Year's Best Spins: San Antonio artists dominated the Current's favorite releases of the year

Seven of our music writers' 10 favorite albums of the year were by Alamo City artists.

click to enlarge Garrett T. Capps performs at Paper Tiger in 2021. - Katelyn Earhart
Katelyn Earhart
Garrett T. Capps performs at Paper Tiger in 2021.

There's no shortage of great music coming out of San Antonio these days, so we were thrilled when we realized that seven of our music writers' 10 favorite albums of the year were by Alamo City artists. From spacerock-infused country and spooky synthwave to shoegaze and jazzy sonic experiments, this town continues to produce amazing and diverse sounds. We'd sure love to see more of SA's homegrown acts hit the road and acquaint the rest of the world with their greatness.

Garrett T. Capps & NASA Country: People Are Beautiful (Spaceflight Records)

While San Antonio alt-country singer Garrett T. Capps draws a lot of praise for his frequent tips of the 1o-gallon hat to forebears including Doug Sahm and Augie Meyers, People Are Beautiful earns its spot on this list by standing Texas-fried conventions on their heads. Sure, there's plenty of twang in these eight tunes, but it's all underpinned by elements of spacerock and ambient music, as if Capps has taken his "cosmic cowboy" mantel literally. "Time Will Tell" may be the great country song Hawkwind never got around to writing. — Sanford Nowlin

Brandon Guerra and Nick Mery: Deathbloom (Self-released)

San Antonio musicians Brandon Guerra and Nick Mery's Deathbloom is a jazz-infused soundtrack to the unprecedented Texas snowstorm that left more than 5 million residents without power in 2021. Released on the anniversary of the traumatic event, the collection features haunting melodies, personal anecdotes and clips of news reports, all atop lo-fi beats and jazz instrumentation. The album is named for the flower agave plants produce before they freeze, offering a nod to the beauty, fragility and temporal nature of our everyday lives. — Marco Aquino

Haunter: Discarnate Ails (Profound Lore Records)

There's no need to travel to Scandinavia to experience the metallic distillation of bleakness and atmospheric despair. Haunter is creating that right here in San Antonio. Discarnate Ails' beautifully disconcerting sounds draw from two main ingredients: black and death metal, both delivered in a variety of configurations. Eerie melodies, tremolo-picked riffs and low throbs of bass guitar combine with infernal growls that seem to rise from the bowels of a darkened cave. Although this three-song LP lasts a mere 32 minutes, it packs so much variation on its dark theme that the listener never grows bored. — Brianna Espinoza

Las Cruces: Cosmic Tears (Ripple Music)

Twelve-years in the offing, this lumbering slab confirms what Las Cruces' cult of diehard fans have long known: few bands are better at producing doom metal that respects originators like Sabbath and Trouble while forging ahead into new sonic territory. The eight-minute title track showcases the band's dynamics and ability to craft molten riffs. The powerful tenor of new vocalist Jason Kane also brings accessibility and emotion to Cosmic Tears, adding yet another powerful weapon to Las Cruces' arsenal. They shouldn't wait another 12 years to fire the next salvo. — SN

Marillion: An Hour Before It's Dark (Racket Records)

Although Marillion's been around since the '80s, it's never been a band to rest on its laurels. The Brit progsters' outstanding An Hour Before It's Dark continues their recent approach of arranging soaring, emotional song pieces into a unified whole. It's an approach that's simultaneously prog and not prog. Imagine if the second side of Abbey Road was re-imagined by Radiohead and addressed issues from COVID-19 to contemporary understandings of gender. An Hour is a densely layered masterpiece, though the band missed an opening by not making the release exactly 60 minutes. — Mike McMahan

Nespithe: Nightlife Ecstasis (Self-released)

Instrumental music has been steadily gaining in popularity in the last decade or two. It may be that we're all worded out, awash in them from social media to podcasts. Given that the synthwave genre emerged from movie scores, it's no surprise that Nightlife Ecstasis from San Antonio's Nespithe makes the listener feel like Terrifier's Art the Clown or a similar slasher movie baddie may lurk just around the corner. Nespithe manages to bring the menace that defines its musical genre while rolling in memorable synth hooks. Recommended for people who prefer to retreat into the nightmares inside their heads instead of in the world around them. — MM

Jessie Reyez: Yessie (FMLY/Island Records)

On her sophomore album Yessie, R&B singer Jessie Reyez sings about love, betrayal and life's many struggles. "Waist gettin' slimmer, but I don't think my ass is," she reveals on the opening track "Mood." An ode to her Colombian roots, the track samples the classic "Los Caminos de la Vida" by Los Diablitos, allowing Reyez to embark on a multi-cultural, multi-genre mashup. Concise, with few bells and whistles, Yessie highlights Reyez' unique voice and songwriting skills, placing her as a generational talent whose abilities can't be denied. — MA

Sinking: Some Piqued Interest (Self-released)

San Antonio shoegaze trio Sinking released Some Piqued Interest in August, a fuzzy homage to influences such as Failure and the Lemonheads with hints of '80s new wave included for good measure. Gauzy lyrics give way to moments of determined musicality in songs such as "Christmas Mass" and "Car Crash." The swirling guitar of frontman David Cortez leads, while his brother Patrick's syncopated percussion propels the group and the bass of Bobby Aguilar lends steadiness. After a decade of grinding, Sinking appears to be on the rise. — Danny Cervantes

Sudan Archives: Natural Brown Prom Queen (Stones Throw Records)

The sophomore effort of self-taught violinist Brittney Parks, who performs as Sudan Archives, Natural Brown Prom Queen is a genre-breaking revelation. The album shapeshifts from song to song, effortlessly flowing between R&B, hip-hop and loopy electronica. "NBPQ (Topless)" pulses at a frenetic pace punctuated with manic tempo changes. Later in the album "Ciara" projects soulful sensuality without being vulgar — a rare feat these days. Throughout the refrain of the title track, Parks declares, "I'm not average." NBPQ certainly backs up the swagger. — DC

X.I.L.: Rip & Tear (Confused Records)

Rip & Tear, San Antonio band X.I.L.'s debut LP, transports listeners to the ragged and raw days of thrash metal's infancy. Frantic guitar speeds and equally propulsive drumming are at the forefront. However, the trio offers more than just fast tempos. A rock 'n' roll approach pervades the album — think Motörhead with the edge of your favorite pioneering black metal band and a sprinkle of '80s Metallica shred. If you listen closely, you may even catch a few satisfyingly doomy breaks as well. — BE

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