2020, if nothing else, has been a good year for music releases. With musicians being locked in their homes with nowt else to do, this has been a year of bonus EPs and surprise albums, seeing collabs we never thought we’d get and artists churning out more this year than they have ever before. With a massive list of releases to choose from, myself and Music Editor Natasha Rainey still somehow managed to have an argument over picking the same albums and who got to write about Phoebe Bridgers. Here are our picks…
Taylor Swift – folklore
Favourite Track: seven
This is such an obvious choice. Whatever you have to say about Taylor Swift, there is little you can fault on this album. Succeeding her 6th studio album, Reputation, folklore breathes a new life into the story-telling style of Swift that testifies to the songstress’ ability to relate to her listeners, more genuinely than ever before. And there’s evermore, but I don’t think that’s very fair of her to put me in that position.
Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
Favourite Track: Moon Song
There may be a pattern in my taste but who can say no to the emo version of Taylor Swift, Queen Phoebe Bridgers. Bridger’s second album Punisher is unapologetically raw with emotion fluidly mastered by the exceptional production. While still relatively new Bridgers has swept Top 10 lists worldwide with Punisher and of course it’s featuring on mine. BRB gonna go stare at the wall and listen to Saviour Complex.
Khruangbin & Leon Bridges – Texas Sun (EP)
Favourite Track: Conversion
So, maybe I’m cheating a little, this is an EP, but I refuse to remove it from my list it’s brilliant. The Texas Sun EP was embarrassingly my first listening experience of Leon Bridges and now I find myself melting to his voice wishing this were more than an EP. Paired nicely with Bridges’ soul-simmering voice is Khruangbin’s (musical trio aptly from Texas) mellow accompaniment blending together so nicely the artists’ talents transforming the 4 tracks into an experience best listened to in its entirety.
Moses Sumney – græ
Favourite Track: In Bloom
This man’s voice is incredible. I first found Sumney when he collaborated with Sufjan Steven’s for track Make Out In My Car (also a very good listen). Beyond his collaborative talents, Sumney has released one previous album Aromanticism in 2017. græ perfect for fans of Blood Orange or Choker but to his unique credit Sumney’s experimentalism of jazz is untouchable and couples so seamlessly with his naked vocals. This album is perfect if you just need a bit of escape or want to show off in front of people who this they have superior musical knowledge.
Fonatines D.C. – A Hero’s Death
Favourite Track: All
They’re Irish, I’m Irish. Whatever.
David Keenan – A Beginners Guide To Bravery
Favourite Track: Love in a Snug
Furthering my mission to become Irish as the next step up from befriending Natasha and learning to love Guinness, David Keenan’s debut album has been one I’ve had on repeat all year. With an impressive back-catalogue of story-telling ballads set to acoustic guitar soundtracks, his debut album showcases the best of his music, flowing from stripped back tracks to big finishes placing his voice alongside a whole army of backing vocals. It feels really authentic for traditional folk fans, but fresh enough that I haven’t grown sick of it. Managing to see him play live at Manchester’s YES before the world stopped was also a treat, the hangover the next day was not.
Taylor Swift – evermore
Favourite Track: You can’t make me choose
Alright, if Natasha snagged folklore, I’m making a case for evermore. I thought she couldn’t get better, that I couldn’t love Taylor Swift anymore, then she had to pull a whole other album out from her shelve and make it 10x more heartbreaking than the last one. Who else could write an album with a tracklist that does from heartbreak, to murdering your husband, to even heavier heartbreak? I’m so deep in conspiracy theories about this album that I can’t write anything logical about it, other than I haven’t listened to anything else since it was released and I should probably seek professional health.
The Howl & The Hum – Human Contact
Favourite Track: Hostages
Howl and The Hum’s unfortunately named debut, Human Contact, has been a go-to this year. It ticks all the boxes for me with incredible lyrics, crisp vocals, and instrumentals that nod to my indie-loving past without making me cringe. Stand out tracks are Sweet Fading Silver and Hostages, two of the best breakup songs I think I’ve ever heard. Taking applications for someone to come and dump me so I can fully appreciate them.
Alexandra Savior – The Archer
Favourite Track: Crying All The Time
I’m currently on leg 12 of my imaginary shower world tour, as Alexandra Savior’s The Archer has become my shower soundtrack as every single track is golden without a skip insight. Balancing delicacy with big crooning bangers, I feel like this album has let me fall in love with Alexandra Savior’s writing, rather than Alex Turner’s which dominated her previous release. I also think she’s dreamy.
Bombay Bicycle Club – Everything Else Has Gone Wrong
Favourite Track: I Can Hardly Speak
I haven’t even listened to this album much, but getting to see Bombay live back in February was easily a highlight of my year. Coming back strong after a six year hiatus, it felt good to be reunited with my favourite band with a new album, tour, live album and an acoustic EP. Everything Else Has Gone Wrong is Bombay at their best, bringing in their big instrumental multi-influence sound from So Long, See You Later, and combining it with their indie banger legacy. Their shows are always incredible, so fun and high energy, but the addition of tracks like Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You) and Is It Real levelled it all up. I didn’t think it could beat the time when I fainted at their gig back when I was 17, but somehow they managed it.
Check out all our 2020 picks from all our Kiloran writers here: