Monthly Listening: Best of 2021 (So Far)

Rounding up the best albums of the year so far from Japan and the rest of the world

Hi! This is June’s Monthly Listening list. I normally do a quick rundown of new Japanese albums I checked out this month that I enjoyed, but this one is a little different. You can browse past Monthly Listenings in the archives.

I can list maybe two albums for June’s Monthly Listening—and they are Kaede’s Youth and Tokyo Jihen’s Music—but it’s not because there haven’t been any great releases. I just haven’t been listening to Japanese albums lately. As I announced in a recent issue, I am currently on a quick break from production, and I’ve been using that time to catch up with new releases outside of Japan.

I didn’t want to completely skip out on providing a Monthly Listening list for you, though. I originally had in mind to share my favorite Japanese albums of the year so far. But after I took a poll, I decided to extend it to make it a general list and include albums from outside of Japan too. I did put together a separate text list (as well as a Spotify playlist) of my favorite Japanese songs so far, if you’re more interested in just Japanese releases of 2021. You can check the songs list here.

Here are some of my favorite albums of 2021 so far.

Angel’s Flight by Biosphere | ambient / classical

► “In the Ballroom

Ethernity by For Tracy Hyde | indie rock / dream pop

► “Interdependence Day (Part I)

In Spite Of by for your health | screamo / metalcore

► “birthday candles in the effigy

LILAC by IU | pop


Heaux Tales by Jazmine Sullivan | R&B

► “On It” ft. Ari Lennox

OYOGUMANE by Kabanagu | electronic


*Read more about the album on issue #34

Split by Kudaranai 1nichi / ANORAK! | emo / indie rock

► Kudaranai 1nichi - “I Guess So” / ANORAK! - “The Same Gloomy Look

*Read more about the album on issue #27

Panagnl4e, Vol. 3 by Los & Nutty | rap / hip hop

► “6 N Da Mornin

Disco! by MIKE | hip hop / rap

► “Crystal Ball

VI by mitsume | indie rock

► “Fiction

ambo(l)enitaksu(p)odulu by Piet Onthel | screamo / post-hardcore

► “Tiga

Nurture by Porter Robinson | EDM / pop

► “Something Comforting

Sekadepa! by QUMALI DEPART | pop / idol

► “Nekochan Ni Nacchauyo

PLAY WITH THE CHANGES by Rochelle Jordan | R&B / garage


GWENDOLYN by Serrini | electro pop

► “長期浪漫

1집 by SLANT | hardcore

► “Terminal

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