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Best New Music 2020


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In previous years people accompanied their top ten album choices, with a few comments about them. I thought I'd take the plunge this year and I've wittered on longer than is sensible about my choices. :)

 

01 - Fish - Weltschmerz

 

 

Spoiler

The candle stutters in the desert breeze
Sets the characters dancing on a dusty page
The hearts of darkness beat in the starlight
A burning bush, the ashes glow, charcoals blacken the embers
Show the words of the prophet
The promise of miracles, prayers of deliverance, faith in the fire

 

Before a timeless dawn the shadows crawl, the dew evaporatеs
The rising sun signals the movemеnt a world in motion
The woodsmoke lingers in the patchy thorns
Where partridge scuffle a nervous
Squall, a panicking hare breaks from his cover

 

The figures wander through familiar lands
The razored rock, the scorching sands
Follow the footsteps of lost generations
That gathered the flowers to place in their baskets
The scent of the petals carries the memories
The eternal fragrance of the rose of Damascus

 

In the back of a bouncing car
Potholes abound on the dark road to city lights
Heading for coffee bars, singing along to the songs on the radio
The spell of a Friday night
Bewitches their hearts and banishes sadness
Lost in their teenage dreams,
Careless and free to their fate, they're oblivious

 

Her blouse unbuttoned, she opens the collar
Checks the mirror for her lipstick smile
Smoothing her dress, she glances behind her
Condemning eyes are now so far away

 

She moves in the bustling crowds
Her confidence shows, her presence invisible
The beat of the pulsing night lifting her
High on the wings of a butterfly

 

Deaf to the gathering storm, screams in the darkness
Whispers in alleyways
She joins with the growing throng, carried away unaware of her destiny
She breathes in the wind of change, heady with hope
The promise of freedoms
Leaving the lights behind, a tear in her eye
She heads into the darkness

 

She wraps her skirts in ancient tissue paper
Folds them away within the cellophane
Her heels in boxes, her blouse fully buttoned
She hides her heart until another day

 

She breathes in the wind of change, heady with hope
The promise of freedoms
Joining the growing throng, carried away unaware of her destiny

 

Defiance scrawled on the walls
Inspiring the ranks of keyboard warriors
The authors are all long gone, snatched in their sleep
Or dreaming in uniforms

 

Guarding the cellar doors from the chill powdered snows
From the Anti-Lebanon
That silently lay a shroud on the fields of the dead
And the Damask roses

 

Colourless men under colourless skies herd broken creatures
Reeking of fear into dark caves for slaughter
Desiccated heads pinned on the rusty railings, in a flyblown square
Where the pendulums of corpses, hanging from the streetlights

 

Mark silent time, on a never-ending war
Cynical rockets fly in on soft targets
Creeping artillery round up the districts
Over which helicopters hover, carrying Pandora's boxes to eviscerate

 

To eliminate the survivors below
Sleek roaring jets glint on the horizon
To arrive in a moment to unleash merciless retribution
A hellish symphony, a monotonous cacophony
A soundtrack for the carnage
On the petrified innocents, the interminable onslaught
From unchallenged skies

 

She came to in the rubble, in the debris of her memories
In a broken world she couldn't recognise
She wanders in the landscape, a solemn wraithlike figure
In the company of ghosts she knew before
Through the canyons of the labyrinth
The twisted concrete skeletons
The clouds of smoke and dust that fill the skies

 

The blinding light, it fell out of the heavens
And changed her life forever
She's no one left, everything has gone, she knows she has to leave
Nowhere to shelter, no food, no heat, no water
Struggling to survive
On the edge of the shadows, she's aware the snipers follow;
The clock is ticking down

 

She was searching for a vision, some sign to give direction
In this wasteland where it's a curse to be alive
When there across the crippled street, on a terracotta balcony
A splintered shard of colour caught her eye

 

The sweet familiar fragrance, the delicate fragile petals
Of the Damask rose
The flowers blown and battered, the roots exposed and tattered
It wills to thrive
Her nurturing hand wraps the treasured cuttings
In a fist of moistened clay
To carry on her journey, to find another homeland
Somewhere to blossom and come alive
The windscreen wipers battle futilely
Against the swirling dust storms

 

Their soothing rhythm and the movement of the bus
Providing some temporary reassurance
Lulling her into an uneasy sleep

 

Cautiously threading their way along ancient smugglers routes
Down through the valleys
Under a ceiling of stark starlight, her only baggage
The fragments of the horrors she couldn't leave behind
The passage was paid for in greedy exchanges
With callous strangers full of promises and peddling hope
Whose cold lecherous eyes followed her
As she took the transport up the coast
To a deserted inlet out of sight of prying eyes and guardian angels

 

She felt the sands shift under her feet
The waves racing up onto the moonlit beach
Dancing around her ankles
The ebb pulling her further into the swelling tide
Allowing the powerful but gentle lift of the chilling waters
To carry her to waiting hands
To be pulled up onto the fearful overcrowded boat

 

She stares out into the night towards the dark sea
That disappears into the horizon
Her past slips into the distance behind
Her as she nurses the slender waxed-cotton bundle
That holds her treasured stems, her roots, her legacy
Her destiny

 

 

Fish's final release gets the nod this year, partly because I genuinely do feel he deserves the recognition for the body of work he leaves behind, but also of course, because the album itself is comfortably his finest work to date. To me, Fish has always been a modern day poet who was cast in the role of singer to share his truth and on this, his final album, he seems keen to wrap up his career with his most poignant statement to date.

The album opens with The Grace Of God, a song with a very deliberate tempo, mapped to the rhythm of the heart monitor which the burly Scotsman was attached to not two years earlier, when a bout of sepsis very nearly killed him. For an album as personal as this, it's the perfect opener and as well as setting the emotional tone, it sets out the albums progressive rock credentials, with some excellent playing from Fish's longstanding in-house band.

The following track, Man With A Stick is a more jaunty number, which across its six minute run time, offers a masterclass in the use of lyrics as a narrative device. Disc one concludes with what is arguably the albums high point, Rose Of Damascus (linked above), a song which tracks the journey of one woman caught in the chaos of war torn Syria, from normality to refuge. It's a landmark track which packs an emotional punch from the off. The lyrics alone are worth a look for those who don't have the time to listen, so for just this track, I included them above in the spoiler.
 

Disc two begins with Garden Of Remembrance, a song I've shared in this thread before. Dementia is a difficult topic for any song to deal with, but this simple track, largely complied of nothing more than piano and voice, is about as tender a way of doing it as I can imagine. The album has one more multi-part story to tell in Waverley Steps, before the album concludes with the title track, Weltschmerz, a German word used to describe the pain of the world.

Nowadays, a planned retirement is often little more than an excuse to sell tickets for an endless stream of retirement shows, but with this final release, Fish not only serves his dignity but his fans too. Weltschmerz is the culmination of a long and disciplined career in music and a full and varied life lived. It's hard to imagine a better note for him to bow out on.

 

 

02 - Long Distance Calling - How Do We Want To Live?

 

 

If you'd have told me that my second choice for album of the year in 2020 would be an instrumental work, I'd have struggled to believe you. Voice and lyrics are often of such importance to me in music, that I struggle to connect with purely instrumental works but this latest one from Long Distance Calling is nothing shy of a masterpiece. The playing is as technically proficient as you would expect from a quartet of prog heads who have been playing together for near twenty years now, but the arrangements are just something else. The music effortlessly slides between driving rock melodies and more delicate, atmospheric pieces. It's been the surprise of the year for me and rarely a day has passed since purchase, when I haven't listened to something from it.

 

 

03 - Fates Warning - Long Day Good Night

 

 

Since returning from their extended hiatus in 2013, Fates Warning have delivered three stand out metal albums, but with Long Day Good Night, it sounds as though Matheos and Alder have nailed the brooding metal sound which underpins their best work. Begin Again was the lead off single and has a groove to it which seems to wind its way through the entire album. Fates Warning aren't really about mental anthems or choruses you can hum and though they are more than capable of delivering a memorable tune, the meat here is in tracks like The Way Home, a real belter of a song with a driving narrative and some classic Matheos guitar licks.

 

 

04 - Gazpacho - Fireworker

 

 

Fireworker is the latest album from Norwegian art rock band, Gazpacho. Musically, this is a return to their best days of Night and Tick Tock, where soundscapes are gently grown with piano, guitar and violin, then embellished with a variety of keyboard sounds. Fireworker is a concept album, which seeks to explore and give form to the fight or flight instinct. It's a fascinating concept and makes for a suitably provocative backdrop for the music.

 

 

05 - Pure Reason Revolution - Eupnea

 

 

A welcome return for one of my favourite bands. For Eupnea (a state of natural breathing) the band have returned to their more progressive roots, whilst keeping the sound focussed on synths, keyboard and drums. The male / female vocal melodies which played such a role in defining PRR's sound return here and as before, it does much to give their music such a rich, textured sound. To my ear, the album lacks that one standout track which lives in your top three played list for a few months, but taken as a whole, Eupnea is a great body of work which refines their previous direction and sets the band on an exciting new course.

 

 

06 - Lunatic Soul - Through Shaded Woods

 

 

Lunatic Soul began life as a side project for Mariusz Duda to stretch his taste for more atmospheric music, away from the heavier sound of his full-time gig, Riverside. Seven albums in, Mariusz has decided to completely reinvent the sound of this project, whilst maintaining the slow burn atmospheres they're known for. Out goes the dizzying array of keyboards and tech which was ever-present on the previous six albums, replaced with an array of traditional, non-electric instruments. The end result is something which feels and sounds tribal, yet remains distinctly a part of the Lunatic Soul family of albums.

 

 

07 - Katatonia - City Burials

 

 

When the first riff from the new Katatonia broke, I got chills down my back like I can't tell you, haha. There's just something about this bands writing that straightens you up. City Burials continues what has been a strong run for the band in their post-growl era. More direct in some instances with a fantastic lead off single in Behind The Blood, City Burials somehow delivers exactly what fans of the band would expect, yet tracks such as the ballad-like Vanishers, show the band pushing against expectations.

 

 

08 - Pineapple Thief - Versions Of The Truth

 

 

The Pineapple Thief have struggled to match the heights of their 2016 breakout album, Your Wilderness and whilst there is nothing on this album to match the heart wrench of That Shore or the tension and release of The Final Thing On My Mind, Versions Of The Truth stands on it's own as a solid 46 minutes of prog / art rock. In many ways, this is amongst their least proggy albums to date, eschewing longer song structures and experimentation in favour of more traditionally structured songs. Our Mire is perhaps the bands most successful attempt to straddle the new approach with their more progressive ambitions, but it's not going to blow the socks off their more progressive following, good though it is.

 

 

09 - Simon Collins - Becoming Human

 

 

Simon Collins' follow up to his 2008 solo album, U-Catastrophe has been an awfully long time coming. After his short stint with Dave Kerzner‎ in Sound Of Contact, Simon began writing Becoming Human and you can clearly hear how his time with Sound Of Contact has influenced his approach. The production on Becoming Human is hands down, amongst the best I've ever heard. Vocals are clean and to the fore, drums are thunderous and keyboards are sharp. The songs themselves hang on Simon's preoccupation with the human condition and sit somewhere between the twee and the thought provoking lyrically. Musically the album has a consistent, post rock flavour with an electronic lean, but when he hits the drum stool, he's his father's son alright.

 

 

10 - Pain Of Salvation - Panther

 

 

I'd missed the last few Pain Of Salvation albums, as their King Crimson style riffs and nail curling war on traditional melody is something I can respect for it's creativity, but it's not something I could listen to for any length of time. The band seem to have consciously decided to enter a new phase of their career and I was intrigued when I heard the first cut from Panther. Accelerator is something I imagine you would hear in the midsts of an anxiety fuelled nightmare. There's a tortured dance between vocal cadence and melody running throughout it, which holds this incredible amount of musical tension together. It's a really beautifully constructed song, which pulls together a chaotic brew of drum machines, raw guitar riffs, synth and Daniels vocals, which switch on a dime between raging, poetic and narrative.

 

Panther is at the bottom of this list because I still struggle to click with a lot of the tracks on the album, but Accelerator is probably the most interesting song I've heard all year and if you click on no other video I've posted here, I'd encourage people to give this one a listen, as even if you don't like it per se, it's worth a tip of the hat for the craft alone. The band released the more snappy Panther as a single, along with Unfuture, both of which are more accessible, but not quite as special as Accelerator, which I've linked to above.

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I made a big effort to listen to a lot of music from 2020 this year in order to prove some sort of point to myself. I listened to a whole lot of music I wouldn't usually and ended up buying 20 albums. Great job Chris, excellent consuming and point proven I guess.

I didn't want to just post a list, since an artist name and album title will mean almost nothing to anyone, and I don't think you can rank music in any meaningful way.

I've posted about the 20 albums I've bought this year below.


 

Spoiler

 

20.Matt Berninger - serpentine prison

track recommendation: Serpentine Prison

indie, soft rock

If you haven't heard the national, listen to them instead. This is pretty pedestrian.

 

19.Melt Yourself Down - 100% Yes

track recommendation: Crocodile

saxophone rock, jazz/funk rock

 

18.Katie Dey – mydata

track recommendation: Darkness

experimental pop. Sounds more confident and less glitchy than flood network, but nowhere near as good.

 

17.Downy - untitled 7th album

track recommendation: Good News

Japanese progressive post rock/math rock. What language are they singing?

 

16.Aiming For Enrike - Music For Working Out

track recommendation: Hard Dance Brainia

electronic, synthwave, bit of noisy/mathness to it

 

15.Rival Consoles – Articulation

track recommendation: Articulation

IDM, electronic

If you like Aphex Twin, squarepusher etc and haven't heard this guy you should check out his album Persona. This album is really heavy on the percussive synths. Has a couple of great tracks, but the rest is not so strong.

 

14.Auscultation – III

track recommendation: Flottant

Ambient, electronic, deep house apparently?

Hypnotic ambient with pounding bass drums. Reminds me a bit of anime futurism.

 

13.The glass beads – Therapy

track recommendation: Music Box

Ukranian Coldwave/goth/post-punk.

A singer that sounds like Nico, and music that sounds a bit like The Cocteau twins first album, or any amount of bleak 80s goth. If this was recorded better it would be near the top of my list.

 

12.Ghostpoet - I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep

track recommendation: When Mouths Collide

spoken word, indie, poetry

Guy says cool and slightly terrifying poetry with its finger firmly on the pulse of British society. Music is dark indie with electronic bits, think, idk, radiohead or something?

 

11.Deerhoof - Future Teenage Cave Artists

track recommendation: Future Teenage Cave Artists

experimental noise-rock

One of Deerhoof's hardest albums. The concept is that it's post-apocalyptic. Frequently made me check that my turntable wasn't broken. The best bits are very good, but takes a long while to get in to I think.

 

10.Palissade – Palissade

track recommendation: L'hiver

French-Canadian Post-punk, coldwave, darkwave

Sounds like it came straight out of the 80s goth scene. A bit like sisters of Mercy, xymox, early The Cure, joy division etc. Bleak! Glum! I love it.

 

9.Riki – Riki

track recommendation: Napoleon

Synthpop, new wave, post-punk

fun dark 80s style pop. Occasional xmal Deutschland vibes. Might have been higher on the list if some of the vocals were a bit stronger.

 

8.Laura Marling - Song For Our Daughter

track recommendation: Fortune

Accoustic Folk

The first side is really mellow folk. Most of the second side sounds a bit like the last song on a Leonard Cohen album.

 

7.Yves Tumor - Heaven To A Tortured Mind

track recommendation: Medicine Burn

funk/soul influenced alternative electronic.

Energetic, singable and sexy, and yet has a dream/nightmare-like quality.

 

6.Deerhoof – Love-Lore

track recommendation: 4

Experimental art-rock cover medley

 

“A secret question hovers over us, a sense of disappointment, a broken promise we were given as children about what our adult world was supposed to be like. I am referring not to the standard false promises that children are always given (about how the world is fair, or how those who work hard shall be rewarded), but to a particular generational promise—given to those who were children in the fifties, sixties, seventies, or eighties—one that was never quite articulated as a promise but rather as a set of assumptions about what our adult world would be like. And since it was never quite promised, now that it has failed to come true, we’re left confused: indignant, but at the same time, embarrassed at our own indignation, ashamed we were ever so silly to believe our elders to begin with.

Where, in short, are the flying cars?”

 

Deerhoof play a covers medley of the 20th century. The theme is futurism. TV themes and pop rock meet avant garde classical pieces. Features, amongst other things, covers of Silver Apples, Kraftwerk, the Beach boys, the knight rider theme, and Kermit the Frog. This is utterly joyous, and is also free on bandcamp.

 

5.Agnes Obel – Myopia

track recommendation: Island of Doom

pop classical, vocal

for fans of – Kate Bush, cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance/ Lisa Gerard

Agnes Obel has an exceptional voice. Accompanying her is her own heavily distorted vocals, and quite sparse traditional instrumentation of pianos and strings.

 

4.Caribou – Suddenly

track recommendation: Never Come Back

Electronic, Dance, pop

Very pleasing EDM and pop, with some chopped up noodley wobbly bits. Dude seems to need to get over a relationship that ended ages ago.

 

3.Dogleg – Melee

track recommendation: Fox

Hardcore, Emo, Punk

For fans of Mclusky etc. This is basically emo except I really like it. It's heavy and aggressive, but really melodic. Reminds me of youthful angst but in a good way. All bangers, no clangers.

 

2.Choir Boy - Gathering Swans

track recommendation: Complainer

post-punk, dream pop, Synthwave

Synthpop with a gothic soul and dramatic operatic voice. Bits of it remind me of Disintegration era Cure or Treasure Era Cocteau Twins. Flamboyant and glamorous and magnificent and sad.

 

1.Mamaleek - Come and See

track recommendation: Eating Unblessed Meat

Progressive noise rock blues metal?

The most exciting and terrifying thing I've heard this year. Bits of it sound like the Jesus Lizard or some Birthday Party side project, except more intense, and with a progressive song structure. And someone is screaming over it like it's black metal.

 

 

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Has anyone made any end of year playlists they'd like to post up? Amongst my friends we all send some around that have varying levels of curation and they're great to discover things that may have been missed. If this is an actual thing and not some self satisfied exercise us weirdos do I'll share mine. 

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59 minutes ago, Art Vandelay said:

Has anyone made any end of year playlists they'd like to post up? Amongst my friends we all send some around that have varying levels of curation and they're great to discover things that may have been missed. If this is an actual thing and not some self satisfied exercise us weirdos do I'll share mine. 

https://music.apple.com/gb/playlist/best-of-2020/pl.u-mJy88L0CNoaBl9

I posted this one earlier in the thread :)

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1 hour ago, Art Vandelay said:

Awesome, will check it out! Looks right up my street.

 

This runs in order and works best with a cheeky 10 second crossfade for maximum enjoyment. It also has a drawing I did of a big poo as a cover.

 

 

Some stuff on there I know, and a tonne of other stuff I’ve not heard of. Looking forward to diving in!

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I feel like there's been a lot of good records this year but nothing that's really sunk its claws into me. I'd be surprised if anything from this year ends up on my best of decade list.

 

Sad contrast to the start to the previous decade that was an absolute vintage year with loads of records that I still listen to to this day.

 

Anyone feel the same?

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16 minutes ago, Marlowe said:

I feel like there's been a lot of good records this year but nothing that's really sunk its claws into me. I'd be surprised if anything from this year ends up on my best of decade list.

 

Sad contrast to the start to the previous decade that was an absolute vintage year with loads of records that I still listen to to this day.

 

Anyone feel the same?

It’s been a weird year, obviously, but I think the effect it’s had on music, and continues to have, is that it’s easier for records to become ignored or to just sink without trace - no live performances so no promotion or records coming to the fore that way. I mean something like Jayda G’s Both of Us is a stone cold classic and would likely have been a massive club anthem this summer, no doubt artists have delayed albums, The Lemon Twigs did, for example, but with no live performances to promote it that’s gotta hurt it too. 

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This is just a copy of what I originally had in the albums of the year thread:

 

1. Smashing Pumpkins: CYR - only out at the end of November, but Corgan had been drip feeding half the album since August. A synth based double album which is unmistakably Pumpkins in it's dna. Echos of New Order, The Cure as well compliment the atmosphere as well some pretty unexpected turns throughout the albums 20 tracks. A great album which I feel will open up even more over time, and a worthy addition to the Smashing Pumpkins body of work. Also features some of Corgan's finest vocal work in years. 

 

2. Working Men's Club: Working Men's Club - This one came out of nowhere for me and has ended up taking my second spot. Indie/dance/new wave hybrid, but very modern at the same time. Amazingly accomplished and barely a duff track. The best compliment I can pay this album is that despite being new, it feels reassuringly familiar without being a tribute. I'm looking forward to seeing what this group come up with in the future. 

 

3. Poppy: I Disagree - I had no context for this artist (have since found out she started as a living meme on YouTube or something), but this album is a fine slice of pop metal in a similar vein to Babymetal. Tuneful, brutal and pretty bizzare in places. Perfect for 2020!

 

4. Bring Me The Horizon : Post Human Survival Horror- I would have never counted myself as a big BMTH fan, but this album (or ep) hits the spot for sure. Largely made in isolation, it's an exciting slice of modern metal with some amazing collaborations. I never knew how much I needed to hear a Babymetal/BMTH crossover until this! 

 

5. Greg Puciato: Child Soldier (Creator of God) - Another album that defies classification. Abrasive noise stands shoulder to shoulder with Synth pop and industrial grind. Greg is often compared to Mike Patton and this album further cements the similarities, in that neither artist is limited my genre or style. Not an easy listen in places, but a rewarding one. 

 

6. Apoptygma Berzerk: Nein Danke! - A full on synth extended EP, but some cracking tunes and even a C64 remix. What's not to like? 

 

7. Mr Bungle: The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny- A reimagining of some earlier Mr Bungle work (which I'm not familiar with), but with the addition of a thrash legends backing band. Loud, daft and brilliant. Even on a quiet year, Mike Patton is on top of his game. 

 

8. Devildriver:Dealing with Demons Vol 1- A concept album with every song representing a personal demon. It has all the bits of Devildriver that you have come to expect as well as a few surprises, inuding Dez's most tuneful vocals for a long while. Even in. His fifties, Dez impresses with no sign of losing any of his edge. 

 

9. Mykur: Folkesange- Previous Mykur work has been a folky Black Metal meets Enya hybrid. This album loses the Black Metal and embraces the folk side of things An aura of the isolatin and an otherworldly feel prevails, which is maybe why I've been drawn to this album this of all years. Beautiful and eerie in equal measures. Not my normal type of music but a worthy 2020 release. 

 

10. Deftones: Ohms- Widely touted as a return to form, this is a good if not slightly unspectacular release. A little on the sludgy side and perhaps missing more of the melodic Chino touch that is normally applied, it's nevertheless a decent 9th album and I'm hoping it may reveal more of its charms as time goes on. 

 

 

Honourable mentions (aka the Nu Metal revival section) :

 

Mushroomhead: A Wonderful Life - Nu Metal also rans change up some of their personel, and release their best work for years. 

 

Static X: Project Regeneration Vol 1- a mixture of left over Wayne Static vocals plus some new ones from "Xer0". Works better than it's got any right to. 

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1 hour ago, Timmo said:

Was I really the only person who thought The Strokes deserved any mention at all?! I think it's their second or third best album.

I really like it, the only song I’m not keen on is Bad Decisions - I just don’t get the whole cover/not cover thing with it. 

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I'm going to write a few things about the records on my best of 2020 list. Hopefully someone will get something for that!

 

1) Ulcerate - Stare into Death and be Still. 

So, I've always liked Ulcerate since I heard The Destroyers of All about 10 years ago. They do extreme ambient avant-metal if that can be a genre. The drumming in definitely in the death/black metal vein, as are the vocals. But the guitars are there mainly to create dissonant textures that sometimes resolve. The result is something truly other-worldly. A kind of flavour of metal that you probably won't have heard anything else like it. On this album, they nailed another dimension - emotion. The way they build and release the tension, drop the fast shit to allow a beautiful texture shine through the chaos. It really grows on you. Here's the most immediate track, but literally every song in this album is brilliant. It's a new classic for me. The intro for this gives me chills. It did the first time I heard it, and now I know where the music is going, it works even better. Probably the best metal track released this year!!!

2) Future Islands - As Long as you are

Obviously I got into these guys when they released Singles. I still think that album is great. Their new album is another brilliant piece of work. This seems to have been received a little lukewarm by the press, but I think it's their most subtle but beautiful collection of songs. This is my favourite track at the minute, but it changes every time I spin it. Every song is great.

3 - Imperial Triumphant - Alphaville

This is crazy, dissonant, jazz influenced blackened death weird metal. This is hard going and my wife dislikes it when she hears it. But it has a lot of cool stuff going on.

This song really pushes the dissonance for ages before a really (semi) pretty spacey melody.

 

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2 minutes ago, Quest said:

That Ulcerate track is exactly my kind of thing. Will give the full album a listen tomorrow.

 

 Didn't really listen to much metal this year, for whatever reason.

I think it's brilliant and beautiful and heavy and anxiety inducing. I sometimes put it on when I'm cooking something simple for dinner and wonder why I'm getting all stressed. 

 

I'd love to hear what you think of the rest of the record. 

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On 23/12/2020 at 07:54, Timmo said:

Was I really the only person who thought The Strokes deserved any mention at all?! I think it's their second or third best album.

 

On 23/12/2020 at 08:58, Quest said:

I listened to it, enjoyed it, then completely forgot about it until just now. I'll give it a spin again.


Yeah, I can see from last.fm that I listened to it three times in two days and then completely forgot about it. Didn’t even remember existed when considering my list!

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A quick run down of my ten.
 

01. Crack Cloud - Pain Olympics

 

 


Stunning second album by Crack Cloud, mixing a wide range of musical influences and styles which you’d expect from a band that has so many collaborators that they call themselves a collective. All blended in perfectly with a whole album that manages to capture the energy of their amazing live performances. Only downside is that it’s too damn short. 
 

 

 

02. Kelly Lee Owens - Inner Song
 

 

Great follow up album by Kelly Lee Owens. Hands down my favourite electronica album of 2020.  A great collaboration with a Welsh singing John Cale on Corner of my Sky. 
 

 

03. Hen Ogledd - Free humans 

 


Another follow up release by super group Hen Ogledd which includes the likes of Richard Dawson and Rhodri Davies. An album that’s hard to pin down with influences from medieval music to 80’s pop,  but damn good in every moment. 


 

04. Run the Jewels - RTJ4

 

 

Nothing much to say here. Wasn’t a fan of RTJ3, thought some of the magic was missing, but they’ve found their mojo and more with RTJ4. Arguably their best album to date and released at a moment which made its songs so poignant. 
 

 

05. Protomartyr - Ultimate Success Today 

 

 

Never been a Protomartyr fan but this release steeped in its critique of modern society won me over and then some. 
 

 

06. Tiña - Positive mental health music 

 

 

Debut album by London based psyche pop band Tiña. Personal songs about depression, anxiety, fear and growing old fill a bravely personal debut. 
 

 

07. Jasmine Infiniti - Bxtch Släp

 

 

Dark, gothic, industrial techno? Yes fuckin’ please! An awesome debut by Jasmine Infiniti. 
 

 

08. Alice Boman - Dream On

 

 

An album I’ve seen neglected everywhere in their best of 2020 having been released at the beginning of the year.  Dream pop debut by Alice Broman. Some albums you just have to describe as beautiful, if you don’t feel anything listening to this album then you may actually be dead inside. 
 

 

09. Porridge Radio - Every Bad

 


Can’t believe this is their debut. Porridge Radio seemed to be around the underground music scene for an age, but it’s been well worth the wait. A damn good alternative rock album that brings their live performances to the living room. Now getting media attention and plaudits expect to see much more of them in 2021. 
 

 

10. ADULT - Perception is/as/of Deception 

 


There’s no such thing as a bad ADULT album, I dare you to find it, and this is no different, another amazing release by the veteran electronic punk duo. 2020 was slightly less depressing because of it. 
 

 

Some honourable mentions that just missed out on my top 10:

 

The Cool Greenhouse- the cool greenhouse 

 

Infinity Knives - Dear, Sudan 

 

The Lovely Eggs - I am moron 

 

Fontaine’s DC - A hero’s death 

 

Yves Tumor - heaven to a tortured mind

 

Tvii Son - Tvii Son

 

Aiming for Enrike - Music for working out

 

Caribou - Suddenly 


Mourning [A] BLKstar - The Cycle

 

Sex Swing - Type II

 

 

 

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On 18/12/2020 at 12:09, Art Vandelay said:

Has anyone made any end of year playlists they'd like to post up? Amongst my friends we all send some around that have varying levels of curation and they're great to discover things that may have been missed. If this is an actual thing and not some self satisfied exercise us weirdos do I'll share mine. 

 

I try to do year end playlists now (named "20xx love ♥")

 

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After the last house move I had to ditch a lot of my physical music collection, so I've been taking a bit more care to curate playlists and document my listening history (someone suggested keeping a record of listening in a private GoogleDoc, which has also helped.) It's usually mostly electronic stuff with the occasional pop thing or hip hop track or something. Be warned that this is intended as a personal list - there is a lot of basic stuff and obnoxious entries in there so it's probably not for everyone!

 

 

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Daniel Tomkins has done something interesting and completely re-recorded his solo album from last year and has essentially reimagined every track. The highlight has to be the dramatic transformation of Castles to Ruins:
 

 

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Just a quick reminder that the 2020 Favourite Albums list thread is open until the end of 31 December! There's been a great turnout so far, and it can be even better if you add your list in too. It doesn't matter if it's just one album :)

 

 

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A bit of a review of the albums that I really liked this year, a longer list of stuff to accompany my top 10 (as picking the top 10 was impossibly hard this year for some reason), and a short playlist too!

 

Pop

Jessy Lanza - All The Time was always most likely to be my AOTY. Its a great continuation of the sound Lanza and Greenspan have built over multiple albums. Probably a bit more chill than previous but the light vocals across synth beats appeals and the songs remain tight and well produced.

Chloe x Halle - Ungodly Hour super solid we-have-arrived RNB album in the vein of Destinys Child/TLC/Amerie etc. I like how its all pretty much just written and produced by the pair with only one guest, as being signed to Beyonce label it must have been tempting to invite the big guns.

Gorillaz - Song Machine bit of a surprise given that Gorillaz haven't really released anything of note for a few years - the focus on the single is obviously well-suited for them in the pursuit of Albarn to pic'n'mix guests, sounds, styles and (usually) rappers. Huge respect though for continuing to bring back UK Soul singers this time with Leee John falsetto on the Lost Chord as a highlight.

 

Disco

Jessie Ware - What's Your Pleasure? there were quite a number of retro disco type albums but again, its the production and variation that makes this stick out the most. James Ford across most tracks and Morgan Geist on Soul Control - a personal highlight. Bit of a Side A bangers and Side B cooldown feel too which is welcome.

Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia the other one of note, but a bit more across the pop disco spectrum. (the other obvious picks are the Annie and Roisin Murphy albums which were are, on reflection, incredibly disappointing)

Rheinzand - Rheinzand a foot-stomping monster of an album which isn't afraid to let groove keep on grooving and throws some interesting detours along the way

 

Dance/Minimal/World

Against All Logic - 2017 - 2019 I struggle to describe some dance music - this is a solid collection of catchy house and noisy techno tunes.

Lindstrom & Prins Thomas - III more Lindstrom and Prins? Thankfully not on the prog disco vibe anymore but still quite ethereal and full of gentle arpeggios

Shinichi Atobe - Yes much like previous album Heat, this is a standout track with many minimal mood pieces around in supplementing the feel and vibes

Buscabulla - Regresa a great 30 minute listen through some baleric soundscapes with Latin rhymes

 

Alternative/Rock/Punk

Kate NV - Room For The Moon a wonderful album of grooves which find ways to become more curious and layered as they progress. Everything has the 80's synth drumset sound which keeps it cohesive.

Melt Yourself Down - 100% YES More mad trumpet punk jazzy-ness and only slightly less abrasive than previous albums

Osees - Protean Threat One of the best Oh Sees/OCs albums in a while for me - with so many releases I feel you have to just dip in and out and this one captures that mix they sometimes hit between heavy and folksy psychedelia (but never too much of the extremes of either side)

US Girls - Heavy Light generally solid follow-up which loses its way towards the end unfortunately. Still, the singles from this are stellar

TOPS - I Feel Alive Soft rock Fleetwood Mac Phoenix-esq sound completely mastered

 

Korean & Japanese

Luli Lee - Let Me Dive Into This Moment Korean indie bassist who on her 2nd EP has really cemented her sound - dreamy breathy vocals and gentle disco rhythms with strong basslines - also lead single Ashby Road is probably the one and only song I have ever known written about Loughborough

LEENALCHI - SUGUNGGA one of the freshest things I've heard in some time - this is an album of traditional Pansori stories and singers set to garage rock which ends up sounding like a bit like a Korean Tom Tom Club

mei ehara - Ampersands is out of all the albums I've listed the one I think will be most overlooked and unknown - its a really nice Sunday afternoon sort of album full of bossa nova tones, that drew me in from the first note. You can listen to the album in full on Youtube HERE!

YeYe - 30  is a very light and uplifting album

Kaede - Stardust in Blue one of the best attempts at a City Pop album this year

Aseul - Slow Dance Dream pop with some hyper pop tendencies in-between the chill vibes and breathy vocals

GWSN - The Keys / LOONA - 12:00 Proper chart-busting K-Pop releases continue to feel like a few dominant singles and mostly filler - GWSN and LOONA managed to mostly get there with stronger songs than most (so am giving them a token nod) but cohesiveness evades

 

 

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