Two years since our last end of the year wrap up, we are once again teaming up with Grant from North Carolina DIY hardcore punk label Bitter Melody Records for a diverse, inspiring list of releases worth looking into in 2021.
2020 has been a real challenge for most of us and I must say we were lucky enough to have so many amazing records to comfort us in difficult times. From raging hardcore and metal offerings, to melodious, hooky rockin’, to gentle melancholia – the records of 2020 had a lot of stories to tell and these are the ones we and our guests enjoyed the most. All of our today’s picks continue to give us something positive at the end of another 12-month journey and we are truly grateful to every artist and band for sharing their creative work with us.
2020 wrap-up by Grant Mccracken of Bitter Melody Records
We focused more on reissues and fun releases this year to get us through the pandemic year, but we do have some new records slated to come out very soon in 2021. We have an LP/CD by Jon Charles Dwyer that should be out by the first of the year.
We also have an unannounced B sides/covers compilation and new EPs from God Program (CT metalcore) and DSHK (Asheville D-beat).
𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑠𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑛𝑜 𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑢𝑙𝑎𝑟 𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑒𝑟 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑠𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑚𝑦 𝑓𝑎𝑣𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑒 𝐿𝑃𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝐸𝑃𝑠 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟.
I’m sure I’ll still be discovering great 2020 albums throughout 2021 so apologies if I find your record too late). It ranged from very apt, bleak records that captured the feel of 2020 to some shiny pop when the bleakness of this year was too much.
Perfect 2020 album. Bleak, political death metal, it’s a must from 2020.
How can you deny the impact that Gulch had with this? It’s nasty and visceral. I hate they couldn’t tour on this in 2020 because it would’ve been nuts.
– Run the Jewels – RTJ4
Run the Jewels are a behemoth and RTJ4 is some of their strongest work. This is relevant hip hop in all ways. Walking in the Snow and JU$T stayed on repeat all year.
– Venom Prison – Primeval
This is a rerecording of a lot of older material but it’s still nice to have new VP this year and the rerecording gives these older tracks some new life.
It’s amazing when a B sides record ends up with just as strong of material as the LP. I don’t know if she will ever top EMOTION but this collection had some great bouncy pop gems to get me through some of the worst days of this year.
– Denzel Curry – Unlocked
I don’t think this was as strong as ZUU for me but it was nice to get this quick, fun LP from Denzel and it was on rotation a lot this year. Denzel Curry can write a hook that you will be singing in your head for days.
This is a super fun hardcore record. This came on my playlist right when quarantine was kicking off and I listened to this on long walks through downtown.
NO MAN has members of Majority Rule and you can really hear it on this. Majority Rule were always some of the most talented musicians I had seen, playing precise and spot-on every time. I hope I can catch NO MAN at some point down the line. I really liked this record a lot.
I wasn’t familiar with Oliver Tree before this year but the wacky promotion and design caught my eye. This record got a lot of plays. It’s fun, bouncy, and weird pop.
Hardcore Pride Never Dies. This is such a great hardcore record.
Taylor Swift doesn’t need me giving her any promotion but it’s hard to deny her crushing it this year. Two records and both have super strong material, folklore being the stronger of the two.
This is a really killer metalcore record. It’s a shame no one was able to roundhouse kick to this on tour in 2020.
I had never paid MGK any attention before this record. It’s got some cringe but damn if it wasn’t a great pop punk / pop record. Maybe I just needed some sugary records this year and this was the prescription, but this got a lot of spins.
This is a great 90s style hardcore record members of Gather. I never get tired of this sound.
– Yashira – Fail to Be
It’s been two years since Shrine came out and a lot of personal trauma for the band. They pulled all of that together and made a really crushing record. I still haven’t been able to really listen to this enough since it’s so new but even with just a couple listens I know it belongs on this list.
Singles and EPs
– John K Samson – Fantasy Baseball at the End of the World
This was the song of the year, I think. JKS is a god amongst men and can really do no wrong.
This is short and to the point, no room for filler. 4 songs in 6 minutes packed with riffs.
– Alkaline Trio – EP
Alkaline Trio dropped this in early quarantine and it was a welcome EP for me. Classic Alk3 sound. All three tracks are great.
Lucero dropped this as a Spotify one off single. It’s a throwback to their old sound with more punk influence. I don’t know if this was an old recording they had floating or a song that didn’t fit that they just decided to record, but I’d love a whole EP like this.
I saw this on Twitter and downloaded it. I had thought about hitting them up to do something with it but a couple labels beat me to the punch. Great metalcore debut, I hope they do more.
– Buggin’ – Buggin’ Out
Another great, fun hardcore EP.
I love these no filler hardcore EPs like this. Perfect mini-mosh on the way to work or the post office. Snare sound is on point. XXX
This two song Halloween EP from Superchunk was a nice surprise this year, one original and a Sisters of Mercy cover.
– End It – One Way Track
This came out early in the year and I didn’t hear it until much later in the year, but what a great knuckle dragger of a hardcore record.
Fun, weird, all over the place, even better than their debut. I liked this EP a lot.
This didn’t get as much attention as it should have. Heaven’s Die members – Crowbar/Danzig influence and they do it so well. Really hoping for a new Heaven’s Die release in 2021.
Great 6 song vegan hardcore EP from New Age Records,
There’s something about this band that I just really like. I like the strained vocals. This is a great follow up to Moment of Violence.
Spy – Service Weapon
Another nasty hardcore record from this year that just seemed to sum things up.