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WDIY's Top 10 Albums of December 2021

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Before we bid farewell to 2021, let's take one last look at our favorite albums from December! These were the ten albums with the most plays during the month. If you want to see your favorite release on any of our 2022 Top 10 lists, make sure to leave a request on WDIY's Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

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#10
Lucero
When You Found Me
Liberty & Lament
January 29, 2021

When You Found Me is the 11th studio album from Memphis-based country rockers Lucero. Despite being released about a year ago, the album has remained a go-to release for many of WDIY's hosts throughout 2021. We've seen When You Found Me pop in and out of our monthly Top 10 lists a handful of times throughout the year, and it's easy to see why. The album mixes slow-burners like "Have You Lost Your Way?" and the title track with the bouncy shuffle of songs like "Outrun the Moon," all while maintaining a distinctly Memphis flavor of Lucero's Southern Gothic sound.

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#9
Weezer
OK Human
Atlantic
January 29, 2021

OK Human is the 14th studio album by American rock staple Weezer. The band may have gotten a boost in attention over the last few years thanks to their high-profile cover songs (most notably "Africa" by Toto), but it's this latest collection of originals that is peeking the interest of WDIY's on-air hosts.

Released at the beginning of 2021, OK Human took most of the year to begin getting significant air-play on WDIY. Yet, it seems the band's vulnerability and risk taking on this album have won over our hosts in the long run.

The songwriting on OK Human has been described as the darkest since the band's sophomore album, 1996's Pinkerton. The recording was also done entirely with analogue equipment and features a 38-piece orchestra. The result is an album full of pop-rock songs that stand out among Weezer's sometimes-lackluster recent catalogue.

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#8
Carrie Newcomer
Until Now
Available Light
September 10, 2021

Until Now is a record and complementary poetry book by Indiana native Carrie Newcomer. The album’s first single, “A Long Way Up,” calls the pandemic, “the great unraveling.” Confronting the challenges of this unraveling is a recurring theme on Until Now, which is Newcomer's 19th album overall. The accompanying poetry book further shows the folk singer's outpouring of thoughts, feelings, and reflections about the last two years — something many of us can relate to.

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#7
Reigning Sound
A Little More Time with Reigning Sound
Merge
May 21, 2021

Memphis makes another appearance on this month's Top 10 list courtesy of garage rock outfit Reigning Sound. Frontman Greg Cartwright now lives in Asheville, North Carolina but he has been a longtime heavy-hitter in the Memphis garage rock scene, playing in the popular band, the Oblivians, in the 1990s.

For this latest Reigning Sound album, Greg Cartwright has reunited the band's "Memphis line-up" circa 2005, consisting of Jeremy Scott, Greg Roberson, and Alex Greene. The result feels, at once, like a back-to-basics affair that also shows off a more layered and sophisticated songwriting approach. And through the entire album, the band certainly hasn't sacrificed the propulsive rock that is the bread and butter of Reigning Sound's reigning sound.

WDIY's on-air hosts have been giving this album a lot of plays in late 2021, and for the month of December, they've clearly said they want to spend a little more time with A Little More Time.

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#6
Pokey LaFarge
In the Blossom of Their Shade
New West
October 15, 2021

Pokey LaFarge, the stage name of Illinois-born Andrew Heissler, has released a delightful blend of old-time country, vintage jazz, and pop on his 7th studio album, In the Blossom of Their Shade. LaFarge sounds at ease bouncing through these different styles, like he was dropped into the modern day from a different era, all while never missing a beat. In the Blossom first appeared on our Top 10 lists in November and it's returned for yet another month.

It's easy to see why WDIY's on-air hosts have been giving this album a lot of plays. LaFarge is the kind of artist that brings with him a rich musical history when he plays, and for a diverse music station like WDIY, blending these influences together competently is a sure fire way to win over fans.

LaFarge has said that In the Blossom is his pandemic record, a result of being forced to stop, slow down, and reflect. But unlike some other artists, the results here are decidedly optimistic and a celebration of love.

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#5
Son Volt
Electro Melodier
Thirty Tigers
July 30, 2021

Son Volt are ten albums deep into their 27-year life as a band at this point. Rising from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo in 1994, Jay Farrar has been forging ahead with various musicians in Son Volt ever since. The band has been a WDIY favorite over the years which is why our on-air hosts put the band's latest album, Electro Melodier, into regular rotation soon after its July, 2021 release. By October, the album already was appearing on our Top 10 lists, and now in December, Electro Molodier, sits at number five.

Electro Molodier has Son Volt's tried and true alt-country sound with songwriting that sees Farrar penning protest songs that directly confront our increasingly chaotic world, including “War on Money” and "Livin' in the U.S.A.," his version of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." But, in true Son Volt fashion, there's hints of hopefulness buried amidst Farrar's condemnations.

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#4
Los Lobos
Native Sons
New West
July 30, 2021

With an astonishing 50-year music career under their belts, the eclectic Los Angeles-based band Los Lobos has earned the right to pay homage to their musical heroes for a moment. The band's 17th and latest studio album, Native Sons, does just that — pairing one original song with 12 covers of some of their biggest influences. As the album name suggests, this is an album about L.A. — the music they heard growing up there and the songs that inspired them as they honed their musical talents there.

On Native Sons, Los Lobos perform songs by a wide range of artists including big name bands like the Beach Boys and Buffalo Springfield, a song from revered Latin jazz and soul artist Willie Bobo, and a song from fellow East L.A. rockers, the Blasters — just to name a few. After topping November's list, WDIY's on-air hosts are still hooked on Native Sons as it continues to be one of our most played albums on the station.

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#3
Amythyst Kiah
Wary + Strange
Rounder
June 18, 2021

Amythyst Kiah has an impressive musical resume for a Tennessee singer and guitarist. She's studied
bluegrass, old-time, and country music at East Tennessee State University. She also joined Rhiannon Giddens's string-band supergroup, Our Native Daughters, in 2018. Where Kiah really shines, however, is performing her own material.

On her Rounder Records debut, Strange + Wary, Amythyst Kiah channels her heartland musical background through the lens of her lived experiences as a Southern Black LGBTQ+ woman. The song Kiah penned for Our Native Daughters, "Black Myself," gets a dramatic reworking with punched-up drums and a soaring chorus. Meanwhile, Kiah shows a vulnerable side on "Wild Turkey," singing about her mother's suicide. Musically, Kiah's old-time American roots music has a modern rock and pop sheen with impressive production that helps showcase her talents.

Wary + Strange has been topping our monthly album lists since October, and it seems that WDIY's on-air hosts are closing out the year with Amythyst Kiah in regular rotation.

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#2
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
The Future
Stax
November 5, 2021

WDIY listeners will know the raucous, beer-soaked song "S.O.B." that made Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats a household name in 2015. In the six years that followed, Nathaniel Rateliff released a follow-up album with the band in 2018 and then ventured off on his own for a solo album in 2020. Since then, the Nite Sweats have been back in action, including a tour date at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks in Bethlehem last summer.

Now, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nite Sweats have just released their third studio album, The Future, and it's apparent that the band is firing on all cylinders again after their brief break. Brass, slide guitar, and foot-stomps pepper The Future. Look no further than the boisterous singles "Survivor" and "Love Don't" for why WDIY's on-air hosts have been playing this frequently.

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#1
Béla Fleck
My Bluegrass Heart
Renew
September 10, 2021

Béla Fleck has always been a musical innovator, whether he's playing jazz-bluegrass fusion with the Flecktones or arranging classical music with bassist Edgar Meyer. Whatever musical adventures he embarks on, the title of Fleck's latest album makes it clear that, deep down, his heart belongs to bluegrass. My Bluegrass Heart is the third chapter of a trilogy which began with the 1988 album, Drive, and continued in 1991 with The Bluegrass Sessions.

On My Bluegrass Heart, Fleck has assembled some of the greatest instrumentalists in bluegrass music’s history alongside some of the most promising new generation players. These include mandolinists Sam Bush, Sierra Hull, and Chris Thile; fiddlers Michael Cleveland and Stuart Duncan; celebrated multi-instrumentalist Justin Moses; bassists Mark Schatz and the aforementioned Edgar Meyer; and guitarists Bryan Sutton and Molly Tuttle.

This is some of the finest bluegrass being made right now from some incredibly talented musicians, so it's no wonder WDIY's on-air hosts were playing My Bluegrass Heart more than any other album in December. The album first appeared in our Top 10 lists back in October and it has now climbed to the number one position. My Bluegrass Heart has even been nominated for a Grammy award for Best Bluegrass Album.

Related Content
  • With only one more month left in 2021, check out what our on-air hosts have had on rotation the most at WDIY over Thanksgiving dinner and holiday planning! Want to see your favorite album on the list for December? Don’t be afraid to call in recommendations!
  • As the holiday season looms, let's take a look back at what was on rotation the most at WDIY in the month of October. If you want to see your favorite among the ranks, tune in to WDIY and don’t forget to leave suggestions for our on-air hosts!