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Top 25 of 2020: So Far! (Aug.)

Updated for August 2020. Just over the halfway point of this unprecedentedly terrible year, why not run over a recap of some of the best releases thus far? Personal top twenty five, feel free to discuss and, more importantly, drop recommendations based on what you think I might like that I've overlooked!
25Fontaines D.C.
A Hero's Death

3.5 // Wanted a little more variation, I think, but what's there is pretty great, and in spades. Not the most outstanding album of the year, but possibly the most consistent.
Come and See

3.5 // Ironically enough, this'd be a jarring (but ultimately fitting) quasi-soundtrack for the Russian film of the same name.
23Run the Jewels

3.5 // Yeah I guess I still find something about this marketed "rap music for middle-aged white guys" alluring. Then again, I am literally the target audience.
22Matthew Tavares and Leland Whitty

3.5 // A wonderful jazz fusion record, full stop. Didn't blow me away but held my attention effortlessly for an hour. That in and of itself is quite an accomplishment.

3.5 // Boris rarely disappoints, and while I prefer the sludgier elements to the crust-and-punk style that eclipses many of the tracks here, they still make it work. Lots of aggression and that's enough for me.

3.5 // Full of life, full of energy, bouncing off the walls but so well composed that it's obviously all on purpose. Really great stuff.
19Perfume Genius
Set My Heart On Fire Immediately

3.5 // After a juicy single on '19, the follow up full-length from Perfume Genius takes a more strictly atmospheric and chamber-y approach, but is all the better for it. A grower, not a shower.
18Dan Deacon
Mystic Familiar

3.5 // Never thought I'd return to any indietronica album over and over again, but here we are. Dan's strongest release yet.
17Panda Rosa
The Kinspiral

3.5 // The second album on this list to surpass two hours; significantly more atmospheric and tranquil than the other one, which occasionally results in tedium -- but there are countless beautiful moments scattered throughout this beast.
16Horse Lords
The Common Task

3.5 // Never huge on this heavily instrumental, numerical and time-signature obsessed math rock, but maybe I just haven't heard something this genuinely slick in so long that I forgot what it's like to enjoy the technicalities of music?
New Dreams

3.5 // Eschews typical singer-songwriter monotony with an undercurrent of sophisticated pop, without going full-blown artsy-fartsy (see: .e.g Bjork's UTOPIA).
14John Zorn

3.5 // Even those who can't stand Zorn's more spastic tendencies should appreciate this ode to bombast free jazz. The man is an enigma, but he makes some damned interesting music.
13Ian William Craig
Red Sun Through Smoke

3.5 // Rarely does ambient music so effortlessly collide with pseudo-pop sensibilities so casually and gracefully. A lovely little album.

3.5 // A lot of traditional black metal blended with a razor-sharp contemporary production and - believe it or not - melodies that are gracefully without being saccharine and soppy.
11The Smith Street Band
Don't Waste Your Anger

3.5 // These Aussies can rock. And write a damn catchy hook. Probably the most endearing album on this list, in a weird way.
Less Life

3.5 // Is it post-punk? Is it post-hardcore? Does it matter? It's good, no matter how you classify it. Edgy and coarse without having to try too hard.
9Nicolas Jaar

3.5 // Not even sure how you'd classify this. After being underwhelming by Jaar's release earlier this year, he struck a pretty substantial chord with me, here. Could see this growing as the year marches on. Spacy, evocative, glitchy, and, most of all, constantly engaging.
8Oranssi Pazuzu
Mestarin Kynsi

3.5 // Has grown on me a lot since first spin; wonderful alchemy with all the various metal subgenre blending. You may not love it, but there's never a dull moment.
Silver Tongue

4.0 // Seems exactly like the kind of album I hate but conversely found something to love in just about every single track here, other than the fact that Torres doesn't know how to craft an ending.
6Serpent Column
Endless Detainment

4.0 // This one-man show continues to impress with release after release. His most daring and avant-garde project yet, can only be described as coerced chaos.
5Phoebe Bridgers

4.0 // As much as I hate using this adjective as a criticism of art, this is significantly more "mature" than Bridgers's previous LP (which I quite liked, too). "Kyoto" in the running for track of the year.
4Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Sideways to New Italy

4.0 // Sometimes simple, flawless jangle pop is all you need.
3Illuminati Hotties
FREE I.H: This Is Not the One You've Been Waiting

4.0 // I liked the Hotties' previous, debut album, though it was decidedly more strictly twee pop. This bumps up the experimentation a notch, bouncing from the post-punk, riot-girl edge to an occasional lo-fi ballad, all while maintaining the underlying charm. Amazing record.
2Lonker See

4.0 // Not enough people are listening to this amazing jazz/space-rock crossover. A lot more developed than Lonker See's previous LP.

4.5 // Dark, jazzy, tribal, soul-sucking, groovy, all of the fucking above. Monolithic and absorbing beyond measure. Easy front-runner for AOTY at the halfway point.
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