2021 was the biggest year of my life. Got married. Bought a house. Put a whole bunch of injections into my body. Was exposed to COVID. Was exposed to COVID. Was exposed to COVID.

Still haven’t gotten me yet though, you omnipresent little terror, you!

We thought it’d be over by then. Then and then. Again and again. But as much as COVID shaped my year – and shapes my life still – it did not define my year.

And neither did music. And while I can take a look back now and say, “Oh, that’s sad,” it certainly wasn’t sad in the moment. Too many bigger, better, more important things happened last year to dedicate myself to music in the same ways I have in the past. I had to leave my little side gig emceeing concerts for Sofar Sounds, but like, what was I gonna do? Drive to the city twice a month to hang out with a bunch of strangers in a confined space? Nah, all good there.

Not sure if any of you are married or own property, but that pretty much takes up a whole year if you do ’em both in one trip around the sun. Unless you’re rich. Congrats if you’re rich. Feel free to Venmo me for all these tunes I’m about to supply you to make you look cool, if you’re rich.

Fortunately, music is a huge part of a wedding. And it was a huge part of ours. And that’s why we had our collective best friend Josh Knowles play us down the aisle. And he was incredible. Her entrance song was touching. Mine was a spoof. And after a whole buncha words, we walked out to Kishi Bashi hand-in-hand. And that was I guess as close as we got to a live concert in 2021. Live music is part of my lifeforce. It’s been so long since I’ve been to a real show. (But Josh will be at the top of my list when I get back on the scene.)

Music, despite what you may have heard, is NOT a huge part of home buying. No, what you’ll find are the main ingredients of home buying are stress, fear, heartbreak, forgetting to eat lunch, hating boomers, hating people your age who come from money, and constantly talking yourself and/or your significant other off a ledge. Houses rule though, glad we got one. Gonna die about 3 years earlier than expected from the stress, but super glad we got one.

I guess the subtext to me getting a house is that I’ve left Boston. Not too far out of reach, but gone nonetheless. Technically I grew up in the suburbs, but I truly grew up in Boston. Learned a lot about life in about a 5 square mile radius. It’s on to a new stage of life for me, probably one with fewer General Gau’s burritos and less of my own vomit (unrelated). And definitely one that’ll have less live music.

Leaving city life behind means I’m going to be exposed to a less diverse collection of people, less diversity of thought, less unique personalities, and maybe even less unique feelings. There’s plenty of stuff that scares me, but one of my greatest fears is that at some point I might just become a carbon copy of everyone around me. Jimmy Suburb. Listen to a lot of post-90s U2 and podcasts for Democrats. Tell the same jokes all the time. Make a stink at a deli counter when there’s too much tomato on my sandwich. (Raw tomatoes are gross though, I’d support my future bland self there.) I’ve already started to pay much greater attention to the weather. This is like someone in The Walking Dead seeing a scratch on their arm. I’m screwed.

But The Edge ain’t taking charge just yet. And honestly, despite having less time to listen to new tunes and significantly less exposure to new and rising artists, this is one of the most exciting year-end lists I’ve put together in 11 years of doing this.

But how’s that possible?

Well, when you have less time to think, you just go with what hits you right. That means we’re heavy on synth. We’re heavy on rock. We’re heavy on Latin vibes. We’re heavy on grooves. This list rules, and I put my whole butt into sorting it out. And that’s a lot of butt. Because there is literally more of me than ever. So I hope you all enjoy this as much as I do. Because this year I heard my favorite rock song since the first list I put together 10+ years ago. And if you haven’t already heard it, you’re just 99 songs away.

But first, a bunch of notes on the list…

  • I’ve laid out the list rules every year, but the biggest two things you need to know are:
    • Artists are not allowed to have more than one song on the list
    • Cover songs are avoided to the best of my ability (I have slipped up here in the past, a-whoopsie daisy)
  • The list should show up in the reverse order for you, counting down from #100 – if you start with Raf Rundell, you’re in the right place!
  • Since it took me about 2 months to put this thing together, I stopped listening to new music in December and let December releases carry over to the next year.
  • This year has, I believe, over 60 artists who have never been on my Top 100 lists before. So there ya go, Certified Fresh, baby.

If you can’t see the widget below, you can access the playlist on Spotify using this link: https://spoti.fi/34KX1H1

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