What To Shop For – 2020

2020 sucked like no other year has sucked before.  But there were some good points (and not just in America), such as QRO's top-rated records this year....
What To Shop For - 2015

What To Shop For - 2020

2020 sucked like no other year has sucked before.  But there were some good points (and not just in America), such as QRO’s top-rated records this year:

 

 

 

Abysmal Dawn – Phylogenesis
The long awaited fifth studio album from Los Angeles based death metal band Abysmal Dawn is nothing short of a masterwork. Read more…
Abysmal Dawn : Phylogenesis
Aluna – Renaissance
Aluna Francis institutes her arresting art heist of a new album entitled Renaissance. Read more…
Aluna Francis : Renaissance
Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
So many people who had shocked & surprised back when, fail to do so in the here & now. Read more…
Fiona Apple : Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Nicole Atkins – Italian Ice
Being a throwback used to be a bad thing, as it meant out of step with whatever was new, ‘of the now’. Read more…
Nicole Atkins : Italian Ice
Gary Barlow – Music Played By Humans
With gusto swings Gary Barlow, down the cockle stairs of calamity like a calypso-confettied Cnut The Great. Read more…
Gary Barlow : Music Played By Humans
Beach Bunny – Fake Honeymoon
The first full length album by Chicago based indie-pop quartet Beach Bunny is a hot mess, a tasty, fun, musical mess. Read more…
Beach Bunny : Honeymoon
Matt Berry – Phantom Birds
Matt Berry of What We Do In the Shadows and Year of the Rabbit also has a strong musical side. Read more…
Matt Berry : Phantom Birds
Phoebe Bridgers – Copycat Killer EP
2020 has sucked for most people, but Phoebe Bridgers is having a well-deserved great year. Read more…
Phoebe Bridgers : Copycat Killer EP
Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
Your best friend bearing her soul in the best way possible. Read more…
Phoebe Bridgers : Punisher
Bright Eyes – Down In the Weeds, Where the World Once Was
Return record Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was isn’t the exact Bright Eyes you remember, not a retread, but where we are & what we need today. Read more…
Bright Eyes : Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was
Don Bryant – You Make Me Feel
Soul veteran Don Bryant has returned to his roots, both figuratively and literally on his newest record, You Make Me Feel. Read more…
Don Bryant : You Make Me Feel
Cannabis Corpse – Nug So Vile
It would be easy to dismiss Cannabis Corpse as just another parody act cut from the same regal cloth as “Weird Al” Yankovic or Spinal Tap. Read more…
Cannabis Corpse : Nug So Vile
Chandeen – Mercury Retrograde
How to describe Chandeen, the solo female voice of Julia Beyer, is both somewhat lighthearted and brooding. Read more…
Chandeen : Mercury Retrograde
Cloquet – New Drugs
Cloquet are one of the few exceptions to the rule of mundane electronic indie-pop by the thousands these days. Read more…
Cloquet : New Drugs
Cub Sport – Like Nirvana
Since 2016’s luscious and lauded This Is Our Vice, Cub Sport has shed many heavyweight spiritual skins. Read more…
Cub Sport - Like Nirvana
The Dears – Lovers Rock
This might not be the right time for The Dears’ hopeful grandeur – or exactly the right time. Read more…
The Dears : Lovers Rock
Delta Spirit – What Is There
Delta Spirit return – and are once again as great as ever with What Is There. Read more…
Delta Spirit : What Is There
John Dennis – Mortal Flames
While classical folk and even bluegrass inspired, John Dennis, is at least trying to do something new on Mortal Flames, and why not? Read more…
John Dennis : Mortal Flames
Doves – The Universal Want
The world is so, so different from 2010, so can the Doves reclaim their greatness? They sure do, tapping into The Universal Want. Read more…
Doves : The Universal Want
Everything Everything – RE-ANIMATOR
Fortunately, we have Cottonopolis creatures to the rescue with this daredevil dance into the donnybrook – and not a moment too soon. Read more…
Everything Everything : RE-ANIMATOR
Brian Fallon – Local Honey
Brian Fallon comes from a uniquely down-to-earth perspective. Read more…
Brian Fallon : Local Honey
The Flaming Lips – American Head
The Flaming Lips have put out another impressive, connecting album in American Head. Read more…
The Flaming Lips : American Head
Hannah Georgas – All That Emotion
Too often with sad, emotional records, all that sadness overwhelms everything else, making for an album that might be powerful, but one doesn’t actually want to listen to it. Read more…
Hannah Georgas : All That Emotion
Ghost of Vroom – Ghost of Vroom 2
Mike Doughty’s teamed up with longtime live backing band man Andrew “Scrap” Livingston as Ghost of Vroom. Read more…
Ghost of Vroom : Ghost of Vroom 2
Selena Gomez – Rare
The new release by pop diva Selena Gomez is a mostly successful study of break-ups, rebounds, and confidence, now out. Read more…
Selena Gomez : Rare
Gorillaz – Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez
The now now now is 2020, so naturally Albarn has recruited another murder’s row of musicians for his “episodes” that have made up the impressive Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez. Read more…
Gorillaz - Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez
Gracie and Rachel – Hello Weakness, You Make Me Strong
Welcome to the human whispering gallery that is Gracie and Rachel, baroque pop bromeliads in musical moonlight, and timbre twins who give you that very experience on Hello Weakness, You Make Me Strong. Read more…
Gracie and Rachel : Hellow Weakness, You Make Me Strong
GRANT – Vertigo EP
GRANT, Sweden’s best musical export since the spritely divinity of Robyn. Read more…
GRANT : Vertigo EP
Great Peacock – Forever Worse Better
Great Peacock are a band in need of a venue, meaning with their, self-published album, Forever Worse Better, they show a spirit of wander and “High Wind”, to quote a title. Read more…
Great Peacock : Forever Worse Better
Grimes – Miss Anthropocene
In recent times, Claire Boucher, a.k.a. Grimes, was becoming more known as a celebrity than as an actual musician. Read more…
Grimes : Miss Anthropocene
HAIM – Women In Music Pt. III
With Women in Music Pt. III, they’ve made an excellent and diverse record, seeing them live up to their potential. Read more…
HAIM : Women In Music Pt. III
Handsome Ghost – Some Still Morning
Handsome Ghost specializes in making a leviathan ache smell fragrant with cloves. Read more…
Handsome Ghost : Some Still Morning
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Reunions
Once upon a time, country music had a revolutionary reputation. Read more…
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit : Reunions
Japandroids – Massey Fucking Hall
We all miss live music in this current crisis, and what’s worse, we have no idea when it’s going to come back. Read more…
Japandroids : Massey Fucking Hall
The Kills – Little Bastards
The hunting is very good in the wild fields of The Kills’ Little Bastards. Read more…
The Kills : Little Bastards
Lady Gaga – Chromatica
Chromatica, the sixth studio album by pop icon Lady Gaga is the perfect album. Read more…
Lady Gaga : Chromatica
Land of Talk – Indistinct Conversations
QRO has loved Elizabeth Powell’s Land of Talk for a long time. Read more…
Land of Talk : Indistinct Conversations
Larkin Poe – Self-Made Man
New Larkin Poe album Self Made Man ups their game even more, thanks to a wry authenticity and a ton of grit. Read more…
Larkin Poe : Self Made Man
Local H – Lifers
Local H has been around long enough to make three generations of music fans either love them or hate them by now. Read more…
Local H : Lifers
Anya Marina – Queen of the Night
Marina makes beautiful music all her own, with the overstuffed Queen of the Night. Read more…
Anya Marina : Queen of the Night
Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter
Laura Marling long ago became an indie-folk darling, yet she is still able to do even more. Read more…
Laura Marling : Song For Our Daughte
Melanie C – Melanie C
On her eponymous eighth solo album, Melanie C has levitated from just such a leave-taking dressed in the plumes of a firebird. Read more…
Melanie C : Melanie C
Midnight Oil – The Makarrata Project
Midnight Oil took their time, but have carefully crafted the powerful Makarrata Project, a seven-song mini-album that focuses on aboriginal rights & stories. Read more…
Midnight Oil : The Makarrata Project
The Milk Carton Kids – The Only Ones
The Milk Carton Kids are fairly niche, but really what they are is classical folk, not in their sound primarily, but in a tone that sets through the need to emote a thousand feelings. Read more…
The Milk Carton Kids : The Only Ones
Mac Miller – Circles
Mention Mac Miller anytime in the last year and the first thoughts turn to his death, rather than his music. Read more…
Mac Miller : Circles
The Monochrome Set – Fabula Mendax
The Monochrome Set have further enhanced their legacy on Fabula Mendax, and why not? Lead singer Bid has never lacked creative ideas. Read more…
The Monochrome Set : Fabula Mendax
Morrissey – I Am Not a Dog On a Chain
Hopefully no matter how many silly publication spars, ill advised political battles, mortality bouts, or “The Secret of Music (Industries)” notions Morrissey has, some of this old sense of touching and really reaching vulnerabilities sticks around. Read more…
Morrissey : I Am Not a Dog On a Chain
Bob Mould – Blue Hearts
Bob Mould has been making great music for so long now, it’s amazing that he still has so much to say. Read more…
Bob Mould : Blue Hearts
Bob Mould – Distortion: 1989-2019
For the twentieth anniversary of him going solo, Bob Mould has put it all together the absolutely massive, 24-CD collection, Distortion 1989-2019, which contains all of his solo & Sugar studio albums, live records, and more. Read more…
Bob Mould : Disruption: 1989-2019
My Bus – Our Life In the Desert
My Bus is comprised of a pair of seasoned Belfast (Northern Ireland) born musicians with a long shared history coming back from an almost three decade collaborative hiatus to give us a remarkable new and innovative album. Read more…
My Bus : Our Life In the Desert
Old 97’s – Twelfth
Old 97’s alt-country has been ‘country alt-fans like’ for a while now, but so has alt-country as a whole. Read more…
Old 97's : Twelfth
Parsnip – When the Trees Bear Fruit
If you know music history very well, bending your mind toward all-girl musical collectives should cause an intense gradient of possibility and intermixture to insta-color your mind. Read more…
Parsnip : When the Tree Bears Fruit
Pedaljets – Twist the Lens
If music is going anywhere right now, aside from towards pop, it is mostly just more foreboding. Read more…
PedalJets : Twist the Lens
Elvis Perkins – Creation Myths
Elvis Perkins is an unusual individual, even for alternative music. Read more…
Elvis Perkins : Creation Myths
The Postal Service – Everything Will Change
At the start of this century/millennium, Benjamin Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello began sharing music through the USPS, and the rest is history. Read more…
The Postal Service - Everything Will Change
Protomartyr – Ultimate Success Today
Protomartyr takes their sound to new highs, as the world goes to new lows. Read more…
Protomartyr : Ultimate Success Today
The Psychedelic Furs – Made of Rain
You would expect them to be mellow, as most bands become when they’re in their late 50s, but this is not the case with the Furs. Read more…
The Psychedelic Furs : Made of Rain
Rose City Band – Summerlong & Rose City Band
Ripley Johnson’s Rose City Band, on Thrill Jockey Records, has two new releases and debut LP, self-titled, starts out shining, emotional and the overall sentimentality of the psych-trip is stunning. Read more…
Rose City Band : Summerlong
The Savants of Soul – The Savants of Soul
The Savants of Soul are an up-and-coming group clearly attached to the energetic roots rather than pain of soul and Southern jazz, and all the better for it. Read more…
The Savants of Soul - The Savants of Soul
Soul Asylum – Hurry Up and Wait
One has to think Dave Pirner would intrinsically, sardonically, full-heartedly approve of the manner in which this review came to be. Read more…
Soul Asylum : Hurry Up and Wait
Charles Spearin & Josefin Runsteen – Thank God, The Plague Is Over
Skilled instrumentalists Charles Spearin & Josefin Runsteen embrace life on the improvised classical Thank God, The Plague Is Over. Read more…
Charles Spearin & Josefin Runsteen : Thank God, The Plague Is Over
Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You
When you’re a long-running, massively successful artist, what can you do on a new record? Read more…
Bruce Springsteen : Letter To You
The Strokes – The New Abnormal
Ever since The Strokes broke out in the biggest way since Nirvana, with 2001’s Is This It, every subsequent record has been seen as a pale imitation of their hit. Read more…
The Strokes : The New Abnormal
Sylvan Esso – Free Love
On Free Love, Sylvan Esso use the power of stripped beats & vocals to convey something much more meaningful. Read more…
Sylvan Esso : Free Love
This Is the Kit – Off Off On
Too often, both intricateness and beauty get written off in music. Read more…
This Is the Kit : Off Off On
Tombs – Monarchy of Shadows EP
Brooklyn based black metal band Tombs, led by vocalist and guitarist Mike Hill, have what might just be their finest work with the release of the EP, Monarchy of Shadows. Read more…
Tombs : Monarch of Shadows EP
Toots & The Maytals – Got To Be Tough
Frederick “Toots” Hibbert was a technicolor Daddy Warbeats of pressing social issues many decades before they were ever called that. Read more…
Toots & The Maytals : Got To Be Tough
Van Darien – Levee
Levee is all alternative sounding, wide open sky artist, and of a female protaganist. Read more…
Van Darien : Levee
Rufus Wainwright – Unfollow the Rules
Rufus has returned with his grand Wainwright flourish on the excellent Unfollow the Rules. Read more…
Rufus Wainwright : Unfollow the Rules
Washed Out – Purple Noon
Many chillwave artists have disappeared like a wave hitting the shore, but as Washed Out Ernest Greene’s released another impressive album, Purple Noon. Read more…
Washed Out : Purple Noon
Curtis Waters – Pity Party
Pity Party is an album flipping two high-held birds at emotional nyctinasty, opting instead to open its petals ever the wider the darker things get. Read more…
Curtis Waters : Pity Party
Wax Machine – Earthsong of Silence
Wax Machine is an interestingly mixed band, a newcomer that is always slightly adrift in a stellar daylight funk. Read more…
Wax Machine : Earthsong of Silence
Andrew Weiss & Friends – The Golden Age of Love & Chemistry
If alternative artists are always suspect to hyperbole, it is likewise with pop and Americana, but occasionally artists actually claim a certain niche, and this is a good thing. Read more…
Andrew Weiss and Friends : The Golden Age of Love and Chemistry
Wire – Mind Hive
Mind Hive, following in the shoes of Silver/Lead, marks even more change and growth. Read more…
Wire : Mind Hive
Wire – 10:20
Wire hit all the right notes with 10:20, a Record Store Day Release, delayed because of the situation much like this review, but more to the point, they rock on this compilation of demos, reissues, and remixes. Read more…
Wire : 10:20
Wolf Parade – Thin Mind
Wolf Parade know how to deliver their signature sound, while also keeping it fresh. Read more…
Wolf Parade : Thin Mind
Yolkdrop – Yolkdrop
A new and spirited sounding cultural commentary over guitar is common in the alternative music scene these days. Read more…
Yolkdrop : Yolkdrop

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