BY: JOEY REAMS
A quarter of 2021 has gone by already, and artists from all different genres have been released already. Thankfully for you, we only care about the indie and alternative rock albums. To help you find your next favorite band, we’ve found some of the best albums of 2021’s first quarter. These are just a few of our choices. Let us know if there’s any that we missed!
Julien Baker – Little Oblivions
The first person on our list is Julien Baker, famous for both her solo career and as a member of the indie rock band Boygenius, alongside Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus. In February, Baker released her third studio album, Little Oblivions, and it received universal recognition from several publications.
“After two critically lauded albums of raw, powerful alt-folk — as well as a rapturously received collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus as boygenius — Memphis-based singer-songwriter Julien Baker has burst forth with a third effort that’s so fully formed and viscerally human, it might as well have its own pulse,” said Adam Feibel of Exclaim!
Little Oblivions is an intimate third album from Baker, oftentimes speaking about her own struggles with sobriety and mental health. Baker struggled with substance abuse in the past but found support in the straight-edge punk scene in Memphis.
Top tracks from the album: “Hardline,” “Faith Healer,” “Bloodshot,” and Song in E.”
Weezer – OK Human
Okay, we admit it, we’re a sucker for anything Weezer. This isn’t their best album, but it still has the classic Rivers Cuomo vocals that we’ve all come to grow and love. This unconventional album is the band’s 14th studio album, and the band continues to push what’s expected out of them. This album was recorded entirely by analog equipment and featured a 38-piece orchestra. Despite all of these years and multiple albums, Weezer still manages to impress the critics.
“Chalk it up to the unpredictability of 2021; despite the creative and cultural headwinds into which it was released, OK Human lands as a surprisingly charming collection of pop tunes whose imperfections add to rather than detract from the experience,” said Tyler Clark from Consequence of Sound.
If you haven’t noticed by now, it’s a play on Radiohead’s 1997 album OK Computer. On top of that, the music itself was heavily influenced by albums such as Harry Nilsson’s 1970 Nilsson Sings Newman and the Beach Boy’s 1966 Pet Sounds. These influences help Cuomo create the idea of making an album that combined rock instrumentations with an orchestra. It’s definitely one of the most elegant albums to have come out the year so far.
Top Tracks from the Album: “All My Favorite Songs,” “Playing My Piano,” and “Bird with a Broken Wing.”
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – New Fragility
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, also known as CYHSY, has released its second album following its collective departure in 2012. The band continued as a solo musical project of Alec Ounsworth since then, and in February, their sixth studio album, New Fragility, was released via Secretly Canadian. A lot has changed for this band since its debut self-titled album in 2005. Nonetheless, Ouncsworth still manages to hold it all together and produce a well-rounded album to kick the year off.
“Recorded and produced by Ounsworth in Austin, Texas with some additional production by Will Johnson, New Fragility is a poetic, deeply personal album that finds Ounsworth searching for an ever-deeper sense of meaning in what often feels like an increasingly tumultuous and fragile world,” said Matt Collar of AllMusic.
The album itself has a light approach, making it an easy album to listen to. Some fans of their original music may disagree with this sound because it’s not what the band used to sound like. However, Ounsworth still produces a moving album that evokes feelings of nostalgia and wanderlust from the listener.
Top Tracks from the Album: “Hesitation Nation,” “Thousand Oaks,” and “New Fragility.”
Claud – Super Monster
This is probably one of the lesser-known albums on our list. Claud Mintz, professionally known as Claud, released their debut album, Super Monster, in February. Not only was this the artist’s first album, but Claud is also the first artist to sign on with Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory record label. The album hasn’t been critically reviewed, but we broke the album down after it came out.
“The album reveals clever rhyming, smooth instrumentals, and some groovy and psychedelic vibes,” said our very own Andrea Lara. “Lyric-wise, the reality of them allows for a strong bond between fans based on the relatability. We all search for that song that really connects to our lives at any particular moment, especially when it comes to the topic of these songs. This album is like looking into the uncomplimentary glass of the dating world.”
Top Tracks from the Album: “Soft Spot,” “Cuff Your Jeans,” and “Guard Down.”
Tigers Jaw – I Won’t Care How You Remember Me
Last but definitely not least, we have I Won’t Care How You Remember Me, the sixth studio album by Tigers Jaw, released March via Hopeless Records. This is the first album the band released with this record label, and it did not disappoint. This album also features bassist/guitarist Colin Gorman and drummer Teddy Roberts as official members.
“Their latest, I Won’t Care How You Remember Me, is another strong addition to their repertoire, and an album which sees the quartet effortlessly blending scrappy punk with a more chilled-out, easy-on-the-ear indie-rock vibe,” said Jake Richardson from Kerrang!
Tigers Jaw’s latest album proves to cover all bases of a modern rock album. Throughout the years, the band has had its bouts with emo and pop-punk, but this new album manages to bring those elements inward enough to be considered indie rock with a punk tinge. Rock fans will have an easy time finding a song they like on this album, mainly since the album has some flexibility when it comes to its sound. Overall, another great album for a band once thought to be over just eight years ago.
Top Tracks from the Album: “Hesitation,” “Lemon Moth,” “New Detroit,” and “Commit.”