Best Albums of 2020 Artist Edition: Woodes
This year, in addition to our own Best Songs of 2020 and Best Albums of 2020, we asked some of our favourite artists to tell us about their favourite releases of this year as well. Throughout a confusing and isolated year, music in particular has been a place of refuge for many, with the communities that surround this music becoming more important than ever. Here, we ask artists from various communities whom we love and admire to engage in the very reason we exist: sharing music.
From emerging artists to living legends, acts with cult followings to artists on the verge of truly breaking through, this series includes so many different people. Hip hop, dance, psych, rock, pop, electronic and much more, the genres and sounds in this series are as varied as the metaphorical pages of Purple Sneakers itself, and offer something for everyone no matter what your taste might be. We’re so thankful to all the artists who provided their own lists, and to the extensive communities we’re grateful to tell the stories of every day.
Releasing her debut album after five years of honing her craft as Woodes (and many more before she began the project), Elle Graham proved Crystal Ball was more than worth the wait. Those who don’t live in Victoria will never know what those who do live there went through this year with lockdown, and right in the middle of it, Woodes released her debut album. Using her circumstances to the best of her advantage, she turned to online connections to help her get through it, creating an online Minecraft world for her friends and fans to hang out in when they couldn’t in real life, and this amplified her already escapist, transportive and otherworldly music to make for a record which whisked its listener to a faraway place, even if just for a little while. While Crystal Ball might always be associated with this time in Woodes‘ life, it is a completely timeless record and a testament to the strength of it that it was still able to form connections in a year when that was just so hard for so many. A formidable foundation to lay, it’s only up from here for Woodes.
Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
I reckon I have listened to this album almost every day this year. It’s a perfect 10/10 album journey, which combines acoustic/classic rock arrangements with some more experimental lowfi sounds. Phoebe’s voice is the constant thread linking everything. To me it has really showcased Phoebe’s personal lyrics and poetic style. From lockdown in Melbourne this song really accompanied some deeper, reflective months where I was quite introspective and just… generally in flux.
I’ve also loved the videos and ideas she’s done from lockdown – it’s shown her personality and artistic vision to her fans.
Taylor Swift – Folklore
As a big Swiftie, and a massive fan of The National, this was the cross over I never knew I needed. I’ve loved Taylors lyriciscm and direct story telling for years, but this album has so many layers, despite it being quite paired back, compared to her other work.
Listening to it for the first time, my eyes lit up every song – I still can’t pick a favourite. I love her easter eggs she buries and the way there’s a narrative that links this body of work. Songs like ‘Peace’, ‘Epiphany’ and ‘My Tears Ricochet’, to me, lean into that ‘Delicate’ place that I never thought, as a fan I’d hear her dive head first into. It’s super inspiring she recorded this from home and learned a lot about remote collaboration in the process. I think it’s a game changer for how you can shake things up and choose you’re own path. This is a timeless 10/10 album & I’ll always remember the seat I was sitting in when I first hear it, and the way it filled me with collective inspiration and connection, in a time when I was really missing that feeling.
Glass Animals – Dreamland
This was my ‘get amped up’ album of 2020. I’ve been equally as impressed with the music as I have been with the world GA created around this record. The live videos, the covers from Iso, the specific colours, the stunning merch, the music videos that depict the times & the way, that in a world of chaos they connected us as a fan base.
Heat Waves is my song of 2020. You can not put that on and not be happy.
Sylvan Esso – Free Love
I love Sylvan Esso. This album is another work of art. Ferris Wheel, Numb and Free are my favourite tracks. I love how they can pair analogue sounds with these perfectly placed vocals. There’s so much space in their arrangements and everything just works together like a puzzle. In a song like ‘Rooftop Dancing’ you hear the classic Sylvan Esso treatment of found sounds, sampling, acoustic and analogue instrumentation. They’re a really unique duo, and supporting them a couple years ago was a live music highlight for me.
Mesa Tae – Mesa Tae EP
I’ve been a big fan of Xavia, and this is her project with her brother. Into the Night is a stand out – it reminds me of a film soundtrack, or an eerie moment in a TV show when the lead character is going through a transformation.
Xavia’s working on a beautiful body of work which will be out next year, definitely worth getting into.
Lindsay – ASMR Love Letters EP
A side project of LANKS. This is a beautiful, acoustic EP. Time To Go was a top played song for me this year. It’s intimate, and the harmonies are so soft and inviting.
Jonsi – Shiver
I’ve been a big fan of Jonsi’s for a while & have been patiently waiting for this album. It’s a darker exploration of the world Jonsi creates. I remember the morning ‘Exhale’ came out, and I looped it in the garden, it builds into such a cinematic place.
I really liked that he worked with A.G. Cook on this – you can hear this meeting point between digital distortion and the more natural world I’m used to with Jonsi. They meet and collide and pixelate and twist. It’s a big listen, but well worth it.
Didirri – Sold For Sale EP
I love this EP, Didi has become a great friend this year and his lyrics really tie this collective experience together. ‘Don’t fight with what you’re fighting for’ is a favourite of mine, it reminds me a bit of Tom Odell. The piano tone is heart breaking.
Eilish Gilligan – Hospital EP
It’s been really cool seeing what Eilish Gilligan has created this year. She’s been streaming music making & performance on Twitch throughout the pandemic and has built an empire and a very dedicated community there. In the midst she’s released this self-produced EP, her debut! I love it so much.
‘Anniversary’ in particular. She’s got one of the best voices I’ve heard & it’s really inspiring to see her pave her own path in 2020.
Cheekbone – Act 1 (EP)
One of my dear friends from Townsville, Adib Parker (AKA Cheekbone)
This is such a strong EP debut. I think Cheekbone is one of the most unique producers in Australia. He fuses a industrial sonic textures with world instruments, found sounds and electronic instrumentation. I actually sing on the track ‘Displacement’ which is huge, the drops are really fun to perform live. The way he divides rhythms and creates space in his mixes is unbelieveable to me. He worked on my album with me last year & I’m very honoured to be a part of his first chapter.