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|Allan's 2020 50 Records|
2020 has been one bombastic year and it isn't ending on any good notes (except for the Buffalo Bills that's a good note). Here are in my opinion the top 50 albums that were released this year. Obviously, this is my opinion however I am always up for a sputnik debate in the comments. Hopefully, people find some good stuff on my list! See everyone next year!
I Feel Alive
Primary: Indie Rock & Pop
Secondary: Soft Rock, Sophisti-Pop
If you like 70’s soft rock (couch couch; Fleetwood Mac) then you will find this to be one pleasant listen. A light, exciting, and at times intricate indie-pop record with charm for days.
Primary: Art Pop, Baroque Pop, French Pop, Progressive Pop
Secondary: Singer/Songwriter, Nouvelle Chanson Francaise, Electropop
This was, and still is, a surprising release from the French singer. She has never been this experimental and it pays dividends for her. So much class and charm all over this record without being too much.
Secondary: Grindcore, Glitch, Sludge Metal
Not for the faint at heart, but damn does this album hit heavily when you need it to. Hella catchy riffs, explosive performances, and classy glitch-core esthetics.
|47|| ||Chad Lawson|
You Finally Knew
Primary: Post Modern Classical
Every year there is a piano-based classical project that always takes my breath away. That is this new album from Chad Lawson. Mesmerizing and breathtaking tracks.
Draining Love Story
Primary: Atmospheric Drum and Bass
Secondary: Liquid Funk, Space Ambient, Breakbeat
Not sure why drum and bass has become my new genre fixation. What Sewerslvt is able to produce could be the future of the genre which hasn’t been prominent since the late ’90s. Thick, dense, and energetic beats across the board.
The Fallen Crimson
Primary: Screamo, Melodic Hardcore
Secondary: Post-Rock, Post-Hardcore
Although I still find this album to be a touch too long, I can’t stop myself from coming back to this album because of how damn catchy these guitar riffs are. So much emotion from front to back on the Japanese comeback album.
|44||Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats|
Primary: Hardcore Hip-Hop, Boom Bap
Thirteen minutes of truly incredible hip-hop bangers. Like it’s insane to me that Denzel and Kenny Beats made this album in a day. So much creativity for something so simple.
Primary: Art Pop, Experimental Hip-Hop, Math Rock
Secondary: Alternative RnB, Pop Rap
Every artist needs a rebrand and Nnamdi is definitely one of them. Although they have been playing with this math rock, hip-hop fusion for years, this is the first project that they fully produce an amazing record from front to back.
Primary: Art Rock, Post-Punk, Neo-Psychedelia
Secondary: Ambient Pop, Experimental Rock, Jazz-Rock
King Krule is one of my favorite artists because of how unique his sound is. This record might not be as deep as the last record, but this new album still gives me so many chills to listen to and produces such a great listen that I had to put it on the list.
Primary: Dance Pop, Contemporary RnB
Secondary: Electropop, Alternative Metal & Rock, Pop Rock
I’m still extremely upset that this album didn’t get any Grammys. Like this is one of the most intricate fusions I have seen. Like when was the last time someone ever heard a Linkin Park fusion with Britney Spears. Rina creates a dense experimental hodgepodge of sounds from the early 2000s and it hits harder than most pop albums this year.
Primary: Noise Rock, Post-Punk
Secondary: No Wave, Industrial Rock
This is one of six albums Moor Mother (i.e. Camae Ayewa) has come out with this year. However, this is really the only one I liked…and man did I like this. Brining in noise/no-wave Mental Jewelry. Short little album and it hits you hard right from the start. What can’t she do? Rap…yes, jazz…yes, noise…yes.
|39||Lianne La Havas|
Lianne La Havas
Primary: Singer/Songwriter, Neo-Soul
Secondary: Contemporary Folk, Pop Soul, Art Pop
I cover a lot of RnB artists. Most of them are chasing that alternative (i.e. trap) scene that The Weeknd made. However, Lianne brings it back to a simpler RnB time, and damn can she sing. Also the Weird Fishes (Radiohead) cover blew my mind.
Primary: East Coast Hip-Hop
Secondary: Boom Bap, Jazz Rap, Conscious Hip-Hop
First big shocker (for me at least) to have a Logic album anywhere near my top album of the year. For his “last” (yah right) album of his career what a way to go out. Such great beats from No ID, such great flows from Bobby, and some truly remarkable lyrical topics.
|37|| ||Phantom Posse|
Primary: Chillwave, Indie Pop
The group is calling this post-chillwave. Is this true, not particular this does share a lot of similar ideas to the main brains of chillwave (i.e. Washed Out). However, this is still a solid record in that genre and I think they have a great idea with trying to change the chillwave idea (even if George Clanton is in front of that change).
Primary: Folktronica, Indie Folk
Secondary: Singer/Songwriter, Contemporary Folk, Post-Bluegrass
Folktronica has been seen a small push in the last few years and it continues to amaze me how unique and different the genre can be from one person to the other. This is much a smaller showing of it but it is in there from front to back. You have to listen to it to really see the greatness of this album.
Secondary: Deep House, UK Funk
Indietronica has been having a small bit of popularity as of late and this is the best album to come out of that idea. Really catchy and memorable tracks from front to back.
Primary: Psychedelic Rock & Pop
Secondary: Math Rock, Hip-Hop
For years bands have been trying to do this math rock and psychedelic rock combination and all of them have tried but none have succeeded to the level that Coletta does on their debut album. There is no better feeling in the winter to have a sunny and warm album to listen to when it’s cold.
Origin of the Alimonies
Primary: Transcendental Black Metal, Avant-Garde Metal, Opera
Secondary: Chamber Music/Symphonic Metal, Totalism, Glitch
This brand new album from Hunter is not easy to listen to in the slightest. However, what she does to expand on black metal is something no one has ever seen; essentially a black metal opera. Also, lyrically she takes you through the ideology of her self-believed religion.
Primary: Future Bass
Secondary: Nu Jazz, Synth Funk
I might be the only one to really love this album but every time I listen to this album it makes me feel happy, warm, and safe. It might not be the most originally future bass project, but damn does it make it sound light and airy.
WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD
Primary: Psychedelic Soul, Neo-Soul
Secondary: Hypnagogic Pop
A self-reflective album that takes a bit to really get into. But once it hits this album will never leave your mind. Many of the instrumentals are extremely minimal but they add so much bite to the atmospheric nature of Nick’s vocals. A really amazing listen and he continues to be a dominant force in the experimental soul camp.
Primary: Alternative RnB, Synthpop/Synthwave
Secondary: Future Garage, Ambient Pop, Trap
The highest rating 4/5 and to be honest when the year ends this might move up even farther. Abel deserves all the praise he is getting for this record because this album is the driving force right now for the alternative RnB scene. Is the “80s style” anything new? Of course not, but the way he incorporates synthpop and synth-wave into already rich RnB style makes for one hell of a sticky listen. Although I might not love every track on this album, most of this album sits deeper and deeper with me with every listen.
DISCO4 :: Part I
Primary: Electro-Industrial, Post-Industrial
Secondary: Darkwave, Industrial Hip-Hop, Industrial Metal/Rock, Electropop
I said it in my review, and I’ll say it again but what is in the water with industrial music this year. I never liked it, but something about it has really clicked with me this year. Health comes through with a groundbreaking and explorative collection of tracks that range from rap to metal and even hyper pop. The features on this album still blow me away for how tight this whole project is for being so varied.
|28||A. G. Cook|
Primary: Hyper Pop (PC Music)
Secondary: IDM, Drum/Drill and Bass, Deconstructed Club, Art Pop, Glitch, Ambient, Indietronica, Electroacoustic
Is this album long? Well, yeah it’s two and a half hours long. But damn did A.G. Cook come through with some of the best showings off what hyper pop was, is, and could be. Although this is not a full-fledged record, this is a resume of sounds and styles and I am all for it.
|27||Ian William Craig|
Red Sun Through Smoke
Primary: Ambient, Tape Music
Secondary: Modern Classical, Drone, Experimental Electronics
Tape music is a weird genre because on its own it’s nothing special (it’s latterly music that is on a piece of tape). However, what artists can do with it is what makes the genre extremely special. Ian William Craig creates a dense yet light tape music creation with his already great use of ambiance and drones. Truly an enchanting listen!
|26||Rafael Anton Irisarri|
Primary: Ambient Drone
Secondary: Space Ambient, New Age
This ambient drone album might not be for everyone because if you aren’t used to slow-paced music then this won’t be up to your pace. However, this is such hauntingly beautiful drone music that has just the right amount of texture and builds so beautifully from one track to the next. Great nighttime listens or walking music.
Primary: Art Pop, Indietronica
Secondary: Ambient Pop, IDM, Synthpop, Progressive Pop
Now onto the top 25 albums of the year and I would really say some of these albums blew me away and this is the first one to really blow me away. Sufjan Stevens has always been a hit or a miss for me. His early extremely raw emotional music is definitely not up my alley. Illinois was his first album that I really liked. Age of Adz is a truly bizarre release and sometimes I find it absolutely amazing and other times it makes me so confused about what he was thinking. It wasn’t till his 2017 Planetarium release that I was absolutely blown away by his songwriting and what he could do with a synth. The Ascension, he continues down this space ambient path and completely nocks it out of the park for me. Truly a breathtaking listen from front to back.
Primary: Latin Pop & Electronics, Synthpop
Secondary: Chillwave, Hypnagogic Pop
Although this is not the usual pick for most people's Latin pop album of the year, however, I find the combination of chillwave and Latin electronics to be such an enticing listen. So many catching and bouncy songs that bring so much heat to the Latin pop genre. Definitely a huge find from this year and a great listen over the summer.
I'll Figure This Out
Primary: Post-Hardcore, Emo
Secondary: Indie Rock, Lo-Fi
Post-hardcore has always been a love of mine since high school. However, I have listened to so much at this point that it is hard to find any more good stuff. However, the debut album from this band really brings a lot of that classic lo-fi emo post-hardcore sound that it’s hard not to think of those classic records from the mid-2000s. If you're at all a fan of that sound this is a must listen and a great addition to the end of the year list.
Primary: Sound Collage
Secondary: Experimental Hip-Hop, Avant-Garde Jazz, Ambient Hip-Hop (Illbient)
This is a bit of an odd album to listen to and digest because of how “sound collage-ie” it is. If you have never tried it out though this is a great place to start because of how easy it is to listen to unlike most of the classics in the genre. What is done on this album is so intricate and tight and takes you through a journey of young adulthood through sounds. Great execution from front to back and great use of jazz and hip-hop to keep the whole album fresh.
|21||Sufjan Stevens and Lowell Brams|
Primary: Ambient, New Age
Secondary: Space Ambient, Progressive Electronics
It should be fairly ironic to have Sufjan Stevens albums on the same top 50 lists, but honestly, I am so in love with what he is doing with this new ambient sound. Bringing on his stepdad for a new age inspire space ambient album creates such a great listen from front to back. It is definitely most people's least favorite album from Sufjan but it is such a great listen from front to back and packs an of real breathtaking sonic pallets.
Primary: Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
Secondary: Folk Pop
Probably the biggest surprise for my list this year…Taylor Swift makes my list at the 20th spot. What a time to be alive and listen to something this spectacular from Taylor. For many artists, quarantine has been a rough time and a horrible time to try and keep it together. However, for Taylor, it might have been the exact thing she needed to produce the music that she wanted to produce. Her singing voice and style have never fit what she has done as of late. So bringing in Aaron of The Nationals was the exact right thing to do and they created one of the most intricate and lovely folk albums of the year.
FREE I.H: This Is Not the One...
Primary: Art Punk, Indie Rock, Noise Rock & Pop
Secondary: Riot Girl, Pop Punk, Dance Punk, Twee Pop
I’ll say it a bunch now that we are in the top 20, but I was extremely surprised to not only see this band come out with a new album but to come out with something this different from their debut album in 2018. I remember their debut coming out and not being that impressed with it but seeing potential. On this new “mixtape” the band creates a really amazing showing of punk music from across the art and dance scenes of the 80s and 90s. Like I never expected the band to come through with something so energetic and danceable.
Primary: IDM, UK Bass
Secondary: Progressive Electronics, Acid Techno
A pure IDM album honestly never comes up as a genre I often love. I have been slowly coming around on pure IDM albums. However, on this new album from Minor Science, they create one of the greatest and densest showings of UK bass and IDM and I couldn’t love this album anymore. Every time I listen to it, I love it more and more.
When I Die, Will I Get Better?
Primary: Post-Hardcore, Screamo
When you want something to hit this hard this album hits you over the head and shows you what real emotional pain is like. Most classic screamo has always had a tough and cheek sort of nature to it because of how young many of the artists typically are. However, this is a showing of where screamo can be if you do it right. Heavy hitting, powerful vocals, and melodic grooves that keeps me coming back for more.
Secondary: Pop Rap, Psychedelic Soul
There are a lot of posthumous albums that come out. However, many of them fall to the wayside as “oh that’s cool, but his other stuff is better”. The only artists to ever come through with not only their best work once they died. But had a lyrical journey that showed you in-depth what they are thinking about the minutes or hours before their life was over. Those artists are David Bowie and Mac Miller. With that said David Bowie takes the cake, but Jesus the way Mac Miller talks about his life and who is beyond chilling. Much of this album seems like he is talking to the listener in the clouds and telling you that everything will be alright I promise. Truly a beautiful listen and I can’t believe he didn’t get any Grammy nominations.
Primary: Art & Indie Pop, Singer/Songwriter
Secondary: Bossa Nova, Chamber Folk & Pop
Another genre obsession that I have recently discovered is Bossa Nova (i.e. Brazilian pop/beach music). There is something so spectacular to the way Bossa Nova type grooves make you feel warm and safe. What Sondre Lerche is able to create on this beautiful and enchanting album is something that no artist has ever done before. It’s so light and airy but still hits you over the head with it’s dense and introspective lyrics. Truly a breathtaking listen.
|14||Hayley Williams |
Petals for Armor
Primary: Art Pop, Alternative Dance/Pop
Secondary: Synthpop, New Wave, Indie Pop
Hayley Williams (after many years and rumors) has finally come out with her debut solo record and for me, it is something I never expected her to do so well. I know a lot of the reviewing community is very much on one side or the other. For me, this is the greatest vocal performance I have heard from Hayley since her early days in Paramore. She has such a knack for visual lyrics and the instrumentals are extremely well performed. A truly breathtaking performance across the board.
Primary: Art Pop, Trip-Hop
Secondary: Alternative RnB, Darkwave, Ambient Pop
This is the definition of a patience-testing album. There is a lot of thick atmosphere to these trip-hop tracks. Much of the album takes several minutes to get to the true power of the track. However, when this album goes off it truly blows me away at how powerful it is. Truly breathtaking instrumentals, dense and deep lyrics, and incredible vocal performance. Can’t go wrong with any of the album and all people should hear it if you are a fan of the early Portishead trip-hop style but with much more modern ambient ideas and ascetics.
I Let It In And It Took Everything
Primary: Metalcore, Alternative Metal
Secondary: Shoegaze, Djent, Post-Metal
Depression is no joke, especially for those who really suffer from deep depression. Daughters in 2018 came through with one of the most intricate and intense musical showings of what depression and anxiety can be like those affected by it. However, Loathe put their hats into the wring with the same kind of concept and in many ways go toe to toe with that album (lyrically at least). This is a heavy and intense listen, but a huge showing of what post-metal and alternative metal can be like when you bring in shoegaze and glitch.
While Time Disappears
Primary: Progressive Rock & Metal
Our Oceans is a silent and small band from the Netherlands. When I randomly came across their 2015 self-titled debut I was blown away by how intricate and intimate the post-rock instrumentals where. On their sophomore record, which I did not see coming, absolutely blew their debut out of the water. The vocal performances are so beyond what was on the last record that for five-years I would imagine the lead singer took singing lessons because it’s night and day on how well the vocals are. Amazing grooves across the board and truly winding and intricate listen that will keep you coming back for more.
The New Abnormal
Primary: Indie & Alternative Rock
Secondary: New Wave, Synthpop
We are finally in the top 10 albums of the year and what a list I have for you. Let’s start it out with the second-most unexpected artist to be on my list…The Strokes. I have never been a Strokes fan. Nothing about their original stuff has aged well and most of the recent stuff has been fairly boring/underwhelming. What’s even weirder about this brand new album is they really don’t do anything new for alternative rock or new wave. However, what might not be new is extremely well done. I have not heard alternative rock or indie rock sound this tight, this well-performed, or this explosive since the early 2000s. This album still blows me away at how damn catchy and infectious these songs are and there is nothing better than a fun living alternative rock album to put on in the background.
Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible
Primary: Art & Alternative Rock
Secondary: Industrial Rock, Pop Rock, Trancecore
Again, another artist I did not expect to be on my list in the slightest. Enter Shikari has always been a band that grabs people’s attention with a single but then wares people out with how boring their albums actually are. Their creation of trancecore created a huge wave of electronic metal music that took over the “scene” in the early 2010s. That sound died and what was left was a washed-up band. However, this brand new album sees a new side for the band, and they hit these sounds out of the part. The explosiveness of each track is beyond amazing and the amazingly political lyrics keep you coming back for more. There is nothing more danceable and heavier than this new Enter Shikari album and I am so happy they finally came out with such a great album.
What's Your Pleasure?
Primary: Nu-Disco, Dance-Pop
Secondary: Synthpop, Synth Funk, Boogie
Disco music has really seen a huge boom in popularity this year with the release of several key albums in the nu-disco genre. First of which was the new Dua Lipa album which showed up in the ’50s on my list. However, what takes the cake for disco music this year is this new Jessie Ware album. What’s weird is how uninspired her last few albums have been (and really her whole career). Not sure what snapped in her but she really goes off all across this album. When you first look at the album you tell yourself an hour of this style can’t last. But damn does it last and it hits hard to track after track. Danceable, energetic, sexy, and above all else, fun!
Primary: Experimental Hip-Hop, Sound Collage
Secondary: Dark Ambient
Experimental hip-hop had a bit of a year this year for me. This kind of appeared out of nowhere from an underground record label email. I was intrigued by the cover, so I gave it a listen. What I found was a dark, experimental, and atmospheric sound collage styled hip-hop album. However, where Material girl used sound collage has the main brain of the operation and used hip-hop as a backdrop. Zeroh uses it in a much smaller way and creates this thick hip-hop listen from front to back that still makes me question what I am exactly listening to.
Primary: Industrial Metal, Metalcore
Secondary: Alternative Metal, Glitch, Nu Metal
I am not sure why people hate Code Orange so much. Much of the “elite” metalheads have always seen Code Orange as a “glitchy mess”. However, as many of us have been seeing in the black metal scene, Code Orange is trying to change the face of alternative metal and industrial metal by bringing in more glitchy elements. What this creates is almost like someone trying to tell you something while the TV keeps cutting in and out like someone is trying to silence them and their message. A truly breathtaking listen and a great set of lyrical contents that need to be discussed in the metal community. Heavy hitting and explosive!
Primary: Chamber Folk, Singer/Songwriter
Secondary: Art Pop, Ambient
What a truly gorgeous album to listen to. The chamber instrumentation comes in at all the right points and creates this whimsical listen that makes you feel like you’re floating in a cloud, but those are thunder clouds and you’re seeing the horrific nature of humans. There is something so off-putting about the way Owen talks about gender identification and sexuality. The ways that he has dealt with these topics and how he is continually treated by his family and loved ones. A must listen if you want something so graceful to cross your ears.
|4||Run the Jewels|
Primary: Hardcore Hip-Hop
Secondary: Conscious/Political Hip-Hop
America continues dealing with the horrific racial injustice that we seem to never figure out. African-Americans are treated with such disgrace that it completely makes sense that this year would lead to the biggest revolution since the 60s and 70s. Run the Jewels created the perfect album for the revolution and encompass all the paint that African-Americans face while living in this world. In many ways, this is like listening to the current racial issues that America needs to fix, and hopefully, we can continue to fight for their equal rights because obviously, they don’t have them. So much energy and the production is beyond perfect on this record. Such a great album from front to back.
Primary: Chamber Folk, Singer/Songwriter
Secondary: Ambient, Nature Recordings
There are very few times where a song is so simple, so short, but makes me listen to it over and over again because of just how beautiful it is. Parfum D’etoiles off this absolutely stunning record by Ichiko perfectly showcases what we should look forward to in the future. 2020 has been a year of horrific events that all accumulated with millions of people dying. But there is something we can still hope for and reach for into the future. Happiness and love are all over this album and it’s something we all need to be reminded of as this year comes to a close. Because with all the hate and death, this year has brought millions of people closer together, together with love. Windswept Adan is the spring coming off a new age, new life, and new hope into a better tomorrow. A stunning listen and I still can’t believe this came out this year because of how intricate and delicate this album is.
|2||Nine Inch Nails|
Ghosts VI: Locusts
Primary: Dark Ambient
Secondary: Drone, Dark Jazz
Fairly ironic that number three was an album about hope and love while this new album by Nine Inch Nails is a haunting and horrific showing of what dark ambient can be. If anyone cares to know ambient music has really hit itself out of the park this year for me. For years it never clicked with me why people liked it. However, sever key things happened. First, I discovered Tim Hecker, the second I finally listened to the Alpha and Beta albums of Minecraft, third this album was released, and third I found out about the lovely world of Resident Evil soundtracks. What this new Nine Inch Nails album achieves is something dark ambient hasn’t achieved since the Resident Evil 2 soundtrack came across my ears. This album is so beautiful to listen to but it’s also extremely haunting and I wouldn’t recommend it to any if you alone and in the dark. So many great textures and sounds come up in this album and I cannot recommend it enough.
Visions of Bodies Being Burned
Primary: Horrorcore, Industrial Hip-Hop, Experimental Hip-Hop
Secondary: Noise Rap, Field Recording, Darkwave
Two in a row! Clipping has released the sister project to their 2019 classic There Existed an Addiction to Blood. What the trio is able to produce is something that horrorcore and rap music as a genre has never quite seen. I’ve listened to a lot of hip-hop in my life and there is something so beyond understanding with their music. This brand new album though takes the cake by throwing out all conventions of hip-hop. Honestly, the closest album to having the same effect was Danny Browns Atrocity Exhibition in 2016. The production, the beats, the style is so explosive and explorative that the ex-Hamilton actor makes you question what he is thinking half the time. Where Run the Jewels are the voice of purpose, clipping is the reflection of a horrific past. Take a listen because there is nothing more intense and insane than this album is.
|Great write ups. Nice to see illuminati Hotties so high up on your list. That album was a luscious surprise at the start of the year|
|heeey lovely lovely work !!|
|@slowcoreSam i think a lot of people are sleeping on them! |
|great list! good to see 5|
|Great list and write-ups. Having 3 and 1 near the top is obviously correct.|
|Surprised no one has went after me for not putting Fionna Apple on here lol! |
|I mean if the music was anywhere near as affecting as the subject matter maybe id say something but |
|What a coincidence, I’m re listening to Fetch the Bolt Cutters rn, definitely in my top 10, but honestly it shouldn’t be everyone’s favorite because it’s confrontational and sometimes uncomfortable when you really look at it. Very unique sound. |
|Regardless, your list is solid! 4, 8, 10, 13 & 16 are all on my list too.|
|Thanks everyone! @squiggly for me it's more like every time I listen to fetch the bolt cutters it instantly makes me want to listen to Julia Holter, which is weird because they are in two different universes of the art pop scene. But Julia is just a much more unique sound while FtBC just sounds like typical jazzy pop music. |
|i really couldn't get into what's your pleasure as much as all of yous... it's just too genuine, if anything. Like, it takes the reproduction of a sound (70's disco) to the point of it travelling "from" the past rather than "back" to it, you know? Like, it's indistinguishable from the real deal.|
it feels anachronic and it creates a disconection between me and the music.
|That's fair! |