The best albums and EPs of the year 2021 so far - August - Music - Mixmag

Welcome to the August section of our best albums and EPs of the year 2021 rundown — read the full list here

Equiknoxx ‘Basic Tools (Mixtape)’ (Equiknoxx)

This mixtape sees the whole Equiknoxx crew and friends take turns on the mic, over a collage of intimately crafted compositions. Just under an hour in length, most of the tracks here were recorded in one take. As ever, it’s a cosy, heartwarming affair. Buy it here

From Nursery to Misery ‘Tree Spirits’ (Dark Entries)

The latest reissue from Dark Entries is a compilation of tracks by the late 1980s experimental outfit From Nursery to Misery. Gathered from across their short-lived career, the songs span from eerie ambient textures to jittery new wave. Buy it here

Joy Orbison ‘still slipping vol.1’ (XL)

The enigmatic producer’s new mixtape is full of great moments, from the house-tinged ‘better’ with Lèa Sen, to Goya Gumbani’s sentimental verse on ‘playground’. Joy Orbison has finally arrived with a fuller body of work, and what a versatile talent he’s proven to be. Buy it here

quickly, quickly, ‘The Long and Short of It’ (Ghostly)

On ‘The Long and Short of It’, quickly, quickly, born Graham Jonson, creates incredibly kaleidoscopic music. Loose drum patterns, innovative sound design, and solid song-writing make for a full project. ‘Come Visit Me’ and ‘Everything Is Different (To Me)’ are album standouts, and at such a young age, it’s only up from here for the Portland-based musician. Buy it here

Maya Q ‘Spiral’ (Scuffed Recordings)

For her Scuffed Rec’s debut, the London-based, US-born producer unearthed a heady mingling of loaded bass, twisty jungle and high-tempo breaks. Maya Q has previously seen recognition from BBC Introducing’s Jaguar and Jess Izsatt, and highlight mixes with collective Co-Select — this EP has the distinct flavour of a producer ready to exercise their skills. Lead track ‘Spiral’ is an otherworldly banger, laser shots flicker across the rolling drums with a building crescendo of bleeps, and eerie synths pushing us into that oh so satisfying drop. While ‘da2’ starts slower — field recorded raindrops grow louder over a satisfying bassline decorated with twinkling chimes. Whereas ‘Drumpack’ has a classic UKG riff but matched with some supernatural acid squelches, it’s transformed into sort of what you’d imagine a rave at Luigi's Mansion would sound like. Buy it here

Gorillaz ‘Meanwhile’ (Parlophone)

Gorillaz dropped their ‘Meanwhile’ EP ahead of Carnival weekend, in tribute to the street-party being cancelled due to the pandemic, with features from Barrington Levy, Jelani Blackmann, AJ Tracey and Alicai Harley — the whole record feels like a love letter to West London and soundsystem culture. ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ is reminiscent of Bowie or classic Blur Britpop — with a classic guitar riff and percussion providing a constant, uncanny rhythm. The vocals are constantly switching between 2-D and AJ Tracey on the choruses as they sing to fictional local boy ‘Jimmy’ and Tracey, rapping about Ladbroke Grove and his upbringing in the verses. The whole EP feels like a fusion of the two, the old West and the new — or maybe the white West and the Black, but for an act like Gorillaz that always seemed to draw inspiration from both, the record feels poignant - particularly in the context of carnival and Gorillaz's 20th anniversary, the perfect time to sink back into their roots — and to explore their place in modern music.

BAKEY ‘Bring It Back’ (Time Is Now)

It’s a big year for the Time Is Now crew as their artists gain some notoriety - including BAKEY - an aficionado of all things bass-heavy. Mashing together garage, breaks, and beats that circle back to the nostalgic time of grime's heyday, ‘Bring It Back’ is an EP worth rinsing. Buy it here

Highrise & Soundboy Cookie ‘FLAT3’ (Flattrax)

A shared double-track EP from both Highrise and Soundboy Cookie storms to the top of our radar this month - another garage number with a soothing, but provocative vibe; particularly on the flip side with Soundboy Cookie’s ‘Good Love’. It’s the third release for the Flattrax label, likely to blow in the coming months. Buy it here

Nikki Nair ‘More Is Different’ (Dirtybird)

Dirtybird launched its White Label Series to “freshen up the flavors” on the label, which this EP from Nikki Nair achieves and then some. It’s an adventurous four-track that traverses from bassweight that smothers distant melodic tones to distorted drum ‘n’ bass to the haywire speed of juke, bringing a refreshing energy to the Dirtybird catalogue. Buy it here

Next Page
Newsletter 2

Mixmag will use the information you provide to send you the Mixmag newsletter using Mailchimp as our marketing platform. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us. By clicking sign me up you agree that we may process your information in accordance with our privacy policy. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.