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Favorite Albums of 2020


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For being a relatively terrible year for this country and much of the world, 2020 was actually a pretty solid year for music. Here are a few of my favorite albums from 2020. I'll try to write a bit about each and highlight some standout tracks with Youtube links, but I wanted to get this up and give everyone a chance to weigh in before 2021 gets long in the tooth.


Run the Jewels - RTJ4
Genre: Rap

RTJ4 finds Run the Jewels at the top of their game. This album is fast, hard-hitting, political, and lyrically diverse. The production is probably the best of El-P's career and some of the songs seem almost prescient considering they were mostly written in 2019. Every single guest star manages to nail his/her role without stealing the spotlight, just like a good feature should.


Glass Animals - Dreamland
Genre: Alternative

Glass Animals seem unable to do any wrong. Their third album is a much more personal and nostalgic affair than their previous efforts and it really resonates with me as a child of the 90s. The poppy songs still have wonderful hooks while the meandering experimental stuff also works. There is a sense of sadness and hope in the audio recordings pulled from old home videos that punctuate the album. Overall, a really stellar collection, probably their best yet.

Taylor Swift - Folklore/Evermore
Genre: Pop/Folk

Taylor Swift has long been one of the best songwriters in contemporary pop. If her transformation from country prodigy to pop queen was impressive, her conversion to indie/alt folk hero is borderline miraculous. With the help of The National's Aaron Dessner, Swift has crafted not one, but two of the year's best albums. These are Swift's most lyrically interesting songs yet and the production and arrangement brings an ethereal sense of melancholy throughout. My only gripe is the length of this double album. If she had taken the best songs from each session, there is no doubt she would have crafted the best album of the year and probably one of the best of the decade.

The Killers - Imploding the Mirage
Genre: Alternative

A surprisingly solid return to form for a band that's been kicking around for quite a while. If you liked Killers circa 2004 and mostly ignored their mixed output since then, you owe it to yourself to give this one a listen. A few stellar tracks anchor a very listenable album.

Oliver Tree - Ugly is Beautiful
Genre: Alternative Rock

The long gestating project from meme/artist Oliver Tree finally arrived this year and... it's actually great. The songs have a distinct 90s punk/pop/alternative feel and the lyrics are surprisingly heartfelt in spots, while still appropriately over the top in others. Easily one of my favorites of the year.

Links, highlights, and more albums to come...


Edited by DoctorEncore
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For me 2020 was a little bit weak music-wise, had high hopes on some of the releases by bands I like but most ended up being letdowns, so most albums I enjoyed were from bands I hadn't listened before:

Gum Country - Somewhere
Fuzzy guitars & krautrock-like percussions held together by catchy pop melodies.


Peel Dream Magazine - Agitprop Alterna
Drone shoegaze with a pop kind of feel, reminds me of classic My Bloody Valentine.


Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987
Released 2020, it has some really good tunes from pretty much unknown bands.

Edited by Abelardo
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I don’t know that I’ve listened to that many albums that were actually released in 2020.  2 stand outs come to mind.  

Ensiferum - Thalassic


Hadn’t thought about these guys in a while.  The lead single “Rum, Women, Victory” popped onto my Spotify randomly one morning.  It was pretty friggin rocking but when the new clean vocalist hit I was hooked.  So good start to Finnish.  

Saltatio Mortis - Für immer frei


Caught the singles as they came out before album.  Stylistic change for them but I really like it.  It’s more German pop rocky but I like it.  Little hipstery closer to where bands like Versengold are headed.  Good stuff.  

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On 1/8/2021 at 4:49 PM, Reed Rothchild said:

I think I've listened to 2 albums from 2020 (so far), and the other one was a rerecording81GT+JbDeoL._SL1400_.jpg

Gave this one a listen this morning. The guitar work is great, but I can't get into straight up metal unless there is some kind of melodic breakdown or chorus. If they added another singer who could go back and forth with the main guy, this band would probably join my regular rotation.

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