And then there was one. That’s right, Phil’s Picks is finally down to the last of its annual music ear-ender lists. The last of this year’s music-related “best of” lists is the proverbial peak of the mountain in the form of the year’s top new albums.
This year’s list of the top new albums is diverse to say the least. It features new releases from across the musical universe. From jazz to world to rock and even some bluegrass, this year’s list represents how much the musical universe produced this year.
As with every other list from Phil’s Picks, this final music-related list for this year features the Top 10 new releases and five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15, all of which deserve their own share of applause. Without any further ado, here for your consideration is this year’s Top 10 New Albums.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS
Liquid Tension Experiment – 3
Gabor Lesko – Earthway
Devin Townsend – The Puzzle
Doug MacDonald Trio – Toluca Lake Jazz
Allison Russell – Outside Child
Walking Papers – Light Below
Dobet Gnahore – Coleur
Brasuka – Life With Passion
Peter Welker — Sidemen
Nik Bartsch – Entendre
Madre Vaca – The Elements
Billy F. Gibbons – Hardware
Marc Ribler – The Whole World Awaits You
Kris Rodgers & The Dirty Gems – Still Dirty
Gordie “Crazylegs” MacKeeman – Folk For Little Folk Volume 1
That’s it for this year’s music lists, but it’s not the end for this year’s “best of” lists. From here, the attention turns to the best of this year’s new TV and movie offerings, beginning with the year’s top new documentaries. Stay tuned!
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.
Independent music duo Walking Papers debuted its latest single, ‘Creation Reproduction and Death’ this week.
The duo premiered the single and its video Friday. The song is the latest single from the band’s latest album, The Light Below, which was released in February through Carry On Music. The premiere of the new single and video comes more than four months after the premiere of the album’s then latest single, ‘Divine Intervention‘ and its companion video.
The musical arrangement featured in ‘Creation Reproduction and Death’ is a heavy, industrial style composition that will appeal to fans of Gary Numan and Nine Inch Nails.. The heavy keyboards that form the song’s foundation work with the more airy secondary keyboard line and drums to make this work sound unlike anything else in the album. That alone serves to show even more why the album in whole is so unique. It helps to show the vast diversity in the album’s musical content. The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement adds to the song’s appeal.
Front man Jefferson Angell talked about the song’s lyrical theme during a recent interview.
“I wrote ’Creation Reproduction and Death’ while contemplating how much time we have left, how we’ll spend it and who will we spend it with?,” he said. “It’s a question we can only answer for ourselves compounded by the pressure that we may not know if we made the right decision until there is no time left to do anything about it. After making three epic videos, we wanted to cut loose and have a good time. We hope people will enjoy watching the video as much as we had fun making it!”
The video for ‘Creation Reproduction & Death’ features Angell and his band mates performing the group’s new single against a green screen, and imagery, such as the band replacing its heads with television monitors, and video of an explosion’s shockwave hitting a forest setting.
Independent rock band Walking Papers’ forthcoming album The Light Below is one of the most welcome surprises in the very young year that is 2021. Scheduled for release Friday through Carry On Music, the 12-song record succeeds because of its unassuming nature, both in regards to its musical and lyrical content. From its start to its end, the subtleties in the 64-minute presentation make it such an interesting collection of songs. It is not one of those records that will appeal to audiences expecting short, radio ready singles. Rather, the album in whole is one of those works that requires listeners to give it their full attention. In doing so, listeners will agree that there is a lot to like here. ‘Rich Man’s War,’ which comes late in the record’s hour-plus run time, is just one of the many songs that this album has to offer audiences. It will be discussed shortly. On a completely opposite end of things, ‘California (One More Phone Call),’ which closes out the album, is another example of what makes The Light Below such an exemplary new offering from Walking Papers. On yet another side of things is the deep electronic composition ‘Creation Reproduction and Death.’ All three songs noted here are crucial in their own way to the overall presentation of The Light Below. When they are considered alongside other entries from the album, such as the Muse-eque ‘What Did You Expect,’ ‘Where Did I Go Wrong?,’ which conjures thoughts of The Doors,’ and the brooding instrumental ‘The Other Shoe (Reprise),’ as well as the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of this record becomes a presentation that is unquestionably one of this year’s first great overall albums. In other words, it is one of year’s essentials whether listeners are fans of the mainstream or independent realm.
Walking Papers’ new forthcoming album The Light Below – the band’s third studio recording – is one of 2021’s first great overall albums. That is the belief at least of this critic in particular. The record’s musical and lyrical content alike fully supports the noted statements. ‘Rich Man’s War,’ which comes late in the album’s run, is just one of the songs that support the noted statements. The song’s musical arrangement is a funky, upbeat composition. The fuzzed guitar effect immediately lends itself to work that famed guitarist Tom Morello has crafted throughout his career. Listeners can immediately hear hints of his work with Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave right from the song’s outset. The subtle addition of the keyboard in the chorus adds its own nice touch, especially what with the echo effect used for that line. The drums sound so tight throughout, along with the bass line. The overall instrumentation makes the song’s musical arrangement stand strongly on its own merits. When that whole pairs with the clear socio-politically charged lyrical theme in the song, the song gains even more traction.
The noted socio-political commentary is inferred even before the song starts, in its title. The very title ‘Rich Man’s War’ lets listeners where this song will take them. Front man Jefferson Angell sings in the song’s lead verse, “It’s a rich man’s war/It’s a poor man’s blood/Things will never change/It’s understood/You can ask for help/It does no good/It’s a rich man’s war/It’s a poor man’s blood.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “To the powers that be/We think the convenience of reality/I find it hard to believe/That you’d still lift a leg…It’s a rich man’s war/A poor man’s blood/You can ask for help/It does no good/It’s a rich man’s war/It’s a poor man’s blood.” He adds in the song’s third verse, “I see the world differently/’Cause I can’t look up to people that look down on me/How are you supposed to compete…” The line that follows is difficult to decipher without a lyrics sheet to reference. That aside, enough of this verse and the song’s other verses are understandable that there is no mystery as to the song’s lyrical theme. This is a protest of sorts. Considering that, the RATM/Audioslave type musical arrangement makes that much more sense. It also serves to strengthen the song even more. That in turn shows in part what makes The Light Below stand out in whole. It is just one of the songs that makes the album such a strong presentation. ‘California (One More Phone Call)’ is another part of what makes The Light Below shine. Yes, that awful pun was intended.
‘California (One More Phone Call)’ is completely unlike ‘Rich Man’s War’ and everything else featured in this hour-plus record. The gentle, airy effect from the guitars and keyboards lends itself to comparison to the famed Eagles’ song ‘Desperado.’ It should be stressed here that said comparison is only stylistic. The two songs sound nothing alike in general. It is just the stylistic approach between the two that is so enjoyable similar. Angell’s smoky vocal delivery, set alongside the almost ethereal instrumentation makes the experience in this song even more enjoyable in its own right. All things considered in this aspect, the musical side of this song makes for quite the contrast from the album’s opener – ‘The Value of Zero’ – and its own example of why the musical content in this record overall stands out.
When the wonderfully moving musical arrangement featured in ‘California (One More Phone Call)’ is considered along with the song’s familiar lyrical story of a broken relationship, the song in whole stands out even more. Yes, the way in which the story is told is a bit cliché and overly saccharine, but it still works thanks to its musical accompaniment. The story opens with the subject singing about his romantic interest preparing to leave him. He sings, “Give me just/One more phone call/One more kiss/Before you go and leave me alone like this/’Cause it’s gonna hurt to see you go/Put your dreams on hold to make/Mind control/Held your breath/Until your face turns blue/… gonna tell me/All I needed to know/She wants to move to California/She needs a change of scenery/She won’t take no for an answer/Who am I to disagree?” He continues, stating, “I wish there was something I could say to make you change your mind…She won’t make it through another Winter/Who am I to disagree/Give me one more phone call/Give me one more kiss/Before you leave me alone like this/’Cause it’s gonna hurt to see you go.” This song might not bring every listener to tears, but there is no doubt it will still move listeners. That is especially when listeners take into account the noted lyrical content along with the song’s rich musical arrangement. Collectively, they make the song another clear example of what makes the album in whole such a strong offering. It is just one more example of what makes the album stand out, too. ‘Creation Reproduction and Death’ is among the most unique of the album’s entries.
‘Creation Reproduction and Death’ is the longest song on Walking Papers’ new album. It clocks in at nine minutes, 23 seconds. So it only makes sense that the song is used as the album’s midpoint. The song’s heavy, industrial musical arrangement immediately lends itself to comparisons to works from the likes of Gary Numan and Nine Inch Nails. The heavy keyboards that form the song’s foundation work with the more airy secondary keyboard line and drums to make this work sound unlike anything else in the album. That alone serves to show even more why the album in whole is so unique. It helps to show the vast diversity in the album’s musical content. The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement adds to the song’s appeal.
Angell opens the song, singing, “I/Depend on the light/I know it ain’t right/I want you in the worst way, baby/My fate will wait for me there…I want you in the worst way, baby…If you got under my skin/You know I’d never show it…I bet you think you got a dark side, don’t you/What have I got myself into…You said you’d hold me ‘til there’s nothing else/You said you don’t know who you’re f****** with/The beads of sweat…Creation reproduction and death.” While much of the lyrical content here is difficult to decipher without a sheet to reference, it can mostly be inferred here that this song centers on a man who has gotten into quite the interesting relationship with a woman who is perhaps a bit of a drama queen. The song’s second verse continues the story, which will certainly keep listeners engaged in itself. When this seeming story is coupled with the song’s powerful, industrial style musical arrangement (again, which is unlike anything else in this record), the whole becomes even more powerful. It shows even more what makes this record stand out. When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s songs, the overall production becomes a work that is one of 2021’s essential albums.
Walking Papers’ new forthcoming album The Light Below is a production that shines from beginning to end. Yes, that awful pun was intended. That is evidenced through the album’s musical and lyrical content. The songs examined here serve well to support the noted statements. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole proves itself to be one of this year’s top new independent and overall albums. The Light Below is scheduled for release Friday through Cary On Music.
More information on Walking Papers’ new album is available along with all of the duo’s latest news at:
Independent music duo Walking Papers debuted its latest single and video this week.
The duo — Jefferson Angell and Benjamin Anderson — debuted its new single ‘Divine Intervention‘ Friday along with its companion video Thursday at Loudersound.com. The song debuted is the third single from the band’s forthcoming album — its third — The Light Below, which is scheduled for release Feb. 5 through Carry On Music. Its premiere follows that of the album’s first two singles, ‘The Value of Zero’ and ‘What Did You Expect?’
The 12-minute-plus video for ‘Divine Intervention’ plays out like a hybrid mini-movie and music video, taking place on a dark, rainy night in and around a seedy hotel. The song’s blues-based rock style musical arrangement plays over the video, with Angell singing in some of the scenes and driving a car around the darkened city streets in others.
As noted, the song’s musical arrangement is a plodding but infectious blues-based rock style work. It is a composition that will appeal widely to audiences. The lyrical story that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement adds to the song’s overall impact, too.
Angell talked about the inspiration behind the song’s lyrical content during the duo’s inerview with Loudersound.com.
“The song ‘Divine Intervention’ was born from the ongoing conversations between myself and the spirits of those whom I was close to, but who are no longer with us,” said Angell. “Although their molecules have been redistributed, I knew them well enough to know what they might say and how I felt in their presence. I don’t necessarily think they are hovering over me whispering in my ear or anything. It’s more like the relationships I had with them made such an impression that the benefits continue despite their absence.
More information on Walking Papers’ new single and video is available along with all of the duo’s latest news at: