Strawberry Skies Presents: The Sweetest Releases of 2021
It was just year-end list season, and if you know me, you know I love the last minute and I’m incredibly indecisive, hence why this is being posted and it’s already 2022. I’ve made you wait long enough, so, without further ado, here are The Sweetest Releases of 2021, presented by Strawberry Skies! Check out the top tracks from this list on Spotify here.
10: “How Flowers Grow” - Scowl
Favorite Tracks: “How Flowers Grow”, “Bloodhound”, “Trophy Hunter”, “Seeds to Sow”
I’ve said time and time again that Scowl is one of my favorite bands that I discovered this year, and I mean it. Listening to “How Flowers Grow” for the first time made me feel the same way I felt listening to “Nonstop Feeling” by Turnstile for the first time.
This band pushes the boundaries of hardcore in every way. I can’t wait to see what they do next - really hoping an east coast tour is part of that.
9: “Another Kill For The Highlight Reel” - Save Face
Favorite Tracks: “A.M. Gothic”, “Watch You Die Again”
Save Face has been in my “holy trinity” of favorite bands for a few years now, and while I loved “Folly” and “Merci”, their latest effort “Another Kill For The Highlight Reel” is a step up in every way, shape, and form. This band was born to make this kind of music, with an over-the-top, dramatic, theatric, bright-yet-also-dark feeling.
I’m so glad that their sound has evolved into this. Their live presence will only elevate how great these songs are.
8: “The Band CAMINO” - The Band CAMINO
Favorite Tracks: “Underneath My Skin”, “Know It All”, “Song About You”, “1 Last Cigarette”, “Get It Your Way”, “Damage”
Before this year, The only songs by The Band CAMINO that I knew were “See Through” and “The Black and White.” I got hooked on “Know It All” this summer thanks to my boss (hi Nina) and played it over and over until I got sick of it.
I did the same thing with this record, except I never quite got sick of it. This is absolute pop perfection, whether you think this band is pop, indie, rock, or somewhere in between; there isn’t a single song on the tracklist that isn’t endlessly catchy.
7: “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power” - Halsey
Favorite Tracks: “honey”, “You asked for this”, “I am not a woman, I’m a god”, “Girl is a Gun”
It’s impossible for Halsey to release a song that I don’t absolutely love. Each of her albums means the world to me in a different way and this one will always remind me of my first day of college classes.
I listened to it in full for the first time on that first day, bright and early at nine in the morning sitting outside the student center after my first-ever eight in the morning class, and I was absolutely floored. This record left me feeling empowered, understood, loved, and liberated all at once.
6: “Greatest Hits” - Waterparks
Favorite Tracks: “Violet!”, “Crying Over It All”, “American Graffiti”, “Just Kidding”, “Ice Bath”, “Snow Globe”, “Lowkey As Hell”
Full Review: via this site
Choosing my favorite tracks from this album was incredibly difficult because I truly don’t skip a single song on it. Seeing nearly the entire thing played live twice back in November was an incredible experience.
Much like Save Face’s record from this year, this is a concept album made for over-the-top performances that are more theatrical than they are “pop-punk show.” This LP made me fall back in love with Waterparks, one of my favorite bands from middle school, this year, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
5: “Blood Bunny” - chloe moriondo
Favorite Tracks: “Bodybag”, “What If It Doesn’t End Well”, “Take Your Time”, “I Eat Boys”, “GIRL ON TV”, “Rly Don’t Care”
Full Review: via this site
In addition to Scowl, chloe moriondo is one of my favorite artists that I discovered this year. Her first record “Rabbit Hearted.” really didn’t “wow” me, so to speak, but the addition of a full band rather than just ukulele absolutely brought her up to the next level.
These songs are catchy, filled with emotion and great lyrical content, and each line is delivered with the sass and sweetness of a teenager, the way that music like this should be. These tracks dominated my daily rotation for months and I still listen to them pretty regularly.
4: “This Place You Know” - One Step Closer
Favorite Tracks: “Chrysanthemum”, “I Feel So”, “Pringle Street”, “Hereafter”, “Lead To Gray”
One Step Closer was one of the first hardcore bands I ever saw live, when I somehow impulsively got myself to Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania the day before New Year’s Eve in 2019 to see them with Inclination for my thirtieth show of the year. That show was the first time I ever thought about claiming straight-edge, and clearly, that meant something, since March 2022 will mark two years since I officially claimed.
I say all of this to say: OSC is a very important band to me. Their EP “From Me To You” will always be one of my favorites, but they absolutely hit it out of the park with this full-length.
This band elevated and matured their sound in a way that felt like a natural progression, which not all bands can pull off. Looking forward to more gigs and more years of incredible, emotional music from this amazing band.
3: “Between the Richness” - Fiddlehead
Favorite Tracks: “Eternal You”, “Down University”, “Get My Mind Right”, “Loverman”, “Million Times”
Full Review: via this site
If you know me, even if you don’t know hardcore or alternative music, you know how much I love Fiddlehead. I never shut up about this band, whether I’m wearing a hoodie or t-shirt with them on it, blasting them in the car, or carrying my backpack with their keychain attached to the zipper.
I both dreaded and eagerly anticipated this album. Of course, I wanted new music from one of my favorite bands, especially because the last time they released something I was unaware of their existence.
However, my attachment to their first full-length “Springtime and Blind” made me scared that this record wouldn’t make me feel the same way. Luckily, I couldn’t have been more wrong; this album makes me feel everything at once in the best possible way and is a beautiful display of love, loss, and all that happens in between.
I couldn’t finish this section without mentioning once again that I got to see Fiddlehead and meet frontman Pat Flynn for the first time this year, and that they were my fourth most-listened-to artist of the year, according to Spotify. My 2021 would not have been the same without this band.
2: “Glow On” - Turnstile
Favorite Tracks: “BLACKOUT”, “MYSTERY”, “HOLIDAY”, “T.L.C. (TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION)”, “NO SURPRISE”
Single Review: "MYSTERY" via this site
I got into Turnstile in 2019, so this is their first new full-length release that I’ve been around for. Again, I was both excited for it and dreading it since I knew how much I loved “Nonstop Feeling” and “Time & Space”, and I’ve never been more thankful to be wrong.
There is not a single song that I skip on this record, and each one makes me feel a different way, whether it’s made for singing along in the car or dancing around while I’m supposed to be studying. There’s not much else to say about this record, I truly believe that you have to listen to it and experience it yourself; the line “you really got to see it live to get it” from “NO SURPRISE” really rings true here.
While this LP was obviously a hit with fans of the band and fans of alternative/hardcore music in general, its accessibility for people outside the genre is what’s impressing me about it - they recently performed on Late Night with Seth Meyers and the reaction to that still has me stunned. Oh, and the cover art is pink, so that makes it a flawless record in my book.
1: “Life In Your Glass World” - Citizen
Favorite Tracks: “I Want to Kill You”, “Black and Red”, “Edge of the World”, “Blue Sunday”, “Death Dance Approximately”
Full Review: via Legends of Tomorrow
Single Reviews: “I Want to Kill You” via Legends of Tomorrow
If you had told me a year ago that my number-one, hands-down, ultimate favorite release of 2021 would be a Citizen record, I would’ve been beyond shocked. Before this year, I probably would have called myself an average fan of Citizen - “Youth” is one of my favorite albums of all time, I listened to “World” off of “As You Please” while driving to my grandparents’ house the other day, and “Everybody is Going to Heaven” and “Young States” were staples in my playlists during my senior year of high school.
This album changed how I look at this band completely. It took them from a band I used to listen to when I was sad in freshman year to one of the best bands in alternative music right now, in my eyes.
“Life In Your Glass World” feels like the soundtrack to a coming-of-age film and it truly has become my soundtrack this year, being played in my car, in my shower, in my headphones during class, and from my speaker in my room. These songs make me feel like the main character, so to speak, and I can’t get enough of it - I can’t get enough of this band.
LPs - Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)
“Bloom” - Carpool Tunnel
“NOTHIN’ 2 PROVE” - Out For Justice
“An Unexpected Reality” - Gatecreeper
“Death of a Cheerleader” - Pom Pom Squad
“If The Problems Persist” - rationale.
“in sickness and in hell” - GET TUFF (Interview via Legends of Tomorrow)
“God’s Hate” - God’s Hate
“It Is What It Is” - Payback XXX
“Momentum” - Momentum
“Docile” - Corbin Giroux (Full Review/Interview via this site)
“Nowhere Generation” - Rise Against
“when it all gets old” - Range Life ("another day" Single Review via this site)
“Fragments of a Bitter Memory” - Dying Wish
10: “You’re So Cool” - Family Dinner
Favorite Tracks: “Eyes”, “Song 4 (Bloom)”
Interview: via this site
9: “Now, Life is Living You” - Modern Color
Favorite Tracks: “Now, Life is Living You”, “Day Star”
8: “DESPERATE TIMES DESPERATE PLEASURES” - Boston Manor
Favorite Tracks: “I Don’t Like People (& They Don’t Like Me)”, “Carbon Mono”
7: “Third Chain” - Soul Blind
Favorite Track: “Phantom Pool”
6: “Sane Minds End” - Broken Vow
Favorite Tracks: “Your Fate”, “Poison Peddling”
Interview: via Girls Behind the Rock Show (with Nicole Servetnik)
5: “A Practice In Patience” - Stand Still
Favorite Tracks: “There’s No Autumn Here”, “Id”, “Lockbox”
4: “For A Moment We Were All Alone” - Tiny Kingdoms
Favorite Tracks: “Overture II”, “Yuna”
3: “Pulling Focus” - Action/Adventure
Favorite Tracks: “Barricades”, “Semi-Prologue”, “Pulling Focus”
2: “Closed Casket Material” - Regrown
Favorite Tracks: “Low Point”, “Chuck Coleman”
Single Review: “Deep End” via this site
1: “Drives Out East” - Koyo
Favorite Tracks: “The World We Claim”, “Moriches”
Full Review: via this site
EPs - Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)
“Bowser’s Mixtape” - Belmont
“Two New Joints” - SPACED (Interview via Girls Behind the Rock Show with Lexi Reyngoudt)
“Next In Line” - Pummel
“Tawny” - Drug Church
“DEMO 2021” - SPACED
“A Tear in the Fabric of Life” - Knocked Loose
“II” - Wreckage
“New Shapes” - Anxious (Full Review via Legends of Tomorrow)
“Sugar Coat (Deluxe)” - Pollyanna
“Blame Game” - Beach Bunny
Favorite Releases From Before 2021
10: “The Stolen” - The Stolen
Favorite Tracks: “This is Good for You, Yeah?”, “Millenial”, “Jersey”, “Only in the Night”
9: “No Blame…Just Facts” - Pain of Truth
Favorite Tracks: “Pain of Truth”, “LINYHC”
8: “You Are Flawed, but You’ll Be Fine” - rationale.
Favorite Tracks: “Are You Still Listening?”, “Flawed, but Fine.”, “Space Angela”
7: “Find Sense. Feel Love. Make Light.” - House & Home
Favorite Tracks: “Cathedral”, “Heatseeker”, “Make Light.”, “Tempest”
Interview: via this site
6: “K.I.D.S.” - Mac Miller
Favorite Tracks: “The Spins”, “Don’t Mind If I Do”, “Knock Knock”, “All I Want Is You”
5: “Rage of Deliverance” - Vanguard
Favorite Tracks: “Living Grave”, “To Suffer”, “Detach”
4: “IGOR” - Tyler, The Creator
Favorite Tracks: “WHAT’S GOOD”, “I THINK”, “IGOR’S THEME”, “EARFQUAKE”, “NEW MAGIC WAND”, “RUNNING OUT OF TIME”
3: “Baby” - Born Without Bones
Favorite Tracks: “Rough Terrain (Reprise)”, “Stone”, “I Was in Love”, “Baby”, “Slow Motion”
Interview: via this site (with Scott Ayotte)
2: “Hot Pink” - Doja Cat
Favorite Tracks: “Bottom Bitch”, “Rules”, “Like That (feat. Gucci Mane)”, “Streets”, “Say So”, “Shine”
1: “Punisher” - Phoebe Bridgers
Favorite Tracks: “Kyoto”, “ICU”, “I Know The End”, “Garden Song”, “Graceland Too”
Favorite Releases From Before 2021 - Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)
“Brave Faces Everyone” - Spanish Love Songs
“From The Leaves Of Your Garden” - Modern Color
“This World Is Too Much” - Restraining Order
“Private Mind” - Private Mind
“Cream Soda/Turnip Head” - Rare Candy
What were your favorite releases from this year, from 2021 and beyond? Let me know by tweeting me at @JENSESSlON or the blog at @StrawbSkiesBlog! The blog can also be found on social media @StrawberrySkiesBlog on Instagram and Strawberry Skies Blog on Facebook.