james debate
james debate

Monday 2 March 2020

Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2020 Hot List. I hope you enjoyed our last entry covering the essential theatre of 2020. This week we will be having a look at the most exciting new music due for release in the coming year.

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I am sure I say this every year, but this has been a particularly difficult longlist to whittle down to the final 15. A number of very prominent acts (and old favourites) ultimately did not make the cut in what was a very strong year - sorry The 1975 and Red Hot Chili Peppers, I promise I still like your music! So a very exciting year ahead, with some promising new acts, some old favourites, and on this website they've been narrowed down to just the real creme de la creme.

So without further ado, here is our list of the top albums to keep an eye on in 2020, starting with number 15:

15. Arlo Parks (New band)

arlo parks debut new album 2020 best most anticipated musicFirst up: Arlo Parks. Hailing from south London, Parks has found herself featuring on many big in 2020 previews. A teenage prodigy and poet, Parks specialises in low-fi music that displays a control and lyrical nous that belies her tender years.

The key tracks from the scattering of EPs released to date include Cola and Paperbacks, two tracks that keenly demonstrate her characteristic tone that has been commonly described as "bedroom pop".

Parks embarks on her first headline tour this spring, with a debut album reportedly in the works for later on in 2020.

Release Date: Late 2020

14. Broken Bells

broken bells 2020 third album best most anticipated new musicFor those who are not in the know, Broken Bells is the experimental side project of underground wunderkind turned A-list producer Danger Mouse, and The Shins frontman James Mercer.

Danger Mouse, of course, legendarily bootlegged a mash up of Jay-Z and The Beatles called The Grey Album, and has since worked with artists such as Gorillaz and Adele, formed one half of Gnarls Barkley and produced a number of his own award winning solo material.

Broken Bells will release their as yet untitled third studio album this summer, and have so far released new single Shelter. While we await further details, you can remind yourself of the band's talents with previous tracks The High Road and After the Disco.

Release Date: Summer 2020

13. "Juvenoia" by Strabe (New band)

strabe new best most anticipated debut album 2020The cream of the new faces in the Irish pop scene, Strabe is a twenty-something producer based in Dublin working on a debut album Juvenoia with collaborator Angelica.

The first tracks out so far include Best Worst Year and Acid Love, two pristine examples of pop that elicit a psychedelic/disco feel. Despite the heavy retro influences, their's is a very clean and elegant sound, and one that could see them make something of a splash in the indie scene.

We don't have a release date for Juvenoia (originally slated for 2019), but it is expected to drop before the summer.

Release Date: Summer 2020

12. "Miss Anthropocene" by Grimes

grimes miss anthropocene 2020 album best most anticipated new music
Canadian songwriter Grimes is having something of a moment as a darling of art pop, her last album Art Angels earning rave reviews and numerous rankings among the top albums of 2015. Faced with a new level of stardom and expectation, Grimes is releasing Miss Anthropocene, her biggest and most ambitious album to date.

Less upbeat than Art Angels, signs are nevertheless good that album number five will produce a work of very high quality. The tracks released so far are an eclectic but undeniably intriguing bunch, including Delete Forever, Violence and 4EM.

Grimes is fast establishing herself as one of the more interesting songwriters in the business, and I expect this will be another major hit.

Release Date: Spring 2020

11. "Swimmer" by Tennis

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Denver indie pop mainstays Tennis return for a fifth album, one which sees a continuation of their evolution from the low-fi radio pop beginnings to more full-blooded nostalgia throwbacks.

Swimmer looks to be another lovely selection of pop songs about love and marriage, most notably lead single Runner, which could easily pass for a forgotten Kate Bush classic. Also check out I'll Haunt You and Need Your Love.

Swimmer is definitely the highest production value from a duo that began recording tracks in their bedroom over a fuzzy mic, and makes clear the band still has much to say.

Release Date: Spring 2020

10. "Suddenly" by Caribou

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What is it with 2020 and fifth albums? This time we are with Caribou, another of the Canada's indie pop darlings and his new album Suddenly.

The six years since previous album Our Love seems a long hiatus by modern standards, but if there is any rustiness they don't show it with the production of the new album's first tracks. The pick of the bunch has to be You and I, a bittersweet gem with a hint of Kraftwerk about it. It pairs oddly well with folk ballad Home, also a cracking tune with a great sample.

A new Caribou album promises rich soundscapes with eclectic influences, and we can't wait to see what else they have in store when the new album drops.

Release Date: Spring 2020

9. Beabadoobe (New band)

beabadoobee debut album best new anticipated music 2020This London-based prospect blends a too-good-to-be-true origin story with a timely and well-shined homage to 90s alternative pop. Beabadoobee started writing songs from her bedroom as a teenager (she's still just 19) using a secondhand guitar. A friend uploaded a track of hers' to Spotify where it generated thousands of listens, and she was quickly signed up for a record deal.

The last few years have seen a string of well received EPs uploaded, but 2020 will see Beabadoobee touring the summer festivals while working on a debut album. In the meantime, you will want to check out the key songs Coffee, Space Cadet, and If You Want To. It's mostly simple, elegant fare, but enough to suggest a promising future for the young songwriter.

First album is expected some time in 2020, but no firm release date has been provided. I would expect to see it towards the tail-end of the year.

Release Date: TBA 2020

8. "Out of the Darkness" by Gizmo Varillas

gizmo varillas new album out of the darkness best new anticipated music 2020
Spanish-born, London-based musician Gizmo Varillas is one of the most promising young performers in the indie-folk scenes; a producer of consistently strong music and a surprisingly prolific collaborator with a number of other prominent artists.

His third studio album Out of the Darkness is due for release this summer. At the time of writing we have just a small number of potential songs from the new LP, including the titular Out of the Darkness and Cysgod dy Gariad, both of which are excellent. While we await further details, you can tide yourself over with some of the other excellent tracks he has put out in recent years, most notably Freedom For Change.

Blessed with bright textures, and warm melodies, Varillas has a great ability to meld both light and dark into his tracks in a way that I find quite effective. All indications are that this is a star in the making.

Release Date: Summer 2020

7. Everything Everything

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Manchester's best musical import in decades have had a few big years, finding great critical and commercial success with their last two albums Get to Heaven and Fever Dream.

Now having had a three year break since the latter, Everything Everything are getting ready to release their fifth (again!) studio album.

No details on the new album except that it has been worked on pretty much constantly over the past three years and will release sometime in 2020. So in the meantime, here's a few tracks to remind you what all the fuss is about: Distant Past, Good Shot, Good Soldier, and Regret.

Release Date: TBA 2020

6. "The Slow Rush" by Tame Impala

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For their long-awaited fourth studio album, Aussie indie rockers Tame Impala have delved more into the realms of smooth psychedelia, creating another LP of remarkable creativity and invention.

The dizzying emotional highs and lows of Tame Impala can be quite adequately represented by the new album's two lead singles, Borderline and Lost in Yesterday.

For those who like something a bit different, or who appreciate their pop music with a dose of thoughtful and decidedly introverted lyrics, this new album will likely be right up your street.

Release Date: Spring 2020

5. The xx

the xx jamie xx new album best most anticipated music 2020Now we get into the top five, where the real big-hitters await. First up we have the long overdue return of The xx, one of Britain's best new bands of the 2010s.

Over the last few years art-rockers The xx, and the side project of co-founder Jamie xx, have produced an impressive portfolio of work, with brilliant tracks such as VCR, On Hold, Loud Places and I Dare You.

So what do we know about studio album number four? Literally nothing aside from the fact that it has been announced via social media, and will release in 2020. Do we need to know anything more at this stage? Nope, the fact that a new The xx album is on the way is ample reason on its own to be excited.

Release Date: TBA 2020

4. Joy Crookes (New band)

joy crookes debut new album best most anticipated new music 2020The top rated newcomer of 2020, Joy Crookes is the south London soul songwriter that has taken the music blogosphere by storm.

The last year has seen her grace just about every list and nomination of new musicians and promising new songwriters, now a debut album is in the works, due to release by May this year.

Joy Crookes is a gifted storyteller with a timeless sound, with a deftness of songwriting that belies her tender years. Essential tracks released so far include Mother May I Sleep with Danger? and Hurts.

Release Date: May 2020

3. "Shore" by Fleet Foxes

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By now you're probably tired of all these mysterious albums that will release in 2020 but we don't have any details yet. Well here's another one!

This is the return of Fleet Foxes, masters of contemporary folk rock and, with Helplessness Blues, the writers of what in this blog's view was the single best album of the 2010s. For an understanding of this band's awesomeness, check out White Winter HymnalHelplessness Blues, Third of May / Odaigahara and for good measure Someone You'd Admire. Tremendous.

So this new album will be called Shore, but otherwise we know nothing, aside from a redacted list of song titles teased by frontman Robin Pecknold on Instagram last year. No pressure, but we expect greatness.

Release Date: TBA 2020

2. The Avalanches

the avalanches third album wildflower since i left we will always love you running red lights new album 2020 best new anticipated musicWhen The Ephemeric predicted a few years ago, in a Hot List post much like this, that The Avalanches were returning for a second album, it was kind of a big deal. The Avalanches famously struck gold with their debut album Since I Left You back in 2000, before getting mired in a legal and production nightmare that would see the follow up take an astonishing 16 years to release. It was worth the wait, and Wildflower ended up being one of the decade's best albums.

So when I hear that the band are producing another record, I am understandably excited. We don't have an album name or release date yet but the first single has dropped, We Will Always Love You, and it's another lovely track, if a bit of a departure from the band's usual fare.

My bet is the album drops around the summer. Until then, tide yourself over with a few of The Avalanches' classic tracks, Since I Left You, Colours, If I Was a Folkstar, and probably their most famous song, Frontier Psychiatrist.

Release Date: TBA 2020

1. "Imploding the Mirage" by The Killers

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And we'll finish with a bona fide music blockbuster, a new album from The Killers.

These guys don't need any introduction, they're one of the world's biggest bands and have produced an array of hit songs from Mr. Brightside to All These Things I've Done, Read My Mind and Human. We know nothing about the new album aside from the fact that it will be titled Imploding the Mirage, and that it is likely to release in the summer.

For all the hits they have released over the years, they arguably haven't had a great album since 2008's Day & Age, and while the last two albums have been reasonably well received, the fan response has generally not been as strong as with the first three albums. But a new album from The Killers is always going to be a big deal, and we are hopeful that this will mark a triumphant return.

Release Date: Summer 2020

So there you have it folks: 2020 in music. Tune in next week for this year's final Hot List, where we look at the most exciting new movies in 2020!

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