The best(?)100ish emo/hc/pp/indie songs of 2021

Most of these people are alone

It’s music’s biggest night! The Hell World best (?) 100ish emo/hc/pp/indie songs of the year is here. If you want to skip straight to the playlist here you go because frankly this post below is an absolute fucking mess. (It’s also way too long for email so open it in a browser.)

In any case here’s 35ish of my favorites with in depth thoughts on each one. Thank you as always for reading and please put a few coins in the tin if you can spare them.

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To Forget “Pill of Apathy”

My family didn’t go on many vacations when I was young. I know we went to Disney World twice in terms of “big trips” and that was about it. I don’t have too many memories of either one of them any more besides what I’ve seen in the photos taken then that now stand in for and have overwritten my actual brain memories. You probably have things like that right like you know that you were at a place and you have actual evidence in terms of a photo but you can’t call to mind any single other instant of the experience besides the split second captured in the photo it’s like you don’t have access to your sense of self just the point of view of an observer documenting it.

Alien Boy “The Way I Feel”

We would have had to have gotten on a plane to get from Massachusetts to Florida I know we didn’t drive the entire way but I cannot picture it I cannot picture a single member of my family on a plane especially my mother even though I know she’s been a few places but not many. She was very happy to go to Ireland once or twice without me I know that. She loves that Ireland shit. Picturing my mother on a plane is like imagining your own dog living at someone else’s house like you know it’s entirely plausible but it doesn’t feel quite correct.

Action/Adventure “Poser”

Even if you go into this Washington Post piece with full knowledge of how these transcribing-whatever-the-cops-say-and-printing-it stories work it’s worse than you think.

When an Instacart driver arrived at an elderly Minnesota couple’s home last week, they expected to open the door to groceries. Instead, they found their order strewn about the driveway and a note tucked in the Christmas wreath on their front door.

It denounced law enforcement as “police pigs” and told the couple to “find another slave.”

People always talk like that!

As a person who loves things that are real and definitely happened I like this story but as someone who wonders why the Washington Post is writing up a Minnesota police press release about an alleged $50 of vandalism I’m confused.

Anxious “Call From You”

There are so many great parts to this story it’s hard to pick one favorite. It was this paragraph here when I knew I was reading something special though something beyond the usual copy and paste copaganda.

The couple paid attention to Instacart’s online alerts as they were notified of the shopping run’s progress the next morning — one popped up when the delivery driver was at the store, another when she’d finished and a third when she was on her way, Gray wrote. When they got an alert saying the driver was in the neighborhood, the couple headed out to help her, afraid her car might get stuck in the snow.

Boneflower “El Hospital”

Let’s read a little more. Remember this is all because an Instacart driver got so enraged by seeing a thin blue line symbol at a customer’s home that she flew into a rage but also stopped to take the time to write a really normal sounding note.

Once outside, they saw the woman rocking the car back and forth in their driveway and, worried their fears about her getting stuck had come true, motioned for her to get out of the car and come to them, Podany said at the news conference. Instead, the police chief said, the driver yelled, telling them to check the Christmas wreath, where they then found the note written on the back of a receipt.

Podany read it aloud at his news conference: “It says ‘Instacart doesn’t pay employees. Find another slave, racist,’ and then ‘Eff the police pigs.’”

After the driver took off, the couple discovered the groceries scattered across their driveway. She hadn’t been stuck at all, Gray wrote in her post, but was running them over.

The Instacart driver “probably doesn’t know how carefully those $50 in groceries were budgeted for. Or how devastating the recent medical diagnosis has been. Or how scared and vulnerable her vile act of hatred made them feel,” Gray wrote.

Carly Cosgrove “Munck”

Anyway the couple has raised almost $14,000 on GoFundMe so far for their ordeal. :)

Wednesday “Handsome Man”

I suppose going to Disney World twice is a lot more than a lot of people get so I’m not complaining. Mostly we drove up to Maine to stay at my grandmother’s shitty little cottage there and I’d spend the entire time jumping and jumping off of this old broken down stone mill structure into this murky brown swimming hole dammed off next to a waterfall. Not a big waterfall or anything but enough that it would fuck you up if you sloushed over it.

SeeYouSpaceCowboy “Misinterpreting Constellations”

I don’t know how to spell the sound sloushed or if it’s even a word.

Burial Waves “Light Heads”

God this song and this band are fucking good.

Here watch this video taken by a guy in Omaha yesterday.

It’s a shot from his front step as he watches an Amazon driver delivering packages in the midst of a storm warning just days after six workers died in an Amazon warehouse in Illinois. The fucking tornado siren going on in the background man it’s too on the nose it’s some A24-ass score shit to ratchet up the sense of dread.

Suntitle “Burning Down a Denny’s”

Read this thread by Bloomberg reporter Drew Armstrong.

Reporting in Kentucky hospitals, I saw a lot of covid patients. What are they like? One man was in a high-flow oxygen mask. He was lying in bed, making tiny, fast bites at the air, gasping. He looked like he was suffocating, like a dying fish washed up on the beach.

I saw other patients on ventilators. They're pale and sedated. They look dead, until the ventilator pushes air into their lungs and their chest heaves upward. None of the looks natural, and it's very, very upsetting to watch.

I also saw patients on ECMO (heart-lung bypass). It can be a life-saving bridge to a lung transplant or recovery. About half of the patients die. It is also not gentle -- the patients have a garden hose-sized tube in the jugular and another in the groin. Plus a half-dozen IVs.

Most of these people are alone, without their families. They can get Facetime or Zoom calls, but they don't get visitors.



Almost every doctor and nurse I spoke to said they did not think anyone outside the hospital knew what things were like. Most of the public has no idea. But they have seen horror after horror.

I heard multiple stories about nurses trying to get a family on facetime as a patient was about to be intubated, and then being the only person holding their hand when they died.

It goes on from there and doesn’t get much better.

Sincere Engineer “Trust Me”

I guess the Omicron wave is here due to like ten people I know in New York City have caught the shit (pretty much all just a little sick no big deal so far thankfully). I forget if this is the third wave or fourth wave (which is something I often say while listening to emo!)

Citizen “Death Dance Approximately”

I went back and reread something I wrote a year ago just now:

There have been around a thousand new deaths a day this week and something like 70,000 new cases a day for a while now and people say it’s a second wave but it doesn’t feel like that it feels like the first one is still cresting although I don’t know if it’s accurate to refer to these clusters of death as waves anymore it’s more like it’s just the tide moving in and out.

Makthaverskan “This Time”

Wet Leg “Chaise Longue”

Something else from around then in my Lockdown book:

I guess the Trump administration’s plan is to hide the bodies and pretend they’re not piling up like we did with Iraq? I briefly convinced myself that there is some number of deaths some horrific massive number with real gravity to it that demands attention and action a tipping point type of number that we might reach whereby Republicans and “open the economy” types might stop acting like they are now. Is it 500,000 I wondered is it a million but if we’re being honest no such number likely exists. Instead what will happen is we will come to accept thousands dead every single day as another voice in the churning ambient chorus of suffering we do our best to tune out already much like with gun violence or unnecessary deaths due to the cost of healthcare or the thousands our military kills around the world. Many of us even the “good ones” like me and you already have started to do that in a way right or else how would we manage to function on a daily basis? How do you get up and measure out the coffee and heat up the water and poke your stupid face into the fridge for a nice piece of fruit every morning without pretending if at least for a while that no one is dying outside your walls?

I said this about gun violence back in August of last year in between the shootings in El Paso and Dayton—do you remember which those ones were or did it take a second?— and I suppose it’s just what deaths from the pandemic are going to be like going forward.

“It’s just like a weather report for a state you don’t live in at this point.”

Until it happens to you or someone you know and then it’s real.

Deafheaven “Great Mass of Color”

Speaking of weather I guess they broke a high temperature record in Chicago yesterday with it reaching 69 degrees in some areas on December 15. Looks like it’s going to be 60 and humid today in Massachusetts a week ahead of Christmas and that’s probably fine I’m sure.

Mannequin Pussy “Control”

Check this shit out:

I don’t even really have a joke for this or anything angry to say about it I am just really curious what this child is going to have to speak about other than the one thing? Pretty short speech I’d guess?

Genghis Tron “Dream Weapon”

Ashamed to say that sounds like a pretty good cocktail not going to lie.

Tetrarch “I’m Not Right”

Me reading that tweet:

Regional Justice Center “Taught to Steal”

Now here’s me reading this tweet:

Dreamwell “A Crouching Tiger Waits for Prey That Never Comes”

I love this photo op so much look at this it was designed in a laboratory to make as many people as possible go insane people on the left who (rightfully) find this to be a desecration of all of these revolutionaries and people on the right who are mad because they think it’s disrespectful to cops.

No one is doing it like Eric Adams right now. An unparalleled mind.

Every Time I Die “Planet Shit”

Sometimes now if I’m walking up the stairs to go to bed and I’ve got my laptop in one hand and a bottle of Ruby Red Grapefruit Polar Seltzer in the other and maybe a third thing I get real nervous about falling down especially if I’ve “had a few.” I love how many different cute ways we have to euphemize alcoholism. Just a couple of pops to take the edge off what’s the big deal. Anyway it used to be if you fell it sucked but you just got up and were like ha ha and did that little fake jog you do so everyone knows your still cool but I’m getting to the point in my life after being injured so many times where I can imagine falling down in the wrong way and it really ruining like six months or more of my life maybe the entire rest of it so I walk so much more deliberately now.

I never really knew why old people walked slow I mean I could have guessed if you asked me but I would have thought because that’s as fast as they can move I never really thought it’s because they’re doing it on purpose because they know how bad things can go if they don’t.

Really From “Yellow Fever”

Cops lie and the media help them.

Heart Attack Man “Pitch Black”

Cops lie and the media help them.

Tigers Jaw “Cat’s Cradle”

Cops lie and the media help them.

American Football “Fade Into You”

From the Hell World book:

Around that time I went to my first-ever real concert which was Lollapalooza 1993 and it was held at an Air Force field or something in Rhode Island. The first band that day was Rage Against the Machine and as you can probably guess they just about broke all of our brains. Another thing that happened that day is my girlfriend at the time fainted in the crowd and we had to leave early so I don’t remember if I got to see Alice in Chains. That might have been Lollapalooza 1994 actually but in any case she was my first love and she fainted a lot back then and I think I sort of thought of her as a delicate swooning character out of a Brontë sisters novel but now that I think of it again she was probably just starving herself all the time and passing out due to that but no one really knew how to talk about or worry about that since it was the nineties. One time she gave me a Mazzy Star CD single of “Fade Into You” which is still just about the best song I’ve ever heard.

Prince Daddy & The Hyena “Curly Q”

Was kind of surprised by the results of this poll I ran from last week.

Jail Socks “Caving In”

Top to bottom it's obviously a Deftones bloodbath in terms of albums. If you go chronologically head to head though it starts out tight: Blue smokes Adrenaline and Pinkerton vs Fur... it's Pinkerton I’m sorry. I guess the only question then is do any of the possible 3rd best Weezer albums (Green, White, Make Believe?) crack the collective top 20 of both catalogues? I think probably not.

Johnny Football Hero “Sister Hellen”

Despite listening to all these songs while compiling this list the past couple days I have had a truly cursed tune stuck in my head the entire time which is a mashup of “Hakuna Matata” and “MakeDamnSure.”

Teenage Wrist “Yellowbelly”

Hakuna Matata.
What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata.
IN THE WORST WAY!

Ovlov “Land of Steve-O”

Here’s another cool story I read in the Washington Post they’re doing great over there lately.

Nobody in Phoenix was better or more practiced at the business of eviction than Lennie, who had personally removed more than 20,000 Arizonans from their homes during the past two decades as the area’s longest-serving elected constable. “Lock-’em-out Lennie,” colleagues occasionally called him, because the 65-year-old former judo champion was capable of coaxing tenants out of their homes with subtle intimidation or with grandfatherly kindness. He arrived at each apartment with treats to pacify dogs and stickers to give children. The tenants he ushered outside each day into their first moments of homelessness were often inconsolable, or defiant, or suicidal, or mentally ill, or violent and aggressive, but Lennie was calm. “You have to take your own emotions out of it,” he’d told colleagues during one national training. “It’s our job to carry out the court order.”



Lennie had done more than 300 evictions since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal moratorium expired in early August, and during that time he’d given up on predicting who might come to the door. In the past several months, he’d evicted a 93-year-old from a retirement facility, a group of drug addicts living in an apartment cluttered with bowls of counterfeit cash, a man claiming to be a “sovereign citizen” above the law who barricaded himself inside the apartment, a laid-off restaurant worker, a schizophrenic, a hoarder, a recent Somali refugee, a man with a pet reindeer, a woman who tried hiding inside her dresser cabinet, and six families living in a two-bedroom apartment subdivided by drapes and shower curtains.

But no matter who he found waiting inside, Lennie’s job remained the same: to search the home, force everyone out and change the locks — all within a government-recommended time of about 10 minutes.

Get your shit and go you’ve got ten minutes fuck you.

I love hearing about hundreds of personal catastrophes from perspective of the guy putting them into motion with the power of the state behind him!

Knocked Loose “Forced to Stay”

A reader wrote in to tell me about his job and then we talked on the phone about it but I thought his original email described pretty succinctly how good our healthcare system is.

Quickest way I can cut this is that I work for a company called Business Solver. They’re a middle man between companies, insurers, and the employees. My job is to take inbound calls from employees from a zillion companies who are trying to set up their benefits, have billing disputes, all that. Volvo, Madison Square Garden, Arby’s (Inspire Brands is the corporate name lol), etc.

This year, they picked up a company called Lumen that is this conglomerate that picked up other companies that picked up other communication companies. Mostly retirees that retired through their Ma Bell company that got snatched up again and again, so every year they gotta deal with four different companies just to file their HRA (health reimbursement arrangement).

Weakened Friends “Quitter”

He went on:

Obviously, most of those retirees aren’t computer savvy, and even if they are, the websites will lock them out or they have to continuously create new login accounts, on top of dealing with the Medicare exchange and all the septate companies who are the private insurers. Every day I hear “you’re the third person I've called just to find out, etc.”

The Lumen thing in particular is a mindfucking trainwreck because it all happened so fast, and we are still waiting on information, even though their benefits all go into effect January 1.

It personally pains me to be a middleman and try as hard as I can to help people out because they need their motherfucking insulin, but there’s only so many buttons I can click, and nobody wants to hear “I’ll pass this along and within 10-14 days you may be able to pay $600 a month to die, or maybe your family pays for the coffin, here’s 3 more phone numbers to call and sit on hold for an hour to have them to you to call somebody else back, have a nice day!”

Lydia Loveless “Let’s Make Out”

One Step Closer “Pringle Street”

Wait I just had this other memory of vacation come flooding back to me I guess we took a cruise from Florida one of those times and went to the Bahamas (?) for a couple days I cannot remember the details. One thing I do remember though is I met a girl on the beach I can’t remember her name or what she looked like but I do remember she was from Canada (I swear!!!!) and we exchanged letters for a few months after we got home and then just stopped after we ran out of things to say.

How’s Canada?
It’s nice.

Touché Amore “Hard to Explain”

That used to happen you didn’t have to continue to know about the lives of every single person you ever met for the rest of your life back then. People just disappeared and maybe every now and again the wind would blow a certain way and you’d go oh right huh I wonder what happened to them and then you’d go welp not my problem and you’d go about the rest of your day not knowing what happened to hundreds of people. Every year you’d know about fewer people and fewer people would know about you and eventually no one knows about you at all anymore. I suppose that last part is still true.

The War On Drugs “I Don’t Live Here Anymore”

You can still lose track of people now but it has to be a blatant and specific choice on one or the other person’s behalf which reminds me of this old Hell World still probably my favorite ever.

We all have friends or people we love who exist in all three tenses: past present and future. And we all have friends and loved ones who exist only in the past. You can’t have a friend who exists exclusively in the past and the present however, it doesn’t work that way, although I guess you can now that I think of it you just can’t be aware of it at the time. Maybe they’re going to die or leave you in an hour or two and then the future them you had always assumed would be around is taken out of the equation for you. People can do that. They can disappear. They don’t even have to consult with you although it’s generally considered a courtesy to do so.

You probably have someone in your life who you have always worried there won’t be a future for regardless of if you’re involved in it or not. They’re still there until they are not and you spend a lot of time preparing yourself for their absence which is arriving any day now presently here it comes ah not yet ok here it comes.

Snail Mail “Valentine”

Sorry I swear I didn’t plan it but that bit above is thematically resonant with this Snail Mail song.

Can’t love for us both
You've gotta live and I gotta go
As long as it’s us two
Fuck being remembered, I think I was made for you

So why’d you wanna erase me, darling valentine?
You'll always know where to find me when you change your mind

I’d hate to picture someone with you
I lay down and start to cry
You won’t believe what just two months do
I’m older now, believe me, I adore you

Bush “Machinehead”

Sorry to say once again like last year and the prior twenty five before it the champ stays the champ.