In My World of Disorder, the Top 100 Austin Records of 2021

Kevin Curtin ranks his favorite local releases of the year

My worst quality, other than making up voices for other people's pets and putting mayonnaise on everything, is that I'm compulsively unorganized. Both my headspace and my terrestrial surroundings are forever cluttered with debris from creative projects, remnants of incomplete investigations, and intimidating stacks of unattended responsibilities. I've come to accept that no change of circumstance will quell the disorder, for I'm already blessed with many good, simplifying elements: lasting love, stable employment, gratifying means of self-expression; and none of that has quelled the chaos.

Music will not bring order to my life, but I can bring order to music.

Throughout the year, I keep a listening log in a little journal. I write down the date, the artist name, and the release – with no commentary or grading. Intermittently, I'll import the titles I enjoy into a Google Doc that grows to several hundred entries by mid-December. Eventually, I spend a reflective week arranging and rearranging them, cutting many, to end up with a list of my favorite 100 Austin records of that year.

I rank these releases on purely personal factors: how much they moved me, excited me, or interested me, with little regard to cultural impact or community stature. This list never encompasses individually released songs, though almost anything else goes: EPs, 7-inches, a visual album, even a demo. Provenance is paramount, yet un-strict. I've included a collaborative release in which one artist is local and the other isn't, but performs in Austin frequently. I've also included a band that moved here after releasing their album – to me, all that is Austin music.

So here's the one thing in my life that can make me feel organized: my 100 favorite records of 2021.


2) Melissa Carper, Daddy's Country Gold

3) William Maxwell, It's Been Here Changing for a Long Time (PorchFire)

4) Glassing, Twin Dream (Brutal Panda)

5) Strand of Oaks, In Heaven (Galacticana)

6) Portrayal of Guilt, We Are Always Alone (Closed Casket Activities)

7) Deezie Brown & Jake Lloyd, Geto Gala

8) Sun June, Somewhere (Keeled Scales/Run for Cover)

9) Nolan Potter's Nightmare Band, Music Is Dead (Castle Face)

10) Tele Novella, Merlynn Belle (Kill Rock Stars)

11) Amigo the Devil, Born Against (Liars Club)

12) Natalie Jane Hill, Solely (Dear Life)

13) Abhi the Nomad, Abhi vs. the Universe

14) Shiela, Chilita

15) El Combo Oscuro, Que Sonido Tan Rico EP

16) Cactus Lee, Live From the Dry Creek Cafe (709 Recording Co.)

17) Fuvk, Will I See You Soon

18) Mobley, Young & Dying in the Occident Supreme [visual album]

19) Luna Luna, Flower Moon

20) Portrayal of Guilt, Christfucker (Run for Cover)

22) Dayglow, Harmony House (Very Nice)

23) Go Fever, Velvet Fist (Nine Mile)

24) Scuare, Phenomenal (Exociety)

25) Indoor Creature, Living in Darkness (The Record Machine)

26) Ryan Sambol, Gestalt (Groove Family)

27) Rod Gator, For Louisiana (Blue Élan)

28) Willie McGee, We Had a Deal

29) Croy & the Boys, Of Course They Do (Spaceflight)

30) The Point, Phonkadelic ((iN)Sect)

31) The Los Sundowns, S/T (Lechehouse)

32) Michael C. Sharp, Synth Vehicles for Guitar (Holodeck)

33) Chris Conde, Engulfed in the Marvelous Decay (Fake Four Inc.)

34) Pussy Gillette, S/T

35) TC Superstar, As Seen on TV (Flyer Club)

36) Claire Rousay, More Eaze, An Afternoon Whine (Ecstatic Recordings)

37) Magna Carda, To All the Good People

38) Heartless Bastards, A Beautiful Life

39) Ethan Azarian, On the Fringe

40) Aux Cutter, S/T

41) Shinyribs, Late Night TV Gold

42) The Teeta, 24

43) Spirit Adrift, Forge Your Future EP (Century Media)

44) James McMurtry, The Horses and the Hounds (New West)

45) Thee Conductor, Spirit of a Ghost (Sixgunlover)

46) Ready Armed System, Demo (RoachLeg)

47) Future Museums, Harpoon of Sunlight (Aural Canyon)

48) Riders Against the Storm, Flowers for the Living (Divine and Conjure)

49) Lord Friday the 13th, Irrational Anthem EP

50) Suzanne Santo, Yard Sale

51) The Dead Space, Chlorine Sleep (12XU)

52) Charlie Martin, Imaginary People (Grand Jury)

53) Black Pistol Fire, Look Alive (Black Hill)

54) Hovvdy, True Love (Grand Jury)

55) Witchcryer, When Their Gods Come for You (Ripple Music)

56) David Beck, Good Nature

57) Alexalone, Alexaloneworld (Polyvinyl)

58) Pocket FishRmen, We Are Masters of These Levels

59) Semihelix, Recoil (Mariel Recording Co.)

60) Buffalo Nichols, S/T (Fat Possum)

61) David Ramirez, Blackslider

62) J Soulja, More Than Nothin'

63) Zero Percent APR, Gilgamesh II (Spared Flesh)

64) A. Sinclair, Sunshine Ghost (Mr. Pink)

65) Jackie Venson, Love Transcends

66) Botany, Portal Orphanage (Western Vinyl)

67) Charley Crockett, Music City USA (Thirty Tigers)

68) Dead Coats, Big Wish (Dissent)

69) White Powder, Blue Dream (Australian Cattle God)

70) Bryan Murray and Jon Lundbom, Beats by Balto! Vol. 2

71) Shooks, Pet EP

72) Nolan Potter, Eggbound

73) Pulkingham Layne, D Shack

74) USA/Mexico, Del Rio (12XU)

75) DotdotDotdotDotdot, From Russia With Drugs

76) American Friend, Sound Under Rock (Dove Cove)

77) Cortége, Chasing Daylight

78) Clarence James, "Target/Quota Time" + "Freedom Comes"

79) Duel, In Carne Persona (Heavy Psych Sounds)

80) Molly Burch, Romantic Images (Captured Tracks)

81) Ayo Tamz, Sober Here EP

82) Money Chicha, Chicha Summit (Distrolux SL)

83) Dylan Blackthorn, Small Flames

84) Sasha and the Valentines, So You Think You Found Love?

85) Cherubs, SLO BLO 4 FRNZ & SXY (Relapse)

86) Mike and the Moonpies, One to Grow On (Prairie Rose)

87) Nobody's Girl, S/T (Lucky Hound)

88) Curved Light, Spirit Echo

89) KindKeith, Take What You Need

90) Johndavid Bartlett & Acid Carousel, In Your Dreams (Dreamy Life)

91) Boombaptist/Elaquent/Juicy the Emissary, Komfort Food

92) Sarah and the Sundays, The Living End

93) Jade Bird, Different Kinds of Light

94) Robert Harrison, Watching the Kid Come Back (Star Apple Kingdom)

95) Abram Shook, Velvet Teeth

96) Stretch Panic, Glitter and Gore

97) Tee Double, Local Transplant

98) Nori, S/T

99) Jane Leo, The More You Know EP

100) Montopolis, Texas Workforce Commission Hold Music

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