Live music returned in 2021 after the pandemic stifled the music industry for more than a year. Some artists spent time reflecting and working on new material during the lockdown, which they released or performed in front of live audiences this year.
There was no shortage of exciting new material released—while some artists embarked upon national tours this year, others embraced digital platforms to spread the word about their new projects.
Amanda Rabinowitz and Brittany Nader each share their favorite local albums and songs of 2021.
Holden Laurence – Floating, Drifting
Cleveland artist Holden Laurence used songwriting during the pandemic to cope with his mental health struggles of social anxiety, panic attacks and depression. The songs are musically upbeat while the lyrics are dark and deep, addressing issues such as the distorted reality of modern life in the U.S. and environmental concerns. Laurence is a beautiful songwriter, and the vulnerability of this EP makes his music even more impactful. Favorites include “Beautiful Light” and “Memories and Dust.”
Detention – Patchwork EP
Akron four-piece rockers Detention have grown over the last few years as a group of middle and high school students learning the ropes of rock stardom to full-fledged, polished performers. Their 2021 EP showcases the band’s growth, with new original songs that recall power pop and pop-punk of decades past. The band’s sound is the perfect blend of the young rockers’ influences and their fresh take on tunes from the perspective of today’s thoughtful and rebellious youth. A highlight for the band this year was performing with Fred Armisen and DEVO’s Gerald Casale at Devotional 2021. Favorite track: “Not To Go.”
Indré – Misfits in the Sun
Singer-songwriter Maddie Indré was on Shuffle when she was just 20 years old. She quit college to focus on her music career, releasing her debut album “Serenity” in 2019. Now, she’s gone from solo to a five-piece band. Called Indré, the group released its debut album in October. The backing of a full band makes Maddie Indré’s voice soar to new heights and generates the energy that commands a stage. Favorite track: “The Stream.”
Nathan-Paul – Aquarius Lofi DEEZY
Nathan-Paul Davis has been active in Akron’s jazz and soul scenes for years, playing alto sax in Wesley Bright and the Honeytones and serving as bandleader for Nathan-Paul and The Admirables. We discovered how prolific this working musician is on Shuffle back in March after the release of his solo album, “Aquarius Lofi DEEZY,” which he collaborated on with local drummer and producer HR3 and pianist Joey Skoch. The album explores Davis’ foray into hip-hop beats inspired by the various music genres that have touched him throughout his life, including gospel, experimental jazz and downtempo lo-fi hip-hop. A standout track is “My Love,” which blends mellow beats and jazz. Davis released a holiday-themed continuation of the album this November called “Lofi Christmas DEEZY.”
Empty Coats – Hathor
This Akron five-piece of friends formed in 2018, but we just became familiar with them this year when …….