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Best of 2020: Noah Hardwick (Part IV)

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Creating a list of my top 100 albums and EPs has been fun and all, but it’s really these last 25 that are my personal favorites of 2020. They’re the ones that I’ve listened to the most and the ones I think I will keep coming back to in 2021. So here it is, my top 25 albums and EPs of 2020:

25. Grandpa Loves Rhinos – Searching In The Sarcasm

And the IVM album of the year is . . .

24. 12 Stones – Smoke & Mirrors Volume 1 EP

I really wasn’t expecting much this EP but I was pleasantly surprised. That gap at the end of “In Flames” though is really annoying.

23. Hillsong Young & Free – All Of My Best Friends

This is some of the catchiest pop worship I’ve ever heard. That said, the choice to put both the live and studio versions on the same album bugs me a little bit. I pretty much always just skip straight to track 14.

22. Daulton Hopkins – Nowhere Land EP

Somehow the best two songs ended up at the back of the tracklist.

21. Kelsey Breedlove – Heaven’s Song EP

I wrote this EP off pretty quick as just another worship EP. But I just kept coming back to it. Weird.

20. Andrew Stanton – Dive Bomb

I’m not sure I realized there was an I Am Empire shaped hole in 2020 until listened to this album.

19. Rynn – Headspace EP

More often than not releasing over half the EP as singles ruins the EP for me. This indie pop EP proved to be the exception though. It’s better as a whole than it’s individual parts.

18. Paul Demer – Love For Enemies EP

For an EP that only features one new song and a couple of songs from a previous album it comes together surprisingly well.

17. Jessie Early – The Fire Never Dies EP

Fun times.

16. CHPTRS – Chapter Five EP

Who knew a song released in January would be so fitting for 2020.

15. Everything In Slow Motion – Influence

If there’s an album on my list with the potential to creep up into my top 10 this is it. It just released so late in 2020 that I haven’t gotten to listen to it has much as I’d like. Maybe if the post office ever gets around to delivering my CD I can change that in 2021.

14. Weathered – Everything All At Once

All the above could probably be said about this album too. One thing I’m not a fan of on this album though is the track order, it just feels off.

13. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – The Emergency EP

Just a fun little pop-punk/alt-rock EP.

12. Teddy At Night – At Night EP

Credit to Brandon for sharing this one, I would’ve missed it otherwise.

11. Kids – Lost Cities

This album ranks pretty high on my most played list yet I still don’t feel like I “know” it very well.

10. Tommy Murphy – Be With Me EP / Time That I Am Reconciled EP

Okay, okay, having two EPs ranked at number 10 is probably cheating. But I was struggling to choose between them. I fell in love with this set of worship EPs though for a lot of the same reasons I enjoyed John Mark Pantana’s album last year.

9. Off Road Minivan – Swan Dive

I wasn’t really sure where this album would end up on my year end list when it came out but it’s held up pretty well to repeat listens and I’m glad to say it managed to stay in the top 10.

8. ’68 – Love Is Ain’t Dead EP

I really didn’t see this one coming. I mean I liked ’68’s debut album alight but this EP has gotten a lot more spins than it ever did. I’m looking forward the proper full-length that got delayed now.

7. SVRCINA – Elysian Fields

This probably isn’t a top 10 album, but I just can’t get enough of SVRCINA’s vocals this year.

6. Pyramid Park – Not An Island

I haven’t listened to this album as much as I thought I would after it dropped, but upon revisiting it this week it remains one of the strongest albums I’ve heard in 2020.

5. Andrew Blooms – Never A Waste

I found myself listening to a lot more singer/songwriter type stuff in 2020 than in previous years. This album remained near the top of my favorites though.

4. Gable Price & Friends – Fractioned Heart

Gable Prices (and friends) really leveled up in 2020. I enjoyed their previous EP and singles but never expected their debut album would land in my top 5. Here we are though.

3. Jacob Dixon – Lionheart EP

Making EPs my album of the year could be my new thing as I seriously considered this for #1 this year. But I decided not to make my 2020 list a repeat of 2019 and give edge to an actual full length this year.

2. John Mark McMillan – Peopled With Dreams

Peopled With Dreams was early front-runner for my album of 2020. But I think I might listened to it a few too many times now as it’s starting to feel a little warn out. But whenever I decide to break the CD out and give it a listen it still shines through as one of the best things I listened to in 2020.

1. Ella Mine – Dream War

I wasn’t really sure which album would end up at #1 when I started working this a few weeks ago. But when I popped my new Dream War CD in for the first time it became clear real quick that this album was setting itself apart from the rest. Musically I just love the way the album flows from one song to the next. It makes me feel like I’m listening to an opera or something the way it weaves a story together. Lyrically I appreciate the way it honestly struggles with the issue of metal illness, though I admit much of the Shakespearian reference are lost on me. It’s not a faultless album though. I do think the album drags a little bit in the middle and its hour runtime takes some commitment, but it’s very much worth it.

Honorable Mention: Poor Bishop Hooper

Poor Bishop Hooper didn’t release an album in 2020 (edit: actually they did release an instrumental album) but they did release 53 singles in 2020, one for each of the first 53 Psalms. Their goal of releasing one song a week until all 150 Psalms have been covered is incredibly ambitious and I want to give them credit for making it this far. Only 97 more Psalms to go!

Return to Part III

Drop Some Words of Wisdom

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Daniel J
Daniel J
January 7, 2021 5:19 am

Lionheart is such a good song.

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