Sadie Dupuis (of Speedy Ortiz and her solo project Sad13) had a busy 2020, releasing a new Sad13 album, Haunting Painting, via her own Wax Nine label, as well as contributing songs to various compilations, including covers of Cloud Nothings, Mirah, and Rilo Kiley.
Now that 2020 is over, Sadie looked back at the year that was for us and told us about her favorite music releases, including albums by Anjimile, clipping., Backxwash, Yaeji, Yves Tumor and more. You can see her choices, read her commentary, and stream Haunted Painting below.
SADIE DUPIUS' FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2020
The longer I work in music the more I get tripped up by the intense conflict of interest I feel making year-end-lists! It would be way too easy to make a top 10 list of only BFFLs and that feels unethical even when I really do think their records are some of the best. So here is my list: 10 Alphabetically Sorted (by First Name for Some Reason) Favorite Albums of the Year From a Longer List of Favorites, Excluding the Ones by Artists I Wrote a Bio for*, Have Hung Out With Extensively**, Play in a Band With***, Have Toured With****, Released an Album by*****, or Date******.
Allie X - Cape God
This has got to be my most-heard album of the year. I love the detailed production and the dazzling vocals, how sadness and fun cohabit so elegantly. She wrote this record inspired by a documentary about the opioid crisis, and it covers a lot of emotional ground without losing focus. I wrote a lot of my own 2020 album about grieving friends lost to overdose (and am donating a portion of sales to harm reduction org Prevention Point Philadelphia), so as a listener, this resonated with me. (Oh, also, if you need more swaying, there’s a Mitski feature.)
Anjimile - Giver Taker
I know comparisons to Sufjan have been overmade on this record but I can’t think of too many other songwriters who can pull off this kind of instrumentation; Anjimile is writing and arranging on some other plane. He did a livestream set for Stereogum’s fundraiser show that blew me away with astonishingly good fingerpicking. I don’t usually love “stripped down”-style sets but these songs work perfectly whether they’re dressed up or dressed down, a testament to Jimi’s song craft.
Backxwash - God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It
The first time I heard this album I ran several sub-7 minute miles (WHICH I HAVE NOT DONE SINCE I WAS A TEENAGER AND I’M CURRENTLY 32) because I was so scared and excited and obsessed with it immediately! I love creepy pop production - okay, I love creepy everything - and this record has a perfect concoction of dark drums, industrial drone, and oddball samples. I love Ashanti’s lyrics and how smoothly she’s able to shift from goth rhapsodizing to emotional transparency.
Caroline Rose - Superstar
My January 2020 resolution was to figure out some way to stay at the Chateau Marmont for free (lol) and I’m pretty sure this album’s protagonist would know how to help me. Concept albums are hit or miss for me but this one about misguidedly upending your life on a quest for fame feels especially prescient as we’ve all become Permanently Online. So many cool synth quirks and intricate programming layers from a mad scientist songwriter who’s grown into one of my favorite producers. Caroline is a true aesthete and coordinated an amazing looking lights production for her tour dates which were canceled. So for more than one reason, this is an album I can’t wait to see live in…2022?
clipping. - Visions of Bodies Being Burned
For the bass on “Check the Lock” alone! But also for a bunch of other reasons. Like I said above, I love creepy everything, and these three do it so well. I got to see them at Adult Swim fest last year (the last festival I ever played???) and I can’t believe I never thought to put a microphone in my mouth to make feedback before that.
Ganser - Just Look At That Sky
It’s frankly annoying how every good band is from Chicago. This applies to Ganser too but I will not hold it against them since this album rules so hard. Touchstones to your favorite arty post-punk are here, especially in the pulsing bass and unhinged guitar squalls, but Alicia’s and Nadia’s vocals are a good reminder that this is a project very much grounded in its own world and sound. Watching live videos you can tell these songs sound as perfect on a stage as they do on the recordings.
Shopping - All Or Nothing
Speaking of post-punk! As usual, Rachel Aggs put out a ton of awesome music this year, including a solo tape and EP, but this was one of the last records I got into back when I was still driving around places and going to see people, so it’s holding a powerful place in my memory. Shopping albums are consistently solid, and as usual there are tight, intricate guitars, dextrous hi-hat work, and roving bass. It’s really pop and it’s really weird and is as great as anything in their very great discography.
Wendy Eisenberg - Auto
Another unusually gifted guitarist who plays in so many different kinds of projects and makes them all sound uniquely wonderful. I don’t have the galaxy brain jazz vocabulary to express exactly what Wendy’s doing on their instrument but watching them play is a revelatory display of shifting techniques that makes me question my belief in time. So, probably obvious that on Auto I love the guitars. But I also love Wendy’s plain spoken vocal delivery, the textural noise floors, the drums that feel like whispers, the strangeness and honesty.
Yaeji - What We Drew
Listening to Yaeji makes me feel so so good. Good enough to power through any task I might be avoiding - laundry, exercising, making a top 10 list (yes I am listening as I type this). I love how warm What We Drew sounds, not a word I’d apply to a lot of 2020 dance music. Even the glitchiest, hyperpoppiest, most ecstatic moments feel really intimate. “We sit in a circle and look at each other / and reminisce how we got to meet each other” is the lyric my brain has looped the most this year.
Yves Tumor - Heaven To A Tortured Mind
I could say best drum sounds of the year, I could say best guitar solos of the year, I could say best glam satanic overblown pop visuals of the year, all of it would be true at once and I still wouldn’t be saying enough. I can’t get over Yves Tumor’s universe and every time I return to this album I’m blown away by its vision.
*No Joy, Illuminati Hotties, Sen Morimoto; **Illuminati Hotties, Waxahatchee, Shamir; ***Laser Background; ****Ohmme, Nnamdi, Soccer Mommy, Anna Burch, Told Slant, Knot; *****Melkbelly, Johanna Warren; ******Nick Jonas. (This is my way of giving you a much longer list than 10 - happy Hanukkah!)
Browse our Best of 2020 tag for more year-end lists.