There is an old English proverb, “a smooth sea never made a skillful mariner” and just when we thought we were headed for the clear, Greek letters lent themselves to an already exhausting, repetitious way of life for the world over, leaving us feeling Groundhog Day on repeat…again.

All was not a repeat of 2020 however. 2021 saw an incredible calendar of musical releases from the basement/laptop productions through highly anticipated releases and gave us all plenty to discover. It was a year that showed the grit and determination of musicians all over the globe. It was a determination against all odds and adverse seas.

A sincere thank you to all those who shared their music, their love of music, or just gave Nanobot Rock a read in the last year, here are Nanobot Rock’s Top 10 discoveries of 2021:

10. Andrew St. James – Light After Darkness

As we discussed, we aren’t saying they’re not one and the same, but we’ve never seen Andrew St. James and Cosmic Brilliance in the same room together. One of the most striking songwriters of our time, Andrew St. James released his latest record full of chances and pace we didn’t expect. Nonetheless, this was light in the darkness, not after; a light we desperately needed.

9. The Way Down Wanderers – More Like Tomorrow

The finely sewn quilt of emotion and experience the led to The Way Down Wanderers release More Like Tomorrow is very real and conveyed with all the proper respect they sought to achieve. The record holds no punches and diversifies just enough to keep us all on our toes and longing for more from The Way Down Wanderers.

8. Sleigh Bells – Texis

Culminating in “blistering pace married with melodic engagement” Sleigh Bells turned what we were all feeling inside into one explosive, memorable addition to an already notable existence. Wrangling the chaos for just enough time to make audible sense of it all, Sleigh Bells captures a confidence in the mess we all call life and narrates emotions we didn’t know we needed to get out.

7. Flight of Icarus – Cleo

The captivatingly melodic metal Swedish sound of Oskar Frantzén and Elisabeth Särnefält Rösehag (and supporting musicians) was, hands-down, one of the biggest surprises of the year. Sure, we all know Swedish metal and we all know melody, but when they are filtered through the arching visions of Flight of Icarus we’re transported above the clouds to a place we never could have imagined.

6. The Mother Hips – Glowing Lantern

30 years of musical releases would have us thinking we’ve heard it all from one band, but The Mother Hips are the exception to that rule. Glowing Lantern is the finale to the year that flipped lists on their heads and that helped us soar to the finish line with a confidence only The Mother Hips could provide. This is a record that reminds us all why we fell in love with rock.

5. We Were Promised Jetpacks – Enjoy the View

We remember we’d all have flying cars, or hoverboards at least, by this point, but apparently in Scotland they were all promised jetpacks. While we’re uncertain of what we’ll get and when we’ll get it, one thing carries no doubt and that is we enjoyed the hell out of Enjoy the View.

4. Emily Scott Robinson – American Siren

The crossroads of tradition and modern meet somewhere special and apparently standing squarely in the middle is Emily Scott Robinson. Turning simple into emotionally charged and elegant and precisely the right moment, American Siren is grassroots and profoundly captivating e strongly recommend you get to know Emily Scott Robinson now because there’s simply no stopping her.

3. Blood Lemon – Blood Lemon

Many have already had the opportunity to experience the post-Riot Grrrl sounds of Boise’s Blood Lemon. If you haven’t, no judgement, just a warning you might want to do so promptly. The self-titled debut release from this power trio is nothing to be scoffed at. The first spin of Blood Lemon has been found to evoke two responses: 1) “WHOA!” and “AGAIN! AGAIN!” Use as directed and share with your doctor after experiencing.

2. Elektric Voodoo – Telescope

An astral audible projection into your inner audiophile, Telescope isn’t just a record that makes you happy to have discovered it in 2021, but you’ll be thankful this is in your life in general. Elektric Voodoo’s latest is a must-have for music fans. The layers draw emotions out of you and carry you on a masterfully curated journey. Telescope is a beacon in a year we direly needed one.

1. Howlin Rain – The Dharma Wheel

The Dharma Wheel is meant to symbolize perfection, meditation, and moral discipline when very basically explained from Buddhism. When more precisely defined in the context of the 2021 release from the Bay Area’s Howlin Rain, it is a record that is meditative, disciplined, and as perfect as one could hope. So much so, we called it “unequivocally, a modern masterpiece” and we regret nothing.