The Last Mixed Tape takes a look back at the past six months in Irish music to pick out its 10 best albums of 2020 so far (in no particular order). As with every year, only albums reviewed by TLMT are eligable for consideration.
Brigid Mae Power – Head Above The Water
What TLMT had to say: Head Above The Water is the type of album that just floats on by. A serene , dreamlike record, Brigid Mae Power’s latest offering is one that resides in a reverberant textural world of its own making as Power’s beguiling voice weaves itself around a music with great depth.
Bleeding Heart Pigeons – Stir
What TLMT had to say: Stir is the kind of album that lives and dies by the atmosphere it creates. The listener’s willingness to immerse themselves within the soundscape created is dependent on how engaging the weight, the feel and the tone of the record. In the case of Bleeding Heart Pigeons sophomore outing the band’s deft ability, first seen in 2016’s Is, to construct music with stark sonic density makes for an album that pulls us into a dreamlike world of shuddering musicality, claustrophobic production and isolating subject matter.
Vernon Jane – The Ritual Of Love Making
What TLMT had to say: Few records this year will deconstruct the album as an artistic medium in the same way The Ritual Of Love Making does. It’s especially worth noting that this is a debut. Forgoing the usual “here’s a load of songs we’ve written up this point” approach, Vernon Jane submerges us in the stages of the titular ritual, broken-up here into four defined stages – Cleanse, Sink, Drown, and Float, and by doing so create something that feels less like an “album” and more like the build-up, process and eventual aftermath of a primal scream. Catharsis through the act of making sound and being heard. Even if it’s only yourself who hears it.
R.S.A.G – Chroma
What TLMT had to say: The anatomy of Chroma is a sonic collage of vivid Basquiat-Esque deconstructivism. Restless creativity runs through R.S.A.G comeback record that reappropriates a myriad of sounds, influences and rhythms into one fluid experience where forward motion is king, resulting in one large musical canvas of differing colours and textures.
Indian Queens – God Is A Woman
What TLMT had to say: A monolithic record, God Is A Woman marks a strikingly stylised and crafted debut for Indian Queens. Creating a sprawling dream-pop epic that packs a punch, the album begs to be replayed to get all the nuances that occur in the background as well as delving back into tracks like ‘Shoot For Sexy’ that just hit for the get-go. All of which culminates in a truly essential and rewarding listen.
Autre Monde – The Imaginary Museum
What TLMT had to say: Autre Monde’s The Imaginary Museum never flinches in the face of its own creativity. Everything about the album feels like it was done to serve the body of work rather than any outside influence and, in doing so, sets itself apart. It’s pop but not as we know it.
Hilary Woods – Birthmarks
What TLMT had to say: Occupying the periphery, Birthmarks is a siren’s call, enchanting in its mystery but foreboding in its origin. Indeed, while the obfuscation and abstraction of Hilary Woods music weave a deep dark atmosphere to fall under, it is Woods’ voice the beckons us further into the doom-laden world of Birthmarks with a whisper. And while the path is dark, and we are unsure what lies further, this is a record that rewards those that follow.
Fields – The Silence Of Staying In
What TLMT had to say: With The Silence Of Staying In Fields capture something that now only resonates with the now but with the past. Weaving an album of dynamic pulls and punches, the group create a place you’ll want to revisit as you delve into the nightscape sounds and emotional resonance.
Aoife Nessa Francis – Land Of No Junction
What TLMT had to say: A journey worth giving yourself over to, Land Of No Junction plays like a strange dream populated by its own logic and meaning. And just like a strange dream you feel almost compelled to tell people about it, just to relive it all over again and have other experience what you did. A stunning work of intricate texture.
David Keenan – A Beginner’s Guide To Bravery
What TLMT had to say: David Keenan’s A Beginners Guide To Bravery is a work of intricate beauty. From intricate world-building to the overall sense of how the music relates to the intensity of the written word, Keenan’s debut hardly feels like a debut at all. But instead feels like the opening chapter in a greater novel. Indeed, we have been introduced to our narrator David Keenan, now we await the journey to come.