Philby Best Albums of 2021


I’ll admit it.

The year end Philby post release could use some tightening up.

On the eve of starting my 2023 list, I have literally run of time for posting my Philby Best Albums of 2021 list.

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m not into time.

However, I refuse to be more than one year behind.

I guess even I have standards that I’m unaware of!

But I have placed myself in the middle of a spot that I don’t even want to be near: that of a year end list.

And even though this is for the prior year, I don’t want there to be a misconception that I am joining the standard list of ad nauseum year end presenters.

So, next year this must change!

Thrrefore, I am happy to announce that the Philby 100 Best Albums of 2021 is ready for release!

I think I listened to about the same amount of music.

I’m estimating that I probably listened to 2,000-2,500 albums.

That’s still pretty respectable.

The album list is based mostly upon releases from 2018-2021, but I have made some changes to the entries and expanded the opportunity for older, relatively unknown works to be eligible for the list.

The Philbys are more interested in brilliant musical achievement and not a yearly time stamp.

Therefore, this year’s lists goes back as far as 1995!

The emphasis will always be on fairly recent works, yet include room for a few “lost classics!”

The pandemic effects were still being felt, but it was another incredible year for music!

I’ve probably listened to everything on this list at least ten times each on average!

In other words, these are my 100 choices out of, conservatively, 8,000-10,000 albums! (4 years x 2,000-2,500 albums per year!)

I always think of diamonds when I try to compare these works of art.

Each album, like a diamond, has its own unique brilliance, and a song on an album, as being similar to a facet of a diamond: it has to be held at the correct angle to reflect the most light. A song, in a similar vein, has to be listened to under the right circumstances to reflect its “light” or “brilliance!”

So without even further delay, these are the PHILBY 100 BEST ALBUM WINNERS for 2021!

Just remember that even at album 100, there are truly tens of thousands of albums on the other side of that number.

Each one is an artistic work of art, no matter what the genre is. The musicians were artists at the top of their game! Hope you find something you enjoy!

Philby 100 Best Albums of 2021


  1. Collaboration—Warriors, Zombies, and Other Joedai Pilgrims [Best Album of the Year][Best Compilation Album][Best Collaborative Effort] 
  2. With Love from Lake Huron—Julianne Ankley [Best Pop Album][Best Country Album][Best Female Country Vocals][Best Album Cover]
  3. Near—Kate Hinote Trio [Best Album by a Trio][Best Songwriter Covers Album][Best Haunting Melodies][Best Haunting Female Vocals][Best Violin Album] 
  4. Another Sky—Kelly’s Lot [Best Acoustic Blues Album][Best Female Acoustic Blues Vocals]
  5. All the Ladies—Joanie Leeds [Best All Females Album-Ever][Best Kindie Album][Best Female Pop Vocals]
  6. Refuge—Sultans of String [Best World Album][Best International All Star Roster]
  7. Discount Cowboy—George Stephen Kelly [Best Country/Blues Album]
  8. Lullabies in an Ancient Tongue—Gerard Smith [Best Prog/Rock Album][Best Rock Guitar]
  9. Never Found a Way to Tame the Blues—Jon Shain [Best Folk/Blues Album]
  10. Robin Hood—Jan Krist [Best Female Americana Album]
  11. Looking for a Perfect Trip—Rod Johnson [Best Rock Story Songs]
  12. Trouble with a Capital T—Niecie [Best Blues Album][Best Female Blues Vocals]
  13. Chapter 3—The Legal Matters [Best Pop/Rock Album][Best Synthesizer]
  14. Old Ghosts and Lost Causes—Helene Cronin [Best Female Americana Story Songs][Best Female Americana Vocals]
  15. Downtime—Nick Piunti and The Complicated Men  [Best Rock/Pop Album]
  16. Ordinary Joe—The Joedai Warriors [Best Male Americana Story Songs]
  17. The Lucky One—Mark Jewett [Best Male Folk Album]
  18. In the Corner—Linda Hicks [Best Overlooked For Years Album][Best Female Folk Vocals]
  19. The Whole Half—Diamonds in the Rust [Best EP][Best Harmony Vocals]
  20. Whole Cloth—Bill Edwards [Best DIY Album]
  21. London Calling: A Toast to Julie London—Lyn Stanley [Best Big Band Album][Best Female Jazz Album][Best Arrangements]
  22. Bang at the Door—Donna Herula [Best Slide Guitar]
  23. Makin’ Honey—Lauren Crane [Best Female Folk Album][Best Female Folk Story Songs]
  24. Incognito—The Armoires [Best Internal Compilation Album] 
  25. Hour of the Wolf—Wolf B. Reuter [Best All Genre Album]
  26. Tonight at Johnnie’s Speakeasy—Jo Serrapere and The Wille Dunns [Best Live Album]
  27. Would It Be the Same (If I Still Loved You?)—The Dirk Kroll Band
  28. Iron City—Mike Latini
  29. Plantastic Voyage—Kenny Young and The Eggplants [Best Intergalactic Album][Best Pop/Rock Comedy Album][Best Animated Cover]
  30. The Far Si: The Si Kahn Funny Song Sing—Along Song Book—Matt Watroba [Best Folk Comedy Album]
  31. The Darkness and The Light—Mike Ward: Psychosongs
  32. Soul Doctor—Jimmy Carpenter [Best Saxophone Blues Album][Tightest Sounding Band Album]
  33. Between Here and There—Sarah Morris
  34. After You—Cold Tone Harvest
  35. Seven Stars Around the Moon—Dave Boutette and Kristi Lynn Davis [Best Album by a Duo]
  36. Before Me—Ben Levin
  37. Beside Me—Steve Taylor
  38. Gratitude—Eric Harrison
  39. There Is No Light Without the Dark—The Stan Laurels
  40. Plug in and Play—Tommy Z [Best Blues Guitar]
  41. The Stone Souls—The Stone Souls [Best New Artist]
  42. The St. Buryan Sessions—Sarah McQuaid
  43. This Is Dolph Chaney—Dolph Chaney
  44. Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular—Johnny Iguana [Best Piano]
  45. New Roaring Twenties—The Forty Nineteens
  46. Pieces Break—Jeff Karoub
  47. Trippin’ Dinosaurs—Rick Hromdka
  48. Wow and Flutter—Amilia K. Spicer
  49. On a Canvas Painted Blue—Ruth and Max Bloomquist
  50. Come Summer—Liz E. Brooks
  51. Victor V. Gurbo and Co—Victor V. Gurbo
  52. Lost and Found—Odds Lane [Best Blues/Rock Album]
  53. Tea and Tunes—Katherine Moller [Best Celtic Album][Best Fiddle Album]
  54. Zoom In—Ringo Starr
  55. The Outsider—Davy Knowles
  56. Chevy Town—Charlie Walmsley
  57. Ride the Wave—Jay Elle
  58. Be Here Now—Heather Pierson [Best New Age Album]
  59. At King Electric—Ray Bonneville
  60. Random Rex—Random Rex [Best Electronic Album]
  61. Not Made for Hire—The Bennett Brothers
  62. Someday Soon Somehow—Scott Fab
  63. Bent Frets—Mick Clarke [Best British Blues Album]
  64. Songs for An American Hero—Tom Alter [Best Political Album]
  65. Duel—The Satin Cowboy and The Seven Deadly Sins
  66. Thieves and Yesterday—Dan Bubien and The Delta Struts
  67. Life in the City—Turkuaz [Best R&B Album][Best Funk Album]
  68. What You Love Comes Along—Bad Camper
  69. Marty and Laura—Marty and Laura Kohn
  70. One of These Days—The Regulators
  71. Transitions D’eau—Mary Ann Kirt
  72. White Noise/White Lines—Kelsey Waldon
  73. Lockdown Live—Jeff Slate
  74. Bark and the Pack—Michael Snyder-Barker
  75. Free Yourself Up—Lake Street Dive
  76. Cowboys and Aliens—Trio of Awesuhm
  77. Organisms—The Doug McDonald Quartet [Best Instrumental Jazz Album]
  78. Into a World Bright and Beautiful—Sublunar Minds
  79. Deadbeat Grafitti—Black Pistol Fire
  80. Small Blues and Grooves—11 Guys Quartet [Best Instrumental Blues Album]
  81. Call the Shots—Suzi Moon [Best Female Punk Album]
  82. Closing Time—Chris Youlden [Best Reissue Album]
  83. Serious Issues—DeeCRACKS
  84. Nobody Told Me—John Mayall [Best All Star Cast]
  85. Whiskey—Thorton Creek
  86. Green Denim—Green Denim
  87. Lonesome for a Long Time—Pat Smilie
  88. The Wreckage—Carl Caballero
  89. MK II—Vandenberg’s MoonKings
  90. Vicious Kid—Kiss the Tiger
  91. The Big Sound of Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials—Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials
  92. Steel—Nell and Jim Band
  93. A Highway Cruise—J.P. Reali
  94. Fable Bait—Eve’s Twin Lover
  95. The Pirate—Michael Johnathon
  96. Spirit of ’74—Spirit of ’74
  97. Myths and Mortals—The New Zeitgeist
  98. Secondus—Travis Bowlin
  99. Things I Dream About—2Bit Palomino
  100. Seekers and Finders—Gogol Bordello [Best Male World Punk Album]

Here’s a section on submissions:

I am accepting entries for Philby consideration!

The album selections are made from a sliding four year pool of music.

The pool for 2023 is 2020-2023.

One of the reasons that I use a multiple year submission scale is that just getting music out to the world is sometimes difficult for an artist.

A lot of them are not really wired for self promotion.

Making music is totally different than drumming up interest in it, especially for independent musicians.

Yes, there are promoters that can help with that. And nothing against promoters because they have a role to play. But they cost money, and the artist already had to pay to record the music, and may not be prepared for the process of promoting it.

After looking at how some other independent awards are handled, I figured a four year window allows me enough time to serendipitously run across someone’s music.

I have told this story several times, but I try very hard to listen to everything that is submitted.

Although I work on my list, starting literally on January 1st, using a four year sliding window, I carry over some of what would qualify from the prior years.

So, if you’ve made some music dating back as far as 2018, I will accept that music for consideration.

If you have something older than 2018, send that, too, but identify the release date. I’m always looking for GREAT music.

For the Philbys, I’m looking for full albums.

However, if you only have a single, I’ll accept that, too. Don’t forget that I also have a Philby Hot Songs list, and more artists are releasing singles these days.

But please don’t send me an incomplete album if you have one.

So, please don’t edit for me.

I hate that and I might not even check out the item. I don’t know why anyone would only send selected songs instead of their whole work of art for consideration.

Please don’t send me links to listen to music. That’s not how I listen to music.  And I probably won’t listen to it if you send me a link to stream it. Either send me the album to download or request my mailing address to send a physical copy.

Every year I say that if your item came out later than May, it may not end up on this year’s list. So it’s possible that submissions entered now may only be considered for 2021. (It sounds so good to think of 2020 being finished!)

However, this year will be totally different than other years. I have not received any where near the amount of releases that I normally do.

It might be an excellent year to send a submission.

I will accept any genre of music. I like a variety of styles, even on the same album!

So, please e-mail your mp3s, and please make sure it is an mp3 only, to

If you want a physical address or have other questions, please e-mail me at the same address. Because selections will be considered for more than a single year, there isn’t an expiration date at the present.

If you want someone who will actually listen to your music, I am that person.

If you want some recognition for working hard and baring your soul, that might be me, too. I can’t make any promises, but I will listen to your music.

If you are reading this and are not a musician but know someone who is, please forward this to them.

Good luck to all who participate!

My weekly radio show “Theme Attic,” can be heard Wednesdays, 12P-4P ET!

The show can be heard on WHFR 89.3 FM in the Dearborn-Detroit area of Michigan, or it can be streamed with this link:!

It almost always includes a weekly countdown of my favorite albums or songs  and some shows feature two countdowns!

There’s plenty of other musical things to browse on my website!

Here’s the link to the complete history of all the Fave Albums:!

Here’s a link for the complete history of all the Fave Songs:!

Another list that you might find interesting is my list for “The Most Awesomest Songs of the Day”:!

If you’d like to know what I think are even better than the awesome songs, have a look at “The Greatest Songs Ever Recorded”:! Occasionally, an “awesome song” crosses over to become a “Greatest Song!”

My somewhat unusual Hall of Fame can be explored here:!

Lastly, but most importantly, is my Philby Awards link! A Philby is my annual award for outstanding musical achievement!!

If you like what you see, don’t forget to spread the word by hitting the “like” button on my Facebook page, Phil Maq!

#Philby #Philbys

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