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Favorite Releases of 2021: Kate

After the year 2020 was, there was a lot of uncertainty entering 2021 as to how the year might go. One thing that certainly did not disappoint was the music that was released.

With so many amazing releases this year, it was definitely not easy to narrow down my list to my top five releases.

5. “How Flowers Grow” by Scowl

Favorite Track: “Dead to Me”

How to Support: Merch via Bandcamp, @Scowl40831 on Twitter

The highly anticipated first full-length album by “Scowl” consists of ten songs and comes in just over fifteen and a half minutes long. Tracks like “Dead to Me,” “Trophy Hunter,” and “Fuck Around” solidify their placement as one of my top releases of this year.

The California hardcore band hits with gritty vocals and thrashing drums. Plus the whimsical sounding “Seeds to Sew” features some saxophones and who doesn’t love a good saxophone part?

A highlight of this song specifically is when the guitarist starts mimicking that saxophone part later! With “Flowers to Grow,” Scowl manages to create their own unique sound that leaves listeners excited for more to come.

4. “A Tear in the Fabric of Life” by Knocked Loose

Favorite Track: “Forced to Stay”

How to Support: Merch via Pure Noise Records, @knockedloose on Twitter

Knocked Loose’s first concept album “A Tear in the Fabric of Life” features six tracks and comes in just under twenty-one minutes in length. The album documents a story of a protagonist who loses their loved one in a car accident and the feelings of guilt, anger, and grief that follows.

The album was also accompanied by a short film that can be watched on the Pure Noise Records Youtube channel.

Musically, fusing the best elements from their previous work while still evolving musically and lyrically, Knocked Loose has managed to release arguably their best work to date.

3. “Umbra” by Grayscale

Favorite Track: “Carolina Skies”

How to Support: Merch via Official Artist Store, @GrayscalePA on Twitter

To the surprise of no one who knows me in real life, “Umbra” secured its spot on my top five releases of this year by showing Grayscale’s evolution in sound. As a record that is just over 36 minutes with 11 tracks, Grayscale takes you through a journey of emotions ranging from love and lust to heartbreak and grief.

Getting away from their prior pop-punk image, Grayscale managed to build on the sound they established with 2019’s “Nella Vita.” From alternative rock, like “Dirty Bombs,” to more pop-leaning tracks such as “Carolina Skies,” Grayscale dabbles in a variety of sounds that have seemingly become their new signature sound.

More of my thoughts on this album can be found in my full album review here!

2. “GLOW ON” by Turnstile

Favorite Track: “DON’T PLAY”

How to Support: Merch via Official Artist Store, @TURNSTILEHC on Twitter

Turnstile took a new creative direction with “GLOW ON” by writing a record that blurred the lines of what hardcore can be! Not shy to exploring new sounds, Turnstile takes on melodic rock elements that will make you want to get up and dance (especially with the well named song “DANCE OFF”).

The full LP came shortly after Turnstile released “TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION” in June. The compilation of the first four singles of “GLOW ON” was accompanied by a short film that had fans anxiously awaiting the full release.

“GLOW ON” is 15 tracks and runs just under 35 minutes long. In that time Turnstile will have you two-stepping then yelling that you “can’t be the only one!”

1. “FLOWERS for VASES/descansos” by Hayley Williams

Favorite Track: “HYD”

How to Support: Merch via Official Artist Store

The second solo album from Paramore’s Hayley Williams, “FLOWERS for VASES/descansos” explores deeper into the subject matter covered in Williams’s first solo album “Petals For Album.” The lyricism and storytelling detailed within this album alone secured its spot as my top release of the year.

However, the way the album flows from track to track, especially with songs such as “Find Me Here” into “Descansos” was also a large factor in its high ranking. In just over 42 minutes with 14 songs, Hayley Williams manages to keep listeners hooked with her intricate piano parts, acoustic guitar riffs, and melodic storytelling.

Closing with the track “Just A Lover,” Hayley Williams reminds listeners of her ability to write a grand outro.

Were any of these releases in your top favorites from 2021? Let us know on Twitter @lgndsoftmrw!

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