In addition to listing my favorite albums of 2021, I wanted to reflect on my favorite musical moments, both moments that I was involved in, some of which I just had the pleasure to observe.
Relief On the Bayou
I have to start with the catalyst for expanding what I thought I could accomplish with Lagniappe. When I first began, I figured I’d write occasional reviews or long-form pieces on musicians I felt was underrepresented; however, when Hurricane Ida hit southeastern Louisiana, I had to evacuate to Houston. Ida put a stopper on my routine. I went from listening to records regularly to spending a few weeks in and out of contact with my family. Cell service was spotty at best, and returning to the state was not an option.
Early on, I thought of putting together some sort of benefit, similar to the ones made in Katrina’s wake. An idea I thought would surely be impossible. However, I was surprised by the number of artists that responded to my request. Several musicians within the independent noise community were willing to contribute tracks to this compilation. Additionally, a few artists local to my hometown added their work. For their contributions, I am eternally thankful. Relief wasn’t a blockbuster of an album, but it did raise enough funds to donate aid to my home parish of Lafourche.
Putting it out was a labor of love; putting it together gave me a purpose. So instead of nervously awaiting my return, I set my eyes on using Lagniappe not only as a platform to write about music but to put together and promote releases from independent acts. Since the creation of Relief On the Bayou, I’ve had the pleasure to put together releases from some genuinely talented noise artists and my experimentations with sound.
Building relationships and communicating directly with artists have been my favorite things about Lagniappe. I began it to shine a light on music I genuinely loved, and I feel as though I’ve been accepted by a community of musicians who feel the same way. I’ve seen artists collaborate purely out of a desire to release music, had some great conversations, sought the advice of those I felt had been in the game longer, and learned the entire way. I still look forward to learning as Lagniappe Exposure continues in whichever direction.
I’m typing this as a formal thank you to the musicians who contributed and give them a little lagniappe. To (in order of tracklisting) gussyee, Holly Nicole Combs, Ravens of October/Elvis Adams, deer meadow, Harm Signals, murder me, Razorwire Handcuffs, Hoodrat Messiah, LAST ACTION, The Night Porter, Error In Utero, Cracked Dome, Suitcase Body, and Myles Brunet, my sincerest thank you!
An additional thank you to all who liked, shared, and purchased Relief!
I look forward to Chicago greatly, and although Louisiana will always be my home, I cannot deny that it is challenging to be active within the music scene despite its rich musical history. While New Orleans is a hub of musical activity, many of my favorite acts never make their way through the city, and smaller towns are usually ignored. Chicago offers almost endless opportunities to catch some of my favorite acts as they make a stop on their recent tour. I’ve already looked into the upcoming shows for the Metro, United Center, and Wrigley. In addition to my favorites, I’m sure my move will yield some experimental discoveries, both in new musicians and venues, and I cannot wait to explore Chicago’s rich musical history and future.
One of my favorite musical moments of the last year has been watching ixi breakdown, one of my favorite albums of all time, and an album that my teenage self poured over: The Downward Spiral. ixi’s weekly musical analysis of this album not only reminded me of my love for Nine Inch Nails but taught me much in the way of musical theory, arrangement, and analysis of music. I developed a deeper understanding of why I loved that record so intensely through her videos, learning about the individual layers and components that I hadn’t been aware of before. Watching her break down each note meticulously and the genius of their arrangement and the “trentones” has only strengthened my love of the band. In addition to her work breaking down The Downward Spiral in its entirety, ixi also taps into other musicians. She also is an accomplished musician herself. Watching her solo piano videos, whether they be a cover of a known song or her compositions, has been truly inspiring to watch.
PJ Harvey’s Vinyl Reissues
This one isn’t entirely within the realm of 2021, as her reissue campaign started earlier, but I’ve been hoping for it for a while now, and I want to share how much I have enjoyed listening to each album’s collection of demos as well as picking up the vinyl reissues!
Sinead O’Connor’s Rememberings
This year, one of my favorite musical memoirs had to be Rememberings by Sinead O’Connor. I once quipped that many still owed her an apology for how mistreated she was following her SNL performance. However, after reading Rememberings, I don’t think she needs it. The memoir is an excellent intimate look into the trauma, healing, and influence that went into her records and her current outlook on life.
A Year of Wind Chimes
Most relationships probably share a divided view of what makes great music. The difference between my taste and my partners cannot be further apart. Yet, they have always been open to hearing me praise my favorite musicians, both new and old, as they affectionately titled our first year together “A Year of Wind Chimes.” It hasn’t been that one-sided, though, I have had to endure my year of pop music, a genre to which I have a strong aversion; however, from listening to playlists of Little Mix, TWICE, BLACKPINK, and of course Britney Spears, I have started to soften to their brand of exuberant music. Hell, I even attempted to make a drone album from Britney Spears remix stems that wasn’t successful, but I had fun making it, and he was more than happy to listen!
Here’s to another year of wind chimes!