Speedy Ortiz "frontdemon" Sadie Dupuis celebrated a decade of the band in November, giving a deluxe reissue to their earliest works on The Death of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker...Forever, which includes the Cop Kicker EP and The Death of Speedy Ortiz LP (remixed, remastered and on vinyl for the first time), eight bonus tracks, new liner notes by Sadie, and rare photos and journal scans from that era. Sadie had a busy year beyond that, too, contributing songs as Sad13 to a Gossip Girl soundtrack covers benefit compilation, and Creepy Covers, a Halloween-themed compilation benefiting Trans Defense Fund LA. She also contributed to Backxwash's new album I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and My Dresses, remixed Ganser, and collaborated with Mister Goblin for a song on his sophomore LP, Four People In An Elevator And One Of Them Is The Devil.
As the end of the year draws near, we've been asking artists about their favorite albums of 2021, and Sadie wrote us a list, complete with commentary, an introduction, and some final shoutouts. Read it below.
SADIE DUPUIS' 2021 FAVORITES:
It feels like no time has passed at all since I wrote 2020’s concisely titled “10 Alphabetically Sorted (by First Name for Some Reason) Favorite Albums of the Year From a Longer List of Favorites, Excluding the Ones by Artists I Wrote a Bio for*, Have Hung Out With Extensively**, Play in a Band With***, Have Toured With****, Released an Album by*****, or Date******” for this very website. I was about to use this space to reprise my disclaimer-filled faves system so I could cheat and give you a much longer assortment of albums…but. After way too much hand-wringing my heart is telling me to try something new.
So without further ado, here’s “10 Randomly Selected, Non-Alphabetized Albums from My Much Longer List of Favorites.” Sorry! I’ve been in my house for 22 months and I hate rules unless I arbitrarily invented them! I pasted my much longer list into RANDOM.ORG, wrote about the first ten that showed up, and thus was able to avoid decision making—thank you RANDOM.ORG, always a top 10 web tool!
Backxwash - I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES
LOL that the first album it spat back out at me is one I happen to feature on. But where’s the lie? Backxwash released one of my most obsessed-over records of 2020 and I was beyond honored to get to write & sing on this monstrously great album. Apart from the head banging, creepy-crawly production from Ashanti, there’s a wild selection of collaborators including clipping., Ada Rook, and Censored Dialogue, who does a show-stopping first verse on the heavy “Terror Packets,” probably my favorite song of this year.
Helado Negro - Far In
Helado Negro is one of those projects that’s so consistently good I almost don’t believe Roberto is from this planet, every record showing off a new and wonderful facet of his compositional skills, layered like a bewitching painting. The wistful melodies, intuitively quirky rhythms and dreamy sounds make me excited to spend a lifetime with Far In.
Xenia Rubinos - Una Rosa
I’m not convinced the Randomizer hasn’t been surveilling me since this is the third person in a row that I’m lucky to count as a friend (I promise I am not gaming the stupid system I invented!!!). Xenia and production partner Marco Buccelli outdid themselves on Una Rosa, melding her masterful hip hop, jazz and prog influences with futuristic rumba. Her singular voice and cinematic storytelling are unmatched, and the stylistic ground covered here is mindblowing, fun, affecting and invigorating. I thought about listing my favorite track here but it’s like a 12-way tie.
christian fitness - hip gone gunslingers
Let me never again forget that guitar riffs are the best. Because I did forget—and this album was my needed reminder. I love all the Falco-inclusive bands, and his seventh as christian fitness has me appreciative of his sardonic commentary and fuzzed-out rhythmic stutter as ever. In the first full year I’ve gone without going to a festival since, I don’t know, age 17, this album managed to help me remember how miserable festivals can be—no small feat!
Halsey - If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power
So, again, were I not obeying a randomizer, I might not have blurbed this huge pop album, because I don’t think Halsey needs whatever sales my baby listicle might inspire. That said, I did watch an approximately two hour interview between Halsey and their producers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross just to see if they would say anything about the recording techniques employed (they did not). I think these tweets basically sum up my biggest life change of 2021.
Cola Boyy - Prosthetic Boombox
One of my favorite extracurriculars this year was helping book a star-studded concert in Minecraft (!) for the Union of Musicians & Allied Workers (and working with UMAW in general was a big 2021 highlight, JOIN UMAW PLEASE!!!!). The lineup was absolutely wild—including Black Pus, Eve6, Pink Navel, Thursday, Ted Leo, Mary Lattimore, among others—and Cola Boyy was on it, too. He ultimately had to cancel, but not before I got obsessed with Prosthetic Boombox in anticipation. So, false start here, I did NOT get to see Cola Boyy in Minecraft. But these 10 songs of oddball disco and radical funk from an Oxnard-based anarchist are joyful singalongs full of anti-capitalism, disability representation, and community celebration. Worth listening to on repeat, in or out of Minecraft.
Illuminati Hotties - Let Me Do One More
Hit after hit after hit on this one, whether she’s math rock riffing (“MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA”), country crooning (“u v v p”), dirtbag anthemizing (“Knead”), hellscape lamenting (“Threatening Each Other re: capitalism”) or pulling a power-pop disappearing act (“Toasting”). Let Sarah Tudzin do one more! Whatever she does, it’s always going to be brilliant. Love you bro.
Wednesday - Twin Plagues
In an extremely rare moment where I hadn’t heard a band before they opened for us, Speedy Ortiz was lucky to play with Wednesday on our tour with Ohmme in 2019. There’s something extra magical about being surprised to the point of laudatory obsession after a band’s set, and that’s how Wednesday made me feel in the moment and after—gorgeous vocal jumps, gut wrenching guitar distortion, rhythms that give me a neckache from headbanging. Twin Plagues has everything I love about this band live with the added bonus of being able to listen over and over again and linger on every exacting lyric.
Lula Wiles - Shame & Sedition
I met Isa Burke of Lula Wiles on Zoom while we were both working hard on UMAW’s Venues subcommittee, and when this album came out, I listened to it so many times I felt like I was organizing with a celebrity! Gorgeous fingerpicked guitar and harmonies deeply influenced by the trio’s shared folk roots—they met at fiddle camp—but with enough gnarly solos that I had to ask, “Do you like Pile?” The record’s revolutionary politics, like the protest folk it’s evolved from and in conversation with, are on its sleeve and gutting. The band is on a hiatus for now, but I count myself very lucky for getting to see them play in a suburban park this summer, my (and my dog’s) first outdoor concert of the year.
Robin Hatch - T.O.N.T.O.
With mesmerizing synth work on the famous machine from which her album takes its name, Robin has quickly become one of my favorite composers. Mystical arpeggios lay ground for soft, suspenseful melodies, buzzy rhythms rattle off one another Rube Goldberg-esque, tremulous squirts of sawtooth part rock solid Linn-and-bass creations. She’s also an expert bandmate when playing alongside instrumental contributions from Eric Slick, Nick Thorburn, and Leland & Lowell Whitty. A very cool album I’m looking forward to taking with me into 2022!
***Okay I can’t resist final shouts-out to Deerhoof & Remember Sports, who I listened to an obscene amount and was honored to write bios for and love their 2021 records as much as anything I’ve ever listened to, as well as Ovlov, Pom Pom Squad, Spirit of the Beehive, Liz Phair, McKinley Dixon, Lily Kongisberg, Mister Goblin (FT. ME), Claire Cronin, Swim Camp, and, lol, Cloud Nothings, and, lol, I’m sure I’m forgetting things, suck it, randomizer, I do what I want!