Favorite Albums 2020
We just went to our second show in 1.5 years, and it was Soccer Mommy at the Grog Shop. It was originally scheduled for April 2020, but it got postponed over and over because of the pandemic. Well, I’m really glad I eventually got to go. Sophie Allison isn’t the most natural performer (which is fine; not everybody is), but she is a damn talented songwriter and artist. Her 2020 album “color theory” got a ton of plays in my car, and yet I didn’t actually give it the chance it deserved until after the show, when I actually took the deep dive to see what the album & each song were about. Anyway, it went from not being considered for my top 5 albums of 2020 to being somewhere near the top.
But I guess I never actually formalized my 2020 top 5 albums, so I can do that now with a little bit of hindsight. So here we go:
1. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt cutters
This is the sound of the pandemic for my in a nutshell. Things are shutting down, and you don’t know how things are going to turn out. But you work on viruses, and have shifted to working on SARS-CoV-2, so you’re walking into the empty lab in an empty researching building b/c its the only way to get the relevant work done.
But aside from that memory (BAFTM), it’s also just masterfully crafted. I hadn’t actually listened to Fiona Apple before, but she is instantly now on my radar b/c she’s so weird and interesting and different. There’s also a lot of power there.
Some highlights: “Under the table“, “Ladies“, “For Her“; (though to be honest, every song is great)
2. Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
I think this was the sound of the other half of the start of the pandemic for me. Being in the lab at night / on he weekend and feeling like you’re onto the right track for some SARS-CoV-2 research. Feeling a lot less anxious since you now understand what the arc of this pandemic is going to look like (with a lot of thanks to TWiV, since they were a great resource for information early during the pandemic).
BAFTM, it’s just a solid upbeat danceable album. Despite being firmly in “pop music”, she is also very much an artist, so I feel fine listening and enjoying the music. Win win.
Actually, I could have just as easily said this of Rina Sawayama and her debut album “Sawayama”. Well, I make the rules, so I’m going to put both of them here.
Some highlights (DL): “Don’t Start Now“, “Levitating“, “Pretty Please“, “Break my Heart“; it did not escape my attention that three of those four songs are driven by great basslines.
Some highlights (RS): “Comme Des Garcons“, “STFU!“, “XS“
3. Soccer Mommy – color theory
I started the post with this album so I don’t need to bring it up again. But she does the whole sadness vibe well. This album is just a palette of various colors of sadness. And that was purposeful, as evident by the title. And yet it’s pleasant to listen to; what a combo to so consistently be able to achieve. Masterful.
Some highlights: “bloodstream“, “circle the drain“, “royal screw up“; Nothing as inherently catchy as some of the songs on previous albums, but some preeetty great songs about depression and negative thought spirals.
4. Slint – Spiderland
This is a weird pick, but I’m putting Slint’s “Spiderland” here. It’s a weird pick b/c it’s from 1991. Again, I make the rules, and I previously decided that albums that are older but I learn of / peak in a given year can count in that year’s list. I think I found this album suggested when scrolling through a music subreddit. It makes perfect sense as being a cult favorite album; it’s really interesting and cutting edge, especially when you consider the mythology of it being from a bunch of kids that serendipitously had everything fit together for a second and then immediately have everything fall apart (band dissolves).
Hard to choose a few highlights for a 6-song album, but obv “Good Morning, Captain“. I also think “Don, Aman” paints are really vivid picture.
5. Album Medley: Eh, I’ll just give this spot to a bunch of albums that I liked that didn’t make the list on their own (listed in chronological order).
A. Slotface – Sorry for the Late Reply : “S.U.C.C.E.S.S“, “Stuff“, “Static“
B. Crack Cloud – Pain Olympics : “Post Truth (Birth of a Nation)“
C. IDLES – Ultramono ; “War“, “Reigns“
D. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher : “Chinese Satellite“, “I Know the End“
E. Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon III: The Chosen : “Another Day“, “She Knows This“, “Show Out“
F. Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud : “Fire“, “Ruby Falls“