Best of 2020 - Samantha B's Picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2020

Samantha B's Picks (2020)

Staff Picks

2020 as a whole really really sucked! but rather than focusing on how much it sucked this year, I would rather focus on the good of this year. As most of us shut down earlier this year due to the COVID-19 crisis. I spent the better part of the year trying to keep sane. One vice was to focus on my mental well-being and focusing only on the things I can control. Tried to not focus on the news and the horrible administration in the states, let go of the anger I have over how divided the states have become. I focused on making masks for loved ones, worked on a kick-ass collaboration with the incomparable Melanie Kaye, focused on Women in the music scene, took a trip upstate New York to socially distance explore the wonders right outside my tiny stoop. Music was one thing that kept me sane and I am always thankful for having Punknews as a place I can come to. Thank you to the readers and thank you for still being here to give me a place to come to.

To make the best of this year, our stages are struggling. I personally miss live shows dearly (having spent almost every weekend since I was 22 at a venue) and hope to see myself back at it one day. Please consider donating or buying merch to the venues and bands to help save the places/things we love.
Save Our Stages
Saint Vitus Bar
Support Local Venues

I would also encourage folks to purchase Livestream tickets to keep the bands we love afloat until we can see each other again.

Hopefully, 2021 will be better. Keep your masks on and stay safe everyone.

Here are my top 10 glimmers of joy from 2020. Thanks to these albums and bands for getting me through this crazy year. Also, If you would like to check out my 2020 mixtape, you can click here.

Top 10 of 2020

10. Hundredth: Somewhere Nowhere

Self- Release

As I age, I have been finding myself seeking dreamier chill music as well as the usual punk that I would listen to. This year, former hardcore band Hundredth have hit their newly founded shoegaze stride with Somewhere Nowhere. With the help of electrified synths they achieved a new level of dreaminess, perfecting the direction they were heading in since their 2017 release Rare. Totally a recommendation if you are into swaying along to dreamy pop/shoegaze songs.

9. The Bombpops: Death in Venice Beach

Fat Wreck Chords

Death In Venice Beach is the second album by Southern California’s The Bombpops. The band have been pretty consistent in touring around America and Europe for the last few years, I am so glad they have found the time to pen and recorded their latest album. This pop-punk album is energetic and filled with melody that contrasts with their thought-provoking and most real lyrics to date.

8. Bad Cop/Bad Cop: The Ride

Fat Wreck Chords

The rad ladies of Bad Cop/Bad Cop returned with their 3rd full-length album, The Ride.The album comes in strong calling out wrongs and pointing out the importance of self-importance and care. The Ride is filled with very enjoyable songs that leaves you very optimistic. Bassist Linh Le shines on this album with her powerful lyrical input with “Pursuit Of Liberty”.

7. No Chemistry: Dead Wait

Creator Destructor Records

No Chemistry is the solo project of Ben Murray (Light This City/Heartsounds). Taking a quick departure from the usual metal and punk bands he is known for. Dead Wait is a much cleaner and softer rock music, somewhere for him to create honest and emotive songs. The very talented Murray performed everything himself on the album with the exception of a collaboration with his pianist mother in “Long Awaited”.

6. Watertank: Silent Running

Atypeek Music

Heavy-hitting French post-hardcore band Watertank released Silent Running this year as a follow up to their 2015 sophomore release Destinaton Unknown. I have just heard about this band but their third full-length album harks the heavy sludgy riffs and doom of Torche with hints of shoegaze and math-rock sprinkled within the album’s 10 tracks.

5. Be Well: The Weight and The Cost

Equal Vision Records

After having some buzz over their 2019 two-song 7-inch, Be Well finally released their debut full-length this year and it is everything you can expect from a hardcore supergroup. This album delivers on filling my occasional need for hardcore. The Weight and The Cost is melodic, energetic, emotional while having a familiar feel that reminds me of Long Island/New England hardcore bands of the 90s.

4. The Lawrence Arms: Skeleton Coast

Epitaph Records

We have waited a good 6 years for new Larry Arms and thank goodness we did. Skeleton Coast is filled with instant classic Lawrence Arms jams, something about this album felt very familiar but had just enough of something different and new to distinguish it from being a reinvention of a past album.

3. Nothing: The Great Dismal

Relapse Records

The fourth album by Philly’s Nothing continues their journey into their dark shoegaze madness. Maybe too perfect of an album to explain what 2020 is really like. The Great Dismal is honest and filled with interesting glimmers of harps and other things under the curated noise.

2. Covet: Technicolor

Triple Crown Records

San Francisco area self-proclaimed adventure rock band Covet truly created a gem of a second album this year. Technicolor is the perfect exploration of technical playing with emotionally charged math rock. “Parachute” is a beautiful display of Yvette Young’s vocal styling.

1. Ways Away: Ways Away

Other People Records

Ways Away created an extremely delightful debut self-titled album this year and feature members of some of my favorite bands. Upon the announcement of this release, it totally flew under my radar until a friend of mine reminded me it existed. My husband and I gave it a whirl and were instantly hooked. The album harks back to the sound of good ol’ punk in the vein of Hot Water Music and Samiam.

Honorable Mention

2. The Menzingers: From Exile

Epitaph Records

One of my top 10 from 2019 was brought to life in a new way this year. The Menzingers stripped down and re-recorded Hello Exile to bring to you From Exile. Recorded while in quarantine and they did a great job at it.

1. The Bouncing Souls: Volume 2

Pure Noise Records

Volume 2 is a delightful collection of reimagined classic punk songs from my favorite band.