Favorite Albums of 2020

Well, 2020 was a year, wasn’t it? I know, I haven’t been very active at all on here, but a lot of stuff came up that demanded my attention. And, I just plain burned out on the music stuff. That, coupled with all the weirdness and added general stress that the year brought just meant that I didn’t really feel like working on a blog that felt like a second job. All that may still have an effect on when things can get back to something resembling normal on this site, but I do have a plan to make things easier. And that will all be covered in another post.

Anyway, while I wasn’t writing, I was still listening, and I feel like I owe my readers something to wrap up 2020. Normally, my year-end stuff would be spread out over multiple lists and far more polished, but I think the best thing for this year is to just put it all out there in one big list. Below you will find my top 50 albums of the year in alphabetical order with a genre description for each. After that will be a list of 25 honorable mentions. No pictures, no blurbs, just the list. If you would like me to elaborate about any of my picks or argue about them, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. And now, to the lists!

FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2020

  • ADRIANNE LENKER – SONGS/INSTRUMENTALS – (folk)
  • AFTERBIRTH – FOUR DIMENSIONAL FLESH – (technical death metal)
  • ALESTORM – CURSE OF THE CRYSTAL COCONUT – (pirate metal)
  • BACKXWASH – GOD HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS LEAVE HIM OUT OF IT – (horrorcore, industrial rap)
  • BEACH BUNNY – HONEYMOON – (indie rock)
  • BLACKLAB – ABYSS – (sludge, doom metal)
  • BLU & EXILE – MILES: FROM AN INTERLUDE CALLED LIFE – (hip-hop, jazz rap)
  • BORIS – NO – (sludge, hardcore)
  • BRANDY CLARK – YOUR LIFE IS A RECORD – (country)
  • CHRIS CORNELL – NO ONE SINGS LIKE YOU ANYMORE – (rock, covers)
  • CHRIS STAPLETON – STARTING OVER – (country)
  • CLIPPING. – VISIONS OF BODIES BEING BURNED – (horrorcore, industrial rap)
  • CODE ORANGE – UNDERNEATH – (metalcore, industrial)
  • DENZEL CURRY/KENNY BEATS – UNLOCKED – (hip-hop, rap)
  • DUA LIPA – FUTURE NOSTALGIA – (pop, nu-disco)
  • FÉLETH – DEPRAVITY – (death metal)
  • FIONA APPLE – FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS – (art pop, singer-songwriter)
  • FIRE-TOOLZ – RAINBOW BRIDGE – (avant-garde metal, vaporwave)
  • FREDDIE GIBBS/ALCHEMIST – ALFREDO – (hip-hop, rap)
  • FREEWAYS – TRUE BEARINGS – (hard rock, heavy metal)
  • GHOSTEMANE – ANTI-ICON – (industrial rap, rap metal)
  • GORILLAZ – SONG MACHINE, SEASON ONE: STRANGE TIMEZ – (alternative, indie pop)
  • HAIM – WOMEN IN MUSIC PT. III – (indie rock)
  • HAKEN – VIRUS – (progressive metal)
  • HAUNT – FLASHBACK – (heavy metal)
  • HELLRIPPER – THE AFFAIR OF THE POISONS – (black metal, speed metal)
  • HYBORIAN – VOLUME II – (stoner metal)
  • HYMN – BREACH US – (sludge, doom metal)
  • IGORRR – SPIRITUALITY AND DISTORTION – (avant-garde metal, industrial)
  • INFANT ISLAND – BENEATH – (screamo, post-hardcore)
  • JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT – REUNIONS – (alt country)
  • JOHN REUBEN – self-titled – (hip-hop, rap)
  • KILL LINCOLN – CAN’T COMPLAIN – (ska punk)
  • LAURA MARLING – SONG FOR OUR DAUGHTER – (folk)
  • LOWRIDER – REFRACTIONS – (stoner metal)
  • THE MIDNIGHT – MONSTERS – (synthwave, synthpop)
  • MIDNIGHT DANGER – CHAPTER 2: ENDLESS NIGHTMARE – (synthwave, darksynth)
  • PHOEBE BRIDGERS – PUNISHER – (indie rock, indie folk)
  • PROTEST THE HERO – PALIMPSEST – (progressive metal)
  • RADIANT KNIFE – THE BODY/THE GHOST – (sludge, progressive metal)
  • REVERED AND REVILED ABOVE ALL OTHERS – TOPPLING THE ROTTEN PILLAR – (“doomviolence”)
  • RINA SAWAYAMA – SAWAYAMA – (pop)
  • RUN THE JEWELS – RTJ4 – (hip-hop, hardcore rap)
  • SHIRLEY COLLINS – HEART’S EASE – (folk)
  • SPECIAL INTEREST – THE PASSION OF – (industrial, noise, post punk)
  • THOU/EMMA RUTH RUNDLE – MAY OUR CHAMBERS BE FULL – (sludge, doom metal)
  • TKAY MAIDZA – LAST YEAR WAS WEIRD, VOL. 2 – (hip-hop, rap, electronic)
  • TOUCHÉ AMORÉ – LAMENT – (screamo, post-hardcore)
  • WOBBLER – DWELLERS OF THE DEEP – (progressive rock)

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • BELL WITCH/AERIAL RUIN – STYGIAN BOUGH VOLUME I – (funeral doom metal)
  • BRING ME THE HORIZON – POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR – (alternative metal, nu metal, industrial)
  • CHARLI XCX – HOW I’M FEELING NOW – (electropop, hyperpop)
  • DEAFKIDS/PETBRICK – DEAFBRICK – (noise rock, industrial)
  • THE FEARLESS FLYERS – TAILWINDS – (funk)
  • FLEET FOXES – SHORE – (indie folk)
  • HEALTH – DISCO 4 :: PART I – (noise rock, industrial)
  • JUICE WRLD – LEGENDS NEVER DIE – (hip-hop, emo rap)
  • KOTA THE FRIEND – EVERYTHING – (hip-hop, rap)
  • LO TOM – LP2 – (indie rock)
  • LOGIC – NO PRESSURE – (hip-hop, rap)
  • MAC MILLER – CIRCLES – (hip-hop, R&B)
  • MOONS – GO OUT SWINGING – (sludge, doom metal)
  • NEW FOUND GLORY – FOREVER + EVER x INFINITY – (pop punk)
  • ORGÖNE – MOS/FET – (stoner rock, heavy psych)
  • SLICK SHOES – ROTATION & FREQUENCY – (pop punk)
  • SÖLICITÖR – SPECTRAL DEVASTATION – (heavy metal, speed metal)
  • SONGHOY BLUES – OPTIMISME – (blues rock)
  • STATIC-X – PROJECT REGENERATION, VOL. 1 – (industrial metal)
  • STONE MACHINE ELECTRIC – THE INEXPLICABLE VIBRATIONS OF FREQUENCIES WITHIN THE COSMIC NETHERWORLD – (stoner metal, “doom jazz”)
  • SUFJAN STEVENS – THE ASCENSION – (electropop, experimental)
  • TAME IMPALA – THE SLOW RUSH – (psychedelic pop)
  • TAYLOR SWIFT – FOLKLORE/EVERMORE – (indie pop)
  • TRIVIUM – WHAT THE DEAD MEN SAY – (heavy metal, metalcore)
  • X – ALPHABETLAND – (punk)

And there you have it. My picks for the best of 2020 and some Honorable Mentions. Like I said above, if you’d like me to go into more detail on any of my picks, ask why an album is in one list and not the other, or point out a glaring omission, feel free to leave a comment.

Good Albums I Didn’t Review in February 2020

I am getting into a bad habit of putting these monthly list articles off. I won’t be making the same mistake in March for reasons that you’ll soon see. But anyway, we all know the drill here. I can’t review everything, so here are some other releases from the month of February that I think are worth your time. As always any of these albums would be scored 3.5 or higher if formally reviewed.

Other People

AGAINST ALL LOGIC – 2017-2019–Nicolas Jaar returns once again with his house-centric Against All Logic side project. This time around the tracks are a little dirtier and less polished, but they’re actually better for it. I personally feel like the start of this album is a little weak, but it really picks up a few tracks in and stays good through to the end. If you’re into house music, don’t sleep on A.A.L.

Mom+Pop

BEACH BUNNY – HONEYMOON–While the band’s name and sound might suggest California, this band is actually from Chicago. Despite their Midwestern origins, they inject some much needed life into the world of west coast power pop. The album short, coming in at only 25 minutes, but it uses that short time to deliver some solid guitar driven indie pop.

Suicide

BLACK ROYAL – FIREBRIDE–Apologies in advance for the album art. Last month I expressed my hope that 2020 would be a better year for slow metal than 2019. February has only strengthened my hope, and Black Royal played no small part in that. This is a sludgy death/doom band from Finland that bring the heavy with some pummeling and yet catchy riffs. They haven’t forgotten that death/doom can be a fun genre as well as a dark one.

PH/Loma Vista

DENZEL CURRY/KENNY BEATS – UNLOCKED–Denzel Curry continues to prove himself to be a perennially consistent rapper with his third great project in as many years. Kenny Beats does the same, continuing his trend of short, but potent albums starting with Vince Staples’ FM! and Rico Nasty’s Anger Management. Beats throws out some of his wildest and inventive beats and Curry rises to the challenge of complementing them with great lines and flows.

Lucky Number Music

HMLTD – WEST OF EDEN–This debut album from experimental art-punk band HMLTD is a wild ride. Over the course of its 50 minutes you get elements of industrial, spaghetti western, surf, blues, cabaret, and electro-pop. Song structures range from bizarre to accessible. I feel like it tends to drag on in places and some of the decisions don’t fit well with others, but it’s a very promising debut otherwise.

Fantasy

JAMES TAYLOR – AMERICAN STANDARD–JT has brought us his 12th studio album and his first in five years. As the title indicates, this album consists of Taylor performing a selection of American standards in his familiar, laid-back, acoustic style. There are songs on here from Rogers and Hammerstein, Billie Holiday, and Henry Mancini among others. It’s slightly unfortunate that there are no originals, but familiar songs in a welcoming and familiar style is kind of nice to have in times like these.

Blues Funeral

LOWRIDER – REFRACTIONS–Yet another release that’s convinced me that 2020 will be a year for slow metal. Sweden’s Lowrider took their time with this one, releasing it 20 years after their debut, despite a semi-regular performing schedule. But good things come to those who wait. There’s some fine stoner rock to be heard here, and it’s probably the best of that specific vein of hard rock and metal I’ve heard so far this year.

Nuclear Blast

SEPULTURA – QUADRA–Speeding things up in the metal department, we have the 15th album from the Brazilian thrash veterans. Well over 30 years into their career, Sepultura are still producing quality work. A big part of that is that Andreas Kisser is a thrash riffing machine! It kicks off strong and stays strong. The riffs hit hard and even the more groove metal tracks are tight.

Modular

TAME IMPALA – THE SLOW RUSH–Yes, yes, Tame Impala is a trendy thing right now, but you should believe the hype! Kevin Parker has crafted meticulous psychedelic sounds over the course of his discography, and while The Slow Rush pushes further into the realm of synthesized sounds, it’s no exception. I don’t know if it’ll be my favorite Tame Impala release, but it is an excellent one.