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MNN: Albums of the Year 2020

It goes without saying that this year has been one we all can’t wait to get behind us. Yet amongst all the doom and gloom there is no denying just how strong a year this has been for new music from all corners of the alternative spectrum. Below you’ll find a list of the albums our team has been digging the most this year, give it a read and you might just find some gems that have slipped by you:

Paris

1. Bob Vylan – We Live Here

2. Code Orange – Underneath 

3. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters

4. Waco – Hope Rituals

5. Clipping. – Visions of Bodies Being Burned

6. Phoxjaw – Royal Swan

7. Touche Amore – Lament

8. Rina Sawayama – Sawayama

9. Spanish Love Songs – Brave Faces, Everyone

10. Milk Teeth – Milk Teeth

11. Loathe – I Let It In and It Took Everything

Liam

1. Code Orange – Underneath

In what has been a simply incredible year for new music the fact that the fourth album from Pittsburgh’s finest sits at the top of this list so easily underlines just how special Underneath is. While the rest of the hardcore world was still trying to catch up to 2017’s Forever Code Orange have pushed the bar even higher, firmly establishing themselves as the band to beat across the entirety of heavy music. Seamlessly blending together the white-hot insanity of ‘In Fear’ with the Alice In Chains style grungy grandeur of ‘Sulfer Surrounding’, the band showcase a much wider range of influence than and show just how lofty their ambitions are. One listen to ‘The Easy Way’ is all it takes to see just how far this band could go. 

2. Phoxjaw – Royal Swan

3. Waco – Hope Rituals

4. Run The Jewels – RTJ4 

5. Gold Key – Panic Machine

6. Palm Reader – Sleepless

7. Loathe – I Let It In And It Took Everything

8. Svabard – When I Die, Will IGet Better?

9. A.A Williams – Forever Blue

10. Killer Be Killed – Reluctant Hero 

William 

1. Unleash the Archers – Abyss

Epic in both sound and scope and acting as a sequel to 2017’s masterpiece ‘Apex’, we see UTA take the concept album formula that worked so well and evolve it to incredible new heights. It should go without saying that everyone in the band is playing at the absolute top of their game and with the inclusion of synths on this album the band’s already full sound is enriched further in a way that complements the record’s cinematic writing perfectly. From the blisteringly paced ‘Faster than Light’ to the stirring offerings of ‘Legacy’ and ‘The Wind that Shapes the Land’ the album is a fantastically fun journey start to finish. 

And not to mention the continuation lyrically of a story worthy of a shelf swallowing, multi-part sci-fi fantasy novel series, which provides just that extra sweet emotional seasoning to tracks such as the album’s penultimate ‘Carry the Flame’.

2. Black Orchid Empire – Semaphore

3. Sokoninaru – 超越 (Choetsu)

4. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

5. Wayfarer – A Romance with Violence

6. The Lone Bellow – Half Moon Light

7. Bury Tomorrow – Cannibal

8. Touché Amoré – Lament

9. Spanish Love Songs – Brave Faces Everyone

10. The Ballroom Thieves – Unlovely

Tom 

1. Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down? 

Public Enemy are a band whose message is just as relevant now as it was 30 years ago. Deeply political social commentaries, raw aggression and incredible musicianship all come together to create something of a hip-hop masterpiece. What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? could also act as a rap Hall of Fame – there are features from the likes of Run-DMC, Beastie Boys and NWA members. The use of real instruments as opposed to an over-reliance on samples is also a nice touch and adds to the authenticity, making it a standout record for rap and rock fans alike.

   2. Glass Animals – Dreamland

3. Jamie Lenman – King of Clubs

4. Bring Me The Horizon – Post-Human: Survival Horror 

5. The Hunna – I’d Rather Die Than Let You In

6. Larkin Poe – Kindred Spirits

7. Code Orange – Underneath

8. Declan McKenna – Zeros

9. Oliver Tree – Ugly Is Beautiful

10. Everything Everything – Re-Animator

Louis

1. Sex, Death and the Infinite Void – Creeper

2. Tickets To My Downfall – Machine Gun Kelly

3. Forever+Ever X Infinity – New Found Glory

4. Teenage Halloween – Teenage Halloween

5. Death In Venice Beach – The Bompops

 Kevin 

1. All Time Low – Wake Up, Sunshine

As I sit here writing this list, reflecting on 2020 both personally and musically, I can’t decide if I am more surprised at how this crazy year unfolded or that All Time Low claimed top-spot in my Top 10. Wake Up, Sunshine arrived at a time when life looked more than a little grey and downtrodden, injecting it with a vibrant splash of colour and energy. I’ve always been a fan of this band but thought perhaps after recent efforts that we had grown apart; a mutual decision and that we’d always remain friends. I was wrong. This record is a perfectly crafted blend of empowering anthems, infectious hooks, and contagious exuberance. Wake Up, Sunshine is everything I wanted in my life at the exact moment I needed it the most.

2. Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets To My Downfall (SOLD OUT Deluxe)

3. Stand Atlantic – Pink Elephant

4. Bring Me The Horizon – POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR

5. Neck Deep – All Distortions Are Intentional 

6. Cold Years – Paradise

7. Black Sky Research – One

8. Creeper – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void

9. Twin Atlantic – Power

10. HEADACHE – food for thwart

Camille 

1. Anti-Flag – 20/20 Vision

2020 huh? What a year! Politics dominating most of the year, what with the ever changing Brexit deals, the US Presidential election, Climate Stikes, Black Lives Matter protests and all the terribly handled pandemic guidelines from our own blond bloated bigot. 20/20 Vision released in January was one colossal mood of a soundtrack to jump start this shit show of a year. Every time Anti-Flag brings out a record they master this evolutionised version of punk, sticking true to their roots but kicking it with modern inflections.

2. In This Moment – Mother

3. Neck Deep – Sonderland

4. Palaye Royale – Little Bastards

5. Currents – The Way it Ends

6. Lamb of God – Lamb of God

7. Broadside – Into The Raging Sea

8. Poppy – I Disagree

9. Trivium – What The Dead Men Say

10. Orbit Culture – Nija

Billy

1. Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin – Stygian Bough Volume 1

Doom metal can often fall into the trap of being slow and monotonous, the belief that lingering on that one note for just a few more bars will make the track so much more heavy and morose. Bell Witch ignite the genre in ways it hasn’t been since its formation, providing not only crushingly heavy passages, but more importantly a mournful aesthetic that has not been embraced by a new doom band for a long time. The addition of Aerial Ruin on their latest album Stygian Bough Volume 1 sprinkles traditional folk tones onto the mix, a collaboration that feels so natural it’ll leave the listener eagerly awaiting Vol 2.

2. Code Orange – Underneath

3. Palm Reader – Sleepless

4. Fall Of Messiah – Senicarne

5. Loathe – I Let It In And It Took Everything

6. Nuvolascura – As We Suffer From Memory And Imagination

7. Stay Inside – Viewing

8. Fawn Limbs – Sleeper Vessels

9. Old Man Gloom – Seminar IX: Darkness Of Being 

10. Satyr – Locus

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