30. Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
Kevin Parker drops the guitars and turns more towards synthesizers on The Slow Rush. The band’s fourth release sees Parker explore the capabilities of electronic instruments in this dreamy and groovy mix of psychedelic tracks. Parker’s high falsetto makes the record blend one track into another with chilled out grooves in this chilled out piece of escapism. It’s grown on me massively throughout the year.
29. Floral – Floral LP
Dreamy math rock with intricate guitar time signatures is the best way to describe this exciting instrumental record. The delicate and fast-paced notes and competitive, but rhythmic drumming is tight. Both instruments are battling it out for your approval. The guitar tones are sugary sweet and the riffs are entertaining for an album that displays its emotional energy without the need for words.
28. Roy Ayers, Adrian Younge And Ali Shaheed Muhammed – Jazz Is Dead 002
When I first heard this album back in June, I was blown away by one fantastic song after another. We go from a smooth opening of jazz with extraordinary bass and drumming contributions, to pieces with velvety vocals and a combination of intense and relaxing synths. Shadows Of The East has such calming sax that battles eerie guitars and throughout the album the drumming is all over you; you can’t escape it. The bass tones are raw and I think that was necessary on an album where you can feel every note that’s played.
27. Mark Lanegan – Straight Songs Of Sorrow
Lanegan provides us a dark and moody album tackling love, loss and self-deprecation. The eerie mood throughout is emotional and poetic with Americana vibes. It’s soulful with folk acoustics and even adds electronic beats. Even though they have an upbeat progression in the background, they cannot overcome Lanegan’s ominous approach. There’s slow moments that feel like extracts from The Wall, as if Lanegan was Roger Waters. The woe of the album is striking on Ketamine that was a stand out moment for me, with its dark bass. As the record progresses, you feel as if you’re drifting up in the air with the guitar and string contributions providing a sleepy atmosphere. A beautiful record.
26. Cindy – I’m Cindy
A dreamy mix of pop, lo-fi and 80’s industrial pop are the enticing genres you will find on this record by the artist ‘World Of Paint‘. The idea of the album comes from their self-titled record that featured a track called ‘Cindy Savalas‘ and here we hear Cindy coming to life. I feel like I’m in Twin Peaks drifting through the Road House pub with the beautiful and chilling vocal contributions. The music moves you along so tenderly.
25. Jeremy Cunningham – The Weather Up There
The drumming on this record from Cunningham is breathtaking. Even during the track intervals and samples, you are hearing the jazz fills never giving up their expression. The smooth saxophone feels like it’s wandering on a journey and the guitar work is a real stand out point. The soloing is engaging and the versatility showcases dynamic craftsmanship that captures the magic of jazz. There’s an entertaining balance of smooth jazz and explorative jamming, with subtle emotions brought forward by spoken word samples. The phone call extracts fill you with emotions and the closing track, He Pushes Up features sombre guitars and airy sax that make us reflect on the listening experience we just had.
24. Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death
Rather than give you a short review of this album, I’d like to divert your attention over to my contribution over at RGM. Here you can read my in-depth review of A Hero’s Death, but I will say the maturity and dark tones of the album make it an encapsulating post-punk release.
23. Caribou – Suddenly
One of the most soothing albums of 2020 sees Dan Snaith explore elements of electronica and pop. The vocal samples are cosy and enthusiastic and the variety of beats, samples, keys and other instrumental contributions are inspiring. Snaith must have hundreds of pieces he mashes together, and his consistency to release exciting albums is something that should be applauded. When you get treated to warped, dreamy and intense synths, you’re in for an exciting time. Suddenly is chilled and has less dancing numbers, but more explorative song-writing. The album has a sense of clarity and its varied sounds still feels straightforward to the ear; what’s important to mention is that every piece of music here doesn’t feel wasted.
22. Shabaka And The Ancestors – We Are Sent Here By History
It’s an album that feels traditional and historic in its jazz movement and apocalyptic in its progression. The largely South African group take on space-esc jazz and contribute all the flavours that I love about free expressive and smooth jazz. It feels like an album of change and the vocal and instrumental deliveries feeling like poetry. The album feels understandable and the music relaxes you from your worries and holds your hand through the hour run-time. Even though the lyrics talk of destruction and burning, I feel at such ease.
21. International Teacher’s Of Pop – Pop Gossip
Pop Gossip kicks off with an electrifying and bass-driven introduction that focuses on dancing repetition. It kicks off where the previous self-titled album left off, with the rhythms having large bass and vocals samples are dotted around. It moves between 80’s pop, disco, computer pop and blast beats and the Sheffield group’s attention is on topics of British club culture and deadbeat friends to name a few. From wubbing bass to dreamy synths and tight drums with thick snares, they really capture a vibrant mood for both upbeat and slower moments. Femenenergy is in itself bursting with energy, with drumming that has 80’s written all over it and Ein Weiterer Stein In Der Wand is a tasteful Another Brick In The Wall remix of the disco variety.