2020 has been the ultimate year for new releases from firm favourites spanning the full range of independent music. 90s singer-songwriter superstar Fiona Apple released her first album in 8 years, and Aussie favourite Tame Impala made a triumphant return with his latest album after a five year break. It has certainly been a year full of surprises, including early release dates, unexpected albums and changes in direction that have made for some interesting listening.
Of course, the internet and subsequent new technologies in the music world have meant that album releases and listening parties have changed to become something almost unrecognisable compared to just a few years ago. All the artists listed below are available on streaming platforms like Epidemic Sound and Jango for free, and downloads of their new albums far outweigh the number of physical records sold. It has become commonplace to seek out all of our entertainment needs online, from the latest TV on HBO Max, to casino games at Poker Stars Casino, to other gaming content via Twitch. In terms of music, listening via wireless headphones, smart home hubs and Bluetooth speakers is far more common now than using a record player or tape deck.
With this in mind, let’s investigate the new releases from this year that are ready and waiting for you to sample, whether you choose to do so online or go old school with a physical purchase.
Laura Marling – Song for Our Daughter
With four of her seven studio albums nominated for a Mercury Music Prize (including this latest offering), and after having won both a Brit Award and an NME Award, Laura Marling has certainly earned the respect and admiration of the indie music crowd, both critics and fans alike. Her unique brand of nu-folk turned heads back in 2008 when she debuted as a solo artist, but it’s the sage wisdom, intriguing narrative and almost pop-like chords peppering 2020’s Song for Our Daughter that have heard it hailed as her best work yet. The daughter of the title doesn’t physically exist, but is rather a vehicle for Marling’s address to women everywhere. Released four months early in April rather than August, this album was a delightful surprise to many and has quickly established itself as a seminal work in the English singer-songwriter’s career.
Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
With a romantic nod to St. Valentine’s Day (or was it a cynical side-eye?), Tame Impala’s fourth studio album The Slow Rush was released on 14th February. It immediately started receiving five-star reviews from the critics and it’s not hard to see why. Kevin Parker, the genius behind the band’s unique sound, is adept at creating crowd-pleasing music that sits somewhere in between pop, psychedelia, electronica and rock music; with this album, he’s focused heavily on a disco sound and people love it. Although Parker himself hails from Australia, Tame Impala have enjoyed worldwide success, gaining fans from all four corners of the globe. This album had, unfortunately, already had its release date delayed so eager listeners were overjoyed to get their hands on it earlier this year.
Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Anticipation had been building for months around the upcoming release of the new album by Grammy-award winning artist Fiona Apple, so when it was finally made available in March, it caused something of a stir. Apple had not made a studio album since back in 2012 so this new music was gladly received. Fetch the Bolt Cutters met with positive reviews from almost everybody, as critics praised its unparalleled sound and fans celebrated its brutal honesty. Apple is not known for shying away from difficult topics or unusual creative choices, but this is part of why she is such a successful artist. By the middle of the summer, many people were already calling it album of the year, drawing parallels between Apple and other greats like Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone.
Grimes – Miss Anthropocene
Claire Boucher, better known as musician and producer Grimes, has been in the news for all kinds of reasons lately outside of her musical output. Along with giving birth to her first child, X Æ A-Xii, she also released a successful new album named Miss Anthropocene back in February, her first full studio album in five years. With the issue of climate change and reimagined mythical gods for a new age as the central themes, it certainly makes for an interesting and thought-provoking listen. Overall, Grimes retains her signature electropop sound, but introduces other unusual and weird elements to great effect. Upon its release, Miss Anthropocene did receive positive reviews across the board, though many thought that the album lacked cohesiveness. Boucher has said that she has the material for a second album lined up in the near future, though problems with her long-time record label, 4AD, may mean that she goes with a different label for its release.