Houston's Narrow Head had been on the rise for a while, and they had their biggest breakthrough yet with this year's 12th House Rock, their first album for Run For Cover. If you haven't heard it, it's a driving, catchy blend of grunge, punk, and shoegaze that'll take you right back to the days when MTV played loud rock bands. You can stream it below.

With 2020 coming to a close, we asked Narrow Head what their favorite albums of the year were, and they made us a list that includes the comeback album by the band who really paved the way for the current heavy shoegaze movement (Hum), plus some likeminded peers (Higher Power, Vein.fm), some hardcore (Big Cheese, Public Acid), and an eclectic mix of other things. Read on for their full list and what they had to say about each one...


Some of our favorite musical releases this year in no particular order:

Charli XCX - how i'm feeling now
Beautiful, expertly-crafted pop tunes that feel both avant-garde and as bubblegum as they come. Pop music sent from the future.

Peel Dream Magazine - Agitprop Alterna
Somewhere between the gulfs of MBV worship and Stereolab-esque synth tones and vocal melodies, PDM has been residing and steadily churning out music the past few years. 13 tracks of digestible and immediately memorable dreamy pop/rock tunes.

Chubby and The Gang - Speed Kills
Rising from the diverse and active crop of UK punk and hardcore bands, Chubby goes for something else: pure, unadulterated, Capital-R Rock’n Roll. Brilliant guitar and bass melody-crafting, breakneck speed drumming, and lyrics and hooks delivered by a charming frontman. Perhaps the most fun record of the year.

Public Acid - Condemnation
The cream of the current crop of Richmond,VA hardcore, Public Acid keeps churning out perfect Japanese HC-inspired releases. Filthy, aggressive vocals, guitars that wail and shriek, and manic, inspired drumming to push it all along.

Slow Pulp - Moveys
Lots of artists seem to currently be occupying this niche of mid-tempo, stripped down indie rock (shouts out to Alex G) but this record invited tons of repeated listening. Very well done bedroom pop with tons of ear candy hooks, and just enough curveballs in its relatively short runtime to feel like a bonafide record.

Big Cheese - Punishment Park
'80s NYHC with a dash of that NWOBHM flair. Music to get rowdy to.

Higher Power - 27 Miles Underwater
An album of which we had the pleasure of getting to know the demos in 2019. Jimmy‘s incredible vocal range and the band’s style of hardcore through the lens of a Gil Norton production made one of our enduring favorites of the year.

Vein.fm - Old Data in A New Machine, Vol. 1- The most exciting band in hardcore. These reimagined versions of their pre-LP material plus a handful of remixes gives you a perfect encapsulation of what they’re all about. Abrasive music driven by a ferocious rhythm section mixing menacing, growling bass with powerful drumming both acoustic and digital by way of sampling and drum loops.

Khruangbin / Leon Bridges - Texas Sun EP
The journey of moods and emotions put through only four songs is a masterful accomplishment for these songwriters. It hits like a mid-70’s Marvin Gaye album. The mix of sensuality and melancholy through the sparse and effortlessly soulful arrangements kept this EP on repeat for literally months.

Daisies - Cherries
Electronic music that feels like an amalgamation of 90’s UK jungle, drum n bass, as well as some of the more poppy Manchester stuff. Short and sweet EP.

Hum - Inlet

This list wouldn’t be complete without the comeback record from a band that has directly inspired us and so many others. Hum returns from a 20 year recording silence in peak form. The riffs are slower, more colossal and heavier than ever. The drumming is more restrained and contemplative, suiting the deep pocket on these long tracks. And Matt’s musings on life and love by way of sci-fi splendor feel as timely as they did the first time we listened to You’d Prefer an Astronaut.

Bonus shouts out to the emergence of Mario Judah, the Tom Petty Wildflowers reissue, and HBO’s How To With John Wilson, one of the best comedy shows to air in recent memory.


Narrow Head also recently did a live set to help benefit venues in their hometown, and you can watch that too:


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

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