At this point, what more is there to say about what happened in 2020? I could echo the sentiments of so many others, on this blog and otherwise, but I think we get the idea. I could take this time to lament about the struggles around us, our unsustainable societal structure and all that, but that rant should probably be for another time and place. For now, I’ll just say that my hope is that we can all reflect on the events of 2020 and recalibrate what we prioritize as a society… but I’m not optimistic that will happen. And to all the calendar watchers out there, 2021 won’t magically be better just because it happens to not be 2020. Want things to be better? Make change. That applies to all of us. Status quo sucks anyway.
Enough of that, let’s spin the narrative a bit. As the world continues to burn around us (literally and figuratively), I need to express unrelenting gratitude to all the artists and musicians that continued to perfect their craft over the past several months. Without concerts, and as album sales continue to serve as minimal revenue at best, pausing these pursuits in search of other enterprises would have been understandable. In a year with so much negativity, and so much time away from friends and family, the music I absorbed in 2020 resonated on a deeper level than it has in years. So, thank you, for offering an escape from the daily chaos. A (completely self-induced) pressure to absorb more and more music had taken over in recent years, and as a result my connection to individual records was hindered. A basic quantity over quality concept in listening experience, I suppose. This past year, however, that wasn’t the case. I still consumed an aggressive amount of new music, but the exploration was more curious, and more genuine, than in years past. The result? A stronger attachment to the 2020 releases… which I’m certain will resonate long after we start our 2021 discussions. If there is a bright side to 2020, it’s the realigning, or rediscovering, of our passions and finding new ways to pursue them in the day-to-day. And that’s a mentality I hope to take into the new year.
So let’s dive into my 2020 picks. As always, nine favorites and nine honorable mentions. Side note: I can’t remember a year in which it was this hard to separate a few albums from the greater pack, and that’s probably the result of offering myself the opportunity to truly embed myself in these albums. There was just so much quality presented this year, and delivered over such an expansive spectrum. Just another part of the ridiculous journey that was 2020, I suppose. Anyway…
Ah, the big one. I’ve been looking forward to writing this for a while, but I also can’t help but feel like there’s no way I could possibly put everything I loved about music in 2020 into enough words to satisfy myself. If I had enough time or gumption to make a list that was twenty or thirty albums long, I still don’t think that would be enough. So much great music happened amid the Unpleasantness, and I think more than ever it was worth paying attention to all of it, whether for excitement or escape or transcendentalism or catharsis. For me, losing a twice-daily commute meant that I had to be an active listener to the music I chose to put on, and I think that made the releases that stood out to me stand out all the more. Plus, being a part of the team here has been a literal dream come true, and I had more access than ever to quality releases. Without further ado, here are the ones I’ve fallen for the hardest.
In the meantime, 2020 looks to be tumultuous as well, but things are looking up, as I have music to look forward to and scream about at some point. Maybe, at the end of the year, I can tell you if I have succeeded in making more selective choices in music.
2020 gave us a roundhouse kick to the collective bollocks, didn’t it? In my case, it kicked me in the face and didn’t let me listen to anything – this pandemic has been bad for my mental health, and it didn’t help that grad school has continued to essentially take all my time and joy away from me. After September of this year, I just went off the radar musically and I found – much to my detriment – that I could only listen to albums I had originally invested a lot of time in. As such, my favorite albums this year are all touchstones of comfort, albums that I enjoyed heavily throughout the year. However, there is an album that made its way through these touchstones and was able to move to a spot that I didn’t think it would reach.
Welcome back to the pit of despair that has exacerbated my depression EOY list season!
What, you don’t come here for the politics? Too fuckin’ bad. This is my house. Two things make me happy: people in the streets, and music. I can’t be in the streets due to health reasons, but I can sure as shit find and share music. So that’s what I’m doing.