As we finally enter 2021 I’ve been reflecting on how much great music was released during an extraordinarily strange year. 2020 started strong with the likes of Marigold by Pinegrove and The World Is In Your Way by Dragged Under, but when we went into lockdown in March there was a period where it felt like no new music was being released, and at one point I genuinely thought 2020 was going to be a write-off. However, we started seeing albums being released again over the summer and into the autumn and now that 2020 has finished I can safely say that there was a lot of fantastic new music! For many artists 2020 will be a year to forget, but as a listener I am really grateful to all the artists that released new music this year – music is incredibly important for millions of people and I am sure in 2020 the importance of music was greater than ever. Here are my top 5 albums of 2020 and a list of honourable mentions:
5. Bermuda Dunes – Silver Torches
Not only is Bermuda Dunes one of my favourite albums of 2020, but Silver Torches is definitely my favourite discovery of 2020 too. Erik Walters is a really gifted musician and it’s a crime that this album hasn’t received more exposure. The production is amazing, the songs are catchy, and at only 8 songs long it always leaves me wanting to hear more. I look forward to hearing more from Silver Torches in the future. You can read my full review of Bermuda Dunes here.
4. Folklore – Taylor Swift
I really respected Swift when Folklore was released, not least because of the way it was written, recorded and then released, but for making a bold move and trying something completely different. This is something we perhaps don’t see often enough from some of the bigger pop artists, and my respect for Taylor grew even more when I actually sat down and listened to the album. The songs are brilliantly written and the album feels consistent, catchy and emotional, but what I love most about Folklore is how naturally Swift falls into the genre. I know her roots lie in country/americana and so it’s not completely out of her comfort zone, but this stripped back folk sound suits her vocal style perfectly and the move has paid off in buckets.
3. Marigold – Pinegrove
Pinegrove’s second album since their return from a hiatus is more mellow and pensive than its predecessors, but the songs have grown on me more and more everytime I listen to them. Marigold is one of the earlier releases of 2020, and for me personally got me through a fairly difficult time – the final stretch in a long journey to buying a house! Not only do I love this album, but having the opportunity to watch Evan perform some of the songs from Marigold at an intimate acoustic set at Banquet Records, and getting the chance to meet him afterwards, makes this album more special to me.
2. Moral Panic – Nothing But Thieves
Nothing But Thieves proved with Moral Panic that they are one of the most exciting modern rock bands around, and with their latest album have pushed the boundaries, kept things fresh, and added a few more anthems to their catalogue. The experimental guitar tones and vocals from Conor are outstanding and I definitely think this is one of the most instrumentally impressive albums of 2020. I was pleased to see Moral Panic receive the recognition it deserves too, winning Radio X’s Record of the Year and runner-up Record of the Year. You can read my sound-bite review of Moral Panic on my Instagram page (@as4sound), where I scored the album an 8.5.
1. Tickets To My Downfall – Machine Gun Kelly
I Think I’m OKAY was one of my favourite songs from 2019, but to be honest I thought that would be the last time I’d fall in love with an MGK song. I was wrong! Tickets To My Downfall, MGK’s first number 1 album, was never going to be a groundbreaking, genre-defining album, and whilst it’s been dubbed a Blink-182-rip-off by some, I actually disagree and think his vocals and choice of featured artists (Halsey, Blackbear, Trippie Redd and Iann Dior) adds something new and original to pop-punk in the 21st century. I don’t know how well this album will age, but in the latter half of 2020 I loved listening to it and kept finding myself coming back to it. You can read my review of Tickets To My Downfall here.
- Power Up – AC/DC
- Public Life – Joshua Lee-Turner
- BREACH – Fenne Lily
- All Distortions Are Intentional – Neck Deep
- Wake Up Sunshine – All Time Low
- Fake It Flowers – Beabadoobee
- Notes From the Archive – Maggie Rogers
- The World Is In Your Way – Dragged Under
- What Kinda Music – Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes
- Girlfriends – Girlfriends
- Weird! – Yungblud
- No Song Without You – Honne
- Mama’s Boy – LANY
- Punisher – Phoebe Bridgers