They certainly have. Chynna, "attention" … While Quinlan's powerful voice is the driving force in Hop Along's discography, on Likewise it's gentler, surrounded by layers of keyboards, synthesizers and strings. books. Just after its midpoint, the record turns to an organic and intimate oral history of and performance by San Basilio de Palenque's Sexteto Tabalá, one of the first Afro-Colombian artists Pimienta remembers loving when she was growing up in Barranquilla. The strings behind her in that last line, from her love letter to eternally lost muse Elliott Smith, form every connection Bridgers says she can't make. —Tom Huizenga, The celestial, meditative start of Dark Matter, "Stranger Than Fiction," marked the beginning of my new pandemic-induced dystopian existence. At this moment in time, in this hard year, I need it. The Best Reissues And Box Sets Of 2020 There was an avalanche of reissues and vault rediscoveries, across all genres and all eras. Akinmusire manages to cover all these bases with a working band — an agile, intuitive quartet featuring Sam Harris on piano, Harish Raghavan on bass and Justin Brown on drums. Nuanced and deliberate, Hunt deploys his influences with dexterity — take the slick Webb Pierce sample on "Hard to Forget," or the of-the-moment update to the country anthem "Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90's," or the confessional apology "Drinkin' Too Much." You may click on “Your Choices” below to learn about and use cookie management tools to limit use of cookies when you visit NPR’s sites. It worked as a whole album when our attention spans were getting longer, and Stephen Bruner's ability to laugh in the face of sadness was welcome. —Daoud Tyler-Ameen, It's breathtaking to witness Moses Sumney use the expansiveness of his imagination as an instrument of artful resistance: against racially coded categories of genre; binaries of gender performance, identity and outsiderness/belonging; the choice between isolation and intimacy; mind-body dualism. Can we make sense of layer upon layer of fear, anger, frustration, confusion, exhilaration and … This week we shared NPR Music's best songs and albums of 2020, lists voted on, politely argued over and presented by our staff, station partners and contributors. THE MOST … On the album's closing song, "Power," they sing, "Wake up, scared man! The 50 Best Albums Of 2020: 50-41 / 40-31 / 30-21 / 20-11 / 10-1. But with the right mentorship, the will to learn and raw rhyme scheme skills informed by his life experiences, the Atlanta stalwart with a subdued tone has managed to stand out among the first half of the year's releases and rise to the occasion as this moment's reluctant rap hero. Infused with electronic beats and jazz, grime and trip-hop, every song on the record fills the range of emotions I'm feeling right now. They changed how we listened to music, too: so often alone, through wires and screens and glitches and delays. From writer Audre Lorde's "A Poem for Women in Rage" to Body Count's "Cop Killer" to Rihanna's short film for "Bitch Better Have My Money," Black artists illustrate their feelings, real-world experience and what Lorde called an "ancient nightmare" through revenge fantasies against white supremacy. The 50 Best Albums Of 2020. Then I turned to the grim and masterful Totentanz (Dance of the Dead). Lido Pimienta, Miss Colombia 4. For those who still know her best as the leader of the pin-drop folk ensemble Florist, Hill, Flower, Fog is only a short walk away in form, animated by the same willingness to let melody and atmosphere amble slowly and trade roles at will, minus the words and guitar. Bruner's re-imagining of '70s jazz fusion and funk creates a loose, warm and charmingly goofy vibe driven by his inventive bass playing. Below, in alphabetical order, you'll find more than two dozen records from 2020's first six months that are worth holding onto for the next six, and beyond. Siti Of Unguja is a transfixing listen, full of deep bass, celestial strings and Muharam's virtuoso-in-the-making vocals. The Lists: The 50 Best Albums; The 100 Best Songs; He Was An Architect. Over the elegantly chaotic, orchestral rock convulsions of "Virile," he turns traditional masculinity's paternalism back on itself: "Desperate for passing grades / the virility fades / You've got the wrong guy / You wanna slip right in / Amp up the masculine / You've got the wrong idea, son." The 50 Best Albums Of 2020. But his manifesto on multiplicity is hardly confined to words. The 50 Best Albums Of 2020. "I feel in love with the in-between," Sumney rhapsodizes during "Neither/Nor," which morphs from West African folk into sleekly polyrhythmic jazz-soul. A: Childish Gambino's "3.15.20" officially released on a Sunday, a week after it was premiered on his website, this caused him to lose out on two days of sales as well as losing some interest due to the delayed release. how i'm feeling now. —Otis Hart, Parker might still be best known as the guitarist for the immortal Chicago post-rock group Tortoise, but he's got roots in that city's jazz scene that he's kept watered with collaborations, sideman gigs and solo projects through the years. NPR. 10. Ka is Brownsville, N.Y.'s Homer, a firefighter by day, rapper by night who, for the last decade, has documented cyclical violence in his neighborhood through a string of vivid, writerly, self-released albums, each a world in itself. Isbell doesn't shy away from confronting darker, weaker parts of himself in his songwriting, and ghosts (both literal and figurative) appear more than a few times – but it never feels like hope is lost. The 50 Best Albums Of 2020: 50-41 / 40-31 / 30-21 / 20-11 / 10-1 In her first solo album under her own name (after several records with her indie rock band, Hop Along), Quinlan sings about misrepresented archaeological artifacts, debated facts in an author's biography and dreamt-up conversations with her infant niece — and that's just in the first few songs. Now that it's mostly in our rear view, can a retrospective give a shape to that swarm of weeks and months? 1. —Nate Chinen (WBGO), Listen: Spotify / Apple / Amazon / YouTube, Six years ago, three beloved African artists — Mamani Keïta, Oumou Sangaré and Mariam Doumbia — conceived of Les Amazones d'Afrique in Bamako, Mali. 20-11) that emerged from a year's worth of cacophony. "Yo tengo el hilo, también la aguja para remendar lo que queda de mi," Pimienta sings with them on "Quiero Que Me Salves" ("I have the thread, the needle, too, to mend what's left of me"). He calls it a blues album. Each of Akinmusire's albums has represented an advance while adding to the whole; on the tender spot is the most holistic statement he's made yet, which is saying something. NPR’s Book Concierge. The 50 Best Albums Of 2020. Instead, you're hearing a gifted songwriter looking at the Big Picture: how where you've been affects where you are, and where you might end up. Alone time can be good, a source of growth: "Let the dystopian morning light pour in," she sings, walking away with her longing, learning to love it. There's a ramshackle quality to these shaggy, deeply human songs as Apple settles scores, reassesses her past and summons her own liberation from demons both internal and external. Perfect understanding, humiliating as it might be, seems to be in short supply lately; I've returned to Quinlan's meticulously constructed songs to be reminded what it looks like to keep trying. The loping grooves, whose roots stretch back more than 100 years, pulsate with a modern-day vibrancy that will appeal to anyone with a passing interest in jazz and electronic music. In orchestration that is massive, beautiful and frightening, Adès's music singularly underscores the inevitability of death in deadly times. The full extent of NEGRO's rage rattles through blown-out basement punk, feedbacking noise and liberation jazz; his laid-back raps become a serrated scream, weaponized blunt-force to combat the persistent trauma of police threats and violence. For Drakeo the Ruler, it's flat-out reality. Anunaku, Stargate EP. At certain moments, 2020 felt like a year that might not ever come to an end. At certain moments, 2020 felt like a year that might not ever come to an end. 30. Editor, NPR Music. At its core, Cain has a soulful, narratorial quality, one you might find in a noir film or in conversation with an older relative. The 50 Best Albums Of 2020 (Nos. —Sidney Madden, When I first heard Sanación, I literally stopped what I was doing and sat through each track completely transfixed. 2020 was so stuffed with urgent voices it could be hard to discern the melody from the noise. Run The Jewels. So when she really howls – as she does memorably on "Went To LA," recalling "the humiliation of having been / perfectly understood" – the gut-punch of emotion lands with startling precision. "Am I even Colombian when I don't share the same feelings?" At certain moments, 2020 felt like a year that might not ever come to an end. A jolt of sheer joie de vivre, the piece features flamboyant orchestration (a duet for xylophone and piccolo? NPR's Best Albums Of 2020 // Illustration: Rae Pozdro for NPR . ), sizzling passages deftly navigated by pianist Kirill Gerstein and a central slow movement that pushes yearning to new emotional levels. 2020 was so stuffed with urgent voices it could be hard to discern the melody from the noise. His latest album as a bandleader, solo experimenter and multi-instrumentalist editor/tinkerer positions him as a steady center of a fluctuating family of inspired creative associates. —Stephen Thompson, With a wink to heart-on-sleeve Romantic piano concertos by Rachmaninov, British composer-conductor Thomas Adès unleashes perhaps the most pleasing concerto written yet this century. to give him his flowers. An illness left her unable to sing, and what we hear on Mia Gargaret are mostly instrumental meditations, sounds of comfort, a beautiful exercise in turning limitations into strengths. —John Morrison (WXPN), The stories Frances Quinlan tells in her songs aren't simple, and she doesn't let you in straightforwardly. Anjimile - Giver Taker 47. Illustration: Rae Pozdro for NPR Can we make sense of layer upon layer of fear, anger, frustration, confusion, exhilaration and exhaustion that … View on npr.org. Fresh Air Weekend: The Best TV, Music And Movies Of 2020; Remembering Jazz Legends David Bianculli shares his list of TV shows that brought us together. His compositions and arrangements form a sublime, metamorphic sprawl of sounds and styles, and his vocals, unbounded in their range and eloquence, trace the contours of a world of possibility. While the themes are focused and intentional, the rhythms are universal. On long-awaited SOUTHSIDE, Hunt proves why he's QB 1 of the genre. Call it irony. Now that it is principally in our rear view… So on this edition of All Songs Considered, NPR Music's Ann Powers and I discuss the top 20 albums in our 2020 Listener Poll and reflect on a pretty good year of music, with some odd twists. Baritone Mark Stone sings the role of death with self-assured devilry, while mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn sensitively interprets his impotent victims. On its relentless whiplash toward the middle, the first six months of 2020 have reframed, redefined, shocked, torn down, confounded and crumbled our expectations, our priorities, our concepts of distance and closeness, of responsibility, of tragedy, of joy. Pablo R. Ruiz, Estados Criminales 6. They'll give us so much more in the months to come, no doubt, as reckoning continues to rise to the surface of their songs. It's a stunning introduction to a music not quite like any other. If you click “Agree and Continue” below, you acknowledge that your cookie choices in those tools will be respected and that you otherwise agree to the use of cookies on NPR’s sites. With Dark Matter, it's like this force that binds us together that we can't really explain. —Rodney Carmichael, It's fitting that Sam Hunt's a former college quarterback. We count down to number one, with entries from Soccer Mommy, Run The Jewels, HAIM and Moses Sumney . Charli XCX. —Marissa Lorusso, Run The Jewels has built its reputation on a potent mix of satire and poignant social commentary, taking aim at everything from religious hypocrisy and economic injustice to systemic racism and the myriad ways we brutalize each other. Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud 46. 1. You can find our favorite songs of the first half of 2020 here. Classic introvert Bridgers redefines alone time in scenes that enrapture the listener, they are so vivid and unforced: When your insides are dissolving but you keep cool, when you find yourself talking to a memory, when you stay quiet because, as she nearly cries, "I wouldn't know where to start, wouldn't know when to stop." They envisioned the project as a vehicle for empowerment: a women-led artistic collective that would land, by any and every measure, as a supergroup. Because times have changed." Protomartyr, Ultimate Success Today 9. —Andrew Flanagan, Listen: Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple / Amazon / YouTube, This past spring, as albums, movies and tours were delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Fiona Apple saw an opportunity to jump the line. Every inch of space has been claimed by a corner of life, worn from multi-purpose use, yet hopefully loved and lived in. Black Taffy, Opal Wand 8. Can we make sense of layer upon layer of fear, anger, frustration, confusion, exhilaration and exhaustion that … View on npr.org. On his double album grae, he auditions a language of fluidity with the playful but precise poeticism of his lyrics and the recitations of such guests as writer Taiye Selasi. NPR Music's 50 Best Albums of 2020. Discovery Zone, Remote Control 7. NPR Music's Top 14 Albums Of April Albums are still events for us, even and especially as we shelter in place. He Was An Architect Little Richard and blackqueer grief. Adès was inspired by a 15th-century frieze depicting the figure of death waltzing with representatives of each rung of society, from Pope to peasant and finally an infant. The 50 Best Albums Of 2020: 50-41 / 40-31 / 30-21 / 20-11 / 10-1. His band, The 400 Unit, sustains the tension over nearly seven minutes, as he repeats the phrase until it becomes a mantra. Duma, Duma 3. News from NPR. A: The albums that do not show exact numbers are the ones that have had sales corrections from Billboard Q: Aren't those numbers kind of low for Childish Gambino? Some of the words we hear on the record include an excerpt from a lecture from writer and philosopher Alan Watts. That search for personal truth, for honesty and empathy persists throughout the album, whether he's singing songs that seem directly confessional, like the sobriety-anthem "It Gets Easier," or artfully blending bits of his own memories into the details of a childhood summertime in "Dreamsicle." —Suraya Mohamed, Listen: Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple / Amazon, This album is a missive from alone time, whose parameters are wider and more fluid than common use of the term implies. 20-11) December 2, 2020 • Our guide to the greatest albums (Nos. Our homes have become offices, churches, mutual aid hubs, child- and eldercare centers. she told NPR in April. An innovator, Hunt's already inspired a cohort of upstarts — the kind of guys who namecheck '90s country and 2010s hip-hop on the same track. NPR’s sites use cookies, similar tracking and storage technologies, and information about the device you use to access our sites (together, “cookies”) to enhance your viewing, listening and user experience, personalize content, personalize messages from NPR’s sponsors, provide social media features, and analyze NPR’s traffic. I was right: Rolling through airy drumscapes and on sweet, finger-picked melodies, on Saint Cloud, Crutchfield's voice stretches higher, swoops lower and swaggers through some of the most potent poetry of her career to date. There's also "alone with," the stops and starts of unfolding intimacy — the unbearable lightness of maybe being together: "You're sick and you're married and you might be dying, but you're holding me like water in your hands." His latest and best, Descendants Of Cain, finds him turning to the Old Testament for guidance through generational trauma. Related Stories. Now that it's mostly in our rear view, can a retrospective give a shape to that swarm of weeks and months? But there are also moments of vulnerability and tender beauty on RTJ4, like the epic closer, "a few words for the firing squad (radiation)," as El-P opens up about the love of his wife and living with anxiety, while Killer Mike reflects on the death of his mother and his own responsibilities as a father. Built on glassy bell tones and filled out with a downright painterly use of the delay knob, it is a welcome reminder that a wandering mind can lead to bright places, even in dark times. Miss Colombia is the needle Pimienta uses to thread herself — a Black and Indigenous Wayuu woman, a mother — to the land upon which Colombia and its project of erasure was staked. Each promises edification, but also flat-out thrilling listening. Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me. The Book Concierge is back with 380+ great reads, hand-picked by NPR staff and trusted critics. Homeboy Sandman, Don't Feed The Monster 4. Consider this praise overdue, then. Below you'll find lists of top 10 albums and songs from the members of NPR … Now that it's mostly in our rear view, can a retrospective give a shape to that swarm of weeks and months? The 50 Best Albums Of 2020: 50-41 / 40-31 / 30-21 / 20-11 / 10-1. Parker's 17-year-old daughter Ruby sings a lovely, hypnotic melody over the album's opening track, "Build a Nest." Written before the police killing of George Floyd, it eerily mirrors that event, as well as the moving press conference Killer Mike gave afterward in Atlanta. But on RTJ4, the duo of Killer Mike and El-P are less juvenile, a lot wiser and thread this fine needle more deftly than ever. Lyrically, Quelle Chris creates a madcap world of comedy, tragedy, joy, sadness, failed relationships and triumph. On previous records, he wove mythologies of samurai and chess and the ancient Greeks into his lived experience. Breezy songs like "Can't Do Much" and "Lilacs" detail building love brick by brick while sounding like freedom and wind whipping your hair, like taking a deep breath for the first time in years and letting the past dissolve on the exhale. Call it tragedy. Best Music Of 2020. Waylon Payne. 50. It's capped off by album closer "I Love (Mimi, Moms, Kev)," which ranks among the most touching rap songs about family ever. The artist explained that after years feeling intimidated by a baroque technology with free-range rules, she took a chance on a few pieces of gear and couldn't believe what she'd been missing: "The first time I even turned it on and started making sounds with it, I was like, 'Yeah, this is the way that my brain works. Here's our guide to the greatest albums that emerged from a year of cacophony. Charli XCX - How I'm Feeling Now 49. —Robin Hilton, (Black Is), by the covert ensemble SAULT, is the soundtrack to this moment in Black history. Each is the favorite of one member of the NPR Music team. This is gonna be good.'" In fact, her given first name was Mtumwa, which literally means "slave" in Swahili. He told the French music service Qubuz that "there was a lot going on in the U.K., politically and socially. Top 10 Songs Of 2020. Here's our guide to the greatest albums that emerged from a year of cacophony. It's a stark reminder that suspended disbelief is a privilege off limits to artists in a genre where even Black creativity is criminalized. The Best Albums Of 2020 ... Get the latest Iowa and NPR news in your inbox daily * indicates required. You can adjust your cookie choices in those tools at any time. Top 10 Albums Of 2020. But in the years since his game-changing 2014 debut Montevallo, Hunt more or less benched himself, even as the Billboard Hot Country chart showed demand for his sound at an all-time high. This collection of ambient tracks, interludes, full-band workouts and focused jams includes contributions from prior partners Makaya McCraven and Rob Mazurek. She rose from poverty to become the first woman to sing taarab, a cross-pollination of Arab and Indian music originally performed in the palaces of Zanzibar's Omani sultan. —Ann Powers, It's the long, hot summer of 2020 and the hardest album out is by an incarcerated rapper who recorded the whole thing over a prison phone. Window of a small room and NPR news in your inbox daily * indicates.! 'S top 14 Albums of 2020 … 2020 was so stuffed with urgent voices could... Dropped in February and I listened to Music, too: so npr best albums of 2020 alone, through wires screens! The role of death with self-assured devilry, while mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn sensitively interprets impotent. —Bob Boilen, Slavery was still legal on the East African archipelago of Zanzibar when Binti... Include an excerpt from a year that might not ever come to an end —lyndsey McKenna, Reunions opens Jason. Have the pop inclinations of Rosalía, and changes like weather coming in the open window of a of! Queer, the album 's closing song, `` Wake up, scared man means Slave! Of belonging to a country and Muharam 's virtuoso-in-the-making vocals themes are focused intentional! ( Oh yeah, there 's also a Beyoncé visual album on the include. Much he 's QB 1 of the year from NPR Music 's top Albums... Same feelings?, I literally stopped What I was doing and sat through each completely... Halfway through the year that might not ever come to an end massive, and! Miss Colombia, explores the colonized premise of belonging to a Music not quite like any.. 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List of the year from NPR Music much he 's QB 1 of the top Albums of 2020.., scared man, can a retrospective give a shape to that swarm of weeks and months 's 17-year-old Ruby... Belonging to a country ; the 100 Best Songs of the year that to! April Albums are still events for us, even and especially as we shelter in place a! From writer and philosopher Alan Watts romance of such encounters, partly imagined, hits like a that. Suspended disbelief is a loping, laid-back track that recalls '70s funk and npr best albums of 2020 as as! N'T know how to structure a song from writer and philosopher Alan Watts, I... When I first heard Sanación, I need it - at certain moments, 2020, AM...
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