Jonny's Top 25 Albums of 2020
I don't need to tell you that 2020 was an unpredictable and unfortunate year, One of the things that kept me going, was finding new music to listen to. in 2020 i listened to probably the most albums i'd ever listened to in any single year. with over 60 albums , it took me some time to compile this list, and thus, I've released it in March (not quite as late as my 2018 list!)
I also compiled a list of top 50 songs of 2020 that you can find below:(the track list is in order of release date)
Let's get on with the top 25 albums of 2020
25. The Innocence Mission - See You Tomorrow /// Folk ////// USA
This gentle folk album is filled with stories of love and loss in a very nostalgic manner. Its filled with hope and melancholy, and is perfect for the rainy winters here. Very intimate and gentle, minimalistic folk music with lots of emotion sung by one of the sweetest voices I've heard! The album dwindles a bit near the end, but it's still good. I never heard of these guys before.
Favourite track: "On Your Side"
24. Black Thought - Streams of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane And Abel /// Hip Hop ////// USA
One of the most respected-yet-underrated emcees of the 90s and today releases his first solo debut album. After the first two EPs under the 'Streams of Thought' title primed me for this album, I was very excited to give this a listen. I must say i preferred the first EP with 9th Wonder, but this album went a slightly different direction, there are conscious lyrics and wordplay that Black Thought is known for, and great features., This was released after the George Floyd incident, and the death of a member of his group, The Roots, there was a lot for him to talk about..
Favourite track: "Steak 'um (Feat. Schoolboy Q)"
23. Little Dragon - New Me, Same Us /// Synth Pop/ Soul ////// Sweden
Though I've never cared to dabble into the world of Little Dragon since their debut album (and some features), hearing the single made me want to check out this album. Consistently upbeat and soulful is the name of this game. The band had claimed that this is one of their most collaborative albums they've made and i think it's clearly working for them. The Kali Uchis feature on the song "Are You Feeling Sad?" was unexpected but makes so much sense...
Favourite track: "Where You Belong"
22. Leeched -To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse /// Sludge Metal ////// UK
So is there some kind of surge in sludge metal, or is it just seeming to find me and speak to me in recent years??
This crushing sludge metal album is not for the faint of heart! It's a wall of noise, though sometimes I feel like I've heard some of this before. Regardless, a solid listen if you want something brutal and unrelenting.
Favourite track: "Now it Ends"
21. Black Noi$e - Oblivion /// Hip Hop ////// USA
Possibly the shortest album in this list, Detroit producer Black Noi$e comes through with a collection of dark, minimalistic, textured beats with some impressive cosigners from the abstract hip hop world, such as Pink Siifu, MIKE, Liv.e, Earl Sweatshirt, and fellow Detroit native, Danny Brown. Solid effort with enough variety of voices to keep you interested.
The downside(?) might be that the rappers outshine the actual production on many of the tracks, but nonetheless, a solid album.
Favourite track: "Mo(u)rning (Ft. Earl Sweatshirt)" "Oblivion (Ft. Pink Siifu)"
20. FR/BLCK/PR - I Don't Write Rhymes, I Write Code /// Experimental Hip Hop ////// USA
This album by Busdriver's alternative name for spoken word artsy hip hop FREE BLACK PRESS almost went under the radar for me, which would've been unfortunate because one of my favourite tracks of the year was on this thing. glitchy textured instrumentals and spoken poetry from Busdriver makes for a very compelling listen. May not be for everyone, but it was for me!
Favourite tracks: "My Home and the Feeling That Goes With It" "Athletes and Entertainers"
19. Deftones - Ohms /// Alternative Metal ////// USA
Deftones collaborated with Terry Date, the producer who enjoyed success with them from the 90's 'til the early 00's. it seems that their chemistry is still intact and they were able to produce a stellar album. Though this album took some time to grow on me, it shows a subtly different side of the band. This albums feels a lot more energized (and better produced) than their previous album, Gore, and a;so more ambitious than Koi No Yokan. This album has revitalized the Deftones fan in me!
Favourite tracks: "Ceremony" "Ohms"
18. Mac Miller - Circles /// Hip Hop/Pop rap/Neo soul /////// USA
So this was my first full Mac Miller album. I was drawn in by the first track "circles" immediately. It had a very singer/songwriter vibe to it as many of the songs on here have. There are lots of nice grooves and I believe Jon Brion did an incredible job at getting this project to sound the way it does with its soul inspired and lush instrumentals., Miller's hushed vocal style grew on me after each listen.
Favourite tracks: "Circle" "woods"
17. Jyoti - Mama, You Can Bet! /// Psychedelic Jazz/ Soul/ Avant Garde ////// USA
Gerorgia Anne Muldrow shows her jazzy chops using this alternate name, Jyoti. Her very soulful, recognizable voice is a perfect match for the experimental tunes on here. the album is a little bit inconsistent at times, but its just a really fun listen if you like the psychedelic and quirky aspects of her music. She also threw in a couple of Charles Mingus "remixes' for good measure.
Favourite tracks: "Mama, You Can Bet" "Bemoanable Lady Geemix" "This Walk"
16. Wajatta - Don't Let Get You Down /// Electronic/House ////// USA
Reggie Watts and John Tejada release their second album together and the sound is just all over the place but still somehow very coherent.. it sounds fresh, but also sounds 90s. a nice blend of techno, house, hip hop, funk and soul. decent workout tracks all over this album, at least for me! Super catchy and unique and a perfect project for the Brainfeeder label. though this album was great. i feel there's more and better to come in the future!
Favourite tracks: "Don't Let Get You Down" "Tonight" "Realize"
15. Primitive Man - Immersion /// Sludge Metal ////// USA
Even sludgier than the Leeched album mentioned above, this Primitive Man album is a bit more digestible than their last release, Caustic... but only because of the length of this album being around the 30 minute mark. Any longer and it may have been too much for even me! The pioneers are at it again!
Favourite Tracks: "The Lifer," "Entitiy" "The Consumption"
14 Neptunian Maximalism - Éons /// Psychedelic metal/Drone metal/ Avant garde metal////// Belgium
I don't even know how to begin describing this album. This 2 hour long epic combines drone metal aspects likened to Sunn O))), with psychedelic-progressive metal, and jazz, sometimes tribal and primal. Lots of twists and turns and stops and everything you can imagine. Though patience-testing for sure, this is a pretty fun listen.
Hard to pick a Favourite as the songs are all really long and interesting.
13. ShrapKnel - ShrapKnel /// Abstract hip hop ////// USA
These Backwoodz Studioz signees show Premrock and Curly Castro showing off their lyrical chops to some immaculate gritty beats from Elucid. There is a part of me, however, that feels like this album would not be as good without Elucid's production. Even so, this is a must for you abstract hip hop lovers.
Favourite Tracks: "Ghostface Targaryean," "Gun Metal Paint" "Dumile High," "Red Herring"
12.Thy Catafalque - Naiv /// Avant garde metal ////// Hungary
I first discovered these guys about 10 years ago with the release of Roka Hasa Radio, and was pretty enamoured with the combination of Hungarian folk music and black metal.
It looks like I have missed out on their last few releases, but this album, Naiv, continues on with the Hungarian folk infused with metal. Though it feels more refined... Less black metal influence too, which is not a bad thing. This album has beauty through every track. The vocal performances are beautiful, and the Harsh vocals are executed very nicely. This album moves a lot and keeps you guessing, and has much better productions than the aforementioned album. Very fascinating.
Favourite tracks: "tsitsushka" "Embersólyom" számtalan Színek" "A Valóság kazamátai"
11. Natalia Lafourcade - Un Canto por México, Vol. 1 /// Mexican Folk ////// Mexico
Natalia Lafourcade releases her follow up to Musas, Un Canto Por Mexico has traditional Mexican folk music about her country of origin.
whether you speak the language or not, this collection of songs are easily accessible containing beautiful vocal harmonies all the way throughout,
Favourite Tracks: "Mexicana Hermosa," "Hasta La Raiz", 'Para Que Sufrir," "Un Derecho de Nacimiento."
10. Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou - May Our Chambers Be Full /// Doom metal ////// USA
A collaboration i never knew i needed from two artists i never knew much about. I always thought Thou was a bit too harsh, and monotone, vocally, for my taste. Enter Emma Ruth Rundle with her soft vocal style combined with Thou's sludgy doom metal, and their harsh vocal harmonization. At times, this has a grungy edge to it, which i think would be accessible for many first-time listeners.
Favourite Tracks: "Killing Floor," "Monolith," "Magickal Cost" "Into Being" "The Valley"
9. Run the Jewels - RTJ4 /// Hip hop ////// USA
Run The Jewels have been consistently releases bangers after bangers as far as albums go. RTJ4 is no different. El P continues with his hard hitting instrumental, and joining Killer Mike with thought provoking lyrics regarding the current sociopolitical climate. This album has great features, including another by Zac De La Rocha.
Favourite Tracks: "Out of Sight," "Walking in the Snow," "JU$T (feat. Pharrell & Zack de la Rocha)," "Never Look Back," "Pulling the Pin (Feat. Mavis Staples & Josh Homme)
8. Benny The Butcher - Burden of Proof /// Gangsta rap/ Hip hop ////// USA
Benny the Butcher has always been the member of Griselda who stood out to me as the most versatile, and perhaps with the most potential. Benny's second album here goes a different direction from his previous work. He continues to poetically paint vivid depictions of the street life, in a way i've not heard anyone do it. Instead of rapping on traditionally gritty instrumentals, he has Hit-boy doing all the production on this which has a completely different style, and it goes over incredibly well.
Favourite Tracks: "Burden of Proof," "Where Would I Go," "One Way Flight (Feat. Freddie Gibbs)," "Famous," "Timeless (Feat. Lil Wayne & Big Sean)"
7. Gorillaz - Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez /// Synth pop/ Pop ////// UK
Gorillaz come back in full force with an album that seems to put a lot of emphasis on each individual song. something i haven't heard since the days of Plastic Beach. Each song here is single-worthy, which actually makes sense as they've been putting out a music video for each song. This is one album they should be incredibly proud of.
Favourite Tracks: "Strange Timez (Feat. Robert Smith)," "The Lost Chord (Feat. Leee John)" "Pac-Man (Feat. ScHoolboy Q)" "The Pink Phantom (Feat. Elton John & 6lack)," "Desole (Feat. Fatoumata Diawara)"
6. R.A.P. Ferreira - Purple Moonlight Pages /// Abstract hip hop ////// USA
Milo changes his name to R.A.P Ferreira, and has full production by The Jefferson Park Boys, which includes Kenny Segal as a member, jazzy instrumentals and lyrically dense vocals make for a contemplative listen. sit down, grab a drink, and listen.
Favourite Tracks: "Greens," "NonCipher," ""Omens and Totems," "Cycles," "An Idea is a Work of Art (Feat. Mike Ladd)"
5. Armand Hammer - Shrines /// Abstract hip hop ////// USA
Billy woods is one of the more prolific artists out there right now consistently putting out quality records, Armand Hammer - Shrines is one of them. Billy Woods and Elucid team up once again for another lyrically dense and poetic record. This may be one of my favourites of theirs.
Favourite Tracks: "Bitter Cassava (Feat. Pink Siifu)," "Charms (Feat. KeiyaA)," "Pommelhorse (Feat. Curly Castro)." "Dead Cars (Feat. R.A.P Ferreira)," "Parables (Feat. Akai Solo)," "Ramesses II (Feat. Earl Sweatshirt & Moor Mother)"
4. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist - Alfredo /// Gangsta rap/ hip hop /////// USA
Freddie Gibbs teams up with legendary producer: The Alchemist to create some gritty drug rap that should not be missed! Some of the features include the necessary Benny The Butcher, and Conway the Machine, who are, along with Gibbs, dominating the gangsta rap world. Alchemist's choice of samples really help carry all the stories along as he's done for decades.
Favourite Tracks: "1985," "God is Perfect," "Scottie Beam (Feat. Rick Ross)," "Frank Lucas (Feat. Benny The Butcher)," "Something to Rap About (Feat. Tyler, The Creator)," "Skinny Suge"
3. clipping. - Visions of Bodies Being Burned /// Experimental hip hop ////// USA
The second Halloween album by clipping. continues the horror theme in a way that no other hip hop or "horror-core" artist has. from the album's intro, the tension starts building up immediately. This album plays almost like a horror film. Though their previous album had more songs that i enjoyed individually, this album is superior as a whole, which was hard to imagine.
Favourite Tracks: "Say The Name," "'96 Neve Campbell (Feat. Cam & China)," "Something Underneath" "Looking Like Meat (Feat. Ho99o9)," "Eaten Alive (Feat. Jeff Parker & Ted Byrnes," "Body for the Pile (Feat. Sickness)"
2. Moor Mother & Billy Woods - BRASS /// Abstract hip hop ////// USA
This album was released in December and it made me have to rearrange and change everything to do with this list because it was just way too good for me not to include it. Billy Woods contracts poet and artist Moor Mother who, before this project, i had only heard in features. their equally cryptic yet poignant lyrics showed how this collab was meant to be all along. it seems they were able to push each other into new waves to create a great experimental and abstract hip hop record. do not miss this one.
Favourite Tracks: "Furies," "The Blues Remembers Everything the Country Forgot (Feat. Wolf Weston)," "Maroons (Feat. Imani Robinson & Amirtha Kidambi)," "Rapunzel," "Arkeology (Feat. Elucid)," "Gang for a Day (Feat. Franklin James Fisher)," "Scary Hours (Feat. John Forte)"
Moses Sumney - Grae /// Art Pop ////// USA
1. Imperial Triumphant - Alphaville /// Avant Garde Metal ////// USA
I don't know what to say about this album. I remember loving the hell out of Vile Luxury when it came out, but not listening to it a lot because it was a bit "too dark for me." I've definitely listened to it a lot more since then, and now here I was eagerly awaiting this newest release.
This was probably my most highly anticipated release of 2020, so I was a bit worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations. No way they could top Vile Luxury, Right?
After hearing the 3 singles, I knew I'd be in for a treat.
When I heard city swine, I was like "that's insane, no way the whole album will be like this!" and then Atomic Age came out and that became the new favourite and still is.
The direction here does feel more focused, and production a bit clearer, I think it does their sound wonders!
Favourite Tracks: "Rotted Futures," "Excelsior," "City Swine," "Atomic Age," "Transmission to Mercury." " Alphaville"