In compiling this list of my personal favorites from this unforgiving year, I wanted to collect music that brought some light in this moment of darkness. If there is a saving grace from 2020, it’s that this year showed us what kind of people we want to be. It showed us how we can be better at looking after one another and what kind of world we want to live in. Music did that, too. It always has.
5. L.A. Witch – Play With Fire
Play With Fire by L.A. Witch is a slick rock ‘n’ roll record. Gritty landscapes of drone effects and desert vibes percolate the atmosphere of this record. Fluctuating between chill numbers and hard, fast headbangers, Play With Fire is a straight up cool album.
4. Myrkur – Folksange
Listening to Folksange by Myrkur is like stepping into another time and place musically. The album offers pure comfort and escapism in a time when we could all use that. Myrkur recorded Folkesange with traditional instruments like the lyre, giving this album a folk quality.
Compositionally, the music incorporates ancient techniques such as kulning, which is a high-pitched Scandinavian herd call. Folkesange shows that there is a timelessness in music through the sounds and styles Myrkur commands in this fantastic album.
Get the album here.
3. A.A. Williams – Forever Blue
There is a kind of peace one feels spending time with Forever Blue by A.A. Williams. The gothic and metallic instrumentation coupled with post-rock and contemporary, classical compositions are absolutely beautiful, gorgeous, and stunning.
A.A. Williams’ vocals on this album are incredibly emotive, with songwriting that poetic and magical. Tranquil melodies and moving arrangements offer a stunning and breathtaking landscape of sound. Forever Blue by A.A. Williams is immensely powerful, delivering music that is transformative and powerful.
2. Jaye Jayle – Prisyn
Like an art film soundtrack, Prisyn by Jaye Jayle is cinematic. The album sees singer-songwriter Evan Patterson team up with Ben Chisholm to deliver an electronic, industrial album. In addition to its collaborative nature, this on-the-road record is a product of Patterson’s travels on tour.
The record features experimental, poetic lyrics, in addition to creative writing and Patterson’s storytelling. Prisyn is a real throwback to Bowie’s Berlin trilogy both vocally and instrumentally. At the same time, Prisyn is a darkly modern album that offers a dystopian vision of our times.
1. Death Valley Girls – Under the Spell of Joy
Building on the garage rock and pop elements of previous records, Under the Spell of Joy by Death Valley Girls is their most psychedelic release to date. The chorus of kids singing gives this uplifting album theatrical and spiritual qualities, inviting listeners to sing along.
With their newest album, Death Valley Girls remind listeners that joy still matters, now more than ever, and they invite you to get under the spell of it.