Zach’s Favorite Music of 2021

Zach searches for vinyl at Amoeba Music in Hollwood, CA. [Photo: Chyna Chuan-Farrell]

Every December since 2008, I’ve prepared a meticulously crafted list of my favorite music from the past year, counting down the albums from 20 to 1. At some point about a decade into the endeavor, I decided to drop the rankings and just publish everything at once — as my music taste expanded beyond rock, it became too difficult to justify one genre over another.

It’s been a strange year, albeit one with a lot of thoughtful music that made the uncertainty a bit more bearable.

We finally got a taste of a return to live music, though of course safety is still a legitimate concern. But just like seeing a concert is communal in its experience, public health is communal in its obligation and it has made me so proud to see people at concerts comply with vaccination checks and mask reminders without question. That’s how we make it through to the other side when we can sing freely.

Disclaimer as always: there is too much music and I did not get to everything. Let me know what I missed or if you want to hear more.

Check out my Spotify playlist with tracks across these records plus several more.

— — — —


Ada Lea — one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden

Arlo Parks — Collapsed in Sunbeams

Asian Glow — cull ficle

Big Red Machine — How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?

Black Country, New Road — For The First Time

black midi — Cavalcade

Bo Burnham — INSIDE

Cassandra Jenkins — An Overview on Phenomenal Nature

Clairo — Sling

Deerhoof — Actually, You Can

Dry Cleaning — New Long Leg

Faye Webster — I know I’m funny haha

Floatie — Voyage Out

Geese — Projector

Genesis Owusu — Smiling With No Teeth

Goat Girl — On All Fours

Hand Habits — Fun House

Hovvdy — True Love

Japanese Breakfast — Jubilee

Jelani Aryeh — I’ve Got Some Living To Do

Katy Kirby — Cool Dry Place

L’Rain — Fatigue

Lightning Bug — A Color of The Sky

Lucid Express — Lucid Express

Lucy Dacus — Home Video

Magdalena Bay — Mercurial World

Men I Trust — Untourable Album

Mdou Moctar — Afrique Victime

Moontype — Bodies of Water

Nation of Language — A Way Forward

Olivia Rodrigo — SOUR

Ovlov — Buds

Parannoul — To See The Next Part of the Dream

Parquet Courts — Sympathy for Life

Pom Poko — Cheater

Shame — Drunk Tank Pink

Shanghai Qiutian— 家:革命

Spirit of the Beehive — ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH

Spirits Having Fun — Two

Squid — Bright Green Field

St. Vincent — Daddy’s Home

Subsonic Eye — Nature of Things

Surfbort — Keep On Truckin’

Sweet Trip — A Tiny House, In Secret Speeches, Polar Equals

Turnstile — GLOW ON

Vanishing Twin — Ookii Gekkou

Water From Your Eyes — Structure

Wednesday — Twin Plagues

Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago IL, September 2021.


Arthur Moon — Chaos! Chaos! Chaos! Side A

The Claptraps — The Claptraps

Courting — Grand National

Kero Kero Bonito — Civilization

Yves Tumor — The Asymptotical World

Surfbort headlining The Roxy, Los Angeles CA, December 2021.

Highly Anticipated for 2022

100 Gecs

Animal Collective — Time Skiffs

Beach House — Once Twice Melody

Big Thief — Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

Black Country, New Road — Ants From Up There

Father John Misty — Chloe And The Next 20th Century

Jack White — Fear of the Dawn / Entering Heaven Alive

Mitski — Laurel Hell

Nilufer Yanya — Painless

Wet Leg — Wet Leg

Phoebe Bridgers smashing her guitar on Saturday Night Live in February 2021.




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Zach Silva

Zach Silva

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