The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Albums & Songs of 2020

Best of 2020 - Run the Jewels, My Morning Jacket, Fiona Apple, Hum, Fleet Foxes

Wow, 2020 … what can we say? This year will certainly be remembered for a lot of things, but none more so than the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that has ravaged both the U.S. and world over the last 10 months and forced the live music industry to mostly shutter as musicians pivoted to livestreams and drive-in concerts to keep the show going as best they could. Along the way, we lost musical legends who spanned multiple generations from Neil Peart to Bill Withers to John Prine to Little Richard to Eddie Van Halen to MF DOOM — some due to COVID-19 unfortunately — making these past 12 months even more painful to endure than they already were. Ready to officially flush 2020 down the toilet and start anew? Don’t worry … you’re not alone!

In retrospect though, it has been a very quiet year for The Bam Team. You’ll notice there haven’t been a lot of updates in this space, and that’s partly due to the lack of live music on Planet Earth right now. But it’s also been a hectic time for all of us as we try to navigate our way out of these dark days and into some brighter ones, and like any good remedy nowadays, new music has definitely played its part in helping us physically and emotionally cope with the chaos.

It’s why after several months of inactivity here, we decided to dust the cobwebs off Showbams and deliver a modified version of our annual “Best of” lists like we have done since this blog first started (see our 2019 picks here). While that doesn’t mean we had time to hear and dissect every new album or song in the last 365 days — we are still in a pandemic after all — sharing our own individual picks offers a fun and stimulating opportunity for us to reflect on the year that was in music.

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite albums and songs from 2020.

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2020:


Run the Jewels - RTJ4

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Albums of 2020
1. Run the Jewels – RTJ4
One might think that after three critically acclaimed albums with some of the most socially and politically charged material since Rage Against the Machine burst onto the scene, it would only seem natural for Run the Jewels’ act to turn a little stale by their fourth time around. But despite the three-year wait for RTJ4, the longest that the hip-hop duo has gone between releases, the final product — like a fine wine — has only gotten better with time. Anchored by stellar production (a RTJ trademark) and provocative rhymes, the 11-track offering sees the two emcees sounding off on everything from corporate greed to police brutality just days after the tragic death of George Floyd. It also boasts a guest list loaded with star power, with DJ Premier, 2 Chainz, Pharrell Williams, Zack de la Rocha, Mavis Staples and Josh Homme each lending a hand while El-P and Killer Mike inject truth serum into our ears with one verbal haymaker after another. In what proved to be a shitstorm of a year, this was the soundtrack a lot of us needed to survive 2020.

2. My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall II
3. Fleet Foxes – Shore
4. Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
5. Caribou – Suddenly

Favorite live album: Sylvan Esso – WITH

Top 5 Songs of 2020
1. Royal Blood – “Trouble’s Coming”
The British rock duo composed of lead singer/bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher are gearing up to drop their third LP in 2021 and wisely chose to wet our palette with an absolute banger for its lead single. “Trouble’s Coming” has all the makings of a Royal Blood song — catchy bass riffs that sound like they’re coming out of a guitar, heavy-metal drums and Kerr’s falsetto vocals — while charting a slightly different path for the band, one that conjures up some serious 70’s disco vibes. Just watch this scene from Charlie’s Angels to see what we mean, and if you have a pair of fingerless leather gloves handy, you might as well put those on too. We think Sam Rockwell would approve.

2. My Morning Jacket – “Wasted”
3. Run the Jewels – “JU$T” feat. Pharrell Williams & Zack de la Rocha
4. Pearl Jam – “Dance of the Clairvoyants”
5. Sylvan Esso – “Ferris Wheel”

Favorite remix: Bonobo – “Final Days” (Michael Kiwanuka)


Hum - Inlet

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Albums of 2020
1. Hum – Inlet
This four-piece’s fifth studio effort came as a complete surprise when it dropped in June, and it was honestly THE album I needed. Being knee-deep into the COVID-19 pandemic, I wasn’t sure what the rest of the year would look like musically, and it was exactly the type of record that hits all the marks for me. It’s sonically huge, it showcases Hum’s trademark ultra-layered, dense instrumentation and it ebbs and flows between energetic and emotive. Inlet was easily my most-listened-to album in 2020.

2. Coriky – Coriky
3. PEARS – PEARS
4. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
5. Run the Jewels – RTJ4

Favorite live album: NOFX – The Decline (Live at Red Rocks)

Top 5 Songs of 2020
1. Run the Jewels – “Walking in the Snow”
Oh man, this track was just the thing I needed during what may have been one of the most tense times in modern history. And like all of RTJ4, it absolutely crushes as El-P and Killer Mike bring their signature styles to full effect on this dramatic, yet bouncy tune. The middle section, which sees Mike taking the lead, is not only effective, prophetic and timely, but it also serves as a reminder that the time for action is now and that history has a tendency to repeat itself if we’re not careful. Check out the song’s brand-new music video here, too.

2. Hum – “Desert Rambler”
3. IDLES – “War”
4. Middle-Aged Queers – “Gary’s Making Biscuits”
5. PEARS – “Zero Wheels”

Favorite remix: Squarepusher – “Pink Maggit” (Deftones)


Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Rochelle Shipman // Los Angeles

Top 5 Albums of 2020
1. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
I almost feel cheated that my two No. 1 picks went to the same artist, but this year belonged to Fiona as much as it did to Dr. Fauci. FTBC busted us out of our mental prisons and allowed us to imagine our lives were more exciting than they actually were in 2020. It reminded us that we are strong enough to survive anything, to use our voices to speak even louder for what we believe in and that we can work on our own healing even if we can’t quite get outside. Ms. Apple set women free together.

2. Fleet Foxes – Shore
3. Mura Masa – R.Y.C.
4. Kari Faux – Lowkey Superstar
5. Liv.e – Couldn’t Wait to Tell You…

Favorite live album: Dolores Diaz & The Standby Club – Live at O’Leaver’s

Top 5 Songs of 2020
1. Fiona Apple – “Shameika”
This is a badass, “can-do” tune that was inspired by a passing comment made decades ago, one Fiona surely never thought twice about until now. And as she pounds the piano with the strength of RBG, it’s clear that this is the song 2020 needed — not to mention that it came full circle, inspiring Shameika herself all these years later. Sweet.

2. Noname – “Song 33”
3. Open Mike Eagle feat. Kari Faux – “Bucciarati”
4. Liv.e – “Lessons From My Mistakes…but I Lost Your Number”
5. Quakers feat. Sampa the Great – “Approach with Caution”

Favorite remix: Thundercat feat. Smino & Guapdad 4000 – “Dragonball Durag”

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GO4FREE Bay Area // What So Not, Cashmere Cat, Squarepusher or Cloud Nothings

CAPTION THIS to win a pair of free tickets to Fauxchella shows in the Bay Area this week.

CAPTION THIS to win a pair of free tickets to Fauxchella shows in the Bay Area this week.

Photo by Pedro Paredes //

Hey, we can’t all go to Coachella. And there are some music heads in the Bay Area that would much rather take on Fauxchella — the runoff of incredible shows in Northern California during these next two weeks.

This week we have four top notch Bay Area shows for you from artists that will also be in the desert this weekend:

What So Not: April 10th (FRI) @ Mezzanine // BUY TICKETS
Squarepusher: April 11th (SAT) @ Mezzanine // BUY TICKETS
Cloud Nothings: April 12th (SUN) @ The Independent // BUY TICKETS
Cashmere Cat: April 12th (SUN) at The New Parish // BUY TICKETS

Win-2-Tickets
WIN TWO (2) FREE TICKETS TO ONE (1) OF THESE SHOWS BY SHOWING US YOUR CREATIVE SIDE:
1. Caption the above photo from our recent of Montreal story in the comments below.
2. After your caption, include the shows you would like to attend, with your top choice first.
3. Include your real email in the email field! This is how we’ll let you know you’ve won.
4. The caption comments with the most UpVotes by 5pm on Thursday, April 9th will win top commenters two free tickets to the shows indicated (if your choice is still available).

***Not good at captions? Comment with a link to your favorite song by one of these artists or tell us something interesting.


Like Showbams on Facebook, follow Showbams on Twitter and follow Showbams on Instagram for more contest giveaways throughout the week. Be the first to respond to our contest tweets to GO4FREE to these shows throughout the week:

4/7 The Preatures at The Independent
4/8 Lilly Wood and The Prick at Mezzanine
4/9 Little Wings at The Chapel
4/9 Young Moon at Brick & Mortar
4/9 Yelle at Mezzanine
4/10 Lakes at Great American Music Hall
4/10 Afrofunk Experience with the Broun Fellinis at The Chapel
4/10 Haunted Summer at Leo’s
4/11 The Lovemakers at Leo’s
4/11 Black Milk at Brick & Mortar

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Which 2015 Coachella artists will premiere new music on the polo fields?

CoachellaPhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 10th-12th & April 17th-19th //

The 2015 festival season gets kicked into high gear this Friday when the first weekend of Coachella takes over the Empire Polo Club. With a lineup featuring headliners AC/DC, Jack White and Drake among a myriad of other high-profile acts, there is so much good music that one can’t possibly see it all over three days in the desert. If you’ve already seen alt-J perform songs from This Is All Yours live, you might not see a need to catch their Saturday early-evening set, for example.

So, that got us thinking: who will likely be premiering new material this weekend in Indio?

We dug through the lineup and looked at which artists have recently released new tracks or albums prior to their set at Coachella, as well as artists planning to release new material later this year. Happy Coachella!

*All set times below are in PT.


ALABAMA SHAKES

New album: Sound & Color
Release date: April 21
Playing Coachella: Friday, 7 p.m. (Outdoor Theatre)

The Shakes will be making their Coachella debut in a big way this year with their sophomore LP Sound & Color slated to be released two days after the festival’s second weekend. The four-piece performed new singles “Don’t Wanna Fight” and “Gimme All Your Love” on SNL last month and should give fans a strong preview of the album before it officially drops.


ALESSO

New album: Forever
Release date: May 26
Playing Coachella: Friday, 11:35 p.m. (Sahara Tent)

Swedish DJ/producer Alesso (formerly Alessandro Lindblad) has come a long way in a few years and will finally drop his first studio album Forever toward the end of May. In February, he premiered a new track featuring Roy English entitled “Cool”, which reached as high as No. 21 on Billboard’s U.S. Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart.


BUILT TO SPILL

New album: Untethered Moon
Release date: April 21
Playing Coachella: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. (Outdoor Theatre)

Indie-rock stalwarts Built to Spill will celebrate the release of their first full-length album in more than five years with their first-ever appearance at Coachella. So far, the band has released “Living Zoo” and “Never Be The Same”, but fans can expect to hear a lot more from Untethered Moon during their Sunday slot.


CLOUD NOTHINGS

New album: No Life For Me with Wavves
Release date: TBA
Playing Coachella: Friday, 1:55 p.m. (Gobi Tent)

After turning the corner last year with Here and Nowhere Else, Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings have already jumped back into the studio, but this time it’s to make a collaborative record with San Diego’s Wavves. With no release date pinpointed yet, it’s possible Cloud Nothings singer/guitarist Dylan Baldi could bring out Nathan Williams during their set and give fans a taste of what’s to come on No Life For Me.


DESAPARECIDOS

New album: Payola
Release date: June 23
Playing Coachella: Sunday, 4:35 p.m. (Gobi Tent)

Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst said in an interview last summer that his emo-garage side project plans to release its second full-length album this year, marking the band’s first in 13 years (check out new song “City on the Hill” above). Though the Nebraska band has disbanded and reunited a number of times, its current stretch together marks the longest since forming in 2001.


DRAKE

New album: Views from the 6
Release date: 2015
Playing Coachella: Sunday, 10:15 p.m. (Coachella Stage)

With plans to release his fourth studio album this year, Canadian rapper Drake takes his first swing at Coachella with a headlining slot on the festival’s final day. In the meantime, he’s kept his fans on their toes by dropping a fourth mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, which debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, in mid-February.


DUKE DUMONT

New album: TBA
Release date: 2015
Playing Coachella: Saturday, 8:20 p.m. (Sahara Tent)

UK deep house producer Adam George Dyment, who performs under the stage name Duke Dumont, put out a new EP and a couple of singles, including one featuring fellow Brit Jax Jones, last year. This year he’s already dropped a new single entitled “The Giver (Reprise)”, and there’s a strong possibility that we will hear more new tracks from the Blasé Boys Club record label owner on Sunday.


FKA TWIGS

New album: EP3 EP
Release date: TBA
Playing Coachella: Saturday, 9:35 p.m. (Gobi Tent)

Tahliah Debrett Barnett, aka FKA twigs, made a big splash when her debut album LP1 peaked at No. 16 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 30 on the U.S. Billboard 200 last year. The British singer-songwriter, who recently became engaged to actor Robert Pattinson, announced in November that she had begun work on a third EP, and just last month she released the first song “Glass & Patron” from it.


FLORENCE & THE MACHINE

New album: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Release date: May 29
Playing Coachella: Sunday, 8:50 p.m. (Coachella Stage)

It’s only been three years since Florence Welch last played Coachella, but this time it will be with a new album’s worth of material to perform. The band’s third studio album will release in late May, and a couple of singles have already been shared over the past two months, including “What Kind of Man” and “St Jude”.


FLYING LOTUS

New album: TBA (as Captain Murphy)
Release date: TBA
Playing Coachella: Friday, 10 p.m. (Mojave Tent)

Steven Ellison took his game to a whole another level last year with You’re Dead! as he continues to work and collaborate with some of today’s brightest and most talented artists in hip-hop, jazz and electronic music. Ready to take his rap persona Captain Murphy into the studio for a new album this year, FlyLo just might drop some rhymes as well as beats for his fans who show up to his Friday set.


GHOSTFACE KILLAH

New albums: Twelve Reasons to Die II & Supreme Clientele Presents… Blue & Cream: The Wally Era
Release dates: 2015
Playing Coachella: Friday, 5:45 p.m. (Outdoor Theatre)

After coming out with his 11th studio album 36 Seasons last year, Ghostface Killah is expected to release two more albums in 2015, Twelve Reasons to Die II and Supreme Clientele Presents… Blue & Cream: The Wally Era. Scheduled to perform with his Wu-Tang colleague Raekwon, who also has a new album on the horizon, the duo’s set should feature plenty of new material from both of their upcoming albums.


JAMIE XX

New album: In Colour
Release date: June 1
Playing Coachella: Sunday, 8:20 p.m. (Gobi Tent)

Jamie Smith of The xx jumped into the electronic world with his 2011 remix album We’re New Here, and now more than four years later, the English producer will unveil his first proper LP in June. So far, he’s released singles “Loud Places” (featuring The xx’s Romy Madley Croft) and “Gosh”, but Smith could give fans a more in depth preview of In Colour when he performs Sunday.


KASKADE

New track: “Never Sleep Alone”
Release date: April 6
Playing Coachella: Sunday, 7:25 p.m. (Coachella Stage)

Superstar DJ and record producer Ryan Raddon, aka Kaskade, has dropped a brand-new track just in time for his huge Sunday night performance at Coachella. While it’s unclear right now if “Never Sleep Alone” will make it on to Kaskade’s new album (no title or release date announced yet), it’s a safe bet that he’ll be unleashing this one when he takes the stage.


KYGO

New tracks: “Stole the Show” feat. Parson James & “ID – Ultra Music Festival Anthem”
Release date: March 15
Playing Coachella: Sunday, 11 p.m. (Mojave Tent)

Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll, who goes by his stage name Kygo, has been one of EDM’s fastest-rising stars in the last year. After remix collaborations with Chris Martin and Avicii propelled his career to the next level, the 23-year-old producer from Norway dropped his second single “Stole the Show” last month and will hit the polo fields for the first time ever this spring.


LIL B

New album: TBA
Release date: 2015
Playing Coachella: Friday, 3:10 p.m. (Outdoor Theatre)

Brandon McCartney, professionally known as Lil B, has been called many things, from rapper to author to motivational speaker. The 25-year-old from Berkeley hasn’t put out any new music since 2011, but with his sophomore LP scheduled to come out at some point this year, he’s sure to perform some new tracks during his Sunday set at Coachella.


MAC DEMARCO

New album: TBA
Release date: TBA
Playing Coachella: Sunday, 3:05 p.m. (Outdoor Theatre)

Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco earned critical acclaim for his full-length album Salad Days last year, and fans of the “blue wave” rocker got some promising news over the weekend when he shared a compilation video that includes pieces of five new songs that are currently being mastered in the studio. Knowing his tendency for the unpredictable, fans could very likely hear some of those tracks live for the very first time this weekend.


MARTIN SOLVEIG

New track: “Intoxicated” (with GTA)
Release date: January 19
Playing Coachella: Sunday, 4:50 p.m. (Sahara Tent)

It’s been a while since Martin Laurent Picandet, aka Martin Solveig, has released a proper studio album. However, the French electro/nu disco producer dropped a new single with Laidback Luke last year, and he’s started this year off working with GTA on a brand-new track entitled “Intoxicated”.


NERO

New album: TBA
Release date: TBA
Playing Coachella: Friday, 9:35 p.m. (Outdoor Theatre)

NERO took home a Grammy in 2013 for their remix of “Promises” with Skrillex, and the British electronic music trio has remained relatively quiet since then. That’s supposed to change this year with the group planning to drop its follow-up to 2011’s Welcome Reality, but there’s been no official announcement regarding the album or a tour, making its Coachella performance that much more special.


R3HAB

New track: “Phoenix” (with Sander van Doorn)
Release date: March 9
Playing Coachella: Friday, 7:10 p.m. (Sahara Tent)

Fadil El Ghoul drops singles, not albums, and he’s been doing it consistently since 2009. The Dutch DJ is signed to Afrojack’s Wall Recordings imprint, and he collaborated with fellow countryman Sander van Doorn on his latest single “Phoenix”, which just came out last month.


RAEKWON

New album: Fly International Luxurious Art
Release date: April 28
Playing Coachella: Friday, 5:45 p.m. (Outdoor Theatre)

It’s taken Raekwon almost two additional years to drop his sixth studio album, but the Wu-Tang Clan member will finally do just that later this month after two weekends at Coachella. In fact, the record’s first two singles — “All About You” and “Soundboy Kill It” — were released toward the second half of 2013, while the third and most recent one, “Wall to Wall”, came out less than two months ago.


RATATAT

New album: TBA
Release date: TBA
Playing Coachella: Saturday, 11:15 p.m. (Sahara Tent)

It’s been almost five years since Ratatat put out an album, and it’s safe to assume one of the reasons the New York City duo is playing Coachella this year is due to the fact that it has a new album in the works. While not much is known about the record right now (although some fans believe it will be titled LP5 to follow appropriately after 2008’s LP3 and 2010’s LP4), this is one set that should showcase plenty of new music from Mike Stroud and Evan Mast.


SQUAREPUSHER

New album: Damogen Furies
Release date: April 20
Playing Coachella: Friday, 10:50 p.m. (Gobi Tent)

It’s been quite a while since Tom Jenkinson last played Coachella, but the UK native is primed to play the festival again this year with his 14th studio album on the horizon. Squarepusher has released three tracks, including “Stor Eiglass” (listen above), from his upcoming Damogen Furies at this point, so fans should surely hear plenty of new material from the IDM pioneer.


TAME IMPALA

New album: Currents
Release date: TBA
Playing Coachella: Friday, 9:15 p.m. (Coachella Stage)

Making their third Coachella appearance in the last five years, Australian psych rockers Tame Impala continue to soar under frontman Kevin Parker’s direction. While both SF and LA fans got to hear the band experiment in between songs during its fall mini-tour (read our reviews of the SF show and LA show), Tame Impala should have some more focused new material to share from their upcoming LP Currents, which the band only officially announced two days ago along with new single “‘Cause I’m a Man.”


TODD TERJE AND THE OLSENS

New album: N/A
Release date: N/A
Playing Coachella: Friday, 9:20 p.m. (Gobi Tent)

Norwegian DJ, songwriter and record producer Terje Olsen, better known as Todd Terje, made a big first impression last year with his debut LP It’s Album Time, and while he may not necessarily be debuting brand-new material at Coachella, he’ll be performing with a live band called The Olsens (from his label Olsen Records), much like he did at the 2014 edition of Oya Festival. So, although festivalgoers may not hear new songs from Terje per say, they’ll definitely be in for a real treat when he joins the party on Friday.


TORO Y MOI

New album: What For? (read our review here)
Release date: April 7
Playing Coachella: Saturday, 4:20 p.m. (Mojave Tent)

Chaz Bundick has stayed busy over the past year between his electronic side project Les Sins and writing Toro y Moi’s fourth studio album What For?, which drops just days before the band plays Coachella. And as we learned from the band’s recent show in SF, Bundick has incorporated more of a 70’s psych-disco-funk sound into the Toro y Moi repertoire.


TOUCHÉ AMORÉ

New album: Self Love (split with Self Defense Family)
Release date: 2015
Playing Coachella: Sunday, 1 p.m. (Mojave Tent)

Touché Amoré have long been known for splitting EPs with other post-hardcore bands, and that’s what they plan to do on Self Love with New York’s Self Defense Family this year. What it could mean is some new songs being debuted at Coachella, which is one of just four shows that the LA group has planned right now.


TOURIST

New track: “Holding On”
Release date: May 25
Playing Coachella: Saturday, 12:20 p.m. (Mojave Tent)

London-based artist William Phillips has slowly been climbing the ranks, but he’s already done some big things in 2015 after winning a Grammy for helping Sam Smith co-write his hit single “Stay With Me”. Since then, he’s released a new track entitled “Holding On” that features Australian artist Josef Salvat and American singer/pianist Niia before he plays at Coachella for the first time.


VIC MENSA

New album: Street Lights EP
Release date: 2015
Playing Coachella: Friday, 1:20 p.m. (Coachella Stage)

U.S. hip-hop recording artist Vic Mensa is a former member of Kids These Days and a founder of the hip-hop collective SAVEMONEY with Chance the Rapper. The Chicago native, who serves as a featured artist on Kanye West’s new track “Wolves”, plans to follow up his 2010 EP Straight Up this year with another EP by the name of Street Lights and should have some surprises in store at Coachella.


YELLOW CLAW

New album: Blood For Mercy
Release date: 2015
Playing Coachella: Saturday, 4:45 p.m. (Sahara Tent)

Amsterdam DJ trio Yellow Claw started winning over fans back in 2010 by mixing trap, hip-hop, dubstep, hardstyle and moombahton into their sets. With a number of EPs already out, they’re getting ready to release Blood For Mercy but have yet to officially release any tracks from the album.


Here’s a day-by-day breakdown of Coachella artists who will likely perform new material:

FRIDAY
Alabama Shakes
Alesso
Cloud Nothings
Flying Lotus
Ghostface Killah
NERO
R3hab
Raekwon
Squarepusher
Tame Impala
Todd Terje and the Olsens
Vic Mensa

SATURDAY
Deorro
FKA twigs
Ratatat
Toro Y Moi
Tourist
Yellow Claw

SUNDAY
Built to Spill
Desaparecidos
Drake
Duke Dumont
Florence & the Machine
Jamie xx
Kygo
Lil B
Mac DeMarco
Martin Solveig
Touché Amoré

Coachella