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Top 10 Albums of 2021: the Colorado Sound Staff Picks

The year is coming to a close, and so it’s time to reflect on some of the fantastic music we heard this year! Below, members of the Colorado Sound staff compiled their Top 10 lists of some of their personal favorite albums this past year. Enjoy, and thanks for listening! 


Stacy’s Top 10 Albums + Extras

  Artist Name Album Name Quick Take Description
1 Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra Promises space music A single piece of music done in 9 movements – beautiful, intimate and subtle, with space for the music to breathe and be explored.
2 Weather Station Ignorance hushed beauty Written as a reflection of the world’s current complexities, Ignorance is surprisingly cheery and approachable. Deftly maneuvering between her hushed lower register and a breezy falsetto, her sultry style invites you in to her personal space.
3 The Allergies Promised Land feel good Improve your mood in three minutes with these danceable tunes laden with funky  bass lines, horns, and  dance-floor  grooves. Inspired by the golden eras of funk, soul, disco, and hip-hop.
4 Little Simz Sometimes I Might Be Introvert YES! This Ivor Novello Award winner delivers again with her powerful fourth album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. Deeply personal, beautifully orchestrated, this needs a listen!
5 Jungle Loving in Stereo roller skates Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland’s third album is everything you’d hope for from Jungle: deep grooves, funky breaks, guitar pop, falsetto vocals and solid dance floor bangers. With more collabs and more organic source material –  don’t miss standout ‘Romeo’ featuring rapper Bas.
6 F.S.Blumm & Nils Frahm 2X1=4 lush Nils steps away from his role as a modern classical musician and explores the electronic landscapes with F.S. Blumm in their 3rd collaboration. Or as music reviewer Henry Ivry wrote “(Nils) trades the emotional gravitas of his solo work for playfulness and curiosity.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!
7 Parquet Courts Sympathy for Life psyche Moving further into a psychedelic realm, the band continues to expand their sound into further reaches of the spectrum.
8 Altın Gün Âlem Turkish disco Their second release in 2021 – hailing from Amsterdam, this Turkish psych-folk band is easy to fall in love with. They create music heavily influenced from their native backgrounds (Turkish, Indonesian, Dutch) that opens doors between traditional Turkish folk songs and psych.
9 Silk Sonic An Evening With Silk Sonic smoooooth Bootsy Collins named the band AFTER hearing the album that Anderson.Paak and Bruno Mars recorded…enough said about this total throwback piece of sugary goodness.
10 Priya Ragu damnshestamil deftly inventive

The kinetic energy of this album is driven through elements of alternative soul, pop, R&B and Tamil music – it’s a celebration of unity, diversity, and humanity.


Dry Cleaning, New Long Leg – Fuzzy jangle
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Butterfly 3000 – Happy Happy Joy Joy
Helado Negro, Far In – Breezy
Gustaf, Audio Drag for Ego Slobs – Dirty fun
Twin Shadow, Twin Shadow – Good fun


Related: What are your favorite Colorado Sound songs of all time?


Ron’s Top 10 Albums

  Artist Name Album Name Quick Take Description
1 Pat Metheny Side Eye quali-jazz For 40+ years, Pat has always been changing. Except for the quality and freshness of his sounds. Only a trio here, but it could have been a full band. 
2 Lukas Nelson A Few Stars Apart    
3 Hold Steady Open Door Policy alert There is no voice like Craig Finn. Nuff said.
4 Ryley Walker Course In Fable throwback Ryley gives me a bit of John Fahey nostalgia while making me feel I’m in the know on a contemporary artist.
5 Weather Station Ignorance dreamy Tamara’s eTown taping a few years ago moved me to immediately buy her then-new album. Her voice still does it for me.
6 Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio I Told You So GROOVE! Another “gotta see ’em live” epiphany for me, their show at the Aggie. Their first note started a groove, and each song kept making that groove deeper.
7 Hiss Golden Messenger Quietly Blowing It summer M.C. Taylor and band have captured that laid-back, Southern summer feeling that makes me want to see them at Folks Fest again.
8 Mdou Moctar Afrique Victime Afri-desert Like Hiss, Mdou’s Saharan roots imbue that Bedouin tent performance aura.
9 Japanese Breakfast Jubilee    My ‘Music Discovery’ pick for the year for me. On paper, I may not have let myself find this one. But hearing the songs we played on the Colorado Sound drew me in.
10 Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett Love for Sale classic In my book, this will be the album we’ll play most when Tony leaves us. Showing how, at age 95 (!) he can still swing for the fences. Why didn’t I make the time to see him live?



Margot’s Top 5 Albums + 5 Other Favorites

This year found me listening to new releases from old favorites like the Descendents and Nick Cave, as well as grooving on the new War On Drugs album. In fact, The War On Drugs released my favorite album of the year. While 2021 brought some old favorites, it also brought some cool finds like the Allergies’ full-length Promised Land and the second of two Still Corners releases in 2021, The Last Exit.

Top 5 Albums
  Artist Name Album Name
1 The War on Drugs I Don’t Live Here Anymore
2 The Allergies Promised Land
3 Allison Russell Outside Child
4 Descendents 9th & Walnut
5 Still Corners The Last Exist


Other favorites
  Artist Name Album Name
1 Hiss Golden Messenger Quietly Blowing It
2 Fruit Bats The Pet Parade
3 Adia Victoria A Southern Gothic
4 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds B Sides & Rarities, Part 2
5 The Mountain Goats Dark in Here



Kurt’s Top 10 Country and Americana Albums + Extras

My list of favorite songs and albums this year was all over the map, but many fell into the Americana/country camp, so that’s where I focused my list. And there’s plenty of great music in that world- and a ton of variety as well, maybe now more than ever before. Some of my favorite country artists put out great new albums this year, including Jason Eady, Cody Jinks (one of the best voices in country), and one of my favorite bands in recent years, Mike and the Moonpies (probably my most-played album this year – start with “Hour on the Hour”). But the Americana world is probably being pushed forward the most by the fantastic women who released albums this year, including Yola, Allison Russell, and Adia Victoria. Another favorite, Charlie Crockett, is finding a wider audience with his fresh take on old-school country, while Joshua Ray Walker grabbed attention with his blend of styles on his latest album (listen to “Sexy After Dark” and see if you aren’t hooked). Robert Plant and Alison Krauss are just pure joy together, so it’s a gift to get a new release from them. And Portland’s Rose City Band creates a groovy, laid-back, slightly psychedelic country sound that was perfect for summertime…and works just as well this time of year. 

  Artist Name Album Name
1 Mike and the Moonpies One to Grow On
2 Joshua Ray Walker See You Next Time
3 Yola Stand for Myself
4 Robert Plant and Allison Krauss Raise the Roof
5 Rose City Band Earth Trip
6 Adia Victoria A Southern Gothic
7 Charlie Crockett Music City USA
8 Allison Russell
Outside Child
9 Jason Eady To the Passage of Time
10 Cody Jinks Mercy

Dry CleaningNew Long Leg
The VelveteersNightmare Daydream
Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince BillyBlind Date Party
The War on DrugsI Don’t Live Here Anymore
Arlo ParksCollapsed in Sunbeams


Dawn’s Top 10 Albums

  Artist Name Album Name Description
1 Jon Batiste   We Are A complete album of awesome, and when you include a marching band in the title track, well, nothing compares.
2 Yola Stand for Myself   The title track is the new “I Will Survive,” a song of empowerment with a side of vulnerability thrown in for peak effect.
3 War on Drugs   I Don’t Live Here Anymore   Another great album from beginning to end from this band, and another title track that I’ve not grown tired of.
4 Adia Victoria A Southern Gothic   A showcase of Victoria’s stunning talent. Lyrically as rich as a the South it’s named after. 
5  Durand Jones & the Indications   Private Space   This band always surprises with songs that sound like they were plucked from the best of 1960’s. “Witchoo” is the perfect party song. 
6 Lake Street Dive Obviously   “Hypotheticals” showcases Rachael Price’s vast range and skill, and is the perfect lead-in to a fabulous album. 
7  Lucy Dacus   Home Video   Lucy Dacus write songs that are like little short stories ala Jason Isbell. A movie should be made of this album.
8 Leon Bridges Gold Diggers Sound  No one evokes Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and the best of that era. Leon Bridges doesn’t fit into one genre though, he’s the smoothest of the smooth. 
9  The Harder They Fall Soundtrack   Reminds me of the westerns of my youth, but updated to mirror the badass characters and story of this not-to-miss film. 
10 Adele 30 It’s Adele, nuff said.



Chris K’s Top 10 Albums + Honorable Mentions

I’m sure nearly everyone I know will think I might list my favorite #COmusic albums. But nooooo. I might if I lived alone and didn’t work at the best radio station in my career. This is the music that most inspired and moved me – on the radio, at home, in my car and on stages, throughout the past year.  

  Artist Name Album Name Description
1 Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats The Future Album release in November, it’s more “2022” than 2021. Emotional and illuminating at a personal level. #COmusic
2 My Morning Jacket My Morning Jacket Just wow! The first album of original new music in six years pays off for this old fan. 
3 Yola Stand for Myself Her Red Rocks performance opening for Orville Peck was a tour de force of country-soul that elevated her to likely headliner status.
4 West Side Joe & the Men of Soul Keep On Climbin’ Memphis meets Louisiana meets Rocky Mountain classic rhythm and blues and rock n roll. #COmusic
5 Blumer Haus Boy Meets Groove The only jazz album on my list. It’s a brilliant debut that took a decade to conceive, write and record. #COmusic
6 Blackberry Smoke You Hear Georgia Southern Rock groovaliciousness.
7 Record Company Play Loud 2021 rugged classic guitar rock by way of 1975.
8 John Hiatt Leftover Feelings The incomparable Jerry Douglas on Dobro equals a sublime acoustic outing for John.
9 Adele 30 Tantalizingly efficient transformation musically and personally.
10 Lake Street Dive Obviously Socio-political adult yacht rock that compels a deep listen along with one of the best live Red Rocks shows I’ve seen this century.



Two albums of covers from Colorado made my most-listened-to list this year.

  1. David Starr– Touchstones #COmusic
  2. Chris Daniels & Hazel Miller with Friends– What We Did! (Live) #COmusic



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