What a year in music. It’s been rather well stocked with great material — whether we’re talking about film or TV scores, soundtracks, albums, EPs, or singles. To make things a bit more fun, I’ve asked several musicians you probably dig to join me in sharing their Top 5 (or more) releases of the year.
The musicians featured are Trevor Gureckis (M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant, Bloodline); Le Matos; Mecha Maiko; Makeup and Vanity Set; Burning Witches Records co-founders Gary Dimes (All of Them Witches) and Darren Page (BurningTapes); Highway Superstar; and Lefti.
Some of them wrote a little narrative to explain their choices, but it wasn’t required. A few went over five (including me). Some chose just studio albums, others focused on soundtracks, and some offered up a bit of everything. All had fun. The contributors appear in alphabetical order. Enjoy the ride.
Burning Witches Records
Gary Dimes, co-founder
- Bat For Lashes – Lost Girls. Natasha Khan’s best album yet — rammed full of standout synth-powered pop songs.
- BABii – HiiDE. Stunning debut album released on one of the best labels around, Death Waltz Originals.
Darren Page, co-founder
- Bat For Lashes – Lost Girls
- Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell
- Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Watchmen (Music from the HBO Series)
(Kung Fury artist; St. Lucia remixer; Rosso Corsa Collective artist; Vehlinggo Presents contributor)
- Shura – Forevher
- Beck – Hyperspace
- Electric Youth – Memory Emotion
- Le Flex – Flex Appeal
- Michael Oakley – Introspect
- Duett – Movement
- SebastiAn – Thirst
(Score composers for Turbo Kid and Summer of 84; long-time electronic producers; Vehlinggo Presents contributors)
- Tourist – Everyday
- Gesaffelstein – Novo Sonic System
- Black Marble – Bigger Than Life
- Automatic – Signal
- Rob Simonsen – Rêveries
- Fear Of Tigers – Echo Drop EP
- French 79 – Joshua
- Adana Twins – Picture: Adana Twins
- Undercatt – Cadabra/Vegas
- Throwing Snow – The Death of Pragmatism
- AFTERLIFE Records – Realm Of Consciousness Pt. IV (Compilation)
(Producer and DJ; Anoraak remixer; French Horn Rebellion collaborator)
- Drager – Five Stars
- Luxxury – It’s Not Funny
- Purple Disco Machine – Discotheque
- Starchild & The New Romantics – VHS 1138
- Peppe Citarella & Mijangos – “Bongo Bonga (feat. Ernie Bacquer)”
Makeup and Vanity Set
(AKA Matthew Pusti and score composer for Atlanta Monster, Radio Rental, To Live and Die in L.A., Up and Vanished, and more; synth musician)
- Panther Modern – Los Angeles 2020 EP
- Multiple Man – High on the Hog
- Majeure – Mass Flashback
- Cliff Martinez – Too Old to Die Young (Original Series Soundtrack)
- Boy Harsher – Careful
(AKA Hayley Stewart; Oro Records artist; ex-Dead Astronauts; Vehlinggo Presents contributor)
She Past Away – Disko Anksiyete
This is one of my favorite new bands, thanks to Shawn Ward (FM Attack). We were up late one night, when he was staying at my apartment for Outland Toronto, and when he put this album on I was immediately sold.
Ye Gods – Ye Gods
Antoni Maiovvi has many projects that I love, but Ye Gods is especially playful and surprising. I really appreciate the redlined spirit of this EP.
Daphni – Sizzling EP
While many artists (myself included) seem to be turning more to the ’90s for our dose of nostalgia, Dan Snaith keeps it real. Each track revolves around soulful disco samples, while the ’90s vibes are kept neatly in a warm 909 drumkit with the occasional vocal hit.
TWINS – New Cold Dream
I like this album because it’s like the goth older brother to Let’s! It has a fantastic industrial ’80s palette and Matt’s voice is perfect.
King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats’ Nest
Do I like thrash metal? Nope. But I love this album and think it perfectly expresses the restlessness I feel when thinking about this planet.
(Film and TV composer — M. Night Shyamalan’s Apple TV+ series Servant, Henry Jacobson’s Bloodline, John Crowley’s The Goldfinch)
- Amie Doherty – Undone (An Amazon Original Series Soundtrack)
- Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow – Luce (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
- Alex Weston – The Farewell (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
- Mac Quayle – Mr. Robot, Volume 6 (Original Television Series Soundtrack)
- Mica Levi – Monos (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Vehlinggo‘s Aaron Vehling
I’m on the same page with some of the others, but some additional releases really got my attention. (My agreements with the others are in parentheses, and I was definitely one of those who went over five.)
- Chromatics – Closer To Grey
- Deadly Avenger – Your God Is Too Small
- Jorja Chalmers – Human Again
- Lou Rebecca – Restless
- Lust For Youth – Lust For Youth
- Mecha Maiko – Let’s
- Mr. Eff – Eyes Down
- (Bat For Lashes – Lost Girls)
- (Electric Youth – Memory Emotion)
- (Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell)