We are already six months into 2020 and there has already been so much great music released by independent artists! As curator of the imPRESSED column, I get to hear TONS of new music but can’t feature it all. That’s why I’m so excited to share ten albums of 2020 that have already been at the top of my playlists. From pop, chamber-pop, folk, R&B, and everything in between, this list will help you discover some great independent artists who have recently released albums or EPs. With great releases like these, I can’t wait to see what other music 2020 has in store!
1. Phoebe Katis – It’s Ok to Cry
“This album is a comment on the social conventions around how we feel and how we express ourselves in an age that is focused on perfection, discipline, and tough love,” says Phoebe Katis. It’s Ok to Cry brings out everyone’s true feelings through Katis’ soothing voice and honest lyrics.
2. Sarah Martinson – Back To You
Back To You features a fierce horn section and funky basslines, combined with Sarah Martinson’s innocent voice. Back To You is a story about the last decade of Martinson’s life, bouncing from jazz to funk to acapella in a unique alt-chamber-pop kind of way.
3. Natalie Shay – Naked
Naked boasts an array of electronic pop that will take you back to the ‘80s. Natalie Shay’s high energy vocals, combined with the bright synth leads and saxophone solos can get anybody in the mood for a dance party!
4. Lou Moss – Praline Lad
Lou Moss has created a new psychedelic soundscape with Praline Lad. Moss’s warm vocals combined with his happy guitar strums bring a chill vibe, perfect for hanging out by the water on a sunny day.
5. Trella – Waiting Games
Singer-songwriter Trella brings us an ethereal indie-pop EP, Waiting Games, filled with introspective tracks that cover every emotion and life experience that a twenty-something-year-old is expected to experience. Full of the highs and lows, Trella takes us on a meditative journey with songs that allow you to dance through everything from magic to heartbreak and all the in-betweens.
6. For Breakfast – Songs in the Key of O
For Breakfast experiments with their post-rock sounds and jazz style for Songs in the Key of O. Each track will hit you with a wall of sound, letting you get lost in the sea of sounds that they have created.
7. Corey Kilgannon – CK Is OK
One of our longtime favorites, Corey Kilgannon brings his folksy acoustic truths to light in his most recent EP, CK Is OK. Reminding listeners that therapy is cool, and it’s okay to soak in your emotions, Corey brings a relaxed vibe to his music that allows you to meditate on the words and look inward for self-reflection.
8. Party Nails – You Don’t Have To Go Home But You Can’t Stay Here
Party Nails, aka Elana Belle, touches on the life of someone in their 20s. You Don’t Have To Go Home But You Can’t Stay Here talks about the life of a regular young adult through topics like relationships, alcohol, and partying, something most young adults can relate to.
9. Starpainter – Bury Me By My Family
Starpainter exists in the carved out spaces between rock, country, and pop. Their debut record, Bury Me By My Family, is representative of a modern era of alt-country: a two-step here, a ballad there, a radio-worthy chorus in between. The songs are steeped in the tradition of prairie-born artistry with a pop sensibility that defies their youth. What it all comes down to is a carefully curated collection of fine songs that set them up for regular rotation for years to come.
10. Marie Clo – Shell(e) Pt. 1
Marie-Clo’s first English EP – Shell(e) Pt. I – speaks of strange times as a hockey wife, reconnecting with womanhood and behaviors that permeate sexism. Especially creative during the darkness that accompanied her PCOS/endo diagnosis, Marie-Clo’s textured indie-pop-electro immerses us in a somber yet incandescent space.
Bonus Track: Minhee Jones – “6Feet”
We couldn’t end this without a nod to a timely new single from Minhee Jones. “6 Feet” is an ode to self-medication, written about all the ways we distract ourselves from reality. Featuring ethereal vocals, glistening instrumentation and cascading harmonies, “6 Feet” is a VERY relevant soundtrack for our times.