Alright, so what music am I recommending after the shitshow of a year 2020? There was actually a steady stream of releases despite the pandemic, maybe because in some ways music creation can be a solitary activity. I don't know. I'm just speculating. Let's waste no more time and on to the
Now featuring links to sample tracks!
"Dragonfly" by ego likeness
A twenty-year remaster of an album that I missed the first time, this is my number one recommendation and top album for 2020. Dark, haunting, brooding, full of subtleties and baked through with emotion – I played this album constantly since it entered my library. I love the way the distorted, ambient sounds mix together into a backdrop for the melodies. Listen to the track "Hydra".
"Shrines" by Purity Ring
Released in 2012, this is a synth-heavy pop album where the vocals are delightfully macabre and terrifying. The depth only becomes evident on repeat listenings, which is easy to do with such a pleasant-on-the-surface style. Listen to the track "Crawlersout".
"Death Song" by the Black Angels
I'm a long time fan of the Black Angels, but each successive release struck me less and less strongly, so I didn't pick this latest release up until three years after it came out. But that was a mistake. Because "Death Song" is their best album since 2008's "Directions to See a Ghost". Hitting the same strong atmospheric hypnotizing sounds that made me fall in love with them, plus the cynical, biting lyrics that made them stand out from the crowd, this album deserves attention. Listen to the track "Currency".
"Monsters" by Empathy Test
Finally, an album actually released in 2020! "Monsters" is the band's second full length release, and it's amazing. Just as strong as their first and the early EPs that made them famous. Deeply emotional and forthcoming, the lyrics match the music beautifully and album is wonderful to sing along to. Listen to the track "Holy Rivers".
"Church for the Malfunctioned" by Massive Ego
Released in 2019, I picked this album up after finding out about this musician from a compilation album. The album is raw and sometimes the lyrics are silly, but somehow these blemishes are twisted around into becoming the album's strengths. There's something pure and powerful listening to an album without polish, especially when the melodies are so catchy and the lyrical sentiments so identifiable. Listen to the track "Malfunctioning Me".
Honorable mentions to the bands Rotersand, Decemberists, Project Pitchfork, BT, Ashbury Heights, Cruxshadows, VNV Nation, Dan Deacon, and Banco de Gaia for being on the top of my listening statistics. All great musicians.
Project Pitchfork in particular deserve some sort of call-out for stealing my attention for the last quarter of the year. An album of theirs snagged my ear in a way it never did when I first collected it, spurring on adding a bunch more of their catalog to my library. Listen to the track "Good Night Death" from their 2018 album "Akkretion".
Until next March...