The Best of 2021

It’s that time of year where we look back, take stock of everything that occurred during the year and try to make sense of it. I’m looking back on a year of loss–my mother died during the summer and my grandparents’ old house where I spent much of my childhood was destroyed in a fire. As if that weren’t enough, I lost two teeth (!) in 2021. Like 2020, though, music was a particularly bright spot in an otherwise challenging year.

As for my choices for the best of 2021, I made three lists. The first a Mixcloud compilation of some of the best tracks of 2021, followed by a list (in no particular order) of some of the best albums of 2021, and finally some singles and EPs that I managed to list in alphabetical order.

Last year I also posted a list of notable reissues but I didn’t try to keep up on all the reissues that were released in 2021. I was just happy to finally have The Beatles Let It Be box set, and to finally see the Peter Jackson documentary, Get Back. Really fun to watch.

 I’d just like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the artists for providing the world with such wonderful music. My picks for the best tracks of 2021:

00:00 Turn Me On Dead Man – Intro
00:29 The Dharma Chain – So You Wanna Be A Spaceman?
07:03 Mt. Mountain – Aplomb
11:31 Meatbodies – Reach For The Sun
16:22 The Mountain Movers – I Wanna See The Sun
19:21 Thee U.F.O. – Putrefied Block
22:28 Dope Smoker – NASDAQ
27:09 Grinding Eyes – When The Night Falls
31:01 The Holy Family – Inward Turning Suns
37:05 The Myrrs – Buggy Chawnker
39:11 The Slow Voyage – Expansion
43:14 Magic Castles – Sunburst
46:29 Chainsaw Rainbow – blonde with dark roots
50:05 Mantras – Sunlight Swell
53:54 Ogua – Iyan
59:17 Swan Faucet – Wandering
1:05:48 Raw Optics – Aqua Mundo
1:08:04 The Sonic Splits – Like the Steady Flowing of a Stream
1:12:42 Cheval Sombre – Althea
1:20:22 Hooveriii – Shooting Star
1:24:24 Firefriend – Poison Tree
1:29:41 Comet Control – Secret Life
1:36:37 Shirese – The Glue Murder
1:38:54 Broken Sky – California
1:41:41 Goat – Queen of the Underground
1:47:36 Chino Burga – Meditación

My picks for the best albums of 2021:

My picks for the best EPs and singles of 2021:

My picks for the best EPs/singles of 2021:

Podcast 2021.25 Years of Lightning, Day of Drums

It’s interesting to reflect on how the renewed interest in psychedelics started. In the 1990s researchers at Johns Hopkins wanted to study the mental health benefits of psilocybin. Psychedelics were so stigmatized at that point, however, that they weren’t sure the FDA or even their own institution would approve the research. They managed to get approval for their research efforts and published their positive results in 2006, and the “psychedelic renaissance” has gained momentum since then.

A growing number of studies have shown the mental health benefits of psychedelics, and this has become an area of intense interest. Veterans are a group that has shown great interest in these studies, as psychedelics have been demonstrated to be effective in treating PTSD. Among others, veterans have been given new hope by these developments, and the New York Times points out that “Veterans Have Become Unlikely Lobbyists in Push to Legalize Psychedelic Drugs”. Some health insurance providers are starting to cover psychedelic mental health treatments, and private companies are now competing to develop treatment regimens to tap into this potentially huge market.

One interesting note emerged from a recent study where some attendees of an ayahuasca retreat were given placebos. The people who took placebos reported benefits, such as lower anxiety and depression, and using the measures devised by the researchers, these benefits were statistically similar to the attendees who actually took ayahuasca. The researchers acknowledged that there may have been mitigating factors in their study, but it remains a subject for future research.

The optimism about psychedelics is being felt in a variety of unlikely places. Benzinga writes about parenting aided by microdosing psychedelics in the article “Moms on mushrooms“. House Beautiful suggests that the popularity of decorating home decor items with mushrooms is “a side effect of—or even a sly wink to—the recent legalization of magic mushrooms in some parts of the world.” Big Think discusses research showing that psychedelics can change how users see the universe, leading individuals to adopt a more transcendental outlook.

More celebrities continue to make public their psychedelic experiences. I mentioned Will Smith in my previous podcast, but this time around more members of the family join in the discussion. Jada Pinkett Smith and their son, Jaden Smith, shared their psychedelic stories on Jada’s talk show, Red Table Talk. Mike Tyson has become a rather unlikely advocate for psychedelics, as he has been open about his life-changing experiences with 5-MeO-DMT, which is the venom of the Bufo Alvarius toad. L.A. Weekly is calling him the “New Face of Psychedelic Healing.”

While the music in this episode of Turn Me On, Dead Man is psychedelic, the theme is not. Today is November 22, 2021, which is the 59th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. A couple of days ago I made my regular trip to Joe’s Record Paradise and found a still-sealed LP copy of Years of Lightning, Day of Drums, a celebration of JFK’s life as a counter to the shock of his assassination. You can draw a direct line from the JFK assassination to our current polarized and conspiracy-theory-driven political environment, but I’ll leave that there for the time being. Right now I just want to enjoy the breadth and depth of current psychedelia.

00:20 Dope Smoker – NASDAQ
05:17 Electric Eye – Den Atmosfaeriske Elven
11:12 Bard’s Flying Vessel – Cut In Half
15:57 The Violet Mindfield – Stranger In The Mirror
18:50 Exnovios – Un Nuevo Día
22:10 Dead Horse One – Nevermore
25:22 Dead Otter – Eye Elevator
31:34 Yokujitsu – Yawarakai Tejou
37:27 Hanford Flyover – Golden
42:10 Kuunatic – Para Bennyà
48:28 Some Pills For Ayala – Space Octopus

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Podcast 2021.07 Out To Lunch

New psychedelic releases from early 2021. The pandemic rages on but the great music just keeps on coming. This set features two American bands (Maestro Maya from Denton, TX, and Room Noise from Denver), two Australian bands (Grinding Eyes from Sydney and Mt. Mountain from Perth), Dope Purple from Japan, and the rest are scattered around Europe.

00:00 Turn Me On Dead Man – Intro
01:06 Grinding Eyes – When The Night Falls
04:58 Peter Lawson – Take The Blame
08:34 Holy Monitor – The Sky Is Falling Down
16:35 Maestro Maya – Blast Off
23:00 Mt. Mountain – Aplomb
27:24 My Evilness – Dope Purple
34:00 Smote – Psolstice
43:00 Room Noise – The Disappearer
45:07 Become The Sky – Sleep
48:12 Saint Gallus Convention Tapes – January 1

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