Best Albums of 2021 so far...

OK Human - Weezer

Weezer, one of the most loved and "hated" groups of America, released their 14th studio album early this year in January, making it their first release of this decade. I can think of no better start to the next ten years of Weezer, but with their latest pop piece OK Human. The 2010's weren't too kind to Weezer with attempted pop albums failing, and the areas of success being a large departure of what Weezer once was. Nonetheless, they had shinning moments outside of their covers album with 2014's Everything Will Be Alright In The End and 2017's White Album. These two records brought life back to the sounds of the fan loved albums of Blue Album and Pinkerton. 

With OK Human Weezer makes a new sound that blends the past 30 years into one record. An important part of this album is the 38 piece big band of horns, strings, piano, and rock instruments, all composed by front man Rivers Cuomo. This is one of  the few albums Cuomo plays no guitar on, leading with a piano. Cuomo took a play on Radiohead's OK Computer for the title of this record and draws sounds from The Beach Boy's Pet Sounds, and Harry Nilsson's Nilsson Sings Newman. The finished product comes across as calculated and poppy in all the right ways, with every song flowing into the next in the short half-hour journey. The Covid-19 Pandemic caused Cuomo to jumpstart work that he started in 2018 to finish the OK Human, and use some of his experiences of being in doors to add weird and quirky lyrics to the songs. And if this isn't enough to hold you over, Weezer is releasing another album entitled Van Weezer next week.

L.W. - King Gizzard

As promised, prolific Australian psych-rock band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard delivered the second half of what they started last year with K.G. This album is the third volume of what King Gizzard started in 2017 with Flying Microtonal Banana, complete albums composed and recorded with Microtonal instruments. A microtonal instrument is typically a instrument that was made or modified to hit notes in-between notes (extra frets), for instance a quarter step instead of a half. (picture below: a microtonal guitar being played by front man Stu Mackenzie)

With L.W. King Gizzard seamlessly carry the same sound over into part two of their self-titled montage, the ending of the last album and beginning of the new album line up so the listener doesn't notice when the next album starts. Despite exploring almost every genre, King gizzard finds a new wave of a psychedelia sound with their latest record. It is unsure what King Gizzard will do next but they never seem to stop with 17 studio albums, their own label (Flightless Records), and own festival completed in just ten years of being a band, paving the way for other Australian underground acts to emerge from their trail blazing ashes.

 Shyga! The Sunlight Mound - Psychedelic Porn Crumpets

My first "new to me" album and band of 2021 is PPC, and what a pleasant delight it has been. Yet again another Australian psych-rock band that started off playing a garage raves. Their latest album Shyga seems to be performing the best out of what they have done. As some one who had no prior knowledge on the band, I went in blind to listen. The PPC is effective in making psych sounds and segues to tie their tracks together that vary from slow droning pieces to straight rock bangers. PPC remind me of many bands (Thee Oh Sees, King Gizzard, The Killers, Jeff Rosenstock) but use their DIY recording to let their own style shine through. Jack McEwan fronts the project and offered the space in which to record this album during the Covid-19 Pandemic. PPC is still fairly new on the scene with this being their fourth studio release, but I see good things in their future with an album such as this.

Welfare Jazz - Viagra Boys

Swedish post-punk music majors the Viagra Boys daunt us with another sampler of songs following their acclaimed debut Street Worms with Welfare Jazz. Viagra Boys somehow tighten the sound of their last record to make noisey songs somewhat catchy with their humor sometimes standing the forefront of songs like "Ain't Nice" and "Toad", not to mention part two of their song "Best In Show". The early punk and blues influences shine through on most tracks with abrasive shouting vocals. Viagra Boys are also widely successful at targeting American listeners with English lyrics about juvenile activity with a sense of lightheartedness. Throughout the loud and crazy, they still find times to slow it down and groove out with songs like "Into the Sun", with a song like this, singer Sebastian Murphy hits the heavier topics about how he was on the wrong life path last year and wants to start to turn it around. On top of a weird bluesy punk feel, Viagra Boys also throw in some 80's staple sounds of dance beats, low flat gang vocals, and electronic instruments, tackling yet another territory of sound. It's rare for a band so young in their career to see such notoriety, but the Viagra Boys will soon climb even higher into mainstream music as time unfolds.

Sweep It Into Space - Dinosaur Jr.

Three piece alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr treats us with their 12th studio album since their start in 1985. Dinosaur Jr generally takes a few years between albums before delivering the next, but Sweep It Into Space breathes a new life into their discography. Front man J Mascis takes the spotlight once again with this album with his recognizable fuzzy screeching lead guitar work and ageing voice. We also see an appearance and producing role from singer songwriter Kurt Vile on this record in addition to two songs by the original bass player Murph, who left the group in 1989 and rejoined in 2007. One of Murph's songs "Garden" is a highlight of the album with it's soft but strong sound. From the sound of Sweep It Into Space you would think Dinosaur Jr never left the 80's and 90's and live in the heyday of playing together and being a band, with their biggest critic and audience being themselves, telling them not to change a beat. Some bands are around just to consistently make a good albums that never stray too far from their roots, but still help them grow as artist and friends, this is one fine example of that.

Honorable mentions:

Ska Dream - Jeff Rosenstock

For the First Time - Black Country, New Road

Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine - Brockhampton


- Ryne's Reviews