As 2020 reaches its halfway point, there are already plenty of great albums the year has given us. We've narrowed it down to just five albums we consider the essential listening releases of the year so far.
Run The Jewels - "RTJ4"
More than just another entry in the Run The Jewels saga, "RTJ4" is a politically-charged soundtrack perfect for 2020. Killer Mike and El-P display visceral anger through both classic and futuristic hip-hop production.
Together the duo elevates each other's talents, with El-P's knack for production combined with sharp-witted rhymes to complement Killer Mike's abrasive and hard-hitting delivery. It's a rap album anyone unhappy with the currently political times can get a relatable sense of frustration from.
Charli XCX - "how i'm feeling now"
"how i’m feeling now” is pop singer and songwriter Charli XCX’s quarantine album. But “how i’m feeling now” isn’t just a mere collection of pop bangers Charli XCX is pumping out to hold her fans over during a crisis. The album gives listeners the full album experience as a creative journey and creative release.
The album contains relatable and emotional song topics related to living in isolation while also exploring a new sonic direction for Charli XCX. This is the first album where Charli XCX has fully embraced her experimental side, and the exciting direction results in some of her most addicting and interesting songs to date.
The Strokes - "The New Abnormal"
After a seven-year drought since their last full-length album, The Strokes returned with a comeback album of unexpected evolution and maturity. The album finds the band's members coming off a string of successful side projects and all of these various influences find their way onto "The New Abnormal."
"The Adults are Talking" is a catchy opener reminiscent of post-punk bangers from "Is This It," while "At the Door" is an emotional and dark showcase from frontman Julian Casablancas. Everything in between on "The New Abnormal" pulls from both nostalgia and modern influences to create one of The Strokes' best albums yet.
Tame Impala - "The Slow Rush"
“The Slow Rush” finds Tame Impala at a defining moment in Kevin Parker's artistic timeline, following up on the crossover appeal of his 2015 album "Currents."
While not an artistic evolution of the likes seen between Tame Impala’s previous releases, “The Slow Rush” operates in a groovy and psychedelic-pop space in the band’s most easy listening form.
Jeff Rosenstock - "NO DREAM"
Akin to Jeff Rosenstock’s previous effort “POST-,” “NO DREAM” lands at a once again perfect occasion for Rosenstock’s personality and perspective to become the soundtrack of the moment.
From abrasive punk sprints like "NO TIME" to anthem anger on the title track, Rosenstock’s relentless ability to inject infectiousness into every verse and hook while filling ears with punk production ear candy is nonstop.