Our Favorite Local Albums of 2021 So Far

Favorite local albums Graphics by Ainsley Basic

Here at WERS, we love local artists. Boston’s music scene is dynamic and bustling, and 2021 has already seen a ton of great releases. So, we decided we take you through our favorite local EPs and albums of the year so far, including when you can hear them performed live. Plus, keep scrolling for a few upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

 

ANJIMILE – REUNION (EP)

Why this is a reunion of re-recorded songs you don’t want to miss: It’s been a while since Boston has had a strong crop of artists building a national following. Alongside Evan Greer, Palehound, Ripe and others, Anjimile is changing that. Seeing a local talent work alongside Jay Som, Sasami and others is more than enough to instill serious hometown pride. The Reunion EP is a revisitation of titles from their Giver Taker album, stripped back to strings and sunkissed lyrics, with the guest vocalist always singing the first verse in each song. With new voicings, songs like “In Your Eyes” are just as intimate as before, if not more so, like a whispered secret.

Favorite tracks: “In Your Eyes (Reflection),” “Maker (Refraction),” “1978 (Reunion).” Yes, that’s all the songs on the EP… it’s that good.

Local shows: Anjimile will hit the stage at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke on October 5th.

Phil Jones, Afternoon Host

 

PRONOUN – OMG I MADE IT (EP)

Why we wanna stop but we can’t (cuz we gotta keep listening) to OMG I MADE IT: Upon my first listen to PRONOUN’s recently released EP, OMG I MADE IT, I instantly added each of the songs to my playlists! Opening up her heart for all of her audience to listen to, Alyse Vellturo, the creator behind PRONOUN, allows herself to push aside subtlety and honestly confess her emotions in a tastefully blunt way. Vellturo herself explains her EP as “if I bumped into an old friend who asked how I have been and I just started vomiting for 18 minutes and 9 seconds.” 

Favorite tracks: The songs that personally stand out to me are, “I WANNA DIE BUT I CAN’T (CUZ I GOTTA KEEP LIVING)”, “HALF OF THE TIME”, “SOUND THE ALARMS!!!1!”, all of which offer a perfect mix of emo, indie rock, and a taste of bedroom pop.

Local shows: Looking for a time to listen and vibe to PRONOUN’s works, including her new EP? Check out her live show coming up on August 13th at the Space Ballroom in Hamden, CT!

Erin Norton, Staff Writer

 

FRANCES FOREVER – PARANOIA PARTY (EP)

Why Paranoia Party is on repeat on the WERS music staff iPod: Frances Forever brings light and wittiness to deeper subjects with their EP paranoia party. They represent a Gen Z mentality, balancing humor and sadness deftly while exploring a more playful sound. And not only do they understand how to deal with serious subjects with unique production, they’ve got the beautiful vocals to match. With this project, they solidify themselves as a musical explorer and a lyrical voice to watch.

Favorite tracks: “eat the rich,” “space girl,” and “daytime”

Local Shows: You can see Frances Forever live on December 18th at the House of Blues

Tatum Jenkins, Music Coordinator

 

FUTURE TEENS – DELIBERATELY ALIVE (EP)

Why there’s isn’t a single “skip” on Deliberately Alive: Each of the five tracks on Future Teens EP Deliberately Alive bring a unique energy and light. But whether it is a Cher cover or the catchy lead-single “Guest Rooms,” the Boston-based quartet’s emo-pop sound shines through. Deliberately Alive is full of unapologetically truthful – and often ironic – storytelling. With lyrics like “I don’t even have a guest room yet, how can I expect to die like that?” Future Teens will make you feel a little less alone as you navigate the struggles and successes of growing up.

Favorite tracks: “Guest Rooms,” “Believe,” “Bizarre Affection”

Local shows: Future Teens will join local bands Color Killer and Kitner for a ONCE Somerville performance at Boynton Yards on 8/27.

Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

 

DINOSAUR JR. – SWEEP IT INTO SPACE

Why Sweep It Into Space will sweep you away: Hailing from Amherst, MA, the well-aged alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr. absolutely returns to form with their newest release, Sweep It Into Space. Instead of attempting to wow the listener with an auditory spectacle, Dinosaur Jr. successfully takes a more conservative approach to the album. Sticking to their roots, they rarely stray away from using simple guitar and percussion mixed alongside bandleader J Mascis’ signature low-and-slow vocals. This all culminates into one of the most uplifting, nostalgic albums so far this year. Sweep It Into Space’s warm tone and relatable messages will be sure to stick with any listener.

Favorite tracks: “I Ran Away,” “Garden,” and “I Ain’t” 

Local shows: Be sure to get tickets for their November 27th show at the House of Blues, Boston. 

Mason Standish, Staff Writer

 

LULA WILES – SHAME AND SEDITION

Why there’s no shame in listening to Shame And Sedition on repeat: Lula Wiles is a band that’s not afraid to be bold in their lyrics, and this album is like a masterclass in just that. Every song on this album feels like a genuine plea that gives the entire record a very honest and authentic tone. The band dives headfirst into topics like politics, wealth inequality, and even astrology for a moment. But not only that, this record sounds great! Their three-part harmonies heighten the emotions in the lyrics. And even with having such a strong theme, the songs still all have their own unique sonic qualities.

Favorite tracks: “Oh My God,” “Everybody (Connected),” and “Mary Anne”

Meghan Hockridge, Staff Writer

 

JULIANA HATFIELD – BLOOD

Why it seems like making good tunes is in Juliana Hatfield’s blood: Juliana Hatfield‘s 19th solo album is essential listening for 2021. First, it’s a reminder of how lucky we are that Hatfield has never slowed her output or wavered in her visions. Second, despite the guitar and the crystal clear diction that are hallmarks of each of her records going back thirty years, Blood captures Hatfield in the now. Seeing the world through her sharp eyes, you hear a woman full of compassion for her neighbors, and disgust for the powerful. She calls fascists by their names, and openly shares how sad and wonderful being alone with Juliana Hatfield’s thoughts can be. 

Favorite tracks: “Splinter,” “Blood,” and “Torture”

Local shows: You can see Juliana Hatfield perform live on August 8th at The Vault Music Hall in New Bedford.

Phil Jones, Afternoon Host

 

DISPATCH – BREAK OUR FALL

Why Dispatch’s Break Our Fall doesn’t fall flat: Listening through Dispatch’s eighth studio album Break Our Fall it’s easy to imagine being gathered around a campfire hearing the band perform the 15 tracks live. The sound is warm and timeless, with acoustic guitar and other folk instrumentation. Songs like “The Legend of Connie Hawkins” capture a storytelling spirit. And they don’t shy away from being vocal about social issues. DJ Phil Jones caught up with Dispatch’s Chadwick Stokes and Brad Corrigan about the album in February. Check it out for further proof of why Break Our Fall can’t be missed. 

Favorite tracks: “May We All,” “All This Time,” “Break Our Fall”

Local shows: Dispatch will play the FreshGrass Festival in North Adams on September 21st.

Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

 

LAKE STREET DIVE – OBVIOUSLY

Why Lake Street Dive’s latest is an obvious choice for our favorite local album roundup: This record takes what you know about Lake Street Dive and pushes it to the next level. The band remains confident in their skills and flaunts them eloquently on this record. From incredible instrumentation and clever lyrics to more intimate and vulnerable ballads, the album is a playground for them to do what they do best. Lake Street Dive threw genre out the window while making Obviously, opening them up to experiment with whatever they wanted. The band’s confidence is noted in the title and perfectly executed with the rest of the record. 

Favorite tracks: “Being A Woman,” “Hypotheticals,” and “Anymore.” 

Meghan Hockridge, Staff Writer

 

KAITI JONES – TOSSED

Why you’re gonna want to toss this album into your playlist of summer favorites: Kaiti Jones’ new album Tossed is similar to the formatting of diary entries. A multitude of memories and anecdotes are beautifully shared and illustrated through the visuals that each carefully crafted lyric conjures to the minds of listeners. In this personal and poignantly nostalgic album, Kaiti Jones allows listeners to relax and enjoy her music that is rooted in – but certainly not limited to – indie folk, appealing to a wide range of people.

Favorite tracks: “Light On”, “Gettin Around to it,” and my absolute favorite, “Daydreaming”, which deeply appeals to my emotions for its relatability.

Erin Norton, Staff Writer

 

SQUIRREL FLOWER – PLANET (i)

Why even NASA would want to take a trip to Squirrel Flower’s Planet (i): Squirrel Flower delivers an enchanting, cohesive indie album with Planet (i). Hovering somewhere between glittering and gritty, she develops her own brand of alternative music – one that equally shows off her voice and musical abilities. Her self-assuredness in her sound and vision shines through with this album, demonstrating a sign of a true artist. Explore Squirrel Flower’s beautiful planet with her latest project, which I guarantee is her best yet.

Favorite tracks: “Roadkill,” “Hurt a Fly,” “Deluge in the South”

Local shows: You can see Squirrel Flower perform live on September 22nd and 23rd at Paradise Rock Club.

Tatum Jenkins, Music Coordinator

 

BACHELOR – DOOMIN’ SUN

Why Doomin’ Sun is the collaborative project we didn’t know we needed: Ellen Kemper, known as “Palehound,” first had her music career blossom in Boston and now she’s reaching new heights. Just this year, she teamed up with her close friend Jay Som to form the band Bachelor. The two released their debut album Doomin’ Sun in late May and I haven’t stopped listening. I already loved these artists individually, and together they are better than I could have ever imagined. Doomin’ Sun tackles some major topics – from climate change to queerness and identity – but their anecdotal and often creative lyrics give a personal feel. From the hauntingly beautiful acoustic title track “Doomin’ Sun” to the fun indie-rock song “Stay In The Car,” the album has something for everyone. 

Favorite tracks: Hard to pick, but a few favorites are “Stay In The Car,” “Doomin’ Sun,” and “Back Of My Hand.” 

Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

 

CLAIRO – SLING

Why Clairo’s Sling is perfect for working through your summertime sadness: Clairo grows into her own sound and draws upon the sounds of beloved artists who have come before her in Sling. Using her soft voice, she blends the narrative with the musical, the instruments combining with her voice to create a solid emotional landscape. Through a nostalgic sound, she explores the sadness of watching life go by, but also the joy in the fact that every moment is a new opportunity for happiness.

Favorite tracks: “Amoeba,” “Zinnias,” “Blouse,” and “Management”

Local shows: February 27 and 28th at the House of Blues

Tatum Jenkins, Music Coordinator

 

DROPKICK MURPHYS – TURN UP THAT DIAL

Why we’re turning up that dial and blasting the Dropkick Murphys’ latest: The Dropkick Murphys are great fun, and more. Whether it’s joy, frustration, or pure giddiness behind the song; they shout their feelings like they might not get another chance. In a pandemic with endless unknowns, maybe we can all learn a lesson from the band. Make every sing-along sound like it might be your last. The Murphys position themselves in an old Boston aesthetic, but their survival instinct feels timeless.

Favorite tracks: “Queen of Suffolk County,” “L-EE-B-O-Y,” and “City by the Sea”

Local shows: The Dropkick Murphys will play The Palladium Outdoors in Worcester on August 21st.

Phil Jones, Afternoon Host

 

UPCOMING RELEASES WE’RE EXCITED ABOUT:

  • Coral Moons’ debut album Fieldcrest is set to arrive August 6th
  • Slothrust is expected to release their album Parallel Timeline on September 10th
  • Eleanor Buckland of Lula Wiles is set to release her debut solo album on October 29th

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