Favorite Albums of 2020
Viewing — Stay Inside
Despite a band name that’s a bit on the nose for this year, I really enjoyed this album especially during the anger stage of quarantine. There’s something about this style of pop-punk/midwest emo that takes me back to my youth in the best way.
The Caretaker — Half Waif
Lavender, Half Waif’s previous album was on my list in 2018 and again this year she delivered a haunting, beautiful record. There’s a lot more dancy-bits this year than in 2018, but her voice stays just as emotive, holding its own against the tracks.
Likewise — Frances Quinlan
Quinlan’s voice is wildly passionate, and incredibly unique. I love the organ and keys on various tracks, and hearing her voice complemented by a board swath of harp, and strings. The tone shift is significant from her Hop Along project, and I think it shows a ton of depth and creativity. Your Reply and Now That I’m Back are favorites.
Every Bad — Porridge Radio
This is a new band for me this year. Margolin’s voice is a delight as she hoarsely sings loud parts, and croons right into my heart. Excellent music for feeling a bit romantic and just chilling out.
Myopia — Agnes Obel
Every Agnes Obel album is an opportunity to remember how much I love her music. Between her beautiful voice, and the haunting melodies and instrumentation, this album is perfect for a crisp morning, or a chill night’s walk.
Walking Like We Do — The Big Moon
This album contains an anthem for ADHD. Extra points for being a band of four women as well. Every track on this album is catchy as hell, with some driving rhythms on Your Light and anthems to lost loves like on Barcelona.
Shadow Offering — Braids
I first saw Braids years ago at a SXSW as they were working on their first album, Lemonade. Since then, every release was great, but this album is really them in their stride.
Jump Rope Gazers — The Beths
The Beths put on one of the best shows I saw last year, with superb pop punk.
Holding — Hailaker
Beautiful. I love the simple breathy quality of Jemima Coulter’s voice. The UK really represents on my list this year with some awesome female vocals.
Microphones in 2020 — Microphones
If you want to sob for a while, throw on a recent Microphones record. After a few years of truly devastating work about the death of his wife, and a breakup with his second wife, Elverum is back to exploring.
Punisher — Phoebe Bridgers
Hannah — Lomelda
This might be my favorite album of all this year. Lomelda was a soundtrack for a few trips to Osaka, as I sat in small kissaten and sipped coffee while reading. Her voice is soft, and sad in the best ways. This album builds on her earlier work and goes from apologetic to proud as it plays on.
The Quiet City — Library Tapes
This is an absolute banger of a chill out album. There are a lot of fantastic collaborations in this collection with Akira Kosemura standing out particularly.
Hold Space For Me — Orion Sun
I’m a sucker for these weird backing tracks and her lush vocals. This is a fucking dope album with a blend of so many styles and moods. A real spring surprise for me, though she played a big festival in 2018. Definitely an artist to watch. Coffee for Dinner is a standout. It’s impossible not to dance a little when you listen.
Oar — Manami Kakudo
For some reason this album is considered J-Pop by Apple Music, but it feels a bit more like the songs I loved from Lily Chou-Chou or some folks artists. I love the delicate instrumentation, heavy on strings and keys. There’s a real intimacy in the performance here that makes me wish I could see her play at some small venue… or like I already have.
Forever — Midwife
This album is largely instrumental, but when her voice comes through it’s ethereal and fantastic. This album is about losing a friend in 2018, and it’s best saved for those down times.
Honeymoon — Beach Bunny
A truly excellent indie bop. Beach Bunny slots in nicely with the recent revival of amazing female-fronted pop-punk. Rearview and Cuffing Season are especially dope.
In Waiting — Pillow Queens
Bless queer lady music. This album makes me want to fall in love again.