Top 10 Albums of 2020 (Teddy Rankin)

Categories:  Music    The Arts
Monday, November 23rd, 2020 at 1:15 PM
Top 10 Albums of 2020 (Teddy Rankin) by Teddy Rankin

Like anyone’s taste in music, mine is unique and biased. Listening to music is a passion of mine, and it's helped me get through the highs and lows of 2020. As a musician and a reviewer, I enjoy listening intently and analyzing the incredible art that these people create. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to listen to every album released this year and I’m sure I have missed some great ones. With that being said, here are my favorite albums of 2020. Enjoy!

1. Caroline Rose — Superstar

Caroline Rose’s “Superstar” is a concept album that follows the indie-pop artist on a quest for fame in Hollywood. Rose channels Talking Heads while managing to maintain total originality. Playful melodies and driving rhythm combine with excellent songwriting to create an album that is endlessly charming and loads of fun.

2. Dawes — Good Luck With Whatever

After experimenting with their sound on recent records, Dawes returned to their bread and butter on “Good Luck With Whatever.” As one of the best live bands in music, Dawes leans into their strengths on this album’s one-take recordings, produced by Dave Cobb in Nashville. Songwriter and lead singer, Taylor Goldsmith, covers topics ranging from technology to growing older and having children on this excellent record.

3. Phoebe Bridgers — Punisher

Phoebe Bridgers has consistently proven to be an incredible songwriter. The 26-year-old’s meteoric rise over the past few years has been built on heart-wrenching lyrics and multiple supergroups. Bridgers’ second solo album, “Punisher,” continues her streak of great music and further cements her as a mainstay in folk music for years to come.

4. Waxahatchee — Saint Cloud

As a surprise breakout, Waxahatchee took the singer/songwriter world by storm with her album “Saint Cloud.” The artist’s knack for catchy melodies and personal lyrics fit perfectly over the backdrop of peaceful, paired-down folk instrumentals. “Saint Cloud” is Waxahatchee’s fifth full-length release but her fist to garner such attention.

5. The Weeknd — After Hours

Do you remember those viral TikToks of frontline healthcare workers dancing to “Blinding Lights” around the beginning of the pandemic? That was one of my favorite cultural moments of the year. It's no secret that “Blinding Lights” is the highlight of the album; it currently holds the all-time record for total weeks in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Meanwhile, the rest of the album is also excellent, but less radio friendly.

6. Tame Impala — The Slow Rush

Tame Impala (Kevin Parker) never ceases to amaze with his production quality and endless supply of funk. “The Slow Rush” introduces listeners to a lush soundscape seemingly designed for road trips or background music. Parker’s fourth album comes after producing for major artists like Travis Scott, Lady Gaga and Kanye West.

7. Fiona Apple — Fetch The Bolt Cutters

Fiona Apple has made a long and successful career out of writing beautiful songs. As the only 10.0 rated album by Pitchfork in 2020, “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” will likely be higher on other end-of-the-year lists. I agree that this is a gorgeous album, but for some reason I didn’t find myself coming back to it very often. However, I think this album’s opening track, “I Want You To Love Me,” is one of the best songs released in 2020.

8. Bright Eyes — Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was

Bright Eyes, 25 years after their inception, decided to get the band back together after a nine-year hiatus. The result, “Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was,” synthesizes the sounds of the group's back catalog to form a unique yet cohesive reunion record. Bright Eyes’ aging lyricist and singer, Conor Oberst, comes through with his brand of social commentary at the most appropriate of times.

9. Future Islands — As Long as You Are

The gravelly baritone voice of Future Islands’ frontman Sam Herring is one of the most unique in music. Pairing Herring’s gift with spooky synth tones for an October release made for an excellently timed album, titled “As Long As You Are.” Future Islands manages to write melodies specific enough to highlight Herring’s voice while maintaining their pop-rock vibe on an album that is sure to get you in the mood for fall.

10. Mandy Moore — Silver Landings

Mandy Moore’s long awaited return to music, “Silver Landings,”  is a collection of lovely and personal folk-rock songs. Being married to Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes doesn’t hurt Moore’s comeback album, as Goldsmith and some of his bandmates contribute to the accompaniment. Moore’s heartfelt song “Fifteen” tells her side of the story about beginning her pop career in the late '90s.

Teddy Rankin is a staff writer for The Spectator. He can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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