Tuesday 29 December 2020

albums of the year (more ramblings... part 2)

(more) albums of the year... part 2: in case you missed it, I'm sharing my favourite records of 2020 (main post here) this week. Seven albums a day across the week, in release order. Enjoy!

The Strokes The New Abnormal (buy/stream)

It feels like an absolute lifetime since this came out - a couple of weeks into lockdown here in the UK, back in April, at which point I was reading and listening to music, and doing little else. A brand new record from The Strokes... sign me up?! Seven (!) years since Comedown Machine, I feel like most fans probably approached this new record with a little trepidation, but it's a genuine delight. Most aptly named record on the list too, probably. 

Hailaker - Holding (Bandcamp)

As far as surprise EP releases/album announcements go - I was pretty chuffed when, back in April, Hailaker surfaced with a four track EP. A week later, a second EP, and a week after that, we had the entire record. A short and sweet release cycle and the best surprise. I loved their self-titled debut last year and adore this follow-up. They're a really special bunch. Favourite tunes for me include Labradors, Caffeine Rivers, Attica and Wild (hey... all of it.)

Jack Garratt Love, Death & Dancing (buy/stream)

Jack's return has been a musical highlight of the year. Following his critically acclaimed debut Phase in 2016 and extensive touring to support it, he'd been a little quiet on the music front. In February this year, he returned to BBC Radio 1 to premiere the first track from his upcoming record, and spoke very openly about his experiences of anxiety since the first record, and the reasons behind the space of time between the two. The track, Time, was (and is) brilliant, and part of Vol. 1 of the new record. Better, from the second volume (I think?) is probably my favourite track from the record. The video (below) is incredible, part of a series with incredible visuals, lighting and choreography, filmed earlier this year. 

Gia Margaret Mia Gargaret (Bandcamp)

If you're not familiar... Gia released her gorgeous debut There's Always Glimmer in 2018. Mia Gargaret arrived this June, but isn't quite the follow-up that she'd intended. In 2019, Gia found herself unable to sing through illness. Losing the use of her main instrument, she experimented with synths, and this album is the result of that process. She comments that "these compositions helped me hold onto my identity as a music maker. At times this music helped soothe my anxiety more than therapy or anything else could." A sort of self-therapy for Gia, and a lovely treat for us. Knowing the story behind the record makes it feel all the more special, something not so great turning into something beautiful... creativity prevails. 

Richard Walters - Golden Veins (store / Spotify)

Listening to Richard takes me back to Oxford (which is always a win) - I discovered his music and met him while living there, catching a few shows in the city, including when I ran the door and sold merch at the launch of his previous record A.M. He's a furiously talented and creative individual and this record proves no exception. Big Joy is a (big) tune and Marks is seriously stunning.

Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher (Bandcamp)

Well, do I really need to tell you why the new Phoebe Bridgers record is worth a listen? You've probably already put it at the top of your own AOTY list. Kyoto is certainly one of the best songs of the year. I hadn't listened to her debut when this was released (not for lack of people raving about it and telling me that I should...) I saw Phoebe *in real life* last year, in the foyer after a Dawes show, while I waited to say a quick hello to the frontman Taylor, as he quickly said bye to her. On telling the friend who was waiting for me outside that I'd just seen Phoebe Bridgers (like, the actual one) her reaction told me as much as I needed to know: people love Phoebe. Too right, Punisher is superb. Get your ears on it, now.

AJIMAL As It Grows Dark/Light (Bandcamp)

There was no doubt that this should be on my list of favourite records this year. Helped along by White Tail Falls (again!) who connected with AJIMAL for an Instagram Live many many months ago, I gave the record a listen and have been adoring it all year. This record demands your attention. There is so much depth and power within the tracks - I'd love to see them performed live with strings etc. I think that How Could You Disappear? is my favourite track from the record, but also love Above All Else, Be Kind, the video for which features a lot of familiar faces...

Seven more tomorrow... happy listening!

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