Top 10 Albums of 2021 - Off the Radar Edition

Brightly Records Top 10 Off the Radar of 2021

Part of the joy in collecting records is discovering new music, and pushing your system to its limits by listening to different genres. So we decided to share with you the “Top 10 Albums of 2021: Off the Radar” edition. These albums may have flown off your radar and deserve a good listen. Check it out!

10. Solitude 2:14 - Look Up At The Sky

Living up to its name, Solitude 2:14’s “Look Up At The Sky” is like something you’ll want to listen to on sleepless nights. Released on February 2021 by Miles Apart Records, an independent label in Japan. These lo-fi beats, the piano-heavy album will accompany you at dawn when all you want to do is watch the stars, as the sky fades from the deepest blue to the blazing orange of tomorrow.

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9. 40 Winks - Field Recordings

Prepare yourself for an eargasmic experience. “Field Recording”s opening track will hold you gently by your ear and you will never want it to let go. It’s a trip where you’ll drift in the waves of jazz, soul, and gospel. A celestial sonic journey that sublimely emanates a naturalist perspective by whispering wisdom snippets of conversations and lines to your soul. It almost feels like you are pirouetting with shamans shoeless on the grass under the sun.

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8. Mini Trees - Always In Motion

The debut album of LA-based band Mini Trees is like lying on a fresh bed sheet. A resonating comfort of a warm familiar feeling of acceptance. Never lacking in the ethereal sparkly sound and the ever-confessional songwriting, Lexi Vegas' barefoot photo on the cover seems to make sense. On the scattered beauty of hurt and happiness, we can do nothing but walk barefoot, feel the dirt and grow.

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7. Adult Mom - Driver

Total honesty is still one of the most fascinating elements of Adult Mom’s work. The album might have taken off from the bedroom lo-fi feel they started with, but the cathartic experience one will feel towards listening to them is still present. The arrangement and recording are now more harmoniously jangly. This latest release is like a fleeting autumn memory that you will always come back to in the worst of days.

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6. Night Tempo - Concentration

Night Tempo is a Korean music producer known for his remixes of famous Japanese city pop songs. Just this year he released an all-original Japanese city pop record which is super awesome too. “Concentration” is a bit different from his other works. Released in January 2021, it is a LoFi hip-hop & ambient record reminiscent of life in Tokyo. If you’ve been to Tokyo and definitely missing it so much now, just spin this album and you will surely be transported to the crowded Yamanote Line, the colorful Takeshita Dori, and the lush sakura gardens of Shinjuku.

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5. Towa Tei - LP

Have you seen the anime film “Paprika”? That movie is the perfect visualization of Towa Tei’s music. In some tracks, he collaborated with Japanese electronic music legends like Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi. “LP” is about his love for the 12” analog record LP and DJing (how meta is that). The album ends in a soft ethereal track titled “NOMADOLOGIE” that he made as he got home after the Japanese government declared a state of emergency due to the pandemic.

4. Lala Lala - I Want The Door To Open

Lillie West pushed her creativity even further with this literally and metaphorically shiny new record. Like a mesmerizing montage of utopian sci-fi films, she produced a brilliantly textured album. Taking elements of indie rock, electronic music, house, and maybe a pinch of smooth jazz, she stitched together the tracks with her eccentric singing voice. Turn off the lights and prepare your astronaut suit for this sparkly interstellar ride.

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3. Dry Cleaning - New Long Legs

A highly infectious debut studio album by the English post-punk band. We love how the group balances its energy. The static spoken vocals of Florence Shaw in a backdrop of wall-ripping guitar distortion, drum breaks, and head throbbing bass. Like a 4-way seesaw, they navigate the gravity and power of their force, creating a very fun and dynamic sound.

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2. Courtney Barnett - Things Take Time Take Time

Courtney Barnett’s best album yet. A quieter approach on her beautifully growing discography. We can definitely hear the influence of Kurt Vile on this new record. Not exactly a high-in-caffeine rocking album, but rather a slightly sweetened cup of well-roasted morning coffee.

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1. Grouper - Shade

An overarching album on the intimate, surreal, and engulfing music of Liz Harris AKA Grouper. Recorded in the last 15 years showcasing misty distortions & ghostly acoustic tracks that perfectly capture the rawness in honesty, longing, and solitude. This album is like a secret whispered to the dust & leaves of cold January winds. What’s amazing about this record is it sounds like a b-side compilation album, but feels cohesively arranged. We highly recommend that you give the final track “Kelso (Blue Sky)” a listen, and be enchanted by the occasional hoot of an owl.

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