2021 Staff Picks: Music

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

Our expert staff members look back at the year and share their favorite titles.

  • Little Oblivions

    2021 by Baker, Julien

    I love this record because it takes what Julien Baker does so well--blending bleakness and pain in a raw, almost tender way--and expands it. Musically and lyrically we are taken to new heights and lower depths compared to her previous work, and we are shown that making art during a difficult time may end up being difficult. Recommended by Paul.

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  • We Are

    2021 by Batiste, Jon

    There is so much joy and thoughtful creativeness. It is definitely an uplifting listening experience. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Planet Her

    2021 by Doja Cat

    Doja Cat is an unstoppable force in the music industry, with some of the most fun and clever lyrics I've heard in a while. This album has no skips and can be played anytime you're feeling yourself and having fun. Recommended by Jade.

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  • The Battle at Garden's Gate

    2021 by Greta Van Fleet (Musical group)

    Often compared to Led Zeppelin, Greta Van Fleet brings classic rock to 2021 in a truly entertaining way. To be honest, I put off listening to them, especially after they went viral on TikTok for a meme-able performance on Saturday Night Live, but after giving them an honest listen, I found myself trying to stretch my vocal chords a little too far to keep up with Josh Kiszka's delicately powerful voice. The other Kiszka brothers, Jake and Sam, and drummer Daniel Wagner, build an ensemble full of build-ups and ethereal touches that made me want to cry and take on the world at the same time. Recommended by Leslie.

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  • Happier Than Ever

    2021 by Eilish, Billie

    I loved this record because we get the same raw and dark elements of Eilish's first release but in a slightly different, slightly evolved way. Eilish continues to push the boundaries of her music and honesty, leaving us to think, what can't she do and what will she do next? Recommended by Paul.

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  • Obviously

    2021 by Lake Street Dive (Musical group)

    Pop/rock that has a vintage vibe that never fails to make me smile and tap along. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • 29: Written in Stone

    2021 by Pearce, Carly

    In her 29th year, country music singer Carly Pearce got married and divorced. Since country music is the music of heartbreak, naturally she wrote and sung about it on this spectacular album. I strongly related to many of the songs on this CD and found comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • Muse

    2021 by Kanneh-Mason, Sheku

    When the pandemic hit and concerts were cancelled, this brother and sister duo wanted to find a way to share what would’ve been performed. Here is the result. I find it a beautifully recorded comfort and joy. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Heart

    2021 by Church, Eric

    After a breakup in May, I listened to this album on repeat. Songs like "Crazyland," "Never Break Heart," and "People Break" were just what my wounded heart needed. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • In These Silent Days

    2021 by Carlile, Brandi

    There are beautiful lyrics, a haunting vocal range, and exciting musical collaborations. Examining themes of redemption and getting through, the album is a personal, reflective, and heartening experience, which I think plays well for many. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Human

    2021 by Johnson, Cody

    There’s not much to like currently with country music, but Cody Johnson is a blast of fresh country air. From his boot stomping upbeat songs like "Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor" and "Longer Than She Did" to his sentimental ballads, Johnson is a throwback to an era of country music that was 3 chords and the truth. For myself, it is the two covers of classic country songs ("Sad Songs and Waltzes" and "I Don't Know a Thing About Love") that are my favorite. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • Raise the Roof

    2021 by Plant, Robert

    Fourteen years after they collaborated to make the critically acclaimed album Raising Sand, Robert Plant and Alison Kraus are back with Raise the Roof. They cover several not-well-known folk rock/Americana gems, putting their own stamp on the genre. Not only do I love their selection of tunes, but the duo's soothing harmonies and haunting vocals also work a certain magic. Recommended by Sharon.

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