Despite the long and hard year we had – especially when it came to the loss of live music – it was a great year for new records. I reflected on some of my favorites as well as other thoughts about the state of music in 2020 and hopes for 2021 below. If you want to hear how even more people answered these questions, head here to read favorites and reflections from D.C. area musicians and industry workers.
Top 5 2020 Records
Dehd’s “Flower of Devotion”
This is hands down my most-listened to record. It’s catchy, honest, grungy and just the right amount of melancholic. I found myself starting it up from the beginning after a listen through many a night this year –and had one-woman dance parties to it, of course.
Haim’s “Women in Music pt. III”
This was the soundtrack to my quarantine summer. It’s 90s rock meets current pop influences, clever lyrics and each Haim sister at her best. I think every song from this record was on my Spotify Top 100 list.
clipping.’s “Visions of Bodies Being Burned”
Though they wear their influences proudly, no one is doing it like clipping. right now – lyrically or musically. The instant I heard “Say the Name,” I knew this was a classic and something I’d revisit for the months and probably years to come. Dark and thought-provoking, it soundtracked many a quarantine walk and really matched the energy of this year for me.
Hayley Williams’ “Petals for Armor”
A lifelong Paramore fan, I was so thrilled to see the band’s Hayley Williams strike out solo and to do it in such a way. Her voice is so powerful, and her lyrics are comforting and vulnerable at the same time. I so hope she continues to make amazing solo music like this.
Future Islands’ “As Long As You Are”
One of my all time favorite bands did it again. Future Islands are nothing if not consistent, and I mean that in the best way possible. Their music feels like a hug or a drunken dance party with a friend. It made me miss live music more than almost any other album released this year though, because their shows are always a big, loud celebration. Here’s to hoping I can hear this album in action in 2021.
Other Favorites From This Year (Presented In No Particular Order)
Yves Tumor – “Heaven to a Tortured Mind”
Phoebe Bridgers – “Punisher”
Waxahatchee – “St. Cloud”
Bartees Strange – “Live Forever”
Taylor Swift – “Evermore”
Yumi Zouma – “Truth or Consequences”
Bombay Bicycle Club – “Everything Else Has Gone Wrong”
Destroyer – “Have We Met”
Gengahr – “Sanctuary”
Perfume Genius – “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately”
Moses Sumney – “Græ”
Hazel English – “Wake UP!”
SAULT – “Untitled (Black Is)”
Vundabar – “Either Light”
Fiona Apple – “Fetch the Bolt Cutters”
Sondre Lerche – “Patience”
Jack Garratt – “Love, Death & Dancing”
Bacchae – “Pleasure Vision”
Lianne La Havas – “Lianne La Havas”
Jessie Ware – “What’s Your Pleasure”
Andy Shauf – “The Neon Skyline”
The Crystal Casino Band – “Someone When You Want It”
Molly Joyce – “Breaking and Entering”
Top 2020 Discovery
I got really into this 80s post-punk band Beat Rhythm Fashion, who are from New Zealand. Beach House did a takeover on Sirius XMU and played their song “Turn of the Century,” and I was instantly hooked. If someone asked me to sum up my music taste in one song, it would probably be that. I could only find their stuff on Bandcamp so I immediately bought most of their discography there. I’d love to be able to hunt down some of their stuff on vinyl.
Most Anticipated 2021 Releases
St. Vincent, for sure. Beach House is my favorite band of all time and a lot of people have speculated they’ve been up to something in 2020 and a new album is on the horizon, so I’m hopeful for that. I’m also looking forward to the new records from Arlo Parks, London Grammar, Julien Baker and hopefully, Lorde.
Life Without Live Music
I started collecting records when I was 17, but have become even more invested this year. It’s a physical, tangible way to connect with music in the absence of being able to do so at shows. This year, I added some amazing wax to my collection like the 45th anniversary edition of David Bowie’s “Young Americans” on gold vinyl, Robyn’s self-titled album and a Cleaners from Venus box set that I’ve had my eye on for many years. It feels good to know that you’re tangibly supporting record stores and artists by adding to your collection, too.
Up Next In 2021
Hopefully, I can go to a concert – a real close contact, sweaty, loud concert (when it’s safe, of course). I plan to keep up my collection momentum and try to buy from a variety of local record stores and artists. I’m always in awe of the resiliency of musicians – especially ones here in D.C. – so I look forward to keeping tabs on them and speaking to them for the magazine in 2021 as well. Maybe I’ll find some Beat Rhythm Fashion on vinyl, too. If you have any leads, hit me up.
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