My favorite three albums of the year (2020) crept up on me -- when someone asks me about my favorite music, I almost always pick either straight-ahead rock and roll or progressive rock, but this year was kind of all over the map. A lot of people I know had a lot more time for music and exploring new things, but since we never took a break from working, this year felt very scattered and frantic and led me towards more "comfort food" music than I usually go for. That being said, my favorites this year were actually fairly dark, definitely dense, and introspective...not exactly comforting, but apparently what I wanted to hear.
Final Quiet by Flies Are Spies from Hell -- this is what I suppose critics would classify as "post-rock," and it definitely fits the bill for anyone who likes bands like Red Sparowes, Explosions in the Sky, or Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It's dense and complex and enveloping, and is right up my alley. It's almost orchestral, but is notable for the way it uses piano and guitar to build the songs' architecture. It's findable on Bandcamp.
Voices by Max Richter -- contemporary classical, you'll be familiar with his work scoring various television programs and films. This album fits well within that body of work, but is somewhat different in that it's a meditation on modern times and uses a kind of reconfigured orchestra that is skewed toward the bass register, very heavy on basses and cellos. It is constructed around the use of voices (as the title indicates) reading (in various languages, at various lengths) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It's quiet and thought-provoking, poignant at times and just lovely at others.
The Reckless One by Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar -- roots-rock, gospel, blues, soul, this is a real mashup of a lot of genres I like, so this is almost tailor-made for me. Samantha Martin has a voice as big as a house and the 11-piece blues/soul backup band Delta Sugar is rock-solid. If you like that retro neo-soul sort of thing, you're probably going to like it. Reminds me of a great juke joint band, the kind you'd stumble across accidentally, back when we could all go to juke joints. If you like Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, or Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics, this will be a great addition to your regular musical rotation.