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Our favorite Milwaukee albums of 2021

This week it's the episode we look forward to all year: Our favorite Milwaukee albums of 2021. Piet and I put our heads together and came up with a list of our 10 favorites; you can hear us talk about them on this week's episode and read about them below. (Also stay tuned for next week's episode, where we discuss our favorite Milwaukee songs of the year and give a lot of love to albums and artists that we weren't able to squeeze onto this list.)

Gego Y Nony - "Tiempo"

Who knew Milwaukee could do reggaeton this well? For their debut, this fast-rising Latin duo made an album as polished and sophisticated as almost anything coming out of the world's most expensive studios. That alone is impressive, but it's the duo's blissful execution that really sets them apart from their contemporaries. The whole album sustains a dreamy vibe that's just absolutely enchanting.

Lakeyah - "My Time"

You knew she was going to make this list. Already one of the most successful Milwaukee rappers ever, Lakeyah dropped two great projects this year. The first one was “In Due Time,” which was a fantastic showcase for her fierce bars and taut flow. But I have to give the edge to her DJ Drama collaboration "My Time," which shakes her from her comfort zone with bolder, more varied beats and harder bangers. Milwaukee finally got its own Gangsta Grillz, and it's everything we could have dreamed.

MT Twins - "Survivor's Guilt"

MT Twins’ first album since the Sanders brothers put the group on pause to pursue solo projects, “Survivor’s Guilt” is so heavy it hurts. These songs are filled with tales of pain, trauma and tragedy, but as always, the music is distinguished by the duo's incredibly vivid, personal songwriting and their ear for melody -- all those gorgeous pianos help take at least a little bit of the considerable sting out of these songs. (Read our review of the album here).

Next Paperback Hero - "Morning Skies & Heavy Eyes"

Largely self-recorded and produced, this haunting and sumptuous record from singer-songwriter Nathan Honoré sets a high bar for pandemic-era solo albums, Piet says.

Telethon - "Swim Out Past The Breakers"

Nobody else makes records like this. Telethon's latest chaotic opus is a kitchen sink of power-pop, pop-punk, roots rock and Elton John-style rock opera, fleshed out with horns, glockenspiels and a veritable parade of guest musicians (among them Gary Louris of the Jayhawks, Franz Nicolay of Hold Steady, Oceanator, Chris Farren, Future Teens and Barely March). Few albums this year reinvented themselves quite as relentlessly, or with such entertaining returns. (Watch Justin Barney's interview with Telethon here).

Johanna Rose - "Lunar Eclipse"

One of our favorite Milwaukee songwriters to follow during the pandemic has been Johanna Rose, who spent their quarantine learning guitar (a big change for a musician best known as an upright bassist) and writing leisurely, romantic, self-reflective songs that refresh like a frosty glass of iced tea on a humid August evening. What a wonderfully comforting listen this album is.

Erik Shicotte - "Miss’ry Pacific"

Recommended for fans of Waylon Jennings, Erik Shicotte is a Milwaukee country singer who's lived a life right out of a tall tale. I'll admit I'd never heard of him before Piet introduced me to him on this episode. I'm sold now.

Grace Weber - "A Beautiful Space"

Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and producer Grace Weber drew generously from her background in gospel music on her official debut album, a collection of affirming pop songs that ranks high among Piet's picks.

WebsterX - "1 of 1"

One of Milwaukee's most inventive rap stylists, WebsterX followed up his deeply introspective 2017 album "Daymares" with "1 of 1," a record about finding your place in a turbulent world. This is some of his most limber, joyous music yet, even when the beats take on the harder, combative edge demanded by their subject matter. Some of these hooks will rattle around in your head for weeks.

Jabril Yousef - "Wild Love"

Jabril Yousef's hazy, radiant electro-pop can sometimes feel like an out-of-body experience. Yousef's airless voice and the album's blanketing production combine to create a kind of delirium. This is pop at its most reassuring. (Read Salam Fatayer's interview with Yousef here).