Sounding out 2020: best music

Alexandra Richmond
3 min readMar 30, 2021

Sounding out 2020

Music is the soundtrack to our lives, and 2020 was a really tough year. So much that today, the 300th of January, is still the space for me to reflect on the past year’s lessons and records while looking to the future, which is now. In several ways, I’m so ready for the Reagan ’80s to be over. While I always loathed the expression, in just the past four years I’ve especially grown to grit my teeth at the ppl who need to say that after a politician with fascistic tendencies is elected, the music or art made during their reign will be fire, or will bring change. This is as true as trickle-down economics. And the best pop culture is attacked ad nauseum by the same talking heads.

That having been said, punk’s not dead yet, therefore the artist of the year in 2020 was Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers. This isn’t purely my opinion. She truly won the award for Artist of the Year for 2020, and let her acceptance speech (delivered via video and on Insta I hope forever) bathe you in a soothing neon glow to carry you through 2021. To sum it up: Amy was happy to accept the award because she’s had people look her in the eye and tell her she isn’t a musician, and had people sit in her green room, after her show, drink her beer, and tell her they don’t like female singers. So fuck those guys, for now she is the musician of the year. And she can do it in clothes she loves with her nails done the way she enjoys. And she loves live music. Listen to her music if you think you can handle her vibes.

Tied for runner-up, or best male artist of the year: RTJ and Mastodon

I love RTJ very much, and a high point of 2020 was the release of their fourth record, a banger. It’s angry and really fun to dance to, and might make you sad, or make you laugh. Every RTJ record is always a rich tapestry with melodic surprises, and this one, the pink one, has a distinctly pre-pandemic feeling. It is extra joyful for an RTJ record, perhaps because of their great success. Also no one really saw the pandemic coming, except for the experts, and I think maybe they thought Bernie was going to win. In the video for “Ooh La La,” there’s clearly no idea the pandemic was almost on us. Which is to say I think RTJ saw a brighter future than what we have right now, at least, and I know they look forward to touring and playing these songs live as much as I want to go and have fun at the show. Soon. Or soon-ish.

Alexandra Richmond

Writer, photographer, student in Austin, Texas. Former contributor to many publications a long time ago