There was no shortage of remarkable outings from Vermont this year, perhaps in part because of the extra ‘deforestation’ time over the past year and more of the pandemic. Here’s a look at 12 albums by Green Mountain State artists who stood out in 2021, in order of release date.
Madaila: “Good God Nancy”
Released in March, “Good Lord Nancy” was Daly’s third recording under the Madaila moniker in less than a year, following two EPs in 2020.
The eight-song album finds Daly collaborating with talented Colchester-based trumpeter Will Andrews aka Willverine with strings by Ben Lively and drums on a few tracks by John Morgan Kimock. Daly took care of the rest of the instrumentation – drums and drum programming, bass, synths and synth bass, guitars and piano – in addition to producing and mixing the album.
A cinematic excursion that requires a well-executed vision, “Good Lord Nancy” soars on its skillful blend of folk foundations with electronic elements and strings and trumpets.
Bow Thayer: “Snug’s Zen”
Widely regarded as one of Vermont’s finest songwriters, Stockbridge-based Bow Thayer released “The Zen of Snug” in April.
An assured collection of tunes that evokes much of Thayer’s impressive discography over the past 25 years, “Snug” – the nickname for good friend Doug Chase of South Royalton who died in 2019 – also broadens his musical palette. into fascinating new territory on the layered album.
Thayer was also part of a collaboration album with Los Angeles music luminaries, Val McCallum and Greg Wells, titled “Beau Bow de Lune”. Released in March, the winning ensemble of sunny, infectious and poignant folk pop mixed with vintage rock vibes and blues flavors finds Thayer in great shape as an extraordinary lyricist and songwriter.
The Burning Sun: ‘Marrow’
Burlington singer-songwriter Katy Hellman, who co-chaired late Burlington rock band Julia Caesar, released her debut album “Marrow” in April under the nickname Ruby, but got it soon after. changed to Burning Sun.
The eight-song album, which also features Julia Caesar’s drummer and Hellman’s main collaborator Steven LeBel, delivers a singular, quietly powerful sound that fuses stripped-down mountain folk with trippy dreamy pop and psychedelic rock.
The Burning Sun performs at 8 p.m. on December 31 at Radio Bean, Burlington. Call 802-660-9346 or go online at www.radiobean.com
Black fly: ‘Black fly 01’
Black Fly, aka Joseph Rittling, is a Richmond-based musician and visual artist who has developed a mystique around his singular music, with sporadic but compelling releases over the past nine years under his name (the 2014 album, “Operation Teardrop “) and as Red Man Summer (an eponymous EP in 2012).
“Black Fly 01”, released in April on independent label Samedi Records, is Rittling’s debut album under the name Black Fly and it’s a doozy. A broad and cinematic ensemble of introspective yet contagious electro-pop, the album mesmerizes with its winning mix of Rittling’s painful vocals, pulsating groove, lush production and catchy melodies.
Soule Monde: ‘Mimi digs’
Released three years after keyboard magician Ray Paczkowski nearly died from a brain tumor, the Middlebury-based instrumental duo of Paczkowski and drummer Russ Lawton – best known as longtime members of the Trey Anastasio Band – is back with a bang on their fourth album.
âMimi Digs It,â recorded at Sugarhouse Studio in Waitsfield and released in April, captures the powerful live vibe of Soule Monde (pronounced sol-leh Monday) and emphasizes a solid funk foundation.
It’s a joyful and dynamic affair that finds the dynamic duo in great shape, thrilling with a renewed sense of purpose and a rejuvenation as dynamic as it is palpable.
Smart Girls: “Constellations”
Burlington indie rock band Clever Girls’ stellar second album soars with its winning mix of singer / songwriter Diane Jean’s haunting vocals and soulful lyrics with a catchy guitar, crisp rock and pop catchy.
Recorded at Big Nice Studio in Rhode Island and released in May, the inspired, self-taught 10-song ensemble finds the four-piece group experimenting more than on previous releases, exploring sounds and musical ideas with great effect. One of the best Burlington rock band releases in recent memory, “Constellations” is also one of the top indie rock albums of 2021.
KeruBo: “Hali ya Utu”
KeruBo, aka Kerubo-Ogati Webster, an Afro-jazz singer of Kenyan origin and based in Burlington, released a touching album, “Hali ya Utu” (Swahili for “state of humanity”), in June – se performing as an 11-piece ensemble on the Church Street Stage at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival.
Fusing dynamic Afro-Jazz and African folk music with flavors of gospel and blues, âHali ya Utuâ is the perfect elixir for troubled times, delivering uplifting tunes that are teeming with hope and positivity.
âThis album is the culmination of years of writing and performing that speaks to my experience and my mission for social justice,â said Webster. “Each song tells a story, from lamenting over life’s struggles to songs of love and encouraging words of self-acceptance.”
Ivamae: “Tender meat”
Ivamae, aka Burlington indie-pop and neo-soul singer-songwriter Brittany Mae, released her captivating debut album “Tender Meat” in June. Carefully recorded over the course of four years, the album is a quiet, slow stunner with sultry intimacy and beautifully languid tunes that evoke classic neo-soul and R&B.
Produced by Ivamae and guitarist Tom Pearo, and designed by drummer and producer Urian Hackney at The Box in Burlington, “Tender Meat” offers a fascinating blend of dream-pop and soul jazz that rewards repeat listening.
Giovanina Bucci: “Storytellers”
Originally from Plattsburgh, New York and now based in Burlington, singer-songwriter Giovanina Bucci takes off on “Storytellers”, her third solo album, released in July.
Produced by acclaimed Burlington-based singer-songwriter Ryan Montbleau, the nine-song album was recorded primarily live in the studio with a leading cast of Burlington-area musicians including guitarist Bob Wagner and his bandmate Kat Wright, bassist Josh Weinstein.
Skillfully fusing country and folk soul with flavors of blues and jazz, âStorytellersâ is an airy and sultry ensemble that shines upon Bucci’s timeless and intimate compositions which are fully realized and beautifully enhanced throughout.
99 neighbors: “Wherever you go, I hope it’s great”
Burlington-born hip-hop collective 99 Neighbors take their second and major major album, “Wherever You’re Going I Hope It’s Great,” released in September on a Warner division. Records and celebrated with a show at Higher Ground.
Now based in Nashville, the seven-piece group wrote and recorded material in places in Vermont such as Burlington and Island Pond before heading to studios in Chicago and Nashville. Mixing everything from mighty hip-hop and R&B and sultry pop to British-inspired electronica and dusty jazz, “Wherever You’re Going” stands out as a distinctive, fuzzy release that helps set the scene. Burlington’s booming hip-hop on the map.
Lily Seabird: “Beside me”
Burlington singer-songwriter Lily Seabird aka Lily Seward, 22-year-old UVM graduate, produced her solid debut album “Beside Myself” with fellow UVM graduate Noah Schneidman, 23 years, last winter in his apartment. Schneidman plays bass and guitar in addition to mixing and engineering for the album, which was mastered by Charlie Hill (Chazzy Lake, Bison), a former Burlington-based sound engineer.
Released in October, the eight-song set explores themes of insecurity, self-esteem, and lost innocence with pleasing results. Captivating tunes shine over Seabird’s compelling compositions and lyrics, his distinctive soprano voice, and the skillful instrumental support of his band mates.
Lily Seabird performs on December 31 at Safe & Sound [Live], 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Contois Auditorium, City Hall, Burlington. For tickets and information, go online at put.community
Father Figuer: “Jack of all fruits”
Burlington indie rock band Father Figuer released their second album “Jack of All Fruits” last week. A sequel to their 2020 debut album âTransitions,â the new nine-song s is the producer of an album that finds the group shrinking into a trio and plunging into a more exploratory sound with rewarding results.
“Jack of All Fruits” was recorded live over a year ago at the home of Engineer Aunt Miles Foy in the Northeast Kingdom town of Danville, where Foy “leaned into the color. of the board to make things unique, “according to singer, guitarist and lead songwriter Erin White, 24.
Offering dreamy, slow-burning songs that swell with emotion, the album straddles a magnificent ebb and flow, exploring space with great effect on notable tunes like the moody rocker “Rerto”, the cathartic and harsh. , “Sink” and the vast and expansive “Garden”.