This year pushed everyone to their absolute limit, however, that darkness, that isolation, proved to be a testing ground for those creators who maybe needed that extra time, that extra push to finally release that debut record, or that EP that felt like it wasn’t in the right vein compared to their previous work.
Twenty-twenty was a free-for-all, and we as listeners benefitted big time. You may not have yet heard of everyone on this list but rest assured, in such strange and divisive times, all these records found a home whereas a “normal” year may have kept them in the desk drawer forever. Say what you will about 2020, but for those artists brave enough to traverse the tundra of an artistic drought that was this year, hats off to you. In no particular orde r…
5. August Burns Red – Guardians
An easy first entry in 2020’s “Best Of…”, August Burns Red continues to claim the mountaintop of metalcore. As heavy as their eighth record is, there are moments of quiet beauty in standout tracks like album closer “Three Fountains.” Guardians is certainly THE best heavy album of 2020.
Start with: “The Narrative”
4. Can’t Swim – Someone Who Isn’t Me
Fans can have a hard time with a band changing up their style release to release but Can’t Swim is a band who doesn’t get enough credit for knocking the transition out of the park every single time. It’s a bummer that Someone Who Isn’t Me is an EP but hopefully this bodes well for their next full length. It feels like we’re just scratching the surface of the Jersey boys’ potential.
Start with: “Casey”
3. Silverstein – A Beautiful Place to Drown
Silverstein are another giant in the heavy scene who consistently turns out golden bangers yet hasn’t quite reached the broader notoriety of some of their larger contemporaries. A Beautiful Place to Drown is the band’s 10th (let that sink in, 10th !) record and while their previous, Dead Reflection, felt like Silverstein’s masterpiece, Drown rocks like a new the chapter with sweeping guitars and Shane Told stretching his vocals to new heights.
Start with: “Where Are You”
2. Steven Gosvener – Ungrieved
If ever there was a time for a relaxing and an absolute otherworldly instrumental record, 2020 would be it. Steven Gosvener, previously known as bassist for Facedown legends Inked in Blood, has long since turned his attention to the ethereal, coupling the songs on Ungrieved with his wife Bethany’s photography and artwork. Ungrieved are a whole experience, meant to be witnessed alongside other art forms. Or, if you just want to throw on the vinyl, sip a glass of wine and zone out, that’ll get the job done too.
Start with: “Ungrieved: I. Prelude in E Minor”
1. Camille Nolan – Archetype
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Camille is the unbelievably talented spouse of Taking Back Sunday guitarist John Nolan whose debut record, Archetype pulls vibes from First Aid Kit and Phoebe Bridgers while still independently establishing Nolan as a powerful songwriter and vocal wonder.
Start with: “North Wind”
Honorable Mention: Taylor Swift
I know, she doesn’t need the press, but maybe this will blow up New Noise’s numbers when she gets wind that I have named her in my honorable mention section. Yes, that’s probably what will happen. This record caught me off guard big time. Of course, she’s massive but honestly, I challenge anyone not to love Folklore. I really debating including this since it
may not fit the audience but I figured that if I have TSwift songs called “Cardigan” and “This Is Me Trying” on a playlist next to metal and hip hop, anything is possible.
Start with: “Exile” featuring Bon Iver