Mid Year Review </br>2020

2020 has been a tumultuous experience to say the least. There have been such rapidly developing, yet seismic changes to the very nature of society that it’s hard to ever see a return to what we once perceived at as normal. One thing that thankfully hasn’t changed though is that a slew of great new music has arrived on a weekly basis to act as a welcome distraction to the world outside.

As we hit the halfway mark in the year, we asked our team of writers to take a look back through the last six months and pick their favourite record released so far this year for our Mid Year Review. If you like what you read, click on the album covers for the full review.

Eve Owen – Don’t Let The Ink Dry

By Phil Scarisbrick

‘Arriving at the height of lockdown, this record set a tight iron grip on me when I was feeling the full weight of quarantine both physically and emotionally. Even now, some two months on, its beauty remains undiminshed. Everything from the lyrics and vocal delivery to the production are so profoundly beautiful that it is, if anything, an even more impressive achievement than it was then. As far as debut albums go, Don’t Let the Ink Dry is amongst the very best I’ve ever heard.’

Damien Jurado – What’s New, Tomboy?

By Philip Moss

‘It’s mad how music works. The week What’s New, Tomboy? was released, I remember chatting with Phil, who’d written the album review, about how it was a good record, but that it had passed us by a little. And that it sat, almost lost, directly in the middle of his last two releases – The Horizon Just Laughed and In The Shape of a Storm – in terms of scope and feel. But oh – what a timely reminder that you should not write music off too soon -and before it’s been given a chance to work its magic. Picking one record as a mid year favourite was hard, but I decided to go with my most played, and Mr Jurado gets that title. The record’s soundtracked quiet evenings during lockdown, and been an inspiring accompaniment on so many runs – just when I’ve needed that pick me up. Another special record from a very special songwriter.’

Laura Marling – Song for our Daughter

By Mark Jackson

Song for our Daughter is a career highlight which will leave many musicians looking on with envy as Marling once more shifts the goal posts and shows herself as one of the pre-eminent leads in modern songwriting.’

Bonny Light Horseman – Bonny Light Horseman

By Dave Bertram

Bonny Light Horseman is a record as expertly crafted and melody riddled as you could wish for. The trio’s touch for moulding together new and old folk concepts – a collection of lyrics, some that have existed for more than five centuries, blended with beautifully melodic arrangements – to make something outstandingly fresh have made this a serious early contender for album of the year.’

Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud

By Joseph Purcell

‘Katie Crutchfield is at her finest on the stunning Saint Cloud. A melange of folk and Americana, packed with soaring moments of unabashed joy. Five albums in and this is the best to date. Uplifting tempo and searing vocals through eleven stunning tracks.’

JDFR – New Dreams

By Paddy Kinsela

‘No album from this year induces such a state of hypnosis upon me like New Dreams. Like Sunday morning fog you never want to clear.’

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways To New Italy

By Chris Hatch

‘RBCF’s brand of intricate pop takes a little longer than usual to burn itself onto your cortex, but when it does it’ll stay there for days.’

Andy Shauf – The Neon Skyline

By Craig Howieson

‘On The Neon Skyline, through his soft-rock infused Americana and linear storytelling, Shauf creates another life to get lost in. One that will inevitably echo with your own.’

Wilsen – Ruiner

By Tobias Moore

‘Dressed in darkness, Ruiner offers a jolting exploration of the human pysche. Through a matrimony of wandering production and ominous vocals, Wilsen lead you down a twilight lit path of no return. A path you’ll unknowingly embrace.’

Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor

By Mia Hughes

‘Hayley Williams’ style of lyricism, though straightforward, is uniquely moving. Pair that with, musically, the most intriguing experimentalism we’ve ever heard from her – it makes a really exciting solo debut.’

Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters

By Sage Shemroske

‘I’ve always loved Fiona Apple’s tender fury, but on Fetch The Bolt Cutters there is a visceral relief that comes with complete liberation.’

Grimes – Miss Anthropocene

By Maria Sledmere

‘Comforting midi lilt of soundcloud elegia moving through atmospheric production and haunting strains of world losses at multiple levels, culminating in the ecstasy of a longed-for outside that is IDORU.’

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