For their exquisite follow-up Flower of Devotion, Dehd upgraded to a proper studio, refining their gritty alchemy without scrubbing it too clean. Her howled words and the music’s occasionally sharp edges are both caustic and restorative forces. “If this is all that we get, so be it,” Kempf insists, a bit of wistful resignation that doubles as a mission statement for their proudly stripped-down approach. “I no be politician/Me no like no politics,” Burna insists—and that rings true. There was a lot of great music released this year. Look, Pramuk seems to declare, at how much we contain. The napkins might be white linen but nobody’s using them. Kempf and Balla trade yearning, hiccupy vocals across riffs that reverberate like heat waves off asphalt, as McGrady thuds away through the humid air. Well, yes. Have We Met leaves you to wonder: Is Bejar the cagey proprietor of this dream world or the disoriented guest? Neither hot mess nor robot, sisters Chloe x Halle have chosen a different route, from YouTube sensations to Beyoncé protégées to grown women. Gordon’s howls are hell-bent and infatuated, with Tumor’s raspy pleas pushing them both closer to the edge of oblivion. Albums of the Year 2020: Steve Earle & The Dukes - Ghosts of West Virginia In a year when we all dug deep, Steve Earle discovers a rich seam Albums of the Year 2020: Bob Dylan - Rough and Rowdy Ways Dylan pulls out the stops for this late-period masterpiece Osees - Protean Threat14. Heaven flirts with familiar rock motifs as often as it subverts them, morphing into something unrecognizable. Where on his debut album Sumney lingered on lack and absence, on græ he delivers effulgence and multiplicity with a shapeshifting swagger. A pair of albums that work as a brilliant whole, songs and instrumentals capture the ambiance of the woods, the anguish of a breakup, and an autumn’s harvest of keen-eyed musings, at once lofty and visceral. He does a lot more of whatever he wants throughout the rest of the record—from sad boi trap to acoustic rap balladry to emocore—but not without first celebrating those who made it all possible. These are our 100 favorite albums of 2020. Death and apocalypse lurk in every corner of Punisher—lightning flashes, sirens wail, a Giants fan gets killed at Dodger Stadium—and Bridgers shuffles through this ominous fog, still alive, still growing taller. The British-Japanese singer’s triumphant songs, which meld the fabulosity of Y2K-era Britney Spears with Korn-inspired nu-metal and campy stadium rock, invite sing-alongs and stylish TikTok choreography. These are the best rock albums of 2020. 50. Her sound has evolved from fragile, complicated vulnerability to maternal love and maturity, all at the tender age of 30. Amidst the pandemic that ravaged the globe in 2020, a centuries-old injustice fought to the fore and demanded to be seen and to be heard. But instead of corroding Margolin further, this music uplifts her, more like an exorcism of destructive thoughts than a platform for them. Many of those selections appear above in his top 10 picks. An undeniable collaborative enterprise, Jarvis' vocals as captivating as ever.Emily, Buy now Bonus Exclusive: Suite For Iain and Jane / House Music All Night Long 12". Workaround inverts that dynamic: By requiring sustained close attention to the thumps and shimmers in your headphones, it offers something truly meditative. “Oh, emptiness/Tell me about your nature,” she sings on “zombie girl.” While songs mostly consists of Lenker’s silvery vocals and brambled acoustic guitar, and instrumentals turns toward fingerpicked meditations and wind-chime drones, both sound like nothing so much as the rustic abode that Lenker has likened to “the inside of an acoustic guitar.” These records put you right inside that hollow. The 50 Best Albums of 2020 The albums that got us through this chaotic year, featuring Fiona Apple, Bad Bunny, Lil Uzi Vert, Phoebe Bridgers, and more By Pitchfor k On Have We Met, the Vancouver-based Destroyer maestro slips into another velvet interior, only to find it's a sort of Black Lodge. –Brian Josephs, A band’s impact shouldn’t be hypothetical, but here’s Dogleg, the debutants of Michigan emo, whose breakout year mostly took place in the imagination. The Best Albums of 2020 This year was highlighted by projects from artists like the Weeknd, 21 Savage, and Megan Thee Stallion. But in her instrumentation, she reaches for organic matter, sometimes painstakingly: Grimes meticulously tweaked acoustic guitar loops on “Delete Forever,” layering actual violins and banjo until they recall a post-apocalyptic campfire song. The most revelatory sound Haim make room for on Women in Music Pt. It's a hard life, fighting to be seenIt's a hard life, we were born to leadOh, be on your wayThings are gonna change, If history is just, the battle cry bong of 2020’s alarm clock will reverberate for decades to come. Dream-sequence strings float atop dissonant shudders; Sumney’s voice transfigures mid-run like a stage trick, his falsetto a sudden flapping dove; he sings about being between polarities of desire and identity as if to lay claim to both at the same time. It lies at the intersection of beats and ambience, where sounds are just vibrations entering and leaving the body, cleansing it of toxins. Somewhere between the abrasion of its searing riffs and melodic incantations, Every Bad is a soul-cleaning album that drenches you in the multifaceted nature of a lyric that evolves when hurled over and over again. Hopefully, like Chloe x Halle, we reemerge into the real world, elegantly transformed by what happened in the wee hours of the morning. Follow our countdown of the 50 best albums of 2020 It makes for a complex and personal statement about the nature and worth of Black creativity and labor. Within these entrancing soundscapes, stray ruminations float to the surface. Grimes once treated lyrics as meaningless sound, but here, she’s shockingly honest about the pain of posh isolation: “I’ll tie my feet to rocks and drown/You’ll miss me when I’m not around.” –Arielle Gordon, On Every Bad, Brighton indie rock four-piece Porridge Radio make a strong case for curative self-scrutiny. Alfredo, the dexterous 38-year-old MC’s collaboration with beloved producer the Alchemist, is by turns heavy and light—his “Beam” verse ends with a rude kiss off to an ex in the form of Jordan-Pippen wordplay: “without me the bitch wouldn’t have got a ring.” More than a time capsule, Alfredo is an unruly feast of language. Buy now Bonus Exclusive: Sideways to New Italy Demos 12". “I have a gift, I’ve been told, for seeing what’s there,” she sings on “The Eye,” and her perspective has never sounded so clear. However, it has certainly underlined the importance of music and the role it has to play to unite us, heal us and make the hard times more bearable. –Philip Sherburne, Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify, “Genres keep us in our boxes,” Bartees Strange sing-raps on “Mossblerd,” a song that sounds like it’s falling apart even as he’s putting it together. It is a testament to Dylan’s spectral presence as a singer, and the sympathy of his accompanists, that the uptempo tunes often seem as misty and elusive as the slow ones. There, she brandishes a fist full of glow sticks to fight the dread that lurks in the dark. Righteous anger pointed at society’s rulers flows throughout RTJ4, which was released at the start of June amid nationwide protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd. If only we could make like Sumney and turn self-interrogation into a singular kind of art. –Rawiya Kameir, For 25 years, Dan Bejar has come across as the smartest absinthe-sipping aesthete in the room. The title of the Brownsville rapper’s engrossing album frames his traumas as the product of his father’s sins cursing east Brooklyn’s soil. Writing with more personality and candor than ever about a range of difficult themes—depression, loss, misogyny, the complications of loving on one’s own terms—they’ve also loosened their taut pop rock just enough to breathe more life into it, incorporating the ‘90s Lilith rock of Sheryl Crow, the blue-skied strums of Wilco, and a groovy Lou Reed interpolation. Twirling in the fog of producer DJ Parrot’s near-industrial spin on 12” disco, Murphy lets us into her wildest dreams and wrongest desires (“Ten lovers in my bed / But I want something more,” she sings on “Something More”). It’s time to 'WAKE UP’, the revolution has come and Black Is it’s soundtrack.Emily Buy now on Rough Trade Exclusive blue vinylBonus Exclusive: 5 and 7 on Rough Trade Exclusive blue vinyl. Songwriter and bandleader Meg Remy reckons with alienation and injustice, drawing on a palette of pop, rock, and experimental sounds to convey the anxiety of the era. Instantly, it felt more like an unfocused, loose, and chaotic mid-aughts Lil Wayne mixtape with memorable tracks like “All In,” where the flexes are brilliantly batshit (Lil Baby threatens to wreck his Lambo truck just to prove, to no one in particular, that it’s not rented). Informed by what our customers have talked to us about, what’s been in most demand across our shops, and what we’ve all been turning to in response to a very testing year. Bedroom is that album, a full-on submergence in a swirling pool of gothic shoegaze, abundant with suffocating jams and life-saving attacks of adrenaline. –Sheldon Pearce, Listen/Buy: Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal, Hannah Read can make a melody out of anything. A workout of sheer musical magnitude and absolutely their best yet. Across the hour-long odyssey, Uzi hops between kaleidoscopic new worlds: one where it sounds like he’s skipping across a Sega Genesis circuit board, another where he’s hosting an ethereal party alongside a turnt choir. After steamrolling detractors over classic Biggie on withering opener “Shots Fired,” the reigning Hot Girl shifts her focus to more pressing concerns, namely flexing and sexing. On his first collection of original material in eight years, he sounds unusually attuned to the suggestive power of his craggy instrument, using small changes of inflection to convey wry self-mockery, roaring prowess, and a certain uneasy nostalgia. Rarely has there been an artistic statement this stirring, this staggering, this powerful. Credit: The 30 Best Albums of 2020. Consider The Angel You Don’t Know proof-of-concept of an alt-afropop offshoot, destined for a global audience without sacrificing its cultural roots. KiCk i is her first record to prominently feature several guest singers, with Björk, Rosalía, SOPHIE, and Shygirl all present to witness her various metamorphoses. –Quinn Moreland, Fifteen years ago, on the title track to Extraordinary Machine, Fiona Apple declared, “I still only travel by foot, and by foot, it’s a slow climb.” She worked her way up to the clear heights of Fetch the Bolt Cutters over the course of the last half-decade or so, largely at her L.A. home alongside trusted bandmates and friends and a small shelter’s worth of barking dogs. There is almost no reverb. This year hasn’t been easy for the music community, or any community for that matter. Punisher hears Phoebe Bridgers sculpting a night terror into a daydream. Killer Mike’s verse on “walking in the snow” offers a particularly stop-you-in-your-tracks moment, as he raps, “And you so numb, you watch the cops choke out a man like me/Until my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, ‘I can’t breathe.’” Alongside production that subtly expands the Run the Jewels sound, the duo offer more insight into the modern American psyche than any cable news pundit could hope to muster. Hers is a musicality of the disguise and the costumes are multiple. These instrumentals lend a “sense of comic relief,” Allison says, “like when you joke with your friend about your unhealthy habits.” In a year when hundreds of thousands of Americans perished, we needed friends desperately—someone to make us laugh, and someone to sit with us at shiva. In the companion short film, he accompanies his thoughts by flipping through hundreds of old photos, adding bittersweet visual cues to the rambling narrative. I’m not crying, you’re crying. But these Fela-like or Marley-esque moments tend to melt into the glide-and-glisten of the sound. For each tart complaint (“I hate your mom”) or fatalist disclosure (“I’ve been playing dead my whole life”) is a glimmering prophecy that one day things might be just fine, even if that day comes at the very end of civilization. Pitchfork's Highest Rated Albums of 2020. As she glissades through disco synths on “Love Again,” talkbox funk on “Levitating,” and electronic dance rhythms on “Hallucinate,” the British singer effortlessly fuses styles without resorting to forced formulas. Still, without question, it’s Garcia’s performances and curatorial instincts that make this such a powerful statement of self. Alive with the kind of freedom that 2020 mostly failed to deliver, Lipa’s vision of future-pop pairs classic themes of love with enough hope to carry us to a new year. Enter SAULT, the mystery music making UK collective with an album that delivers equal parts grace and charge, manoeuvring through disparate sub-genres to create a magnificent medley of exaltation. Putting that lens to the side, his stories about the ease of embracing hate (“Solitude of Enoch”) and post-prison families (“Unto the Dust”) are just as gripping and vivid. The harpist’s ambient compositions are somber but whimsical, submerging her careful plucks in murky pools of reverb and synth. Much like Sufjan Stevens in the songs of Carrie & Lowell, Allison ventures into the tundra of her despair and emerges with an unsparing and unsentimental account of survival. Heaven to a Tortured Mind balances listeners on that knife point, declaring Tumor’s rock-star bona fides with roguish style. The 50 Best Albums Of 2020: 50-41 / 40-31 / 30-21 / 20-11 / 10-1 Poignant collages of interviews split the album into sections; the speakers’ recollections of hurtful memories and childhood bedrooms suffuse the music with empathy. –Jessica Kariisa, Room for the Moon feels like a safe place to hide from mounting anxiety. FTW's top 20 albums of 2020. largest wave of civil-rights protests in American history. –Cat Zhang, The first half of græ, Moses Sumney’s tour de force sophomore album, came out just before lockdown; the second was released a few months later, after its audience had been humbled by the soft brutality of isolation, the brutal clarity of wandering our own inner landscapes day after day. It makes sense that the album gave them their biggest hit, the highly boppable “Do It.” While it feels like the duo shot up overnight and out of sight, their rise parallels the way the world has been living this year: inward and on an insomniac’s circadian rhythm. Pitchfork may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. –Eric Torres. The relentless angst of Nuvolascura seethes with pain and revenge. –Ivie Ani, The warm, gracious folk on Shore seems to materialize from an alternate universe where there are no storm clouds or push notifications. On the slow-burning “It’s Lomelda,” she croons off a list of her musical heroes and their work, from Yo La Tengo to Frank Ocean to Sufjan Stevens’ devastatingly spare “The Only Thing.” She turns a conversational bit of advice into a soaring mantra on “Wonder,” repeating the phrase “When you get it, give it all you got, you said” across vocal peaks and valleys. Uncut's 75 Best Albums of 2020. Now, Crutchfield gazes into the mirror and doesn’t shy away from the reflection. View Top 100 AlbumsTell us your favourites and keep the conversation going #RTtop100, And so to wrap up this most dismal of years, we offer up some of our personal album picks for 2020 from both sides of the…, It's been a pretty sh*t year, but great music has lifted us and carried us through. Buy now on Rough Trade Exclusive silver vinylBonus Exclusive: Lockdown Sessions 10", The Pulp frontman narrates a journey through evocative and explorative instrumentation that is totally sublime. These are tracks with expressive, textured sounds. But while many were soothed by the familiar in 2020, new music was one of the simple pleasures that distracted others from the dread of this year. Buy now on Rough Trade Exclusive yellow vinylBonus Exclusive: Live at the Nave 10" white/black splatter. Caribou - Suddenly16. But rather than finding comfort in the anthropomorphic gesture, Grimes renders a bleak, if beautiful, portrait of nihilism. They are mostly untitled, proceed according to a single tempo across the whole album, and feature a drastically limited instrumental palette. All rights reserved. According to bandleader Robin Pecknold, Fleet Foxes’ fourth album carries the mission to live “fully and vibrantly” in celebration of lost heroes like Arthur Russell and John Prine, an especially poetic resolution in the grey hours of the present. Like a gluttonous heart who must purge and expel its emotions in order to gorge again. –Allison Hussey, It was an album that was rumored to be rap’s next opus before it even materialized. While some vocal lines emulate pulsing bass and celestial synth, the prevailing current is a surging chorus of near-language, struck through with the unmistakable trembles and notches of a human voice. Meditative songs sit alongside pacy, beat-driven odes. But amongst the violent storm, once you succumb to its slow motion destruction, you too will find peace beyond the desolation. His deep familiarity with each of those touchstones—he prefaced Live Forever with an EP of National covers—allows him to explode them from within and rethink not just how but if they speak for him. (“Percy Miller, ‘bout it ‘bout it, ‘bout the dough/Macarena to the money after shows,” she sings on single “Fancy.”) And yet, maybe improbably, she synthesizes wide-ranging references into a genreless style that could very well be predictive of a post-Spotify moment. Yet, despite the gruelling impact of Covid both personally and professionally on so many people, many electronic acts still managed to battle on through as our 2020 Review of the Year feature explored. Without further ado, Atwood Magazine is proud to present our curated list of 2020âs Albums of the Year, in alphabetical order. Inner Song’s palette of pulsing basslines, swirling synths, and visceral found sounds draws influence from the practices of the sound-healing community: sound baths, shamanic drumming, and voice work. But if you listen closely, a universe might open in the split-second space between two hi-hats. His first album of 2020, YHLQMDLG , â¦ –Colin Lodewick, In 2019, Chicago indie rock trio Dehd released the sparse and scrappy album Water, with songs informed by the romantic breakup of bassist Emily Kempf and guitarist Jason Balla, accompanied by Eric McGrady’s one-tom, one-snare minimalism. –Jazz Monroe, Listen/Buy: Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal, “My execution might be televised.” That line and others from Freddie Gibbs’ “Scottie Beam” appeared in black marker on handmade signs this summer, held aloft in cities across the country during what may have been the largest wave of civil-rights protests in American history. So, to cap this truly remarkable year, we've assembled our 50 favourite albums from 2020. Tidal, Hannah Read can make a melody out of anything wrote about sucks in its way. Year unlike any we can remember miss last year as there are so many choose... 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