One of the past year’s lone bright spots was the amount of great indie and rock albums released. Some bands, like the Killers and the Strokes, came back strong with their first solid releases in years. Others, like Fontaines D.C., proved themselves more than capable with fantastic sophomore releases. Music acted as a salve for so many people and will likely continue to do so until the coronavirus is a distant memory. These are my five favorite albums of 2020.
5. Protomartyr- “Ultimate Success Today.” The most abrasive record out of the five, Protomartyr’s fifth record took a couple of listens to grow on me, but the spectacular bridges and conclusions of songs like “Michigan Hammers” and “Modern Business Hymns” are beautiful in their own loud ways. Protomartyr continue to carry the guitar and noise rock torch behind the scenes with poetic lyrics and a phenomenal rhythm section.
4. The Killers- “Imploding The Mirage.” This record was worth the long wait fans endured since the band’s 2017 release of “Wonderful Wonderful.” The Killers continue to reach for arena rock dominance and accomplish it through songs like “My Own Soul’s Warning” and “Running Towards a Place.” “Imploding The Mirage” concludes a solid second decade from a legendary band that served as my introduction to rock music.
3. Dehd- “Flower of Devotion.” I appreciated some of the guitar work on this album more than perhaps any other 2020 release, and the reverberating single-note melodies surrounding the song “Flood” are particularly appealing. Emily Kempf’s vocals throughout the entire album are distinct and match the instrumentation in an indescribable way.
2. The Strokes- “The New Abnormal.” This album is so old, its lead single came out when we were still at school. I remember being very excited about its release because of cell phone footage of a New Year’s Eve performance of the song “Ode To The Mets,” the album’s closer. It features classic Strokes guitar interplay for over a minute before Fabrizio Moretti’s drums finally kick in with Julian Casablancas muttering, “Drums please, Fab.” As a longtime fan of the band, I enjoyed hearing them add new elements to their sound that mixed nicely with their classic two-guitar sound.
1. Fontaines D.C.- “A Hero’s Death.” This Irish band’s second record was the best released in 2020, as I had a feeling it would be after hearing the single “I Don’t Belong.” The band cited the Beach Boys as an influence for this record, and this song sounds like a post-punk Beach Boys piece in the best way possible. “Love Is The Main Thing,” with its restless drums and subtle fingerpicked guitar, is one of my picks for the best songs on the album, in contention with “You Said” and “No.” I spent months anticipating this album and it did not let me down.
Ryan Meyer is a sophomore journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]