2020 Mid-Year Roundup

Gathering 25 of our favorite releases so far in a year of pain, growth and unity. Artwork by Tyler Blankinship.

Bad Ambassadors – Bad Ambassadors

This new duo, comprised of respected Chicago veterans Rich Jones and Walkingshoe, pulls from hip-hop, R&B, pop, dance and beyond to craft an eclectic and much-too-short EP.

Brendan Eder Ensemble – To Mix With Time

The uber-talented Eder and his bandmates utilize woodwinds and electronics to create a unique, groove-based neoclassical sound that crosses between funk, jazz and countless other styles.

Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways

At 79-years old, the age-old poet still has a lot to say. Surprised? Dylan’s first new album in nearly a decade is unexpectedly long-drawn yet packed with plenty of lyrics to mull on for years to come.

Bonny Light Horseman – Bonny Light Horseman

The highly-touted folk trio somehow exceeds expectations with a stunningly beautiful collection of tender ballads.

Cave Flowers – Cave Flowers

The SoCal country-rockers come through with a hard-hitting debut that celebrates the subgenre’s classic and contemporary West Coast sounds.

Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

The budding pop star brings together clean contemporary production with pure funk to make one of the year’s best mainstream releases.

Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo

An always-stellar rapper and ever-reliable producer team up and turn in another slick and exceptionally-performed entry to the coke rap canon.

HAIM – Women In Music Pt. III

The highs of HAIM’s first two albums – undeniable hooks, catchy soft-rock guitar leads and rich harmonies – show up in full force on their third and best record.

Jeff Parker – Suite For Max Brown

In Chicago, jazz and all neighboring genres are forever intertwined. Over 11 groovy and jam-heavy tracks, Parker’s latest project puts the experimentalist’s virtuosity on full display by effortlessly blending avant-jazz, R&B, soul and rock.

Jeff Rosenstock – NO DREAM

Digging deep into his politics and New York roots, Rosenstock’s latest pop-punk masterpiece is scrappy, bombastic and infinitely catchy all at the same time.

Jeffrey Silverstein – You Become The Mountain

The Portland guitarist expands on his ambient folk stylings, adding pedal steel and percussion to round out his bucolic soundscapes.

Jesse Daniel – Rollin’ On

The Bakersfield Sound lives on in 2020 – with Daniel, it appears to be in good hands.

Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter

Rich with mature perspectives on life and aging, Marling’s seventh studio album features a series of stark folky vignettes that are colorful in both language and musicality.

Mac Miller – Circles

As far as posthumous releases go, Circles is the ultimate musical send-off for one of hip-hop’s most beloved characters.

Matt LaJoie – Everlasting Spring

LaJoie’s sprawling new record hangs its hat on the tandem of his mesmerizing guitar loops and skillful improvisation, making for a long and profoundly enjoyable instrumental experience.

Marcus King – El Dorado

The Southern rocker dials back the fireworks and turns up the soul. The end result is a delicate album laden with passionate songs about love and perseverance.

Moses Sumney – græ

An impressionist gifted with an angelic voice, Sumney is quickly becoming a singer that transcends genre. Two albums in, he’s pushing musical boundaries few others are capable of glimpsing.

Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

On her second full-length, the indie favorite perfectly captures our eternal need for intimacy with a compelling set of dark and moody folk songs performed in the vein of Elliot Smith. 

Quelle Chris & Chris Keys – Innocent Country 2

Quelle Chris is as consistently great as anyone working in hip-hop today. His second collaboration with beatsmith Chris Keys is utterly smooth and infectious.

R.A.P. Ferreira – Purple Moonlight Pages

One of rap’s foremost poets lays down another verbose offering of dizzying rhymes, this time set to the opaque jazz-hop instrumentation of the Jefferson Park Boys.

Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA

Sawayama’s vocal talents and singular vision manifest into an enthralling pop debut.

Run the Jewels – RTJ4

The fourth installment in the duo’s essential self-titled series is as vital and of the moment as anything in their increasingly historic catalog. Abrasive, arresting and another welcome sock in the face.

Rose City Band – Summerlong

Heavily influenced by classic country while remaining subtly psychedelic, the sophomore effort from Rose City Band is a satisfying collection of warm and vibrant guitar jams that lives up to its title.

Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

Kevin Parker’s most impeccably produced set of songs to date also includes some of his catchiest and most memorable melodies.

Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud

Katie Crutchfield turns toward her Southern roots and crafts a punchy, soul-bearing Americana record.

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