Music Journalism Club's Favorite 2020 Releases

  • Post Author
    by Music director
  • Post Date
    Tue Jan 05 2021

2020 is over! Here is what the members of Music Journalism Club had to say about the music that came out last year.

Arthur Machado

1. The Orielles- Disco Volador

2. Zerwee Pt 2- Billy Cobb

3. Sir Chloe- Party Favors

4. Ur Fun- Of Montreal

5. The Strokes- The New Abnormal

6. AJJ – Good Luck Everybody

7. Haru Nemuri- LOVETHEISM

8. Car Seat Headrest- Making a Door Less Open

9. Crywank – Fist Me ‘Til Your Hand Comes out My Mouth

10. Juniore- Un, Deux, Trois

Honorable mentions: Baxter Dury – I'm Not Your Dog, Sløtface – Sorry for the late reply, Sunday Cruise – Am I Pretty?

This year no album grew on me as much as The Orielles' sophomore release Disco Volador. What started as a random innocuous pick on the Weekly Music Adds for my first trainee assignment, turned into the soundtrack for the rest of 2020. Disco Volador feels like an album recorded in an utopian reality where we wake up to discover this year was just a bad fever dream. In this disco pop album, new wave inspired otherworldly synths and electronic drums are mixed effortlessly with Mid 70s funk inspired syncopated bass and reverb guitars to form an unique sound I had never experienced. The idiosyncratic influences of this record blend into each other perfectly, including Italian neorealist cinema, Turkish poetry, samba and the Tropicalia movement‒ important to note that the Brazilian Ministry of Culture would straight up revoke my citizenship if I didn't mention the last two. The lyrics all surround themes of dreams, aspirations, and outer space, showcasing an optimistic look on future ambitions. Above all, this album in its essence is good lighthearted fun. All of the songs could be the soundtrack to a Wes Anderson sci fi spectacle and I absolutely love it; so much so it became the main soundtrack to my year. 

Ethan Cook

  1. Soccer Mommy – Color Theory
  3. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  4. THICK – 5 Years Behind
  5. Post Animal – Forward Motion Godyssey
  6. Khruangbin – Mordechai
  7. Annie Taylor – Sweet Mortality
  8. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  9. Dehd – Flower of Devotion
  10. Peach Pit – You and Your Friends

To me, a good album does three things very well; first, it has a creative and cohesive sound aesthetic, second each song carries a lyrical meaning or distinct style and finally the entire album is connected by an underlying theme. Soccer Mommy's Color Theory checks all three of my requirements with flying colors. The newest album from the Nashville singer builds on the grunge-tinted indie rock of her previous releases with sharp lyrics confronting depression, loneliness and loss. The ten tracks on Color Theory are divided into groups based on the ‘color' of the story or emotion they are trying to convey, starting with blue, then yellow and ending with gray. Each color not only perfectly fits the tone of each song, but creates a color palette for an album that is more than the sum of its individual tracks. My personal favorite song on the album is “royal screw up,” a song that twists the traditional fairy tale princess  trope into a harshly self critical look inward. Throughout the song Allison's voice wavers over an acoustic guitar and drum machine as she plays off the irony of being both the dragon and the princess in her fairy tale. She ends the track with the line, “My room is a kingdom / For the princess of screwin' up / And I'll be the dragon / I'll hold me captive / My world is sinking / And I am the captain of it all”. If that's not a lyrical embodiment of 2020, I don't know what is.

Making this list for me was tough. As I scrolled through my list of albums and relistened to favorites I realized that most albums I like can be separated into two categories; summer albums and winter albums. Color Theory is distinctly a winter album for a year that felt like the emotional weight of winter never lifted. Sometimes music can evoke more emotion than I even knew I had in me; this album did that for me. 

Izzi Bavis

  1. Charli XCX – How I'm Feeling Now
  2. Thundercat – It Is What It Is
  3. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  4. Disq – Collector
  5.  Jeff Tweedy – Love is the King
  6.  Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  7.  Okay Kaya – Watch This Liquid Pour Itself
  8.  Rico Nasty – Nightmare Vacation
  9.  Dorian Electra – My Agenda
  10.  Slow Pulp – Moveys

Honorable Mentions: Worthitpurchase – Dizzy Age, Open Mike Eagle – Anime, Trauma and Divorce, Jungle Pussy – JP4, Sufjan Stevens – The Ascension, Steve Arrington – Down to the Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions, Diet Cig –  Do You Wonder About Me?, Ratboys – Printer's Devil, Isobel Campbell – There Is No Other, Twin Peaks – Side A, Yves Tumor – Heaven To a Tortured Mind, Karaoke – Blood, Piss, Religion, Pain

Charli XCX graced us with How I'm Feeling Now in May of this year. Created entirely during quarantine, this album allowed me an escape from reality for 37 minutes. Charli XCX pushes the boundaries of modern day pop and creates catchy tracks with clashing instrumentations. What I love most about this album is how glamorous it is. I'm trying to fixate on one track that is glamorous, but the truth is that each song is. Everything fits together so well to form an album that can turn any living room to a dance floor and any sidewalk into a runway. My favorite song at the moment is “party 4 u.” The track describes how Charli XCX threw a party for a special someone, full of pink balloons, champagne and dancing. With the pandemic inserting itself into every aspect of life, large social gatherings are impossible and thus I can't live out the story Charli XCX sings. One day I'll be able to throw a party for a special someone, I'll buy pink balloons, champagne, a disco ball and fancy invitations. Until then, I'll just spin How I'm Feeling Now and go on a walk.