Ranking the best music of the year is kind of funny — mainly because anyone can dispute your opinion, and well, they'd be right, too! Which is cool—always enjoy what you like. And yet, I'm going to do it anyway. But first, a note.
This is my last story covering music for the Source Weekly and some thank-you's are in order: To Nicole Vulcan, for being a total badass editor—she kills it every week to get a paper out for the community. To Aaron Switzer, for letting me be a small part in the story of what he created all those years ago. There are many more to name, but this is print, and we have a word count here—so to all I worked with, thanks for being a really cool family. To all of the bands, musicians, venue owners and promoters for always being down to help me with my stories; the scene in Central Oregon keeps growing and getting better because of you all! Lastly, to anyone who ever read anything I wrote (which I still can't believe), thank you so much. Now, let's get to it.
Best Debut: "Wet Leg" - Wet Leg
Wet Leg supplies some cheeky humor with its catchy guitar jams that are delivered with a nonchalant, cool attitude. "Mummy, daddy, look at me. I went to school and I got a degree. All my friends call it the Big D. I went to school and I got the Big D." It's playful post-punk and rock.
Most Overrated: "Midnights" - Taylor Swift
True story: I laughed out loud driving home from work when I heard "Anti-Hero" on the radio for the first time. In his review of the album, Tom Breihan of Stereogum said, "If the lyrics on 'Midnights' prove anything, it's that Taylor Swift has no editors." The synth-heavy atmosphere is cool, but overall it just feels lackluster and sleepy.
Most Underrated: "The Last Thing Left" - Say Sue Me
A jangly noise-pop record that is both gentle and hopeful, coated in a sweet energy. This is the first time lead singer Sumi Choi has sung in both Korean and English on a Say Sue Me project.
Best Pop Album: "Muna" - Muna
Inspired by 2000s pop, Muna's third album features glimmering hooks and perfect harmonies that will stick to you like honey. Enjoy the album's delicious synths, driving percussion and changing tempos. The music videos rule, too.
Best Rap Album: "Sick!" - Earl Sweatshirt
Thebe Kgositsile, the man known as Earl Sweatshirt, often says a lot with as few words as possible; pondering lyrics on fatherhood, the pandemic and relationships. "Sick!" is no different.
Best R&B/Soul Album: "Natural Brown Prom Queen" - Sudan Archives
An exciting album that pulls together sounds of hip-hop, funk, soul and pop, all wrapped into an unpredictable but satisfying display of Brittney Parks' abilities as a songwriter and storyteller.
Best Alt Rock Album: "Household Name" - Momma
Ripe with gigantic riffs and angsty vibes, Momma's third record is 12 tracks of poppy-grunge that will have you feeling like you're reliving the glory days of '90s alt-rock.
Best Song Collab: "Two Infinity Links" - Quavo and Takeoff
A departure album from 2/3 of the Migos trio really showed what made their chemistry electric. Quavo's words on the album's opening song hit even harder following Takeoff's passing: "I never wanna see the day I lose my bro to one / Before the cake, before the stage, we split up honey buns / 5:30, mama house, we was all sons."
Coolest Moment: Shane Hawkins Performs "My Hero" with the Foo Fighters
At the London tribute concert for legendary drummer Taylor Hawkins, his son Shane joined Dave Grohl and co. on stage as he sat behind the drum kit and let it rip during an incredible performance of "My Hero." I cried. You can watch it yourself on YouTube.
Simply The Worst: Ye, formerly known as Kanye West
The year began with West harassing his ex-wife Kim Kardashian daily, both online and IRL, then somehow West felt he hadn't done enough and decided it was time to voice his anti-semitic views to the whole world. He sucks.
10 Other Great Albums
"Blue Rev" - Alvvays v
"God Save The Animals" - Alex G
"Expert in a Dying Field" - The Beths
"The Long Way, The Slow Way" - Camp Trash
"MAHAL" - Toro Y Moi
"learn 2 swim" - redveil
"Few Good Things" - Saba
"Cyberkiss" - Blackstarkids
"It's Almost Dry" - Pusha T
"Sometimes Forever" - Soccer Mommy