2020 has been filled with turmoil, unrest, and bad health. As per every year however, music stayed as solid as ever. Many amazing musicians put their true colors on display during 2020, releasing unbelievable work charged by the tragedy of current times. From Quarantine LP’s, to career rebirths, here's our favorite albums of 2020!
Each respective score on this list is an average of the scores given to the albums by our 3 full-time writers: Vincenzo Pellegrino, Dante Pellegrino, and Ian Parish.
#10 - Jacob Collier - Djesse Vol. 3
On Jacob Collier’s latest Djesse chapter, he combines varying genres and stylistic choices, amazing harmonic vocal moments, and the overall exploration of danceable grooves to construct his best universe yet. Djesse Vol 3. did more than land him three Grammy nominations; it reassured that Jacob’s excitement to create music stems not from ego or impressionistic reasons; rather, he loves music and all it offers to the world, wanting to showcase what it means to him through expertly crafted output.
#9 - Fiona Apple - Fetch The Bolt Cutters
Fiona Apple’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters is far and away the critical darling of 2020, and for good reason. This record is much more than just Fiona waxing on past traumas, it is a deep and revealing exploration of her psyche; a fantastically personal journey through the life of one of pop’s most emotionally complicated and vulnerable stars.
#8 - I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME - RAZZMATAZZ
The debut album from Dallon Weekes and Ryan Seaman runs like a machine: fluid, constant, and without error. This pop rock masterpiece embraces futuristic soundscapes and an instrumental palette that could double as the soundtrack to a new Back To The Future Movie; but it’s true greatness comes as a product of its uncompromised songwriting.
#7 - Run The Jewels - RTJ4
On the latest installment of their self-titled series, Killer Mike and El-P rap an album for the times. Their experimentation in the worlds of rock, experimental hip hop, and alternative hip hop culminates into one of the most politically charged albums of 2020. Projects of this caliber seldom hold weight of this magnitude, but in a year filled with turmoil Run The Jewels step up to the plate and hits a home run, proving their deep understanding of modern issues.
#6 - clipping. - Visions of Bodies Being Burned
Visions of Bodies Being Burned is an unbound horror show, a truly horrifying album that examines everything fascinating about the dark and macabre. Experimental hip-hop trio clipping. tests how far they can push the limits of industrial noise and trap production, with Daveed Diggs exhibiting some of the groups most morbid and horrifyingly murderous lyrics yet.
#5 - Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia
Future Nostalgia is Dua Lipa’s creative revolution; blurring the lines between the radio-ready pop music that first put her on the map, and her new funky blend of modern and eighties sounds. Beyond this track list of eloquently produced hits lies basslines, drum beats, and overall instrumental prowess that lands far beyond the complexity of traditional pop music.
#4 - Immanuel Wilkins - Omega
The critically-acclaimed saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins is an up-and-coming force to be reckoned within the world of jazz music, and his debut album Omega puts this on display. The 22-year old Juilliard graduate showcases his expertise in being a bandleader and composing and devising a passionate project that perfectly articulates and expresses the totality of the Black experience in this daunting and disheartening day and age.
#3 - Braxton Cook - Fire Sign
Fire Sign is an incredible step in young Braxton Cook’s musical progression, presenting his freedom and strength as a frontman vocalist and a saxophonist. With his emotional songwriting, intersectionality between soul, R&B, contemporary pop, Jazz, and multi-instrumental virtuosity, Braxton forges an album that tailors to listeners’ crave for an escape to a world full of groove, sensuality, and love.
#2 - Rina Sawayama - SAWAYAMA
On SAWAYAMA, Japanese Born singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama dives headfirst into the worlds of alternative metal, pop, and electronica, executing each genre with an equivalent level of grace, excellence and swagger. SAWAYAMA fires on all cylinders.
#1 - Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
2020 has been a landmark year for singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers with the release of her magnum opus, Punisher. The songwriting is personal, yet retains such an endearing sense of cheekiness that feels unique to Phoebe. The instrumentals are beautifully minimal, showcasing the incredible power in simplicity. Punisher feels like not only the best album of the year, but one of the most meticulously created and beautifully revealing albums imaginable; an album that can only be made by a once in a lifetime artist such as Phoebe.