Best of 2021 – Last year we missed doing our annual “Best Of.” This year we present it after a year of quarantine albums galore. Tours didn’t start until May but new music was flowing from the start of 2021. 2022 is already aiming to be a busy year. Here are our choices for the Best of 2021.
We’ve evolved from Phoebe Bridgers, Megan Thee Stallion and others of last year to a new crop of artists.
Best Label – Fire Talk Records – Home to Bnny, Mamalarky, Packs and more this boutique label is setting up to be the next Saddle Creek Records.
Secretly Group @secretlygroup, Saddle Creek Records @saddlecreek, Fire Talk Records @firetalkrecs, Don Giovanni Records @DonGiovanniRecs
Nest New Artist – “New” is always relative. Georgia Maq has been part of Camp Cope, and Isabella Manfredi was part of The Preatures. Our winner is Ashe who album Ashlyn was hard to put down this year.
Georgia Maq @goldsoundz_, Allison Russell @allisonrussellmusic, S.G. Goodman @s.g.goodman, Ashe @ashemusic, Jillette Johnson @jillettejohnson, Hawxx @hawxxmusic, Noa Kirel @noakirel, Kill Birds @killbirdsmusic, Killboy @killboy , Sloppy Jane @sloppyjanebandd , Ydegirl @ydegirl, The Linda Lindas @the_linda_lindas, Allison Ponthier @allisonponthier, Isabella Manfredi @isabellamanfredi, Pom Pom Squad @pompomsquad
Best Local (Colorado) Artist – Local artists can often be touring or even national acts. This category was very competitive with the amount of quarantine albums that came out. Our winner is Companion who mesmerized us in the Spring. They will quickly become a national act.
Best Dance – Dance is also electronic and electro pop. Magdalena Bay & Sofi Tukker are the 800 lb gorillas in this category. Kito is our winner for surprising collaborations.
Magdalena Bay @magdalenabay, Sofi Tukker @sofitukker, Kito @kito
Best Pop – Pop like Indie is often open to interpretation. It is often what dominates at venues. Our winner is Charlotte Cardin whose Phoenix album was one of the best albums this year.
Hana Vu @hanavuuu, Lucy Dacus @lucydacus, Japanese Breakfast @jbrekkie, Baby Queen @queenofthebabies, Charlotte Cardin @charlottecardin, Jess Chalker @jess_chalker_, May-A @mayacumming, Ashe @ashemusic, Girl In Red @girlinred, Angèle @angele_vl, Sloppy Jane @sloppyjanebandd, Nadia Vaeh @nadiavaeh, Olivia Rox @oliviarox, Number One Popstar @numberonepopstar, Bahari @bahari, Noga Erez @nogaerez, Lola Lennox @lolalennex
Best Rock – Rock is often the guitar driven beat that keeps you going. Kill Birds, who have been touring with Foo Fighters are our winner.
Royal and the Serpent @royalandtheserpent, Amyl and the Sniffers @amylandthesniffers, Mattiel @mattielworldwide , Upsahl @upsahlmusicl, Self Esteem @selfesteemselfesteem, Kill Birds @killbirdsmusic, Nadia Sheikh @nadiasheikhmusic, Red Hook @weareredhook, Pom Pom Squad @pompomsquad
Best Indie – Indie always means both a sound but also a level of development. These are the artists at the small venues touring to survive. We have a diverse selection this year. Bnny is our winner.
Best Experimental – There is always a “flinch” moment when you saw experimental. It involves a great deal of risk as personified by our winner Fifi Rong who is working on her dual album set with one album all in English, and one all in Chinese. She is crowdfunding now.
Insect Ark @insectark, Fifi Rong @fifirong, Sasami @sasamiashworth, Irreversible Entanglements @irreversibleentanglements, Haru Nemuri @haru_nemuri
Best Hip Hop – This is the first year that FEMMUSIC has this category. There may be some arguments as to whether all these artists fit it. Coi Leray is the best newcomer in this area. Ray BLK is our winner.
Bia @bia, Tones and I @tonesandi, Doja Cat @dojacat, Sza @sza, Cardi B @iamcardib, Megan Thee Stallion @theestallion, Coi Leray @coileray, Ms Banks @msbanks, Ray BLK @rayblk, Remi Wolf @remiwolf, Tinashe @tinashenow
Best Jazz – We will admit to not hearing as much jazz this year. Laufey is the winner with original interpretations of classics.
Laufey @laufey, Nnenna Freelon @officialnnenna
Best Country – Brandi Carlile is a favorite in this category and will take home more GRAMMYs. Allison Russell wins for being new and original.
Brandi Carlile @brandicarlile, Allison Russell @allisonrussellmusic, Yola @iamyolaofficial, CMAT @cmatbaby, Jackson & Sellers @jacksonsellersmusic, Ingrid Andress @ingridandress
Best Heavy Metal – Infected Rain is a former winner in this category. Jinjer, Halestorm & The Pretty Reckless dominate. The Velveteers are this year’s winner.
Hawxx @hawxxmusic, Edge of Paradise @edgeofparadise, Jinjer @jinjer_official, The Velveteers @thevelveteers, Infected Rain @infectedrain_official, The Pretty Reckless @theprettyreckless, Halestorm @halestormrocks
Best R & B – This category includes powerhouses like Arlo Parks and Dawn Richard. Alewya is our winner for new and original music this year.
Muni Long @munilong, India Shawn @indiashawn, Dawn Richard @dawnrichard, Alewya @alewya11, Arlo Parks @arloparks, Tkay Maidza @tkaymaidza, Danielia Cotton @danieliacotton, Saleka @saleka
Best Surprise – A “surprise” for us is that unexpected performance when it was not expected. It includes some risky performances such as LVXURI and Big Klit. S.G. Goodman is our hands down winner. We caught her as an opener and she garnered as much reaction as the headliner. She is a blunt, and emotive songwriter.
S.G. Goodman @s.g.goodman, Kiesza @kiesza, LVXURI @mx_lvxuri, Big Klit @klitoriusmaximus
Best Comeback – This has been a surprisingly competitive category. Whether it’s the return of ABBA after a long time to Adele’s new album. The big surprise this month is Taylor Swift taking the world with the longest song. She is our winner.
Kylie Minogue @kylieminogue, Avril Lavigne @avrillavigne, Deborah Gibson @debbiegibson, Liz Phair @LizPhairOfficial, Taylor Swift @taylorswift , ABBA @ABBA, Adele @adele, Lorde @lorde
Marissa Nadler reveals the new single/video, “Couldn’t Have Done the Killing,” from her forthcoming album, The Path of the Clouds, out October 29th on Sacred Bones and Bella Union. “Couldn’t Have Done the Killing” is an ominous follow-up to “If I Could Breathe Underwater” and “Bessie, Did You Make It?.”
The accompanying video, directed by Tyler Derryberry and Christen Dute, pays homage to iconic TV series such as Unsolved Mysteries and In Search of…
“When Marissa came to us to make a video for a song on her new album, we were already aware of the album’s themes and her inspirations,” explain Derryberry and Dute. “While she was writing and recording the album sequestered at home during the pandemic, we stayed in touch, sharing our media diet of true crime and the paranormal. We exchanged links to podcasts about Skinwalkers, recommended our favorite serial killer documentaries, and discussed our favorite theories about DB Cooper.”
“We set out to recreate that moment in time when murders and bank robberies shared an equal plausibility with hauntings and high strangeness. Remember when innocently entertaining a conspiracy theory or two seemed to have no cultural or political consequences? When Coast To Coast AM would have us believing the government was hiding a UFO in a hangar somewhere, but no one was going to storm the capital over it?”
“The settings of Massachusetts and Maine appropriately enhanced the New England vibe of our and Marissa’s tone. Cabins older than the Great Depression and cemeteries older than the Revolutionary War are everywhere. Apartment buildings where college students still live today were the scenes of murders fifty years ago. Everybody seems to own an ax. We even did some shooting in Cumberland County, Maine, where Stephen King’s fictional town of Salem’s Lot is located. Turn on the camera, point it at the dark, and the witchiness just seems to seep in on its own.” @marissa_nadler
Lost Horizons – the project of Cocteau Twins’ Simon Raymonde & Richie Thomas of Dif Juz – released part one of its new album In Quiet Moments at the end of 2020 and is set to release part two, as well as the physical of the double album, on February 26th via Bella Union. Every track on the album features a guest vocalist, and today’s new single “Marie” features Marissa Nadler. The music video footage was created by Nadler while the editing and direction was done by Penelope Isles’ Jack Wolter.
Of the track, Lost Horizons said: “I don’t think there was ever a second I wasn’t going to find a song for Marissa to sing on the new lp. SO much cool stuff came out of our last collaborations on Ojalá, indeed I think we ended up recording four songs from the original idea of doing one! Marissa is a really great & generous collaborator as she really throws herself in deep, and commits to it fully. That is a rare and beautiful gift and Richie and I appreciate it enormously. It was a beast of a track to mix I’ll be honest, and that had nothing to do with Marissa’s vocals, in fact they were a breeze to mix. But the initial music that Richie and I improvised in our basement studio in Brighton was a bit messy and we didn’t use a click or anything to keep tempo so fixing anything later was a lost cause, but it is such a cool piece that i loved creating (i think i put 4 maybe 5 bass parts on with my old trusty Fender VI string bass guitar!) that even when it’s kinda falling apart during that instrumental section near the end, i still love it. It probably sounds like it took half an hour to mix but the truth is it took weeks of starting it, scrapping it, starting over, scrapping it, etc. And yes, i fully intend to ask Marissa to contribute to our next one too.”
Marissa Nadler adds: “It was a dream to collaborate with Simon and Ritchie for Lost Horizons again. Marie is an aquatic reverie about this title character entering different dimensions. Maybe we’re all feeling a little submerged, watching the time. This stream of consciousness song came from listening to the track that Simon sent, and birthed this hypnagogic hallucination of a story.”