Holland’s Best Of 2020

Holland’s Best Of 2020

Now, usually this is where you would see our annual “Top 10’s” list; a compilation of submissions from Holland staff, community members, band members, and everyone in between discussing all their favorite albums, songs, and releases of all kinds from the previous year. Since this was a very different year, we figured it might be appropriate to do this one a little differently. Even with distance between us, we’re so thankful for the collective experiences we were able to share this year. We joined in adapting in real-time with other artists and spaces across the country that moved to livestream workshops and shows, socially distanced gallery exhibitions, and otherwise online hangs. We’re so thankful to our friends and partners who contributed to the many Surf’s Up! radio specials that aired this year on KWNK, and those who joined us in watching Homebound Holiday Show.

That being said, there was A LOT of incredible music that came out this year! Some of our all-time favorite artists put out incredible releases, and we saw new projects, against all odds, breaking through and releasing innovative work in a time where it was nearly impossible to get together and practice, let alone record. In response to our Instagram poll, a few folks including Annie from KWNK, called out Diners’ Leisure World as a highlight, while Tucker Rash dug the new King Krule record Man Alive!, and both Jasmine Brazelton and Kaylee Edwards loved Fiona Apple’s incredible Fetch the Bolt Cutters. Bad Bunny had a huge year with not one, not two, but THREE full-lengths; much deserving of the shout-out from Holland’s Gallery Manager Alberto Garcia, and Sound Volunteer Folie Rose. Many top 10s from major publications like Pitchfork included Waxahatchee and Phoebe Bridgers (who also made a special appearance at our Girls Rock camp this summer!), while Stereogum and the reputable sweaty boys Elephant Rifle included the new Hum album – our list was no different.

We got so many submissions, highlighting the wide range of tastes and perspectives in our community, and how many cool releases came out this year! The Current Joys Live album that dropped in the spring soundtracked a lot of our early melancholy in lockdown, and releases from Megan Thee Stallion + Flo Milli reminded us that there might just be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, and a future where we’re all up late, dancing together again.

Below is a playlist comprised of all the recs we received, plus some notable releases that really shone this year. So hit shuffle and give it a listen!

Exciting Discoveries, and Comfort Listening for a Long, Long Year

As this year progressed, we found ourselves gradually fall deeper and deeper into older, comforting music; releases we already knew and loved. In the unsure moments, a little familiarity went a long way. Revisiting songs you already know all the words to can give way to diving further down the rabbit hole with your favorite artists, digging through discographies, and learning about new music along the way.

Between 90’s pop like Spice Girls, ambient music like Mort Garson’s Plantasia and the warbly tape distortions of William Basinski, as well as classic rock like Fleetwood Mac, and the soothing sounds of Napalm Death; we took solace in the familiar, but it didn’t stop us from discovering this year. Even last year’s favorite releases gained a new level of healing power while we were stuck inside, and unable to see our friends and loved ones.

This year we put our heads together with 19 bands, and 4 visual artists to record No Deep Cuts: Halloween, and No Deep Cuts: Winter. Two albums featuring familiar songs, reimagined by some of our favorite local bands. After months without live shows, it was incredible to hear bands like Elephant Rifle, Stirr Lightly, and Werewolf Club playing again. You can listen to both records here.

We were heartbroken at the passing of iconic artists like Little Richard, MF DOOM, Kenny Rodgers, Bill Withers, John Prine, Neil Pert, Pop Smoke, Simeon Coxe, Genesis P-Orridge, Ennio Morricone, Riley Gale, Eddie Van Halen, Charley Pride, and many more (NPR compiled a list you can find here). As we reflect back on music this year, we celebrate the hard work of artists who came before, those lost too soon, and all those whose influence lives on long after they’re gone. Stay tuned for a special Tribute playlist and program <3.

To hear what some friends turned to in the pandemic, hit that shuffle, and dive into this playlist of songs that helped us all get through this year. The old familiar ones, and the ones we searched out and found in the dark unfamiliar corners. We also encourage you to check out our Surf’s Up: Guest Edition page – for a real-time look at what folks turned to and pulled up during this weird year. We’re looking forward to all the new music 2021 will bring, and all the new discoveries we’ll make.