Favourite Rock Albums of 2021

2021 has been done for a while now. It’s about due time to round up some of the best in music and film, all in the name of fun. While there are definitely more than a dozen great rock albums last year, I have whittled them down to my 10 favourites.

10. Daughtry – Dearly Beloved

His days of reality TV far behind him, Chris Daughtry continues to prove the judges so hopelessly wrong for leaving him in fourth place. His eponymous band Daughtry is now onto their sixth album Dearly Beloved, which marks an outstanding return to his roots in rock.

Perhaps it is the creative liberity that he has earned, breaking free of a major label and latching onto his own. Whatever happened was for the best; this feels like a breakout album in many ways, possessing a much needed intensity that seemed missing in his former releases.

9. Samantha Fish – Faster

With her seventh solo effort Faster, Samantha Fish leans back on her long-proven flair for funk-fuelled verses and catchy hooks. But even in her comfort zone, the adept guitarist and singer-songwriter manages a few surprises up her sleeves. These include the insertion of a rap verse by Tech N9ne in Loud – to seamless effect.

Whilst introducing more power pop elements than before, the guitarist still delivers the riffs amidst more accessible numbers. Bits of familiar blues find their way back in Twisted Ambition and the piano-backed So-Called Lover, both bound to be crowd-pleasers on stage.

8. Måneskin – Teatro d’ira – Vol. 1

It is virtually impossible to ignore the rise of Måneskin. Ever since winning the Eurovision Song Contest, these massively talented twentysomethings have been everywhere, their strikingly charismatic vocalist Damiano David charming the crowds on a myriad talk show and gig appearances.

As the world obsess over Zitti e Buoni and I Wanna Be Your Slave, their fans have thankfully not neglected their underplayed Italian singles on Teatro d’ira – Vol. 1. The young quartet’s love for infectious beats and addictive choruses persist, only slowing down for a moment of fragility in the beautifully written ballad Coraline.

7. Dead Poet Society – -!-

In a 46-second interlude entitled -gopi- on Dead Poet Society‘s -!-, an unknown woman expresses her vitrolic frustration with their boring and repetitive music. Cut to the band blasting into a riff-driven song with heavier industrial leanings and distorted vocals, a seemingly deliberate contrast into the alt-rock anthems that came before.

So wrong is the stranger about this dynamic album that is unafraid to explore, driven by big hooks and at times, a display of vulnerability like in .haunted., enough to drive one to tears. It is an exceptional engaging listen, once you get past the irksome stylised titles.

6. The Big Push – Can Do Will Do

The Big Push has been making waves on the streets of Brighton and internationally online – for good reason. A unique trio alongside drummer Glen Chambers, musicians Ren, Romain Axisa, and Gorran Kendal are all frontmen in their own right. Each has their turn in the spotlight to flaunt their unique styles that somehow gel together perfectly.

Their busking performances brim with unmatched energy and unmistakable passion, turning every cover from, The Rolling Stones to The Who, into gold. These influences all play a part in Can Do Will Do, their self-produced EP of stunning originals, an impeccably written debut that is but a preview of bigger things to come.

5. Alice Cooper – Detroit Stories

Six whole decades and 28 studio albums later, legendary musician Alice Cooper shows no sign of slowing down. Detroit Stories is his latest rock n’ roll collection that hasn’t shaken off his killer personality in the slightest.

At 73, there is still the shock rocker we love, untouched by the passage of time. But this is more than just another album he’s made. Paying tribute to his hometown, he crafts a memorable love letter to all those that played a part in shaping his influential music.

4. Dirty Honey – Dirty Honey

Being unsigned hasn’t stopped Dirty Honey from making a name. Their self-released EP in 2019 was an electric success, managing chart-topping singles Rollin’ 7 and When I’m Gone that haven’t quite stopped being earworms even today.

This year, the band has upped their own game with a full-length self-titled debut, promising more rollickin’ up-tempo fun. Showing off their forte for grooves with the likes of California Dreamin’ and Tied Up, the 8-tracker certainly deserves to be blasted through an open window any time of the day.

3. The Darkness – Motorheart

How one can find the heart to dislike The Darkness, it’s something that I may never understand. As heard in Motorheart and the albums before, no one embraces fun like Justin Hawkins does, composing catchy singalongs about a literal love machine and girls whose eye colour he can hardly remember.

Only the lyrics betray their frivolity, for humour never dilutes the prowess of their riffs. For the most part, the British musicians outdo their partners-in-farce in dialing up to 11. Hawkins’ stunning falsetto is bonus.

2. Ayron Jones – Child of the State

Ayron Jones should have gotten his big break years ago, but it isn’t too late to re-discover his music. Comprising existing tracks that had long left their mark on stage and new compositions, his official mainstream debut Child of the State is performed with renewed fervour that urges one to take notice.

This feels like an especially important release of his career, with lyrics confronting his past personal struggles (Take Me Away), as well as larger social issues that persist to date (Mercy). A creative amalgamation of blues, grunge, punk, and hip-hop, his music echoes the likes of Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine, yet in a style that is categorically and brilliantly, his own.

1. Kaleo – Surface Sounds

Having played in a dormant volcano just 6 years back, KALEO returns with an even crazier backdrop, playing live to the stunning lava flow of the visibly active Fagradalsfjall Volcano. It’s an undeniably cool move, but the band needs no gimmick, really. The unique timbre of Jökull Júlíusson’s vocals is enough to compel anyone to stop in their tracks and listen.

A remarkable sophomore album, Surface Sounds packs raw, powerful emotions into every track, from loud anthem Alter Ego to tender acoustic Backbone. Their words too, come from the heart, reflecting the hurt that comes of our tendency for surface judgement, delivering an urgent reminder to our callous society.

***

That’s it for my year in rock, before I dive into heavier sounds next. Until then, please let me know what I’ve missed out below!

4 thoughts on “Favourite Rock Albums of 2021

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.