2020 is a nightmare overall, but musically, circumstances are fueling the creativity of the artists resulting in a year in which several excellent albums have appeared. It is as if the fact of having to be locked up at home has led to a return to the long-term format, with a vintage that has given us discs as unanimously acclaimed as the latest installments of Fiona Apple, Run The Jewels or Bob Dylan. Here are 20 notable albums that the first part of 2020 has left us.
Fiona Apple – Fetch the bolt cutters
It is a record that asks for a lot but gives more in return, it will not be an easy record for those who want to listen to it as a hobby, this is not a record of happy or sad melodies, it is a rough record but if you immerse yourself in listening to him with some good headphones and reading the letters at the same time, everything begins to click and you begin to see where all the praise comes from. Every harmony, every melody change, every intoned word, everything sounds inspired and with a purpose. Like that moment that before singing one of the most devastating phrases on the album (and it is full of them) Apple begins to sing that Good Morning exactly like in the movie Singin in the rain, and then he puts the most incredible harmonies of all the album, evoking a feeling of absolute happiness before hitting you hard in the stomach (“You raped me in the same bed that your daughter was born”). All Fiona Apple records go from remarkable but ‘Fetch the bolt cutters’ is a higher level, as it says in ‘Under The Table’, “Don’t you, don’t you, don’t you, don’t you shush me! ” Apple has ripped the bolts apart and doesn’t plan to be silenced by many hits under the table.
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 4
The Revolution will not be televised Gil Scott-Heron sang in the early 70s, nor did they add Run The Jewels in 2020. Of course, that does not mean that it will not have a soundtrack, and that ‘Run The Jewels 4’ sounds to that, to revolution in the streets, to barricades and pain to see how, once again, a black man is murdered with impunity in front of the cameras. Michael Render and Jaime Meline, or what is the same Killer Mike and El-P, tune back to rap to its origins, to that CNN of the black people that Public Enemy was talking about, and with this they get an album that invites rebellion and debauchery.
Bob Dylan – Rough And Rowdy Ways
‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ can look up to the top two albums from Dylan’s mature work, ‘Time Out Of Mind’ and ‘Love & Theft’, and only time will tell if he’s even better than they are. What is evident is that we are facing a huge album by one of the most important references of the 20th century, which, at 79 years old, continues to make totally relevant music. Never before, since in ‘Time Out Of Mind’ joked about the fact that he thought he would see Elvis soon, Dylan had made an album in which death was so present. Who knows if he is saying goodbye in advance or teasing us … >> Read all the review
Porridge Radio – Every Bad
Dana Margolin and her band, Porridge Radio, deliver one of the best rock records of recent times with a formula as old as it is irresistible, youthful boredom sung (spit out) in repeated phrases that become mantras (“I’m bored to death, let’s argue “is the first thing that sounds in the whole album) and musical influences ranging from Nirvana and the Cure, to Savages and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, through Elastica or Charlie XCX.
Genius Perfume – Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
Mike Hadreas expands his sonic palette uniting all the styles thanks to a totally individual voice and sensitivity. Set My Heart On Fire Immediately is his most complex yet accessible album of his career. The artist plays several sticks in some of the best songs of his career, ‘Whole Life’ opens the album bringing to mind the best (and most melodramatic) moments of Roy Orbison, in ‘Describe’ distorted guitars appear along with a rhythmic section deluxe formed by Pino Palladino and Jim Keltner resulting in an alternative country wave song that ends as an ‘ambient’ piece, ‘Without You’ continues flirting with country rock in an excellent tune that Dolly Parton could have signed, ‘Jason’ is pure baroque pop along the lines of the Left Banke, while ‘Leave’ sounds like the Radioheads from ‘Kid A’ and ‘On The Floor’ could have been an eighties hit. And that’s just the first face …
Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud
With Lucinda Williams as the main inspiration Katie Crutchfield has delivered her most mature and warm work, also the best. An album with a slight country flavor, in which acoustic guitars replace the distortion of past albums and the rage of ‘Out in the Storm’ gives way to a point and aside that heralds a promising new stage.
Childish Gambino – 3.15.2020
Donald Glover is presented as a candidate for Prince’s ideal heir on an album in which he channels this and other greats of black music, such as Sly & The Family Stone or Stevie Wonder, always sounding totally current and personal. ‘3.15.2020’ is an old-fashioned album, intended to be listened to at once and not as a simple collection of songs to have many streaming views.
Laura Marling – Song for our daughter
‘Song for our daughter’ is the seventh album in Laura Marling’s career, which is quite impressive considering that she is only 30 years old, but it is also her best work, in which there are better songs and better lyrics, in this time about a fictional daughter. Marling returns to channel the best of Joni Mitchell but with a very personal touch, remembering the calmest McCartney in ‘Blow By Blow’, taking inspiration from Cohen to write ‘Alexandra’ or coloring with a nice chorus doo wop the nice final brooch with ‘ For You ‘.
Yves Tumor – Heaven to a tortured mind
‘Heaven to a tortured mind’ teaches us an artist with a pop vein much more accessible than what his avant-garde facet taught us. With an incredible production from start to finish, Sean Bowie focuses on the songs, as he has already shown he could do with past examples such as ‘Noid’ and delivers a perfect album for restless minds to find their particular paradise.
Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
In ‘Punisher’ Phoebe Bridgers takes a step forward as a composer in music, while lyrically she continues to confirm herself as one of the brilliant writers of her generation. The album is full of examples of this expansion, “Chinese Satellites” has a wonderful bridge supported by a brilliant string arrangement, “Savior Complex” is once again benefited by a beautiful arrangement with violin and a careful melody, “Graceland Too” is a gorgeous sung with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker, her partners in Boygenius, in beautiful harmonies that go perfectly with their country rock touch, with banjo and fiddle included. At the end comes “I Know The End”, a skeletal ballad in its beginning until a violin and a guitar give way to a brutal change in intensity, a drum set the rhythm warns us that something is about to happen, this is It complies with a beautiful arrangement that begins sounding like something that could have appeared in Sufjan Stevens’ wonderful “Illinois”, to rise again to become something like Baroque Metal. It is a change in an album that flows calmly if we except that ending, “ICU” and “Kyoto”, obviously the candy of the album, the most immediate song, although if you forget its brilliant melody and its unstoppable winds and you stay with the lyrics, you see that it is the same somber vision as always.
Another 10 more:
Moses Sumney – Grae
Rose City Band – Summerlong
Haim – Women In Music Part III
Feddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo
Paul Weller – On Sunset
Rina Sawayama – Sawayama
Neil Young – Homegrown
Khruangbin – Mordechai
Lucinda Williams – Good Souls Better Angels
Caribou – Suddenly