The Top 100 Albums of 2020


Design Credit: Stephanie Prior

I don’t think we need to belabour the point that 2020 sucked. Some people lost their jobs, some people got sick and some unfortunately lost people they love, all as a result of this pandemic. On the music side, concerts abruptly stopped in March until just about every artist did either a drive-in or digital show giving fans something to hold onto.


While we couldn’t see our faves in person, that didn’t stop 2020 from releasing some fantastic music. Whether it was always scheduled to come out or there were surprise releases because artists finally had all the time in the world on their hands. We got music that dealt with the social and political climate that consumes us, people being unapologetic about who their true selves are and a smattering of COVID specific music. While we were stuck at home, we had some fantastic music to suit every mood.


This is The Soundtrack’s top 100 albums of the year list. Albums were nominated by a team member and if it reached a specific threshold of votes, it was eligible to make this list. A total of 318 albums and EP’s were nominated with 172 of them meeting the voting threshold.


As The Soundtrack is a Canadian publication, we feel it is our duty to highlight the many great acts from this country as denoted with a flag (🇨🇦) next to the title.



100. TokiMonsta - Oasis Nocturno


99. Yaeji - WHAT WE DREW


98. Khruangbin - Mordecai

By this point you know what you are going to get from a Khruangbin album. It's going to mix a bunch of styles of music together from all over the world, it will be laid back but with a groove that is irresistible. Moredecai continues on in the tradition of what they do so well as Mark Speer and Laura Lee blend their falsetto vocals into a dreamscape that you can’t wait to get lost into. If you aren’t a Khruangbin convert yet, this or their Texas Sun EP with Leon Bridges (see entry #84) are more than great introductions. - Dakota Arsenault


97. Oh Wonder - No One Else Can Wear Your Crown


96. U.S. Girls - Heavy Light 🇨🇦


Meg Remy continues to expand her sound incorporating more jazz elements, while making her album even more deeply personal yet still cryptic enough to leave the listener to debate songs' meaning. In between tearfully thinking about past mistakes made as a teen you’ll be dancing as her voice soars over the beats. - Dakota Arsenault


95. Joji - Nectar

Joji’s sophomore release Nectar is filled with addictive lo-fi tracks and ambient sounds that pay homage to his first album BALLANDS1 while venturing into this new style of music. Songs like “Gimme Love”, “NITROUS”, “Ew” and “Pretty Boy” are songs to check out for first-time listeners of Joji. - Josiah Botting


94. Car Seat Headrest - Making a Door Less Open


93. Bombay Bicycle Club - Everything Else Has Gone Wrong


92. Mick Jenkins - The Circus


91. Washed Out - Purple Moon


90. Gorillaz - Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez

Song Machine is a proper LP representation of the Gorillaz multimedia webisodes project of the same name. It is another vibrant, genre-splicing album from the groups mastermind Damon Albarn. Yet another entry that tries to imagine the future of pop music with it's amalgamation of styles from its collaborators (St. Vincent, Elton John, Robert Smith, 6lack, and more). A highly recommended listen for any Gorillaz fan as it's their best work since Plastic Beach. - Kyle O’Keefe


89. Mac Miller - Circles

A bittersweet ending to the Mac Miller collection. The album is an open book into Miller’s struggles beautifully laid over mellow instrumentals with hints of rock and R&B. It can be a challenging listen as we hear his personal struggles from such a raw point of view, while knowing he is gone, but there is beauty within his ability to express it and present this so artistically and maturely. May he rest in peace. - Gemma Mastroianni


88. Glass Animals - Dreamland


Experimental with beats that bring them in touch with the band’s hip-hop influence. Lots of vocal pedals, lots of expansive synth, it does feel very dreamy or dream-like. It’s fun to listen to, there’s always something new that turns into a little earworm on this album. - Amanda McMillan


87. Beach Bunny - Honeymoon

Honeymoon is the graduation of petty high school relationships seen through their early EP’s and realizing that love is a whirlwind of emotions seen throughout the album. Ironically this album was released on Valentine's Day forever complimenting Honeymoon as a relationship focused album. Songs such as “Cuffing Season” shows the bands growth and dialing up to 100 with punching guitar and drums paired up with lead singer Lili Trifilios voice and lyrics sets up the next level of Beach Bunny’s path to Indie pop/rock stardom. - Jayben Favila


86. The Lone Bellow - Half Moon Light


The band’s blend of folk, bluegrass and rock n’ soul have always defied categorization, changing from one style to the next from song to song and album to album as needed. The groups fourth record sees them focusing in on the bombast that their live shows are known for, increasing the horns, the hit you in the heart lyrics screamed into the void and beautiful harmonies. - Dakota Arsenault


85. Ryley Patrick - Kenopsia 🇨🇦


It is evident how much thought has been put into the production of this EP (which is near flawless), organizing the tracks, lyricism, and defining a theme and style for all of these tracks to fall under. This is the perfect album for those who love alternative rock and metal, as it marries the two. - Gemma Mastroianni


84. Khruangbin & Leon Bridges - Texas Sun EP


Landing at around 20 minutes long, this shorter record by Khruangbin and Leon Bridges owes its identity to the warm Texan landscape. From the folksy country-rock vibe of “Texas Sun” to the groovy “C-Side”, the album’s mellow funk stylings do not shy away from its Southern roots. - John Mendoza


83. James Blake - Before - EP

We got the excellent Assume Form last year, but to tide over the hardcore Blake-heads (is that what his fans are called?) he put out a pair of EP’s in 2020. One exclusively covers entitled… Covers, and one of new material. Before, keeps what we know and love of Blake, impressive piano playing laid over deep house beats and his own falsetto voice that he chops up and alters in experimental ways. It may only be four songs, but it will keep us Blake-heads somewhat full. For now. - Dakota Arsenault


82. The Strokes - The New Abnormal


Familiar in the ways we wanted it to be, undeniably a Strokes album. No big radio hit, but it seems to transcend the need for that kind of attention. It was an album made by a band that was at its peak when all the members were 20 years old, and are now in their 40s. It’s evolved, but honest to the sound we all fell in love with two decades ago. It’s hard to let your rock and roll idols grow up but they all do, and we do too alongside them. - Amanda McMillan


81. The 1975 - Notes on a Conditional Form

Despite rumours of postponing the release due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The 1975 decided to release NOACF in May 2020 and brought excitement to fans of their previous work. Incorporating some heavy rock on “People” similar to their self-titled release, and some new bubbly and lyrically addictive songs like “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”. - Josiah Botting


80. Purity Ring - Womb 🇨🇦


79. Blue Hawaii - Under 1 House 🇨🇦

Raphaelle Standell-Preston is a very busy lady. She fronts BRAIDS which put out the excellent Shadow Offering this year. She, along with Alex Cowan put out another great offering under their Blue Hawaii name. The duo specializes in house music that seriously groovy beats and disco like vocals. "Not My Boss!" is a damn fine feminist anthem to dance your butt off to. - Dakota Arsenault


78. Kurt Vile - Speed, Sound, Lonely KV


Speed, Sound, Lonely KV is a mixture of covers and originals by the legendary Kurt Vile we all know and love. This EP serves with purpose to slow down and appreciate the little things. His extended interludes and indie-folk sound just can’t go wrong. - Gemma Mastroianni


77. Twin Peaks - Side A

A more mature sounding EP from the indie rock band. The EP begins with “What’s the Matter” which has their classic feel-good indie-rock sound, but then moves into “Whistle in the Wind (End of Everything)” which is a mixture of blues and indie-rock with a vocal feature from LaLa LaLa, keys, brass, and a funky bass-line. It takes a classic rock twist on “Any More Than You Want”, and then ends on a more psychedelic note with “Above/Below.” It is the most diverse collection of songs they have ever put out and the four tracks are the perfect length for what they were trying to accomplish. Although they vary in genre, they all somehow sound fitting together. - Gemma Mastroianni


76. Taylor Swift - evermore


2020 has been a year of many ups and downs for Taylor Swift. She put out folklore (see our #61 entry) changed up her style once again to be singer-songwriter influence acoustic pop, but she also has had a very public legal battle against Scooter Braun her former manager who sold her masters to another company and will continue to make money off her, that is until she releases her planned re-recordings cutting him out completely. Then after dominating most album of the year lists early on, she decided to surprise drop evermore at midnight on December 11th, just barely qualifying for this list. The songs are actually more folk oriented and show a stronger writer inside Swift. From the naughty and fun "no body, no crime" featuring Haim, to the Death Cab for Cutie like "cowboy like me" to the ode to her grandmother in "marjorie". This isn’t even including the haunting guest appearances from The National and Bon Iver. - Dakota Arsenault


75. Elderbrook - Why Do We Shake In the Cold?


This album would keep anyone warm during these wintery months ahead. This emotive album presses on the very realities of platonic and romantic relationships through the expression of highs and lows of love. A personal, dreamy, favourite is “All My Love”. - Sydney Scott


74. Perfume Genius - Set My Heart on Fire Immediately

Perfume Genius beautifully tells stories cinematically through his music and videos to accompany, and he did it again on Set My Heart on Fire Immediately. It is a breathtaking, poetic, and still theatrical but arguably more accessible record to the average listener than his past albums. - Gemma Mastroianni


73. Half Moon Run - Seasons of Change 🇨🇦

A sleek EP that takes you through another impressive collection from Montreal’s Half Moon Run. These songs were recorded at the same time as their previous album A Blemish In The Great Light and also marks the last full-band record from them, as Isaac Symonds is no longer part of the group. - Gemma Mastroianni


72. Gum - Out in the World


71. Witch Prophet - DNA Activation 🇨🇦


This album is an eclectic masterpiece from front to back. With so many different genres incorporated and a flawless flow with no filler tracks, this is one of the smoothest and exciting listens I've heard in 2020. - Alex Rodobolski


70. Childish Gambino - 3.15.20


69. Brent Faiyaz - Fuck the World


68. Fiona Apple - Fetch The Bolt Cutters


67. Tennis - Swimmer


This album is so dreamy and flowy that it borders on ethereal. Close your eyes and let the vocals and keys whisk you far, far away for a moment. It’s so sweet without ever feeling saccharine, so cute without being trite. It begs you to sway, and pretend you’re watching your own life through a lens with vaseline on it: soft, blurred edges and a romantic feeling you can’t quite put your finger on. - Amanda McMillan


66. Matthew Tavares and Leland Whitty - Visions 🇨🇦


65. PUP - This Place Sucks Ass 🇨🇦


64. Wolf Parade - Thin Mind 🇨🇦


63. Lido Pimienta - Miss Colombia 🇨🇦


A break up album in a non-traditional sense, Lido Pimienta fuses multiple cultural styles to create a dream-like yet danceable listen. - Stephanie Prior


62. Andy Shauf - The Neon Skyline 🇨🇦


61. Taylor Swift - folklore


Taylor Swift’s surprise release “folklore” is one that took fans by surprise, but for good. Stepping out of the Big Machine Records company and into her own, Swift steps into a whole new side of music with some country and alternative inspired songs. - Josiah Botting


60. Waxahtchee - Saint Cloud


Mature, emotional, contemplative. The band’s most commercially viable album yet, listed as Pitchfork’s runner-up in their coveted Top 50 list. Suited for the rise and fall of emotions in 2020 - sometimes melancholy, sometimes sweet and playful, sometimes deeply sorrowed. With Saint Cloud, singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield seems to have welcomed us into her past, her present, and seemingly, her future. - Amanda McMillan


59. Empress Of - I'm Your Empress Of


58. Raveena - Moonstone EP

Moonstone will take you on a soul-psychedelic journey through Raveena’s struggles with love. Her soft yet strong vocals will give you goosebumps, and there is so much instrumentation and intimate lyricism to soak up. - Gemma Mastroianni


57. Pinegrove - Marigold


A salve for all the mid-aughts emo kids that have since turned thirty. There is just enough folky charm to keep it a Pinegrove album with its charming harmonies, and slide guitar accents, but it’s also the kind of album that you put on during a long road trip and end up belting out every word. - Amanda McMillan


56. ⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ - ) ⃛* | ⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ




I suppose we should address this album. You probably assume that Microsoft Word crashed and opened the rough draft of this list and converted the font to Wingdings, but to paraphrase the classic Sci-Fi show The Outer Limits there is nothing wrong with your computer. Do not attempt to adjust the screen. This is a side project of Kieran Hebden from Four Tet. Each of the four songs are unique and playful that fit within the canvas of what you expect from Four Tet, so after you listen to Sixteen Oceans (entry #49), add this to your list to get even weirder. - Dakota Arsenault


55. Jaunt - All in One 🇨🇦


The falsetto vocals keep it dreamy, with lots of groovy bass and fun little synth moments. It remains a bit of a summer album, chill and vibey in a way that seems to best suit being outdoors. Cute, charming, and gentle. - Amanda McMillan


54. Tim Baker - Survivors 🇨🇦



53. Clairmont the Second - It's Not How It Sounds 🇨🇦


52. Angel Olsen - Whole New Mess


A more stripped down and low-key version of Angel Olsen is heard on Whole New Mess. This album features only Olsen's vocals and a guitar, allowing us to hear more of Olsen than ever before. The isolation forces the listeners to get a deeper glimpse at her vocals and the emotions she is portraying, all inspired by a break-up. - Gemma Mastroianni


51. Lane 8 - Brightest Lights


50. August Burns Red - Guardians


If you were looking to see who would deliver the sentence, August Burns Red’s “Guardians” is one of the heaviest albums they have released yet. With hard breakdowns and Jake Luhr’s unique screams scattered throughout the album, Guardians helped the metal heads get through the early days of the pandemic. - Josiah Botting


49. Four Tet - Sixteen Oceans


In his 10th studio album Four Tet takes listeners on an ambient journey, seamlessly blending together environmental and synthetic elements that are often thought of with a heavy juxtaposition. Birds chirp and rivers babble in the background to beautiful string arrangements just moments songs shift towards a darker, more club-like beat. Having mastered combining the natural with the electronic, listeners will find themselves in an eclectic dreamscape that they will want to remain in long past the first, second, and third listens. - Alyssa Keighan


48. Foster The People - In The Darkest Of Nights, Let The Birds Sing EP

In The Darkest Of Nights, Let The Birds Sing is psychedelic pop twist for Foster The People, centered around the subject of love. Standout tracks include “Lamb’s Wool” and “Under The Moon” containing catchy hooks and romantic lyricism. - Gemma Mastroianni


47. Jhene Aiko - Chilombo


46. Fast Romantics - Pick It Up 🇨


45. Little Dragon - New Me, Same Us


44. Soccer Mommy - color theory


Someone once said that the more personal you make your lyrics in a song, the more universally relatable they will be. This sentiment rings true in Soccer Mommy’s sophomore album, where Sophie Allison details her experiences tackling mental health and growing up. There is an immediate feeling of nostalgia to the album, thanks to the use of many musical elements that were present in the late 90’s and early 00’s indie pop scene. Listeners will be left with not only an album that feels like an instant and familiar favourite, but also the urge to pop in a coming-of-age DVD from 2003 (probably). - Alyssa Keighan


43. Rina Sawayama - SAWAYAMA


From “Dynasty” to “Love Me 4 Me”, Rina’s debut pop album SAWAYAMA masterfully plays with a diverse palette of 2000s genres without it feeling like a sore gimmick. While a handful of tracks near the end of the album lack the punch of the first few tracks, SAWAYAMA is one of the most exciting and unique pop records of 2020. (Also, shout out to her for putting the Final Fantasy victory theme in "Snakeskin"). - John Mendoza


42. Junia-T - Studio Monk 🇨🇦


Junia-T’s Studio Monk had a mix of absolutely everything. Featuring slower jams that pack a punch, like “Know Better” and upbeat anthems like “Sad Face Emoji”- this album is sexy and has something for everyone. - Erica Gellert


41. Kid Cudi - Man On The Moon III: The Chosen


Kid Cudi expresses a myriad of emotions which guides you through a cathartic listening experience. It is the final piece to the trilogy and the experimentation of genres complemented Kid Cudi journey of self-development as he navigates a plethora of emotions. A fun album to jam to - indeed. - Sydney Scott


40. Dizzy - The Sun and Her Scorch 🇨🇦


Listening to Dizzy's The Sun and Her Scorch will have you wanting to make like a cat and lay in a sunbeam as you daydream of treasured (and not so treasured) memories. Dizzy packs their songs full of sweet feelings and raw emotions, leaving you feeling sensitive and exposed and yet still hopeful. Make sure to listen to "Roman Candles" and "Daylight Savings Time". - Stephanie Prior


39. Fleet Foxes - Shore


Fleet Foxes provided the soundtrack to autumnal equinox as they released this album exactly on the date, September 22nd. Shore is a beautiful record that can be repeated over and over again, and the listener will continue to soak up all of what Fleet Foxes is about - impressive melodies and harmonization, poetic and intricate lyricism, and the most appropriate way to soak up the feeling of the fall season. - Gemma Mastroianni


38. Miley Cyrus - Plastic Hearts


Miley Cyrus's Plastic Hearts is a hard hitting homage to all the rock goddesses of past and present. With unapologetic lyrics and buzzy guitar riffs, Plastic Hearts grabs you by the ah-hem, hand, and pulls you into an intoxicating mix of electro-pop and punky rock. Filling out the album includes a handful of power features, including Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks, further bumping up the femme fatale factor. Don't miss "Plastic Hearts" and "Night Crawling". - Stephanie Prior


37. Thundercat - It Is What It Is


Thundercat’s enchanting basslines, signature humour and spacious compositions all come together in this conceptually brilliant album. While somewhat unpolished at times, the album is more sombre than Stephen Lee Bruner’s previous works, taking listeners through a journey of love, loss, acceptance, grief, and the uncertainty of the future: a perfect way to describe the zeitgeist of 2020. - John Mendoza


36. Spencer Brown - Stream of Consciousness


35. Nathaniel Rateliff - And It's Still Alright

Gone are the Night Sweats, Nathaniel Rateliff’s backing band for the last two records as he puts out his first solo record since 2013. While the soul and funk are gone, the tough guy brimming with emotions is still present. Here he gets to show off his tender voice over acoustic guitar and atmospheric strings to create something uniquely personal. - Dakota Arsenault


34. Tycho - Simulcast


33. Caribou - Suddenly 🇨🇦


This album is an eclectic masterpiece from front to back. With so many different genres incorporated and a flawless flow with no filler tracks, this is one of the smoothest and exciting listens heard in 2020. - Gemma Mastroianni


32. Kehlani - It Was Good Until It Wasn't


31. Skepta, Chip & Young Adz - Insomnia


This trio of UK Grime legends team up for an album that sees them all sharing the spotlight and giving each other space to shine in that light. The album is at times funny and at other times deadly serious talking about how people of colour face injustices in the UK too. “Golden Brown” is a fun highlight of the record about girls who like melanin in their guys. - Dakota Arsenault


30. Tafari Anthony - The Way You See Me 🇨🇦


Tafari Anthony shares a fresh and unique pop sound with a soul flare, and sleek vocals. Production is flawless and the track-list is an ideal mixture of songs you can relate to on an emotional level, but also let loose and dance to. It perpetuates a loving and exciting energy that is unforgettable, and will keep listeners replaying. - Gemma Mastroianni


29. Daughters of Reykjavik - Soft Spot


The all girl Icelandic rap group (formerly known as the much harder to pronounce Reykjavíkurdætur) put out their most accessible album to date with the track titles in English and every song at least partially in English. But you don’t need to know Icelandic to know how hard these songs go, as the group goes into feminism, their own sexuality and urges, women’s rights and more. When we’re allowed to have parties again make sure you play “Fool’s Gold” and “Thirsty Hoes” nice and loud at your next jam. - Dakota Arsenault


28. Orville Peck - Show Pony EP 🇨🇦


27. Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia


Plucked straight from a neon coloured, strobe lit, pop-disco fantasy, Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia will have you moving and grooving even on the darkest, coldest of days. Futura Nostalgia is an all inclusive, female empowering, party album, overflowing with danceable beats, singable lyrics and powerful messages. Most danceable tunes include "Don't Start Now" and "Levitating". - Stephanie Prior


26. Poliça - When We Stay Alive


The Minneapolis trip-hop and synth rock band put out its fifth album way back in January, that was born out of lead singer Channy Leaneagh almost getting paralyzed from falling off her roof. As such we get some deeply personal songs while still maintaining the band's propulsive sound, including the lead single (and first track) “Driving”. - Dakota Arsenault


25. Moses Sumney - græ


Evading conventional genre and lyricism, Moses Sumney’s 2nd album græ remains sonically familiar yet unparalleled. “Polly” stands out as a more orthodox track, but still relies on Sumney’s wistful vocals to deliver an intimate harmonic experience. - John Mendoza


24. King Krule - Man Alive!

Man Alive! fuses post-punk and trip hop with Archy Marshall's classic drowned in reverb sound. The album is very atmospheric and introspective. Man Alive! deserves several listens to fully appreciate. Fans of King Krule's previous works will surely enjoy it. - Jared Burke


23. Born Ruffians - JUICE 🇨🇦


The classic upbeat indie-rock record that Canada needed this year. JUICE is a filled with catchy choruses and high-tempo songs that everyone can dance and sing along to with some unexpected interludes that give it a unique flare. What more could one really want out of this kind of album? - Gemma Mastroianni


22. EOB - Earth


Radiohead’s guitarist Ed O’Brien released his debut solo album (leaving fellow bandmate Colin Greenwood as the only one not to have a side or solo project yet), Earth, this year. The man who normally stays out of the limelight, puts his voice and talents on full display. At moments you can clearly tell what influences he brings to his main band, like “Shangri-La”, which could have been a cut from The Bends. “Brasil” opens with a gentle plucking melody before the epic 8-minute song transitions to a groovy tropical house beat. There is plenty of inspiration and music to get lost to in this record. - Dakota Arsenault


21. Local Natives - Sour Lemon


This EP progresses ever so perfectly with a soft and intimate opening featuring Sharon Van Etten on "Lemon", then moves into mid-tempo passionate songs centered around relationships with uplifting chorus's, as Local Natives is known for. - Gemma Mastroianni


Listen to my interview with Local Natives here.


20. Loving - If I Am Only My Thoughts 🇨🇦

The Victoria, BC trio put out their follow up album to 2016’s self titled debut and their gentle folk pop blends pre-electronic Bon Iver with Andy Shauf. The band’s haunting harmonies and delicate guitar playing feel like a warm blanket over lyrics that paint vivid imagery like in the album highlight “Lately In Another Time”. - Dakota Arsenault


19. Yellow Days - A Day in Yellow Beat


This is the funkiest, bluesiest, and longest record Yellow Days has released to date. A Day In A Yellow Beat shows a more mature and eclectic version of Yellow Days as the album leans into Soul and R&B. - Gemma Mastroianni


18. The Killers - Imploding the Mirage


The Las Vegas band has always been synonymous with synth rock and while there are plenty of keyboard melodies here, the band is skewing harder in more rock elements. The band, which is now a trio, seems to be leaning hard into Bruce Springsteen-esque influences from the lead single "Caution" and the k.d. Lang featured "Lightning Fields". Then there’s "Dying Breed", which is Jack Antonoff by way of Springsteen. As most rock bands seem to drift more and more pop with each record, it’s nice to see The Killers get more rock n’ roll. - Dakota Arsenault


17. Joseph - Trio Sessions: Vol 1 EP


While this EP doesn’t contain any new songs (all are from 2019’s excellent Good Luck, Kid), they sound brand new. The three sisters strip down their lush folk pop sound for sparse instrumentation on each song like just a piano or fuzzy guitar and their incredible three part harmonies. It’s impossible not to bowled over by the power of “Green Eyes” or “Without You”. - Dakota


16. Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher

Perhaps one of the most awaited sophomore albums of the year, Phoebe Bridgers did not disappoint with her release of Punisher. Upon first listen some may be distracted by the soothing instrumentals and familiar sound of Bridgers’ singing, which can only be described as a hauntingly beautiful whisper. But what lingers beneath the soft and whimsical melodies is the real focal point of the album: oftentimes bleak but prolific lyricism that explores heartbreak, anxiety, the complexities of life…and the end of it. - Alyssa Keighan


15. Deftones - Ohms


A hard-hitting classic metal album from start to finish. Deftones continues to show up with quality albums as the years go on, and this one is complex and dark, and rough around the edges. Another fan favourite! - Gemma Mastroianni


14. Joey Bada$$ - The Light Pack


How did a three song EP that didn’t even manage to clock in a ten minutes make the cut? It’s been three years since Joey Bada$$’s last album and in the time he’s acted on Mr. Robot and Wu-Tang: An American Saga, so this EP was a welcome drop. He continues to evolve past his throwback boom-bap style and just lays down some sick rhymes and wordplay. The Push-T feature on "No Explanation" is one of the year’s best hip-hop songs. - Dakota Arsenault


13. The Districts - You Know I'm Not Going Anywhere


Haunting, plucky, and energetic. Sonically it’s more sophisticated than previous releases, showcasing an evolution not only in songwriting, but production too. It’s more expansive than expected from the band, with some New Wave influence bubbling to the surface and a bit of an experimental flare. - Amanda McMillan


12. Aminé - Limbo


Slick, honest, playful, tongue-in-cheek. Great production, fantastic feature collabs, killer beats, and clever rhymes. There’s swagger and authenticity in equal measures, emotion and bravado. Animé is able to move fluidly between personalities, and only seems to get better with each release. - Amanda McMillan


11. Nicholas Godin - Concrete and Glass


If you flew into space to an unknown planet, this is what it would sound like. Godin presents a collection of songs with a futuristic and funky vibe, and stunning vocal features. All of these songs could easily be hits and featured in films! - Gemma Mastroianni


10. Cut Copy - Freeze Melt


A zen dance album with layers of synthesizers, bass, and harmonized vocals. Cut Copy takes a new approach to their sound with hints of ambience, and a mellow and spacier sound than previously demonstrated. - Gemma Mastroianni


Listen to my interview with Ben from Cut Copy here.


9. Aesop Rock - Spirit World Field Guide

Aesop sounds paranoid, yet boastful on Spirit World Field Guide. He is at the top of his own game (and quite possibly the entire hip-hop game) when it comes to beats, bass lines, and unique flows. Best tracks are "Dog at the Door", "Crystal Sword", "Salt", "Kodokushi", and "Marble Cake". - James Dallimore


8. The OBGM's - The Ends 🇨🇦

The Toronto afro-punk group puts out an even more fleshed out record than their previous self titled debut. The band only has two songs that clock in at over 2:30 but they make each 150 seconds or less so impactful. On “Triggered” the song goes from a head banging metal song into a hard as hell hip hop beat in a matter of seconds and it isn’t out of place at all. Colanthony Humphery’s drumming includes lush layering of hand played percussion that truly make the record spark. - Dakota Arsenault


7. Tame Impala - The Slow Rush

The musical psychedelic trip that Tame Impala’s The Slow Rush provides is one that can only be done by Kevin Parker. Songs like “Posthumous Forgiveness” and “It Might Be Time” bring you on a wild ride throughout the world created within The Slow Rush. - Josiah Botting


6. The Avalanches - We Will Always Love You

We Will Always Love You is an auditory journey brimming with a lot of heart that’s a fitting end to 2020. The audacious 25 tracks of disco, soul, samples take you to a fantasyland with cosmic highs and lows. The soundscapes feels like a weird dream that leaves you with hope about the uncertain future as you teeter between nostalgia and déjà vu. - Kyle O’Keefe


5. Against All Logic - 2017-2019

Nicolas Jaar had a very busy year. He put out two records under his own name (Cenizas and Telas, both more ambient albums) and continued his series of AAL releases capturing work he has done over a span of time. The first album was called 2012-2017 and this is clearly a continuation. His very aggressive techno is both sonically too intense but also very danceable. It’s the type of music you crave to hear at 1:00 AM (or later) at a festival, with booming bass speakers so loud you feel your chest shaking as thousands of sweaty bodies intermingle between the fog machines and strobing lights. Oh pre-COVID times, how you were different. - Dakota Arsenualt


4. HAIM - Women in Music III


HAIM released Women in Music Pt. III on June 26th this year, which will now be known as the day Erica Gellert stopped binging Netflix and was given new life. This album is a blend of alternative, indie, country and more. Highlights include the vulnerable and grounded track, "Leaning On You", and "Don't Wanna", which perfectly describes how being in love with the wrong person can feel. (But in a fun way!) - Erica Gellert


3. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist - Alfredo

Alfredo is a fantastic collaboration between rapper Freddie Gibbs and producer The Alchemist. Alfredo is 35 minutes of Gibbs' criminally hard-hitting rhymes, weaving effortlessly through soulful R&B and Jazz beats. Do not sleep on this release. - Jared Burke


2. Chromeo - Quarantine Casanova 🇨🇦


A hilarious but funky EP that we all needed this year. There has been plenty of music released that relates to the pandemic, but nothing quite like the lighthearted angle Chromeo has taken. The instrumentals are synth-heavy and funky, which live up to what one would typically expect from Chromeo. Lyrically they don't take themselves too seriously, and it's phenomenal. - Gemma Mastroianni


Listen to my interview with Chromeo here.


1. Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 4

Released during the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement in June 2020, this free mixtape (and fourth self titled release) acted as the anthem for protestors against police brutality and racial injustice. With hard-hitting lyrics and bass, this album is designed to be played as loud as possible for everyone to hear. Must listen to tracks include the return of Zach de la Rocha (and Pharrell) on the banger “JU$T” and the scratch-tastic “ooh la la” with DJ Premier and Greg Nice. - Josiah Botting


We hope that some of your favourite releases made this list, if not all the more reason for you to find something you might have missed!


A special thank you to everyone that contributed to the creation of this article including Gemma Mastroianni, Amanda McMillan, Josiah Botting, John Mendoza, Alyssa Keighan, Stephania Prior, Jared Burke, Sydney Scott, Jayben Favila, James Hender, Erica Gellert and Alexandra Rodobolski for contributing words to this article.


Special thanks to Stephanie Prior for designing the title graphic.