Here is a list of my favorite albums from the month of August 2021.
Are these lists for you? My musical tastes vary widely, but you’ll always find hip-hop, jazz, funk, or a blend each in the selections, along with the occasional country, rock, and reggae record. Hopefully, you’ll find something you like. Of course, I’m always looking for new (and old) music, so any recommendations are welcome!
Also, you can find a playlist of tracks that I love on my Right About Now playlist. 🎧
El Michels Affair meets Liam Bailey
It’s been a while since a reggae album has popped into my top 5 though they are always nearby. One of my favorite producers/bands of late teams up with an artist I didn’t know about until now to make a perfect Saturday (morning/afternoon/evening) album. The appearances by Black Thought and Lee “Scratch” Perry are just icing on the top.
My favorite album this month.
Durand Jones & The Indications
I have had group member Aaron Frazer’s solo album on rotation for much of the year and am happy to have more retro soul in my ears.
With vocals shared between Jones (lower) and drummer Aaron Frazer (higher), they stretch from floaty melancholia to gossamer funk and disco, with synths and strings. As many as 19 musicians appear on their most lavish concoctions.
Private Space may wear its classic influences on its sleeve (the Isley Brothers, the Temptations and Earth, Wind & Fire among them) but lockdowns and separation have produced a distinctly modern flavour of yearning for post-Covid togetherness and better times.
The band adhere to the age-old mantra of soul music: it being less so about the sound – though their buttery compositions do fit the bill – but the conviction, mining deep inside for raw, uncut emotions. They now join a modern renaissance for the movement alongside Michael Kiwanuka, Celeste, Sault and more.
Funk, R&B, and hip-hop in near-perfect harmony. A brand new artist for me and something I am jamming to regularly.
After the success of his last releases “Bluestaeb & S. Fidelity present Underground Canopy” (2020) and the collaborative “SHE” (2019) with Harleighblu that combined gained more than four million streams on Spotify alone, Bluestaeb finally returns with his self-titled album “GISEKE”.
While musically this new album merges iconic R&B, funk and hip-hop productions with sharp lyrical contributions by some of 2021’s most promising vocalists, such as Mick Jenkins, Ric Wilson, Uno Hype, Jerome Thomas or JuJu Rogers it will be a worthy follow up to his previous Jarkarta releases.
The Lasso, Jordan Hamilton & Saxsquatch
My jazz pick of the month. I really enjoyed The Lasso’s 2021 from earlier this year and this one continues the streak. So cool.
While they all have a lot of technical ability and bring in influences that range from hip hop to classical, the logical meeting point as a home base is progressive jazz, along the lines of artists such as Chick Corea or Herbie Hancock. Something that still gets funky but can also push the envelope with some complex arrangements that can go off in some wild directions. It’s an incredibly challenging listen in this way, but this trio never gets so far off in left field that the music is inaccessible. In actuality, this album bumps more often than you’d expect from something so avantgarde in its composition.
Mr Jukes And Barney Artist
The hip-hop pick of the month is on the light and airy side this time. I can play this around the kids and it can fade into the background as much as be in the forefront, but it has surprised me by having some legs. Reminiscent of the feel of Jurassic 5 and The Pharcyde.
‘The Locket’ is a joyful celebration of life and its journeys, soundtracked by supple soul, hip-hop and jazz stylings that feel as natural as the joining of these two artists united in a shared pursuit.
Honorable mentions ✌️
I’ve been really enjoying Leon Bridges’ Gold-Diggers Sound along with Texas Sun with Khruangbin. Also, speaking of the latter, the Khruangbin – Mordechai Remixes album is amazing stuff. Another gem this past month has been Kareem Ali – Quantum Blackness, which is “exploring the crossroads between house, techno, bedroom pop and futuresynth”.