Fred Pessaro -- a lifer -- was a long time BrooklynVegan and Invisible Oranges editor and show organizer before moving on to Noisey, CLRVYNT, Revolver, and other places. His taste in heavy music has helped shape not just our own coverage for over 10 years, but the music landscape as a whole. In addition to still occasionally contributing to BrooklynVegan and writing other places, Fred helped organize shows at places across the US including Saint Vitus, Brooklyn Bazaar, Union Pool, TV Eye and many many more. As the year is coming to a close, we’ve been publishing year-end lists from various music industry figures. Here’s Fred’s, who we're always happy to have back:

2020 was utterly bizarre for me, as it was for pretty much everyone else. Just like anyone involved in live music, my job evaporated into thin air along with any sense of normalcy and a large chunk of my sanity. Live music was, I thought, my identity and my life– I've spent the bulk of my adulthood going to at least one show a week and in the more than two decades that I've lived in NYC, at least five per week. Couple that with the passing of some friends and musical heroes and you can imagine how I, along with many many others, did a lot of soul searching.

But if there is one positive that came out of the tumult, it was my ability to spread my wings and explore things that I never had the time for or ability to prior. Music and art was my true sanctuary in those truly dark early spring months so I dug in deep– exploring genres and artists that I never had before and opening up worlds that I never knew existed. It was a time of reflection and solace which is also reflected in some of my picks.

Heavy music, jazz and ambient have always occupied a similar space for me– catharsis from my frustration, releasing my anger and safe place for reflection. Those genres, along with rap, occupied way more of my time this year, along with old time favorites. All of the below 2020 releases are highlights for me, presented in no order and devoid of any single genre. Do yourself a favor and check those out if you haven't already, along with anything by John Fahey, Townes Van Zandt, Griselda, Ornette Coleman, International Anthem, Tangerine Dream, Flying Nun, Neil Young or Jason Molina. They might just save your sanity.


TOP 20 of 2020 (sort of)
Cindy Lee - What’s Tonight to Eternity
Benny the Butcher - Burden of Proof
Adrianne Lenker - songs / instrumentals
Nothing - The Great Dismal
Undergang - Aldrig i Livet
Eternal Champion - Ravening Iron
Jeff Parker - Suite For Max Brown
Sven Wunder - Eastern Flowers / Wabi Sabi
Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist - Alfredo
Mary Lattimore - Silver Ladders
Hum - Inlet
Laraaji - Moon Piano
Miasmatic Necrosis - Apex Profane
Chubby & the Gang - Speed Kills
Geld - Beyond the Floor
Jyoti - Mama You Can Bet!
Uniform - SHAME
Bib - Delux
The Spits - VI
Internal Rot - Grieving Birth

EPs / Singles / CS
Healer - Resurgence
Public Acid - Condemnation
Carcass - Despicable
Humant Blod - Flykten Från Verkligheten
Conway the Machine & The Alchemist - LULU
Bog Body / Primitive Warfare split
Innumerable Forms - Despotic Rule CS
Hyperdontia / Morttiferum split
Hank Wood & the Hammerheads - Use Me

Honorable Mentions:
Caustic Wound - Death Posture
Roc Marciano - Mt. Marci
Pharmacist - Medical Renditions of Grinding Decomposition
Narrow Head - 12th House Rock
Supercrush - SODO Pop
Stove God Cooks & Roc Marciano - Reasonable Drought
Westside Gunn - Pray for Paris
Big Cheese - Punishment Park


Browse our Best of 2020 tag for more year-end lists.

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