Black Dresses have been broken up for nearly a year, which makes any release from them surprising, but few things could be as surprising and exciting as a brand new full-length album. This surprise release sees Black Dresses going even deeper into the spheres of industrial and metal that the band have flirted with since their inception. Forever In Your Heart sees both vocalists, Devi and Rook, at their most intense and aggressive –– and their best.
By Kiah Easton, Editorial Director
[Awful Father; 2020]
Key tracks: “Spell Book”, “Fist of the North Star”, “Come Outside, We Not Gone Jump You”
2020 has been a suboptimal for most but Father seems to be unphased in terms of productivity, putting out his second project of the year. Contrasting Tha Thingz I Do For Money’s stripped-back, dirty pallette, Come Outside, We Not Gone Jump You has a much more meshed sound, with each element glued tightly together making singular waves of sound.
Gorillaz returns with what is perhaps their most ambitious project to date, Song Machine. Instead of a traditional album release format, the album is essentially a collection of singles, as each song is accompanied by an “episode,” lyric video or both on YouTube.
By Ethan Bloomfield, Contributor
[Single Occupancy; 2020]
Key tracks: “Where Did You Go?”, “All Days Just End”, “Antechamber”
The rise of maximalism in music is an arms race soon to come to a close, but being as blown out, loud and abrasive as possible can only go so far. It is a spectacle, but one with a firm ceiling until noise becomes a Merzbow-esque discordance of sound and static. All that to say this: understatement in music is almost unfashionable in the modern zeitgeist. The meteoric rise of the likes of 100 gecs might seem like a death knell for the stripped-back, contemplative sounds of Sinai Vessel, but this contrast works to the North Carolina indie rock outfit’s advantage; this true alternative manifests itself in their second studio album, Ground Aswim. It’s an understated and expressive piece of indie rock that’s full of bare-naked lyrics and poignant instrumentals to achieve a captivating, though quiet, forty-seven minutes.
No one would have blamed JPEGMAFIA for having a misstep in 2020 after his track record of fantastic albums. The man is due for a flop at this point, but it seems like Peggy is incapable of slipping up. Over the past few months, Peggy has released a slew of singles back to back, and now, he’s stitched them all into a beautiful Frankenstein’s monster of a project. EP! proves that Peggy is a master of his craft. Who else could add a few flourishes to previously released tracks and have it stand as one of the most coherent, satisfying projects of the year?
By: Kwase Lane, Features Editor
[Sub Pop Records; 2020]
Key Tracks: “’96 Neve Campbell”, “Looking Like Meat”, “Eaten Alive”
clipping.’s commitment to fictional perspectives could be really interesting if Daveed Diggs bothered to put any energy into his delivery. Visions of Bodies Being Burned is a testament to how flaccid an album can be if the artist sounds terribly bored by the concept of making music. Every featured artist rides the beat far better than Diggs ever allows himself to, much to the album’s detriment. This project’s production is as unique as ever, but I can’t help but find myself wishing anybody else was responsible for rapping over it.
By Maddie James, Contributor
[777 Music; 2020]
Key tracks: “honey”, “te vas // don’t go”, “mustache”
Wachito Rico sounds like either incredibly well-produced brain candy or sexy elevator music. The newest release from boy pablo, Wachito Rico is the debut album of the indie-pop project headed by Chilean-Norwegian artist Nicolas Muñoz.
By Ethan Bloomfield, Contributor[Merge; 2020]Rating: 6/10 Key Tracks: “The Last Place I Saw You Alive”, “Bell Swamp Connection”, “Getting Into Knives” What can be said about The Mountain Goats that hasn’t been? John Darnielle and company have created 13 studio albums and some of the biggest indie classics for the better part of three decades….
By Lauren McCain, Columns Editor [Republic Records; 2020]Rating: 7.5/10 Key tracks: “positions”, “34+35”, “safety net (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)”, “pov” After the whirlwind of her albums Sweetener and thank u, next less than five months apart in 2019, in 2020, Ariana Grande brings a more intimate, sultry R&B sound to the table with Positions. Positions makes…
By: Kwase Lane, Features Editor
[cutting edge/8902 Records; 2020]
10, Tricot’s second album of the year, demonstrates an almost unbelievable amount of technical and conceptual refinement compared to their previous projects. Like always, the quartet weaves together complex polyrhythms, gentle melodies and impassioned cries, but 10 is marked by the sense of ease that each piece generates. The album flows from aggressive guitar riffs to mild, barely whispered vocals, all the while being imbued with an intricate serenity that feels unknowable and familiar at the same time.
By Jonah Krueger, News Editor[Epitaph; 2020]Rating: 8.5/10 Key tracks: “Come Heroine”, “Reminders”, “Limelight”, “Deflector” Touché Amoré has rightly become an emo A-lister, managing to vary its approach to songwriting while remaining remarkably consistent in quality with each release. Yet, the glamorous rise of the band was abruptly halted with the release of their fourth album. …
By Kiah Easton, Editorial Director[Ninja Tune; 2020]Rating: 5.5/10 Key tracks:”Kane Train”, “Believe in U”, “Inner Eye” Machinedrum, a.k.a. Travis Stewart, delivers a product fitting for his moniker. A View of U is a clean, percussion-heavy project hosting a total of nine different features, from Father to Tigran Hamasyan. Reflecting this lengthy list of collaborators, the…