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

Updated for September 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!


• Boris - "NO"
• Matthew Tavares & Leland Whitty - "Visions"
• Gaerea - "Limbo"
• Run the Jewels - "RTJ4"
• Mamaleek - "Come & See"
• Fontaines D.C. - "A Hero's Death"
• Fluisteraars - "Bloem"
• Thomas Azier - "Love, Disorderly"
• Esoctrilihum - "Eternity of Shaog"
• Paysage d'Hiver - "Im Wald"
25Two People
Second Body

3.5 // More upbeat and kinetic and less nocturnal and omniscient than their debut, but mondo grooves abound, and a decadent foray into a more pop-forward approach. I dig it.

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.
23Perfume 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.
22Dan 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.
21Panda 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.
20Black Marble
I Must Be Living Twice

3.5 // A low-key, synth-pop-slash-coldwave EP full of five covers - not something I'd normally enjoy or endorse, but Stewart's buttery smoothness here is captivating in ways I didn't think the genre was capable of. Really good stuff.
19Horse 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).
17John 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.
16Ian 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.
15The 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.
14Oranssi 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.
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.
12A.A. Williams
Forever Blue

3.5 // Finding that perfect niche compartment at the cross-roads of absorbing slowcore and post-rock atmosphere, I was taken aback at how quickly I fell in love with this.
11Nicolas 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.
10Young Jesus
Welcome to Conceptual Beach

3.5 // Has a Buckley-esque touch to it that's unmistakable - more free-form and sprawling than I anticipated, which caught me off-guard the first time around but has engendered significant death in revisits. Falling in love with this more and more each time I spin it.
9Faceless Burial

4.0 // Death metal has been relatively solid and prevalent this year (makes sense, doesn't it?), but something about this Speciation release has stood above the pack for me. Aggressive, borrowing heavily from their 90s influences but wearing them proudly on its sleeve and hammering away relentlessly at the ride cymbal and bass guitar like there's no tomorrow. Wonderful sound mixing, too.
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.
7Phoebe 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.
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.
5Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Sideways to New Italy

4.0 // Sometimes simple, flawless jangle pop is all you need. Could listen to this bad boy on repeat.
4Illuminati 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.
3Lonker 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.
1The Microphones
Microphones in 2020

4.5 // Exactly what I needed. In my opinion, the best thing Phil Elverum has done since WIND'S POEM in '09. This is the perfect blend of his "Mount Eerie" intimacy and minimalism mixed with his "Microphones" ear for lo-fi sonic bliss. *Chef's kiss*
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