Best of 2021

CJLO tends to attract community members who are intensely passionate about art, whether they’re creators, consumers, or both. As a result, checking out our yearly “best of” lists is a great way of keeping up with great releases that may have flown under your radar this year. With the station’s wide range of tastes, from crusty hardcore to electro-pop, there’s surely something for everyone to discover. Music-based lists also weren’t the only thing submitted, so make sure to look out for top movies as well!

Thanks so much to every CJLO member who contributed to the list this year, and anyone who helped make 2021 a great year for the station. Catch you all in 2022!

Dana Hachwa (volunteer)
Soundtrack to my First Year in Canada  
1. Good Days by SZA 
2. Guys by The 1975 
3. Connaissais de Face by Khruangbin  
4. Tidal Wave by Tom Misch  
5. What Once Was by Her’s 
6. Slow Burn by Kacey Musgraves 
7. Ginger by WizKid, H.E.R.  
8. Golden Brown by The Stranglers  
9. Black Madonna by Cage the Elephant  
10. Heart Don’t Stand a Chance by Anderson .Paak  
11. Rhymes Like Dimes by MF DOOM, DJ Cucumber Slice
12. Slow Dancing in a Burning Room by John Mayer
13. Time Moves Slow by BADBADNOTGOOD, Samuel T. Herring
14. Send Me An Angel by Scorpions  
15. From the Inside by Linkin Park  
16. The Zephyr Song by Red Hot Chili Peppers
17. Dress Down by Kaoru Akimoto 
18. The Adults Are Talking by The Strokes 
19. Like Real People Do by Hozier 
20. Mourir au large - sunset version by Safia Nolin
21. Steppin’ Out by Electric Light Orchestra

 Remi Caron (staff and DJ)

10 Best Visual Media Scores and Soundtracks of 2021 (in no particular order)
Bo Burnham  - Inside (The Songs)
Daniel Hart - The Green Knight
Jonny Greenwood - Spencer
Mark Isham and Greg Harris - Judas and The Black Messiah 
Thomas Newman  - The Little Things
Jim Williams - Titane
Various Artists  - Last Night in Soho
Hans Zimmer - Dune 
Ramin Djawadi - Eternals
Alexandre Desplat and Various Artists - The French Dispatch 

10 Best Albums of 2021 (in no particular order)
Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett - Her (Score)
*Note that even though the film was released in 2013, the score received an official release in 2021
Ariane Moffatt - Incarnat 
Kiwi jr. - Cooler Returns
PONY - TV Baby
Olivia Rodrigo - SOUR
Jon Batiste - WE ARE
The Killers - Pressure Machine (Abridged)
Lucy Dacus - Home Video
Kanye West  - Donda

Best Films of 2021 (IN ORDER) 
10) Dune dir. Denis Villeneuve
9) Val dir. Leo Scott & Ting Poo
8) West Side Story dir. Steven Spielberg
7) The Green Knight dir. David Lowery
6) tick, tick…BOOM! dir. Lin-Manuel Miranda
5) Titane dir. Julia Ducournau
4) The French Dispatch dir. Wes Anderson 
3) Bo Burnham: Inside dir. Bo Burnham *Author’s Note: Some may claim this stand up comedy special as a cheat or a cop out of another excellent film, however it is on many top ten lists of film critics when it comes to the end of the year. Also it had a limited theatrical run. 
2) Blue Bayou dir. Justin Chon
1) In The Heights dir. Jon M. Chu

Chris the Frog, host of Sewer Spewer (Mondays at 12 pm)

Best Montreal Albums of 2021:

Fuck Toute - Coké computer
Katö - Québec Gold
Spectral Wound - A Diabolic Thirst
Priors - My Punishment on Earth
The Horny Bitches - Shut up and Be Nice
Thrush - Cool Now
CRABE - Sentients
Birmani - Birmani
The Last Mile - Respect the Frequency

Best Canadian Albums of 2021:
Bad Waitress - No Taste
Botfly - Lower Than Love
Rules - The Bummer Circus Comes to Truth City
Black Dresses - Forever In Your Heart
Tunic - Quitter
Slowpoke - Slowpoke
Karloff - Karloff
Wine Lips - Mushroom Death Sex Bummer Party
Olde - Pilgrimage
Zero Zero Ufo - Conspiracy

Best International Albums of 2021:
The Armed - ULTRAPOP
Danny Efman - Big Mess
Yautja - The Lurch
Carcass - Torn Arteries
Harakiri For the Sky - Maere
The Muslims - Fuck These Fuckin Fascists
Turnstile - GLOW ON
Filth Is Eternal - Love is a Lie, Filth Is Eternal
Pupil Slicer - Mirrors
S.H.I (Struggling Harsh Immortals) - 4 死 Death

Chris the Frog - Best New Movies I Watched in 2021 (in no particular order)

The Last Matinee (VOD)
Psycho Goreman (Shudder)
Mad God (Fantasia Fest)
The Sadness (Fantasia Fest)
Fear Street Part 2: 1978 (Netflix)
Candyman (Theatres/VOD)
Dune (Theatres/VOD)
Frank & Zed (Fantasia Fest)
Vicious Fun (Shudder)
Straight Edge Kegger (Shudder)

Megan Dams - host of Purple Hour

Best Projects of 2021
1. Planet Her - Doja Cat
2. Donda - Kanye West
3. Happier Than Ever - Billie Eilish
4. Life of a DON - Don Toliver 
5. Scary Hours 2 - Drake
6. Big Femme Energy Volume 1 - Femme It Forward
9. Certified Lover Boy - Drake
10. To: You (a holiday joint) - Baby Rose

Best Singles of 2021
1. Drugs N Hella Melodies - Don Toliver (feat. Kali Uchis)
2. Thot Sh*t - Megan Thee Stallion
3. Take My Breath - The Weeknd
4. Like That - Kalisway
5. Talk Luv - Zeina 
6. Patience - Realestk
7. MERCEDES - Brent Faiyaz
8. Feelings - Zach Zoya
9. All My Wishes - Fernie
10. Beautiful Mind - Ciscero (feat. Oddisee)

Alex Viger-Collins 
Best Albums of 2021

1. Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee
2. CHVRCHES - Screen Violence
3. Cadence Weapon - Parallel World
4. Porches - All Day Gentle Hold !
5. Brockhampton - Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine
6. Kacey Musgraves - Star-Crossed
7. Janette King - What We Lost
8. Tika - Anywhere But Here
9. Magdalena Bay - Mercurial World
10. Julia Daigle - Un singe sur l'épaule
Honourable Mention: Olivia Rodrigo - Sour
Best Discoveries of 2021
1. New Order - Brotherhood (1986)
2. Hole - Live Through This (1994)
3. Radiohead - Pablo Honey (1993)
4. George Strait - Strait from the Heart (1982)
5. R.E.M. - Document (1987)
6. XTC - Skylarking (1986)
7. Green Day - Warning (2000)
8. Allen Toussaint - Southern Nights (1975)
9. Eve - Scorpion (2001)
10. Gladys Knight & The Pips - Claudine (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1974)
 Honourable Mention: Dolly Parton - Hello, I'm Dolly (1967)

Angelica (BVST DJ)

Best Albums

My list this year could easily be called "Bands I Really Wanna See When This Nightmare Ends," as there's not one single act here that I've seen live yet. See you in 2022, maybe? Or maybe in 2023? Stay safe out there, y'all. Once again presented in no particular order, you can check out the playlist of all the recommended tracks from these records!

Knivad - Insidans Ärrvävnad
Knivad explain their band name as "Swedish for something like 'stabbed in the throat by a fucking knife!'" and that just about covers their sound. Fusing crust with metal in a furious, raw D-beat yelp, the album manages to strike a balance between sexy stomp and breakneck ferocity. Track to taste: "Häktad"

Birmani - Birmani
These fuzzed out locals are more than a psych-y stoner act, there's some real rock groove to their first full-length, and all the grit is balanced out by some unexpected moments of pure sheen that veer toward big pop hooks. Track to taste: "Balles de plomb"

Deathchant - Waste
While this sophomore album isn't as perfectly pulled together as their 2019 self-titled debut, it's still incredibly strong, and continues to define their sound, which they aptly bill as "psychedelic heavy proto-metal.” I was hungry for another helping of So-Cal scuzzbucket rock, and this delivers. Track to taste: "Holy Roller"

Mastiff - Leave Me The Ashes Of The Earth
Easily the bleakest album on this list, Mastiff's third full length is a maelstrom of the most miserable bits from every extreme metal subgenre blended into a pummeling assault that shows no mercy, but doesn't overstay its welcome. Track to taste: "Endless"

Scare - Congratulations on Your Death
Clocking in at under 12 minutes, this mean little morsel hits all the sludge/hardcore high notes, and is heavily recommended for those still in mourning for the likes of Cursed, Mi Amore, and Trigger Effect. Screamy and dreamy, this EP has me hoping for a full length in 2022! Track to taste: "Post-Life"

Olde - Pilgrimage
This thick slice of Canadian doom dropped a year into COVID, and properly captured the absolute futility of, well, everything (and not just because they directly reference plague doctors on "Medico della Peste"). A big, meaty, angry record, Pilgrimage will force-feed you and leave you sated. Track to taste: "In Defiance"

Harakiri For The Sky - Maere
Five albums in, this Austrian post black metal duo continue to never disappoint. Expansive without relinquishing any intensity or viciousness, and introspective without being claustrophobic, Maere is a truly beautiful record. Don't miss the cover of Placebo's "Song to Say Goodbye" that closes out the record, it's an unexpected, but very welcome surprise. Track to taste: "Time Is a Ghost"

King Woman - Celestial Blues
Kristina Esfandiari returns with an extremely worthy followup to 2017's flawless Created In the Image of Suffering. Slipping effortlessly back and forth from the dread and emptiness of space and silence, through ethereal vocals and lush melodies, to explosive riffs and animal howls, this album will undo you and stitch you back again. Track to taste: "Entwined"

SATE - The Fool
On the surface, Sate is a blues rock singer, fronting a blues rock band. That hardly encompasses how dark and seductive her new album is. Setting aside her incredible musical pedigree (SATE is the daughter of Salome Bey), this second full-length is proof of the chops to go along with it. There's enough growl and grind in this record to appeal to the grittiest, so don't sleep on this rough gem. Track to taste: "Dirty Little Lie"

Zack Oakley - Badlands
If Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats had a happily stoned sibling, it would be Zack Oakley. This record is unashamedly steeped in drugged out ‘60s/’70s psych, and it's exactly the kind of sunshiny acidtab rock that appeals to the part of me that's always ready to bolt to the desert and disappear. Track to taste: "Acid Rain"  

Alex Menjivar (AutoBeat DJ)
Best Albums
Joy Orbison - still slipping vol. 1
Space Afrika - Honest Labour
El Michels Affair - Yeti Season
Priori - Your Own Power
Leon Vynehall - Rare, Forever
Madlib - Sound Ancestors
J. Cole - The Off-Season
Flying Lotus - Yasuke
Unknown T - Adolescence
Mansur Brown - Heiwa
Best Local Releases
Skiifall - WOIIYOIE TAPES Vol. 1
Secret Witness - Volume I
Fred Everything - Alone (Together)
Hologramme - CIEL
Ellxandra - Old Memories That Never Were
Camille Frey - The Grand Tour
Salin - Cosmic Island
DJ Killa-Jewel - Sagittarius
Hildegard - Hildegard
Gayance - No Toning Down
Paolo Rocco - Life in Pieces
Pascale Project - Where’s the Party?
Favourite New Local Artists
Pascale Project

Calvin Cashen (Music Director, The Waiting Room DJ)
Top Albums 
Pauline Anna Strom - Angel Tears in Sunlight 
Magdalena Bay - Mercurial World 
Julie Doiron - I Thought of You 
black midi - Cavalcade 
Playboi Carti - Whole Lotta Red
Erika de Casier - Sensational 
Jazmine Sullivan - Heaux Tales 
Astral Social Club - space draft extended play 
Knocked Loose - A Tear in the Fabric of Life 
Water From Your Eyes - Structure 
Top Songs
Megan Thee Stallion - “Thot Shit”
Magdalena Bay - “Chaeri” 
Tirzah - “Send Me” 
Julie Doiron - “You Gave Me the Key” 
Yves Tumor - “Jackie” 
Hermeth - “Devil's Reject” 
The Weather Station - “Parking Lot” 
Makthaverskan - “This Time” 
Water From Your Eyes - “My Love's” 
black midi - “John L”
Playboi Carti - “Vamp Anthem” 
Baby Keem (feat. Kendrick Lamar) - “family ties”
Big Thief - “Little Things” 
LSDXOXO - “The Devil” 
six impala - “6FINGERDEATHPUNCH” 
Arooj Aftab - “Mohabbat” 
Overmono - “Pieces of 8” 
Sweeping Promises - “Pain Without a Touch” 
Lost Girls - “Losing Something” 
Om Unit - “Treading Earth” 

Andrew Wieler (Metal Music Director and host of Grade A Explosives)

Albums of the Year

1. Radical - Every Time I Die 

Easily the best work these Buffalo natives have done since The Big Dirty. This record sees them lean into some more "post" elements with great effect. Now they're all fighting with each other, so it might be the last album, and if so it's probably the best one to go out on.

2. Diablo Swing Orchestra - Swagger & Stroll Down the Rabbit Hole

Hey, do you like metal? Oh, and also swing music? And also a bunch of other genres mashed together to a near-perfect paste? Well friend, this here is for you. Not as good as Pascifisticuffs, but still more creative than most things you'll listen to this year.

3. Sleep Token - This Place Will Become Your Tomb 

A good, but ultimately disappointing album from Sleep Token. Could have used another year in the oven really with non-sequiturs and more disjointed segments than Sundowning. Still, what it has is more interesting than a lot of other stuff I've heard this year.

4. The Lion's Daughter - Skin Show 

Sludgey, plodding stuff with synthesizers thrown in gives this both a foreboding and aggressive atmosphere. Like if John Carpenter was in Unsane but didn't want to impose.

5. Sermon of Flames - I have Seen the Light, and it was Repulsive

This album finally cemented an idea that wasn't fully formed in my mind, which is genres like "industrial" and "black metal" and "noise" should really act more like descriptors than be their own genres of music. Seriously, no one likes a boring plain "black metal" album, but then you put in some noise electronics, and some weird chord progressions, and you get something like this thing. Is it Methwitch, no, but It's as close as this year gives us, so we must work within the paradigm we have.

6. Amigo the Devil - Born Against 

Mixing elements of tragedy and comedy, this is "murder folk/country" at its absolute best. It's sometimes funny, sometimes heart-wrenchingly sad, but always engaging, and even though it's not perfect, it's definitely worth your time.

7. Vitrail - Les Pages Oubliées

Québec manages to make a post-black metal project that stands with any of the rest of them. This record soars with parts infused with all of the things the "post" modifier indicates, while still keeping black metal at its heart, all while not going off onto 8 minute long tangents.

8. Grale - Agitacion

A small EP that whacks a big punch of heavy stoner rock. Really, this could have gone to the other compatriots of this band, namely Olde or Head of Jeddore, but this is so lean and to the point that it edges them out.

9. Bridge Burner - Disempath

Ugly deathy crust stuff from the COVID resistant (or more likely idiot resistant) New Zealand. Really this is just a standout among the other sludgy stuff that it could share with, including Erdve, Wanderer, or LLNN, but this one just has a punch to it that sort of made me feel literally anything, so there's that.

10. Cvlt ov the Svn - We Are the Dragon 

A mix of metal with some pop sensibilities, this self-described "Occult Murder Pop" basically got their description correct. I'm just shocked that of all the Scandinavian countries, Finland delivers this to us and not the pop juggernaut that is Sweden.

Honorable Mentions

Bloody Hammers - Songs of Unspeakable Terror  

Best Misfits tribute album of the year for sure.

Lordi - Lordiversity 

I feel as though I have to put this on the end of year list in some capacity for the sheer audacity of making an album that is actually seven different albums all set from different genres from rock/metal history including: 70s rock, AOR, Disco, industrial rock, 80s rock, thrash, and prog rock. It's kind of insane to do something like this, but this is Lordi after all.

Portrayal of Guilt - Christfucker

One of two albums put out this year by this band, and I find this one leans more into the noise and industrial which means it's more ma jam.

Harakiri for the Sky - Maere

This duo has basically perfected post-black metal, though that apparently means they have to be long-winded with their songs, but I'd rather listen to a long meandering song full of artistry than the cash grab that certain other bands in the genre try to do.

Neker - Neker

Italian one man stoner doom is a solid release that deserves a shout out

Scare - Congratulations on Your Death

Is this the best EP Quebec put out this year? The leading question has been asked.

Vagina Witchcraft - Vagina Witchraft 

Easily the freshest voice in sludgey hardcore, with a fresh voice and take on the current world. If you're worried about what that means, you can just listen to the first track, "Prelude", and see what I mean. A bit more raw than I usually like my records, but it is "off the floor" so I can't really complain too much.

There Were Wires - Somnambulists (reissue)

Best reissue of a record this year where every band was legally required to do at least one. If you want to see what a band looking into the future of metalcore would do in the early 00s much like Planes Mistaken for Stars, this is something you should check out.

Tunic - Quitter 

"You want us to be noisier? Fine, we'll be noisier."

Backxwash - I Lie Here Buried with my Rings and My Dresses 

Continuing the hip hop, industrial, and metal crossover, this record didn't do it for me as much as God Has Nothing to do With This Leave Him Out of It, but I could see why other people would prefer it more with its higher intensity and more in your face approach.

Sate - The Fool

Toronto's Sate returns with a cosmic rock concept record and basically puts so many pop artists to shame with her natural vocal talent.