Faster Than Sound: Musical Top 10s of 2021

One writer's favorite Austin-sourced albums, songs, and such from the last 12 months

I had trouble focusing on new music in 2021. Faced with constant reevaluations of whether to go to events and festivals, aurally venturing into more unfamiliarity, and attempting to access my feelings about it, felt like a tall order. Instead, I played audiobooks and podcasts nearly every waking moment to achieve a neutral level of unabsorbent distraction.

The constant buzz made instances of diving into a release, forced to think of just one thing, all the more memorable. I was lucky enough to do that for some of the local projects below. I remember looking around at all five of Alexalone, nestled around the kitchen table at band member Lomelda's house, during my only in-person group interview of the year. It was July, right before the Delta variant hit Texas.

I remember other details from phone interviews. Caleb Fleischer of Indoor Creature said the aquatic themes on May album Living in Darkness were actually about climate concern and study of ecosystems, granting all the more charm to the music video for "Ocean Blue," where his character falls in love with the sea. I love the anxious groove of "Alive" off KindKeith's Take What You Need, about a fire at a house party. Back in May, he said: "It comes from my own fears, but it also comes from a place of wanting to go to parties again."

Like many on these lists, he managed to achieve nuanced isolation-era creation without making a "pandemic album."


1) Sun June, Somewhere (Keeled Scales & Run for Cover)

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

3) Katy Kirby, Cool Dry Place (Keeled Scales)

4) Deezie Brown & Jake Lloyd, Geto Gala (Chopped and Slowed)

5) Hovvdy, True Love (Grand Jury)


7) Molly Burch, Romantic Images (Captured Tracks)

8) Natalie Jane Hill, Solely (Dear Life)

9) KindKeith, Take What You Need

10) Alexalone, Alexaloneworld (Polyvinyl)


1) Kendra Sells, All in Your Head (Quiet Year)

2) Mobley, Young & Dying in the Occident Supreme (Last Gang)

3) JaRon Marshall, The Prequel

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

5) Katherine de Rosset, Fire Rises

6) La Femme Solitaire, La Femme Solitaire

7) Ifé Neuro, A Few Songs About You

8) Felt Out, Superfluid B-Sides (Very Jazzed)

9) The Los Sundowns, The Los Sundowns (Lechehouse Music)

10) Glasshealer, But the Weight of Comfort Pulled Me Back Down


1) TC Superstar, "Waste My Time"

2) Dayglow, "Close to You" (Very Nice)

3) Shiela, "YO TE QUISE"

4) Why Bonnie, "Galveston" (Fat Possum)

5) Pleasure Venom, "We Get What You Deserve"

6) Indoor Creature, "American Dream" (The Record Machine)

7) Sir Woman, "Blame It on the Water" (Nine Mile)

8) Van Mary, "Connie Converse"

9) Semihelix, "Will It Take" (Mariel Recording Co.)

10) Eimaral Sol, "Care2Much"

Music Videos

1) Mobley, "Young & Dying in the Occident Supreme (Visual EP)" (D: Mobley)

2) TC Superstar, "Waste My Time" (D: Julio Correa)

3) The Stacks, "Chicon" (D: Vanessa Pla)

4) Portrayal of Guilt, "...where the suffering never ends" (D: Craig Murray)

5) Indoor Creature, "Ocean Blue" (D: Bita Ghassemi)

6) Golden Dawn Arkestra, "I Deserve Success" (D: Ben Blanchard)

7) Rajinee, "Catcall & Response" (D: Rajinee, Huay-Bing Law, Sam Mohney)

8) Pussy Gillette, "Banana" (listed on YouTube as "Pxssy Gillette- Banana")

9) Central Heat Exchange, "Almost to You" (D: Jenni Kaye, Jinni J [Virgo House])

10) Susannah Joffe, "Backseat (Official Live Performance)" (D: Susannah Joffe)

Cover Songs

1) Croy and the Boys, "Do They Owe Us a Living?" (by Crass)

2) Tele Novella, "Adventures Close to Home" (by the Raincoats)

3) Charley Crockett, "Midnight Run" (by James Hand)

4) Jackie Venson feat. Kam Franklin & Akina Adderley, "Down by the Riverside / Up Above My Head" (the latter popularized by Sister Rosetta Tharpe)

5) Hovvdy, "Claws" (by Charli XCX)

6) Cactus Lee, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" (by Bob Dylan) (available as part of Aquarium Drunkard's Lagniappe Sessions)

7) Money Chicha, "Fatalidad" (by La Mermelada)

8) Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy feat. Cassie Berman, "The Wild Kindness" (by the Silver Jews)

9) Little Mazarn feat. Jad Fair, Thor Harris, Craig Ross, "Werewolf" (by Jad and David Fair)

10) Lomelda, "Sad 2" (by Frankie Cosmos)

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Rachel Rascoe
Playback Punches Out
Playback Punches Out
After six years and 388,000 words, "Playback" hands off the music column

Kevin Curtin, Nov. 23, 2018

More Music Reviews
Paper Cuts: No Desire's Agile Debut and Five More Songs
Paper Cuts
New Austin music picks from francene rouelle, variety

Carys Anderson, Jan. 26, 2024

A Saucy, Seven-Course Musical at Boggy Creek Farm
A Saucy, Seven-Course Musical at Boggy Creek Farm
Jade Fusco’s activist interactive recruited members of Ley Line, BluMoon, and more

Carys Anderson, Nov. 24, 2023

More Faster Than Sound
Faster Than Sound: Former Spider House Cafe Has Reopened as Tweedy's
Faster Than Sound: Former Spider House Cafe Has Reopened as Tweedy's
Run by the patio experts behind Kinda Tropical and Hotel Vegas

Rachel Rascoe, Nov. 18, 2022

Faster Than Sound: A Belated Introduction From Your Incoming Music Editor
Faster Than Sound: A Belated Introduction From Your Incoming Music Editor
Music columnist graduates to Music editor after four years

Rachel Rascoe, Sept. 30, 2022


Rachel Rascoe, Sun June, Tele Novella, Katy Kirby, Geto Gala, Hovvdy, BLK ODYSSY, Molly Burch, Natalie Jane Hill, KindKeith, Alexalone,

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle