makes the air heavy, conjuring images of being locked in a hot room, banging on the walls to be let free.
FFO: Swans, Meshuggah, Chat Pile
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