After what felt like 20 months instead of 12, the year is finally coming to an end. While 2020 was the worst year for live music, it was wonderful for recorded music. There were spontaneous quarantine albums, long-anticipated albums, concept albums… The list of great music released in 2020 is much longer than we can cover.
A lot of things better be left behind in 2020. However, these LPs below, in no specific order, the Good because Danish team will be happily taking into the next year!
Goss – “Group Therapy”
Mads Damsgaard Kristiansen, who now goes under the alias Goss, released his debut solo album “Group Therapy” rich with shiny country-infused pop. Mads uses the same brush as in his earlier solo art, but paints a completely new picture with no need for genre-framing.
Though 11 songs, most of them perfectly-shaped pop hits, “Group Therapy” clocks in just 30 minutes. It is a perfect experience for your commute to work, on the way to a date, or just whenever you want to exit your routine life, and dream for a bit.
The Cosmic Rabbit Holes – “The World Is Drugs”
If you heard The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, you’ll know what this LP is about. The experimental vibes, the trippy psychedelic atmosphere… The Cosmic Rabbit Holes’ debut album makes you wonder what is real and what is not. With “The World Is Drugs”, singer and composer Aske Kristiansen creates his own universe of hypnotic grooves and retro space rock over the course of nine tracks. The album was recorded in two days — the old fashioned way, with the whole band in one room.
“The Echo Trees” and “Flowers” could be played in a never-ending loop and never bore. If you are into more trippy tracks, “My Hawaian Space Monoculars” and “Lunatics” are ones to pay attention to. The truth is, the whole album is worth a listen in its entirety.
Dusin – “Ærlige Løgne”
When compiling this list, we didn’t even consider that Dusin’s brilliant debut LP came out this year. It feels worlds away from the majority of 2020’s music because it was released in January. It’s a 2020 album from Before™.
The tracks on “Ærlige Løgne” fit and flow together in a perfect harmony, with highlights such as “Sommerfugl” and “Mærker & Rifter”. The true gem is, perhaps, the fifth song called “Ett Ljud”. We are all used to Danish bands switching the language to English, but hearing Swedish on Dusin’s album was an unexpected and beautiful surprise.
Joyce – “Formskifter”
Translated as “shapeshifter”, Joyce’s debut LP indeed takes many forms. “Usynlig” is a messy punk track, “Du Finder Mig På Bunden” is a heartfelt indie rock anthem, and “Tiden Har Ødelagt Alt I Mig” a powerful, emotional ballad geared for arenas and stadiums.
Joyce are often rightfully compared to The Minds of 99. However, where Minds sound too polished, too clean, and overproduced, Joyce sound raw and refreshing. With a debut album this strong, we believe that Joyce will go on to do incredible things.
out of the woods – “Birds and Beasts”
Ditte Grube went to nature for comfort, now under the moniker out of the woods on her debut album. On “Birds and Beasts” she dug deep into the soothing sounds of fauna and flora, mixed them with pieces of daily life that we obliviously pass by, and transformed it into a collection of songs with a potential to become your best friends and teachers in times of trouble and fear.
Ditte Grube used to be a forest worker in East Jutland; her love for nature is clearly distinct in “Birds and Beasts”. You can feel the songs taking care of your troubled mind. They help you breathe. They tell stories which are important, occasionally sad or harsh, but every message comes with empathy and compassion.
Ring Them Bells – “Things That Come Slow”
The trippy piece of dark rock’n’roll “Things That Come Slow” is Ring Them Bells’ first album in five years. It should have been called “Damn Great Things That Come Slow” because this is a remarkable LP. The band invites you into their elaborate, thoughtfully designed dark universe, and you cannot resist their call.
„Favorite Gun”, one of the strongest songs on the album, is for carefree rocking out with a crazy crowd at a live show. This album is a wild ride. How bedazzling must it be live.
Kristian Harting – “The Fumes”
With “The Fumes”, singer-songwriter Kristian Harting paints the shape of general hopelessness and distrust in life one can usually find in darkwave or grunge. Still, Harting stays folky instrumentally.
There are two short interludes about longing. “Clueless” is very airy and featuring husky vocals. “The Exhaust” – one of the strongest tracks – meets the expectation (built up by Harting’s earlier works) of elaborate darker soundscapes, growing louder towards the end.
The record pictures melancholic, partially even goth, emotional soundscapes. Its author has an incredible ability to use his voice; listen closely, no song is the same. Harting’s voice can be sharp, soft, loving, angry. But never empty or dull. “The Fumes” is a beautiful album.
Palace Winter – “…Keep Dreaming, Buddy”
Palace Winter’s lead singer Carl Coleman spent his last winter in Tenerife, fleeing the dark, cold Danish winter. Back home in Copenhagen, producer Casper Hesselager was doing his synth magic and started recording pieces of music. That’s how Palace Winter’s album “… Keep Dreaming, Buddy” came about.
The LP’s vibe feels like Jungle and Lana Del Rey had a baby and called it Palace Winter. It has the summertime, it has the sadness. It portrays the light feeling of “nothing really matters at all” and the enjoyment of peaceful solitude in the sun.
GRETA – “Ardent Spring”
GRETA’s debut album is a strong position on the list of best 2020 releases. For some, it is justifiably album of the year. On “Ardent Spring” GRETA delivered a brilliant blend of dream pop, electronic beats, and fairytale atmosphere. There are no weak moments. Every note is in the right place, every song resonates with beauty and great musical craftsmanship.
Listening to “Ardent Spring” feels like observing a colourful butterfly. It dances in the air and, with every glance, new details, new factures, new shades are revealed. GRETA’s dreamy synth pop universe draws the listener in and doesn’t let go, as there is so much to discover.
Select Captain – “Comes in Waves”
Select Captain’s new album charms the listener and demands to be dived into several times. You can’t take it lightly and let it simply play in the background. It’s a multilayered LP, both in terms of music and lyrics.
With “Comes In Waves”, Kristian Gaarskjær expanded Select Captain from a solo project into a collaboration with a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Søren Vestergaard. Circling around the topics of depression, anxiety and substance abuse, the lyrics on “Comes In Waves” paint a tangible picture of a struggling soul. Although extremely personal, they could as well refer to each of us.
Liva Mo – “CURA”
Liva Mo’s debut album “CURA” deserves a description full of words like “brilliant”, “magnificent”, “magical” and “stunning”. None of them is an exagarration. The universe of this record is so well thought-out, detailed and mystical that it almost moves you to another dimension.
Liva Mo’s fables create an impression that she is a living fairy. The way she creates music makes it so visual, which sounds contradictory, yet somehow, songs on “CURA” feel almost tangible. It is indeed extraordinary to experience music that is so perceptible.
Barselona – “1 Dag Er Vi 1 Minde”
On their third album, Barselona re-emerge as a solid rock band. The 40-minute LP sweeps by in a heartbeat and peaks at the penultimate “Selv Den Største By” which explodes into a full-fledged arena anthem.
The outstanding highlight is a song called “Kære Decembernat”, with its heartbreakingly tender poetry that would have been right at home in Michael Strunge’s “Popsange”. Despite Rud Aslak’s and Rasmus Theodor’s rush to grow up, all tracks on “1 Dag Er Vi 1 Minde” still feel like they were written by bright-eyed teenagers, and that is a big part of their charm.
The Great Dictators – “One Eye Opener”
As a commentary on current affairs, “One Eye Opener” could not have come out at a more fitting time. “Existential Needs” literally tells us to “stay away from the window” because “there’s a world falling apart.” As a study on heavy depression, the album pins down its essence with clear-cut precision.
If you are looking for a musical equivalent of a hug, “One Eye Opener” won’t give it to you, but it will pat you on the shoulder so to say “I know, this sucks.” Made by real people with real feelings, this LP feels human and does not try to be anything but.
“One Eye Opener” is undoubtedly dark but in no way miserable. Its darkness is comforting. The Great Dictators have created one of the most original Danish albums of the year, proving that great music does not have to be catchy, upbeat, or full of so-called good vibes.
Fallulah – “All My Eyes Are Open”
On her fourth album “All My Eyes Are Open”, Maria Apetri, AKA Fallulah, sounds more personal than ever. The opener “Bloodline” is a pulsating, uptempo song with a bittersweet melody which sets the tone for the LP. The song sounds fit for radio at first, but its lyrics are more personal than what is usually embraced by the general public. “I have my father’s mind, I got his OCD” is indeed a bold statement to open an album with.
“Don’t Die With Your Dreams” closes the album with a nostalgic tone, exacerbated by the guitar solo and backing choir. It’s the most gorgeous moment on the record, perhaps Fallulah’s best song yet. It reminds the listener about their dreams and the importance of following those instead of letting them slip away. It also highlights one of the key motifs of the album — dreams in the broadest sense of the word.
Tom Bjerg – “Hurtigt Ud / Hurtigt Hjem”
“Hurtigt Ud/Hurtigt Hjem” excels at taking you out of your own head. Any melody — or none at all — could make its lyrics sound good, but the melodies of this LP work perfectly.
The song “Timer Nok” blasts the album open with an explosion of joy. Electric guitar and piano arrangements glide in and out of prominence, as the sections wax and wane in and out of forte. The lyrics point to a state of mind where life turns into art. The music takes you there.
“Små Og Store Vaner” was voted song of the year by the Good because Danish readers, and it’s clear why. Tremolo-laden guitar drenched in echo and reverb, jazz pianos at the fringes of pop harmony, and intelligently placed vocal pauses come together to form a beautiful whole.
Takykardia – “Better”
The mix of honest lyrics, straightforward vocals and intense beats of Takykardia’s new album speak to the listener in unexpected ways. At the first glimpse, “Better” might appear as another mellow electronic release. Don’t let that mislead you.
The more you dive into Takykardia’s music, the more subtle tastes and original touches you discover. They have a charm that is rough and organic, but the music flirts cleverly and gracefully with the listener. Songs on “Better” flow in a lazy, yet steady pace from one to another. They keep the attention and create suspense, wake curiosity and, most of all, invite you to come back to them over and over again.
Soleima – “Powerslide”
When pop music is made right, you can feel it, and Soleima‘s debut album proves it! From the first to the last song, you can hear that “Powerslide” has its own character and spreads love for pop music all over the place.
“Powerslide” is, in one word, badass. Its metropolitan vibe simply calls for urban slang. The record is full of R’n’B inspirations, but they are neatly wrapped around powerful pop melodies. Soleima is a young woman who knows what she wants, at least musically. “Powerslide” is easy on the ears, and you will come back to it because you can hear it is honest. You can also hear that Soleima is ready to go out into the world with her music and conquer international charts.