In no particular order. I would love to know what you think. A Spotify playlist is below, but keep scrolling for brief descriptions
KennyHoopla - “plastic door//”
Bloc Party crossed with Interpol.
Boomerang Kid - “Orbit (original minimix)”
Future bass for flow work. One of the best additions to my programming playlist.
Waistline - “Cut It Out”
Best new pop punk I heard all year.
David Vertesi - “Waste”
Stripped down acoustic with a deep baritone reminiscent of Colter Wall. If you like this, you might also like “No Way Out” from Susto’s excellent album released last year.
CARM - “Land (feat. Justin Vernon)”
Featuring Justin Vernon’s intricately-laced melodies and iconic strained falsetto.
ROOKIE - “Sunglasses”
Reminiscient of the classic Southern rock I used to listen to at the pool during the summer. The rest of their debut album is quite good, “E-Jam” is another favorite.
White Denim - “I Don’t Understand Rock and Roll”
While we’re talking about jam bands, I’ve got to mention White Denim. “I Don’t Understand Rock and Roll” is a perfect song title for a track that I don’t know how to describe (best I can come up with is falling somewhere between Southern and psych rock). The frontman released a bunch of songs this year under a side project named Constant Bop, “Better Days” was a favorite.
HONEYMOAN - “Too Much”
Memorable power pop.
The Clockworks - “The Future Is Not What It Was”
Solid pop punk with catchy syncopation.
More Fatter – “Weirdo”
Best bass line of 2020?
Into It. Over It. - “Living Up To Let You Down”
Wistful indie rock perfectly suited for 2020.
Mondo Cozmo - “Black Cadillac”
Love this guitar riff.
Ball Park Music - “Paranoid Android (cover)”
It’s worth taking the time to appreciate this astoundingly authentic cover.
Oceanator - “I Would Find You”
Solid shoegaze pop. I love the way this song slowly builds up to its conclusion.
Deeper - “The Knife”
If you like this track, you might want to check out “Esoteric”, “This Heat”, and “Lake Song” off this same record.
The Districts - “Cheap Regrets”
The Districts moved away from their classic rock sound with their latest album but they definitely struck gold with this song. Bass line challenges “Weirdo” for my favorite of 2020.
IDLES - “A HYMN”
Not your typical IDLES track (if that’s what you’re looking for, may I suggest “Kill Them With Kindness”?), but I think that makes it all the more interesting.
“Real Love Song” - Nothing But Thieves
Reminds me of The Killers circa Sam’s Town.
We Were Promised Jetpacks - “not wanted”
Definitely a slower pace than their normal fare which allows We Were Promised Jetpacks to develop some catchy riffs that we haven’t really seen in their other work.
No Buses - Number Four or Five
One of my favorite nights in Japan was when I caught these guys at a small club in Shimokitazawa. The frenzied pace and the guitar tones reminds me of early Strokes.
Flock of Pigs - “Let ‘em Know”
I have no idea how to describe this sound. Ska rap? Whatever you want to call it, it’s hard to believe this sound comes to us straight from Norman, Oklahoma.
Aesop Rock - “Drums On The Wheel”
I’ve always been in awe of Aesop’s flow. My favorite track off his new record.
Arkells - “Years In The Making”
Classic Arkells sound that never gets old.
Bombay Bicycle Club - “Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)”
Technically, this single was released in 2019 but since the album came out thsi year, I’m counting it. It’s good to have the classic Bombay Bicycle Club sound we know and love back again.
Gorillaz (feat. Moonchild Sanelly) - “With Love To An Ex”
Gorillaz isn’t exactly obscure but since this gem was tucked towards the end of their (lengthy) latest release and didn’t get a slick music video like some of the other bops of the album, I doubt many people have heard it.
Moonchild Sanelly seamlessly mixes English and Xhosa lyrics in a style she calls “future ghetto punk.” I had never heard anything like it before but I’m a fan.
Oliver Tree - “Me, Myself & I”,
I still remember Oliver Tree performing as the very first act of the day at the small stage at Outside Lands and immediately was a fan. To say he’s blown up since then would be an understatement but I still think this unique sound deserves to be heard more widely.