Albums of the Year: Editor’s Picks
It’s (finally) the end of 2020. While the music industry itself has not been able to thrive as it was at the beginning of the year, artists across genres released albums that much like this year, I will not forget.
In no particular order – here are my top album releases of 2020.
Manic by Halsey
Released earlier in the year, chart topping alt pop icon Halsey debuted her third album. While her first two albums were each a concept piece, she described Manic as “made by Ashley for Halsey.” The album is just that, a dive into the mind of Ashley Frangipane.
Singles like “You Should Be Sad” and the radio hit “Without Me” prove to be fan favorites. Although within the album itself hides some of her best work. The tongue-in-cheek Alanis Morissette feature “Alanis’ Interlude” and the alt rock anthem “3am” are two of my personal favorites.
The Death of Me by Polaris
The Australian metalcore band had their work cut out for themselves following the release of their debut album, The Mortal Coil in 2017. The group proved that they are here to stay as icons in the genre.
“We wanted to walk a line between maintaining what’s defined our band and brought people to our music in the first place, while trying to write for ourselves and keep ourselves interested,” says drummer Daniel Furnari.
The album kicks things off with “Pray for Rain” – a perfect blend of heavy tones and harmonic clean vocals. Tracks like “Hypermania” and “Creatures of Habit” dare the listener to try not to bang their head. When recommending the album to anyone to listen, I always urge them to listen to “Masochist.”
folklore by Taylor Swift
In a year filled with so many negative twists and turns, Taylor Swift’s “folklore” was the surprise we needed. In a complete switch from her previous album “Lover,” Swift has brought us back to the songwriter, folk roots that made us fall in love with.
The most impressive part? Weaving stories – both true and fictional – together to make a collection of some of her finest works to date. Songs like “august,” “mirrorball” and “betty” are just some of the reasons to continue to put this record on repeat all of 2021.
Into the Raging Sea by Broadside
I’ll be honest, Broadside was one of those bands that I knew of, I had definitely seen a few times live but never really went out of my way to listen to their music – until this album came along.
As soon as the first notes of “The Raging Sea” hit I knew this album was something special. “Foolish Believer” provides a familiar pop punk tone but feels more mature and well rounded than your typical track.
I think it’s worth noting the emotion that this album carries with it. “Clarity” is easily one of the most insightful songs on the album with heartfelt lyrics like “What’s wrong with me? I’m begging for some clarity.”
Self Made Man by Larkin Poe
I have said it before and I will say it again and again. The Lovell sisters are the most powerful females in the industry and cannot be stopped. The blues album shows the dynamic range the two women have.
The craftsmanship behind their music rings loud in songs like “Holy Ghost Fire” and “God Moves On The Water.” Slide guitar and soulful lyrics flow through every track. The closing track “Easy Street” has a comforting, upbeat feel that rounds off the album with the perfect song to play on your front porch during golden hour in the late summer.
GLUE by Boston Manor
The singles released in anticipation of this album were only a sample of the extraordinary album the English band released. There is a sense of urgent energy in tracks like “1’s & 0’s” and “You, Me and the Class War.”
However, songs like “Terrible Love” and “On a High Ledge” slow things down for a deeper, more serene feel.
The album definitely has an experimental feel to it, but I think it reigns true as Boston Manor’s best work to date.
Tickets to My Downfall by Machine Gun Kelly
Who would’ve thought I would be listing a pop punk MGK album as one of my top albums of the year? Working with Travis Barker, MGK released an album full of a nostalgic punk vibe that is hard to resist.
“Bloody Valentine” was the single that gave just a tease of what the album had in store. Songs like “kiss kiss” and “concert for aliens” beg to be played as loud as can be while singing along.
MGK works with a multitude of friends on this album including Halsey, Yungblood, The Used, Bert McCracken, John Floreani, blackbear, Trippier Redd and iann dior.
POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR by Bring Me the Horizon
I was so ready for a heavy BMTH album. That’s the Spirit was a great album, don’t get me wrong. But I missed that nit and grit that the band brought back in the day.
My jaw dropped as soon as “Dear Diary” started playing with its nod to the sounds of Suicide Season. “Teardrops” is a track that will be stuck in your head all day long, but in a good way.
The collaborations on this album are some of its high points. YUNGBLUD, BABYMETAL, Nova Twins and Amy Lee all provide their own spin in each song that make for a unique post apocalyptic concept piece.
Wrong Generation by FEVER 333
With the political turmoil we have faced this year, FEVER 333 brought the passion, anger and messages needed.
As a band that is no stranger to voicing their opinion, songs like “BLOCK IS ON FIRE” and “U WANTED A FIGHT” ring loud with themes of injustice.
“FOR THE RECORD” is easily the heaviest track on the album featuring Walter Delgado of Rotting Out. The album carries the same high energy and political tones throughout it’s entirety with one line truly captivating the message the band conveys
“you fucked with the wrong generation.”
Distance by Boys of Fall
Detroit’s own Boys of Fall released their this album this year highlighting their growth.Blending what they do best, the group released ten tracks that carry themes of heartbreak, strength and self reflection.
The title track truly shines as one of the albums best works. “Midnight” follows, presenting a song that seems to be the perfect blend of Michael Martenson’s heavy vocals and the melodic clean vocals from Jake Cemer.
The album slows down following “Rain” – but that’s not a bad thing. We’re used to hearing the band full of fast paced, high energy. It’s a nice change of pace that provides an intimate experience for listeners. “Closure” is a track that brings tears to my eyes every time, ending the album on a bittersweet note.