Bring Me The Horizon – POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR – EMO. Even though this is technically an EP, this album has been on constant rotation since its release. It’s quite a bit harder than last year’s Amo (my second favorite album of 2019) but it’s all about the pandemic and feelings that Oli and the band were feeling. And quite frankly, they match mine spot on. Parasite Eve talks about the virus and the corrupt government around it as does Obey. My favorite song on the album is Teardrops whose lyrics hit me pretty hard. The album ends with a duet with Amy Lee from Evanescence. At first listen it seems like a breakup in an abusive relationship, but the meaning is much deeper. It’s actually about climate change, and Amy Lee is the earth while Oli is the human race. And the title kind of tells it all: “One Day All The Butterflies Left Will Be In Your Chest As You March Towards Your Death”
The Used – Heartwork – EMO/PUNK. The Used are another Emo Punk band who I’ve been a fan of since they formed in the early 2000’s. They still put out stellar music, and this album has a lot of references to classic literature woven in, so it’s quite cool for that as well. It’s fairly heavy and can be screamy as well, but it fit my 2020 mood perfectly. Songs like Blow Me, Paradise Lost, and Bloody Nose all are heavy songs that hit you in the gut, then you have club tracks like Cathedral Bell, Clean Cut Heals and Lighthouse that show another great side of the band. Lastly, I always smile when listening to Wow, I Hate This Song. I love this album.
Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets To My Downfall – POP PUNK. Machine Gun Kelly is best known as a rapper and the actor who played Tommy Lee in The Dirt on Netflix. But this is quite a departure for him. He enlisted Travis Barker from Blink 182 to create a fantastic pop punk album. I wasn’t expecting much but was blown away. Forget Me Too, Kiss Kiss, Bloody Valentine, Drunk Face, My Ex’s Best Friend and Jawbreaker are all fantastic. If you like Blink, you’ll like this album, and it’s great to see this kind of music having success again.
Local H – LIFERS – ALTERNATIVE. Local H is a Chicago band that has been around since the early nineties as a two-piece rock band. I’ve been a fan forever and have seen them several times live, and they never disappoint. So, when they released a new album I was really excited, and they delivered. LIFERS is blistering, noisy, catchy and the lyrics are very anti the current presidential administration which I could get behind. Songs like High Wide and Stupid, Hold That Thought, Innocents, Turn the Bow and the epic seven and ten minute songs Beyond The Valley of Snakes and Defy and Surrender were all fantastic. Best album of their career over 25 years after they started.
Kesha – High Road – Pop. I have always loved Kesha’s music, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. She has a great voice, has overcome a lot, and put out a fantastic pop album. She has a no fucks to give attitude that I’ve always admired and it’s on full display here. The lyrics here spell it out pretty well “And I love, singing ‘fuck’ in all my songs, ‘Cause the only people who got the time to be offended have probably never gotten off.” There are a lot of club bangers like My Own Dance, Kinky, and Birthday Suit (with a Super Mario Bros. sample) some more straight-ahead power pop like High Road, Shadow and Honey, and then some songs that will really hit your heart like Resentment and Father Daughter Dance. This album makes me happy, and I bet it will make you happy too.
YUNGBLUD – weird! – ALTERNATIVE/POP/POP PUNK. This album really lives up to the title as it veers all over the place style-wise, but that’s one of the things I love the most about it. Dominic has straight ahead rockers, pop tracks, punkish tracks and all of it is driven by his emotional vocals and lyrics hitting the current state of the world. There are tons of great songs on this album, but check out cotton candy, strawberry lipstick, mars, god save me but don’t drown me out, weird! And it’s quiet in beverly hills. It came out in December but immediately jumped into my best albums of the year.
Anti-Flag – 20/20 Division – PUNK. Anti-Flag is a socially conscious activist punk band who have been around since the late 80’s. This album was very pointed towards the current political climate and administration, with songs like Christian Nationalist, Hate Conquers All, Un-American, and It Went Off Like A Bomb. I’ve always been a fan of intelligent inclusive punk rock and these guys put out one hell of an album. Highly recommended.
Palaye Royale – The Bastards – ALT ROCK. Palaye Royale have a glam, classic-rock vibe but with a snarling urgency and theatrical undertones. Like a darker, much heavier Panic At The Disco. Songs like Anxiety and Massacre, The New American Dream both attack with heavy guitars and distorted vocals, then you have the absolute dance-rock of Hang on to Yourself and equally funky screamy Fucking with My Head. This is a fantastic album and has a particularly great lyric: “I was born to be, anything, that I wanted to be. Raised to be fucking mean, I’m a masterpiece.”
Stand Atlantic – Pink Elephant – POP PUNK. If you are a fan of Paramore, you will love this album. Stand Atlantic are a great female led band with excellent vocals and catchy songs. This was a bright spot of happiness in a year that was pretty dark overall. There truly is no bad song on this album, but bright spots include Evilgo, Shh!, Blurry and Like That. If you want to be dancing around the room and in a good mood, this is the album.
Halsey – Manic – POP. Halsey is one of my favorite pop vocalists, and she released a fantastic album at the beginning of the year. Graveyard, You Should Be Sad, Finally//Beautiful Stranger, Be Kind and the awesome Without Me (which to be fair is an old single.) Look for some of the acoustic and stripped versions she has released too because those really show off the emotion and strength of her voice. You’ll also find her guest singing on the YUNGBLUD and Machine Gun Kelly albums that are in my tops of the year as well.
Some honorable mentions include Green Day, Pearl Jam, The Strokes, All Time Low, Blue October, Smashing Pumpkins, Hollywood Undead and a very political Bon Jovi album. Thank you to all the artists putting out music during this shit storm of a year. It helped me cope. If you want to check out the best songs from my top 10 albums, you can check it out on Apple Music!