KJHK’s Top 10 of 2020

What a year 2020 was. In a year marked by isolation and tragedy, we here at KJHK found solace in our favorite music. As we do every year, we asked music, executive, content, and DJ staffs to rank their favorite albums of the year. Since we weren’t able to be together to discuss our favorite music as it was coming out, everyone provided wildly unique and diverse lists. We hope you enjoy!

Deegan Poores – Music Director

  1. Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake
  2. Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud
  3. Playboi Carti – Whole Lotta Red
  4. Bad Bunny – YHLQMDLG
  5. Gil Scott-Heron & Makaya McCraven – We’re New Again
  6. Adrianne Lenker – songs/instrumentals
  7. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo
  8. Westerman – Your Hero Is Not Dead
  9. Yaeji – WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던
  10. Angel Bat Dawid & Tha Brothahood – LIVE

Lil Uzi Vert’s run of singles and features in 2018-2019 following 2017’s Luv Is Rage 2 built hype for Uzi’s follow up. Fans were waiting for a magnum opus, an expectation impossible to reach, but if you go in expecting a collection of fun songs with wild flows, creative melodies, quotable one-liners, and adventurous production, Eternal Atake delivers in spades. Being able to experience Uzi’s artistic development since his 2016 breakthrough has been a real treat, and I can only hope that he doesn’t listen to the outspoken subsect of his fans on Twitter that want him to return to his early sound, and that he continues to move forward into more uncharted territory. Pairing Eternal Atake with the almost-as-great leak and outtake collection Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World 2 in the deluxe version is just icing on the cake.

Deegan Poores on Eternal Atake


Erin Bugee – Communications Director

  1. Dan Deacon – Mystic Familiar
  2. Kelly Lee Owens – Inner Song
  3. Yaeji – WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던
  4. Ultraísta – Sister
  5. Porridge Radio – Every Bad
  6. Sneaks – Happy Birthday
  7. Thundercat – It Is What It Is
  8. Louis Prince – Thirteen
  9. Jordana – Classical Notions of Happiness
  10. Run the Jewels – RTJ4

Kade Schoenfeldt – Programming Director

  1. HMLTD – West of Eden
  2. Black Dresses – Peaceful as Hell
  3. Yves Tumor – Heaven To A Tortured Mind
  4. Dogleg – Melee
  5. Run the Jewels – RTJ4
  6. R.A.P. Ferreira – Purple Moonlight Pages
  7. The Strokes – The New Abnormal
  8. Fontaine’s D.C. – A Hero’s Death
  9. Dehd – Flower of Devotion
  10. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo

HMLTD’s fantastic debut album West of Eden combines far reaching influences, including post punk, synth pop, industrial rock, trap, Elvis Presley, and even spaghetti western soundtracks. The result is an exciting album where each new track is a refreshing surprise, yet the consistent lyrical themes and musical motifs ensure that the album still feels cohesive. The London band explores the forces of capitalism and the Western world, and their pernicious influence on every aspect of life including topics of gender identity, financial instability, love and relationships, and the quest to find a purpose in life. On West of Eden, HMLTD’s unique combination of musical influences and relevant lyrics leads to anthemic, cathartic headbangers that helped get me through the year and will probably help carry me through 2021 as well.

Kade Schoenfeldt on West of Eden


Markus Becerra – IT Director

  1. The Strokes – The New Abnormal
  2. King Krule – Man Alive!
  3. Jean Dawson – Pixel Bath
  4. Charli XCX – how i’m feeling now
  5. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  6. Bad Bunny – YHLQMDLG
  7. Arca – Kick I
  8. Disclosure – Energy
  9. Joji – Nectar
  10. Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon III: The Chosen

Jaya Chakka – Station Manager

  1. Glass Animals – Dreamland
  2. Keaton Henson – Monument
  3. WAAX – Big Grief
  4. Squirrel Flower – I Was Born Swimming
  5. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  6. Fleet Foxes – Shore
  7. Emily Rockarts – Little Flower
  8. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  9. Soccer Mommy – color theory
  10. Elliott Moss – A Change in Diet

Despite debuting nearly three quarters of the way through 2020, Glass Animals’ third album, Dreamland, has shaped my year more than any other release. As a long-time fan of the group, I will be the first to admit that Dreamland is not my favorite Glass Animals album; in fact, I’d argue that both ZABA and How to Be a Human Being are better records. But what makes Glass Animals such a fantastic group is that every single album they release is captivating and poignant in its own right. Even their least impressive songs are still pretty damn good songs. In Dreamland, Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley peels back the layers of relative obscurity surrounding his personal life and bares his soul to the world in musical form. He touches on topics ranging from lighthearted childhood memories to the pain of witnessing domestic abuse, treating the album’s themes with the care and reflection they deserve. Despite the occasionally heavy subject matter, Dreamland is drenched with catchy melodies, sensual riffs, and groovy beats. It’s a memoir in album form, and it’s nearly impossible to listen without feeling nostalgia for summers past and the unique trials of growing up. As we move forward into the terrifying unknown of what 2021 might bring, Dreamland serves as both a throwback to happier times and a reminder that the journey is just as important as the destination.

Jaya Chakka on Dreamland

Cole Billings – In-studio Director

  1. Deaton Chris Anthony – BOOGY WOOGY
  2. Bladee – EXETER
  3. window seat – 9
  4. dog almighty – The Kingdom of Dog is Within You
  5. Helvetia – This Devastating Map
  6. Fake Eyes – A Drip Is All We Know
  7. Westside Gunn – Pray for Paris
  8. STRFKR – Ambient 1
  9. Marble Teeth – Park
  10. Pulsr – The Three

Wyatt Hall – Audio Content Editor

  1. Thundercat – It Is What It Is
  2. Run the Jewels – RTJ4
  3. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  4. boy pablo – Wachito Rico
  5. Duckwrth – SuperGood
  6. Hayley Williams – Petals for Amor
  7. Chloe x Halle – Ungodly Hour
  8. Shawn Wasabi – MANGOTALE
  9. Mac Miller – Circles
  10. CHIKA – INDUSTRY GAMES

Fabian Rosales – Video Content Editor

  1. Yves Tumor – Heaven To A Tortured Mind
  2. HOMESHAKE – Haircut
  3. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  4. Sorry – 925
  5. Charli XCX – how i’m feeling now
  6. Deaton Chris Anthony – BOOGY WOOGY
  7. Rico Nasty – Nightmare Vacation
  8. BOYO – Alone Together in Los Angeles
  9. STRFKR – Ambient 1
  10. JPEGMAFIA – EP!

Bella Koscal – Community Engagement Director

  1. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  2. Orla Gartland – Freckle Season
  3. Bad Bunny – EL ÚLTIMO TOUR DEL MUNDO
  4. Sylvan Esso – Free Love
  5. Serena Isoma – The Leo Sun Sets
  6. Jaden – CTV3: Cool Tape Vol. 3
  7. COIN – Dreamland
  8. Lennon Stella – Three. Two. One.
  9. Mxmtoon – dawn & dusk
  10. Conan Gray – Kid Krow

Grace Needham – Development Director

  1. Early Eyes – Sunbathing
  2. Kate Bollinger – A word becomes a sound
  3. Charli XCX – how i’m feeling now
  4. Taylor Swift – folklore
  5. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  6. Yves Tumor – Heaven To A Tortured Mind
  7. Yellow Days – A Day in a Yellow Beat
  8. Beach Bunny – Honeymoon
  9. Joji – Nectar
  10. Yung Gravy – Gasanova

Daniel Paese – Creative Director

  1. PLUM – StreetView
  2. P.H.F. – New Metal
  3. Emily A. Sprague – Hill, Flower, Fog
  4. Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, & 9th Wonder – Dinner Party
  5. Dominique Dumont – People On Sunday
  6. Photay – Waking Hours
  7. Holy Wave – Interloper
  8. Blithe Field – Hymn for Anyone
  9. Slow Pulp – Moveys
  10. Deaton Chris Anthony – BOOGY WOOGY

Griffin Lowry – Music Director

  1. China Club – Ming + Zhizhi
  2. Kelly Lee Owens – Inner Song
  3. 1 800 PAIN – BEST HOUSE ON A BAD BLOCK
  4. JPEGMAFIA – EP!
  5. Slauson Malone – Vergangenheitsbewältigung (Crater Speak)
  6. Eyedress – Let’s Skip to the Wedding
  7. Sneaks – Happy Birthday
  8. Flung – Shaky But My Hair Is Grown
  9. Shygirl – ALIAS
  10. Adrianne Lenker – songs

Kamaron Black, head musician of China Club, stated that “the primary narrative of Ming + Zhizhi surrounds protest and the plight of Hong Kong and Black people in America through [his] perspective.” Music aside, the artistic intentionality behind this album wraps up some of the most important themes and events of 2020. The music collective experiments with layers and syncopation, mashing together synths and percussion to form some of the most interesting musical ideas I have ever heard. Providing a mixture of free-jazz and electronic, creating a cohesive landscape of sound, keeping the listener guessing the whole time, and being true to themselves, China Club’s Ming + Zhizhi feels like it is personally tailored for my musical interests and preferences. I could not recommend it enough.

Griffin Lowry on Ming + Zhizhi

 

Cami Koons – Content Director

  1. P’tit Belliveau – Greatest Hits Vol. 1
  2. Tennis – Swimmer
  3. Deradoorian – Find the Sun
  4. The Beths – Jump Rope Gazer
  5. Angel Olsen – Whole New Mess
  6. Ela Minus – acts of rebellion
  7. Andy Shauf – The Neon Skyline
  8. Shygirl – ALIAS
  9. Soccer Mommy – color theory
  10. Slow Pulp – Moveys

Listen to the top 10 of 2020 on the Charts & Adds Unwrapped podcast! You won’t be disappointed with this exciting episode.

John V. Wood – music staff member

  1. Taylor Swift – folklore/evermore
  2. Run the Jewels – RTJ4
  3. Unleash the Archers – Abyss
  4. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  5. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  6. DevilDriver – Dealing with Demons I
  7. Fontaine’s D.C. – A Hero’s Death
  8. Hayley Williams – Petals for Amor
  9. Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud
  10. Bad Bunny – YHLQMDLG

Josh Rubino – music staff member

  1. HMLTD – West of Eden
  2. The Strokes – The New Abnormal
  3. Nubya Garcia – SOURCE
  4. Blu & Exile – Miles
  5. R.A.P. Ferreira – Purple Moonlight Pages
  6. SPARKLE DIVISION – To Feel Embraced
  7. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  8. Ka – Descendants of Kain
  9. Theo Alexander – Animadversions
  10. Jockstrap – Wicked City

Tanner Crouch – music staff member

  1. Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud
  2. Mac Miller – Circles
  3. Marcus King – El Dorado
  4. Adrianne Lenker – songs
  5. Lime Cordiale – 14 Steps to a Better You
  6. Car Seat Headrest – Making a Door Less Open
  7. Childish Gambino – 3.15.20
  8. Glass Animals – Dreamland
  9. Mt. Joy – Rearrange Us
  10. Yellow Days – A Day in a Yellow Beat

Matthew Stratton – music staff member

  1. HMLTD – West of Eden
  2. Backxwash – God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out
  3. Joshua Burnside – Into the Depths of Hell
  4. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  5. Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas
  6. clipping. – Visions of Bodies Being Burned
  7. Code Orange – Underneath
  8. Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA
  9. Dan Deacon – Mystic Familiar
  10. Andy Shauf – The Neon Skyline

Keller Welton – music staff member

  1. Leah Senior – The Passing Scene
  2. Black Pumas – Black Pumas (Deluxe)
  3. Bastards of Soul – Spinnin’
  4. Michael Wilbur – Fire Drill
  5. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – UNLOCKED
  6. Beans – All Together Now
  7. Traffik Island – Sweet Kollecta’s Peanut Butter Traffik Jam
  8. Bananagun – The True Story of Bananagun
  9. Jeff Tweedy – Love Is The King
  10. Circles Around The Sun – Circles Around the Sun

Henry Kraujalis – music staff member

  1. The Flashbulb – Our Simulacra
  2. ⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ – ooo ̟̞̝̜̙̘̗̖҉̵̴̨̧̢̡̼̻̺̹̳̲̱̰̯̮̭̬̫̪̩̦̥̤̣̠҈͈͇͉͍͎͓͔͕͖͙͚͜͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢ͅ oʅ͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡​(​ ؞ৢ؞ؙؖ⁽⁾˜ัิีึื์๎้็๋๊⦁0 ̟̞̝̜̙̘̗̖҉̵̴̨̧̢̡̼̻̺̹̳̲̱̰̯̮̭̬̫̪̩̦̥̤̣̠҈͈͇͉͍͎͓͔͕͖͙͚͜͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢ͅ ఠీੂ೧ູ࿃ूੂ
  3. Team Killer – Morn/Woops
  4. Matmos – The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises in Group Form
  5. High Contrast – Notes From The Underground
  6. TCLB ‎– Shortwave Radio 9​/​11​/​2019 – 9​/​12​/​2019
  7. Hum – Inlet
  8. Lauren Bousfield – Palimpsest
  9. Vegyn – There’s Nothing Left 2 Make U Stay
  10. The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You

An album I enjoyed this year was Our Simulacra by The Flashbulb because I played its title track on the radio and all my friends liked it. The Flashbulb creates post-modernized IDM and I would say the title track is one of my favorites of his. He makes tracks that are usually more on the cinematic side, the sort of things you wouldn’t get tired of if you had to listen hypnagogically. The simulacrum is something that imitates “The Real” but is not “The Real” and, in the eyes of French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, it is “The Hyperreal.” This album lies on the side of the hyperreal because the production quality that can be achieved with modern DAWs is disgusting. If IDM was pop, this would be Hyperpop. This album is the simulacrum in both name and disguise.

Henry Kraujalis on Our Simulacra

Alex Griffit – music staff member

  1. Franc Moody – Dream in Colour
  2. Arin Ray – Phases II
  3. Leven Kali – HIGHTIDE
  4. Red Vox – Realign
  5. Omar Apollo – Apolonio
  6. Washed Out – Purple Noon
  7. Duett – Outlines
  8. Engelwood – Yacht World
  9. Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes – What Kinda Music
  10. LeVirya – Where the Crawfish Sing

Fernando Claudio-Lopez – music staff member

  1. Boldy James & Sterling Moles – Manger on McNichols
  2. Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure?
  3. Jay Electronica – A Written Testimony
  4. Mamaleek – Come & See
  5. Mac Miller – Circles
  6. Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
  7. Vladislav Delay – Rakka
  8. Run the Jewels – RTJ4
  9. Gunna – WUNNA
  10. Lil Baby – My Turn (Deluxe)

Boldy James pushes the boundaries of coke rap with despondent and deadpan detailings of his struggles to survive in the trenches of Detroit alongside Sterling Toles’ daring, and incredibly engaging, jazz instrumentations. Swirling saxophones, grim imagery, and stellar storytelling all across Manger on McNichols make for a must-listen album experience, placing itself in the upper echelons of East Coast hip-hop.

Fernando Claudio-Lopez on Manger on McNichols

Ellyn Mayo – content staff member

  1. Pinegrove – Marigold
  2. Worst Party Ever – here, online
  3. Cigarettes for Breakfast – Aphantasia
  4. Moses Sumney – græ
  5. Fenne Lily – BREACH
  6. AJJ – Good Luck Everybody
  7. Nova Twins – Who Are The Girls?
  8. PUP – This Place Sucks Ass
  9. Luluc – Dreamboat
  10. Stone Temple Pilots – Perdida

Evan Stephens Hall does it again, surprising his fans with an 11-song album. Marigold is filled with warmth, a touch of sadness, and a whole lot of reflection. It contrasts previous albums such as Everything So Far, which contains energetic and angry numbers. Marigold speaks to the process of healing yourself, and I couldn’t be happier with how these unique songs blend together in one seamless and magical album.

Ellyn Mayo on Marigold

Cate Manning – content staff member

  1. Sorry – 925
  2. SAULT – Untitled (Black Is)
  3. Crack Cloud – Pain Olympics
  4. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  5. Porridge Radio – Every Bad
  6. Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA
  7. Protomartyr – Ultimate Success Today
  8. Working Men’s Club – Working Men’s Club
  9. Shopping – All Or Nothing
  10. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Meriel Salisbury – content staff member

  1. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  2. Taylor Swift – folklore
  3. Tennis – Swimmer
  4. HAIM – Women In Music Pt. III
  5. Soccer Mommy – color theory
  6. Adrianne Lenker – songs/instrumentals
  7. The Strokes – The New Abnormal
  8. Sylvan Esso – Free Love
  9. Fenne Lily – BREACH
  10. Glass Animals – Dreamland

Max Indiveri – multimedia staff member

  1. Theo Katzman – Modern Johnny Sings: Songs in the Age of Vibe
  2. May Erlewine & the Woody Goss Band – Anyway
  3. Vulfpeck – The Joy of Music, The Job of Real Estate
  4. Mac Miller – Circles
  5. Black Pumas – Black Pumas (Deluxe)
  6. Dawes – Good Luck With Whatever
  7. Woody and Jeremy – Strange Satisfaction
  8. Taylor Swift – folklore
  9. Friz Hutchinson – Wide Wild Acres
  10. Old News – Self-Acceptance Speech

Mixing sardonic wit with complex chord changes that would make Charlie Parker proud, Theo Katzman’s, Modern Johnny Sings is John Mayer for the jazz nerd, and is anything but easy listening music. Whether it’s the track “What Did You Mean (When You Said Love)” confronting one of the most ambiguous hurdles in romantic relationships, “Like a Woman Scorned” tackling questions of masculinity and its influence in global catastrophes, or “The Death of Us” spinning a tale of toxic love inspired by bad falafel, Theo’s tracks are insightful, and impart meaning in the same way tall tales inspire children to behave. The Vulfpeck frontman also brings a wealth of groove to these tunes with his backing band including THE Joe dart from the aforementioned supergroup. The tremendous drum/bass lock and groove that flows throughout the record makes it a must listen, but it’s Theo’s lyrics that make it my favorite record of 2020 and one that will stand the test of time for ages to come.

Max Indiveri on Modern Johnny Sings : Songs in the Age of Vibe

Cooper Hart – music staff member

  1. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo
  2. Joji – Nectar
  3. Benny The Butcher – Burden of Proof
  4. Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake
  5. Childish Gambino – 3.15.20
  6. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – UNLOCKED
  7. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin – SAVAGE MODE II
  8. Kota the Friend – EVERYTHING
  9. Action Bronson – Only For Dolphins
  10. Lil Yachty – Lil Boat 3

Nick Simpson – DJ

  1. brakence – punk2
  2. Taylor Swift – folklore
  3. The 1975 – Notes On A Conditional Form
  4. Chromeo – Quarantine Casanova
  5. The Chicks – Gaslighter
  6. Carly Rae Jepson – Dedicated Side B
  7. Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud
  8. AJJ – Good Luck Everybody
  9. Jeremy Zucker – love is not dying
  10. Emily Montes – Emily Montes

Margot Lockwood – DJ

  1. Peach Pit – You and Your Friends
  2. Glass Animals – Dreamland
  3. L’Impératrice – Fou / Exit
  4. Thundercat – It Is What It Is
  5. Kid Francescoli – Lovers
  6. Torres – Silver Tongue
  7. Easy Life – Junk Food
  8. Orla Garland – Freckle Season
  9. Babehoven – Demonstrating Visible Difference in Height
  10. POLIÇA – When We Stay Alive

Mazzy Martinez – DJ

  1. Yves Tumor – Heaven To A Tortured Mind
  2. Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure?
  3. Angel Olsen – Whole New Mess
  4. BbyMutha – Muthaland
  5. Flo Milli – Ho, why is you here ?
  6. Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter
  7. Westside Gunn – Pray for Paris
  8. The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You
  9. King Krule – Man Alive!
  10. Róisín Murphy – Róisín Machine

Thanks for the great tunes 2020! We look forward to what the music gods will bless us with in 2021.

Copy and editing credits to Deegan Poores and Cami Koons

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