To call it an early contender for the year’s best indie rock album wouldn’t be an exaggeration. Scott tumbled into self-doubt. He’s now wondering aloud about getting a home in Miami, going and getting married and tattooing her name on his arm (“Instant Destiny”) and thinking back on how he was feeling a year prior when he had no cares in the world (“One More Year”). Shauf’s storytelling and uncanny realism have long been the linchpin of his appeal as an artist, though his previous release, The Party, showcased his talent on a whole other level. DJ equipment. Again. The majority of this year's best indie rock albums feature guitars at the forefront. —Max Freedman, “We’re gonna put you in the movies and our TV / All you’ve got to do is put on this little bikini,” indie rock chameleon Caroline Rose sang on “Bikini” off her breakout 2018 record Loner. They make them feel not just sad, but real. INDIE BASEMENT BEST ALBUMS OF 2020 SO FAR Activity - Unmask Whoever (Western Vinyl) 2020 is going to be another exciting year for the indie music scene and the beginning of a new decade. Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, the fifth studio album by Perfume Genius, boasts the best album title of 2020. Probably, but maybe in a much different way than you were likely expecting from a Tame Impala record. Every Bad is the nuanced album that indie rock has needed for years. Scott remains an improbably vivid writer both lyrically and melodically; throughout Silver Tongue, she takes desire and infatuation as her subject and icy synthesizers as her instrument of choice. have been used interchangeably in the past decade. The 30 best country and Americana albums of 2020, including records by Ashley McBryde, Elizabeth Cook, Jason Isbell, and Hailey Whitters. In Fetch the Bolt Cutters’ case, these psalms beam clearer than ever before. Every aspect of the central storyline—an ex randomly showing up after moving out of town, bad jokes, drunken ramblings—feels like it could be happening at your local dive just a couple blocks from your apartment. —Ellen Johnson, Fiona Apple engages our minds like no one else. With each Hop Along release, as Quinlan mentioned in her recent Paste session, the four members act as a collective, workshopping the songs together after the demo stage. Written about real individuals, some old friends and others strangers, the songs are as manifold as the human lives they encapsulate, with Leithauser often stepping aside to speak in his subjects’ own words. Because you’ve been there (probably), and because Bridgers has been there, too, and she knows how to make this song about a stranger’s overdose into a highly relatable moment. —Scott Russell, Dan Bejar’s songs often sound like part of the soundtrack to a movie that exists only in his mind. Britpop Dream Pop Grunge Indie Rock Industrial Rock Rap Rock Garage Rock Latin Alternative Post-Punk Emo Punk Rock Echoes A Life Divided 2020 $1.95 Haunted Painting Sad13 2020 $1.65 New Releases Now - Sign up to find top new songs of 2020 and videos from the best new 2020 albums! Gone are the cathartic, fist-pumping moments from “Cadmium,” the louder, capital-R Rock aesthetics from “Then Again” or the bruising solos à la “Aphasia.” Hall & co. respond with a more refined batch of songs on Marigold. There are moments of wonder and discovery, but often those are bookended by rough seas. The Best Albums Of 2020, So Far by American Songwriter July 2, 2020, 4:36 pm It is now July 2, the 183rd day of 2020, and we are now officially into the back half of the calendar year. With lots of new albums from bands such as Bombay Bicycle Club, Twin Atlantic, Blossoms or The 1975 in the making, 2020 promises to … He and bassist-producer John Collins (former bandmates in The New Pornographers) take it to the extreme on Destroyer’s latest, Have We Met, on which the only actual instruments are electric guitar and bass—and a whole lot of electronic accompaniment, including synthesizers, keyboards and beats. On “Blinking Light,” a synth-pop ballad that flows like a gentle stream, Rose describes circling the drain and leaving texts unread, and though the image of a neglectful Rose is bleak, the song’s slow glide toward her belting away her agony is equally somber and invigorating. It’s their first LP since signing with Secretly Canadian, and it follows their 2016 self-recorded debut Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers. Her record Out in the Storm, which we named one of the best albums of that year, displayed a whole new side of the singer. Effervescence is a key ingredient in all their music, but The Prettiest Curse’s bubbliness is more pronounced, the froth that shapes the band’s rising to the surface in a slightly broader coating. —Andy Crump, Listening to an Andy Shauf album in full is akin to binging a particularly compelling TV show: Both pull you in with characters that feel just as real as you or me, who populate a world we’d like to escape to. Hinds—Carlotta Cosials, Ana Perrote, Amber Grimbergen, and Ade Martin—have a strong grip on their musical identity, and they’re not keen on a makeover. Compounding that was the fact – in most cases – indie bands were unable to promote their releases with live shows. Not so with The Prettiest Curse. Shadow Talk is all about finesse and dynamics—melodies cascade with subtlety and spark with a euphoric glow. Interpreting your own while trying to navigate the emotions of others is one of the hardest parts of being a human. Throughout “In August,” she looks back despondently on the fallout of a once-strong companionship: “I have lost your friendship / What does that say about me?” As pillowy synths burst into a mournful geyser of sound, the track takes on a rejuvenating air. The word “indie” once strictly implied “independent,” meaning the release, be it a film or album or what have you, was put out without the money and resources that come along with a major label (your Atlantics, Columbias, etc.) That magic reappears in flashes on The New Abnormal—the first Strokes release since Future Present Past and their first full-length in seven years—but even if the album’s strong songs are among the liveliest, most effortless music the band has made in over a decade, their bursting energy only modestly offsets the LP’s many sharp lows. Through scratchy indie rock (“Don’t Ask Me Twice,” “Give/Take”), grand punk (“Lilac”) and even auto-tuned pop (“Something”), Porridge Radio take pop songs much further than listeners might’ve thought possible. —Lizzie Manno, In 2017, Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfeld quite literally blew the music world away. Following Clean, Soccer Mommy (real name Sophie Allison) became especially vocal about her struggles with body dysmorphia, depression and anxiety. It’s an extremely calming album until it isn’t—the guitar and synth fury on “Faces” is life-affirming, the guitar solo in “Exile” is painfully emotive and its subsequent outro track creates blistering, ambient havoc. It’s a moody, empathetic album, bolstered by repetition and the palpable scenes they create, whether that’s an imagined, heavenly gorge or the melancholy urban landscapes you traverse every day. It’s no wonder he titled his now classic sophomore record Lonerism: Those 12 songs document the internal anger, anxiety and social self-sabotage of a man who so badly wanted to be personable and in love, but was legitimately unable to even muster up the courage to talk to a woman he was interested in. It seems Hall realized yelps and screams don’t necessarily attract the most attention; he now recognizes that by being even more vulnerable than ever before, he’s capable of producing his finest songwriting yet. Listening to Fiona Apple is often like bearing witness to a prophet speaking in tongues. Apple has never been one to deliver approachable melodies or catchy choruses—she repeatedly serves us the abnormal, in all its twisted glory, with minor chords and off-kilter rhythms, often constructed with everyday objects rather than musical instruments. —Ellen Johnson, © 2020 Paste Media Group. Discover and listen to new music releases and 2020's best new album releases this week and every week here. Superstar tells a fictionalized, though autobiographically-inspired, story about an up-and-comer seeking a life of stardom, critiquing the protagonist’s self-centered aspirations. As a concept album, it documented the titular event, exploring vignettes about all of the party’s various attendees. July … Swimmer was borne from this heart wrenching period of time, a fitting name considering the sailing motif in Tennis’ discography (Cape Dory recounts their post-college sailing trip along the East Coast, and most of Yours Conditionally was written during their journey at sea from San Diego to the Sea of Cortez). Now, though, as her star is rising, Rose has turned that critical eye inward. Most of the songs here feel a bit rougher around the edges, which is partly what gives them so much charm. Now that their Rob Schnapf-produced (Beck, Elliott Smith) first album Collector has arrived, we have an answer: It’s perhaps more uniform in sound than their debut EP and live shows would suggest, but it shows off their dynamic guitar triple-threat, down-to-earth lyrics and instantaneous pop know-how that made them so enjoyable and relatable in the first place. Headlining festivals and writing for pop and rap stars, Kevin Parker is finally confident. Seemingly in direct response to those criticisms, Julian Casablancas and co. have avoided anything resembling musical consistency on every Strokes release since. Understandably, The Caretaker’s stories are often not pretty sights, even if the music always is. It’s a world not unlike our own, but that’s part of the appeal, really. But it’s put to such superbly squalling ends, resulting in the breakthrough of one of the best British indie-rock bands in ages. Quinlan’s ability to bend the track to her will—featuring a bouncy synth later complemented by twisted, harsh guitar screeches—is ingenious and indicative of Quinlan’s ability to experiment outside of her main sound. It leans into the electro-pop atmosphere of Three Futures, but the textures are so unsettling and lonely that it would never scan as a bid for crossover appeal. It’s one thing for a band to capture a world in chaos, but it’s much more difficult to accurately capture a mind in chaos—Porridge Radio make it look like a cakewalk. Each time we publish a list of indie rock albums, we’re once again met with the question of what actually defines an indie rock album. Superstar proves itself a tightly knit satire of celebrity, effective thanks to Rose’s sharp storytelling and her calculated use of distortion, which highlights the artificial quality of the protagonist’s new surroundings. While earning their stripes as an opening band, playing with acts like Shame, Jay Som and Girlpool, it was hard to determine which direction they would go since their shows were much punkier than any of their recordings up until that point. Everything Indie Music related; from the newest releases and news, to discussion on … Out in the Storm sounds like its title suggests: loud, windy, chaotic and emotionally intense—a tried-and-true breakup album and a throwback to Crutchfield’s punk roots. In comparison to the expansive sound of his recent work with indie four-piece Foxwarren, the woozy woodwind, warm piano and guitar (all played by Shauf himself) come across as if they are being played in the small back room of a bar. Optimism led him astray. It’s a devastating tune about death and depression, and if it ended at the three-minute mark, it would still be a stunner. H.e.a.t II is a gleaming chrome comet of pure class, its core … But rarely does an artist deconstruct and completely transform a beloved song to the extent that Frances Quinlan does with “Carry the Zero,” the Built to Spill classic that landed at number two on Paste’s best songs of 1999 list. On 2014’s KOTEKAN and 2016’s Probable Depths, Rose’s strings, pianos and powerful mezzo-soprano provided an appropriately plaintive background for her ruminations on distance and personal growth. Her most recent, the staggeringly good The Idler Wheel… arrived in 2012. An ’80s-style noir flick, maybe, set in some retro-futuristic cityscape where wet pavement glistens with the reflection of neon lights, and the juxtaposition of idiosyncratic lyrics, Bejar’s plummy voice and the squelch of synthesizers makes perfect sense according to some obscure internal logic. 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