What a year it has been, yet still the cogs of the music industry have continued to churn out beautiful songs and albums with incredible live streams and some questionable TikTok too.
So without further ado, here are our hottest records of 2020!
Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters
Cult pop icon Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters was well worth the eight year wait for its creation. Despite the fact that it has been in the works for years, the album, which was released in April this year, spoke to world in lockdown. Dealing primarily with the the feeling of being trapped in a toxic situation and having to free yourself through self-acceptance and facing up adversity, she gave us musical escape that we needed in the most isolating year. The lyrics “Kick me under the table all you want / I won’t shut up / I won’t shut up,” are among the many empowering mantras in Fetch the Bolt Cutters, while songs like ‘Shameika’ and ‘For Her’ show off the album’s percussive charm and cutting lyricism.
Halsey – Manic
Although Manic was released in January, in a time which feels like a whole other world, it’s vulnerability calls out across the turbulence of the year and stands up against even the most testing passage of time. Manic is an eclectic mix of genres, from the country-pop-tinged breakup song ‘You should be sad’ to the gentlest ‘clementine’, drawing from a lifetime of influences and showing Halsey as her most authentic self. The highlight of the album is of course ‘Finally // beautiful stranger”, an acoustic ode to a loved one that could melt any heart.
Bad Cop / Bad Cop – The Ride
Taking a turn into alternative territory, California punks Bad Cop / Bad Cop’s The Ride is nuanced and starkly authentic narrative of the female experience. Inspired by the personal lives of the band members, the album tackles everything from immigration to a breast cancer diagnosis. Self-acceptance and empowerment take centre stage in The Ride, and it is at it’s heart a celebration of joy and community in the alternative music scene. Check out ‘Pursuit of Liberty’, ‘Breastless’ and ‘Simple Girl’ to hear the best of a band that you’ll never forget.
Pillow Queens – In Waiting
The last couple of years have seen loads of Irish bands make their way into the mainstream – Fontaines D.C., Inhaler and The Murder Capital are among the groups that have amassed an impressive following for their sound. This year saw the rightful rise of Pillow Queens with their debut album In Waiting. Their infectious songs about sexuality, religion and community in music makes them one of the most exciting voices in the growing alternative music scene in Ireland. Check them out now; their future is bright.
‘the last great american dynasty’ – Taylor Swift, folklore
From Swift’s first album came the absolute bop of ‘the last great american dynasty’. The piano led track tells the story of Rebekah Harkness (the previous owner of Swift’s Rhode Island home). Swift sings about her exploits, her “madness” and people’s perception of Harkness. She uses that perception to link to the public’s perception of herself, creating a deeper meaning within the track.
Swift’s vocals shine on this song and the melody is surprisingly upbeat, making it my favourite on folklore.
‘no body, no crime’ – Taylor Swift (feat Haim), evermore
From my favourite track on folklore to my favourite track on evermore. ‘no body, no crime’ tells the story of infidelity, double murder, and female friendship. Seriously; this song could be made into a film. It starts off with the distant sound of police sirens before going into the story. The track has a steady beat, and definitely more of an alternative indie vibe, which I love.
‘no body, no crime’ showcases Swift’s storytelling techniques brilliantly. I would say that it is the most unique track on evermore and that is exactly why I love it.
Fleet Foxes – Shore
Fleet Foxes are well known for their soft, indie vibes, and their newest record Shore was released at the perfect time this year. Just as everyone was hurting from all the pain that has emerged this year, their chilled sound came as a blessing to many.
Filled with rich harmonies and gorgeous melodies, Shore has something for everybody to enjoy. Consisting of 15 songs, the album moves from light and playful to deep and serious.
Opening with ‘Wading In Waist-High Water’, Shore begins in a lovely autumnal fashion, evoking images of rainy, autumn days. This continues throughout all of the tracks, especially ‘Sunblind’, ‘Featherweight’ and ‘Thymia’. Its release was intentionally on the Autumnal Equinox on September 22nd, and delivered exactly what it promised.
Shore is one of the most gorgeous releases of this year, and will have you feeling all of the emotions. Take a listen now.
And there we have it… make sure to check out these awesome records and share the music you are loving with us!
Image courtesy of Lee Campbell.