What a year.
In all honesty, as wild a year it has been - the music was that much better. So I decided I’d type up a list of my favourite records from 2020. It was incredibly tough skimming this down to 10 records. If anyone thinks I’ve left anything out, just DM me your recommendations!
(I am NOT critiquing these records, my intent here is to talk about what I love most about these records - how they’ve influenced me, BUD and just made this year overall better)
The amount of talent that 2020 has brought forward is fucking insane. We finally have women being recognized for their contributions to rock music, sweeping Grammy nominations left and right. You have artists like Jean Dawson creating an unbelievable fusion of rap, britpop and alternative music. The 1975 truly just went all out on their instrumentals while still delivering hits. Overall, you just cannot complain about the growth of alternative music. We’re slowly (but surely) getting alternative music back to its peak of creativity and inclusion, and that is what it is all about.
Here are my Top 10 records of 2020, in no specific order:
10. Big Vibe - Seaway
I have to subtly brag here, I have been a Seaway stan since DAY ONE. The Basics EP was essentially what got me into local music. This is their 5th LP release, and my lord is it their best one. They’ve gone from hometown pop-punk anthems to elite Can-Rock, and if you know me this is my bread and butter. It’s tasteful rock music, clever lyricism, tone-haven (CC: our shared-producer Anton Delost) and simply just a rock music masterclass. Front to back its such a fun listen. There is nothing more you can ask from a Canadian rock band. Well done lads.
Favourite tune: Still Blue (I hope for you and the city’s sake that the Leafs win a Stanley Cup, after the Vancouver Canucks of course.)
9. Fontaines D.C. - A Hero’s Death
This is a record I was hearing all my cool friends talk about - so I decided to give it a spin one day and it hit all the right spots of mellow, ethereal and just a proper approach to this realm of music. At the same time, the record is naturally energetic and really gets you going on the inside - aka the perfect record to listen to while I type up my blabbing.
There is something really authentic about this record, so many bands have attempted the sound but this Fontaines D.C. record, not to use Twitter terms, really does hit different and it's a must listen for anyone trying to find that record you can just mellow out to.
Favourite Tune: I Don’t Belong
8. Hamilton Leithauser - The Loves of your Life
I had no clue who Hamilton Leithhauser or The Walkmen were up until a pal replied to an Instagram story recommending this album. I have fallen into a pit of obsession ever since.The best description of this album is it could be the score of some romance movie about the roaring twenties, featuring Robert Pattinson or some shit. The vocal style on top of the folky-jumpy instrumentals just reel you in throughout the whole record. I truly never thought I’d enjoy this type of record but the year 2020 has seen crazier things.
Favourite tune: Here They Come
7. Bully - Sugaregg
This is a record I’ve been waiting forever on - and it finally came. Alicia Bognanno aka Bully’s last record came out in 2017, and I’ve been wanting more ever since I heard that and the discography like a million times.
It is so refreshing to hear a punk record that is this raw and actually good. We all know DIY’s glorification of the muddy sound - and I’m mostly for it, it’s just great to hear it done so well. This record was all done on tape (I think? Idk too lazy to check and I’d like to believe so) which is so insane to me, because it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Any time you got punk with “ooo-ooo’s” and matching leads, you got a fan in BUD.
Favourite tune: Like Fire
6. Sports Team - Deep Down Happy
Man. I’m not even exaggerating a little bit when I say I’ve been waiting FOREVER for a record like this to show up on my Spotify. We all know my affinity with Britpop and how it has consumed my life, bands like Sports Team contribute to this immensely.
“Jesus loves you, and the footballs coming home
(Here's the thing)
It's just a joke you know
You'll get it when you're grown
(Here's the thing)
Rule Britannia and you'll never walk alone
It's all just lies lies, lies, lies”
^ my favourite lyrics of 2020
Just a beautiful revival of Britannia and Britpop culture.
Favourite tune: Here’s the Thing
5. Bearings - Hello, It’s You
Okay. We knew this one was gonna pop up somewhere. I had to. It’s frickin’ BEARINGS. These guys are my day ones and there’s no one I love sharing the road more than with these guys - and they put up with my snoring. But all bias aside, this record is special. It’s really tough for a pop-punk band to break out of that bubble, but the lads continue to do so. Tracks like Lovely, Lovely make you wonder why they aren’t making millions on Sirius XM Satelite Radio. Every tune on the record has something special about it and it’s a must listen if you miss Pop-Punk but want to enjoy it.
Favourite tune: Lovely, Lovely
4. Hayley Williams - Petals For Armor
If you know me, you know how much I love Paramore - but it’d be incredibly unfair to attach it to just Paramore. I grew up in a 80’s-pop household, and when I started exploring music myself, artists like Radiohead/Bjork/mewithoutyou always captivated me. This Hayley Williams record captures all of that so well. It’s such a unique album and I don’t think I could compare it to anything specific. The bassline in “Why We Ever” is one of my favourites ever, and the chorus of “Dead Horse” is usually stuck in my head for days, and “Over Yet” is the quintessential electro-pop tune. This is another one of those records I put on when I’m trying to be creative and get shit done. For that, Hayley Williams is an absolute legend.
Favourite tune: Dead Horse
3. Jean Dawson - Pixel Bath
BRO - THIS FUCKING RECORD RIPS. This is an album you could never see coming. It’s indie/britpop/hip-hop/electronica all in one fucking record. Are you kidding me? In my experience, adding programmed beats/synth/808’s to music has always been scary and a fear I only got over this year. This record is one massive fuck you to anyone putting rules on music - and I love it. I’m not trying to overhype anything hear but Jean Dawson is going to be monumental for re-bridging the gap between alternative music and crazy ideas. Well fucking done man.
Favourite tune: Power Freaks
2. HAIM - Women in Music Part III
This record was a spiritual awakening for me, musically. I put on the Fleetwood Mac radio on Spotify earlier this year and HAIM happened to be on there with “The Steps”. It immediately took me back to the music I grew up listening to with my parents, like a cool Shania Twain/ABBA mix - but it still felt like a 2020 tune. “Gasoline” is another track that feels incredibly 90’s-radio-hit but still keeps you in the moment and it feels more modern than a lot of new hits on the radio. It’s wild what this band (3 sisters which is so god damn cool) did on this record. This is the record I put on when I want to listen to MUSIC (not saying anyone mentioned here isn’t playing real music, there is something immaculate how HAIM captures it).
Favourite tune: The Steps
1.Punisher - Phoebe Bridgers
I know for a fact that I am not alone when I say that this record saved my 2020. This record came out at the perfect time, “I Know the End” is my vote for the national anthem of 2020. I’ve always viewed Phoebe as the poet of our generation and her lyricism alone makes this record incredible, the music is almost a luxury at this point. Kyoto is one of my favourite songs of ALL time, like seriously its in the list with Yellow by Coldplay and Don’t Look Back In Anger by Oasis. Unbelievable. Congrats to Phoebe fuckin’ Bridgers for winning BUD album of the year.
Favourite tune: Kyoto
On that note, I think it’d be hilarious to cap off this write-up with Phoebe’s reply to my question about a lyric of hers - the explanation is a big reason why she’s my favourite.
Enjoy the rest of your 2020 everyone,
Omar // BUD