2020’s Best Music

My name is Jake R. I study music business. I’m a music nerd.

If I am awake there will be music playing. It’s no exceptions.

Music is my biz. Listen to everything, seem interesting.

Ignore top 50’s. Too easy and too boring. Expand ya mind yo.

I will deliver. Cool, semi-interesting musical content.

What up, party peeps? Here are some albums I liked. I hope you like too. 

Here are some opinions you don’t care about –

for music you may not have heard – from some guy you probably don’t know.

Haim

Women In Music pt. III

Indie-Pop

This album is nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys this year. I’ll never miss an opportunity to say “FUCK THE GRAMMYS”. They don’t give AF about the quality of the music and the Grammy voting committee can eat a dick. These feelings stem back to when THIS happened…That said, this album is really, really good. I don’t love folk, but I love this album. WIMP3 leaves one with a sense of nostalgia for a time they didn’t even experience. This is late night “WYD” kind of music. It’s hammock by the lake kind of music. It’s “be home when the streetlights come on” type music. If you like folk, indie, or just some #lowkeyvibes this album is a winner. 

Highlights: Los Angeles, Gasoline | 3 AM | Summer Girl

Similar Artists: Maggie Rogers | St. Vincent | Snail Mail

P.S. These ladies are all MOT if you’re into that kind of thing ✡️️😉

Yves Tumor

Heaven To A Tortured Mind

Experimental Rock

If I was talking to a stranger about music and they, unsolicited, told me they like Yves Tumor, I would instantly think they are cool. Maybe, one day, I’ll meet you and you can slip Yves into conversation and I’ll think you’re cool, too. Or you can wait for me to have 2 drinks and the info will flow like wine. You’ll be standing there like this, while I go on and on about it. This album has so much going on within its tracks. The timbre changes song to song, creating a blend of genres you don’t hear often. The lyrical depth and evolution here creates a truly immersive listening experience, unmatched by anything else I heard this year. There is no one making music like this. If you are into indie, experimental, rock-based music with a Tyler, the Creator type lead singer, you should stream this ASAP.

Highlights: Gospel For a New Century | Hope | Kerosene |  Superstars

Similar Artists: Blood Orange | James Blake

Fiona Apple

Fetch The Bolt Cutters

Indie-Pop

“I have fun with my voice, but I’m not trying to make it pretty all the time. I’m not trying to convince anybody I’m a singer. It just turned out to be another instrument”.

Are you familiar with Fiona? You probably feel like you’ve heard that name before but can’t name any songs. I would have said the same thing before this year. During quarantine, I went down a rabbit hole into hip-hop twitter (HHT). Believe it or not, the folks on HHT like two things: hip-hop music & Fiona Apple. I’ll be the first to admit, I originally gave this album a listen so I could fit in with my fellow cyber-bois. Fiona is not the typical pop-star. Her piano playing and songwriting are head and shoulders above of her competition. She has created a masterpiece of an indie-pop album here. You might not leave with a new favorite track but you’ll discover her sanguine musings provide an in-depth portrayal of life, relationships, and a little something for every emotion. This is a fun one for running errands, doing house work, or really anytime.

Highlights: I Want You To Love Me | Shameika | Under The Table | Cosmonauts

Similar Artists: Kate Bush | Waxahaatchee | Melanie Martinez | Adele (This is generous but both singer/songwriter)

Rich Brian

1999

Hip-Hop (ish)

Rich Brian released three full length projects before he turned 21 and with English as a second language (something he addresses on his songs). His sound has continually evolved throughout his career and this EP is no exception. Previously known for silly lyrics and underwhelmingly thoughtful motifs, we see Bri-Guy hitting his stride here. This album is hip-hop, but it’s not a rap album. We see elements of pop, 80’s, rock, edm, hip-hop, and more on this 7-song slapper. Rich Brian is an artist with a ton of potential and is one to keep your eye on in the coming year. This is top down, rollin’ thru the city music. It’s “I’m outtieeeeee” music. It’s a fun tape and would highly recommend it to everyone – This got 6 out of 7 ❤️’s on Spotify from me. It might be called 1999 but he’s bringing a 2021 mood – “Don’t you come up to me with a smile on your face/ Askin’ me, “How was your day?” / I don’t want none of your energy crowdin’ my space”.

Highlights: Sometimes | Don’t Care | Love In My Pocket | DOA

Similar Artists: IDK | Joji | Jaden Smith

Kali Uchis

Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios) ∞

R&B

I am a huge fan of Kali. She had the 4th best set at Camp Flog Gnaw 2018 (behind Pusha T, Kids See Ghosts, and SZA). I gave her last album, Isolation, a 9/10 in 2018 and I’m giving this album a 9/10 in 2020. She currently sits at #8 all time for my list of most played artists and is the only non-rapper to crack the top 10. Most of this album es en Español, so if that bothers you, maybe skip this one. If not, you’ll catch Kali on a smooth-ass wave here. This is bedroom music. This is “I’m ballin’ out here…so BACK TF UP” music. If you like big room horns, sultry singing, and/or modern R&B, give this a spin.

Highlights: fue mejor | quiero sentirme bien | aqui yo mando 

Similar Artists: Becky G | Rina Sawayama | The Internet

Honorable Mentions:


Alfredo

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib connect for another gem of an album. Nominated for Rap AOTY.


After Hours

If you haven’t heard this yet….you’re officially late.


Future Nostalgia

This is pop music at its best. Dua Lipa is a queen.


Punisher

Phoebe Bridgers is a gem and her album is filled with magical moments. Your ears will thank you, and your mouth will hopefully thank me.


Only For Dolphins

Vintage. Action. Bronson. If you were/are a fan of the “Strictly For My Jeeps” Bronsoliño you’ll diggggggg.


Nectar

If you know Joji, you know what this will be. If not, Joji has a super interesting backstory and sound (does “Pink Guy” or “Filthy Frank” ring any bells?). Check it out.

Other Notable Listens:

  • Neither Here Nor There – Tobi Lou
  • Good Days – SZA
  • Dragonball Durag – Thundercat
  • I’m Amazing – Omar Apollo
  • Hapi – Spillage Village
  • 10 Toes – 070 Phi
  • Are You Even Real – James Blake
  • Kane Train – Freddie Gibbs
  • 9 to 5 – Adam Snow ft. Freddie Gibbs

More music content and oddly-specific playlists coming soon. Stay tuned.

Playlist with all tracks mentioned in this list:

Thanks for reading, y’all.

-Jake R.

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