Thou’s Andy Gibbs names his top 10 albums of 2020
UPDATE: Vocalist Bryan Funck made his own list too.
Genre-defying sludge metal band Thou have had a very busy year that has included their excellent collaborative album with Emma Ruth Rundle, contributions to two Black Sabbath tribute albums and one Alice In Chains tribute album, contributions to two anti-racist benefit comps (one of which saw them covering Bad Religion), and a Nirvana covers album. Now that the year is coming to a close, we asked Thou guitarist Andy Gibbs what his favorite albums of 2020 were, and he made a list with insightful commentary on each one.
Andy's musically diverse picks include everything from harsh extreme metal (MSW, Primitive Man) to jazz (Bohren & Der Club Of Gore, The Necks) to electronic music (Zanias, Ireen Amnes), and more. Read on to see what Andy had to say...
ANDY GIBBS' TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2020 ("no order and excluding lots of good stuff")
Vyva Melinkolya - Violet EP
I discovered this record early in the year before things went south for the planet. Its blend of youthful ennui, swirling MBV-style guitars, and breathy vocals was way too depressing for me to have been listening to on repeat at the time, but something about these songs kept me coming back. The perfect 2020 bummer record.
Zanias - Harmaline EP
lison Lewis aka Zoe Zanias had been on my radar since last year when friends recommended I check out her stellar work as Keluar and 1/2 of Linea Aspera. This EP is a perfect distillation of her dancier stuff, and the track “Limerence” is probably my most-listened to song of the year. Crucial tracks for the club, crying at home, or making your home the club and still crying anyway.
Bohren & Der Club Of Gore - Patchouli Blue
I always say that it’s a crime that Bohren was never featured on Twin Peaks: The Return. I mean the NIN performance was really cool I guess. Anyway, I love this band and this record. Heavier than most metal bands, and definitely slower. There’s a couple of moments where you could probably light a cigarette and take a drag before the downbeat hits again.
The Necks - Three
Ah, the Necks. One of the rare instances in which I accosted the sound guy at a show to find out what band was being played over the P.A. This band uses time as an instrument, stretching out long improvised passages until you forget what’s even happening or how long it’s been, while occasionally switching things up with slightly sparser tracks like “Lovelock.” The music is never outright dark, but it nonetheless carries a sense of menace with its relentless repetition.
MJ Guider - Sour Cherry Bell
Probably the best record to come out of New Orleans since Belong’s Common Era. There’s a deep sense of nostalgia on this record even though it doesn’t particularly remind me of any record I own (though the subtle hints towards late '80s/early '90s Freestyle production won’t be lost on the real heads). Maybe it’s because I listen to it literally every day and it just feels nostalgic at this point. More than anything though, this record is just meticulously crafted and it shows in everything from the earworm melodies to the incredible “headphones only” production treats.
M.S.W. - Obliviosus
Every time Matt releases a record it makes me reevaluate whatever I’m working on, because I feel like the bar just gets raised with every release. This one is no exception. The depth of the sadness emoted on this record is simply staggering, and because of that it is honestly not an easy listen. As of this writing I have only made it through the whole thing twice because it took so much out of me and demanded my full attention each time. Not to be taken lightly, this is a serious masterclass in heartfelt heavy music.
Riki - S/T
A brilliant gothy-synth-pop record on Dais. What else even needs to be said? Hear it at your next Twitch virtual goth night and dance the night away.
Oranssi Pazuzu - Mestarin kynsi
The fact that I didn’t get to see this performed live at Roadburn this year definitely ranks among the world’s more shocking travesties, but their livestream performance was impressive nonetheless. One of the few bands in extreme metal who is actually pushing the genre, in my humble and possibly stupid opinion. My first listen to “Taivaan portti” was like that tweet where a guy says, “But a dog can’t play basketball!” while a dog dunks on him over and over again.
Ireen Amnes - In The Land Of Silence
Another great electronic release from this year. I knew Ireen Amnes from her Faus Nova EP that came out last year, which was slightly more techno-adjacent than this new record. Once I adjusted to the slight stylistic change and delved into her back catalog a bit I came to really love In The Land Of Silence for all of its subtleties and the clever ways that songs evolve.
Primitive Man - Immersion
The arms race is over. Primitive Man has won. They’re heavier than your band. I don’t care how much money you spend on amps this year, you won’t be heavier. Yes I’ve heard that Burning Witch record or whatever other record you’re thinking of right now. We all had a good time competing but it’s over now.
Browse our Best of 2020 tag for more year-end lists.