GRIMM goes rogue: Albums of the Year 2021

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Our site is dedicated to everything rock and metal with a few sidesteps in music that appeals to the same music fans like synthwave, neo (pagan) folk, industrial,… But some of us do have a taste for music and art that goes beyond these limitations. Enter “GRIMM goes rogue”: where you’ll get a metalhead, punker, rocker,… who ventures into realms beyond their usual habitat with an open mind and give their honest opinion, views and experiences.

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."

Frank Zappa

As every year, we compiled a "GRIMM's albums of the year" list, ranking some of the best the year had to offer. Through what our team of writers and photographers give as their top 10 we every time get to a collection of diverse and highly interesting releases that fall within the normal realm of our usual musical range. For 2021's version, go check it out here. But, a bunch under us also regularly enjoy some different music like hip hop, pop, classical music,... So since we started our "GRIMM goes Rogue" column in 2021, we listed up some of the albums that fall under that banner for us that we thoroughly enjoyed. Who knows, maybe you'll find something you really enjoy as well.

ABBA - Voyage

(5/11 - Polar / Universal)

It had been 40 years (!) since the Swedish pop & disco sensation known as ABBA had released a new studio album. ‘Voyage‘ was hugely anticipated by millions of fans worldwide, so unsurprisingly it became a huge commercial success upon its release this past November. I was however pleasantly surprised just how closely the band managed to recapture their signature sound so many decades later. If you were to put some tracks from ‘Voyage‘ in a retro playlist, you might fool some casual listeners into believing these are classic tunes from days of yore. The lyrics on certain tracks do reflect a retrospective maturity that comes with age. Some personal favourites are “When You Danced With Me“, “Don’t Shut Me Down” & “Keep an Eye on Dan“. I can also see “Little Things” becoming a recurring Christmas tune.

Bliss N Eso - The Sun

(27/8 - Illusive)

After a hiatus of a couple of years since Bliss N Eso‘s last album ‘Off The Grid’, one of the OG bands of the Australian hip hop scene are back with a properly lit album and dope production. No gangsta stuff for these guys, but chill vibes and loads of positive energy. But also facing the curve balls live throws at them from dealing with addiction, to break-ups and an unfortunate deadly accident on the set of a video clip from their previous album. Through it all they look for the sun behind the clouds and good people to surround yourself with to get through tough times. Interspersed with chill times and parties of course.

John Carpenter - Lost Themes III: Alive After Death

(5/2 - Sacred Bones Records)

Back in the late ’70s and ’80s, legendary filmmaker John Carpenter gave us a plethora of horror and cult classics such as ‘Halloween‘, ‘Escape from New York‘ and ‘The Thing‘. Besides directing movies, he also wrote the music for most of them. His film making days might be far behind him now, but he’s still making new music. His ‘Lost Themes’ albums are filled with hauntingly beautiful electronic music that could easily fit as the soundtrack to suspenseful movies such as ‘The Fog‘ or ‘Prince of Darkness‘. Like the previous two albums in this series, the music on ‘Lost Themes III‘ is just oozing with spooky atmosphere. There are no vocals to be found on these albums. Just brooding synths and grinding bass lines that convey a sense of melancholy, malice and danger.

Tech N9ne - ASIN9NE

(8/10 - Strange Music)

Some rappers manage to cross over from their own niche to other genres. Somehow Tech N9ne has gathered the respect of many metalhead and musician, in 2021 even being featured on the Knotfest Iowa line-up. It was also yet another year with another release by the hand of one of the fastest spitters around. Even though he’s been dropping another full-length album every year, you can always be sure to get high quality, pounding and high velocity hip hop tracks. And while Tech N9ne can definitely hold his own perfectly, as usual there is at least 1 guest rapper/vocalist featured on almost every track. Some match him in speed, some offer a great counterbalance to his gruff voice and high speed rapping. Not every track is blasting you with beats and aggressive rapping, there are a handful moments of relief where the songs have a more contemplative nature but are every bit as strong as the more uptempo ones. An easy highlight on the album is ‘Face Off’, a track that will get you pumped and ready to take on the world, and besides guest rappers Joey Cool and King Iso, a surprising guest appearance by mr. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson himself. I never knew I needed a rap by The Rock as much as when I heard it the first time…

Olivia Rodrigo - Sour

(21/5 - Geffen/Interscope)

The debut full-length of Olivia Rodrigo, ‘Sour‘, was a pretty impressive release. Album opener ‘brutal’ was part of 2021’s re-surge of pop punk with its grungy riff and angsty teenage “fuck you” attitude. The rest of the album has a distinctly more pop and ballad nature, even though here and there she wanders a bit towards (indie/pop) rock. The themes are consistently going to vibe with today’s youth, going from heartache and failed romance to all the confused, insecure and conflicting feelings a teenager can go through. The songs are so well-written though, that any age will find some tracks that they thoroughly enjoy. We’re really curious to see what the future will bring for this 18-year-old, ’cause going on this debut, a new star seems to be in the making.

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