As January draws to a close, unlike 12 months ago, the scale for new releases has been rather quiet.
We can blame lockdown for that, but this slight lull has its benefits, of course. Like backtracking to yesteryear and the releases that avoided our ears.
We won’t waste your time here. With this feature, we said our piece during part one and as promised, here is the final part of our two-part feature, selecting albums that we didn’t cover in 2020.
If you missed the first part, you can visit via the link below.
Magik Markers: 2020
After a lengthy layoff, Magik Markers returned with their fourth record and arguably their best in 2020.
Once the exponents of lo-fi noise-rock, the band has thrown their sound template against the brick wall and seemingly spent the last five years listening to Neil Young’s discography. In between the the no-wave bluster are beautifully crafted campfire songs that Bardo Pond might have written if they ever decided to swerve the weed. It’s a lovely change up.
Ghostpoet: I Grow Tried But Dare Not Fall Asleep
Cards on the table: Ghostpoet’s I Grow Tried But Dare Not Fall Asleep came within a whisker of making our Top 50 records of 2020.
An album immersed in existential dread, thus highlighting the sign of our times, Ghostpoet hasn’t sounded so honest since the equally brilliant Shedding Skin. Through wiry jazz-inspired instrumentation, it’s raw anxiety committed to tape.
Sprain: As Lost Through Collision
The Los Angles collective’s debut full-length album, As Lost Trough Collision is the kind of album that ’90s post-hardcore heads will salivate over for years to come.
Sounding like the lovechild of June of 44, Sprain bring to life the quiet/loud production techniques in explosive fashion here.
Billy Nomates: Billy Nomates
“Back in my day we had nothing/We lived in happy misery,” sings Tor Maries, better known to us as Billy Nomates. It’s one of the many lyrical gems on Notmates’ self-titled debut album.
Providing sharp snapshots of how it is to live in 2021, Billy Nomates brings to life the norm’ in unique tale-spinning fashion. Fans of Sleaford Mods take note (speaking of, Jason Williamson features on the brilliant Supermarket Sweep). You’ve just stumbled across your new favourite artist.
Matt Christensen: Petty
Swollen Sun Records
Zelienople’s Matt Christensen’s solo material is prolific, having released over 120 pieces of new music (he’s already released three in 2021).
Christensen‘s Petty EP is the best of the crop from his 2020 output. A lovely ambient sprawl backed by his fragile vocals. This is one rabbit hole listeners need to go down.
Lemon Quartet: Crestless
Akron, Ohio’s Lemon Quartet went about their business quietly in 2020, releasing their debut album, Crestless. The album title itself perfectly encapsulates what the Lemon Quartet creates here.
Seemingly brought up on a diet of old jazz classics, Lemon Quartet put their own spin on the genre, creating ambient, atmospheric compositions that could be described as post-jazz. Not since The Drift’s Memory Drawings has something sounded so modest and sparse.
Ekin Fil: Coda
The Helen Scarsdale Agency
Turkish ambient drone artist, Ekin Fil, has spent years quietly chipping away and releasing music and with Coda, she has released one of her strongest records yet.
It’s ambient minimalism at its finest hour. As an aside, late in 2020 Fil also collaborated with Canadian artist, Aidan Baker for the Dark Well EP. That release is well worth a look, too.
Holy Motors: Horse
Wharf Cat Records
Estonian collective, Holy Motors, released their debut, Slow Sundown in 2018. The band’s aesthetic matching the album’s title down to the ground.
Their second, Horse, follows a similar path. An album filled with slow-motion atmospheric shoegaze-inspired country ditties that are tailor-made for lamenting around a campfire.
Zachary Cale: False Spring
Ride Through the Rain Music/All Hands Electric
We’re quite partial to Americana here at Sun 13 and Zachary Cale released one of the finest singer-songwriter albums in 2020 with False Spring.
The New York-based troubadour has been kicking around for years and with False Spring (his sixth album), he has produced what is arguably his most ambitious set of songs yet. A grade songwriting.
Nubya Garcia: Source
It was a surprise to see that Nubya Garcia‘s Source didn’t show up on a lot of the more prominent publications’ end of year lists.
If one wants a futuristic spin on jazz and dub, then Source is your poison, not just in name but in sound. Garcia covers all bases on her debut album. The musicianship is not only water-tight. It’s off the scale (see opening cut, Pace).
Purchase from Bandcamp
Daren Muti: Citizens Facing the Sun
Araki Records/Du Haut du Sol
Parisian artist, Daren Muti, featured on Sun 13 earlier this year, however his debut EP, Citizens Facing the Sun, is so good that it would be remiss to not include it here.
Muti combines elements of dream-pop and shoegaze splendour and the results are beautiful. Get this in your life sooner rather than later.
Mike Weis: 49 days (Music For A Transition)
Inspired by the death of his father-in-law, Zelienople‘s Mike Weis employs the tradition of Zen Buddhism and a ritual that is performed for 49 days following the death of a loved one on 49 days (Music For A Transition).
It’s meditate in every sense, with rippling percussion, warm drones and a lo-fi hum that we may associate with what The Caretaker has produced over the last 10 years.
NØ MAN: Erase
Washington, D.C.’s NØ MAN unleash a hellstorm of bludgeoning circle pit fury on their second album, Erase.
In all of its 22 minutes of glory, NØ MAN are the result of a wild one night stand between Killdozer and the Blood Brothers. One for all you noise-rock fiends out there.