- Dance Gavin Dance: “Afterburner”
The first one to make the list starts us off on an instrumental rollercoaster that places us directly in the heart of hardcore music. Dance Gavin Dance is such a staple for the music scene, so when it was time for their newest release, “Afterburner”, there was some apprehension, for their past releases have been so strong, and you know what? This record holds its own compared to the discography. When diving into this album, it can be said, if you’ve heard anything from the artist, then, you’ll attach to the work because it simply feels like a continuation of their previous works. There aren’t many “wow” moments per-say, but the album pops just enough to make the list.
Top Tracks: “Lyrics Lie”, “Calentamiento Global”, and “One in a Million”
- The Amity Affliction: “Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them”
We are staying on the metal, hardcore train, and all I can say is I’m happy to be here. The Amity Affliction, with their previous release, took a bit of a step out of this realm to provide listeners with a more alternative approach to their sound. Furthermore, when it came time to listen to this record very early into 2020, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and from the very beginning- they bring the heat. This record will pick you up and place you directly into the prime of the metal/hardcore scene of music. Picture it: you’re randomly placed at the Warped Tour in 2013. Yeah, that’s how this album will make you feel. You can expect instrumentals that just dig into each line with contrast present in the vocals to balance out the track. This record was a refreshing moment that I always return to when I’m looking for an innovative metal/hardcore tune.
Top Tracks: “Soak Me in Bleach”, “All My Friends Are Dead”, and “Catatonia”
- Hot Mulligan: “you’ll be fine”
Let’s talk about an elevation in the name of Hot Mulligan. After such a successful debut LP a few years back, fans weren’t sure what to expect because their sound is so loved in the state that it was in. So, to the fans’ luck, that’s exactly what the band provided- a matured version of their characteristic sound, and we aren’t mad about it. This means we are getting an overload of pop punk tunes with a splash of synth. This mixture creates a record that needs to be screamed by every audience member at a live performance. Think the warped tour meets the new wave and party musical genres. The vibe of this album really shines during the summer months, but it is definitely a record for any moment in time.
Top Tracks: “Dirty Office Bongos”, “The Song Formerly Known As Intro”, and “*Equip Sunglasses*”
- Four Year Strong: “Brain Pain”
Now, this was a record that was more than anticipated. Four Year Strong made their fan-base wait a long while for some new tunes, but I would say- “Brain Pain” came out at the exact right time. This record takes the traditional Four Year Strong brand and stamps it with an innovative brand fit for the 2020 music scene. This includes over-the-top pop-punk instrumentals that perfectly juxtapose melodic lines that are infused with witty thematic centers. This album matches the discography brought to you by Four Year Strong, and if rooted pop-punk music is where you preside: I would give this record a spin.
Top Tracks: “Talking Myself in Circles”, “It’s Cool”, and “Mouth Full of Dirt”
- The Killers: “Imploding the Mirage”
When jumping into an album by The Killers, most people automatically jump to the Mr. Brightside sound that they know and love. And yes, that era is something we will all cherish for years upon years, but let me put you on to something- spin “Imploding the Mirage”: you won’t regret it. This record takes the band’s characteristic sound and places that as the foundation for each work, which links the whole project together. However, as one takes a step back, when listening to the tracks at face value, it becomes evident that there is more of a nod to alternative and pop nuances that derive directly from the 80s. This approach to music will span their musical spectrum ten-fold while also feeling inherently nostalgic. “Imploding of the Mirage” felt so innovative yet so comfortable, so much so that it quickly will make home in your “favorites” music library.
Top Tracks: “Imploding the Mirage”, “When the Dreams Run Dry”, and “My Own Soul’s Warning”
- iDKHOW: “RAZZMATAZZ”
Wow, all I can say to start this one is: “wow, what an album” This debut LP for iDKHOW is destine to put this band on the map. When jumping into this record, it can be said that you’re going to be thrown in a pot of the best mixture of rock, alternative, pop, and musical theatre. Oh, and let us not forget the beautiful nostalgia that is heard bursting from the roots of each track. The album made the list, for this is the perfect blend of catchy melodies that don’t resemble the ones that follow or proceed it. Additionally, there isn’t anything quite like “RAZZMATAZZ” out there. Each listen provides the audience with a new musical sensation that will continue to draw them in to always come back for more. The sound that this artist produces is hard to describe through words- you’ll have to experience this musical journey on your own to get the full experience.
Top Tracks: “Leave Me Alone”, “New Invention”, and “RAZZMATAZZ”
- MisterWives: “SUPERBLOOM”
Now, at the forefront, I must start with this- many try to put out an album with 17-18 tracks, and it just flops, but “SUPERBLOOM”? The ULTIMATE bop. This record took the characteristic sound of MisterWives and revolutionized it to expand the alternative-pop music scene to heights that no one saw coming. When listening to this record, you’re going to get the enchanting melodies, the groovy blues inspired harmonics, and a variety of instrumental punches that help to stretch, bend, and twist this album to meet the needs of a spectrum of listeners. The largest take-away for this record is that it is such a feel-good album. The entire journey that this record provides takes the listener through a variety of emotions, but in the end, it encourages people to step out- choose happiness, and just enjoy life and music: what more could you want?
Top Tracks: “SUPERBLOOM”, “decide to be happy”, and “over the rainbow”
- Movements: “No Good Left to Give”
After the musical sensation that hit the world in 2017, Feel Something, Movements’ career skyrocketed and rightfully so. Thus, when they announced that they were closing that era to bring a new to the music scene- No Good Left to Give– I was nervous, but let me tell you: this record is the next level for Movements, and I can’t wait to see where it takes them. This record shifts the band’s primary pop punk approach to music. This genre becomes more like the backbone that forms the foundation for each track. With this set foundation, the band is now able to drive their spoken-word mashed with singing and screaming approach to music with sprinkles of more than just one genre. As one listens throughout the album, it is apparent that a lot of influences are coming from the classic rock, alternative, and even hardcore music scenes. This variety stretches the band further than ever before, for now they can appeal to more than just one to two genres in terms of listeners. Just like with Feel Something, this record takes you on an emotional journey that you may not be ready for, nor have you ever experienced before. However, this album will break you down, but it will do so to only bring you back up even stronger than before. I believe that I could go on and on about this record, but you should listen to it for yourself to truly experience the journey that is No Good Left to Give.
Top Tracks: “Moonlight Lines”, “Don’t Give Up Your Ghost”, and “Tunnel Vision”
- Dua Lipa: “Future Nostalgia”
When battling for the top spot, I must admit, this record came awfully close to the crown, but coming in second isn’t all that bad. Oh man, oh man. There is so much to be said about “Future Nostalgia”- it’s hard to know even where to begin. This album is the very top of what it means to crossover alternative influences but make it dance and pop while throwing it back to the prime of the music industry- the 80s. When listening to “Future Nostalgia”, the “it” factor that gave Dua her platform is heard, but the dial is set on max as each track pushes the limits of pop music. In this release, you can expect over-the-top melodic lines that are catchy, memorable, and witty. The thematic fronts aren’t anything necessarily new, but the way Dua approaches them is like a work of art. Instrumentally, it can be said that there is a perfect blend of new wave and old school approach to popular music. The blending of timbres and electronics to true instrumentation just makes the perfect combination for an appealing album. The biggest take away for this record is it will hold its own moving forward throughout the many many years to come. This is the evolution of music that we need.
Top Tracks: “Love Again”, “Break My Heart”, and “Good in Bed”
AND THE AWARD OF THE TOP SPOT GOES TO…
- Lady Gaga: “Chromatica”
Come on. Are you surprised? When this record dropped, the entire world changed, and it came at a time we all needed it most. When listening to this album, we are thrown back to the dance-pop era of Lady Gaga. Did someone say a “The Fame” and “ARTPOP” crossover? Oh, just me? Well, trust, because this is the evolution and connection we all didn’t know we needed, but we will always be thankful for it. “Chromatica” pushes the limits of pop music by incorporating musical techniques that connect to other genres such as instrumental and alternative music. The collaborations present on the work- off the charts: Ariana Grande, BLACKPINK, AND Elton John- now, that’s what we call diversity. Aside from the outside influences, on this release, we really get to hear the musical genius that lies in Lady Gaga’s mind. We hear this as we listen to the record from front to back. The main moments here being the “Chromatica” I, II, and III instrumental tracks leading the listener into the next track. Overall, this album spoke to me the most through its artistry in connecting classical music motifs into the popular music mold. Lady Gaga has never been one to follow the grain, and this record is no different. Just like “Future Nostalgia”, this record will be talked about for years and years to come. Thank you, Lady Gaga, for creating this musical masterpiece. Let’s hope for a 2022 tour.
Top Tracks: “Babylon”, “Chromatica II à 911”, and “Rain on Me”
All Time Low: “Wake Up, Sunshine”
The Front Bottoms: “In Sickness & In Flames”
The Ghost Inside: “The Ghost Inside”
HAIM: “Women in Music Pt. III”
Seaway: “Big Vibe”
Taylor Swift: “folklore” & “evermore”
Touché Amoré: “Lament”
The 1975: “Notes on a Conditional Form”