The 2020 albums of the year DIScussion thread.

In fairness I’m probably not in the usual demographic of Jessy Lanza fans. This one sounded like it had more songs rather than doodling.

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Kelly Lee Owens seems to be this years Jon Hopkins aka techno for people who don’t listen to techno

When I first saw her she had this quite interesting Bjork-sequel thing going on, but this last record is fairly middling techno pop

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I listen to lots of “techno” and really rate the KLO album.

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Weird year. I’ve missed several things and had to do a bit of catch up really and hardly written any reviews as sitting down at the computer to do them got old very quickly, as I sit here for 8 hours every day as it is. As @zanimos said up thread, bought a lot of lockdown stuff, EPs, single tracks, comps, live albums and been listening to them really. Still got loads of albums I’ve actually not listened through properly, so need to get on that before deciding properly.

Got 4 for my top 10 of the year sorted, but not actually in any order. If anyone is interested, it’s these bad boys:

HEADS. - Push (the best thing they’ve done, love the bass tone and general feel of unease it has).
Wailin Storms - Rattle (loving the doom-rock vibe this has, but it’s still hectic, noisy and just flows wonderfully).
Hey Colossus - Dances/Curses (A Trembling Rose is a fucking masterpiece. What a record.)
The Chats - High Risk Behaviour (Seriously, absolutely love this, 14 tracks in 28 minutes, all bangers. 4573! 4573! 4573!)

Biggest disappointments:

Tame Impala
Pantha du Prince
Kurt Vile

Album I don’t understand why people like:
Crack Cloud.

Ah, Bow Church - knew I’d forgotten one.

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I’m also in the “lots I enjoyed, few masterpieces” category – fairly willing to blame the year for that though, and not the actual music. Especially around the time of Lockdown I, I felt really unable to engage with anything new and spent a few months rediscovering early 00s albums from the very end of my lastfm chart.

Consequently, The Album Leaf, M83 & Transatlanticism are probably all going to end up in my most played albums of the year tally lol.

Also found myself leaning more heavily into the drone/modern classical side of my interests than usual – abstract noise felt a lot more relatable this year. But it feels a bit meaningless to try & include those albums in a “general top 5” since they’re really different sorts of things.

Yep yep yep what the hell has Kevin been doing for the past 5 years

I adored KLO debut, listened to it over and over, but found Inner Song underwhelming

I think he had some kind of musical lobotomy. The production is impressive, but the songs are completely unmemorable.

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went for these

  1. Protomartyr - Ultimate Success Today
  2. Holy Fuck - Deleter
  3. Brigid Mae Power - Head Above the Water
  4. Silverbacks - Fad
  5. Yorkston/Thorne/Khan - Navarasa : Nine Emotions

had long intended to put Holy Fuck first and Protomartyr second but swapped them at the last minute. pretty sure i’ve listened to the Holy Fuck album more (helps that it came out in January tbf) but Protomartyr just felt a bit more ‘definitive 2020 album’ in a way - the Holy Fuck album is just yet another great record from a long time favourite (and very underrated) band, whereas the Protomartyr album is probably the best thing they’ve done to date. i highly anticipated the former and it delivered, but the latter took me by surprise, having always liked-but-not-loved them before.

it actually barely feels like Holy Fuck came out this year at all now, seeing as it came out in the Before Time. it’s attached to memories of listening to it in the office, and of ordering it to my old house by mistake and having to go and collect it without having to wear a mask or stand 10 feet away or apologise for existing near them, which all makes it feel like it must have been about 5 years ago.

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This kind of statement does come across as really condescending to both the artists and the people who like them!

Fwiw I was very lukewarm on klo when I first heard it but I’ve got more into it gradually over time, it’s kind of crept up on me. It’s not as coherent as her first and it does sag in places but it’s also got some of her best stuff on.

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Interesting seeing a lot of comments along the lines of ‘lots of good records this year but nothing that has really set my world on fire - no classics released this year’ upthread. I kind of feel like I want to post something like this every year. I think we’ll only find out if there were any absolute classics released in 2020 by 2025: the records that we think are ‘good but not classic’ that might grow and develop into world beaters over the next five years.

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Have grouped up my long list of things I’ve liked and listened to a lot into a few blocks with exact order tbc upon a further listen through. Definitely seems to be a longer long list than previous years due to time at home.

Top 3

Waxahatchee
Lanterns on the Lake
Phoebe Bridgers

Fighting for the remaining top 5 slots

Bruce Springsteen
Taylor Swift
Sylvan Esso
Dua Lipa
Everything Everything
Bright Eyes

Tier 3

Holy Fuck
Jeff Rosenstock
Sufjan Stevens
HAIM
Flaming Lips

Other good things I enjoyed but that haven’t stuck as much as the above and/or I didn’t find as consistent

Soccer Mommy
Porridge Radio
Laura Marling
Fiona Apple
BC Camplight
The Beths
Jarv Is
Fleet Foxes
Bob Dylan
Matt Berninger

I think this is true about some records but in other recent years I definitely feel there were several instant classics for me. Frank Ocean, David Bowie, Low, Slowdive, Daughters, Skee Mask and Lana Del Rey have all released albums in the last 5 years that I feel were at least a 9/10.

It might be that this year there haven’t been many albums released by some of my all time faves though.

I’ve found it’s been an exceptionally good year for music, but I’ve had a lot more time to connect than previous years with so much time working from home and staying inside.

Every month I’ve been adding albums that I’d rate 7/10 or above to a Spotify playlist which then got entered to Excel so I can re-order for my year-end list. It’s 189 long up to releases from 20th November! There is an approximate order to the list where the top 20 or so are likely to stay high but I’ll be spending December revisiting many of those a bit further down to see if there are any I should bump up after more listens as with the wealth of new releases this year I haven’t revisited many of these albums as much as they might deserve.

Long list
Artist Album Genre
Max de Wardener, Kit Downes Music for Detuned Pianos modern classical
Shackleton, Waclaw Zimpel Primal Forms Drone
Against All Logic 2017 - 2019 House
Run The Jewels RTJ4 Rap
Sault Black Is R&B
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids Shaman! Jazz
Kahil El’Zabar Kahil El’Zabar’s America The Beautiful Jazz
John Frusciante Maya Jungle
Bob Dylan Rough and Rowdy Ways singer-songwriter
Mino Cinelu, Nils Petter Molvaer SulaMadiana jazz
Nubya Garcia SOURCE Jazz
Shinichi Atobe Yes House
Chloe x Halle Ungodly Hour R&B
Okkyung Lee Yeo-Neun modern classical
Gil Scott-Heron, Makaya McCraven We’re New Again Jazz
Matmos The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises in Group Form IDM
Romare Home House
Theo Parrish Wuddaji House
Keleketla!, Coldcut Keleketla! World
Jeff Parker Suite for Max Brown Jazz
Les Amazones d’Afrique Amazones Power World
Bohren & Der Club of Gore Patchouli Blue Jazz
Asher Gamedze Dialectic Soul Jazz
SPARKLE DIVISION To Feel Embraced jazz
Thanya Iyer KIND Folkjazz
Paradise Cinema Paradise Cinema World
Fiona Apple Fetch the Bolt Cutters singer-songwriter
Erik Hall, Steve Reich Music for 18 Musicians modern classical
Makaya McCraven Universal Beings E&F Sides Jazz
Mary Lattimore Silver Ladders harptronica
Machinedrum A View of U beats
Ustad Saami Pakistan is for the Peaceful World
Call Super Every Mouth Teeth Missing house
Thurston Moore By The Fire rock
Delmer Darion Morning Pageants Drone
Ka Descendants of Cain Rap
Nihiloxica Kaloli World
Yelle L’Ere du Verseau pop
Kate NV Room For The Moon pop
Squarepusher Be Up A Hello idm
Craven Faults Erratcs & Unconformities drone
Laura Veirs My Echo singer-songwriter
Armand Hammer Shrines rap
Ana Roxanne Because of a Flower ambient
Ammar 808 Global Control / Invisible Invasion world
Sarah Davachi Cantus, Descant ambient
Autechre SIGN IDM
Oliver Coates skins n slime Drone
Porridge Radio Every Bad Indie Rock
Sharhabil Ahmed The King of Sudanese Funk (Habibi Funk 13) World
Boldy James, Sterling Toles Manger on McNichols rap
Soela Genuine Silk House
CS + Kreme Snoopy jazztronica
Andrea Ritorno House
Mammal Hands Captured Spirits Jazz
DJ Python Mas Amable house
Baxter Dury The Night Chancers rock
The Soft Pink Truth Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase? electronic
Nels Cline Share The Wealth jazz
Nicolas Jaar Cenizas idm
Jyoti Mama, You Can Bet! jazz
Kelly Lee Owens Inner Song idm
Tricky, Marta Fall To Pieces triphop
Quakers II - The Next Wave rap
Pa Salieu Send Them To Coventry rap
William Basinski Lamentations ambient
Fontaines D.C. A Hero’s Death Indie Rock
Beatrice Dillon Workaround idm
Jake Blount Spider Tales folk
Shabaka And The Ancestors We Are Sent Here By History jazz
Kamaniu Silelis 9 pop
clipping. Visions of Bodies Being Burned rap
Denzel Curry, Kenny Beats UNLOCKED rap
Caribou Suddenly electronic
Clarice Jensen The experience of repetition as death drone
Four Tet Sixteen Oceans electronic
Navy Blue Ada Irin rap
US Girls Heavy Light pop
Chris Keys, Quelle Chris Innocent Country 2 rap
Matthew Halsall Salute To The Sun jazz
Krononaut Krononaut jazz
Throwing Muses Sun Racket rock
Jessie Ware What’s Your Pleasure? pop
Tidiane Thiam Siftorde world
Bab L’ Bluz Nayda! world
GoGo Penguin GoGo Penguin jazz
Medhane Cold Water rap
Rafael Anton Irisarri Peripateia ambient
Ian William Craig Red Sun Through Smoke ambient
Henning Fuchs Gaia modern classical
Promartyr Ultimate Success Today rock
Ghostpoet I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep rock
Sundra Arc Tides electronic
Agnes Obel Myopia singer-songwriter
Ulla Tumbling Towards A Wall ambient
Bonny Light Horseman Bonny Light Horseman singer-songwriter
Luke Vibert Luke Vibert Presents Amen Andrews Jungle
Noveller Arrow drone
Childish Gambino 3.15.20 pop
The Weeknd After Hours pop
Clap! Clap! Liquid Portraits electronic
alva noto Xerrox, Vol.4 drone
Autechre PLUS idm
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah Axiom jazz
Daniel Avery Love + Light idm
Bill Callahan Gold Record singer-songwriter
VRITRA SONAR rap
upsammy Zoom idm
Norah Jones Pick Me Up Off The Floor jazz
Ambrose Akinmusire on the tender spot of every calloused moment jazz
Luke Vibert Luke Vibert Presents Modern Rave electronic
Boldy James, The Alchemist The Price Of Tea In China rap
Mulatu Astatke To Know Without Knowing world
Drakeo the Ruler, JoogSzn Thankyou For Using GTL rap
Lonnie Holley National Freedom soul
Julianna Barwick Healing Is A Miracle ambient
Nicolas Jaar Telas ambient
The Chicks Gaslighter country
Bent Arcana Bent Arcana drone
Lianne La Havas Lianne La Havas soul
Art Blakey & The Messengers Just Coolin’ jazz
Oscar Jerome Breathe Deep jazz
Trevor Powers Capricorn modern classical
Katie Gately Loom pop
Moses Boyd Dark Matter jazz
Nyx Nott Aux Pieds de la nuit instrumental
Son Lux Tomorrows I electronic
Laraaji Sun Piano piano
Perfume Genius Set My Heart On Fire Immediately singer-songwriter
Natlia Lafourcade Un Canto por Mexico, Vol. 1 world
Moses Sumney Grae singer-songwriter
Freddie Gibbs, The Alchemist Alfredo rap
Angel Olsen Whole New Mess singer-songwriter
Daniel Avery, Alessandro Cortini Illusion of Time ambient
Jasmine Infiniti Bxtch Slap house
BC Camplight Shortly After Takeoff singer-songwriter
Carlos Nino, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Chicago Waves ambient
Afel Bocoum Linde world
Numun Voyage Au Soleil ambient
Rymden Space Sailors jazz
Sault Untitled (Rise) pop
Michael Benita Looking at Sounds jazz
Anjimile Giver Taker pop
Fleet Foxes Shore pop
Anna Von Hausswolf All Thoughts Fly drone
Hen Ogledd Free Humans rock
Khotin Finds You Well idm
Mathieu Bordenave La Traversee jazz
Joachim Cooder Over That Road I’m Bound folk
Sturgill Simpson Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 country
Actress Karma & Desire idm
Bruce Springsteen Letter To You singer-songwriter
Lemon Quartet Crestless ambient
Ausecuma Beats Ausecuma Beats World
Songhoy Blues Optimisme world
Ela Minus acts of rebellion electropop
Adrienne Lenker instrumentals instrumental
Gigi Masin Calypso ambient
Carla Bley Life Goes On jazz
Tony Allen & Hugh Masekela Rejoice! jazz
Lyra Pramuk Fountain pop
R.A.P. Ferreira Purple Moonlight Pages rap
Tamikrest Tamotait world
Wilma Archer A Western Circular rap
Nidia Nao Fales Nela Que A Mentes dance
This is the Kit Off Off On singer-songwriter
Paty Cantu La Mexicana pop
Joel Ross Who Are You? jazz
Shabazz Palaces The Don of Diamond Dreams Rap
Pantha Du Prince Conference Of Trees ambient
Irreversible Entanglements Who Sent You? jazz
Heathered Pearls Cast instrumental
Molchat Doma Monument electropop
Aesop Rock Spirit World Field Guide rap
Chester Watson A Japanese Horror Film rap
Hyph11e Aperture dance
The Flaming Lips American Head rock
Waxahatchee Saint Cloud singer-songwriter
Sevdalisa Shabrang pop
Kamaal Williams Wu Hen jazz
King Krule Man Alive! singer-songwriter
Grimes Miss Anthropocene pop
Ultraista Sister electropop
Yaeji What We Drew house
Keeley Forsyth Debris singer-songwriter
Yves Tumor Heaven To A Tortured Mind rock
Thundercat It Is What It Is jazz
Rosin Murphy Roisin Machine electropop
Tame Impala The Slow Rush rock
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I found it difficult to track down anything that interested me this year, especially bands I am not familiar with. I have been low on time to listen too, previously I did tons of new music listening in work and on the commute but at home I seem to fall back on stuff I already know. I am guessing music generally has been low on releases due to lockdowns also. It is only really the last month I have topped up my 2020 playlist, currently heavily rotating this lot:

Milk Teeth
Nothing
Metz
Trail of Dead
Pigs x 7
Svalbard
Cloud Nothings
Drain
Gulch
Protomartyr

Metz, Milk Teeth and Nothing are at the top I reckon. Trail of Dead on a real return to form, managed to see them in March as a final live music hurrah of the year.

A million times this. Lockdown has been weird this year in the fact that I bet some people have had more time to listen to new things and a lot of people (like me) have had less.

I have quite a long commute to school where I do most of my ‘solo’ listening: most of the metal and hip-hop that would get shouted down at home I listen to by myself in the car. I think my long list is much ‘safer’ and has less ‘artists who annoy my wife’ on it as a result of being locked down for all of the summer term!

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Would second what @Bandy is saying that maybe people haven’t found any “instant” classics in the vein of To Pimp a Butterfly, etc. I think most years people would expect to have heard at least one by the end of the year.

Personally I’ve found at least 4 albums that I already know are best-of-decade classics that I’ll be listening to and loving for decades to come (Protomartyr, Klô Pelgag, Boldy James, and HAIM). But maybe the difference this year is there aren 't really many, if any, albums having that instant classic narrative immediately built around them by the music press. With the exception of HAIM the other 3 I only found because I’ve had an inordinate amount of time to listen to music this year - certainly havent seen those huge narratives built around many, if any, albums like lots of instant classics in years gone by.

In terms of quantity, similar to @Octobadger I have a list of albums that I’d rate 8/10 or better and there are currently 77 contending. So I’d agree with you that it’s hardly been a fallow year.

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I’ve enjoyed a lot this year but there aren’t as many obvious choices for my top 5 as in most years (normally it is a difficult decision). Both The Soft Pink Truth and Daniel Avery & Alessandro Cortini are top spot albums for me. Spots 3 to 5 could be anything at the moment (Land of Talk will feature, but where Loma, Young Jesus, Windy & Carl and others fit, I do not know).