Top 10 Albums of the year

Welp, what a year. We might’ve been through the trenches as life was turned upside down, but one thing remained constant no matter the state of the world and that was the amount of brilliant music released over the past twelve months. Without further ado, here are our top ten albums of 2020. 

* Honorable mentions to stunning EPs this year from Strike Anywhere, Casa Loma, Same Side, NOBRO, Wilmette, PUP and Salem.

Words: Renette van der Merwe

10. Yours Truly – Self Care

We’ve been talking a lot about how many brilliant Australian exports there are at the minute and Yours Truly are a leading example of the sheer quality of pop punk bands down under. With boundless energy, classic pop punk melodies and ALL the hooks, Self Care is more than just a debut album; there’s such a feel-good mentality here that it does function as a bit of self care and after the year we’ve all had, it’s what we deserve. Relevant, personal and bloody good – cue the singalongs – Yours Truly have honestly pulled out all the stops and we can’t wait to see where they go next.

Listen to: Siamese Souls / Together / Funeral Home

Read our Yours Truly feature

09. New Found Glory – Forever And Ever x Infinity

Long-time pop punk titans New Found Glory released their tenth studio album this year and Forever And Ever x Infinity is essentially one long love song. A very fun and high energy love song, albeit, with so much character, and lyrics that’ll make you chuckle along the way. To us, this is some of their greatest work yet and contains a couple that go pretty hard (we’re looking at you ‘Himalaya’). Forever And Ever x Infinity shows New Found Glory in a light that seems to have room for more instrumental experimentation and Jordan Pundik’s smoothest vocal tone yet.

Listen to: Greatest Of All Time / Nothing To Say / Himalaya

Read our New Found Glory feature

08. The OBGMs – The Ends

With one of the fiercest albums of this year, The OBGMs show incredible range as they pack in everything from DnB beats to surf rock and punk on The Ends. But more so, is the confidence with which it’s done; it’s the amount of self-assurance that seeps into the record to create this cocky-but-cool swagger to each song that’s hypnotising. This album rattles your cage, makes you feel wild and uninhibited and for music to have such a strong physical and emotional effect is a marvelous thing. There are so many other nice touches to explore here; everything from Densil McFarlane’s voice, to the additional percussion and clever use of guitar tones.

Listen to: Outsah / Triggered / to death

Read our The OBGMs review

07. Anti-flag – 20/20 Vision

Want to write a political album and get people fired up for change? Why not start it with a Trump soundbite to set the mood? In the ultimate power move, Anti-Flag gets you rattled up from the getgo and what follows is a relentless shoeshine of jabs at a failing government. Not ones to shy away from speaking out against oppression, Anti-Flag have always been poised against naming and shaming administrations in particular, but with 20/20 Vision they go for the jugular. Obviously about the division that Trump has caused in their country, Anti-Flag’s anger is palpable, their call for justice blaring. But it’s not all doom and gloom; skilled in the art of juggling injustice with a message of hope, the Pensylvanian punks marry the two together to create a call to arms as much as a promise of a better future. 

 Listen to: Hate Conquers All / Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down / Un-American 

06. Eastwood – It Never Gets Easy

Probably one of the most surprising albums of this year comes from Knocked Loose guitarist, Cole Crutchfield who presented us with a fantastic debut as Eastwood. As a heavy music fan who also likes everything from pop punk to country, Crutchfield has infused It Never Gets Easy with various influences and the outcome is a really textural album that speaks of a musician who is unafraid to take risks. There’s a beautiful ebb and flow to this album and it’s that contrast between jaunty pop punk tracks like ‘Two Story Window’ and stripped back folk tendencies that create a really attractive contrast. What’s apparent on It Never Gets Easy is Crutchfield’s love for music and his drive to create, both are commendable when it comes together to birth an album of this calibre. 

Listen to: False Start / Thow Dollar Hamms / Two Story Window

Read our Eastwood review

05. Sundressed – Home Remedy

There’s always something magical about a band able to create an uncontainably fun album and Sundressed have definitely nailed it on Home Remedy. Song after song is a tongue-in-cheek reflection on frontman Trevor Hedges’ life, which not only makes it relatable as heck, but also anchors these otherwise buoyant tracks to something that has great substance. The band tackle everything from mental health to dependence, but those anxieties are all wrapped up with a pretty bow that definitely functions as a message of hope. There’s a very delicate balance, one Sundressed have obviously learnt to navigate, between despondency and victory. Additionally, there’s an ebb and flow of energy on Home Remedy which really cleverly mirrors the highs and lows explored within its content, showing a great understanding of structuring both the songs and the album. It’s fun whilst sincere and the combination of it all is something you’ll find yourself listening to again and again.

Listen to: Your Frequency / The Facts  / Cash Out

Read our Sundressed feature

04. Movements – No Good Left To Give

Movements have pretty much nailed the equation for incredibly poignant songwriting with great melody and hooks. We’ve always loved this band’s ability to use everything from vocals to pace and instrumentation to perfectly convey the feeling, almost like a glimpse into frontman Patrick Miranda’s psyche when writing it. Moments relay desperation and angst, others flickers of hope, but it all culminates in an album so flawless that you can’t help but go back for listen, upon listen, upon listen. Other than their natural and deep understanding of structure and songwriting, No Good Left To Give also showcases the band’s ability to grow. They play with more ambient melodies, incorporate different genres and create with confidence in what they’re doing and that translates into a very strong record. 

Listen to: Don’t Give Up Your Ghost / Tunnel Vision / Garden Eyes

Read our Movements review

03. Silverstein – A Beautiful Place To Drown

Silverstein might be a post-hardcore houshold name and over the span of their incredible career, they’ve put out album after album to adoring fans. Known as a band who stick to their guns sonically, A Beautiful Place To Drown came as a bit of a surprise, seeing the band branch a little further outside their usual comfort zone. The result is Silverstein 2.0; the right blend of experimentation and a tried and tested way of writing songs that resonate with the listener. The addition of string instruments,  guest vocalists (including Caleb Shomo, Pierre Bouvier and Princess Nokia – the latter being an unlikely collaboration, but it’s just. so. good) add another dimension to this collection of songs and with the core still so deeply imbued in the emotion we’ve come to expect from Silverstein songs, this album deserves it’s spot in our top albums of the year. 

Listen to: Madness / Stop / September 14th

02. Touché Amoré – Lament

Touché Amoré honestly deserve some sort of medal for Lament. Everyone likes to talk about Stage Four and rightly so, it’s a brilliant album and yet, the hope and sparkling optimism of this record is so alluring. There’s a warmth to it; beneath the pain and sorrow, it radiates through shimmering guitar riffs and galloping drums. Jeremy Bolm’s gift for poetic songwriting and conveying emotion drives the album as usual, but the melodies seem more playful. Lament is Touché at their most accessible without compromising on who they are at their core. The vocal features from Julian Baker on ‘Reminders’ and Andy Hull (Manchester Orchestra) on ‘Limelight’ are brilliant and both marry up with Bolm’s raw vocals in such a harmonious way, and the smooth transition from ‘Exit Row’ to ‘Savoring’ is reason enough to listen to Lament. Stunning from start to finish, you’ll find Touché Amoré once again baring their soul.

Listen to: Come Heroine / Reminders / Exit Row

Read our Touché Amoré review

01. Enter Shikari – Nothing is True & Everything Is Possible

Over the years, Enter Shikari have existed under many different personas and as the band morphed, their sound evolved along with them. Uncertain of what to expect after The Spark, Enter Shikari reaffirmed that they were never going to be a one trick pony by combining everything they’ve done over their illustrious career, delivering it with finesse and jamming it full of topical content with the type of flair that only they are able to deliver. And speaking of, Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible showcases some of his greatest vocal deliveries. What is, and always has been, the greatest thing about this band, is the passion with which they create – you can almost imagine Rou just living for that synth ‘solo’ at the end of ‘apøcaholics anonymøus’ and delighting in the orchestral composition of ‘Elegy For Extinction’ – and that translates. There are bands who know how to utilise everything within their arsenal for maximum emotional effect and enjoyment and Enter Shikari have proven with this album that they’re leading the pack.

Listen to:  { The Dreamer’s Hotel } / Elegy For Extinction / satellites* *

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