It's fair to say it's not been a very good year so far. In fact It's been pretty Sh*t. The Australian wildfires, Deadly floods and mudslides in Brazil, Ecuador, Myanmar and more and the Covid19 pandemic. The Latter caused chaos everywhere, the music industry being no exception. Release dates were put back to September in many cases, then a lot were brought back forward to July, then a lot faced delays anyway and live music as we knew it is and will be a thing of the past for a while, maybe well into next year.
There has been some really good new music released this year though and we want to share our favourite albums and EP's of the year so far with you.
We'll start with the debut EP from Crystal Murray, because it's what's currently on the turntable. Titled ‘I Was Wrong’ and released a few weeks ago it is absolutely sensational. The Parisian singer songwriter explores her love for soul, hip hop and house. She has a genuinely unique sound and at just 18 is an incredibly exciting talent to keep an eye on. She sounds self assured and confident even singing in a second language. The only fault we can find with the record is that it’s not long enough, we will eagerly await her debut album! The title song, the first on the EP is one of the best songs of the year so far. She's going to be massive one day very soon.
The next record is ‘The New Abnormal.’ It is the sixth studio album by American rock band the Strokes, released on April 10, 2020, through Cult and RCA Records. It was their first album in seven years, following Comedown Machine, and their first release since the Future Present Past EP. We’ve always been huge fans of The Strokes (Unbelievably it’s now 19 years since their debut ‘Is This It!’) and ‘The New Abnormal’ is bloody brilliant. Proper Strokes, huge riffs, electronic tinklings, cool vocals. Our favourite songs on the record are the opening track ‘The Adults Are Talking’ and ‘Bad Decisions.’ We pretty much love every song though, if you’re a fan you won’t be disappointed by this. Don’t delay, get it in your collection ASAP.
Next up is ‘Future Nostalgia’ it's the second studio album by English singer Dua Lipa, released on 27 March 2020 by Warner Records. We had heard nothing of Dua Lipa before hearing this record was the best pop record since Lemonade. That made us buy it and whoever said that (can’t remember who, sorry!) was spot on. Our Daughter also loves a dance to it so it must be good! It’s a cracking pop/funk/disco record, don’t dismiss this as crappy mass market pop, it deserves much more respect than that. ‘Don’t start now’ and ‘Physical’ are fantastic catchy pop songs that are up there with the best. Give something a little out of your comfort zone a try. Also buy Lemonade. That’s still better, just.
Next up is 'Women in Music Pt.III,' the third studio album by American girl band Haim. It was released through Columbia Records on June 26, 2020. We liked their first two albums, 'Days are gone' and 'Something to tell you' but this is on another level. It is their best album so far, brilliant soft/pop rock with an American LA twang. They've been a constant source of fun through lockdown too on their social media accounts, doing dance tutorials to their songs and generally being a tonic to the world at the moment. 'Up from a dream' and 'Don't wanna' are our favourite songs on the album. They're a band we will try to see live as soon as possible.
Last but most certainly not least is one of the records we had most anticipated this year and also one of the records with the most release date changes. Paul Wellers 'On Sunset.' It's the Modfathers 15th solo studio album and he continues to deliver time and time again. This record is different and fresh while managing to remain distinctly Weller. As he said in the sleeve notes of his 2014 compilation 'More modern classics' - “Don’t be scared of the new, don’t get bogged down in the cliches of, ‘Oh it’s not as good as …’ or you’ll miss out on what is NOW.” This record is for now, an uplifting, wise and warm album. It's flipping brilliant. We love 'Old father tyme' and 'Village.'
Music can lift your spirits in difficult times and we don't think it's a coincidence that the records that have been popular this year are uplifting and generally very happy. Music is the greatest escape from the 'real' world, with all the story of a great novel and all the artistry of a great painting. We are all so lucky to have found it! If you haven't tried some of these yet you really should, even if it's not what you would normally listen to, listen to Mr Weller, don't miss out on the NOW.
Let us know in the comments what your favourite records of the year have been, we would love to hear what you're all listening to!