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

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

Dean Blunt ‘Black Metal 2’ (Rough Trade)

No one ever seems to be certain what level of sincerity Dean Blunt is operating on. Even when creating gentle and introspective sounding moments, there seems to be a slight wariness from some corners that these are sardonic traps laid to catch out listeners. Taken at face value, ‘Black Metal 2’ is an emotionally affecting record that takes you to a hazy inbetween state of melancholy and hopefulness. Although its brief in runtime, its languid pace gives the effect of a longer listen, which is a pleasure to immerse yourself in. Don’t overthink it. Buy it here

Erika de Casier ‘Sensational’ (4AD)

Erika de Casier was so shy about releasing her debut LP ‘Essentials’ that she nearly pulled it at the last minute, and to be convinced by friends not to. One hit record, global bookings and signing to 4AD later, she sounds more assured than ever on follow-up album ‘Sensational’. Weaving her pillow-soft voice through expertly produced R&B beats infused with influence from house, garage, trance and more, it’s another outstanding effort from the Copenhagen-based artist. Buy it here

Suzanne Kraft ‘About You’ (Melody As Truth)

‘About You’ isn’t the album we expected from Suzanne Kraft but it was the one we needed. The LA-hailing, Amsterdam-based artist, real name Diego Herrera, has releasd music in the field of nu-disco, house and ambient since started the alias in 2011, but on this latest album he returned to a style of dreamy post-punk/shoegaze pop that soundtracked his Californian youth. That winter lockdown was hard, and this blissed-out record was the perfect mood-lifter heading out the other side. Buy it here

Yves Tumor ‘The Asymptotical World’ (Warp Records)

The artist of the moment crafts another devastatingly good record with six-track EP ‘The Asymptotical World’, skewing together grunge, pop, rock, punk and more into a varied and potent sonic universe. It’s Yves Tumor’s world, and I want to be living in it. Buy it here

Karen Nyame KG ‘Sensei II’ (Black Acre)

‘Sensei II’ is a gorgeous record with a triumphant energy coursing through it. Rooted in sounds from the African continent and diaspora, it channels the culture, experiences and emotions that have made Karen Nyame KG the impeccable artist she is, and celebrates them in all their glory. Buy it here

Hiatus Kaiyote ‘Mood Valiant’ (Brainfeeder/Ninja Tune)

Hiatus Kaiyote triumphantly return with ‘Mood Valiant’, after 2015’s ‘Choose Your Weapon’. Tha band tap into a number of different pockets throughout the project, with ‘Chivalry is Not Dead’, an incredibly energetic listen contrasting ‘Red Room’ a sultry and slow album standout. ‘Mood Valiant’ was worth the wait. Buy it here

MIKE ‘Disco!’ (10k)

MIKE flexes his muscles production-wise on ‘Disco!’, with some of his most hard-hitting work on album stand-out ‘alarmed!’. The rapper and producer also lays down some of his most triumphant and assured bars yet. "Stuck in the midst of it all, struggling? Hmm, Nah. But I’m recovering," he raps on ‘Aww (Zaza)’, which sees the rapper picking yet another flow from his endless arsenal. Expect bold sampling and electronic production alongside complex lyricism from one of the most interesting artists out right now. Buy it here

V/A ‘STICKY 006: Sticky Tapes 1st Birthday Compilation’ (Sticky Tapes)

Across the last twelve months, Sticky Tapes has released five charity compilations. Each tape features mixes from two genre-adjacent selectors, with all proceeds going towards a cause of their choice. In light of their first birthday, the label has invited a range of producers, emerging and more established, to soundtrack the celebration. With eleven on the bill, the scope of sounds is broad, from Cyphon’s wonky electro-esque excursion to Jossy Mitsu’s four-to-the-floor stomper. This time, all money raised helps to support Samaritans. Buy it here

V/A ‘DT002’ (Daytimers)

Joining forces with Stamp the Wax to support the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in India, Daytimers collective has released its second compilation. The sounds on ‘DT002’ are eclectic, from woozy ambient pieces to storming club edits, representing the vast and accomplished scope of South Asian and diasporic artists. All proceeds go towards charities providing relief in India. If you don’t already know, get to know. Buy it here

Flava D ‘All We Ever Do/Womp Machine’ (Hospital Records)

Flava D's EP 'All We Ever Do' explores the duality of her music - the dirty harmonies and the soulful riffs marry together to create a record that whets your appetite for sun-kissed Croatian vistas and out of control boat parties. 'All We Ever Do ' featuring vocals from DRS and Paige Eliza slides towards the fervent end - a romantic, amorous track highlighting two lovers expelling their feelings over rolling drum 'n' bass. 'Womp Machine' is all sharp drums and high-pitch basslines. Buy it here

Loraine James ‘Reflection’ (Hyperdub)

The second release from Loraine James on Hyperdub expertly flits between her influences: R&B, drill, grime and pop - resulting in an intoxicating and bewildering journey through James' experiences as a Black queer woman. 'Simple Stuff' is a lithe, gripping track that is full of introspection - with James herself asking over the breaky melody "I like the simple stuff, what does that mean for me", while 'Built to last' is an infectious R&B banger. The inclusion of Scottish rapper Nova on 'Insecure Behaviour and Fuckery' and Eden Samara on the heady pop track 'Run Like That' demonstrate a tight understanding of her collaborators - that has allowed James to push her innovative sound into a new creative sphere. Buy it here

Bladee ‘The Fool’ (YEAR0001)

Sweden has generated a lot of great rappes and producers over the years, with behemoth Yung Lean bringing out more underground talent such as Thaiboy Digital, Yung Sherman, and of course, Bladee. A name not to go unnoticed in the sadboy wave, Bladee’s fifth studio release poses the sadboy sound in a new way with brazen beats and synths to mesmerise. Buy it here

Dan Shake ‘Paper/Bounce’ (Shake)

In just two tracks, Dan Shake proves why he’s the next best thing on the house radar - ‘Paper’ and ‘Bounce’ sound quite disparate, but work together side-by-side on this pumped-up jackin’ house EP. Released via his own label, Shake’s self-made story follows his introduction onto the music scene through house legend Moodymann just a handful of years ago. Buy it here

Tyler, The Creator ‘Call Me If You Get Lost’ (Columbia)

Tyler’s path to fame hasn’t been a steady one, but his last few years of musical output has seen the American singer, rapper, and producer roll out with some beloved works. Incorporating more funk, soul, and jazz into his work than his early boisterous ‘Bastard’ days, ‘Call Me If You Get Lost’ offers a new sound too - opting for more synths and outlandish lyricism than ever before. Buy it here

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