Cloakroom members tell us about their favorite albums of 2021

It's been a few years since Cloakroom released new music, but frontman Doyle Martin has been busy playing in Nothing and bassist Bobby Markos has been busy directing music videos. The band also recently posted a new photo, so perhaps an announcement is imminent.

Meanwhile, 2021 is coming to a close and we asked Doyle and Bobby what their favorite albums of the year were. They each made their own lists, including some stuff that's been getting a lot of love this year (Wiki, Sanguisugabogg, Dry Cleaning, Jose Gonazalez, Mdou Moctar), as well as some stuff that you might not have heard yet. They also provided intriguing commentary on each pick. Read on to see what they had to say...

Doyle's picks:

Hulder - Godslatering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry
Where to start with this record? I love when there's only one brain behind such a large body of work like Hulder's. She's dreaming up all these riffs on her own; no one to bounce ideas back and forth with, which is intriguing to me as a musician. I think it's part of the process to write music like this in solitude. The drummer Necreon (Bone Sickness) just slays it as well. There's blasts in 3/3. There's two-step parts. Every box is checked, at least in my book. Throughout the 8 tracks on “Godslatering”, the keyboards and acoustics are peppered in tastefully. Did I mention I love folklore? Can't wait to listen to this record in the snow.

Favorite track: Creature of Demonic Majesty

MSC - What You Say of Power
Music isn't always supposed to make you feel safe. “What You Say of Power” is no exception to that rule. It's kinda like a mix of the Run Lola Run trailer and Blade, both released in 1998. I guess the easiest way to describe this twin brother duet is breakbeat with Bizarro World Stars of the Lid moments thrown in the mix. Horns are always a pretty scary addition, like those wild end times trumpets people record coming from the sky. "There is a Wound Inside Me and it's Bleeding like a Flood" reminds me of that. Had the pleasure of seeing their wall of sound with my own eyes and would love to see them perform someday.

Favorite track: Borehole

Wiki & NAH - Telephonebooth
NAH is such a sick project, and I've been meaning to listen to more Wiki and there this record was. It's a healthy dose of this spontaneous hip hop but it's also very approachable and familiar. NAH is thrown around in the noise genre as well, but it's noise with drums; and that's cool. Worth noting, NAH also sets up a drum kit while playing live. Have to mention "Pieces", NAH's other 2021 release "selected works recorded November 2020 - March 2021." If I ever directed a sci-fi movie NAH would be the score.

Favorite track: Frogskins

Sanguisugabogg - Tortured Whole

Let's face it, we all loved Pornographic Seizures, their now classic 2019 EP. Nasty death metal riffs from Columbus, OH. You'd probably get kicked out of class for wearing their t-shirt to school. "Not under this roof Mr." says someone's step-dad. The kit sounds crazy, the riffs are deranged. With thought provoking song titles like "Menstrual Envy" and "Dick Filet," coupled with their incredible work with Troma Entertainment, this record roll-out easily became something I looked forward to witnessing. Down-tuned drug death.

Favorite track: Dragged by a Truck

Dry Cleaning - New Long Leg
This whole record is so catchy and was played heavily while I was bartending. The lyrics are great, the band is cool: "I've come here to make a ceramic shoe, I've come here to smash what you've made." The record sounds so hi-fi. It's a very approachable piece of work, stays weird, and sounds like something you wanted to hear; kinda "Headmaster's Ritual." Just watched their Fallon performance writing this out and they killed it.

Favorite track: Her Hippo


Bobby's picks:

Jose Gonzalez - Local Valley
I’ve always enjoyed Jose Gonzalez’s work since discovering his collaborations with Zero 7 on their album The Garden back in 2006. When I saw he was releasing a new record this year with a coinciding tour, I decided I wanted to try hearing the songs in a live setting first before diving into the recording, so I purposely held off on listening ahead of time. My fiance, mother and I took in his performance with Rufus Wainwright at the Chicago Theatre and he played quite a few songs from Local Valley. I was floored by his performance of the first song on the record, “El Invento” -- I think it’s one of his finest songs to date. The rest of the record features all of his strengths: upbeat tunes, somber tunes, masterful guitar playing and catchy vocal melodies. For fans of Alexi Murdoch, Nick Drake and Iron & Wine.

Dummy - Mandatory Enjoyment
I’ve known a few members of Dummy from their past music endeavors, so luckily I’ve been in on the ground floor with this band. I can honestly say they’re one of my favorite bands making music today; they’re a weird concoction of all sounds I like. Their first two EPs helped me get through a challenging 2020, and they really rose to the occasion with their debut LP. The production is mint, the songwriting is really interesting and the chord progressions and timbre hearken back to days of Broadcast and Stereolab. For fans of the aforementioned bands and the United States of America’s great self-titled LP from 1968.

Sam Evian - Time to Melt
Was a huge fan of Sam’s last record, You, Forever, and was anxiously awaiting its follow-up. “Time to Melt” seems to be much more influenced by psychedelic soul records of the 1970s. The production is amazing, everything sounds timeless. The title track is a great earworm, I love how the synth parts sound like they’re being bent over someone’s knee. I think I read somewhere that he wanted to write a record that would be perfect to listen to while cooking, and I would say he succeeded in doing so, as it has soundtracked many of my dinners in 2021. For fans of Zero 7, Marvin Gaye and Beck.

Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victime
This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year as I’ve been super into the last two LPs. As it turns out, Afrique Victime seems to be a blend of the sounds from Ilana (The Creator) and Sousoume Tamachek; there’s heavier moments but also some beautiful stripped down numbers. The production of the record is great too, each song is a world of its own. Some of the most innovative guitar driven music out there today. For fans of the Tuareg guitar sound.

Steve Gunn - Other You
I first got into Steve’s record Eyes on the Line and subsequently went back and listened to the rest of his catalog. He’s become one of my favorite guitar players and musicians in general playing today. It’s been really special watching him progress his songwriting from his early material like Boerum Palace to his more recent work like 2019’s LP The Unseen in Between, but this newest work seems to be his finest songwriting to date on display. He’s grown into being a masterful storyteller and composer, each song feels mammoth in depth. The production is grand, every instrument has room to breathe in the mix while Steve’s voice and guitar playing take the spotlight. For fans of Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter and Midlake.

Honorable Mentions:
Colby Falkner James - You Will Always Change Your Mind
Torment & Glory - We Left A Note With An Apology
Memory Wound - Lillian Drip
Marisa Anderson & William Tyler - Lost Futures
Hayden Pedigo - Letting Go