Top 10 Albums of 2020

Check out other best of the year content here.

10. Phoebe Bridgers “Punisher”

A gorgeous, passionate, and solemn record that has really launched Bridgers to wide renown. I imagine it will be that way for a long time.

  1. Tame Impala “The Slow Rush”

Released to far fewer critical accolades than Tame Impala is used to, “The Slow Rush” took a while to grow on me, but Kevin Parker’s psychedelic pop creeped its way into being one of my favorites this year. 

  1. Fiona Apple “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” 

It took a late in the year revisit of this album to truly catch me. This has been heralded as the album of the year by many, Apple has created another astonishing work. From the chirping piano of the opening where she lays bare her desires for love to calling out abusive power mongers in “Newspaper”, Apple creates unique and powerful arrangements. 

7. Lil Uzi Vert “Eternal Atake” 

Lil Uzi Vert’s second full length is a jolt of energy, at times feeling messy, but he charms his way into your consciousness by maintaining a chaotic and almost puppy dog-like pace for over an hour. It’s a lot of fun. 

6. Porridge Radio “Every Bad”

A raw and passionate rock record that is filled with singer Dana Margolin’s repeated witticisms. It’s the kind of album that lends itself to shouting along with a crowd, a particularly unfortunate attribute this year, as the album was released the week of lockdowns. “Every Bad” contains Margolin’s deepest convictions and longings, the most harrowing of which comes in “Lilac” where she struggles through her failings before concluding “I don’t want to get bitter / I want us to get better / I want us to be kinder / To ourselves and to each other”, unleashing it at a near scream for the track’s final two minutes. 

  1. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats “Unlocked”

Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats’ collaboration only ranks this low because it may not actually be a full length album. Clocking in at 18 minutes across 8 tracks, some may consider this an EP, but I see it more along the lines of a punk album, both because of this length and the pure tenacity both artists produce here. It’s a perfect high octane rap record. 

4. Charlie XCX “How I’m Feeling Now”

The first notable quarantine recording, Charli XCX’s “how i’m feeling now” is filled with the sort of bottled energy you would expect from being forced to stay inside. It’s restless, with beats amped up to blow-out-your-speaker levels. 

3. The Chicks “Gaslighter”

I hadn’t really ever listened to the band formerly known as the Dixie Chicks prior to this year, and the album’s first single “Gaslighter”, didn’t really win me over. But after listening to the album all the way through, I was hooked and don’t think I listened to any other album more this year. It’s an album filled with heartbreak, of moving on, and confronting those who have weighed you down in the past. It was a true comfort to me all year. 

2. Soccer Mommy “color theory”

Sophie Allison expands on her bedroom rock songs to provide luscious and quietly soaring explorations of self doubt. Soccer Mommy is my favorite artist working in indie rock right now. “color theory” shows Allison, who is only 23, has further progressed from her stunning debut and is set to create great music for a long time.

  1. Run the Jewels “RTJ4”

Released early to provide soundtrack to nationwide protest, the fourth LP from Killer Mike and El-
P continues the rip roaring, face smashing, and degutting hip hop the group is known for. El-P’s beats
almost invoking the feelings of the most punishing rock songs, driving forward rather than finding
grooves in which to settle. Killer Mike relentlessly offers his trademark rhymes and alliteration, in a riotous album that’s as relevant as ever.

Top 14 Albums of 2014

The second to last list of the season! It’s coming a little later than expected, but I have other stuff I’ve been working on for those of you who care. Music is a hard thing to write about, so I’ve done my best to express my feelings about what I loved below. I struggled with the top three, but ultimately came to a balance of what I think I will love for a long time and what my heart is telling me in the moment.

As always I don’t recommend all of these albums, some may have objectionable content for your conscience.

Top 14 Albums of ’14

14. Joyce Manor “Never Hungover Again”

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“Never Hungover Again” is a great party record if you’re into loud punk-heavy rock songs. They are fast and often short (the whole album is only 19 minutes long), but this doesn’t stop it from being a great album and one that does have depth to it.

13. Cymbals Eat Guitars “Lose”

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A great indie rock album lead by the unique high pitched vocals of Joseph D’Agostino, but equally matched by the guitar driven sound of the rest of the band.

12. Hospitality “Trouble”

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A late in the year discovery for me, Hospitality hits hard at this women-led raw indie rock phase I’ve been going through lately. Though the band is divided between a tougher indie rock group and a more synth-y indie pop band, the songs that lead toward the former are some of my favorite of the year.

11. tUnE-yArDs “Nikki Nack”

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tUnE-yArDs’ brand of eclectic, world tinged pop music won’t be for everyone. It’s not even for me half of the time, but those times it does hit, it hits hard.

10. Parquet Courts “Sunbathing Animal”

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Parquet Courts will likely continue to crank out their post-punk, garage rock, laid back rock ‘n roll music year after year and I will likely buy into it every time. I’m not sure if “Sunbathing Animal” is quite as good as “Light Up Gold”, but it is more of the same witty rock tunes.

9. The Hotelier “Home Like No Place is There”

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This piece of new wave emo and pop-punk brought me back to my high school days where I got plenty of that sound. The Hotelier tend to transcend that genre (not that it really needs to be transcended) through poetic lyrics and songs that have emotional payoffs.

8. Iceage “Plowing Into the Field of Love”

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Iceage took a step into a new direction this year, bringing their post-punk sound a more alt-country feel and to me this was an improvement. The songs retain all the heaviness of their last albums, but add a unique change and wit to them.

7. Vince Staples “Hell Can Wait”

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Staples was one of my favorite discoveries this year and though this is technically an EP it was one of my records to listen to all year. “Blue Suede” and “Hands Up” got all the credit they deserve around the internet for their look into Staples’ life and commentary on current events, as well as their absolute musical brilliance and the rest of the album keeps up with those two standouts.

6. Jenny Lewis “The Voyager”

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A solid pop/rock album from the former Rilo Kiley lead vocalist. Here she lays herself bare while also making catchy and witty tunes.

5. Run the Jewels “Run the Jewels II”

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A fierce barrage of a hip-hop album offering non-stop and brutal verses from El-P and Killer Mike. It’s surprises you at every corner and does so in the most brilliant of ways.

4. D’Angelo “Black Messiah”

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I wasn’t some big D’Angelo fan before this year, sure I had heard the story, but it did little more than pique my interest. When the new album dropped I waited a couple of weeks before I even ventured to listen. Once I did listen, I guess you could say that the groove took a hold of me. This album is all groove and it is infectious.

3. Cloud Nothings “Here and Nowhere Else”

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A great rock ‘n roll album, Cloud Nothings reached their peak for me this year with songs that reached anthemic heights with their fuzzed out guitars and impassioned vocals. “I’m Not Part of Me” was my favorite song of the year, but the rest of the album was nearly just as good.

2. The War on Drugs “Lost in the Dream”

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This one is a continuous grower for me with his folksy elongated tracks breezing through my ears in its soothing fashion. It’s strangely reminiscent of Dylan for me, though more calming than his work is known for being. I can’t help but think when asked to point to a great album of the decade that this one will be toward the front of my mental catalog.

1. Makthaverskan “II”

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Maybe this won’t hold up whenever I look back at this ten years down the line, but for now Makthaverskan’s blend of punk and 80s new wave has got a hold on me. They are at times aggressive, at times melodic, but always emotionally bare. Its breadth of style and sound makes me interested in what will come next from the band, but also makes the album really work on multiple levels.

Honorable Mentions: FKA Twigs “LP1”, YG “My Krazy Life”, Jessie Ware “Restoration”, White Lung “Deep Fantasy”, Sharon Van Etten “Are We There”, First Aid Kit “Stay Gold”

Top 75 Songs of 2014 Part II (50-21)

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Part II of the top 75 songs of 2014 countdown. Apologies that there are no links to listen to each song or descriptions of certain ones, I had finished making the whole thing and then WordPress crashed without saving any of my work.

Check out Part I

(Note: Not every song is for every person, there may be some songs that you consider innapropriate; I do not recommend everything that I like for everyone. Proceed with your own discretion.)

50. U2 “Iris (Hold Me Close)”

49. Rustie w/ Danny Brown “Attack” (explicit)

48. Run the Jewels w/ Gangsta Boo “Love Again” (explicit)

47. Jenny Lewis “Head Underwater”

46. FKA Twigs “Two Weeks” (explicit)

45. YG w/Kendrick Lamar “Really Be (Smokin’ N Drinkin’)” (explicit)

44. The Hotelier “Your Deep Rest”

43. Sun Kil Moon “Carissa”

42. Run the Jewels “Lie Cheat Steal” (explicit)

41. Jenny Lewis “She’s Not Me”

40. Parquet Courts “Black and White”

39. Young Thug and Bloody Jay “4 Eva Bloody” (explicit)

38. Ariana Grande w/Iggy Azaela “Problem”

37. U2 “Every Breaking Wave”

36. Hundred Waters “Murmurs”

35. The War on Drugs “Lost in the Dream”

34. Makthaverskan “No Mercy”

33. Nico & Vinz “Am I Wrong?”

32. The Hotelier “Dendron”

31. Twin Shadow “To the Top”

30. Parquet Courts “Instant Disassembly”

29. Banks “Brain”

28. Run the Jewels “Jeopardy” (explicit)

27. Jessie Ware “Say You Love Me”

26. clipping. “Work Work” (explicit)

25. Vince Staples “Hands Up” (explicit)

24. Jenny Lewis “The Voyager”

23. YG w/Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock “I Just Wanna Party” (explicit)

22. White Lung “Snake Jaw”

21. Speedy Ortiz “American Horror”