Best Albums of 2020 That You Might Not Have Heard Yet

Sean McNamara ‘21 

Staff Writer 

Graphic design by Hui Li ’21
  1. NO DREAM – Jeff Rosenstock 
    • This is Jeff’s fourth LP under his own name after bouncing around in the pop-punk scene of the early 2000’s. His previous solo efforts released over the past decade, “We Cool?,”  “Worry,” and “POST-” have all exhibited Rosenstock’s ability to mix biting social commentary and absolutely relentless punk instrumentals. “NO DREAM” is no exception, and if anything this release feels like Jeff cranking all of the things that make his music great up to the highest possible level. 
    • (Favorite Tracks: “Scram!,” “***BNB,” “N O D R E A M”)
  2. Likewise – Frances Quinlan 
    • This is Quinlan’s first record under her own name, although the band she usually sings for, Hop Along, began as a solo project for her. While “Likewise” is mostly devoid of drums and moves at a much slower pace than her work with Hop Along, this album allows for her poetry and vocals to have the spotlight. This formula works for Quinlan as her abstract yet poignant lyrics mix beautifully with the acoustic guitars and synths that make up the instrumentation.
    • Favorite Tracks: “Detroit Lake,” “Rare Thing,” “Went to LA”)
  3. St. Cloud – Waxahatchee
    • Birmingham, Alabama’s Katie Crutchfield has been releasing music under the Waxahatchee label for the better part of the last decade, and this year’s effort proves to be a continuation of her mellow and melancholic indie-folk. The album deals with her decision to get sober and with her experiences with love. The acoustic-guitar filled tracks flow seamlessly through one another (sometimes to the record’s own detriment) and Crutchfield’s unique voice and brilliant songwriting will make for a very powerful record.
    • Favorite Tracks: “Fire,” “Lilacs,” “St. Cloud”
  4. A Hero’s Death – Fontaines D.C.
    • One of the most exciting bands coming out of Ireland right now is the Dublin post-punk outfit Fontaines D.C. (Dublin City.) Their 2019 debut, “Dogrel,” is a great thesis statement for the band as they use driving punk grooves and rhythmic poetry from lead singer Grian Chatten to make for a tight, fast, and powerful album. This year, the band changed course after a neck-breaking schedule of shows around the world. “A Hero’s Death” sees the band look inward in terms of lyrical content and musicality. Chatten’s lyrics are more abstract and less rhythmic than before, and the guitar tones are much more ambient, making for a less in-your-face experience than “Dogrel,” but a more fulfilling one in the end. 
    • Favorite Tracks: “A Lucid Dream,” “Televised Mind,” “Oh Such a Spring”
  5. Pray for Paris – Westside Gunn
    • Buffalo product Westside Gunn has risen in the hip-hop scene over the past few years due to his ability to glide over beats with hard-hitting verses and percussive ad-libs that will stick in your head after you listen. His most recent effort is his most polished product yet, as he juxtaposes his tales of dealing drugs in Buffalo and living in poverty with an “old money” aesthetic that is shown by the piano-infused production and interludes that feature a high-profile auction amongst others. Tyler, the Creator, Joey Bada$$, and Freddie Gibbs offer guest verses along with his Buffalo contemporaries Conway the Machine and Benny the Butcher.
    • Favorite Tracks: “327,” “No Vacancy,” “$500 Ounces”

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