Best of 2021: Dream Theater's James LaBrie Picks Favorite Album, Song, TV of Year | Revolver

Best of 2021: Dream Theater's James LaBrie Picks Favorite Album, Song, TV of Year

Singer praises rising Canadian prog rockers, stereotype-smashing comedians, more
dream theater james labrie rayon richards 2 press, Rayon Richards
photograph by Rayon Richards

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2021 has been, without a doubt, one of the most memorable years in modern music history. The invisible elephant in the room was obviously COVID-19, which triggered the unprecedented year-plus blackout on nearly all live shows. Thankfully this spring's widespread vaccination rollout proved effective enough for the restrictions to lift, and by summer bands were finally able to hit stages throughout the country.

While we're not quite in "post-COVID" times just yet, the sheer joy of experiencing the cranked sounds and singular live energy of gatherings big and small — from sweaty Turnstile club gigs and raucous Slipknot road shows to massive Metallica-led festivals — has been beyond rejuvenating.

Plus, there's also been a bunch of killer albums released this year to keep us entertained in between mosh pits. Old-school heavies Iron Maiden, Carcass and At the Gates brought the heat, scene leaders Mastodon and Gojira upped the ante, Converge and Chelsea Wolfe dropped a bomb collab and a clutch of up-and-coming trailblazers — Spiritbox, Jinjer, Turnstile, Scowl, Portrayal of Guilt and more — pushed heavy music into exciting new territories. (See Revolver's 25 favorite albums of 2021 here.)

As we close the books on 2021, we're catching up with some of our favorite artists to get their picks for the best of the best of the past year. Below, Dream Theater singer James LaBrie shares his favorite shit: from Crown Lands' Rush-inspired rock to Chevelle's "killer riffs" and more.

Best Album: '7.1' by Big Wreck

Interestingly, my favorite album of 21 was just recently released. It's Big Wreck 7.1 and is not an album but an EP. Every song is just so well crafted and immediately resonates. Example: my favorite song "Bombs Away" has incredible energy, killer riffs and beautiful melodies.

Best Song: "Self Destructor" by Chevelle

"Self Destructor" by Chevelle is a killer song. [Vocalist, guitarist, bassist] Pete [Loeffler], [drummer] Sam [Loeffler] and company always come up with killer riffs and melodies. This song is classic Chevelle.

Best TV Show: Kim's Convenience

Kim's Convenience is a TV sitcom and — besides being hilarious — it deals with a Korean family running a convenience store in Toronto. I love the fact that we see how no matter what ethnicity, culture, traditions or ancestral heritage we hail from, we all more or less deal with life's many dynamics therefore having more similarities than differences. It bridges and eradicates the misconceptions and stereotypes too many people assume depend on someone's race. Humor is a universal trait, and this show does it brilliantly.

Best Book: A Gentleman in Moscow

Favorite book from this year is easily A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It deals with a man who instead of being imprisoned has been ordered to live in a luxury hotel for the rest of his life. This is all due to his political, social and aristocratic background. Such a captivating read. 

Best New Band: Crown Lands

I did indeed! Crown Lands, a band from Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. It is a prog-rock band — huge Rush influences — with classic-rock overtones throughout. It only consists of two people. Kevin Comeau plays guitar, keys and bass. Cody Bowles plays drums and is the vocalist — and what a voice Cody has, amazing. Check out the song "White Buffalo."

Best Musical Moment

Building a home studio. Recorded my latest solo album there, which by the way will be released in may of 22. Was just so cool to walk down into my basement and make music.

What Are You Most Excited for In 2022?

Real pumped and stoked to get out in February and kick off Dream Theater's next world tour in support of our latest album A View From the Top of the World. See you out there everyone — it's going to be epic.