Let’s be real – this year has been just a bit shit. You may have noticed the lives of your good selves and others around you drastically changed in an attempt to stop a horrible disease? Fortunately, musicians don’t get fully stopped by little things like national lockdowns or global pandemics, and it’s been a year lifted by some incredible new music. We’ve covered a lot this year (over the course of more than 100 articles!), so here’s a look at the best of the rest.
Dream Nails – Dream Nails
2020 has seen some great punk debuts, and Dream Nail’s self-titled first release is a big part of that. No other band takes on sexism and homophobia so directly and with such aplomb. There is enough riotous anger on tracks like ‘Payback’ and ‘Kiss My Fist’ to make even the most seasoned punk rockers blush, and yet there’s such an air of fun in other tracks like ‘Jillian’ and ‘DIY’ too. With smart lyricism and this much energy, to not love this album you’d have to be deathly allergic to guitars, or an utter knob. What’s more, I hear their live show is incredible – hopefully something to look forward to going into 2021.
Grimes – Miss Anthropocene
This year definitely saw me move further into pop, and discovering Miss Anthropocene in November was a great way to top off this trend. While I was initially drawn in by the industrial rock banger & bonus track ‘We Appreciate Power’, the rest of the album offers a lot. Whether she’s spaced out and vibey like on opener ‘So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth’, dark and haunting like ‘Darkseid’, or veering towards hyper middle-east inspired EDM on ‘4ÆM’, Grimes is always doing something exciting and out there.
Run The Jewels – RTJ4
Sports Team – Deep Down Happy
Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts
Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
This year, alternative legend Fiona Apple dropped the recovery album I didn’t realise I needed. Beautifully weaving together experiences of personal trauma and heartbreak with larger political issues – such as experiences of rape culture and workplace sexism – Fetch the Bolt Cutters transforms these typically isolating incidents into powerfully universal narratives. Highlights of the album include For Her, a beautifully unhinged, furious reaction to the Kavanaugh court ruling and the constant disbelief towards victims of sexual violence, and Under the Table, which is a familiar tale of the silencing of women’s voices. Quoting Gillian Anderson in the title track, Apple expresses how she fetched her own bolt cutters and released herself from the emotional barriers that held her captive, overall rendering the album an incredibly cathartic listen for 2020.
Idles – Ultra Mono
Chloe x Halle – Ungodly Hour
With a vaccine on the way and swathes of musicians excited about potentially being able to get out recording and gigging again, 2021 should shape up to be an awesome year. Then again, I said that this time last year too… Either way, thank you for reading in 2020 and see you in 2021!