Sorry have today released new EP Twixtustwain which features previously released singles “Cigarette Packet” and “Seperate” along side 3 other new tracks. This is the first project since the band released debut album 925 last year. Read here why we named it as the best album of 2020.
Speaking about the new EP the band said in a statement:
“The Twixtustwain songs, shapes and forms are more odd and misshaped to fit around the mantra type lyrical lines. They are smaller ideas that we wanted to explore and put out between albums to follow from the Home Demo/nsmixtapes…. They also show the songs / ideas that developed into 925.”
The band have also released their 2017 Home Demo/ns mixtapes to streaming services for the first time after previously only being available on YouTube and as a cassette release.
Sorry have shared two new singles titled “Separate” and “Cigarette Packet” along with accompanying music videos. The new singles are the first new music from the band since last years extraordinary 925, revisit our review here and see why we named it our Album Of The Year last year here.
Speaking on the new singles singer Asha Lorenz said:
“These songs came from ideas we worked on from home during last year. “The sounds are quite metallic / silver / grey and the lyrical ideas are repetitive almost as if they are whispers / mantras/ worries that you’d say to yourself and keep to yourself.”
The songs also come with clips made by Flasha Prod, the collaboration between Lorenz and Flo Webb. Here’s what Lorenz had to say about the visuals:
We try and make the videos in a playful way whilst also expressing lots of mood and emotion; the use of black space and never showing full faces or using objects (like the toy cars) makes it feel like they’re flashes of thought or surreal memories. We loosely based “Separate” on the J. G. Ballard novel Crash. It’s as if the water is his mind and he’s relaying or planning the series of crashes with the toy cars. Most of all, the videos are used for the colour splash or the movement to give the song almost another layer of rhythm that’s maybe audibly invisible but you visually can feel it within the song. With “Cigarette Packet,” we wanted it to feel claustrophobic and for intensity to build where it felt right. The mouths all merge into one voice, by the end it’s hard to tell who’s saying what, as if all your friends or people you meet are just parts of you. It’s weird what your mind chooses to hear or remember.
The one thing that has kept all us going this year is the amount of incredible music that has continued to flow out of every part of the musical spectrum. There’s been some truly incredible releases over the past twelve months, and we are forever grateful for every artist that has released music to keep us going through these truly wild times. With that said, we’ve narrowed down what we believe is the absolute best of the best of this year, it was no easy task, but to us this is the music that truly stood above the rest.
30. Armand Hammer – Shrines
Surely album cover of the year. This, their fourth album, reflects the angst and anger felt by many. Somehow they still come out sounding quite positive.
— Barry Tucker
29. Tony Bontana – Di-Splay
Witnessing an artist at their dawn is never always easy. However since Bontana’s existence in the musical world, his debut album only capitalises on his extremely concise and evocative musicianship. Di-Splay shows Bontana coming into his own, the album includes a great deal of features that highlights the extreme amount of talent that Bontana is amongst and works with. Godspeed to Tony.
— David Tucker
28. Hachiku – I’ll Probably Be Asleep
Anika Ostendorf releases her long awaited debut album, and her sound has never been fresher. Combining elements of dream-pop, shoegaze and indie rock, Ostendorf has created an album that’s as assured in its delivery as it is as catchy in its grooves. Recorded mostly by just Ostendorf herself “in whatever bedroom she was currently inhabiting” according to her Bandcamp bio, but this only adds to the raw and emotive sound she captures on this album. It’s the almost ultimate lockdown album, touching on themes of becoming grounded and accepting where your life is in the moment, except it was written over the course of the last two years. Perhaps Ostendorf knows more than we do? Either way one thing we know is that we have spent hours getting lost in the swaying sounds of this fantastic debut.
— James Pearson
27. Quelle Chris & Chris Keys – Innocent Country 2
Back for their second collaboration since 2015’s Innocent Country. It’s full of mellow tunes delivered in Quelle’s laid back style. Quelle says the theme of the album is peace. Not a bad shout.
— Barry Tucker
26. Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas
Full of soul, love and a huge helping of natural talent, Lianne La Havas’ latest album is rightly self titled. This album is La Havas through and through. Incredible vocal performances, woozy and dreamy songwriting and an abundance of confidence. Featuring one the most intoxicating riffs in the form of “Can’t Fight” that we named as one of the best songs of the year. And a truly mesmerising cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes” that’ll leave you in utter awe at just how much new depth La Havas brings to this track, just listen to that vocal rise towards the end of the song.
Dan Snaith returns with a more lowkey follow up to 2014’s Our Love, but his extreme craftsmanship and attention to detail remains prominent throughout. Manipulating sounds at his will, to create some of the most heartbreaking whilst simultaneously dance hall worthy beats yet. Acting as a retrospective on his relationship with others and his self, the majestry of this album lies within its ability to be raw whilst being full of joy all at the same time. “Never Come Back” is the perfect example of this, as Snaith looks back at the fallout of a breakup, backed by a highly intoxicating groove. Read here why we named it one of the best songs of the year.
— James Pearson
24. Ulla – Tumbling Towards A Wall
To witness an album so effectively dissolve music to its natural organic roots has never been so beautiful to witness. Sound moves in organic movement, tonal sounds trickle and slide through polyrhythmic trajectories. Ulla Straus composes each of the tracks with a keen eye for satisfaction. Sounds sustain before crumbling and swinging forming clusters. Listening to this album is the pure definition of chaotic beauty. Understanding a collective movement of all parts forming a complete whole.
— David Tucker
23. Perfume Genius – Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
Mike Hadreas follows up 2017’s No Shape with an album that shifts and twists through various styles of pop, shoegaze, country and industrial rock. Yet in each field of sound Hadreas has never sounded as confident as on this album. The one thing that binds all these varying sounds and moods together is Hadreas phenomenal vocal performance. He consistently pushes himself to see how intimate and simultaneously vibrant as he can get. There’s also room for one of the best alternative pop songs of this year in the form of “On The Floor” that has such a fantastic groove, melody and chorus that it’ll have you on the floor, either from dancing too much to it or reading deep into the lyrics.
On their debut album, Off The Meds define their sound with a huge collection of absolute bangers. From start to finish the album contains addictive rhythms and lyrics that will keep you driven and motivated. The creativity of the sound being put into each of the tracks is so refreshing whilst making the tracks so much more enjoyable. Dance music at its finest!
— David Tucker
21. Bdrmm – Bedroom
It’s easy these days for any band with a reverb pedal and overdriven guitars to be classed as “somewhat shoegaze”. However there’s a feeling that needs to be captured when creating this music, and on debut album Bedroom, bdrmm define this mood to a T. Searing soundscapes, hard hitting riffs and lyrics that speak on themes of self-acceptance, anxiety and the disparity of youth. Their influences are clear, but the delivery matches that of many of the shoegaze greats.
One of the most assured and confident debut albums released this year from Bristol based country, folk, indie singer-songwriter Katy J Pearson. There’s not a moment on this album that feels wasted or half-arsed as Pearson delivers one heartfelt ballad after another. There’s also a some truly captivating songwriting and storytelling layered within each song, just look at opener “Tonight”. But there’s also some fantastically groovy pop bangers within, such as “Take Back The Radio”, which we named as one of the best songs of the year. Pearson has finally declared herself as a modern country queen and we hope her reign is long and joyous.
Archie Marshall’s bleak and blissful songwriting continues to be ever enchanting on third album Man Alive!. On The OOZ Marshall created a world for the listener to inhabit, but this time around he’s taken a look at the world around him, pondering questions of what the hell is going on? Through jazzy instrumentation and hazy soundscapes Marshall returns with perhaps his most succinct project to date, refining his sound to its purest elements. There’s also deep amounts of raw emotion laid bare on this album, from the isolation inspired “(Don’t Let The Dragon) Draag On” to the dreary ballad of “Perfecto Miserable”, Marshall is at his most vulnerable. Through all the despair and depression that’s infused within this album there’s also an underlying sense of hope, that things might just get better if we try. The blissful serenity sign off on closer “Please Complete Thee” is an embodiment of just that.
Ana Roxanne has an incredible ability to transport you to a plain of absolute tranquility through her deeply meditative and evoking ambient music. As she intertwines elements of nature within her songs she allows you to reconnect with the world around you, realising its true beauty. Even just the simple mellotron arpeggio of “- – -” can take you back to memories and places you thought had long been forgotten. Read here why we named it one of the best songs of the year. The cover may be just a simple white sleeve, but within there’s so much more colour and vibrancy that can only be truly appreciated when you dive deep into the sounds.
Pink Siifu released NEGRO this year, a very angry and noisy album. In contrast, this collab sounds fresh and relaxed, and with its huge number of amazing contributors (Madlib and liv.e to name two), reflects much of their musical heritage, but is firmly a modern hiphop classic.
— Barry Tucker
16. I Break Horses – Warnings
A truly magical journey of dream-pop, carried by Maria Lindën’s dreamy vocals. Built out of Lindën re-imaging the soundtracks to classic films she was watching, Warnings is one of those hidden gems that just makes you stop when you first hear it. Infusing elements of 80’s pop and alternative electronic music, this album is as colourful as it is expansive. It’s easy to get lost in the many layered soundscapes that Lindën beautifully crafts, just look at opener “Turn”. Just over 9 minutes long and yet over that course it consistently moves and travels within itself, taking you along with it on a cloud of pure bliss.
The more brutal and bloody follow up to 2019’s There Existed An Addiction To Blood sees Daveed Diggs and co. create a true horror movie within an album. The flow and rhythm of Diggs’ deeply descriptive and potent storytelling is largely unrivalled. The production of this album is also a feat within itself, fusing elements of hip-hop, industrial metal and noise rock to make a sound that is as harsh as it is captivating, drawing you in with every listen. “Say The Name” is a perfect example of this as the ending descends into all out twisted chaos. Sequels always have the immense task of becoming bigger than the original, and Visions Of Bodies Being Burned does just that, with an unchallenged cool. There’s also an incredible amount of perfectly placed and effective features from the likes of Cam & China, Ho99o9 and Sickness.
— James Pearson
14. Adrianne Lenker – Songs And Instrumentals
After Big Thief’s tour at the start of the year was cut short, Adrianne Lenker returned back to Massachusetts, rented a small cabin and said she would give herself a break from working. The exact opposite of that happened and the result of Lenker’s itching desire to write is Songs And Instrumentals. Recorded entirely through its entire process on analogue equipment, this album is intimacy defined to its core. The glistening guitars and floating melodies of “Anything” is enough to make anyone believe that they can find love. Lenker is at one with nature on this album and through the natural recording techniques and bird sounds placed throughout she perfectly captures that feeling of getting back to simplicity.
What a year for SAULT! Releasing their 3rd and 4th albums of soul with jazz, hiphop and Afrobeat tweaks. Inflo and Cleo Sol (whose solo album is also very good) have made tunes that in these difficult times, need to be heard.
— Barry Tucker
12. Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now
Charli XCX continues her incredible run of powerful future pop albums with her latest How I’m Feeling Now, an album written and created entirely during lockdown. It’s not only a showcase of Charli’s incredible songwriting talent, but her never diminishing work ethic. Packed full of bangers and dance-floor anthems that capture the desire we all have to simply be around people again. Opener “Pink Diamond” is an ode to the club and that feeling of joy from being within a big crowd where the only feeling that is going round is just pure joy. Produced in part by Dylan Brady, one half of hyper-pop masterminds 100 gecs, this album also features some clear cut production, almost feeling as if you’re inside a vacuum as every sound is pulled front and centre. The ultimate lockdown album shows just what can be done within the limitations of home.
— James Pearson
11. HMLTD – West Of Eden
The ethos of HMLTD is to never create two songs that sound the same, and boy is this album packed full of variety. From spaghetti western ballads, to post punk ragers to the text to speech Japanese glitch pop “Why?”, this album has it all. But just because the style changes that doesn’t mean the quality does. Each song is full of so much bravado that it’s enticing to try and guess where they will be going next. This album certainly packs a punch, just listen to the bass line of “LOADED”, whilst also being heartfelt and full of earnest on the 80’s pop ballad anthem “Mikey’s Song”. Read here why we named it one of the best songs of the year. A commentary on the disparity of modern civilisation, whilst also offering hope that we can start anew, this is certainly a capsule of modern life distilled into a downright joyously crafted album.
— James Pearson
10. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo
The latest outing from Gibbs shows him team up with long time master producer Alchemist. Gibbs is an absolute professional when it comes to story telling. The way that messages and narratives are put together are a mix between humorous and sobering. This album yet again defines Gibbs as one of the most important artists of out generation. Alchemist provides the perfect landscape for an 80s film that Gibbs narrates.
— David Tucker
9. Nothing – The Great Dismal
There might not be a better representation of the bleakness that many of us have felt this year than The Great Dismal. Cathartic and devastating is the sound that encompasses the Philly band’s fourth studio album. Inspired by the images that emerged of a black hole, the band paints truly disturbing scenes both with their lyricism and sonic explosions. Touching on themes of isolation, extinction and human behaviour, the band have soundtracked, almost unknowingly the mood and collective feeling of this year. This album feels like it’s constantly trying to burst out of it’s soundscapes whilst simultaneously sucking you in to a great void of nothing. They have taken their already devastating sound and expanded it out into new and vibrant directions.
The debut from Rina Sawayama is truly enticing, showcasing her ability to blend and fuse genre’s and sounds through her extremely powerful vocal performances. Just look at the Marxist anthem of “XS” as the power pop verse’s crash into the chorus with the overdrive infused descending metal guitar lines. There’s also perhaps one of the best vocal performances of the year on opener “Dynasty” as Sawayama matches the swirling lead guitar line note for note, leaving you truly awestruck. Throughout its runtime this album never slows down, consistently offering new and exciting ideas that showcases how much of a natural talent Sawayama has. It’s like a festival where Sawayama is fronting every band. As far as debut’s go they don’t get much better than this. We’ll be keenly watching to see what Sawayama comes up with next.
Devastatingly brutal is the sound of IDLES third album Ultra Mono. This is the band at their most refined and potent. They narrow their sonic output out to be it’s most powerful and don’t leave any room for interpretation on their political stances. From the anti-war opener “War” with its spitfire like drum solo to the behemoth bass swells of “Reigns”, IDLES have concurred the studio to create their most black and white sounding album yet, or mono if you will. But even more hard hitting than the instrumentation is lead singer Joe Talbot’s growling vocal delivery. There’s anger, fury within his voice, but it’s all driven by love. Continuing to call out the small minded government that runs this country whilst simultaneously trying to unify everyone that listens to his words. Ultra Mono is a culmination of everything IDLES have become and holds its place as one of the most explosive punk albums released this year.
The greatest aspect of Silver Ladders is Mary Lattimore’s talent for evoking memories and telling deep and flowing stories with only the pluck of her harp strings. The intricacy of the movements that Lattimore intertwines into each song takes you into a deep space of acceptance and unity with the world. These songs are perfect for a cozy night inside or a late night walk through lamplit streets. Produced by Slowdive’s Neil Halstead, there’s also aspects of shoegaze sewn throughout, which can be heard through the cascading guitars on “Til A Mermaid Drags You Under”. Further evolving Lattimore’s sound to become so full of life and subtle beauty that you feel each note gliding over you, taking you further out into the blissful cosmos she creates.
Birth. Death. Taxes. King Gizzard releasing new music. These are the constants of life as we said in our review of K.G., the 16th (!!) studio album in ten years from the genre defying band of magicians King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. And if you’re looking for a place to start in their comprehensive catalogue then there might not be a better place to start than this album. Defining and refining the eccentric elements of the bands sound to an ever changing and yet continuously flowing tracklist, the self title of the album is truly deserved. Just listen to the transition from the woozy folk ballad of “Honey” to the Black Sabbath infused closer “The Hungry Wolf Of Fate”. Also featuring the bands take on a “90’s Turkish house banger” in the form of the groovy “Intrasport”. Adding to all that, this album was recorded remotely with the members being in various lockdown’s, they really are an ever chugging well oiled machine.
— James Pearson
4. Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
Kevin Parker has done it again. Arriving 5 years after the heartbreak fuelled and synthesiser driven Currents, The Slow Rush sees Parker take a look back at his life and where he’s going next. Although over the years Tame Impala’s sound has gone through many phases, one thing that has remained consistent is Parker’s incredible attention to detail for creating sonic landscapes and his studio wizardry. The sound might not be as clean as Currents, but there’s still so many layers and flowing melodies to each song that you could spend a day just trying to unpack one. Parker also embraces a more disco-centric sound on “Breathe Deeper” and “Lost In Yesterday”, whilst still keeping that flair of psychedelia about them. But almost by accident Parker soundtracked a pandemic with opener “One More Year” as the vocals swirl and chant “One more year” around the soundscape. Four albums in and Parker still has that signature flair of excellence that is ever present.
— James Pearson
3. L.A. Priest – Gene
It is rare that an album is so self aware of its existence within the first four words. “Shit is fiery fire” is just about the best way to sum up Gene. The sophomore album further establishes La Priest as one of the funkiest, electrifying and downright great songwriters of the contemporary alternative scene. Each track is flooded with an abundance of beautiful noise that makes every song all the more vivid and meaningful. Instruments fizz and bubble like the pot of a magical wizard. I’m not religious, but this is one priests sermon i’ve been attending every Sunday.
The amount of beauty and sadness that Phoebe Bridgers packs into her sophomore album is unmeasurable. The stories told and their heartbreaking delivery from Bridgers help establish her as one of modern musics greatest storytellers. This is the perfect headphones in the dark album. Sonically this album also pushes Bridgers sound design to its most enticing, there’s not a moment that doesn’t make you think, how did they do that? Just listen to “Garden Song”‘ and its crunching, almost watered down guitar riff try and push out of the mix as it chugs along. And of course it wouldn’t be a Phoebe Bridgers album without a soundtrack to the apocalypse. The incredible movement from guitar ballad to all out cathartic fanfare on “I Know The End” is a true testament to not only Bridgers’ incredible song writing talent but also as a retrospective on the modern day. Read here why we named it the best song of the year.
This album has been the soundtrack to our year. Highly anticipated before its release and upon its delivery there was nothing to disappoint. This album simply gets better with every listen. Packed full of banger after banger, this is a culmination of the bands rise of the last few year as well as their incredibly intricate and subtly fierce songwriting. Casual listeners may just hear these as average “indie” songs, but there’s so much more to them than that. A certain mystique and spark of magic lies within every song, it’s hard to describe. Whether it be the almost deadpan delivery of Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen’s vocal delivery, or the incredibly haunting and often uneasy soundscapes that the band creates underneath a seemingly upbeat sound. “As The Sun Sets” is a perfect example of this, read here why we named it as the second best song of the year. The title 925 is a reference to Silver 925, but for us this album is pure gold.
This album has been a long time coming. And the wait has been worth every minute. Exploding onto the North London Windmill pub scene a few years ago, alongside fellow contemporaries Shame, Black Midi and Goat Girl to name a few, Sorry have spent the last few years trickling out banger after banger. Originally playing under the moniker ‘Fish’ until they realised that ex-lead singer of Marillion Derek Dick also went under the same name. Sorry quickly gained a loyal and loving following after they took the ’21st Century band sound’ and made it their own. With fusions of rock, indie, grunge, hip-hop, jazz, electronic and almost every other corner of the musical spectrum, their sound has been in constant flux. But one constant remained; the quality.
This album could be considered a greatest hits, as it brings together not only the prior released singles but also cuts that go as far back as the ‘Home Demo/ns’ mixtapes released in 2017. Although some of these songs have been around for a while, and will be recognised by many fans, they feel as fresh as ever. Opener ‘Right Round The Clock’, the first official single released from the album, is a heavy hitting, crunchy indie pop-rock narrative of the everyday 9 – 5 grind (see thats where they got the album title from, clever), something that many of us now stuck at home, desperately crave. Every instrument feels big and emotive and the catchy chorus is a marvel of their songwriting calibre.
Fan favourite ‘Starstruck’ and gets a slight spruce up with added effects textures and richer production that brings out their full potential. The glitchy vocals and ominous guitar riff culminate in a chorus that depicts the unease of the crowded party where every face is unknown and unwelcoming.
The pop song turned indie turned grunge turned Sorry is one of the bands specialties. ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ and ‘Rosie’ have that big chorus and catchy melody of any top 10 hit, but infused with their signature alternative sound of distorted guitars and saxophone solos. “You’re pure silver, 925, honey I’d do anything just to feel alive”.
Where this album truly shines from a songwriting standpoint are the gentle croons of the songs ‘Snakes’ and ‘As The Sun Sets’. Featuring careful layers of samples, emotive lyrics and a reference to Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’. Dropping the heavier sound of their past, this side of Sorry is newly embraced by the band but offers a platform to showcase their creative depth and capacity to embrace an ever changing sound.
Encapsulating the mind of the 21st century student, the track ‘More’ screams out its message in a series of blunt chorus’. “I want drugs and drugs and drugs and drugs”, “I wan’t it all, don’t give me too much”. The heavy beats of a racing heart and frantic riffs of a mind on edge show why Sorry are the new voice of a generation, that needs these escapes to forget the stress of modern life.
Being one of the oldest songs on the album ‘Ode To Boy’ had the challenge of getting translated from its raw form on the demo tapes to a full blown banger. Thanks to the help of co-producer James Dring (Gorillaz, Jamie T, Nilüfer Yanya) this transition was seamless. With carefully layered walls of sound, glistening synths and a big choir finale this track is rich with emotion; the modern lovers love song.
Closer ‘Lies’ is a re-fixed version of the previously released grunge heavy single, now adapted to add more scaled up sonic exploration. It still keeps the heavy hitting sound and intense riffs but adds more flavour in terms of production and keeps in with the flow of eerie sound samples and effects found throughout the album. The maturity and understanding of the music they want to create has come a long way, yet still keeps that spark of brilliance that gained them notoriety in the ever washed out indie world.
They may have broken their streak of just being a singles band and entered the big world of the album, but Sorry have proven that no matter what the task, they will always slap. Hard. They really are the perfect modern day band, and have soundtracked a youth that can often be pushed aside when trying to change the status quo. Well that’s exactly what this album does.