Japanese Breakfast, Silk Sonic, Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X and more: Yahoo Entertainment staff picks for best albums of 2021

·20 min read
Clockwise: Lil Nas X, Silk Sonic, Japanese Breakfast, Olivia Rodrigo (Photos: Getty Images, Atlantic/Aftermath, Dead Oceans, Geffen)
Clockwise: Lil Nas X, Silk Sonic, Japanese Breakfast, Olivia Rodrigo (Photos: Getty Images, Atlantic/Aftermath, Dead Oceans, Geffen)

It’s that most wonderful time of a not-so-wonderful year, when we make our lists and check them twice — our year-end best albums lists, that is. With concerts still on hold for much of 2021, we often had to get our music fixes safely at home, but thankfully, many talented artists across genres provided the perfect lockdown soundtracks. The albums that helped Yahoo Entertainment’s writers, editors, and staffers power through a difficult year were extremely wide-ranging, and you can scroll down to see all those individual lists. But there was some consensus once all the entries were tallied — even though the competition was so close, we ended up with a couple of ties in our overall top 10.

Sharing the No. 10 spot are two indie-rock veterans, the War on Drugs’ I Don’t Live Here Anymore (described by Yahoo Entertainment & Life editor-in-chief Marcus Errico as “the best 1980s record released in 2021”) and St. Vincent’s Daddy’s Home, while two critics’ darlings of hip-hop, J. Cole and Kanye West, both come in at No. 9. 

In at No. 8 and 7 are two other giants of hip-hop, Doja Cat and Tyler, the Creator, while our No. 6 pick is this year’s Recording Academy favorite: jazz-crossover artist and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader Jon Batiste, who received a whopping 11 Grammy nominations for We Are. As our own Nick Paschal predicts, Batiste “started 2021 winning an Oscar for his incredible work on Soul, and Batiste will likely start 2022 by winning some Grammys for this feelgood album.”

In at No. 5 is game-changer and life-saver Lil Nas X with Montero, lauded by Yahoo Life/Entertainment multimedia reporter David Artavia “one of the queerest hip-hop records ever produced in mainstream music… a lighthouse for those who never thought being a successful Black, gay pop star was possible.” At No. 4 is another zeitgeist-capturing pop phenomenon, breakout teen pop-punk star Olivia Rodrigo, followed at No. 3 by her logical predecessor, Billie Eilish, whose sophomore album Happier Than Ever actually topped three of our individual contributors’ lists.

The power-duo of Grammy darlings Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, aka Silk Sonic, was tough to top, and it was close. But in the end, they stalled in second place behind Michelle Zauner, aka indie-pop genius Japanese Breakfast, whose Jubilee was Yahoo Entertainment’s No. 1 album of the year. Our writer Lori Majewksi (who also named Zauner’s memoir Crying in H-Mart her favorite book of the year) described the “alterna-idol’s” third album as “both nostalgic ’80s-dance-pop — think ‘Holiday’-era Madonna — and the epitome of women-led indie rock circa 2021.”

And there you have it! Check out all of our diverse albums picks below, and here’s to more great music in 2022.

Yahoo Entertainment’s overall top 10

1. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

2. Silk Sonic – An Evening With Silk Sonic

3. Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

4. Olivia Rodrigo – Sour

5. Lil Nas X – Montero

6. Jon Batiste – We Are

7. Tyler, the Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost

8. Doja Cat – Planet Her

9. TIE: J. Cole – The Off-Season / Kanye West – Donda

10: TIE: St. Vincent – Daddy's Home / The War on Drugs – I Don’t Live Here Anymore

Lyndsey Parker, Yahoo Entertainment music editor

1. Royal Blood – Typhoons

2. Bobbie Gillespie & Jehnny Beth – Utopian Ashes

3. Oscar Scheller – Boys Cry

4. Aaron Lee Tasjan – Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!

5. Duran Duran – Future Past

6. Garbage – No Gods No Masters

7. Viagra Boys – Welfare Jazz

8. Ashe – Ashlyn

9. The Fratellis – Half Drunk Under a Full Moon

10. TIE: AFI – Bodies / Baio – Dead Hand Control

Their first two scuzzy, fuzzy albums had them being declared the latest saviors of rock, but hard-charging Brighton blues/garage duo Royal Blood made a hard 180 for their risky third album. Mixing keytars with their famously effects-pedaled bass guitars, Ben Thatcher and Mike Kerr evoked the French electro of Justice, Rinoceros, and Human After All-era Daft Punk, electroclash trash, and the mid-aughts’ Gang of Four-damaged dance-punk of !!! and the Rapture. The result was Typhoons, a perfect storm of a party record that actually rocked and swaggered more intensely than anything they’d done before. –L.P.

Ethan Alter, Yahoo Entertainment senior writer

1. St. Vincent – The Nowhere Inn soundtrack

2. Various artists – Last Night in Soho soundtrack

3. Jonny Greenwood – The Power of the Dog soundtrack

4. Various artists – The French Dispatch soundtrack

5. Siddhartha Khosla – Only Murders in the Building soundtrack

6. Various artists – Tick, Tick… Boom!soundtrack

7. Johnny Klimek & Tom Tykwer – The Matrix Resurrections soundtrack

8. Various artists – Summer of Soul soundtrack

9. Sparks – Annette soundtrack

10. Various artists – Dickinson Season 3 soundtrack

Will the real St. Vincent please stand up? The boundary-pushing indie-rocker plays serious mind games with her identity and celebrity in the beyond-meta rockumentary, The Nowhere Inn. The companion soundtrack is also a wild mix of tones, moods, and styles, from the achingly yearning title track to a hauntingly hilarious detour into the heart of Texas. –E.A.

Shawn Amos, writer

1. Joy Oladokun – In defense of my own happiness

2. Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime

3. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

4. J. Cole – The Off-Season

5. Courtney Barnett – Things Take Time, Take Time

6. Prince – Welcome 2 America

7. Silk Sonic – An Evening With Silk Sonic

8. Daniel Lanois – Heavy Sun

9. Common – A Beautiful Revolution, Pt. 2

10. Lindsey Buckingham – Lindsey Buckingham

Singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun’s third studio album offers tales of survival and reinvention, from a wise woman who knows the Black experience is the human experience. –S.A.

David Artavia, Yahoo Life/Entertainment multimedia reporter

1.  Lil Nas X – Montero

2. Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

3. Brandi Carlile – In These Silent Days

4. Sam Fender – Seventeen Going Under

5. Olivia Rodrigo – Sour

6. Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – Love for Sale

7. Jon Batiste – We Are

8. Doja Cat – Planet Her

9. Tyler, the Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost

10. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

By far one of the queerest hip-hop records ever produced in mainstream music, Montero is filled with unabashed Black queer joy refusing to hide behind metaphors and innuendo. With Montero, Nas isn't just showing us a window into the next phase of hip-hop. He's showing us a door. The oh-so-relatable experiences of loneliness, self-doubt, and rejection are wonderfully weaved in Nas’s lyrics and triumphant yet somber beats. Though it already stands on the shoulders of queer music giants who came before, Montero is indeed a lighthouse for those who never thought being a successful Black, gay pop star was possible. –D.A.

Robert Burke, writer

1. Deafheaven – Infinite Granite

2. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu

3. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Carnage

4. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

5. Low – Hey What

6. Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and the London Symphony Orchestra – Promises

7. My Morning Jacket – My Morning Jacket

8. Van Morrison – Latest Record Project Volume 1

9. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raise the Roof

10. A Winged Victory for the Sullen – Invisible Cities

Sometimes great albums come from out of nowhere as is the case with this gem from Deafheaven titled Infinite Granite. The San Francisco band trades in their black metal past for a perfect shoegaze album that shimmers and explodes with beauty. Dynamic crescendos abound with metal guitars and growling vocals only entering at peaks for brief periods of time to put an explanation point on moving, exceptionally crafted compositions. While most artists who take chances to create art outside of their wheelhouse fail miserably and alienate longtime fans, Deafheaven have gone from respected metal band to artistic perfection by blending that which has not been blended before, and in the process delivering artistic perfection. –R.B.

Dave DiMartino, writer

1. John Grant – Boy From Michigan

2. Lindsey Buckingham – Lindsey Buckingham

3. Floating Points, Pharaoh Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises

4. Van Morrison – Latest Record Project Volume 1

5. Momus – Athenian

6. Spearmint – Holland Park

7. Catenary Wires – Birling Gap

8. Tim Buckley – Bear’s Sonic Journals – Merry-Go-Round at the Carousel

9. Villagers – Fever Dreams

10. Can – Live In Stuttgart

Since his days with the Czars, John Grant has never failed to make powerful music that connects on the very deep emotional levels. “The Only Baby” is like that, only better. –D.D.

Marcus Errico, Yahoo Entertainment & Life editor-in-chief

1. The War on Drugs – I Don’t Live Here Anymore

2. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

3. Silk Sonic – An Evening With Silk Sonic

4. The Weather Station – Ignorance

5. Rhiannon Giddens – They’re Calling Me Home

6. Grif – One Foot in Front of the Other

7. Cimafunk – El Alimento

8. Julien Baker – Little Oblivions

9. Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams

10. The Beach Boys – Feel Flows: The Sunflower and Surf’s Up Sessions

The best 1980s record released in 2021, Adam Granduciel and company’s tuneful sixth album offers equal parts hope and melancholy — not unlike the past year itself. –M.E.

Jim Farber, writer

1. black midi – Cavalcade

2. Squid – Bright Green Field

3. IDLES – Crawler

4. Geese – Projector

5. Lil Nas X – Montero

6. St. Vincent – Daddy's Home

7. Yola – Stand for Myself

8. Mickey Guyton – Remember Her Name

9. John Grant – Boy From Michigan

10. Aimee Mann – Queens of the Summer Hotel

Mania becomes black midi. In 2019, when this startling young British band inflicted their debut album, Schlagenheim, on an unsuspecting world, they set a new bar for abrasion, velocity and precision — much to the delight of unrepentant prog-rock rock fans like me. At the same time, the brutalism of their sound owed a clear debt to the most extreme creations of Robert Fripp in King Crimson. Remarkably, black midi’s second release, Cavalcade, pushed things further. Despite losing one of their guitarists, Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin to mental health issues, the band upped the speed and density of their sound while also taking time out to explore the opposite mood, allowing for passages of melodicism and tranquility. If anything, the result proved how extreme nuances can be. –J.F.

Sofia M. Fernandez, Yahoo senior manager, video

1. Lord Huron – Long Lost

2. Madlib – Sound Ancestors

3. Goat Girl – On All Fours

4. Courtney Barnett – Things Take Time, Take Time

5. Bo Burnham – Inside (The Songs)

6. Django Django – Glowing in the Dark

7. Parquet Courts – Sympathy for Life

8. West Side Story Cast 2021, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim – West Side Story (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

9. Ty Segall – Harmonizer

10. Radiohead – Kid A Mnesia

Lord Huron's twangy, dreamy Long Lostis a feeling. A feeling of nostalgia, of warmth. Of highway travel and moments since past. Of the blurring of time. It is Lord Huron's Americana masterpiece. –S.F.

Laura Ferreiro, writer

1. Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend

2. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

3. Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

4. Laura Mvula – Pink Noise

5. Julien Baker – Little Oblivions

6. Snail Mail – Valentine

7. Bomba Estéreo – Deja

8. Elbow – Flying Dream 1

9. The War on Drugs – I Don’t Live Here Anymore

10. Lump – Animal

Ambitious, swaggering and anthemic, the London four-piece Wolf Alice’s third album is their best yet. Having won the U.K.’s coveted Mercury Prize and earned a Grammy nomination, they’re not exactly unknown, but they still haven’t received the notoriety they deserve on this side of the pond. Frontwoman Ellie Rowsell’s vocals and lyrics are fierce and sensitive in equal measure, and the band continues to push boundaries, combining elements of dream pop, guitar rock, hardcore punk, and cinematic ballads to create a moody and captivating sonic soundscape. –L.F.

Beth Greenfield, Yahoo Lifestyle senior editor

1. Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

2. Olivia Rodrigo – Sour

3. St. Vincent – Daddy's Home

4. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

5. Lil Nas X – Montero

6. Liz Phair – Soberish

7. Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett – Love for Sale

8 Brandi Carlile – In These Silent Days

9. Jennifer O'Connor – Born at the Disco

10. Aimee Mann – Queens of the Summer Hotel

Luckily I have a 13-year-old daughter with excellent taste, because she fell in love with this album first, and instantly, after listening to it on repeat with a friend, all day long, on its release date. Her passion for it was infectious, with Billie's heart-wrenching lyrics, gut-spilling screams and new, lively sounds. I love how she plays around with genres and has such wisdom and really tells a story, in an old-fashioned kind of way, with an album throughline. –B.G.

Joel Huerto, Yahoo frontpage editorial manager

1. Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

2. Justin Bieber – Justice

3. BTS – Butter (single album)

4. Bad Bunny – El Último Tour Del Mundo

5. Olivia Rodrigo – Sour

6. Kanye West – Donda

7. J. Cole – The Off-Season

8. Marshmello – Shockwave

9. Silk Sonic – An Evening With Silk Sonic

10. Migos – Culture III

Billie Eilish's second studio album might be better than her critically acclaimed debut. The powerful and energetic title track makes me want to grab an Oculus VR set and smash things with a lightsaber. –J.H.

Billy Johnson Jr., writer

1. Leon Bridges – Gold-Diggers Sound

2. Tyler the Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost

3. Doja Cat – Planet Her

4. Silk Sonic – An Evening With Silk Sonic

5. Kanye West – Donda

6. Jazmine Sullivan – Heaux Tales

7. Drake – Certified Lover Boy

8. Lecrae, IK Phew – No Church in a While

9. Isaiah Rashad – The House Is Burning

10. Summer Walker – Still Over It

Leon Bridges’s Gold-Diggers Sound instantly feels so good. He’s mastered his soulful, nostalgic sound and coupled it with the most relatable, vulnerable narratives. –B.J.

Jen Kucsak, Yahoo Entertainment senior producer

1. Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

2. Adele – 30

3. Olivia Rodrigo – Sour

4. Coldplay – Music of the Spheres

5. Ed Sheeran – =

6. Lady Gaga – Dawn of Chromatica

7. Foo Fighters – Medicine at Midnight

8. Kacey Musgraves – Star Crossed

9. Mickey Guyton – Remember Her Name

10. Elton John – The Lockdown Sessions

I've always loved Billie Eilish. Her lyrics are dark, deep, and often has me thinking, “Whoa — I never thought of that before!" But Happier Than Ever takes it to a whole over level for me, personally. The title track is the ultimate breakup song, which isn't that specific at all, it's just about being unhappy in a relationship. And you're not totally sure why you are, but you just are. Belting the rock opera out loud in my car makes me feel as if I personally wrote it, and [the relationship] gets worse by the verse until she finally screams, “Just f***ing leave me alone!" The album as a whole is an honest portrayal and feels legendary in every sense of the word. –J.K.

Tristram Lozaw, writer

1. Cheap Trick – In Another World

2. Jon Batiste – We Are

3. Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victime

4. Silk Sonic  An Evening With Silk Sonic

5. Micky Dolenz – Dolenz Sings Nesmith

6. Maya Beiser –v Maya Beiser x Philip Glass

7. Motrik – Moon: The Cosmic Electrics of Motrik

8. Aimee Mann  Queens of the Summer Hotel

9. Miguel Zenon – Law Years, The Music of Ornette Coleman

10. Seth Glier – The Coronation

Cheap Trick's In Another World earns my top spot as the year's best album of melodic ROCK songs. With insistently rhythmic guitars and a few tender serenades rocking the hook-filled blasts, the results are at least as catchy as Cheap Trick's younger “heyday,” as well as more cleanly vital. –T.L.

Lori Majewski, SiriusXM host/veteran Yahoo writer

1. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

2. Halsey – If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power

3. Duran Duran – Future Past

4. Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

5. Rhiannon Giddens v They’re Calling Me Home

6. Mickey Guyton – Remember Her Name

7. Amythyst Kiah – Wary + Strange

8. Allison Russell – Outside Child

9. Brandi Carlile – In These Silent Days

10. Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend

Soon after Jubilee's June release, I proclaimed it the soundtrack of my forthcoming, COVID-free summer. So much for that. Two seasons on, though, Japanese Breakfast’s upbeat third album is still my go-to, especially the synthy “Paprika,” “Posing In Bondage,” and, my favorite track, the lead-off single “Be Sweet.” The latter manages to be both nostalgic ‘80s-dance-pop (think “Holiday"-era Madonna) and the epitome of women-led indie rock circa 2021, thanks to alterna-idol Michelle Zauner, who also wrote my favorite book of the year, her memoir Crying in H-Mart. –L.M.

Ryan Miller, aka DJ Ryan Midnight, Yahoo News & Entertainment senior SEO manager

1. Western Standard Time Ska Orchestra – Tombstone

2. Mr. Kingpin – Introducing...

3. Smoke & Mirrors Sound System – Strength in Numbers

4. The Tellways – Out to the Cosmos

5. Catbite – Nice One

6. Half Past Two – Half Past Two

7. Bim Skala Bim – Sonic Tonic

8. Wild Man Riddim – Panatlantic

9. We Are The Union – Ordinary Life

10. The Freecoasters – A Different Kind of Heat

2021 saved the best for last! Released in late November, Western Standard Time Ska Orchestra's Tombstone, their first full-length of all-original material, is an amazing, primarily instrumental ska album, with guest vocal spots from Jesse Wagner (The Aggrolites) and Chris Murray. The album, which incorporates big band sounds, exotic melodies, and influences from Ennio Morricone, makes for one hell of a toe-tapping listen from start to finish. While these songs could have easily been released from Studio One, trumpeter Eitan Avineri, who composed the album, proves that traditional ska still has something new to say almost 60 years after the Skatalites made their debut! –R.M.

Rob O’Connor, writer

1. Amyl and the Sniffers – Comfort To Me

2. The Rolling Stones – Fully Finished Outtakes, Vol. 1-3

3. The Bevis Frond – Little Eden

4. Keith Beck – Scorpio

5. Jose Gonzalez –v Local Valley

6. Zeb Gould – Destroyer Deliver

7. Lindsey Buckingham – Lindsey Buckingham

8. Fear Gods – fear gods

9. Son Volt – Electro Melodier

10. Scott Helland Guitarmy of One – The Spy Detective Collective

Trying to capture punk rock energy and still give it a fresh twist is as near an impossible task in 2021 as it’s been since, well, 1981, yet these young Aussies crank it out like X-Ray Spex at a time when we can all only dream of being ‘germ free adolescents.’ Singer Amy Taylor is the obvious focal point and her team swerve and dive with her every soul-uplifting yowl. She explains it herself: “I’ve got plenty of energy. It’s my currency.” Invest alongside and prosper! –R.O.

Nick Paschal, Yahoo Entertainment senior producer

1. Jon Batiste – We Are

2. Foo Fighters – Medicine at Midnight

3. The Black Keys – Delta Kream

4. Silk Sonic – An Evening With Silk Sonic

5. Black Pistol Fire – Look Alive

6. Lil Nas X – Montero

7. Adele – 30

8. Demi Lovato – Dancing With the Devil… the Art of Starting Over

9. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats – The Future

10. H.E.R. – Back of My Mind

I know it seems like we all don't agree on much anymore, but I think we can mostly agree that the 2020s have not been great for people's mental health. So in 2021, I found myself gravitating toward music that makes me feel the same way watching Ted Lasso makes me feel (which is absolutely splendid), and no album has had a Lasso-style impact on my mental health more than Jon Batiste's We Are. Stephen Colbert's partner on The Late Show started 2021 winning an Oscar for his incredible work on Soul, and Batiste will likely start 2022 by winning some Grammys for this feelgood album. –N.P.

Kevin Polowy, aka DJ Kevlar, Yahoo Entertainment senior correspondent

1. The Halluci Nation – One More Saturday Night

2. Gift of Gab – Finding Inspiration Somehow

3. Conway the Machine – La Maquina & God Don't Make Mistakes

4. J. Cole – The Off Season

5. CJ Fly – Not What You're Expecting

6. Skyzoo – All Brilliant Things

7. Nas – King's Disease II

8. The Grouch & Eligh – What Would Love Do

9. Def3 & Late Night Radio – Weddings And Funerals

10. TIE: L'Orange & Namir Blade – Imaginary Everything / Solemn Brigham – South Sinner Street

There is no one making music that sounds anything quite like the Halluci Nation, the Ottawa, Canada producing duo of Tim "2oolman" Hill and Ehren "Bear Witness" Thomas and the collective formerly known as A Tribe Called Red. Hill and Thomas have been perfecting their inimitable, combustible blend of Hip Hop and electronic head-nodders with Native/First Nations chants and percussion (dubbed “powwow step”) for years now, but their first album under their new moniker feels like a revelation. Vocal guests like Odario (of Grand Analog) and Haviah Mighty swing by for the radio-friendly dancehall anthem “Ba Na Na,” while other highlights include pretty much any other track featuring powerhouse powwow family ensemble Chippewa Travelers (“It’s Over,” “Remember”). Don’t sleep on this incredible import from up north. –K.P.

Craig Rosen, Senior Editor, Premiere Networks; TIDAL/AARP/veteran Yahoo writer

1. Nobody's Flowers – Nobody's Flowers

2. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raise the Roof

3. Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams

4. The War on Drugs – I Don't Live Here Anymore

5. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

6. Silk Sonic – An Evening With Silk Sonic

7. St. Vincent – Daddy's Home

8. Billy F. Gibbons – Hardware

9. Floating Points, Pharaoh Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises

10. Los Lobos – Native Sons

Wet Leg's "Chaise Lounge" is the most exciting thing I've heard all year, but alas, their debut album doesn't come out until April 2022, so I'm settling with the self-titled debut by Nobody's Flowers. It's a short nine songs/29 minutes’ worth of jangle-pop goodness that sounds like the second-coming of the Smiths, only it's not Morrissey and Marr, but some guy named Nick Fit, whose "roots are in hardcore." Go figure. –C.R.

Rivéa Ruff, Yahoo!/AOL senior editor

1. IDK – USEE4YOURSELF

2. Tyler, the Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost

3. Doja Cat – Planet Her

4. Kanye West – Donda

5. Drake – Certified Lover Boy

6. Silk Sonic – An Evening With Silk Sonic

7. EST GEE – Bigger Than Life or Death

8. MoneybaggYo – A Gangster's Pain

9. Zack Fox – Shut the F*** Up Talking to Me

10. Megan Thee Stallion – Something for the Hotties

USEE4YOURSELF is a criminally overlooked gem, featuring infectious beats that incorporate both party anthems and deep reflections on growing up in an affectionless home —with both ultimately examining how that experience shaped IDK’s approach to love and relationships. –R.R.

Jon Wiederhorn, writer

1. Mastodon – Hushed and Grim

2. Gojira – Fortitude

3. Converge – Bloodmoon 1

4. Genghis Tron – Dream Weapon

5. Deafheaven – Infinite Granite

6. Full of Hell - Garden of Burning Apparitions

7. Parannoul – To See the Next Part of a Dream

8. Midwife - Luminol

9. Carcass – Torn Arteries

10. MOL - Diorama

These psych-prog-leaning headbangers always seemed like the kind of band that should release a multi-textural double album in a gatefold sleeve adorned with gnarled tree limbs and nightmarish creatures. Bring on Mastodon’s expansive, full-length Hushed and Grim, the perfect antidote to a world of easily distracted by short and easily digestible tunes and songs with no guitar bite. Not that Hushed and Grim is a non-stop bash-athon. It’s an epic , cinematic double-album (even when streamed) that combines sensitive, articulate art-rock with tumbling, rib-crunching metal, showcasing Mastodon’s gift for remaining outside the box while scribbling surreal, otherworldly patterns between the lines. –J.W.

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