The 40 Songs of 2020 That Defined the Year for Me

Bad news: I’m not making a top best movies of the year list for 2020. Why? Well, given the hellish state that COVID-19 created for the film industry, I haven’t had the opportunity to watch that many new movies this year, let alone had the opportunity to watch that many “great” movies this year. It just doesn’t feel right for me to make a list praising my top 10 or 15 favorite movies of the year when I wouldn’t even love half of them.

However, 2020 did have a decent amount of great music to come out especially during quarantine; obviously this year doesn’t nearly touch the brilliance of 2019 for the artform, but there were enough bangers to certainly devise a best singles list. As a clarification, the songs I’ve included on this list are not ranked and the choices that I’ve made here are mainly based on the songs that I listened to the most throughout the year — that’s why they are the tracks that “defined” 2020 for me. Without further to do…

Lead vocalist of the band “Daughters” unexpectedly released this 2020 solo effort and it floored me. It sounds more rough and forbidden than even some of the tracks off of Alexis and company’s “You Won’t Get What You Want.”
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Angel Olsen’s acoustic remix LP that she dropped this year, but one track on it did stick out like a sore thumb to me and that was “Whole New Mess”: a simple, desperate sounding nightmare of insecurities that has one of my favorite vocal performances from Olsen yet.
Ashnikko came off as quite the unusual artist when her hit song “STUPID” blew up on TikTok. Afterwards, I didn’t really know what to make of all her high-octane, braggadocios music until very recently when she released “Daisy,” which is by far not only her most mature effort yet, but it also has one of the oddest vocal hooks I’ve heard in a while. Anyhow, I dig it!
Devi McCallion’s sinister vocals whisked with this witchcraft-type beat and a piercing rap verse from Backxwash are what make “Spells” SOOO uncommonly delectable. If you know me, I’m a huge sucker for ominous hip-hop music, and this track will now be used as my quick, two minute example of the subgenre.
Swans meets Slint meets King Krule? Whatever it is, I’m f**king obsessed with it. That lingering bass line, the graphic lyrics, the extroverted vocal performance from Isaac Wood, the schizophrenic midway guitar/sax solo, and the monstrous climax of instrumentals… ugh! It’s quite the gut-punching experience from upcoming band Black Country, New Road.
Not only did Charli XCX drop her slickest LP yet, “how i’m feeling now,” this year, but on that LP was my favorite pop track of 2020 as well. “forever” is a hyper-produced song of electronic insanities that additionally happens to be unconventionally pleasing on the ears. Imagine making this, “claws,” “7 years,” “pink diamond,” and “enemy” all in the same year. Quarantine has somehow refined Charli’s artistry.
clipping. has been a powerhouse experimental hip-hop group for almost a decade now, and “Say the Name” happens to just be more proof to add to that claim. It’s also one of their greatest tracks… like… ever. What a climax!
Considering I edited “The Holy” music video for the mysterious artist known as Darkohtrash, I obviously had to listen to the song countless times. It’s now an engraved memory for me during the summer of 2020, so how could I not include it on this list? Also, my reflection is hiding somewhere on the cover artwork!
“DIET_” is 2 whole minutes of FLAMES. In fact, the entire EP that Kenny and Denzel made at the beginning of 2020 was pretty spicy. This partially old-school-styled track, however, just happens to be the highlight of it all.
“The Rite of Spring Monkey” is a song that feels like a long lost “Madvillainy” track that simultaneously happened to be made in Japan. The members of Dos Monos must have pretty good taste in music.
If you had told me a couple years ago that I would somehow end up enjoying Dua Lipa’s work by 2020, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, here we are. The track “Future Nostalgia” is well… 80s rewiring done seamlessly.
I will be bopping to Duma if I ever make it to Hell, guaranteed. Akin to many of their tracks that dropped this year, “Corners in Nihil” has some of the most aggressively unapologetic and zany experimentation I’ve heard… ever. The Kenyan Metal scene is about to explode again with charged inspiration once Duma’s career begins taking off.
I’ll admit, I never finished Eminem’s latest album “Music To Be Murdered By.” It… bored me, and after disliking his other two albums that came before, I just kind of lost hope. However, I did genuinely enjoy his hit track on it, “Godzilla.” Juice WRLD’s feature on here is surprisingly catchy, and I haven’t seen Eminem this creatively out there on a track in nearly a decade. The music video is loads of fun too!
Confession: this is my #1 favorite track of 2020. Even the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t have enough room to contain the amount of eccentricity expressed in “Shameika.”
HAIM’s “The Steps” is their catchiest and most lively hit song since “The Wire” was first released in 2013. “I can’t understand, why you don’t understand me, Baby!”
R.I.P Jordan Groggs. You ended your career off on a high-note with “Hoodwinked.” That saxophone loop is unforgettable!
The IDLES came politically charged this year, and while the lyricism at times sometimes stains as surface-level statements, the sound of “Grounds” is too bombastically head-bopping to ignore; it OVERRULES!
An even better throwback to 80s pop, Jessie Ware’s “Spotlight” would’ve been an A-class, smashing hit if it were released back during that era. Hopefully, if we’re lucky, it’ll blow-up bigtime next year given the success of artists who are also evolving the nostalgic sound such as Dua Lipa or The Weeknd.
“Acid” is 2020’s finest example of blending the old with the new. The sound editing here is just PHENOMENAL! I can’t wait to see where this new, experimental duo goes given how exotically enigmatic this track and the EP it appears on was.
This just in: Filthy Frank is gone for good and Joji is fully ALIVE.
Among the many great tracks that JPEGMAFIA spontaneously decided to drop this year, “COVERED IN MONEY!” is by far the best. This man can do no wrong.
Kelly Lee Owens is someone I’m looking foreword to seeing more of in the future. If you’re a fan of house music, “Re-Wild” and the rest of her LP is a must listen.
I added this song to my “currently listening to” playlist at the beginning of this year and it hasn’t been removed since. “Stoned Again” is an ugly, horrorshow track from Archie that perfectly encapsulates a downward spiral in a brief amount of time.
Sure, I could’ve put down the many cover tracks Lingua Ignota released this year, but I felt as if her one original song she released earlier this year crushed in comparison. “O Ruthless Great Divine Director” sees Ignota continuing her distinct sound with even more expression in her vocals.
Ah, yes; Liturgy never seems to disappoint in, at least, their piano compositions, huh? It’s difficult imagining the avant-garde metal group not making a song that’s at least sonically extravagant, whether it works or not. Luckily, “SIHEYMN’s Lament” lies on the winning side. Being the second act and scene of Liturgy’s latest album “Origins of Alimonies,” the piece boldly uses a peculiar sound of deviating elegancy to enhance its speaker’s glorification on pain.
Undoubtedly a particularly emotional experience for fans of Mac Miller, “Good News” is a thought-provoking career send off, as the song nearly encapsulates the psychological state of its singer before his tragic death.
“Conveyor” wasn’t initially my first choice for which Moses Sumney track to choose for this list. I was actually thinking of picking either something as complex as “Cut Me,” or as grandiose as “Bless Me,” or even as strictly angelic as “Polly.” But… I don’t know; if you can turn a coughing noise into one of the most eternally haunting rhythms I’ve heard all year, then you’ve won the game of art. So cheers to Sumney for, haha, “that” and many of the other abnormal assets that make “Conveyor” a noteworthy musical milestone.
“Daiitoku-Myoo no Odaiko” is a LOT to take in. What a BEAST of a song, incorporating so much instrumental texture with an epic scale of cinematic vibrancy. It’s continuously investing throughout its lengthy 6-minute runtime.
Perfume Genius has a holy falsetto, and “Jason” is a show-off of this attribute like no other. Describing a one-night stand with a man, this track uses a standout harpsichord inclusion, controlled bassline, orchestra, and some bouncy verses to deliver one of the most beautiful sounding songs of 2020.
Arguably my favorite closer to an album this year, “I Know the End” to my knowledge is by far Phoebe Bridgers at the height of her career. It’s a progressively inclining balance of existential dread and optimism that unleashes its hidden aggression towards the climax of the song with some of the keenest production I’ve heard in my entire life — period. IT’S OUGHT TO BE THE SECOND BEST SONG OF THE YEAR.
Poppy, Poppy, Poppy. Just when you thought she couldn’t outdo her last single, she does it. Specifically though, with my favorite track on her latest record, “Anything Like Me.”
Rina Sawayama has become one of the most versatile pop artists of our generation. It’s tough not including more of her work off of her insanely detail-oriented produced album “SAWAYAMA.” Nonetheless, “XS” ended up being my pick for the list. The amount of hooking moments and tasteful textures on this song is absolutely bonkers compared to the average pop/alt track.
“yankee and the brave” is one of the grimiest produced Run the Jewels songs I’ve heard thus far and a near perfect opener to a solid LP.
Umm… words… can’t uhh… explainexplainexplain… I think I’m going to malfunction because of how industrially badass this track is from innovative artist Sevdaliza. Her new LP “Shabrang” really proved that she hasn’t stopped trying her hardest even with the rough COVID-19 circumstances standing in our way as an obstacle.
Slauson Malone certainly appears to have a hands-on talent for musical production. His work here feels so passively raw yet flexible. “Smile #6” almost sounds like two separate songs aimed at the same subject matter, and I’ve come to appreciate its ambitious yet spiritual totality.
The Strokes are back, baby! After a long hiatus from the music scene, the band doesn’t disappoint with their return. “The Adults Are Talking” sees the group exploring new territory with more modern instrumental sounds while also managing to preserve their distinct style all throughout the track.
Easily my favorite song to come from the response to the tragic murder of George Floyd, “Pig Feet” is Terrace Martin working at the top of his game.
Tkay Maidza is the NEXT BIG THING. The multi-talented singer/rapper/writer does little wrong on her EP “Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2” and it shows especially in the groovy closing track “Don’t Call Me Again.”
The standout duo name “WARGASM” should give you just enough information on what to expect from this aggressively sparkling rock banger. “IT’S SO DIS–SGUSTING!”
Yves Tumor, in a sense, kind of gave me what I wanted out of Tame Impala’s latest record. He admittedly weighs past influences heavily on his shoulders, yet he’s able to use this combination of guidance as a gateway to create something only he himself could craft. “Dream Palette” is my favorite track off of “Heaven To a Tortured Mind” for its interesting use of sound effects, busy instrumentation, and imperial vocal design.

Quick-Thoughts: Travis Scott’s Music Video “90210”

Listened to Rodeo a couple weeks ago; thought it was pretty great, which is surprising considering my mismatched inklings on ASTROWORLD. 90210 may very well be the best song on that LP; it’s damn near ideal; Kacy Hill, the transitioning, tom-toms, classic piano, artificial guitar-amp bass, adequate autotune implications, the Kanye West and 70s jazz sampling, and the poignancy of its lyricism… ughhh.

Hype Williams compliments this track pretty adequately in the 90210 music video. The set aesthetic of it is arguably more impressive than the actual professionalism of its stop-motion animation or the occasionally dry shot types that shape the short film, but that’s not to downright disregard how wonderful it is in general. The surreal frame censoring, rich color/lighting coordination, clean editing, and again, incredible stop-motion design pieces like the Barbie-doll-esc figurines or the elevating tree model, etc. It’s lit. 

Verdict: 3.5/5

Click Here to Watch 90210

Quick-Thoughts: FKA twigs’ Music Video “M3LL155X”

After listening to the eargasmic LP MAGDALENE for the first time, I had to venture into FKA twigs’ earlier work, so I found out that she has an entire self-directed music video dedicated to her EP M3LL155X, so here we are! 

As a major fan of groundbreaking, electronic-fuse solo artists such as the acclaimed Björk, it’s nice to discover a musician like FKA twigs continuing this familiar sound but in a progressive approach that obviously weighs on its influencer’s shoulders while still distinctively being able to audibly seem like something only FKA twigs herself could make, whether it be from her relevant lyrical content or imposing character. Her voice is extraordinarily lush, angelic, and even occasionally ghostly; her production incorporates modern technological advancements in both the pop, hip-hop, and of course, electronic realm with, again, that experimental unpredictability that made other similar artist’s outputs sound so sonically appealing. I love that her music has gained quite the wide appeal, as well, and her visual talents are hopefully something that has helped reinstate this gain in popularity, cause wow is this short film simply powerful and aching with uncut energy. 

Elements worth mentioning from the video can pertain to the editing that successfully wraps itself into the incalculable dottiness yet fidelity of the instrumentals, the unforgettable lineup of costumed characters, disturbing props + visual effects, unique dance choreography, abstract set designs, its sharp taste for colors, and seamless transitions; yeah this is certainly something! 

Why didn’t the song Mothercreep get featured a section though? The circle should’ve been completed! Anyways, check out this EP and accompanying short film; it’s entrancing.

Verdict: 4/5 

Click Here to Watch M3LL155X

Quick-Thoughts: Fiona Apple’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters

Where do I even start? 

Fetch the Bolt Cutters: by far Fiona Apple’s kookiest musical statement yet and arguably her finest? The vocal/acapella diversity and sound editing in Fiona’s voice is more expansive than ever. The rhythm patterns are so retaliating this time around and they alternate with such a rapid, off-guarding persona. The variation of instrumentals are—similar to each succeeding Fiona Apple project—more unpredictably charted than ever before. It’s so priding how forward and embracive Apple is in this album about her past trauma in unambiguous specifics; it’s abnormally inspiring and persuasive unlike a majority of albums I’ve heard before. This is not to say though that her metaphorical and literary abstractions aren’t also gripping and resourceful in the LP too; they’re just as understanding as her material storytelling. She’s taking insult after insult of what she’s received throughout her extensive stay on Earth and spitting them back out in entirely new meanings that make you rethink the common criticisms of the human individual and whether or not they’re actually still valid from the unique perspective of Ms. Apple. 

If I’m being honest, Fiona Apple’s projects are usually remarkable, and debatably, you could probably use most of the descriptions I’ve just listed above as means to illustrate her past LPs. But in spite of me expecting nothing but the best with this new album of hers, I’m still, believe it or not, shocked by how f***ing incredible Fetch the Bolt Cutters is. About 77% of the songs on this LP I could imagine myself listening to INFINITE amounts of times on their own—and that’s a damn rare compliment coming from me about a singular album. As of now, I can’t see 2020’s musical scene getting any richer than this. 

Track recommendations—brace yourselves, it’s going to be nearly the entire LP: I Want You To Love Me, Shameika, Fetch The Bolt Cutters, Under The Table, Relay, Newspaper, Ladies, Cosmonauts, For Her, and On I Go

Verdict: A- 

“Fetch The Bolt Cutters” is now available to stream on most other musical platforms, as well.

I Disagree: An LP That Reinforces Poppy As One of the Most Inventive Artists Working Today

If you were to tell me around 4 years ago that the internet enigma Poppy would become an experimental alt/pop/hard rock/EDM/metal musical sensation in the near future, I would’ve laughed so damn hard at you. 

Pity me and my ignorance. 

In 2017 Poppy released her first LP Poppy.Computer (if you don’t count her strictly pop-oriented 2015 album under a different artist’s name) and in 2018 she released the harder side of her persona with her album Am I a Girl? Both albums unquestionably had songs I relished and some standout, in-your-face stylistic choices that intrigued me, but I wouldn’t say the albums consecutively won me over.

Fast-forward 1 year later. The end of a decade: 2019. Poppy releases an EP under the title Choke—a 5-track emphasis on her new, mature sound. Not only does the small collection have one of my favorite tracks of that entire year on it, Scary Mask (feat. FEVER 333)—a song with more tonal switch-ups than Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody or Radiohead’s Paranoid Android—but it furthermore reinvented Poppy’s devilishly ludicrous follower vs. satanist journey. The lyrics seemed more constructive and fascinating within the controversial topic, the instrumentals became a lot more inventive than obvious, and Poppy’s light-toned, adorable vocals managed to fit into the metal scene a little more appropriately. 

Now, fast-forward to January 2020. Only a little less than a year later, Poppy has a whole new album out called I Disagree. It’s an album that maturely reconstructs religious conversation (instead of simply repeating the basics like—cough cough—Kanye West’s Jesus is King). It’s a metal, electronic hybrid that will dumbfound the contemporary—and prove that a lot of mainstream 2010s female artists could have sung about much more than just their over-bloated bank accounts and glorified sexualizations.

This is an addictively, head-banging, satanic album that is plausibly about Poppy’s questioning of belief, of her despisement of the norm, and ultimately her polarizing emotions towards the paradox of ultra pro-positive culture—it’s very edgy, indeed. In terms of instrumentals and production design, I would easily describe this as the best one of her three albums. 

The first track Concrete isn’t exactly the most lyrically impressive work Poppy has done in all of her career—and even in those weird-ass YouTube videos. In fact, the weakest point of the LP I would say is her lyrical consistency. Sometimes her very straightforward and elementary lyrics work constructively, in the sense that they are mostly meant to mock predictable phrases, and sometimes they fall flat. The minimal use of the Japanese language in the song I Disagree is frankly needless and cringy, as well. Track 6 or Nothing I Need is a bit of a hit or miss; it feels awfully slow and out of place from the rest of the album, in my opinion. Nevertheless, when it comes down to it though, most of the tracks here are absolute bangers (notably, I Disagree, BLOODMONEY, Anything Like Me, Fill the Crown, Sit/Stay, and Bite Your Teeth) and you can’t argue with that unless you hate to just rock out to inventively executed, rebellious insanity every once in a while.

I Disagree which was the first track to be released by the artist on this album is a solid introduction into Poppy’s ear-catching whisk of cute, adorable tonalities and dismal, vicious lyrical content. BLOODMONEY I’ve said my piece on; it’s a bafflingly mind-blowing track especially in terms of production that ended up on my favorites singles of 2019 list. Anything Like Me is an extremely catchy song that follows a similar formula to Scary Mask in which the style and sound of the song are constantly at war with each other. It’s easily one of the best tracks on this LP and one that has some of the most fruitful production decisions. Fill the Crown is essentially a children’s motivational PSA gone wrong, with some monumental electronic and metal elements that really push forward a sort of a late “Korn” sound, as well as some “Korn-like” lyrical content. 

Sit/Stay is a blatantly Nine Inch Nails inspired track that literally sounds like it could’ve come off of any one of Nine Inch Nails’s three recent EPs (which I consider a good thing) if it weren’t for Poppy’s occasional feathery vocals. Bite Your Teeth sounds like if Metallica meet Disney’s It’s A Small World, so, very appropriate. It has that sort of “parody” vibe going on that tackles the cheesy, motivational lines that we often come by in life when we feel emotionally exhausted. Sick of the Sun can be best described as “casually cynical.” It’s as if the happy instrumentals and vibe of the track are supposed to be normal for such hilariously dark lyrics; it legitimately made me chuckle the first time I heard it. The outro of the LP Don’t Go Outside is a fitting closing track and arguably the most interesting of the 10 songs. It has very harmonious and gorgeous-sounding string-work and some well-organized transitions placed throughout the single. I adore, as well, how the track ends with the lyrical hook of the 2nd track, I Disagree, but sung in a more angelic manner. 

So yeah, I don’t usually review albums, but I thought this one was certainly worth reviewing, because its quality caught me off guard, and considering the hate Poppy has gotten throughout her entire career, I wanted to add some more positive thoughts to the unfortunate mix of hatred Poppy usually receives even in her musical career. All in all…

Poppy’s. I Disagree. Gets. A. Letter. Grade. Of…

Verdict: B+ 

“I Disagree” is now available to stream on most musical platforms.


The Four Special Albums That Made 2019 For Me

I was debating whether to do a top 10 list for my picks for the best albums of the year or just make a small, contained selection of a couple LPs that truly spoke to me, unlike any other albums I heard this year. As you probably already figured out from reading the title, I’ve decided to do the cringy, personal choice by speaking about the four records that emotionally made 2019 a musically special year for me. With that in mind, I still have a handful of LPs to give honorable mentions to:

Lana Del Rey’s Norman F***ing Rockwell,

Lingua Ignota’s Caligula

Thom Yorke’s ANIMA 

Now, onto the kickass stuff…

IGOR – Tyler the Creator

IGOR is a fine example of a very consistent album. Narratively, it’s extremely on topic and gradual. The production and sampling—which, by the way, is easily some of the best production and sampling of this entire decade—is tonally steady. Even the music videos that accompany Tyler’s newest record are visually harmonious. This piece, as a whole, is well balanced. There doesn’t seem to be one specific weak spot hidden somewhere in between tracks. While Tyler’s Flower Boy features most of his principal hits, I personally feel as if IGOR is the concise assembly that truly marked the artist’s greatest achievement yet. 

All Mirrors – Angel Olsen

All Mirrors sounds like the LP love child of Lana Del Rey and The Cranberries. A blissful mingle of 90s and modern-day influence, Angel Olsen has perfected her finest project yet in this 2019 breakout album. It’s a 21st century LP that I would happily describe as nothing less than “epic.” It’s a gathering of the most alluring symphonic instrumentals of the year and a landmark in Olsen’s development as a performer. 

All My Heroes Are Cornballs – JPEGMAFIA

Last year, JPEGMAFIA released a killer experimental hip-hop record known as Veteran. After such a crowning moment in the artist’s career, nobody could’ve fathomed the idea of him topping such a project. Fast forward one year later and the rapper has carelessly outdone his previous record with All My Heroes Are Cornballs. Surprisingly enough, this album doesn’t promote the hard-hitting, up-in-your-face sort of style that made Veteran such a harsh delight to listen to; the LP is rather more concerned in showcasing the restrained exploration of Peggy’s sentiments towards modern-day culture while also being a huge extravaganza of inventive genre-blending. It’s a contemporary hip-hop exemplar that deserves more recognition. 

Oncle Jazz – Men I Trust

Awe, yes. My favorite album of 2019: Men I Trust’s Oncle Jazz. Now, is it a little unfair that 30% of the songs on this record are made up of stunning singles that the band has released in the years of 2017 and 2018? Yes. But, this LP is 24-tracks long. So, in a manner, it sort of makes up for the fact that this album is compiled with a good amount of older hits. To me, Oncle Jazz is the reinvigoration that the dream-pop genre desperately needed. Men I Trust’s two previous LPs didn’t exactly seem to do the trick, but the band’s newest passion-project is just brimming with so many unforgettable gems that truly exemplify colossal signs of maturity. Twin Peaks soundtrack fans, it’s our time to shine. 


My 20 Favorite Songs of 2019 (From 15 Different Artists)

Last year, I made a “20 favorite songs” list for 2018, but it was in a video format on YouTube, so unshockingly, it got removed. At this point, due to YouTube’s destructive nature, I’ve decided to make all my “top” lists for this year just articles. To start off my celebration of this arguably eventful year in the entertainment industry, I have here the 20 favorite songs that came out in 2019 that I personally fancied the most. These songs aren’t ranked, this article is simply just a collage of the most remarkable contributions to music that I got to listen to for the first time during the year of 2019. 

King James – Anderson Paak

The first song on my list is additionally one of the first songs of 2019 that I really dug. King James is a light-hearted, throwback-y soul track that productively travels through quintessential landmarks in history while also explaining Anderson Paak’s current stance on Donald Trump’s desire to build a wall. Whether you agree or disagree with his statements on the matter, you can’t deny that King James is one hell of a groove! 

Lark – Angel Olsen

If I could, I would put most of the tracks off of Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors onto this list, but that plainly wouldn’t be fair. So in a race against time, I narrowed down two Angel Olsen songs to place onto this list, one of them being Lark—her first released single off of All Mirrors. The symphony on this song is truly something beyond epic and Olsen’s emancipating vocal performance on here undoubtedly makes this track one of the finest of her entire career. It’s a six-minute track that goes by in a flash and I’ve gotten so much emotional fulfillment every time that I’ve listened to it. out of it

Spring – Angel Olsen

The second Angel Olsen track that I have on this list is Spring. Opposite to a track like Lark, Spring is one of Olsen’s more tame songs—which isn’t a bad thing. It’s soothing as hell, wavy, and the quintessential 2019 song to put on when you’re feeling like utter s***. I adore the simplistic drum work on it, the gloomy crooning from Olsen, and just the romantic vibes that it unintentionally gives off. 

xanny – Billie Eilish

Time to call out the few people reading this that are most likely cringing in their seats, repulsed by this choice, acting out like they’re some intellectual music listener who can’t stand the exceedingly popular Billie Eilish—a Los Angeles talent who made her first LP when she was only 17 years old. I’ll admit, there are some tracks by the young artist that aren’t particularly for me, but her distinct musical style is such an uncanny departure for the Pop genre that it honestly makes her existence more refreshing than trendy. xanny is Billie Eilish’s best single of the year for many different reasons. From the intriguingly warped vocals to the blend of dismal lyrics and the old-timey “swing” genre, the track is arguably the greatest sign of maturity from the ever-evolving artist.  


BROCKHAMPTON’s BOY BYE happens to be my most listened to song of the year. Of course, the strict two-minute runtime is certainly a player in the reason, but this is easily one of the most energetic and vibrant songs I’ve heard all year. It’s very easy to listen to, tons of fun to jam out to despite its serious lyrical content, and has a fantastic sample in it by Ejazeh. 

La Mala Ordina – clipping., The Rita, Elcamino, Benny The Butcher

There was a great deal of outstanding clipping. tracks that the experimental hip-hop band released this year, but if I had to choose, gun to my head, my favorite of the singles, La Mala Ordina would proudly be my choice. Yes, the last two minutes of the song is pretentious distortion, but the first three minutes of it are devilishly good. Daveed Diggs is such a talented writer and he truly exemplifies his assets in the lyrical content of La Mala Ordina. From paralleling his knowledge of film structure to reality to savagely describing graphic events, La Mala Ordina is clipping. pushing forward a compelling story at a stunning peak. Marvelous song.  

Move Together – Dessert Sessions

Queens of the Stone Age’s collaboration band is back and with some of the zaniness rock tracks I’ve heard all year. Move Together, a song off of Dessert Session’s newest LP Vols. 11 & 12, is a chaotically unbalanced blend of modern-day musical elements and classical rock characteristics. The drum work here is unexpected, the guitar inclusions are expressive, and even some of the electronic components are quite effective. It’s an experimentally delightful contribution from Queens of the Stone Age and company. 

Typical Story – Hobo Johnson

Even though, I didn’t, as a whole, like Hobo Johnson’s new LP The Fall of Hobo Johnson, there were some tracks on the album that I found to be exceptional, one of them being Typical Story. This song is angsty alternative punk music done correctly and that’s a serious praise coming from me considering I’m not a huge fan when it comes to the genre (AKA, the whiny, “my life sucks; I wanna die” genre). Hobo Johnson is able to fully reinvent the fretful, heavy-hearted cliché into something lively and cleverly mocking. It’s definitely a 2019 banger and one that I’m sure most people can have a ball with.

Free the Frail – JPEGMAFIA, Helena Deland

Possibly JPEGMAFIA’s gateway into mainstream appeal, Free the Frail is strangely a very tender song by the vexed experimental rap artist. It’s got one of the catchiest hooks I’ve heard all year and some surprisingly peaceful musical elements that have me head over heels for it. Plus, the closing of the track is accompanied by some gorgeously charming vocals from Helena Deland. 

Kenan Vs. Kel – JPEGMAFIA 

Kenan Vs. Kel might be my favorite R&B track of the year. Its combination of rock and experimental rap is so perfectly implemented and the way it builds it up to that amazingly distorted grunge sound, it’s…yeah…f***ing awesome. It’s so instrumentally diverse but not too compacted with types. The song is holy original and somehow works flawlessly in its execution. Kenan Vs. Kel is a track that I hope heavily inspires more future hip-hop artists to come. 

How to disappear – Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey had a batch of fantastic songs this year thanks to her new album Norman F****** Rockwell. The track that stood out to me the most, however, was undisputedly How to disappear. While some of her other singles like Norman f*****g Rockwell and The greatest certainly have a wide-range appeal for newcomers of Lana’s genre, I feel as if How to disappear was her love letter to her OG style. It’s very melodramatic yet instrumentally attractive, and while it does harken back to her older style, it seems as if she’s conflicted between her new line of happiness and falling back into her mentally stressful times—AKA, the moments when she first started making music. It’s the perfect amalgamation of “new Lana” and “old Lana.” 


Hey, it’s a fellow San Dieagan—one point for us! Lingua Ignota’s newest LP Caligula was experimental folk metal madness that made for a certainly haunting experience like no other, but the track that I took away the most from was undoubtedly MAY FAILURE BE YOUR NOOSE. Like a good handful of songs off of Caligula, Ignota takes us through a wide range of tonal changes, ultimately resulting in this hellish climax of repetition that only gets more and more unsettling as the song progresses. Particularly, though, I think Ignota’s wide range of beautiful vocal fluctuations on this track that cover a lot of the same lines just in different pitches is what makes it stand out from the crowd. 

Numb – Men I Trust

Probably the track that I connected with the most on a personal level, Men I Trust’s Numb was an accurate descriptor of its title. This is possibly the band’s band’smost soothing and transcending track yet—a ballad of weirdly mocking synths and guitar work that all result in this heaven-like track that seems to want to put you straight into a coma. 

Norton Commander (All We Need) – Men I Trust 

Disturbing but at the same time relaxing, Men I Trust’s Norton Commander is a song that evokes two conflicting emotions every time I listen to it. I can’t quite decide if this track is supposed to be an optimistic interpretation of loving until the end or if it’s just a downright ridicule of giving your life away to someone you admire. Either way, it makes for one unforgettable dream-pop track. 


BLOODMONEY is hands down one of the greatest tracks I’ve heard all year, and I never would’ve imagined saying something like that about a Poppy song. This is one of those tracks that you simply have to hear for yourself to understand the hype behind it. It’s vicious as hell, demandingly satanic, the EDM elements are hard-hitting and just outright insane, and it’s probably my favorite single that the artist has made in her entire career. Good job, Poppy. 

Scary Mask (feat. FEVER 333) – Poppy

Scary Mask (feat. FEVER 333) is essentially the Bohemian Rhapsody of alternative metal. In a sense, the track desperately tries to cover all grounds that the genre can deliver through a convoluted structure of ups and downs, followed around by some of the most intricate instrumentals that I’ve heard all year. It’s a trip alright. Check it out. 

The Hanging Man – Swans

I’m beginning to notice a pattern here in which a lot of my choices for “the best songs of 2019” happen to be extremely unnerving. And, if some of the past few tracks haven’t confirmed that for you, Swans newest single The Hanging Man surely will. I think it’s safe to say that this isn’t necessarily a song that is remotely pleasant to listen to, but it is one that summons a lot of varying sensations. The constantly unstable guitar riff and Michael Gira’s unrestrained yapping make for one of Swans’ most deranged singles yet.

Dawn Chorus – Thom Yorke

Yes, it’s a little unfair that this song is accompanied by one of the greatest music videos for an album I’ve ever seen directed by the filmmaking genius, Paul Thomas Anderson. Dawn Chorus is certainly the highlight of ANIMA. It fully embraces the album’s intentions to remind us of the mystery behind dreams. It sounds very robotic, sure, but the content that Thom Yorke creates here feels human. It’s a strange memoir of our unexplainable minds.

A BOY IS A GUN* – Tyler the Creator

Tyler the Creator truly killed it this year in my opinion. Not only did IGOR convert me into a diehard fan of the excessively creative individual, but it also convinced me to go back to Tyler’s predecessor Flower Boy and appreciate it more by a great deal. A BOY IS A GUN* is my favorite track off of IGOR for many reasons. Not only is the sampling and nostalgic instrumentals absolutely irresistible, but a lot of Tyler’s vocal commentary on the track is extremely moving. This is easily one of the greatest songs that I’ve heard of this entire decade, truly. This single is certainly going to be stuck on my playlist for years and years onward.

NEW MAGIC WAND – Tyler the Creator

Now, for my second favorite track off of IGOR, NEW MAGIC WAND. This is an extremely dirty and grimy single that in many cases, is quite an ugly song, but in a manner, that’s what creates the appeal of the track. This is Tyler fully embracing the IGOR (I am so gross and disgusting) mascot to a T. I love it, it’s uniquely compulsive, superbly assembled, and it’s one of Tyler’s greatest songs in my opinion.


Quick-Thoughts: Earl Sweatshirt’s Feet of Clay

I went to Earl’s semi-secretive listening party in Los Angeles for Feet of Clay during Halloween evening, and I swear to you, I felt like I was the only dude jamming and totally digging the track EAST

Feet of Clay is essentially just an extension of Some Raps Songs, but like, in what world is that a “bad” thing? 

That’s right. In no world. Now excuse me, I need to buy a big-ass poster of the album cover for this because it’s taking the #1 spot for coolest LP artwork of the year.

Verdict: B+

“Feet of Clay” is now available to stream.

Men I Trust’s Oncle Jazz is the Musical Highlight of 2019

Men I Trust, an alt-pop/neo-psychedelia band from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, continues their reign of producing the most heavenly-inspired, borderline Twin-Peaks-porn music there is on the platform by gifting fans of the wildly pacifying and transcending tunes with their brand new 24-track (yes, you heard correctly) album, Oncle Jazz.

A few songs on this LP, to be fair though, have been released before in the past two years; Tailwhip being the band’s most popular single in all their 5-year career and placed slightly behind Tailwhip‘s #1 spot, we also have their exotic hit Show Me How. The atmospherically dynamic piece You Deserve This has been around since 2017 and their more recent single Say Can You Here rides victoriously due to its refreshingly speedy pace. Then comes Numb (my favorite song of the year thus far), Seven, and I Hope to Be Around; the three being my all-time personal favorites of Men I Trust’s entire discography. And last but certainly not least, Norton Commander, being their latest bestseller. The track has nearly a half-million views and was released only four months before the album’s official release.

The weight has been lifted off my shoulders because I can safely say the rest of the tracks on Oncle Jazz are nearly as emblematic or as fruitful as the tracks previously mentioned above. Emma Proulx’s vocals on every single track are so heavenly and divinely presented that many may consider them the closest sound that can convince one into a pure, unalloyed relaxation mode.

Oncle Jazz (the track) is an endearing introduction to the album, in fact, all of the short interludes on the LP are exquisite; this is not limited to tracks like Slap Pie which has an orgasmic bassline and immediately right after, Fiero GT which sounds like it was pulled straight out of Pink Floyd’s The Wall with a Men I Trust touch to it. Poodle Mud would have to be my favorite intermission of the group considering its droopy aesthetic but slight edge and rebellious bassline really adds a neat tonal inclusion to the album.

Found Me, All Night, Pines, and Pierre are definitely the newer standouts on the LP that clearly aim to be the more mature pieces of Men I Trust’s discography; the production sounds grander and more applicable to a wider range of music listeners. These four songs additionally have the potential of becoming smash hits for the band since they embrace their pop recipe with vitality. Found Me reminds me of an 80s synth hit (and a good one at that) with Men I Trust’s usual catchy ballads. All Night takes the band a decade further and presents itself as this mixed mutation of a 90s jazz/pop piece that took its tempo down to a much slower pace in order to produce soporific implications. Emma’s vocals even seem to be a bit more prideful than usual on this track. Pines is an interesting song that has graciously authentic acoustics and an unexpected robotic vocal accompaniment that secretively sounds like one of the legendary robots from Daft Punk. Pierre sees Emma distinctly at her most persuasive and boldly takes the spot as the LP’s primary emotional puller. The instrumentals are dazzling especially when it came down to the involvement of flutes which was a delightful surprise.

Tailwhip Revisited is the only track I would have to say I wasn’t too cheery about on Oncle Jazz. It’s a pointless remix that should’ve unquestionably been replaced with their single Lauren, which I’m still left a tad confused on why it isn’t on the album in the first place. Furthermore, one could argue that a lot of their songs are too tonally similar, and while I do think it’s a fair criticism, I think there’s just enough musical diversion in the album as a whole to justify its extensive mood. It’s hard to argue or deeply critique such a gifted group of individuals who produce some of the dreamiest of dreamy melodies. You simply don’t really witness music like this being crafted anymore in the 21st Century.

Men I Trust are doing what The Beatles did for Rock and Roll or what Madonna did for Classic Pop, but, instead, with Dream-Pop. Yes, indeed; Oncle Jazz will be forever remembered as a quintessential landmark for its genre.

Verdict: A-

“Oncle Jazz” is now available to stream on Spotify, Deezer, Play Music, iHeartRadio, and Apple Music.

BROCKHAMPTON’s GINGER: This Time, It’s Personal (feat. Turn off the Bright Lights)

Evan Ambrose and Fabian Garcia sit down to talk about BROCKHAMPTON’s sixth studio album GINGER. Cheers.

FG: When I think of BROCKHAMPTON many things come to mind. I think of their unique production, I think of their impeccable gang of rappers and singers, but one thing I don’t usually think of is how they make me feel. GINGER is an album that makes the listener feel. Starting from NO HALO all the way to VICTOR ROBERTS there’s a lot of emotion that emanates from this incredibly introspective record.

FG: Ever since iridescence I’ve been disappointed in BROCKHAMPTON. I didn’t like the album, I miss Ameer, and quite frankly I was tired of the popularity they had gained following the release of the SATURATION trilogy. In the time since the boy band has traveled a fair amount and Kevin Abstract released another solo album to what I would say received a mixed reception. BROCKHAMPTON took the world by storm in 2017 but the year is 2019 and things have changed, for better or for worse.

EA: GINGER is arguably BROCKHAMPTON’s most “mainstream” release yet. The production design can sometimes sound nearly algorithmic within a few tracks that are evidently structured and performed like modern-day radio pop and R&B songs—SUGAR is a prime example of this. With that said though, it’s undeniably the groups most mature in terms of the profound themes that it graciously brings to the table. The lyrical intricacy is there, and the album seems significantly more focused than any LP the massive group has released in all of their career. The whole affair feels like a succession of deep confessions that they’ve been dying to get out about Ameer’s parting and the rough process that occurred during the creation of iridescence.

FG: It’s clear that they went into GINGER with a clear, defined purpose. This is a nice change of pace since iridescence was an incomprehensible mishmash of broken motifs and instrumentals. Regardless of its “mainstream” appeal (whatever that means) many of their unique quirks still manage to bleed through their production. SUGAR is riddled with vocal filters which is something BROCKHAMPTON has continually experimented with since their SATURATION days. Remember this is the brainchild of 13 separate artists all putting their blood, sweat, and tears into a single record. They’re all-inclusive, anything goes. Even if that anything is a little more accessible.

EA: The tracks I’m head over heels about, I am truly and sincerely head over heels about. IF YOU PRAY RIGHT and BOY BYE are endlessly re-listenable; I can’t count how many times I’ve jammed to them aggressively and they arguably have some of the album’s finest verses. DEARLY DEPARTED might end up being the zenith of the album for two reasons: one, the instrumentals are unprecedentedly epic (taking possible influence from Pink Floyd’s earlier works) and two, every single member’s module are exemplars of pure, emotional R&B perfection.

FG: The standout tracks that come to mind for me are definitely NO HALO, BOY BYE, and I BEEN BORN AGAIN. NO HALO sets a much more somber tone for the rest of the record; something that is rare for the group considering all their openers have been high octane bangers. The feature from Deb Never was also very welcoming. On the flipside, BOY BYE needs absolutely no introduction. Dom spitting absolute gibberish in the first portion still manages to sound pleasing and Merlyn’s chorus is endlessly quotable. I BEEN BORN AGAIN kicked off the series of singles leading up to the release of the record and it was incredibly telling for what the record would eventually end up becoming. All the religious undertones they’ve been using have been really interesting and a good indicator that this record is meant to be taken more seriously.

EA: The singles I’m a bit split down the middle about, unfortunately, are some of the LP’s more publicly applicable singles and some of the LP’s fruitier hits. NO HALO, their first track is alright to me. I think it has a lot of greatness going for it; all the members plus Deb Never, who is a solid feature on the track (like Fabian mentioned), share fairly sentimental parts and I’m sure most will be won over by it. When it comes down to it though, there is nothing to the song that sounds distinctive, that makes it stand out; it emulates like a basic bittersweet pop tune. What attracts me to BROCKHAMPTON has always been how divergent they’ve sounded when compared to any other R&B artist or “boy band” out there. I have this concern with a couple other songs on GINGER to an even higher degree. SUGAR, as I mentioned before, sounds frankly uninspired in its instrumental presentation as well as its excessively auto-tuned vocals (sorry Fabian). GINGERthe single, not the album—is like if the Black Eyed Peas and Daft Punk were forcefully contracted to make a song together and both decided that no passion should be devoted to the project because it was just something that the artists were required to do. The instrumentals for LOVE ME FOR LIFE are amateur and the vocal performances have this “on-purpose” laziness to them which just did not sound engaging one bit—except for Merlyn’s part; you go, sir.

FG: In some respects, I can agree with Evan. LOVE ME FOR LIFE isn’t my favorite either. However, I genuinely feel like on most fronts BROCKHAMPTON was trying to challenge themselves on this record. All tracks take a seriously deep look at themselves and the ugliest aspects of their lives. Some of the deeper cuts do fall short in some regards but in its entirety, it’s a meticulously crafted package. VICTOR ROBERTS ties it up affectionately with a beautiful bow; much like the end of a letter, it’s a bitter goodbye to a portion of their lives that they’ll inevitably have to revisit time and time again.

EA: Yes, indeed. I whole-heartedly believe that, in the end, GINGER undoubtedly has more successors than it does duds. I BEEN BORN AGAIN has an interesting structure, and carries some pretty nifty piano key-ins and uses its artificial percussions effectively. Plus, Matt’s verse is tremendously catchy. HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU is a very haunting intro into ST. PERCY—another track that I went bonkers for considering its simplistic but practical bass line offered a bewitchment to its totality. BIG BOY starts off rough with, again, its excessive utilization of auto-tune, but the track thereon after only gets grander and grander. Victor Roberts portion on…VICTOR ROBERTS…is profoundly written and even more profoundly performed. As negative as this may sound, that track does sort of sound like a Macklemore song, but like a decent Macklemore song, like something like Wing$ from The Heist album.

FG: If I had to give any sort of serious criticism it would be DEARLY DEPARTED. The entire song is really just a harsh criticism of Ameer Vann. On paper, this should be one of the most memorable tracks from the whole record but in reality, it falls flat on its face. From awkwardly flowing verses from Kevin Abstract, to the melodramatic verse from Dom, the track collapses in on itself. Whatever, Emmanuel is out now.

EA: Wow, I see how it is.

FG: That’s a first.

EA: Bitch.

FG: Mhm, sure.

FG: Anyways, GINGER has some of BROCKHAMPTON’S most unforgettable moments. It’s a calculated, well-crafted, introspective piece of work that sits comfortably among the likes of their most acclaimed pieces of work.

EA: I think it’s indeed, fair to say that GINGER outdoes BROCKHAMPTON’s previous LP iridescence. While iridescence did have plenty more “bangers” in its catalog, its unquestionable that GINGER functions as an overall album much more capably. It’s an interesting step in the right direction and one could only hope that the collection will gain them a god-like rise to fame—one that they’ve, for quite some time, deserved.

Fabian’s Verdict: Great

Evan’s Verdict: B

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“GINGER” is now available to stream on literally everything.