On Air

WUSB DJ and Editor Album Picks for 2021


Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

“662 is the area code for Clarksdale, MS, known as the place where Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil in order to be the greatest Blues guitarist in Mississippi, and also where Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram, 22, was born and raised. He has been playing music since he was six, starting on the drums, then moving to bass at 11, and finally rhythm guitar. I first saw him perform in Clarksdale in 2013 when he was 14, and immediately could tell he was bound for greatness. Mentored by such Blues greats as Buddy Guy and Eric Gales, he is without a doubt the future of the Blues. His new album 662 (his second for Alligator Records) showcases his enormous talent and is a must-hear for serious Blues aficionados! I have played many cuts on my show The Juke Joint (Alternating Tuesdays 2-4pm) and they all are superb. His soulful voice, lyrics, and killer guitar playing make me believe the Blues are alive and well, and the baton has been passed to this master Bluesman!”

DJ Kenny Hahn, Host of The Juke Joint (Alternating Tuesdays, 2pm-4pm)


All Things Must Pass (50th Anniversary Box Set)

George Harrison

“I’ve always enjoyed George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, and was really happy to get a box set. I love hearing the outtakes, demos, and unreleased songs that have appeared on bootlegs, but I’ve really been enjoying earlier takes of ‘What Is Life.’ It’s great to finally hear George in all his glory in a box set from one of the greatest albums of all time, especially one that comes from this solo Beatle.”

Scott O’Rourke (DJ Scotty O), Host of Scotty O + Beatles Show (Alternating Thursdays, 3pm-5pm) and Jukebox Time Machine (Alternating Thursdays, Midnight-3AM)


Angel Dream (Songs and Music from She’s the One)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

“To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Heartbreakers’ She's the One soundtrack, Angel Dream revisits and reimagines this underrated 1996 album, incorporating several previously unreleased songs written and recorded during Tom Petty’s prolific Wildflowers period. Anchored by the beautiful title-track lullabye and the rollicking ‘105 Degrees,’ Angel Dream is a given must-have for anyone who’s part of Heartbreaker Nation, and yet another example of the seemingly endless depth of one of America’s most gifted and influential songwriters.”

Rob Emproto, Host of The Last DJ (Saturdays, 7AM-9AM)



Neil Young / Crazy Horse

“This long-awaited reunion of Crazy Horse (Neil Young, Ralph Molina, and Billy Talbot) welcomes Nils Lofgren and a whole bunch of brand new songs, all written within the past couple years. The album is titled Barn after the 1850s barn high up in the Colorado Rockies, where the sessions occurred. The Le Mobile recording studio was used for the recording. As with all of Neil’s recent work, this is expected to be another commentary of our fractured society with an apocalyptic soundtrack, and I can’t wait to tap my foot along.”

Marc Greene, Host of Fermented Radio (Fridays, 10AM-12PM) and Fermented Overnite (Alternating Mondays, Midnight-3AM)


Beyond Earth & Sky

Steve Roach and Michael Stearns

“The first collaboration in 30 years between the undisputed leader in ambient electronic music and the music composer of the trilogy of films Chronos, Baraka, and Samsara. The top ambient release of 2021.”

Ed Roller, Host of Melting World (Alternating Sundays, Midnight-3AM)


Bright Green Field


“Shifting rhythms and moods drive this standout debut album from the British post-punk revival band. Personal track picks: ‘Narrator,’ ‘2010,’ ‘Pamphlets.’”

Rob Burmeister (DJ Bobby B), Host of Over the Horizon Radio (Alternating Saturdays, 8PM-10PM)



Tyler, The Creator

“After focusing on his producing talents on 2019’s Igor, on this album, Tyler finds a balance between production prowess and some of his best rapping yet. Personal track picks: ‘CORSO,’ ‘RISE!,’ ‘SAFARI.’”

Rob Burmeister (DJ Bobby B), Host of Over the Horizon Radio (Alternating Saturdays, 8PM-10PM)


The Capitol Session ‘73 (Live)

Bob Marley & The Wailers

Recorded in October 1973 at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, California, this new release features 12 live recordings by Bob Marley & The Wailers. The new recording was released in September 2021.


Close to Nearby

Octarine Sky

“A combination of classical piano, jazz fusion and prog make this a worthy follow-up to Potter’s Daughter’s The Blind Side and keep the listener guessing throughout. Dyanne [Potter Voegtlin] and company manage to make an album that is three albums in one—they make the whole thing hang together wonderfully and keep the listener there throughout repeated hearings. A great album for 2021!”

— Phil Merkel (Captain Phil), Host of Captain Phil’s Planet (Alternating Thursdays, 3PM-5PM)


“Uptown Girl Blues” from Eclectic Electric

Joe Louis Walker

Submitted by Ahmad Ali, Host of Cafè Ali (Tuesdays, 10AM-12PM)



Godspeed You! Black Emperor

“The seminal post rock outfit uses the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic to present some of their strongest material since their reunion. Personal track picks: ‘Fire at Static Valley’ and ‘Government Came, Cliffs Gaze / cliffs’ gaze at empty waters’ rise / ASHES TO SEA or NEARER TO THEE.’”

Rob Burmeister (DJ Bobby B), Host of Over the Horizon Radio (Alternating Saturdays, 8PM-10PM)


Gold-Diggers Sound

Leon Bridges

One of the best releases of summer 2021, Gold-Diggers Sound, the third studio album by Leon Bridges opens with “Born Again,” featuring Robert Glasper and follows with the album’s featured single “Motorbike.” The album’s tracks are each rhythmic, with stirring modulating harmonies and unforgettable refrains.


I, Castorpollux

Erika Dohi

Released in May, pianist Erika Dohi’s compelling album for 2021 blends electronic production with acoustic and prepared piano, and storytelling, too, in two languages: Japanese and English. Channy Leaneagh of the band Poliça joins Dohi for two tracks, providing heartfelt vocals to the songs “Doesn’t Want/Doesn’t Stop” and “Polaroid.” Dohi’s new album, released on the record label 37d03d, founded by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Aaron Dessner of The National, includes a combination of entirely instrumental selections, tracks with narration, and song.


Ice Melt


Psychedelic sounds infuse the ten tracks of Crumb’s Ice Melt, the band’s second studio album. Ice Melt follows two EPs and studio album Jinx (2019). Lila Ramani’s smooth timbre and navigation of the songs’ melodies match perfectly the tone and mood of each one. Listen for the bass line of “Trophy,” the high-energy conclusion of “Balloon,” and both the percussive precision and all-strings coda of the song “BNR.”



Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast’s third studio album, released this summer, features a variety of instrumental sounds: the distinct timbres of synths, brass, strings, and percussion feature prominently into specific tracks, adding further nuance to the record’s energetic and ambient songs. The album’s lead single, “Be Sweet,” can be heard in a string quartet arrangement with Japanese Breakfast’s lead musician Michelle Zauner on vocals on the band’s recent Live At Electric Lady EP. Also released this year, the EP closes with a string arrangement of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” with Zauner on vocals.


L.A. Ex

Craig Safan

“Soundtrack composer Craig Safan, best known for his soundtracks to The Last Starfighter, Remo Williams the Adventure begins, and Life Goes On (TV Series), gives us a personal tour through his life in Los Angeles and a musical painting of his family with tracks like ‘The Manne-Hole’ (the famous jazz club), ‘El Coyote’ (the legendary L.A. restaurant), and of course The Theme Building’ (the iconic L.A. Airport building). Mixing these memories and experiences through Safan’s fun compositional style (listen to ‘Muscles, Tattoos & Veins,’ featuring Safan’s daughter) makes the entire album a trip through Los Angeles that no longer exists. A very personal and memorable listen. Check it out!”

— Phil Merkel (Captain Phil), Host of Captain Phil’s Planet (Alternating Thursdays, 3PM-5PM)



Chris Thile

Mandolinist-vocalist Chris Thile released his solo album Laysongs on Nonesuch Records in June. Featuring original songs and arrangements of existing selections, such as a transcription of the riveting fourth movement of composer Béla Bartók’s Sonata for Solo Violin, the album offers a palette that pairs both virutosic and pensive playing, with Thile’s vocals, too. Hear Thile next on the newest album from The Punch Brothers; the quintet’s forthcoming record, an homage to musician Tony Rice, is set for release on January 14.


Let it Be (Super Deluxe Edition)

The Beatles

“I love all the songs on the album, but my favorites include ‘Two Of Us,’ ‘I Me Mine’ and ‘For You Blue.’ The concept of the Let It Be project was essentially The Beatles returning to their roots. There are traces of their early material in the album, but it really showcases their growth as a group over the decade they were together.”

Melanie Formosa (DJ Joi), Host of Hygge with Joi (Tuesdays, 12PM-2PM)


Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part

Sō Percussion and Caroline Shaw

The ensemble Sō Percussion (Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting) and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw collaborated on two albums in 2021, both released on Nonesuch Records. Narrow Sea, released in January, includes two works. The title composition, in five movements, features performances from soprano Dawn Upshaw and pianist Gilbert Kalish, along with Sō Percussion. Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion’s second collaboration of the year, a ten-track album entitled Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part released in June, features Shaw on vocals with the quartet.


Live in Stuttgart 1975


“An amazing archival release from German progressive band Can from Munich. U.K. archivist Andrew Hall has given his collection to the band, and the first release of many planned finds the band in top form.”

Ed Roller, Host of Melting World (Alternating Sundays, Midnight-3AM)


Local Valley

José González

Local Valley is the latest from guitarist-vocalist José González. The multilingual album features the singer-songwriter’s celebrated style of tapestry-like guitar textures and calm accompanying vocal melodies. Don’t miss the opening track “El Invento,” the rhythmic, dance-inspired “Swing,” or the meditative, inward-looking “Lasso In.”


Mood Valiant

Hiatus Kaiyote

Hiatus Kaiyote’s third studio album, released in June, features all the best qualities of the band’s unique and fresh sound in this new collection of songs, featuring lead singer Nai Palm’s smoky vocals. The record features polyrhythmic writing in songs like ‘Rose Water,’ upbeat grooves like the refrain in ‘Get Sun’ featuring Arthur Verocai, and sultry harmonies in songs with more relaxed rhythms, as heard in ‘Red Room.’ Don’t miss Palm’s performance in the ballad ‘Stone or Lavender,’ featuring vocals, strings, and piano, on the album’s penultimate track.



Cleo Sol

Cleo Sol, lead vocalist of the band SAULT, brings her expressive vocals to Mother, her second solo record, following Rose in the Dark (2020). Smooth, rhythmic, uplifting, and heartfelt, the 12-track album for 2021 intermingles both cool and warm sounds. Listen to Mother in a continuous sitting to fully enjoy the effect of musical shifts in extended tracks like “One Day,” and the multifaceted sounds of this 2021 masterpiece.


Of All Joys

Attacca Quartet

The second of two albums released this year by the Attacca Quartet, Of All Joys pairs twenty-first century compositions by Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass with music by a selection of composers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This 14-track album includes string quartet arrangements of early vocal music such as John Dowland’s famous lute song “Flow My Tears” and John Bennet’s madrigal “Weep, o mine eyes.” This acoustic record follows the ensemble’s earlier 2021 release, Real Life, an electro-acoustic ten-track collection.


Outside Child

Allison Russell

“The former Bird of Chicago’s solo debut traces a path from rough childhood to a place of strength. ‘Nightflyer’ stands out as a declaration of self and a mission statement and ‘The Hunters’ is a declaration of victory over an abusive family: ‘If you wanted to see me destroyed, you should’ve finished the job when I was young and weak.’ At this point, Allison is unstoppable and touring with Americana’s biggest names.”

Trevor Christian, Host of Country Pocket (Alternating Mondays, 6pm-8pm, and Tuesdays, 3AM-6AM)


Private Space

Durand Jones & The Indications

Private Space is Durand Jones & The Indications’ third album. If you’ve tuned in to WUSB this summer, you may recognize two lead singles from the album: “Witchoo” and “The Way That I Do.” Joining Jones are Aaron Frazer, Mike Montgomery, Steve Okonski, and Blake Rhein. The quintet’s 2021 release follows the group’s self-titled 2016 debut and American Love Call (2019).


The Roses

Ava Earl

“There’s incredible strength and vulnerability in this 18-year-old Alaskan’s airy voice. Like all the best roots musicians, Earl uses the characteristics of the land around her to tell personal stories. ‘Springtime’ is a song of rebirth, especially in Alaska, and ‘Mountain Song’ warns against pushing yourself too hard while telling an actual mountain climbing story. When she starts singing songs of feminism from the perspective of a goddess, the high poetry really takes off.”

Trevor Christian, Host of Country Pocket (Alternating Mondays, 6pm-8pm, and Tuesdays, 3AM-6AM)


Small Things

Nick Hakim and Roy Nathanson

A collaboration between Nick Hakim (heard here on vocals) and jazz saxophonist Roy Nathanson, Small Things offers futuristic sounds and nostalgia, too. Listen along with the lyrics to the cleverly crafted title track, which personifies the saxophone, and to “All The Things You Are (Reimagined),” a reinvisioned version of Jerome Kern’s classic song. This new version of “All The Things You Are” takes the kernel of Oscar Hammerstein II’s original lyrics as a starting point for an entirely new take on the tune, which Kern and Hammerstein had originally written for the 1939 musical, Very Warm for May. “Moonman” is another standout on this seven-track album.


Smiling Without Teeth

Genesis Owusu

“This debut album from the Australian artist is as direct with its approach as it is varied in its sounds, all wrapped in a playful and energetic package. Personal track picks: ‘The Other Black Dog,’ ‘Centrefold,’ ‘Gold Chains.’”

Rob Burmeister (DJ Bobby B), Host of Over the Horizon Radio (Alternating Saturdays, 8PM-10PM)


Songs We’ll Always Sing: A Tribute to the Pilgrim Jubilees

The Sons of the Soul Revivers

“Throughout 2021, Little Village Foundation has released seven recordings. Each project focuses on music from folks deserving wider recognition. The Sons of the Soul Revivers present a timeless record that is reminiscent of one of my all-time favorite groups: The Holmes Brothers. There is an undeniable groove that permeates this tribute of the Pilgrim Jubilees’ classic gospel catalog. The Morgan Family’s vocal harmonies are a treasure to behold. Standout tracks are ‘I’ve Got Jesus,’ ‘It Isn’t Safe,’ ‘All Things Are Possible.’”

Marc Greene, Host of Fermented Radio (Fridays, 10AM-12PM) and Fermented Overnite (Alternating Mondays, Midnight-3AM)


Space for the Earth (The Tour That Didn’t Happen Edition)

Ozric Tentacles

“The first release in five years from this space-rock psychedelic legend. No band in the genre comes close to their musical environments.”

Ed Roller, Host of Melting World (Alternating Sundays, Midnight-3AM)


Stand For Myself


“Yola flexes both her assertive singing style and her nuanced songwriting in a release both triumphantly indignant and unabashedly catchy. Personal track picks: ‘Diamond Studded Shoes,’ ‘If I Had to Do It All Again,’ ‘Stand For Myself.’”

Rob Burmeister (DJ Bobby B), Host of Over the Horizon Radio (Alternating Saturdays, 8PM-10PM)


The Uncrowned King: Act 1


“Evership’s third album is based on the allegorical book The Uncrowned King by early twentieth-century author Harold Bell Wright. The story, in the spirit of The Pilgrim’s Progress, is told in a classic progressive rock style evocative of the classics of the genre. Composer Shane Atkinson manages to give the older listeners a trip back to those glory days of the 1970s while making everything fresh and new. Besides brilliant compositions, storytelling, and musicianship, it is lead singer Beau West who ties the entire project together with his incredible voice, giving us the right amount of hard rock punch that we love in the genre, and also giving the piece the quiet introspective moments, as well. An incredible listen—I can’t wait for Act 2.”

— Phil Merkel (Captain Phil), Host of Captain Phil’s Planet (Alternating Thursdays, 3PM-5PM)



Snail Mail

Valentine, the sophomore album of Lindsey Jordan’s music project Snail Mail, opens with the robust title track, showcasing the singer and guitarist’s power in the song’s thrashing refrain. Jordan’s nuanced approach to the song’s verses and chorus set the cohesive tone of this ten-track album. Check out the tracks “Forever (Sailing)” and “Madonna.”


Volume 2

New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers

“Released in March, this album joins Charlie Musselwhite with Jim Dickinson and his sons Luther and Cody (North Mississippi Allstars), as well as their old friends Alvin Hart, Jimbo Mathus, Chris Chew, and Paul Taylor. Recorded at the Zebra Ranch Studio, these tapes were archived after the elder Dickinson’s passing. Standout tracks are ‘Blues for Yesterday,’ ‘She’s About a Mover’ (Doug Sahm), and Jim Dickinson’s vocals on the Charles Mingus’s ‘Oh Lord, Don’t Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me.’”

Marc Greene, Host of Fermented Radio (Fridays, 10AM-12PM) and Fermented Overnite (Alternating Mondays, Midnight-3AM)


Welcome 2 America


 Submitted by Ahmad Ali, Host of Cafè Ali (Tuesdays, 10AM-12PM)