Okay, while 2020 was a less than ideal year, what came out of it was some personal growth and amazing music. As many of these artists became inspired during their time in isolation, they were able to create some groundbreaking albums that I would like to share (in no particular order).
- Wake Up, Sunshine - All Time Low
Wake Up, Sunshine is the eighth studio album of Maryland four-piece All Time Low. It comes after their previous album was met with mixed reviews as it took the band’s typically upbeat tunes in a darker direction. When recording this album, All Time Low split their time between their drummer Rian’s studio and a rented house in Palm Springs in an effort to hone their focus on the music and not on studio rental schedules.
I have been listening to All Time Low since their 2013 release Dont Panic: It’s Longer Now! Since then, they have consistently put out amazing albums that document their growth as an ensemble, with each album learning from and improving upon the last. This album is one that I always find myself listening to since its release; especially during lockdown I was able to play this album for weeks on end without getting tired of it as it has so much to offer its listeners, from its iconic pop-punk anthems to collaborations with blackbear and The Band CAMINO. My personal favorite tracks are "Trouble Is…," "Pretty Venom (Interlude)," "Favorite Place (feat. The Band CAMINO)," "Clumsy," and "Basement Noise."
Wake Up, Sunshine linked here
- Tickets to My Downfall - Machine Gun Kelly
This album comes as a project of love from the minds of Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker as the rocker’s first entirely pop-punk album following a past collaboration with Barker. This is an album that truly takes you back to 2005 with the energy and attention to artistic detail that went into producing this album. It pays homage to early 2000s pop-punk while incorporating MGK’s previous styles through its collaborations with artists like Halsey, Trippie Redd, blackbear, iann dior, YUNGBLUD, and Bert McCracken of the Used. I am a strong believer that there are few, if any, skips on this album because it takes you on an emotional journey from beginning to end. My personal favorite tracks are "title track," "forget me too (feat. Halsey)," "lonely," "jawbreaker," and "bodybag (feat. YUNGBLUD & Bert McCracken of The Used)."
Tickets to My Downfall linked here
- weird! - YUNGBLUD
In his sophomore album, YUNGBLUD shows his diversity in what he is able to write and perform, from acoustic ballads to punk anthems. YUNGBLUD stated that with this album he wanted to represent all the different feelings that we experience in the human condition while blurring the lines between the black and white of everyday life. As he was finishing recording this album, Los Angeles went into lockdown trapping YUNGBLUD and his team there due to flight restrictions. This prompted YUNGBLUD to film and release the music video for the title track “weird!” which was filmed in their rented house on an iPhone. This release set the tone for the world that would soon follow suit as we truly were in a “weird time of life”. This is an album that you need to listen to from beginning to end as it chronically follows an order of high and low energy tunes. My personal favorite tracks are "teresa," "acting like that (feat. Machine Gun Kelly)," and "it’s quiet in beverly hills."
weird! linked here
- The Bastards - Palaye Royale
Palaye Royale is a band that I found on a whim in 2016 when they were just starting out with 3 or 4 singles out; these singles were hinting at a loose storyline and this album is that story being fully realized. This band is made up of a band of three brothers, Sebastian, Remington, and Emerson, which makes their music even more cohesive as they all have the same vision when it comes to writing.
With Remington’s unique voice on top of their masterful writing, it creates a very unique musical experience that I recommend to everyone who reads this to check out. Amidst the lockdown when the band was releasing promo for this album, they were scheduled to put out a music video for the first track but were unable to. In response they released a virtual music video that I think was super well done given the circumstances surrounding the pandemic. My personal favorite tracks are "Lonely," "Nightmares," and "Redeemer."
The Bastards linked here
- Superbloom - Ashton Irwin
This project of 5 Seconds of Summer drummer Ashton Irwin was born during early lockdown. When he saw his schedule empty and no previous plans for recording, he took it upon himself to work that songwriting muscle to exercise his own artistic advancement. This process of writing, re-writing, and experimenting turned into Superbloom.
The best way to describe this album is a perfect mixture of 90s grunge and psychedelic rock. It has a tone that lies somewhere between Hot Fuss by The Killers and AM by Arctic Monkeys. This album definitely tells a story all its own with its depth and complexity of each song’s layers of sound that create a one of a kind sonic story. My personal favorite tracks are "SCAR" and "Greyhound" but this is an album that keeps drawing me in time and time again.
Superbloom linked here
Let's hope that 2021 brings as good of a playlist as the one 2020 left us with!