The Weekly Coos - Top 10 of 2020
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
The year is coming to a close and there have been many great releases to get us through these unprecedented times. There were albums that made us get up and have dance parties all on our own, some laid bare roots into their lives and delivered to the world some proper woke music and others made albums that elevated their artistry into new territories. And unfortunately in the midst of all this, there has been plenty of bad music, some of which I expected less from with certain artists. But here you are, about to read another Year End List and talk to your friends about how I may not know good music or even agree by a placement. Either way here is The Weekly Coos Top 10 of 2020 in Music.
*Titles with links lead to full review of album
10. Summer of Sam - Serial Killers (Xzibit, B-Real, Demmrick) (8.5/10)
Hip-Hop has a tendency to surprise you. Whether it was lush and audacious instrumentals behind rappers like Lil Uzi Vert or Juice Wrld, or the synth heavy grime sound of British Rap; the results are vast. One group in particular, came back and delivered such veracity and smooth G-Funk vibes back again for another round in 2020. The sound was never lost and artists from the west have an affinity to it, so when you get legends and an underground rhythmic monster to rap, the results are out of this world.
The Serial Killers do just that with their modern twist on that classic G-Funk sound - combined with the grit from the hardcore lyricism. Every song has its own take and the political commentary is welcomed by the smooth implementations. It never sounds forced (except for that weird sex like track for quarantining).
9. Sawayama - Rina Sawayama (8.5/10)
Rina Sawayama made one of the more ambitious pop records of 2020. She takes influence from various sounds, including Metal and melodic rock. It‘s a profound collection of dance tracks and deep rooted stories that allow the instrumentals to delve it deeper.
Tracks like “XS” and “Best Friend” embody this and so much more. The former’s archaic metal influences boosts the themes of commercialism, while the latter has this unique and authentic hard rock guitar strings that boosts that emotional connectivity.
Subtlety is usually lost within the undertones of most music trying to bring back a “lost culture.” Pop did so, monstrously, with Disco and Synth Pop of the era. The trippy echoey instrumentation is no stranger for producers like Francis & The Lights, BJ Burton, and Cashmere Cat. They weave the electronica underneath these starry and moody synths. It was like a breath of fresh air for Kacy Hill, as her debut didn’t favor well under GOOD Music.
Is It Selfish If We Talk About Me has Kacy Hill letting her voice run free and that benefits the ways she wants to deliver the more thematic tracks with smooth melodies, like on the standouts “Porsche,” and “Much Higher.” Her sound is a deviation of what was a forced push into the mainstream. The stream of consciousness behind the themes and lyrics, as well as the undertow of electronica throughout.
If there has been one album that I have been hyped for all year it is Wachito Rico. The project from Norwegian/Chilean Singer Songwriter, Nicolas Muñoz is a whirlwind of unique indie pop rock tracks, ranging from the danceable ballads to the more tame and focus retrospective tracks.
There are rough cuts that lets Nicolas Muñoz run free and experiment without deviating from his strengths. His guitar playing is just that, with his way of creating unique arrangements, even with the minimal, like on an earlier song from 2017 “Everytime.”
A Beautiful Revolution Part 1, in a way, feels like a continuation of the themes and detailed elegance that made Black America Again a standout for the rapper in the previous decade. He creates masterwork in his contrasting viewpoints of life with the world today using authentic instrumentations, very prevalent to the sound of his region. It benefits from illustrious production from Karriem Riggins.
Tracks like “Courageous,” and “Fallin” bring more to light than the bare bones of the somber melodic percussion instrumental. The former speaks more to a continuous struggle behind identity crisis, since some mask themselves to fit amongst the world proper. The latter speaks to the reasons there is inner revolution amongst the oppressed. There is self doubt stemming everywhere. Common speaks about being Anti-Vax, without it being taken to a Karen level. Amongst all the political garb over the past decade, Common has a way keeping eloquence in delivery and writing.
5. Fetch The Bolt Cutters - Fiona Apple (9/10)
Pop Rock legend Fiona Apple comes back harder than ever with this loose and tight arrangement of sounds that can only be described with star studded eyes and rainbows flowing out the ears. It embodies many themes, like empowerment and reflecting the best parts of yourself.
With tracks “Under the Table,” and “Shameika,” both heavy piano rock tracks, that allows Fiona to flex those amazing vocals she has. It raw experimental nature adds more fluidity to her music.
4. Kcik I - Arca (9/10)
Arca has always threaded the needle with her previous work, as experimental as it was for ambient noise electronic music. On Kcik I she takes up a notch with varying sounds that elevate each other in transition. Opening with “NonBinary” Arca flexes everything she’s been slowly growing into from her self titled third album. The strong instrumental and her vocals shine throughout, despite various deliveries. She raps and she sings and orchestrates more unique tracks with features like Rosaliá and BJÖRK.
Folklore is unlike previous releases from Taylor Swift, while maintaining the sounds that worked. In this case, it is the electronica undertones sprinkled throughout. It’s full of eloquently written ballads, usually combined with the lush folk - centric strings and keys. The standout tracks, standout like a sore thumb and that benefits it as it is filled with 85% of them.
And as much as I love her duet with Gary Lightbody on Red, “Exile,” completely blew me out the water. It's hard to really get a good mix or solid duet from two artists with different ranges, but Taylor Swift made it work with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. Folklore, finally shows Taylor at her most vulnerable by showing she can take fault in his mishaps.
2. Future Nostalgia - Dua Lipa (10/10)
If it wasn’t for the expectations meeting just that on my pick for album of the year, this album would be there. To be honest, it’s hard to debate that any artist had a bigger year than Dua Lipa. The music she released, beginning with Future Nostalgia, has slowly shown she is a student and slowly becoming a master of the sounds of 80s Disco music, and the early days of Eurodance.
Whether you want to get down to Disco in “Levitating,” and “Physical,” to the more electric piano pop “Hallucinate,” Dua Lipa brings her all. And if you’re steelo is more club, you could switch up a notch with her compilation album Club Future Nostalgia where the remixes are taken up a notch and mixing doesn’t skip a beat.
Miles is unlike many releases this year, especially in Hip-Hop. It's monstrous approach at implementing a style and succeeding with consistency is a rarity, as artists have to delve into pop trends for exposure. But Blu isn’t always a consistent lyricist and at times it shows in his projects. As he is one to work with many producers, and at a turnout only beaten by Curren$y it goes to show who he works best with. In this case, it is Exile, known best as half of rap duo Eamon (Aloe Blacc and Exile). They have found parallel muses that brings out Exile’s best production, especially with the world and jazz like percussion influences, and Blu’s writing.
Blu shows maturity in every way from the more lackadaisical Give Me My Flowers, While I Can Still Smell Them. He has shown that he can transfix his ideals of the world around him into something so astound and complex. It is the best Hip-Hop album of the year, and don't let that 96 minute run time scare you because every minute is worth it.