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MUSIC FEATURE: Bring The Noise UK – Our Favourite Records Of 2020

Despite how 2020 has turned out for the live music scene, it most certainly hasn’t stopped the release of a multitude of incredible new records. As we come to the end of this year, the Bring The Noise UK team took the time to look back on the last twelve months and the records they’ve loved. Read on to find out who made the cut!

 

Hannah Gillicker – Editor

1.  Enter Shikari – Nothing is True, & Everything is Possible

Whenever Enter Shikari release an album it always makes it onto my end of year list – this year is no different. Nothing is True & Everything is Possible is, in my eyes, an absolute masterpiece (I’m pretty sure I say this every time too) and yet again Enter Shikari have proven that they are untouchable. I can’t pick a favourite track, the record flows so seamlessly and as soon as it’s over I’m ready to hit the play button again. Absolute perfection.

2. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings

I’ve always liked Biffy Clyro, but A Celebration Of Endings has converted me into a full-blown fan. Whenever I hear the opening seconds of North Of No South my mood instantly lifts, which is something I think we’ve all needed in this testing year. So, thank you Biffy for providing the perfect summer soundtrack that has also brightened many a dark, gloomy winter’s day.

3. Phoxjaw – Royal Swan 

I’ve been a big fan of Phoxjaw since their debut EP Goodbye Dinosaur… and Royal Swan continues to prove why these Bristolian alt-rockers are a firm favourite of mine. Not only is it enthralling on a musical level, I also love the backstory of this album – from the band’s recording experience at Devil’s Bridge Cottage, to meeting collaborator William Blair (who plays an organ solo in Bats For Bleeding) in a local pub. It all comes together to form a fascinating and well-rounded record, one that I will continue to enjoy for many years to come.

4. Bitch Falcon – Staring At Clocks

5. Nova Twins – Who Are The Girls?

6. Loathe – I Let It In And It Took Everything 

7. Bring Me The Horizon – Post Human: Survival Horror 

8. Poppy – I Disagree 

9. Boston Manor – GLUE 

10. Palm Reader – Sleepless 


Nicola Craig – Head of Live

1. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings

Where do I even start? If anyone was going to turn 2020 around it was going to be Biffy, let’s be honest. Offering up eleven tracks of pure goodness from heartfelt, tear-jerker Space to the uplifting optimism shared through Tiny Indoor Fireworks it’s a great listen from start to finish. This album also provided one of my favourite virtual performances of the year when the trio performed it in full at The Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow, visually and musically stunning it was a really special watch. I think everyone’s who has heard this album knows when Cop Syrup and The Champ are unleashed to a live music hungry audience, it’s going to be a very special (and rowdy) moment.

2. Holly Humberstone – Falling Asleep At The Wheel 

Holly’s debut EP was the one I was most looking forward to this year and it really did not disappoint. When you merge mesmerising vocals with raw, warm and emotive lyrics these tracks make you experience every emotion through the release’s short duration. I love the two opposites the EP shows from the sombre, reflective side with Deep End singing of helping one of her sisters through a difficult time, to sassy pop shown with Vanilla telling of when a relationship just gets a bit stale, with lyrics such as “I have my best nights without you” being hard to not passionately sing-along to. Confidently introducing herself and her sound to the world, the EP release followed a UK and European tour with Lewis Capaldi. The future is definitely bright for Holly Humberstone but I just hope it won’t be too long until a full-length release follows – it’ll probably feature on my 2021 list, let’s be honest.

3. Boston Manor – GLUE

Boston Manor’s third album saw them continuing to explore new territories with their sound. GLUE is quite simply captivating, taking listeners on twist and turns throughout the release and in turn showing off their most defined body of work yet. The release’s lyrics tackles a number of topical issues including toxic masculinity, the generational divide and conforming to societal norms, making it easy to resonate with tracks and the emotions explored. Plasticine Dreams became one of my favourite (and most played!) tracks of the year, thanks to its soaring chorus and empowered guitar riffs. Boston Manor have firmly hooked my attention with this release and I’d definitely recommend checking it out. 

4. Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

5. MORGAN – Alien 

6. Poppy – I Disagree

7. Lizzy Farrall – Bruise

8. Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor

9. Lauv – ~how i’m feeling~

10. Knucklepuck – 20/20 


Florin Petrut – Writer

1.  Enter Shikari – Nothing is True, & Everything is Possible

Oh my GOD, this album is brilliant. When I first got to listen to it in full back at the end of March whilst writing my review, I was absolutely floored by how good Nothing is True, & Everything is Possible was – and still is. By that point, Enter Shikari had only released { The Dreamer’s Hotel }, the king and T.I.N.A – whose immense rave-rock synths quickly and easily turned it into my most-streamed song of the year – so everything else was fresh to my ear, and hit me like the proverbial train. From the 1-2-3 pacings of Waltzing off the Face of the Earth (I. Crescendo) or the soft sensibilities of the pressure’s on, to the James Bond / Ennio Morricone infused two-part journey Marionettes (I. The Discovery of Strings) & Marionettes (II. The Ascent), and even to the symphonic extravagance of the Rou Reynolds-composed Elegy for Extinction, Shikari’s sixth album is nothing short of a masterpiece, in my opinion. Hats off to Reynolds and the lads for this one, can’t wait to experience it live… hopefully sometime soon!

2. Bring Me the Horizon – Post Human: Survival Horror 

Before the release of this EP, the only Bring Me the Horizon song I liked and actively listened to was Ludens, so it’s safe to say I wasn’t really a fan of them. They then went and released the first EP in the Post Human anthology/series/chapter, Survival Horror, and boy oh boy did it turn me around. It’s just so good! From the Linkin Park-esque Teardrops, the very topical Parasite Eve and the aforementioned Ludens, to “surprises” such as 1×1 (feat. Nova Twins), and the absolutely massive KingslayerBMTH and BABYMETAL sounded pretty sketchy on paper to me (admittedly, not a fan of either of them prior to this), but this song won me over in a matter of seconds. All I have to say is: Bring Me the Next EP!

3. Eskimo Callboy – MMXX EP

Two EPs in my Top 3? Is this cheating? I don’t care, I love them too much!

I remember the first time I heard Eskimo Callboy – a friend sent me Hypa Hypa this summer, telling me to absolutely listen to that song, so I did, and my immediate reaction upon hearing the Scooter sample and then the switch into their usual metal style was “What *IS* this??” – I was immediately flabbergasted and wanted more. Their MMXX EP more than delivered on that hunger for more, with Hate/Love and MC Thunder II (Dancing Like a Ninja) very quickly going onto my ‘Favourites’ playlist, and subsequently followed up by past hits, such as MC Thunder. I’ll definitely need to go to an Eskimo Callboy show once things start up again, their energy is just too good to not experience live!

4. Deftones – Ohms

5. Avatar – Hunter Gatherer

6. Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man

7.  Silverstein – A Beautiful Place to Drown

8. Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets to My Downfall

9. The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic

10. Marko Hietala – Pyre of the Black Heart


Louis Tsangarides – Writer

1. Code Orange – Underneath

A staggeringly modern, terrifyingly thrilling, enthralling yet deeply cathartic digital nightmare that takes everyone else’s efforts in heavy music and throws them into the abyss. As cliché as this phrase is, the heavier parts are genuinely heavier and the melodic parts are indeed more melodic. Possibly the only band who have actually pulled this trick off successfully. The use of electronics and how they are influenced as much by Death Grips as they are by Type O Negative puts every generic, boring metalcore band who see that as a way to “mature” their sound to utter shame. You get songs that would sound enormous in a club like The Easy Way and Underneath, you get the most pulverising and chaotic mosh anthems like In Fear and Back Inside The Glass, and you even get the best Alice In Chains riff in years with Autumn And Carbine. The title-track’s stupidly catchy chorus lyric “You’ve got it all figured out, until you’re drowning in it” sums it up perfectly, and that song has become a personal anthem. If I had heard this record when I was 14, I would have found it bizarre, terrifying and nonsensical, but if I had heard this record when I was 15, I would have dropped everything from my life and dedicated myself to being in a band.

2. Spanish Love Songs – Brave Faces Everyone 

Millennial angst: the album. Spanish Love Songs have created a heartfelt, incredibly passionate follow-up to 2018’s brilliant Schmaltz and cranked the defiant sadness up to 1000. Yes, everything is awful, you feel like you’re a sad old man, but you are going to just keep going somehow. If you’re a millennial, and even if you don’t usually go for things like this, I defy you not to be a little bit choked up by the crescendo of the title track at the end. Put on your bravest faces, hug the ones you love and sing your hearts out to anthems like Kick and Beachfront Property.

3. Napalm Death – Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism 

All logic dictates that bands should stop being good at some point. Napalm Death defy that album after album. From the powerful, punishing Backlash Just Because to the post-punk inspired Amoral, the god-emperors of grindcore lay waste to all comers and cement their enduring status as a blessed treasure of aggressive, forward-thinking music. Try not to make us wait so long next time gents, eh?

4. Trivium – What The Dead Men Say

5. Svalbard – When I Die, Will I Get Better?

6. Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment

7. Deftones – Ohms

8. Eternal Champion – Ravening Iron

9. Sharptooth – Transitional Forms

10. Killer Be Killed – Reluctant Hero


Rosie Solomon – Writer

1. Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA 

SAWAYAMA heralds in the new wave of pop – bombastic tunes mix nu-metal with stadium rock and pay homage to the early 2000s. Rina is an expert songwriter who uses pop melodies to write tunes about inherited trauma and racism, and this album is an absolute show stopper.

2. Vile Creature – Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! 

Vile Creature are a tiny two-piece with a mammoth sound, one that encompasses some of the best doom in recent years. A heavy album like Glory, Glory!… is the perfect soundtrack to a year like 2020, and the album closer double whammy of Glory! Glory! and Apathy Took Helm is one of the most satisfying moments in metal this year.

3. Couch Slut – Take a Chance on Rock ‘n’ Roll 

An album which could soundtrack a bloody murder in the backstreets of New York, this album from noise punk band Couch Slut continues this band’s trajectory of putting the ugliest moments of womanhood to music.

4. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters

5. Maud the Moth – Orphne

6. CLT DRP – Without the Eyes 

7. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher 

8. Moses Sumney – Grae

9. Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin Kynsi

10. Sex Swing – Type II 


Henry McCaughtrie – Writer

1. The Lawrence Arms – Skeleton Coast

I can’t remember the last time I pre-ordered an album, but I was looking forward to Skeleton Coast so much that I did just that. The Lawrence Arms are one of those bands who seem to get better with age – Brendan Kelly says they’re a band who are meant to be old – and Skeleton Coast is right up there with their best. There’s something about this album that really struck me, I can’t quite explain it, it’s just a feeling; but Skeleton Coast is easily my favourite of the year.

2. Taylor Swift – Folklore

Taylor Swift has always been great, let’s make that clear, however, Folklore might be her best effort to date. Folklore is an album made for lockdown (whichever one you’re in now) and is also the best indie record, with the most indie credibility, of the year. It’s brilliant!

3. Get Dead – Dancing With The Curse

Look, I’m just as surprised as you with this being so high up on my list, but Dancing with the Curse is something I would have loved as a 15-year-old and has been a breath of fresh air, for a now 31-year-old, in what’s been a shitty year. I’ve seen Get Dead compared with Operation Ivy and Rancid, and while I won’t make those same comparisons, this album is full of high energy, thoughtful, but furious punk rock, full of hooks, raised fists and plenty of singalongs.

4. PEARS – PEARS

5. Rotting Out – Ronin

6. Protest the Hero – Palimpest

7. HAIM – Women in Music Part 3

8. Bill Callahan – Gold Record

9. Caribou – Suddenly

10. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher


Richard Webb – Writer

1. Polaris – The Death Of Me

This album is a slam dunk. The band have taken everything that they learned from their debut and have honed them to create a metalcore album that would stand toe-to-toe with any of the genres long-standing greats. If you’re looking for riffs, they have plenty. Mosh pit moments? They’ve got a shed load of those too and a plethora of hooks to sink your teeth in to. The Death Of Me dropped all the way back in February of this god forsaken year and has sat at the top of my most played ever since. This release is a true metalcore masterpiece. If you need any further convincing then do yourself a favour and put on any of the three singles for the album Masochist, Landmines or Hypermania.

2. Svalbard – When I Die, Will I Get Better?

These UK underground darlings have never been afraid to stand up for what they believe in. The band are outspoken on many important subjects such as feminism and equal rights, so it must have been quite the shock when the news broke about their accusations made against Holy Roars‘ founder Alex Fitzpatrick, the founder of the label who would be distributing the album in the UK. However, when an album is as good as this it is almost impossible to derail and the band managed to find themselves a new home at Church Records with seemingly little delay and dropped the release of their career. An album that is as abrasive and heavy as it is beautiful and hauntingly melodic. With a grandiose, avant-garde sound akin to the likes of Alcest and Deafhaven this album will kick you in the teeth and then sing you to sleep before enticing you to come back for more time and time again.

3. Video Nasties – Dominion

This release is a tough one to describe. In fact, this BAND is tough to describe. This group of Scouse roughians came out of nowhere and released one of the most compelling and well-written albums I have heard in a long while. The music hops from genre to genre sometimes within successive bars of the same song, from thrash metal grooves and velocity to rock ‘n’roll and everything in between. Imagine Black Breath and At The Gates going toe-to-toe and somebody being lucky enough to hit the record button during the chaos. Not only that, the visual aesthetic of the band and their marketing is compelling, with them engulfing themselves in the culture of horror. There is a little something for every type of heavy music fan on Dominion and with a rescheduled tour supporting the death metal darlings Gatecreeper still penned for 2021, the sky is the limit for these lads.

4. Lorna Shore — Immortal

5. Konvent – Puritan Masochism

6. Justice For The Damned – Pain Is Power

7. Hum – Inlet

8. Plague Years – Circle Of Darkness

9. August Burns Red – Guardians

10. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings


Katie Conway-Flood – Writer

1. The Killers – Imploding The Mirage 

Las Vegas rock band The Killers returned in epic, stadium-filling style this year, with the release of their sixth studio album Imploding The Mirage. Dropping in August, the current trio Brandon Flowers, Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci released a record that recognises the band’s synth pop DNA sound, dominant on debut Hot Fuss, but also brought a renewed glistening country rock sound to the forefront. The album boasts songs with lyrics in life and love and euphoric arena rock singles, Caution, Fire In Bone, My Own Soul’s Warning and Dying Breed. Ultimately though, Imploding The Mirage is just another move to prove why these Nevada natives remain one of indie rock and roll’s biggest 21st century bands.

2. Enter Shikari – Nothing is True & Everything is Possible 

Eclectic quartet Enter Shikari have a soundscape so sporadic in nature that no type of sounds is off limits. Since forming  Shikari have dabbled in an ever-growing array of sounds, from post-hardcore to electro pop, dance and alternative rock across their sixth studio albums. Most recently in April this year, Rou Reynolds, Rory Clewlow, Chris Batten and Rob Rolfe dropped their ever-experimental effort Nothing is True & Everything is Possible. Showcased in singles such as {The Dreamers Hotel}, the king, T.I.N.A, THE GREAT UNKNOWN and satellites* *, this St Albans outfit once again captured the current mood of society through their lyrical topics that tackles fear and uncertainty of the future, all whilst creating a sound that continuously pushes the boundaries of unpredictable and experimental music itself. 

3. Bring Me The Horizon – Post Human: Survival Horror 

Yorkshire’s Bring Me The Horizon are a forward-thinking band, driven by sonic development and innovation. From the death metal days of debut Count Your Blessings to the genre blurring sixth album amo, Bring Me have successfully evolved, making them one of the best British rock bands of the last decade or so. The story is similar for 2020 EP Post Human: Survival Horror, released in October, following in the footsteps of their 2019 EP Music to Listen to…. Boasting heavy, heart pumping singles Ludens, Parasite Eve, Obey and Teardrops alongside an array of collaborative efforts, Bring Me once again shakes up the unpredictable route their music takes, whilst simultaneously retaining shocking bursts of heavy metal and rock which is synonymous with the band’s roots. 

4. All Time Low – Wake Up, Sunshine

5. The 1975 – Notes On A Conditional Form

6. YUNGBLUD – weird!

7. Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets To My Downfall

8. Circa Waves – Sad Happy

9. IDKHOW – Razzmatazz

10. Palaye Royale – The Bastards 

Nicola Craig
Head of Live with an unwavering love for pop music, the seaside and writing about other people rather than myself.