Despite the pandemic, it’s been a great year for new music, and with the end of 2020 now in sight, media outlets are starting to put out their roundups of the year’s best albums. The last 12 months have brought great tunes from all over the world: the UK, Nigeria, Los Angeles, Kansas City, and on and on. But what about our area? Here are the artists with DC roots that we’ve spotted so far.
This cerebral, eclectic DC group is the brainchild of Chad Clark, previously of Dischord band Smart Went Crazy. Also check out the band’s Sorry You’re Here, a recently released album that began as the soundtrack to a 2010 play. Listen here.
An acclaimed clawhammer banjoist, Blount fell in love with old-time music after encountering a band in an Ethiopian restaurant on U Street when he was attending Georgetown Day School. In his debut album, Blount explores how Black creators have historically been denied the recognition and compensation they deserve. (You can read Washingtonian’s profile of him here.) Listen here.
(Mojo, Rough Trade)
F*** The World
The Columbia, Maryland, native is still probably best known for his appearance on GoldLink’s “Crew,” but the R&B star’s second studio album is its own thing. Listen here.
Will This Make Me Good
Now living in Brooklyn, the DC native uses his second album to ponder subjects ranging from climate change to depression to capitalism. A shuffling reworking of his 2018 single “Vincent Tyler,” included here, was likely inspired by a 2007 DC murder. Listen here.
The DC native and St. Albans grad, who co-founded Jonathan Fire*Eater and the Walkmen, released three albums in 2020 (one of them for kids). Common Prayers has a pleasingly weary, late-hour vibe. The album closes with “Old as Hell Blues”: “Oh well/I’m old as hell/Supposed to be wiser/But I can’t Tell.” Listen here.
(Pitchfork, Noisey, Rolling Stone, NPR, Stereogum)
The DC musician’s impressive debut album defies genre classification—he effortlessly mingles indie rock, post-punk, and R&B. “These songs make sense because I’m Black and because my voice ties these songs together,” he told NPR. Listen here.
A departure from the minimalist punky sound of previous work, this new one from DC’s Eva Moolchan (who records as Sneaks) explores dance rhythms and soundscapes. It’s her fourth album in four years—and one of her best. Listen here.
Notice anything we’ve missed? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add it to the list.