2020 AOTY List by Henry Navarre

Henry was a welcome recent addition to the Burnt Coffee executive reviewer’s board. As you will soon see via this list, the man has eclectic tastes! So without further adieu, I present you Henry’s AOTY list.

15) Sightless Pit – Grave Of A Dog

There’s probably ten modern hardcore records that I listened to more than this once this year that could have had this spot, but this record is far more memorable and left a larger impression despite me only managing to make it all the way through three or four times. As a mashup of Lingua Ignota and The Body, it’s like Lingua but heavier and a little more sonic depth, what’s not to like?

Standout Track: “Kingscorpse”

14) Uniform – Shame

Shame is Uniform hitting the mark perfectly on their mix of hardcore, industrial, and commentary that they’ve been so close to in the past. A supremely satisfying listen, especially for Uniform fans.

Standout Track: “Dispatches From A Gutter” 

13) Machine Girl – U Void Synthesizers

This record has no business being so listenable for how grindy it is. Wildly noisy, aggressive, and chaotic it’s Machine Girl doing what they do and somehow making something furious fun as hell.

Standout Track: “Fortress Destroyer”

12) New Found Glory – Forever and Ever x Infinity

It’s NFG, listeners know what they’re in for: it’s going to be riffy, fun, hook filled, professional pop punk and I’m going to love it every time.

Standout Track: “Same Side Sitters”

11) The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous

It’s Black Dahlia, listeners know what they’re in for: it’s going to be fast, solo filled, professional death metal and I’m going to love it every time.

Standout Track: “The Leather Apron’s Scorn”

10) END – Splinters from an Ever-Changing Face

Splinters from an Ever-Changing Face was everything a release of a super group from hardcore should be: glimmers of all the parts forming the whole but heavier, and clean as can be.                           

Standout Track: “Hesitation Wounds”

9) Fire-Toolz – Rainbow Bridge

This year was my introduction to Fire-Toolz and it took me a while to lock down an opinion of them or how to describe the band, but I was super interested in figuring it out from the first day I heard them. The sound is everywhere, keeping a listener on their toes  and reminding me of a million things while also living in a space of their own.

Standout Track: “Microtubules”

8) The Garden – Kiss My Super Bowl Ring

Weird, fun, heavy, airy, chaotic, poppy. The Garden surprise no one by doing everything but being boring.

Standout Track: “Sneaky Devil” 

7) Grey Matter – Climbing Out

The prime example of what a ska revival should be, Grey Matter’s Climbing Out comes roaring in with chaotic, relevant hardcore, seasoned with a brass section that adds more dimension to the sound than just fun leads. Grey Matter prove themselves as far and away the most interesting band on the burgeoning Bad Time Records roster.

Standout Track: “Not My Friend”

6) Bright Eyes – Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was

Bright Eyes’ newest release sounds exactly like what it should, Conner Oberst getting older. A little less melodramatic but still to the core of the human tangle Oberst is, Bright Eyes fans will either love this record or be disappointed by the lack of juvenile drama, I loved it.                      

Standout Track: “Persona Non Grata”

5) Enter Shikari – Nothing is True Everything is Possible

As an enormous Enter Shikari fan, watching the band grow and mature over the years has been a pleasure. With Nothing is True Everything is Possible Enter Shikari’s progress is peppered with fun musical passages that nod to every era of the band’s transformation over the years. As always, every song serves a purpose and addresses a relevant issue, and there’s at the very least one song for anyone on the tracklist.               

Standout Track: “the pressure’s on.”

4) Kota the Friend – Lyrics To Go Vol. I

While I’m not including EP’s on this list Lyrics To Go gets a pass because it’s ten songs and I liked it a little bit more than the seemingly universally loved Everything. It’s good vibes, and a great listen to cook breakfast or relax to.                                                   

Standout Track: “Open On Sunday”

3) Black Dresses – Peaceful as Hell

This release had me more excited about electronic music than anything else in a long time. The day it got taken off of Spotify was the worst. It was Black Dresses at their sharpest, best produced and most potent.

Standout Track: “SHARP HALO”

2) City Mouth – Coping Machine

While the singles for this release were rolling out I was disappointed. I had really hoped that this record would maintain a semblance of the bands pop punk and Wonder Years reminiscent emo that I had loved so much in previous City Mouth releases, and I was let down by pop mentality and the heavy use of keyboards; Coping Machine, however, works best as a complete album. On my first listen I found the flow of the record brought out those relatable pangs of sadness, nostalgia, desperation and honesty that I love about City Mouth. As I’ve repeated the record I’ve found new and envying things in every track and I think it’s my favorite release of theirs to date.

Standout Track: “Wednesday”

1) The Acacia Strain – Slow Decay

After years of enjoying Acacia Strain’s music but never being moved enough by it to place it in a top ten list much less an AOTY, I was blown away by Slow Decay. Acacia Strain’s slow release of two tracks at a time had me paying attention to Slow Decay for months before the project came out, and by the time it was released in full I was floored. This is TAS’s heaviest, most engaging, and artistic exploration of their distinct sound to date. Lyrically devastating and filled with dynamite guest features, Slow Decay had me listening and re-listening all summer.

Standout Track: “The Lucid Dream”

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