Independent artists and acts are the backbone of the music industry. There is no denying this truth. Today’s independent artist/group/act could be the next big name, given the right support. Keeping that in mind, it is only fitting that the independent acts out there get just as much attention at year’s end as their more well-known counterparts. That is why Phil’s Picks makes sure to present a list of the year’s top new independent albums each year, including this year.
This year has seen so many wonderful new independent albums, too. Up-and-coming rock act Mason Hill, for instance, is on the verge of breaking out thanks to its new album, Against The Wall. On another note, an act, such as The Grease Traps makes it a presentation that could make it one of the next big names in the realm of neo-soul/funk/R&B with Solid Ground. It is another record that made this critic’s year-ender list, along with Steadfast’s Transmitters. Between these records and so many others, this year saw so many notable new independent albums. They are all compiled in the list featured here.
As with every other list that Phil’s Picks presents annually, the list features the year’s Top 10 new albums and five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles. Those honorable mention titles are included because they each offer something enjoyable in their own right and are no less worth hearing than any of the others featured in the list. That should be fully understood now. Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New Independent Albums.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW INDEPENDENT ALBUMS
Mason Hill – Against The Wall
Ryan Hamilton – 1221
Marc Ribler – The Whole World Awaits You
Kris Rodgers & The Dirty Gems – Still Dirty
The Grease Traps – Solid Ground
Walking Papers – The Light Below
Grand Royale – Carry On
The Straddlerz – The Straddlerz
Willamena – Broken Songs: A Compilation
Drones – Our Hell Is Right Here
Steadfast – Transmitters
Liar Thief Bandit – Deadlights
The Swaggerlies – The Last of the One and Onlys
Skarlett Riot – Invicta
The Fifth – The Fifth
That is all for this list. It is just a snapshot of the mass of notable new independent albums released this year, too. It collectively serves as another reminder of the importance and place of independent music.
Singer/songwriter/guitarist Marc Ribler has made quite the name for himself over the course of his career, having worked with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zant, and Paul McCartney. Now this Friday, Ribler is poised to take a big step forward in his career, going from a supporting role to that of front man with his new solo album, The Whole World Awaits You. The record, which has already produced three successful singles, could make Ribler a star in his own right given the right support as those singles show. They are just a few of the songs that serve to support the noted statements. ‘Without You,’ one of the album’s late entries, serves in its own way to show the album’s strength. It will be discussed shortly. ‘Manzanillo,’ which comes just past the album’s midpoint, is another example of how much the record has to offer. It will be examined a little later. ‘This Is How The Song Goes,’ the album’s finale, is another example of the album’s appeal. It will also be discussed later. Each of the songs noted here does its own part to show why The Whole World Awaits You is appealing. When they are considered with the album’s existing trio of singles and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album a “whole” win for Marc Ribler and audiences alike.
Marc Ribler’s forthcoming solo album The Whole World Awaits You is a wholly successful new offering from the veteran singer/songwriter/guitarist. The album’s existing trio of singles goes a long way to support that statement. They are only some of the songs that show how much the album has to offer audiences. ‘Without You,’ which comes late in the album’s 12-song run, is also of note. The song’s musical arrangement is an instantly infectious composition that lends itself to comparison to works from Train just as much as from Tom Petty. Yes, those are two completely opposing acts, but are more alike than not, as this song shows. That is evidenced through the light use of the organ alongside the vocals and the equally subtle guitar, percussion and drums. The whole is a composition that is one of the album’s most radio ready works.
The musical arrangement featured in ‘Without You’ does a lot to make the song appealing, and is just part of what makes it engaging and entertaining. The lyrical theme that accompanies the musical arrangement builds on that appeal even more. While the song’s title and some of its lyrics make it seem like a love song, the rest of the song proves to be more than just that. It also presents a social commentary of sorts in the song’s chorus that shames people on both sides of the aisle so to speak. That is evidenced as Ribler sings, “I don’t want to live in a world where everyone has an empty heart/I don’t want to live in a world where it still matters what color you are/I don’t want to live in a place where they watch every thing you say and do/I don’t want to live in a world without you.” On the one hand, yes, the romance aspect is there. At the same time, Ribler uses the opportunity to comment on the negative place that the world has reached; that place where we have to be so careful about every single thing that we say and do, and where our skin color still sadly matters so much. The romance aspect becomes more pronounced in the song’s lead verse, in which the song’s subject pronounces his/her love for that other person. This is made clear as Ribler sings, “Your love runs deep for me/Shows up in most everything/You lose your way and you fall down/I’ll be the one that you can count on/Help you understand/I’ll always be right there/You can let your feelings flow.” This is Ribler’s subject saying that things are bad in the world, but he/she will be there for that other person. It is a familiar lyrical topic in pop music, and is just as familiar in this case. The adoration for that other person continues in the song’s second verse and bridge, as the song’s subject praises and thanks that other person for being there. That accessible lyrical them and equally accessible musical arrangement is just as much of a positive addition to this album as the record’s singles. It is just one of so many examples of how much the album has to offer audiences, too. ‘Manzanillo,’ which comes just past the album’s midpoint, is another example of the album’s strength.
The musical arrangement featured in ‘Manzanillo’ makes the song stand out because it stands out in itself. Whereas so much of the music featured in The Whole World Awaits You blurs the line between neo-classical, Americana, pop and rock, this song’s arrangement is a distinctly Latin-tinged composition. The dual guitar line, horns, and drums work with the claves to take listeners to Cuba from years ago. Meanwhile, Ribler’s vocal delivery maintains a more American pop sound and stylistic approach. The whole here is so infectious in its own right. When it pairs with the song’s lyrical theme, the two elements make the song even more engaging and entertaining.
The lyrical theme featured in ‘Manzanillo’ itself comes across as a tribute to the history of the Latin culture. This is inferred as Ribler makes mention of the ancient Mesoamerican peoples and their culture. He even makes mention of history repeating itself if we are not careful, perhaps making reference to how those cultures were wiped out and how our current world is doing itself in, too. This is all this critic’s own interpretation of course. His mention of his mother coming to him in a dream and warning about thing happening “in this land” lends itself even more to that inference. Considering all of this, the song’s lyrical theme definitely stands out from its counterparts in this album. That originality and identity pairs with the unique presence of the song’s musical arrangement to make the song stand out even more, as a key addition to the album. It is just one more way in which the album shows its strength. ‘This Is How The Song Goes,’ which closes out the album, is yet another example of what makes Ribler’s new album stand out.
The musical arrangement in ‘This Is How The Song Goes’ is just as unique as those in the songs addressed here and the rest of the album’s songs. To a certain point, the blues, almost psychedelic approach and sound here conjures thoughts of The Doors. At the same time, listeners can also argue that there is a hint of influence from The Beatles in the song’s arrangement, considering the strings and vocal harmonies. Once again, it is completely unlike anything else featured in this record, making even clearer the importance of the album’s musical content. The song’s musical arrangement is just one part of its identity. Its lyrical theme is just as unique.
The lyrical theme featured in ‘This Is How The Song Goes’ is just as thought-provoking as the song’s musical arrangement. It opens with Ribler singing, “A tree fell in the forest with no sound/Some things go up/But don’t come down/Tomorrow’s just a day we’ll leave behind/Only precious time…” What follows is difficult to decipher sans lyrics to reference considering the overly subtle way in which Ribler sings here, but what is understandable shows the deep metaphorical language that Ribler uses here. The mention of things being “in your dreams” in the song’s chorus is just as metaphorical even when the song’s lyrics can be deciphered. That what little can be deciphered is itself cryptic is interesting enough. When the rest of the song can be deciphered, the whole proves just as cryptic, ensuring even more engagement and discussion. That engagement and discussion pairs with the song’s equally interesting musical arrangement to make the song in whole yet another clear example of why The Whole World Awaits You deserves so much attention. When the song in whole is considered with the other songs examined here, the album’s singles, and the rest of its works, the whole makes the album a powerful new outing for Marc Ribler that could be the start of a very big career for him, given the right support.
Marc Ribler’s forthcoming solo album, The Whole World Awaits You is a presentation that is awaiting and deserves attention from audiences and radio stations nationwide. It is a unique presentation that shows Ribler, who has spent so much of his career as a supporting musician to bigger names, is ready to take his own place in the limelight. That is proven through each of the album’s singles and the songs examined here. The album’s remaining songs serve just as much to support the noted statements. Between the record’s unique (and accessible) musical arrangements and equally accessible lyrical content, the whole offers audiences much to appreciate. All things considered, the album proves itself to be among the best of this year’s new independent albums. It is scheduled for release Friday through Wicked Cool Records.
More information on Marc Ribler’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at:
Singer/songwriter/guitarist Marc Ribler offered audiences another preview of this new album over the weekend.
Ribler, who has worked with legendary music acts, such as Steven Van Zant, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul McCartney, premiered his new single, ‘Fly Away’ Friday. The song is the third from Ribler’s forthcoming album, The Whole World Awaits You, which is scheduled for release July 16 through Van Zant’s Wicked Cool Records. The song’s premiere follows that of ‘Who Could Ask For Anything More‘ and its video, and of the album’s lead single, ‘Shattered.’
The musical arrangement featured in ‘Fly Away’ is a gentle, semi-acoustic ballad. Its sound and stylistic approach bears a blend of southern rock with elements of Eagles, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen. The blending of those influences and sounds makes this composition interesting if only for this reason.
No information about the song’s lyrical theme was provided in the press release distributed about the song’s premiere. A close listen leads to the inference that the song centers on the all-too-familiar topic of a broken relationship. That is only this critic’s interpretation.
The full track listing for ‘The Whole World Awaits You‘ is noted below.
The video for ‘Who Could Ask For Anything More’ features Ribler and his fellow musicians performing the new single against a white backdrop in a studio setting. Paired with that setting is animated imagery, such as a helicopter flying over a traffic jam on a bridge, plastic bags floating in the ocean, and what is supposed to be one of so many Real Housewives Of… casts fighting on a television monitor.
The musical arrangement featured in ‘Who Could Ask For Anything More’ throws back to the pop rock sounds of the 1960s, but still boasts something uniquely engaging and entertaining in its sound. That is exhibited through the song’s melodies and vocal harmonies. They really make for a certain infectious sense throughout the song.
Ribler discussed the song’s noted lyrical theme in a prepared statement.
“While delivered tongue-in-cheek, the song has serious implications,” said Ribler. “It’s about taking a good hard look at the damage done by greed. It certainly seems to lead to insensitivity and indifference, for example, shutting down the George Washington Bridge for political gain and manipulation; creating plastic islands on our vast beautiful oceans, or simply creating multibillion dollar industries that benefit from the divisive proliferation of unhealthy citizens due to social, environmental, nutritional and drama-based pollution, and 100 other things I can think of at the moment.
Added Ribler, “That being said, all this crazy shit gives a songwriter much to write about. Perhaps that’s the bright side of greed, mayhem, death and destruction.”
More information on Marc Ribler’s new single, video and album is available along with all of his latest news at:
Singer-songwriter-guitarist Marc Ribler unveiled his debut album this week.
Ribler, who is the musical director of Little Steven and the Disciples, premiered his debut single, ‘Shattered‘ Friday. The song is the lead single from Ribler’s latest album The Whole World Awaits You, which is expected for release in June through Steven Van Zant’s Wicked Cool Records.
The Whole World Awaits You is Ribler’s third album. It is preceded by his first two albums, This Life and Life Is But A Dream. Both albums are available to order here along with ‘Shattered.’
The musical arrangement featured in ‘Shattered’ generates its own engagement and entertainment. Ribler’s vocal delivery style leads to comparison to Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl as does the sound generated through the song’s instrumentation. At the same time, the arrangement also features a light, Tom Petty style approach and sound.
The lyrical theme that accompanies the song’s musical content touches on the all too familiar topic of a broken relationship.
Ribler co-produced his new single along with Van Zant. Ribler mixed the song.
More information on Marc Ribler’s new single and album is available along with all of his latest news at: