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12.31.20 50 Good Things About 202001.01.20 Oh look, another end of the year list
12.31.18 Worst Top 50 List Ever

50 Good Things About 2020

Here is my top 50 albums of the year. Also includes EPs/albums from December 2019. Let me know what you think!
There Is No Year

As good of a year as 2020 was for music, this year’s top 50 had little competition. There is No Year didn’t start off on the list, but there is not an album that I would rather have started off this list now that the list is complete. Algiers have such a unique sound, and went with a more contemporary approach to this album rather than the raw and more experimental sound of their previous effort. It still works, but to what extent is a matter of debate. Something is lost without the raw production, mostly in the vocals. The soulful approach to singing still dominates the vocals, but I think they missed a great opportunity taking a different direction production wise.

Favorite song: Dispossession

Tricot is one of those bands that I want to like more than I do. I fell in love with 3 back in 2017, and it continues to be one that I routinely come back to. It’s also an album I love to recommend for friends who are wanting to branch out to music made from outside the English-speaking world. Nothing since then has been able to capture the magic of that album, but this one gets close. Tricot is at their best when they embrace the chaotic, fast-paced, side of math rock rather than slower, more drawn out songs. You get a bit of both here, but the songwriting is expertly done so it's an overall fun listen every time. When the guitars are brought to the forefront is when this album shines. The riffs define each song on here, and really show a lot of technicality and ingenuity.

Favorite song: おまえ (Omae)
48Drive-By Truckers
The Unraveling

Drive-by Truckers, at this point, is a usual on my end-of-year countdowns. I wouldn’t say their music is groundbreaking by any means, but their raw sound gives a nice balance of old and new ideas in country music. Combine this unique sound with an album full of politically aware themes, and you have an album that stands out from their contemporaries. Of the two albums that Drive-by Truckers gave us this year, this outing approaches their sound from a folk-ier side, deciding to take a step back with a lot of mid-tempo songs.

Favorite song: Thoughts & Prayers
47Protest the Hero

Protest the Hero are back with their first LP in years. Their “progressive” take on post-hardcore has never been one that I thoroughly enjoy, but have always respected, especially in the vocal department. Despite the musical ability of the entire band, the group relies on that single aspect of their sound, which is why this album took so long to come out in the first place. I think it paid off, however, as this has been the only album by them that I enjoy from start to finish. The songwriting is superb, and every song maintains their signature sound after all these years, which many bands seem to fail at doing after a long hiatus. Let’s just hope that the next album doesn’t take as long to come out.

Favorite song: Gardenias
46Make Them Suffer
How to Survive a Funeral

I had a lot of high expectations for Make Them Suffer after their last album came out a few years back. The band just has a knack for writing some of the best metalcore songs to come out in years, and I’m happy to see that this fact hasn’t waned on this album. I will admit, however, that it took some time for me to fully appreciate due to the tweaks to their sound that this album brought. It’s a direction that a lot of metalcore bands are taking, but Make Them Suffer haven’t let the nu-metal/butt rock influence take over, and I think the change was implemented well overall.

Favorite song: Soul Decay
45Nothing Left

Nothing Left is an interesting case. They have all the right things going on to make them one of the stand-out acts in this style of metalcore/hardcore, but they seem to fall short on their debut LP. I’d say it’s a trait that has been carried over from For Today, which I felt had the same curse. I love their sound, but there's always something in the way of loving the album overall.

Favorite song: Cycle of Abuse
44Drive-By Truckers
The New OK

There’s not much I can say about this album that wasn’t already said about their last album. There’s a lot of the same ideas going on, albeit with a little more musical variation, with some more rock influence being felt on some songs, especially the closer. I think the last song alone is what pulls this album ahead of the first one, as it is one of my favorite songs of the year.

Favorite song: The KKK Took My Baby Away
43Hands Like Houses
Hands Like Houses

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Hands Like Houses were once seen as the next big thing in the post-hardcore world after their first two albums, but have since gone in a more alternative direction ever since. This doesn’t mean the music is of a lesser quality, it’s just different than what me and other fans wanted them to do. This is a pretty short EP, but it’s overall really catchy, and they’re still really good at crafting a catchy chorus.

Favorite song: The Water
42The Chicks

One of the handful of newcomers to my listening habits this year was The Chicks. I remember hearing their songs on the radio as a kid, and it’s crazy that all these years later I’m talking about one of their albums as one of my favorites of the year. There’s a lot to like on this album. The songwriting is great, and there’s little in the way of dull moments. Each song feels unique as well, as they don’t have to rely on recycling ideas throughout the album. This is just a great country album, but not the best of the year (hint, hint).

Favorite songs: Gaslighter, Texas Man
41The Classic Crime
Patterns In The Static

The Classic Crime holds a special place in my heart. It’s the first group that me and my girlfriend found that we both listened to when we first met, and the music nerd that I am always kept that in mind. They’ve come a long way over the years, and this album reflects that. There’s not much here that they haven’t done already, and the little bit of change is welcome, with a bit more of a pop influence from time to time. This is still very much a The Classic Crime album, and has a lot in common with their previous album.

Favorite song: Summer of ‘92
40Dance Gavin Dance

I’ll go ahead and say that this is the weakest DGD album since Acceptance Speech. I love every album from Tillian-era DGD, but they were on such a hot streak on their last three albums that this one can’t be seen as anything short of a disappointment. They just seem to have run out of ideas, and the new concepts that they tried were very hit or miss. Tillian’s added screams are a welcome change, but the songs with latin beats, or unfortunately the Bilmuri feature, just kind of fall flat.

Favorite song: Lyrics Lie
39Unleash The Archers

Unleash the Archers really won me over with one of the best concept albums of the year. Power metal is not my favorite for a lot of reasons, but the added heaviness and overall songwriting just make this great. The album does such a good job conveying the story through the music rather than relying on the listener focusing on lyrics, which is just a sign of great writing.

Favorite song: Legacy

Bilmuri just loves to pump out material. That’s not a bad thing, especially when you pull from so many places as Bilmuri likes to. There’s really nothing here though that he hadn’t done on the album that had come out earlier in 2019, however. It loses some merit for that, but it’s still just such a unique sound that is crafted here, and every song is still just as infectious as so many other Bilmuri songs.

36Dua Lipa
Future Nostalgia

If there was any major trend this year in pop music, it was the influx of 80s inspired albums. Dua Lipa killed it here. Banger after banger that will get stuck in your head for days. Dua lyrically does little to differentiate herself from her peers, but she is just so good at songwriting and vocal ability that it doesn't take away from the greatness of this album… until the last song. Boys Will Be Boys has great intentions, but falls flat on the execution.

Favorite songs: Levitating, Don’t Start Now
35Hayley Williams
Petals for Armor

It took several listens of the entire album for me to really appreciate what Hayley Williams has made. Every time I come back though, I’m welcomed by something new. There’s something different that sticks out with every listen, a sign of a truly well crafted album. If this album does anything, it established Hayley as a musical titan. She is just great at making music, and I’m here for whatever comes next.

Favorite songs: Dead Horse, Cinnamon
34Misery Signals

I think it’s safe to say that Misery Signals had no chance of living up to expectations of the metalcore world when this album was announced, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t come close. Misery Signals haven’t lost their ability to dominate the genre. This album is proof of that. It’s versatile, but keeps that signature sound, incorporating ideas from heavy and progressive metal more so now than ever. Not as heavy as previous albums on this list, but overall better written.

Favorite song: Old Ghosts
Use Me

This album would be so much higher if they didn’t just throw three songs from last year’s EP in the middle of this album. It kills the momentum that is perfectly set up from the first half, and it’s too easy to just skip to the next new song. The blend of rock and electronic influences is sheer perfection on this album. The songs are catchy as hell too. This would’ve easily been their best album by far if three more songs were written.

Favorite songs: Dead Weight, January Rain
32Taylor Swift

One of this year’s biggest surprises was this album. This feels like something that no one saw coming, and I give Taylor all the respect for making it. This stripped down sound fits her voice so well. The songwriting is amazing as well, with so many great concepts and stories throughout the entire album. It’s a bit longer than I usually like albums to be, but there’s little filler here. I hope she keeps it up with this level of consistency, she may have gained a fan.

Favorite songs: my tears ricochet, betty
The Way It Ends

Currents has been a band I have been following pretty closely since their debut first came out, and I have yet to be disappointed. They are able to make songs that are both heavy and catchy, something easier said than done. This album doesn’t see a lot of change from the game formula they used on last year’s EP, but there is a bit more variation vocally. The increase in singing isn’t as foreboding as it has been for many other metalcore albums, as the songwriting really incorporates them very well.

Favorite song: A Flag to Wave
30Yours Truly
Self Care

I wasn’t sure how to feel about this album at first. My first impression was that they lost a lot of the punk influence and edge from their previous EP, which isn’t surprising at all, just disappointing. I kept coming back, and found that in its place was improvement almost everywhere else, all while keeping that same spirit that made that EP so great to begin with.

Favorite songs: Siamese Souls, Heartsleeve

Bilmuri’s second album on my list improved on many of the shortcomings of his December release. It’s not that there’s a lot different between the two albums. This album just has more emotion in it, as if more passion went into this one. Crazy how often you can just tell when an artist is enjoying the writing process more in one release than another. It’s apparent here.

28Stand Atlantic
Pink Elephant

This album won’t sit well with a lot of people who aren’t a fan of the use of electronics. Punk music in general seems a bit behind the curve in that regard, but as a whole that is becoming less of a reality. Stand Atlantic do a great job incorporating them in the sound of the album. They are one of the best acts in pop punk right now, and they’re taking the genre into 2020, something that other acts avoided this year.

Favorite songs: Eviligo, Like That
27Bring Me the Horizon
Post Human: Survival Horror

This EP is so close to being amazing. So many songs on this thing hit so hard. They combine the nu-metal and metalcore ideas better than anyone else in the genre, but the album is plagued by inconsistency. For every fantastic song, there’s one that misses the mark. BMTH does a lot of new things here, and experimentation always leads to something that doesn’t work as well.

Favorite songs: Kingslayer, Teardrops
The Dead Light

Fen has been a consistent act in black metal for years now. They have a unique sound to their approach, which makes for a different experience than you would with other black metal bands. This is an album that needs to be enjoyed in headphones. It’s so easy to miss the little details otherwise. It’s obviously not for everyone, but it’s still a very enjoyable record.

Favorite song: Breath of Void

This is definitely one of the odder albums to be on this list this year. Ghostmane has made a career of being odd, and he went all out on this one. The increase of rock, punk, and metal influence here really makes for an interesting experience. The obvious comparison is Marilyn Manson, but I think he shows enough of himself to where it’s impossible to call it a rip-off. Even as this scene in rap music gets bigger, Ghostmane is still able to establish himself as one of the champions of the sound.

Favorite songs: Vagabond, Sacrilege
24The Ghost Inside
The Ghost Inside

The Ghost Inside’s story has been a tragic one these last few years. If there’s anything that should be said about this album, it’s that it is a triumphant one. TGI overcame so much to make it, and it's shown in the sound of the album. No, this is nothing new that they haven’t already done musically, but the fact that they are still able to make this album alone is remarkable. This is a hardcore album, and if you’re not a fan of the sound, they do little to change that opinion.

Favorite songs: Overexposure, Pressure Point
23Purity Ring

There’s always a place in my lists where my opinion each successive album just makes a jump. Well, here we are at said jump. Purity Ring has always been a different experience for me. This is probably because I don’t listen to a lot of electronic music, but this album specifically just speaks to me on a whole other level than other similar acts have. It’s just a beautiful record, and the songwriting and performances are superb.

Favorite song: peacefall
22Loathe (UK)
I Let It In And It Took Everything

Loathe seems to be establishing themselves as one of the bands to watch in metalcore. Sure, they’re still going in a similar nu-metal direction as nearly all other bands in the genre, but they approach in a way that keeps a lot of the same spirit that metalcore was built on. This is a sludgy, filthy album, but in a good way. It doesn’t really overuse the new influences, but incorporates them seamlessly into their already unique sound.

Favorite songs: New Faces in the Dark, Is It Really You?
Saint Cloud

This is an interesting album in an odd way. It’s kinda boring at first, but I think it’s meant to be. This album progresses in a way that the meat of the album is near the back, opposite of what I tend to find in albums. It pays off to listen to this album front to back. Musically, it trends in a way a lot of albums did this year: stripped back with a “return to roots” kind of vibe. It worked here, and I am hooked.

Favorite songs: Fire, War
This Place Sucks Ass

PUP has been one of my favorite bands for a few years now. Last year's album has become a near classic for me, and this EP is close to being the same. This is just pop punk at its finest. It’s raw and loud, and like all their music, full of humours lines and sarcasm.

Favorite song: Rot
19Nothing But Thieves
Moral Panic

I’m actually surprised this album is as low as it is. This year was strong for music, and Nothing But Thieves reinforces that statement. This is a great rock album in general. It keeps it’s heart on its sleeve the entire time, and does little to give the listener a breather before being thrown into the next anthemic chorus.

Favorite songs: Can You Afford to Be An Individual?, This Feels Like the End

I’m kind of sad that we didn’t get a full album this year from Makari. Hyperreal continues to be a favorite of mine, and I’m glad to see them continue with a similar sound on this album. They are just so good at crafting hooks, and the almost jazzy feel to their music puts me in a trance with every listen.

Favorite songs: Let Go, The Fall
17King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard

King Gizzard did the right thing naming this album after themselves. More so than any other record they have made thus far, this is their defining record. It embodies all that they have done in their career so far. From the weird instrumentation, to overall sound from song to song, to the experimental last song, it goes back and takes ideas from their previous albums. It’s a great album to really get an idea of what this band is all about.

Favorite songs: Automations, Straws In The Wind
Going Out of Business

I love this blend of math rock, emo, and pop punk. It’s not a new combination, but Dryjacket does it so well. They don’t let one thing prevail, rather perfectly blending the ideas in their own way, giving them a sound different yet familiar at the same time. It’s on the shorter side, and can feel too short at times. Every song is worth listening to because of this, however, as there’s little room for filler.

Favorite song: Joe Luck
15All Time Low
Wake Up, Sunshine

This was an early contender for album of the year this year, but I think it fell off as the year went along. All Time Low really redeemed themselves from their last album here. They aren’t firing on all cylinders like they were on Don’t Panic, but they’ve learned a few things from the albums in between that one and this one. There’s just a lot of variation, and they can change aspects of their sound to allow themselves more musical creativity than they have in years past.

Favorite songs: Melancholy Kaleidoscope, Favorite Place
14The Weeknd
After Hours

I’ve tried getting into The Weeknd for years, and it finally happened here. He just has such a great voice, and I could tell that his songwriting ability was amazing as well, it just took awhile to finally hit. I will say that it takes a few songs to really kick it into high gear, but when it does… oh boy.

Favorite songs: Blinding Lights, Save Your Tears
13Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes is a new group for me. I was blown away by the beauty of their last album. It’s modern interpretation of folk music was something I needed in my life. This album takes that and throws you on the coast with a drink in your hand and not a care in the world. It displays how versatile the group is when it comes to songwriting.

Favorite songs: Sunblind, Maestranza
12Touche Amore

There was no way Touche Amore was going to top Stage Four for me. That is such an amazing record because of the concept behind it. This album almost feels like a continuation at times, with many of the same topics being discussed here. Musically it feels like an evolution, however, as their sound has been tweaked since then. They’ve added to their repertoire on this album, adding layers to an already dense sound. It paid off too, as they are still one of the best groups out there.

Favorite songs: Limelight, Come Heroine
11The Killers
Imploding the Mirage

Taking on an 80s influenced sound has become a trend the last couple years. The artists that are able to pull it off the best are on the way to creating truly fantastic music, which is the case here. The Killers need no introduction, and their sound is unmistakable, but it has evolved as the band gets older.

Favorite songs: Imploding the Mirage, My God
10Enter Shikari
Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible

Enter Shikari have been pushing the boundaries of their sound for their entire careers. They seem more capable of adapting to the times better than most of their counterparts from the early scene days. They do a great job conveying the story of the album through the music. The album is full of interludes and songs that vary in structure while also maintaining a sense of discomfort throughout the album.

Favorite songs: {The Dreamer’s Hotel}, satellites* *
9Crystal Lake
The Voyages

Even though this isn’t an album of new songs, this compilation of re-written songs is truly fantastic. Every song is just as heavy as the last, and the energy of the album is infectious. None of the songs overstay their welcome either, which can be a problem in this style of music. It’s near perfect, I just want to see the band do the same on their next album.

Favorite songs: Fabricated Refuge, Open Water
8Carly Rae Jepsen
Dedicated Side B

Carly Rae Jepsen has become my favorite artist in pop over the last year. I fell in love with Dedicated, and feel even more in love with Emotion. Side B is just as good as those two, capturing the same feeling as everything Carly has put out in the last five years. It has yet to feel old, and I don’t think it will for some time.

Favorite songs: Summer Love, Fake Mona Lisa, Let’s Sort The Whole Thing Out
7Mac Miller

I’m glad we got this album. What happened is Mac Miller is truly tragic, but to have this album was something all of his fans are grateful for. This album sees Mac as less of a rapper and more of a songwriter. To associate this with a genre in general is tough, but I think that was part of the idea. Mac really showed his true strengths here.

Favorite songs: That’s On Me, Blue World
6Knuckle Puck

We’re at the point where it’s really a toss-up for which album comes out on top this year. I simply can’t deny the magic this album is. It’s not as raw or emotional as their first two albums, but musically they have never sounded better. The singing is fantastic, and both vocalists have unique tones to their voice. The songwriting and pop punk hooks have never been better either.

Favorite song: Sidechain (probably my favorite song this year)
5The Strokes
The New Abnormal

The Strokes made something here that is one of the most experimental and forward thinking rock albums this year. Not only that, but it’s some of their catchiest as well. They’ve always been able to write great songs, but this feels like a new chapter for the band musically, going for more of a cleaner sound with more electronics than they’re signature sound is originally known for.

Favorite song: The Adults Are Talking
4The Lawrence Arms
Skeleton Coast

This album has one of my favorite first songs of all time. It’s the best way to start an album like this. Their sound is similar to what a lot of older punk bands have been going with as of late, but they still maintain a unique sound with clever songwriting and dueling vocals.The rougher vocals take some time to get used to, but I think they add something to the album that would be missing otherwise. You can also tell that they can use that extra style of singing to write more varied songs, making for an even more memorable album.

Favorite songs: Quiet Storm, How To Rot, Dead Man’s Coat
No Good Left To Give

Personal albums are my favorite. I always prefer to see a musician vulnerable with their listeners to one trying to tell a story. Maybe that’s why I connect to this album as much as I do. Even when you take away the personal lyrics, the music accompanying it are fantastic examples of emo and pop punk songs. This is a near perfect album, it’s just a shame the two albums ahead of it were closer to perfect.

Favorite songs: Tunnel Vision, Skin to Skin, Garden Eyes
2Run the Jewels

RTJ has always written jams, and this album is nothing but jams. Not only do both El-P and Killer Mike have some of the best flows in music, few artists also have the musical and lyrical talent as these two. Every song has great energy, and they all have something to say too. This album is full of modern-day political issues that are plaguing the US today. Everything to race issues to income inequality are addressed here. It’s nothing new to a Run the Jewels album, this is just the first time it has been given this much attention. I’m all for it, personally, we need more artists speaking out right now.

Favorite songs: JU$T, out of sight
1Chris Stapleton
Starting Over

Having a country album at the top of my list feels odd. High school me would be so ashamed of this moment, but I think it’s one I could see coming in hindsight. Chris Stapleton has been my favorite artist from this genre for awhile now, but I never expected him to make an album this perfect. There’s not a song on here, besides the one about his dog because it makes me cry, that I want to skip. He does nothing but his best from front to back. From slow ballads to hard rocking anthems, it’s all done in a way that only Chris Stapleton can execute properly. This is one of the best albums to come out in a long time. One that will be hard for any album from any genre to top for years to come.

Favorite songs: Arkansas, You Should Probably Leave
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