I know you don’t care, but here are
My Favorite Albums of 2020
by Modern NatureAnnual is a song cycle about the seasons, and its concept and careful construction make it feel quite delicate and very special. Its sound is quiet and contemplative, even while featuring a saxophone. Listening to it is like lingering in a fleeting moment of beauty — at just 21 minutes, it passes by like a meditation.Flourish
If I Am Only My Thoughts
by LOVINGThis easygoing album brings a beautiful 70s vibe to LOVING’s existential lyrics. The muted picked bass, double-tracked, gentle and emotional vocals, and string arrangements give the album a gorgeous, contemplative, almost haunting tone.Lately in Another Time
by MamalarkyMamalarky sounds a bit like Mac DeMarco with female vocals crossed with Deerhoof — at times even verging into the vaudevillian rock of Pattern Is Movement. Seeing that all written out sounds like it was typed up in a fever dream, but it works! They pack a lot of content into a 31-minute record, with sharp hooks and exuberant vocals, and it is a lot of fun.Schism Trek
by Soccer MommySophia Allison’s second full-length record builds beautifully on the foundation set by her first, with more complicated, multi-part song structures that showcase her growth as a songwriter. And along with some chord changes reminiscent of Bloodflowers era The Cure, I was captured at the first listen.yellow is the color of her eyes
by Jaga JazzistPyramid effortlessly balances sounds from some of their previous records; where Starfire was harshly electronic, songs here marry that style with more natural instrumentation. Tomita, for example slowly changes from a fairly straightforward sounding modern jazz opening to a full-on electronics freakout by the end.Tomita
If You’re Dreaming
by Anna BurchAnna Burch combines a sweet, pure voice with twangy guitars, catchy hooks, and confessional lyrics. The arrangements are simple and direct, with the vocals deliberately featured throughout. It ends up feeling serene and a little dreamy, like a late night telephone call.Party’s Over
by Badge Époque EnsembleThe Badge Époque Ensemble is a Canadian prog-jazz group, sort of like BADBADNOTGOOD, but falling more on the jazz than the hip hop side of things. They made a fantastic 3-track odyssey of a record in 2019 (Nature, Man & Woman), which I found out about too late to add to that list; so I was pleased to see a new one this year to add! It brings a lot of what I love about them to the table — great jazz lines, interesting female vocals, and some complexity in song structure — spread among a longer tracklist with shorter running times. All this together makes for an approachable, enjoyable album.Sing a Silent Gospel
by Jess CorneliusJess Cornelius writes retro-sounding songs of love, relationships, and independence. On her first solo record after four releases as part of a band, she sounds like pop-leaning Julee Cruise, bringing an energized performance to some of the same sounds.Here Goes Nothing
The Neon Skyline
by Andy ShaufAndy Shauf continues down his road of character-driven concept albums, this time tracking one night in a group of friends’ lives as they come and go from the local bar, The Neon Skyline. The narrative here can be a little much, but the insanely catchy compositions and sharp arrangements that feature some woodwinds keep it engaging.Things I Do
Eastern Flowers (Doğu Çiçekleri)
by Sven WunderEastern Flowers is an album of instrumental, Middle Eastern-influenced funk that is meant to evoke “library music” — stock music used in TV or film. The saz, a lute-like plucked string instrument used in Turkish classical music, and whose variants are found in Syria, Iraq, and Greece, is used as the lead voice in every song. And as one review I read noted: whoever is playing it absolutely shreds. Overall, this album is a blast.Black Iris
by Jackie LynnJackie Lynn is the pop-focused alter ego of Circuit des Yeux, and here, she returns with a danceable, disco-inflected record. This alter ego is an oddball character who is as equally at home long-haul trucking across the south as she is glamorously gambling the night away in a casino. In short, it doesn’t make all that much sense, but it is a fun listen.Casino Queen
We Will Always Love You
by The AvalanchesThe 16-year gap between The Avalanches’ debut and their followup made this release feel like a surprise, even with a 4-year break since that followup. But with We Will Always Love You, they continue down the path of sample-based dance tracks paired with vocals from a huge roster of guest artists. Though long — an hour and twelve minutes! — the formula works better than ever, and at its best, evokes the laid-back, danceable funk of Random Access Memories Daft Punk.Oh The Sunn!
by Caroline RoseSuperstar is a pop concept album about leaving it all behind to follow a dream. The songs are approachable and fun, and land just on the indie enough side of pop to make them interesting. It also appeals to me for its shifting of styles, some of which felt like references to indie acts I love, like Ava Luna.Nothing’s Impossible
Awake in the Brain Chamber
by Secret MachinesAfter a cancelled 4th album in 2010 and the guitarist, Benjamin Curtis’s, tragic death of lymphoma in 2013, it seemed like Secret Machines was done for good. So this year’s release was a welcome surprise! While it doesn’t add much different in style to their canon, its use of some guitar lines that Benjamin recorded before his death and its reliably bombastic rhythm section make this a solid entry.Dreaming Is Alright
The Slow Rush
by Tame ImpalaTame Impala has a knack for writing hooks that sound instantly familiar, almost like they’re sampled. And here, he deploys that skill towards set of swirling psychedelic tracks that deal with time and its passing. But it’s not a dour outlook; he seems hopeful about what the future will bring, and isn’t that nice right about now?Borderline
That’s it. Thanks for reading.
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