Monthly Music Round-Up — October 2020
The colder days have well and fully taken hold. And with the prospect of the seasonal change, as well as a second lockdown, I feel that it is more important than ever to discover all of the incredible new music out there.
As well, I feel that I must start this article with an apology for it’s lateness. This month for me has been an ugly mixture of bleak days and hectic ones. But I still thank my lucky stars that I had all of the fantastic music of October to help me through it.
So without further ado, let’s begin my penultimate monthly roundup of the abnormal year of 2020.
1: Ranking Records That I’ve Reviewed
In this first segment, I’m ranking all of the albums and EP’s that I have reviewed over the month, which includes those I have published on Medium, and also those I have written on behalf of Indie Top 39.
#11 — HEALTH — DISCO4 :: PART 1
Of all of the records I had been through in the month of October, I would say that the newest project from, and my introductory body of work to HEALTH was the only record on this list that I would deem as generally disappointing.
Along with the confusing fact that despite being part of the group’s series of remix albums, it is not actually a remix album at all, but the wildly different styles and aesthetics on this thing just clash in a really ugly way, with some of the tracks even taking this further by having a respective featured artist mix poorly with HEALTH themselves, in terms of stylistic fusion.
#10 — Jack Swing — Get What’s Mine For You
Don’t be fooled by the placement of this newest EP from the Pittsburgh group that is Jack Swing; I actually really enjoyed the exciting mixture of musical styles, such as blues, funk, rock and indie. In fact, the only real reason that it is as low as it is, is mostly down to its duration. With a total of three tracks and a runtime that only just goes over 10 minutes, the experience obviously felt a little brief. Other than that however, it is still a project I would definitely recommend.
#9 — Howlite — Not Here
Another project that I would definitely recommend would be none other than the sophomore EP from indie folk-pop band Howlite. With a wide array of moods etched into their consistently atmospheric sound over the 6 tracks that can be found on this EP, it definitely makes for a very solid experience. But once again, don’t let this EP’s placement fool you; it just goes to show that the project that have come out in October, have just been that good.
#8 — Shamir — Shamir
Despite Shamir releasing a previous body of work earlier in the year, this self-titled project turned out to be the one that introduced me to Shamir, and his experimental yet fun range of sounds. As a result, in the case of each track, this project tended to be a tiny bit hit or miss, but the hits were both more plentiful and way more impactful.
#7 — UNX — Three Eleven
Following the release and success of Jimbo’s House Party, we have another musical project from one of the boys that make up the YouTube collective of TGF. Under the musical alias of UNX, Romell Henry tries his hand at making his own EP. I would personally rank Three Eleven as equally enjoyable as Jimbo’s EP, but for slightly different reasons. While Jimbo’s House Party felt more aesthetically consistent, the bars, flow, and delivery from UNX feel so natural, that listeners who didn’t know any better would mistake UNX as somebody who has been making music for years and years.
#6 — METZ — Atlas Vending
Admittedly, it took a bit longer than usual for the appeal of METZ to sink in. But the more I listened to this album, the more I found myself getting into the noisey, raw sound that METZ bring to the table, especially in the more melodic areas of the album. As well as this, the moodiness of the project was something that really resonated with me at the time, which is something that ultimately made Atlas Vending a really memorable project.
#5 — Ty Dolla $ign — Featuring Ty Dolla $ign
Much like a couple of other albums I’ve enjoyed this year, Ty Dolla $ign’s newest body of work is another example of something that listeners will be able to get lots out of, thanks to its list of 25 tracks and the length of roughly a full hour. But the substantial delivery of this album, at least partially, doesn’t sacrifice quality in turn. Instead, Featuring Ty Dolla $ign brings a very decent amount of bangers, and an exciting list of featured artists to the table, all of which carry a consistently nocturnal and hazy vibe.
#4 — clipping. — Visions of Bodies Being Burned
Following the well-deserved success of clipping’s previous album, last year’s There Existed an Addiction to Blood, an album I very nearly reviewed, I thought I at least owed the group one for their newest album. Once again released very close to Halloween, Visions of Bodies Being Burned truly embodies that unnerving and horror-inspired aesthetic, while making for a slightly more accessible listen, but no less impactful.
#3 — Dorian Electra — My Agenda
After the sheer level of talent, creativity, and effort that went into Dorian Electra’s debut album, 2019’s Flamboyant, I felt a little spoiled to be blessed with another incredibly well-crafted and independently made project from them.
My Agenda was just as enjoyable as Flamboyant for me, but it was enjoyable for completely different reasons. While the debut felt more introductive to Dorian themselves, and kept to a more consistent aesthetic, My Agenda takes a lot more creative and experimental liberties, which in turn makes it an extremely fun listen.
#2 — Gorillaz — Song Machine, Season 1: Strange Timez
I must admit, If there was any album that I was anticipating to be the most representative of 2020 as a whole, I would be lying if I said any project that wasn’t the newest outing from Gorillaz, Song Machine, Season 1: Strange Timez.
It has taken a fair while for Gorillaz to find their feet again, in the case of recapturing their aesthetic completely, but I feel that with Song Machine, the virtual band have finally returned to form.
But thanks to the remarkable way that this project was teased, with the band bringing us a track almost every month in 2020, that was definitely the key aspect that got my hopes so high for the album in full. And while some tracks do still suffer the same sins as either of their previous two albums, Strange Timez still stands as easily the best album they have put out since Plastic Beach.
There was actually an additional reason why I wanted to refer to the first entry of Bring Me the Horizon’s POST HUMAN series as an album and not an EP. While I would argue that this project feels too substantial to suit a placement as an EP, I also wanted this to be my album of the month; and I would need an album to make that possible.
But if were going to continue talking about artists who have bounced back, Sheffield band Bring Me the Horizon has certainly done that, with the heavy project that fans have realistically been dreaming of ever since 2013’s Sempiternal.
But instead of simply being a return to metalcore, Bring Me feel completely in their element, in a project that plays around (but not too blatantly) with different calibers of heaviness, ranging from tracks that almost feel like they could revive Nu Metal, to hard-hitting tunes that feel reminiscent of their works predating Sempiternal. And we mustn’t forget that gorgeous closure with Amy Lee of Evanescence.
But in short, Bring Me The Horizon slightly alter listener’s perceptions of what a “heavier album” can be, and I mean that in the best way possible. Apparently, this will be the heaviest we’re going to get from the POST HUMAN series, but I am praying that the band continue to pursue what they have put onto this masterpiece.
2: Top 20 Tracks Of The Month
Much like how we got so many impressive bodies of work over the course of October, the same can be said about all of the amazing songs too. It was tricky narrowing it down, but here are the strongest 20 tunes of this month.
#20 — The Streets — Difficult Times Freestyle
Following the None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive mixtape, It was nice to have something extra from Mike Skinners musical project. In the case of this freestyle however, lyrics about the effects of these “difficult times” are pasted over an emotive and stripped back piano-focused production.
#19 — Dream State — Monsters
Dream State’s first single since their 2019 debut album Primrose Path, “Monsters” pushes the bands aesthetic and energy forward, in a track that feels both emotive and uplifting, especially in regards to its exceptional writing.
#18 — Shamir — On My Own
Of all of the tracks to pick from Shamir’s self-titled project, I feel that the opener that is “On My Own” really felt the most memorable in the long run. It’s sense of engagement and accessibility ultimately made it so.
#17 — UNX — Less Is More
The closing track of UNX’s debut EP, “Less Is More” is definitely the track that brings us the most, in my opinion. The beat and lyrical flow of Romell Henry meld together exceptionally well. Not to mention that it is an all-round banger.
#16 — Greentea Peng — Revolution
If anybody was going to make a powerful and motivational song well, it would of course be Greentea Peng. Paired with a straight forward yet exciting production from Tadafi, it’s appeal was instantaneous.
#15 — YUNGBLUD — cotton candy
In the lead-up towards YUNGBLUD’s upcoming album Weird!, the artist released a track with a style that I’d argue very few fans were expecting. With a more indie-inspired instrumentation and soothing basslines, “cotton candy” almost feels like something you’d find on Tame Impala’s Currents. Nut more importantly, it is an effectively blissful tune.
#14 — Tash Sultana — Willow Tree (feat. Jerome Farah)
This brand new track from Tash Sultana really gave me the same kind of sensation that I got from the most recent album that was 2018’s Flow State. And along with this, “Willow Tree” has to be the most upbeat and dynamic track that they have put out in 2020 for sure.
#13 — IDK — King Alfred
Another bonus tune comes from IDK, following his IDK & FRIENDS 2 Mixtape. Tackling subjects like the racism behind the US government and justice system with a mindset that “we shall overcome”, it is surely a track to get listeners fired up.
#12 — Anderson .Paak — JEWELZ
While it took me a fair while to get accustomed to the vocal effect used for Anderson .Paak on this track, I eventually came to appreciate it as a fun little quirk that allowed “JEWELZ” to stand as a unique tune compared to the likes of other Andy .Paak tunes released in 2020. I also adore the groovy production behind this tune.
#11 — METZ — A Boat To Drown In
The closer for METZ’s most recent album, “A Boat To Drown In” really felt like the make-or break moment for the project, and ultimately stood as one of the biggest reasons I went back to the project, and managed to appreciate the full thing considerably more. The unrelenting rhythm of this tune is something that really pushed the mood of this track forward for me.
#10 — Andrew Broder — Bloodrush (feat. Denzel Curry, Dua Saleh & Haleek Maul)
Not only does this track feature not just one, but two artists that I have been really enjoying over the past couple of years, but the production behind “Bloodrush” is super experimental, and feels a lot like something that Kanye West would produce during his big renaissance period. In my mind, this is definitely the most underrated tune of the month.
#9 — Ty Dolla $ign — Temptations (feat. Kid Cudi)
This track does incredibly well to borrow from the aesthetics of both Ty Dolla $ign and Kid Cudi, and fuse them together, in what is a very catchy track with an effectively nocturnal vibe. The sense of luminosity that “Temptations” carries, definitely allowed it to be a memorable highlight of the new album.
#8 — Bakar — 1st Time
I would say that the kind of atmosphere that Bakar’s “1st Time” creates, is absolutely perfect for this time of year. With a slightly chilly, sober and urban vibe, “1st Time” still remains upbeat in its rhythm, making it a track that I instantly felt myself indulge in.
#7 — Sundara Karma — Artifice
And speaking of indulgent tracks, we have one of two choices for a Sundara Karma single I could put on this months list. But over the earlier released “Kill Me”, I felt that “Artifice” totally deserved the spot for being one of the most dynamic and surreally gorgeous tracks that Sundara Karma have made in ages.
#6 — Busta Rhymes — Look Over Your Shoulder (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
If you want a hip-hop tune that oozes with both soulful production and amazing lyricism, look no further than the collaboration between Busta Rhymes and Kendrick Lamar. The sheer level of talent from both artist shine through brilliantly on this expertly made track.
#5 — Dorian Electra — My Agenda (feat. The Village People & Pussy Riot)
Dorian Electra, Pussy Riot, and the freaking Village People on one track. That is all you need to know.
#4 — Gorillaz — The Lost Chord (feat. Leee John)
I remember hearing a snippet of this track in the “mixes” that Gorillaz had put out in the lead up to Song Machine, Season 1, and I couldn’t wait to hear the full thing. “The Lost Chord” truly embodies everything that made the likes of Plastic Beach such an enjoyable album, and has a phenomenal sense of luminosity.
#3 — clipping. — Looking Like Meat (feat. Ho99o9)
The moment that I spotted Ho99o9 as the feature for this track, I knew that the collaboration between them and clipping. would be a treat to behold. But even then, I wasn’t expecting the production to hit so damn hard. This track somehow manages to be one of the most intimidating and most engaging on the track that are found on clipping’s new album.
#2 — Bring Me the Horizon — Teardrops
It almost feels uncanny just how well Bring Me the Horizon’s “Teardrops” effectively embodies a Nu-Metal aesthetic, might I add one that almost makes this track feel like it could pass as a LINKIN PARK song. With the amazing instrumentation, engaging and relatable lyrics, and brilliant pacing, “Teardrops” is bound to go down as a highlight of their upcoming 2021 live shows.
It is fair to say that most Architects songs carry that wow factor upon first listen. But their newest single, titled “Animals” crushes a big anxiety that I have been gradually feeling towards the Brighton-based Metalcore band, that being that their aesthetic was in need of switching up slightly.
And switch-up they most certainly have done. With the incorporation of more electronic elements, “Animals” still feels like an essential Architects tune, but on steroids.
And in true Architects fashion, the band cram every shred of emotion into this track, which is also the first teaser for their upcoming album For Those That Wish to Exist, arriving in early 2021.
3: Music Video Of The Month
METZ — No Ceiling
When getting to the stage of writing about what my favourite music video of the month was, I admittedly didn’t have an incredibly solid idea of what I wanted to add.
But then I tried to look back on all of the videos I had embedded into my reviews, and felt that the music video for METZ’s “No Ceiling” ultimately felt the most memorable.
There’s something about the stop-motion shooting technique, the bright and colourful exposure, and of course all of the weird giant bugs and dinosaurs that were included in the video that gave this piece of moving image a very surreal edge, which allowed me to see a different atmospheric side to the track itself.
4: Album Cover Of The Month
clipping. — Visions of Bodies Being Burned
From the very moment I spotted it, I knew that the newest album from clipping. was clearly a sister project of sorts to their previous album, 2019’s There Existed an Addiction to Blood. And the reason that is so clear, is of course the album cover.
While their previous album cover presented what looked like needles displayed at different angles, the same has been done with this cover, except that they have used what appears to be real teeth, which in a way ups the chilling factor even more than 2019’s piece.
And most importantly, as I tend to personally favour with album covers, it is without text, sleek, and very enigmatic.
5: Records I Nearly Reviewed
These are the few records that I was close to reviewing, but simply didn’t have the time, or that final push needed to go through with them this month. However, some still may be reviewed towards the end of the year.
beabadoobee — Fake it Flowers
Dizzee Rascal — E3 AF (may review soon)
Nothing But Thieves — Moral Panic
And that concludes our second to last round-up of 2020, it is crazy to think just how swiftly the months have passed, especially with all of the amazing music that we have been blessed with over the course of it.
Thank you for reading, and stay tune for the final monthly round-up, which will be coming soon.