The Best Albums of August 2020

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The month isn’t quite done yet, so this might seem premature, but there’s a reason for that: We started putting together this best of the month with the intent to have it up for Bandcamp Friday. Then we realized that was next week. Cough. But that’s OK! This is the last day of new releases of the month and a lot of good ones are out today, plus some you might have overlooked from previous weeks. Somehow, with an industry facing an uncertain future, a country in crisis and a pandemic that’s been making things really hard for artists, labels and publications like the one you’re reading right now… great music keeps getting released. And we couldn’t be more thankful for that. Before we usher in the fall, and with it three more months of being overwhelmed by new music, here’s another opportunity to look back over the last few weeks of music and highlight some of the music that you either might have missed or is too good not to mention again.


(Sub Pop)

What We Said: It’s grunge that still speaks to a younger generation, but one on the precipice of understanding just how complex adulthood really is. – Jeff Terich

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Ganser – Just Look at That Sky


What We Said: While the abrasion of their debut Odd Talk hasn’t been filed down, it’s been given new shapes and richer textures, while the rhythmic tension remains the driving force, maintaining a consistently breathtaking urgency through their most otherworldly and accessible moments alike. – Jeff Terich

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Nubya Garcia – Source

(Concord Jazz)

What We Said: What drives Source is an undeniable sense of joy, a freedom in the fluidity of jazz that makes each track feel vibrant and alive. – Jeff Terich

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Imperial Triumphant – Alphaville

(Century Media)

What We Said: Alphaville thrives in this puzzle box scenario, each track requiring repeated listens in order to best comprehend first the general intent of the track, and then the details that permute below the surface. – Brian Roesler

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The Microphones – Microphones in 2020

(P.W. Elverum and Sun)

What We Said: Analogous to the passing of time, the music is dynamic and complicated, yet continues relentlessly, pausing for no one. – Ian MacPhee

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Jason Molina – Eight Gates

(Secretly Canadian)

What We Said: Time seems to stand still in each of these stark, chilling dirges, Molina’s gently plucked chords and otherworldly organ backing lit only by the barest flickering flame. – Jeff Terich

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Necrot – Mortal


What We Said: Necrot provide an experience that is exciting, brutal and a whole lot of fun. In all its drive and sinister energy, Mortal is easily of the year’s strongest death metal releases thus far. – Michael Pementel

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Angel Olsen – Whole New Mess


What We Said: The strings, synths and other expansive accompaniment that have defined her last couple of records enhance an already great thing, but it’s the simple melody beneath the big production that makes her songs unforgettable. – Jeff Terich

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Kelly Lee Owens – Inner Song

(Smalltown Supersound)

What We Said: These are the hallmarks of a great dance producer, someone who can make drastic changes without the listener noticing. This is not the same musician we met three years ago. – Ben Cohn

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Shackleton & Zimpel – Primal Forms

(Cosmo Rhythmatic)

British producer Shackleton made a name for himself early on with a blend of ambient techno and dubstep, though in the past decade he’s expanded his palette via a series of collaborations with different artists, ranging from ambient artist Vengeance Tenfold to Exploded View vocalist Anika. His latest, a set of three lengthy compositions with Polish artist Wacław Zimpel, is another fascinating new turn, using these three tracks to provide three unique sonic journeys. The title track is the most animated of the bunch, a 17-minute intersection of avant garde jazz and pulsing electronics that feels as psychedelic as electronic music gets. “Primal Drones,” meanwhile, is exactly as its title suggests, at times feeling more like an ornate raga than an electronic piece, while closer “Ruined Future Brutal” charts a course from Tuxedomoon-style synth noir (with saxophone) into minimalist oblivion. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that Primal Forms requires a bit of patience from the listener, but at no point is any single moment boring or even uninteresting. Trust it to take you along for the ride and be awed by the horizon that lies before you. – Jeff Terich

Year of the Knife – Internal Incarceration

(Pure Noise)

This album was released a year too late to make it onto our list of 10 Essential Delaware Albums, but it’s good to know that The First State hasn’t gone quiet since we last checked in. Newark’s Year of the Knife are a relentlessly heavy bunch, their Kurt Ballou-recorded debut album a harsh and utterly belligerent 35 minutes of filth-encrusted distortion, hostile growls and menacing rhythmic gallops. As one of the relentlessly intense records to be issued this year, it should serve as a warning for the moment that when stages are finally opened up again, you will almost certainly not be prepared for the pit at a Year of the Knife show. Start doing some cardio. – Jeff Terich

Young Jesus – Welcome to Conceptual Beach

(Saddle Creek)

What We Said: They’re taking risks that almost no other band is right now, and moving toward an influence-agnostic sound that feels radical. – Ben Cohn

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Bully photo by Angelina Castillo

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