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Great Music of 2020

While much of life has been put on hold this year due to the global pandemic, one thing that has thankfully continued is the steady release of new music.

Here's a selection of great recent releases that were added to Kingston Libraries' catalogue in 2020.

 

Rough and Rowdy Ways
Bob Dylan

At the age of 79, Bob Dylan surprised fans and critics alike this year with his first album of original material in almost 10 years. It also happens to be a great album - one of the best of his six-decade career, according to some critics. Dylan's rough, damaged voice perfectly suits the dark lyrics (death and mortality are major themes), while the tight band rolls out moody soundscapes ranging from raucous roadhouse blues to quiet, nocturnal folk and country music. Rough and Rowdy Ways is an album in which you can immerse yourself in it's noir, midnight atmosphere, while marvelling at Dylan's undiminished lyrical powers.

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Chickaboom!
Tami Neilson

Canadian singer, Tami Neilson, who now lives in New Zealand, delivered her strongest album to date this year with Chickaboom!. The album features a great blend of Johnny Cash-inspired country music, slick rockabilly, and retro rhythm and blues, all performed and recorded in a punchy, stripped-back style that will please fans roots rock and roll.

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Igor
Tyler the Creator

Tyler the Creator rose to fame as an American hip-hop artist whose lyrics were so controversial that he was at one point banned from touring Australia. Over the years he has diversified his approach with jazzy musical arrangements and more interesting, less violent lyrics. With his latest release, Igor, Tyler moves beyond hip-hop to create an interesting, futuristic form of abstract electro pop with elements of rap, rock, jazz and soul all blended together in a stream-of-consciousness soundscape.

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The Slow Rush
Tame Impala

Five years after the release of the hit album, Currents, Kevin Parker's one-man-band Tame Impala is back with The Slow Rush. The new album further refines the style of the previous release - slick, dreamy, meticulously produced, sophisticated synth pop that manages to simultaneously sound very '80s and very modern at the same time. Fans who have enjoyed the direction Tame Impala have been moving in over the past few years should be pleased with this album.

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Seeking Thrills
Georgia

This album is a bright, uplifting dance pop platter, with some forays into more exploratory and melancholy territories. As if to make it clear what Seeking Thrills is all about, the first three tracks out of the gate are outstanding electro pop pills perfect for the dance floor. Thankfully, Georgia really expands her song writing skills in this second album and explores new soundscapes and moods that add variety to the whole with more reflective tracks such as Ultimate Sailor and Honey Dripping Sky.

Georgia's voice, much like the synths, conveys a great balance of pop sensibilities with an earnest and uplifting style that exudes melancholy. The album leans heavily into classic 80s dance pop and retro Detroit house but manages to also sound contemporary. Overall, this is an excellent album that confirms Georgia as a great talent to keep an eye on.

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WOMB
Purity Ring

When Purity Ring delivered their first album, Shrines, there were plenty of electro pop bands around, but no one sounded like them. They created their own style right from the start and WOMB, their third album, sees them reclaiming their place with aplomb.

Mixing minimalist synths with a multitude of blips, claps, beats and an unbelievable knack for filling the songs with hooks and melodies that seem to come from another dimension, Purity Ring creates unique soundscapes that seem pure and innocent, while at the same time, conveying some really unsettling and creepy imagery. It's this perfect mix of minimalism that knows when to build up the layers, innocence with creepy and disturbing imagery, that makes Purity Ring stand out in the electro pop scene. WOMB is a blast from start to end.

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Feral
RVG

After the acclaim of their debut album, RVG faced the challenge of recording their follow-up. They decided to record the album the same way they did their first, with the band playing live, and it shows. The band's urgency and energy is present in every song. Feral is a concise 36 minutes long but is packed with outstanding storytelling and powerful messages.

Feral confirms RVG as one of the most important and vital bands in Australia right now. It's no coincidence that they supported The Pixies in their latest tour and they're set to support Faith No More next year. RVG is post punk rock at its best. It sounds like a classic album with the urgency needed in a world that seems to be breaking at the seams and is in dire need of empathy and love. The storytelling and lyrics on Feral deserve, in fact demand, repeated listening and reflection. RVG are undoubtedly an Australian band to watch right now.

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Dead Elysium
Vanishing Point

This band took six years in between albums and it nearly didn't happen. Two band members left but Vanishing Point has returned, and Dead Elysium is not a mere return - it's an album that captures all the best elements of their discography while taking a new step forward. It loudly and proudly reaffirms the band as one of the best melodic metal bands in the world.

Two elements make Vanishing Point stand out. Musically, while their focus is always on melody. The band mixes some power and progressive elements, and a good dash of melancholia that give their music a clearly identifiable sound. Then there's Silvio Massaro. His voice continues to be the element that brings everything together. The epic-symphonic and the intimate quieter moments are all perfectly delivered with his warm and unique tone. Overall, Dead Elysium is an excellent album that has no fillers and explores different musical layers with excellent results.

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