20 Releases That Got Us Through 2020

December 30, 2020 by Elena Atkinson-Sporle

Wow, what a year it’s been! The world certainly changed quickly and change is always hard, especially when it throws us into a rough sea of uncertainty. But just as light pierces through the biggest of waves, so too has light passed through the thick layer of ‘wtf’ that was 2020. Here are 20 musical releases that lit up our hearts in 2020. So, in no particular order…

1. This Kind of Love – Peter the Human Boy

I first heard “This Kind of Love” while cycling through the fallen leaves at an autumn dusk. The song wins our catchiest song award. Peter the Human Boy is known for their dreamy nostalgic pop tunes and this is one of their best. It’s a real ‘sway and yearn for that one blissful summer’ number. 

2. Heartbreak Hotel – Siamese Elephants

The indie-rock single from Siamese Elephants woos us with fresh soundscapes, dreamy backing vocals and bitey early 2000s guitar riffs. “Heart Break Hotel” is an easy-to-bop-to singalong track.

3. Kintsugi Body - Bondi Fern

Bondi Fern’s debut album “Kintsugi Body” is one of the most intimate release on our list. Think Nai Palm’s solo stuff but with a bunch of sparkling vocal harmonies. Wondering songs, a pure, impassioned voice and a lightly distorted guitar, Bondi Fern makes full use of the space she leaves herself. 

4. Twenty to 20 – The L.L.A

It’s raw, it’s emotional, it’s live – it’s exactly what the doctor ordered in 2020. The storytelling on The L.L.A.‘s recent record transported us away from our four walls and into a bitesize pop-rock experience.

Fun Fact: Twenty to 20 gets its name from the date of its recording – 22.2.2020. 

5. Two, One – Gazelle & the Bear

Groovy, satisfying, emotive with a great video. Gazelle & the Bear produce songs about love, joy and optimism. Their songs are satisfyingly realistic yet still pander to the romantic within us. We can’t wait for their album “Weird Shaped Clouds” to drop on January 29th. 

6. Mein Drittes – Damion Lee

Hip-hop from Bayern. Yeah, you read that right. And Damion Lee is acutely aware of how unique he is. This album documents his experience.

7. Fahrräder & Drumracks - Fellosoph & Edi Flaneur

Rapper Fellowsoph & Edi Flaneur‘s much-awaited debut album “Fahrräder & Drumracks” hits the mark. The high production value and convincingly-delivered Viennese rap pop through a nostalgic West Coast hip-hop backdrop. 

8. I’ll Be Alright – AYGYUL

“I’ll Be Alright” sounds like a message from AYGYUL to herself during the storm of a year: “it’s time to slow down”. The track is easy to listen to with its beautiful soundscapes and silky vocals over choppy electronic samples. There’s also an amazing treat at the end of the piece! We didn’t expect that…

9. Emmanuelle – Duane Forrest

Ontario born Duane Forrest released this sweet and simple acoustic guitar/voice treat during the chaos of 2020. “Emmanuelle” is quietly stunning: the harmonically bossa-inspired piece flies us to the Mediterranian and flows over us like a soft, sea-salted breeze.

10. No Room – Marley Wildthing

A sweet pop single with a hint of country feel, Marley Wildthing‘s “No Room” leaves us feeling ready to take on the world again. The dynamic, atmospheric ending caught us by surprise!

11. Demos en Cuarentena – Manu Vera Tudela

“Demos en Cuarentena” is a collection of optimistic, gentle Latin songs by singer-songwriter Manu Vera Tudela. Acoustic guitars, drum machines, string arrangements, and sing-along melodies make for easy listening and positive vibes.

12. Pursuit of Groove - Geo Popoff

An accoladed beatboxer and incredible live performer, Geo Popoff released his debut studio album, “Pursuit of Groove”, this year. With satisfying wordplay and danceable loops, Geo uses his many talents to take on current affairs and personal experience.

13. Winnow - Simeon Walker

The Leeds-based composer-pianist creates hauntingly beautiful atmospheres on his 38min ‘contemporary classical’ album, “Winnow”. We love the recurring themes, the dynamics of the soaring strings, the intimacy of the solo piano. Walker matches his piano with an 8-piece chamber ensemble that includes drums and an instrument we’d never heard before: the ondes martenot.

14. Circles – Sakura

“Circles” places us in our teenage bedroom. We get strong 90s vibes from Sakura‘s moody synth-infused pop track that treats us to some crisp distortion and catchy choruses. A playlist topper.

15. Mestizo – Looprana

Hailing from southern Chile, Looprana visits his roots in his album “Mestizo”. Uniting Mapuche, Indian, Native American and African influences, Looprana concocts electronic healing, downtempo and trance tracks.

16. Good Luck – KYTES

Every song on KYTES‘s latest album will embed itself within you upon first listen. Catchy, danceable and easy to listen to, “Good Luck” would make for a great party soundtrack – remember what a party was? Yeah, neither do we.

17. Worldpop – Ronja Maltzahn

Charming. Insightful. “Worldpop” gives us a glimpse of the wide world through the intimacy of these travellers’ eyes. Ronja writes storytelling lyrics in 7 languages – a delightful mix instrumentally coupled by an array of colourful instruments.

18. Cold Cold Heart – Yunger

Wow, this song is a trip. If you need to access the sad within you, “Cold Cold Heart” will help you find it. This vulnerable, minimal arrangement lifts Yunger‘s raw, emotive voice to the forefront. We get early Bon Iver vibes and approve greatly.

19. Hello My Heart – Anne Eck

The uplifting pop ballad “Hello My Heart” – complete with a choir and dramatic, tom-heavy drums – hits all the right places. Anne’s powerful voice shines through as she sings of connection – to ourselves and to others – just what we needed to feel this year (and beyond)!

20. Caramel + Azure Prologue - Ulrich Drechsler

“Caramel” and “Azure Prologue” are both projects within Drechsler’s Liminal Zone. The two releases are starkly different in sound and experience but are unified in their ability to completely immerse us in unique soundscapes laced with Drechsler’s signature clarinet.

Read more about the Liminal Zone projects in our recent interview with Ulrich Drechsler.

What are your favourite releases of 2020?

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Ellie Atkinson-Sporle
Content Creation, Storytelling

Ellie is a storyteller for Originally from the UK, she earned her BA Music degree from Falmouth University in 2018. Ellie fell in love with Vienna while travelling and has been performing, writing and exploring here ever since. Storytelling and initiating discussions are two of her greatest passions.