2020 music: listen/pre-order now, and what to look forward to

2020 is my eighteenth year running this blog, which has been focused on music since 2006. Before I get into the main subject--2020 music--a brief summary on buying music in the present age:

If you are reading this post and this blog, it means you enjoy independent music. With that in mind, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to BUY music, not stream it. And I don't mean "buy" it through subscribing to Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon Unlimited (more below on how to use those services effectively with personal accountability). While those can be great supplementary tools, if you want independent artists to create, and create more often, make sure your money is going to them, and not massive corporations.

For more info on streaming and how much artists are making off these scams, visit The Trichordist. And here is an infographic from Information is Beautiful:

The most direct way to support independent musicians is to buy physical merchandise (vinyl, CDs, shirts, posters) from shows, their specific website, or their label website. When buying digital downloads, purchase from Bandcamp as over 75% of the profits go to the artist (which is less than 1% for the previously mentioned streaming services). Bandcamp isn't only digital however; it is often the best place to buy physical music or merch.

If you are physical media person like me--vinyl, CDs, or cassettes--same suggestions apply. If you can't get to shows, or can't find what you want on artist or label websites, the next option is to go to independent record stores. Not only does your money help those stores survive, it also results in the artists getting a higher percentage (than they would through an online retailer like Amazon or Target). While I can't go to stores on a regular basis, I do when I travel, and recently visited five Washington, D.C. area stores:

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If you don't live near a good independent record store, or if you are unable to make it to a store often (like me), then find an independent record store who also sells product online. My newest suggestion, and a vendor I began using in 2019 is Bull Moose.
Bull Moose is based out of Maine and New Hampshire, two of the eleven states I have sadly never visited. But they have a great online store with prices that are nearly as good as Amazon's. And as I try to stop using the evil empire Amazon, paying a little more is totally worth it. They have free media mail shipping if you spend $30, which means two LPs for me. I'll admit I have used Amazon to buy way too much music, but I am trying to stop.

Final comment on streaming services, because I know almost everyone uses them: I'll admit they are great for music discovery or listening to an old radio hit you want to just hear one more time. But set boundaries and limitations on yourself. The rule I wish Spotify and the others had in place would be that you could only stream each song a limited number of times (3?). Then after you streamed three times, you had to then make a donation to the artist (with the artist getting 100%), or buy the album. Bandcamp already has this system in place, with the artist being able to decide how many times you stream until you get this pop-up message:

And now, on to the music you should be buying in 2020. I'll start with music that is either available now, or able to be pre-ordered; then move on to albums that are probably or maybe going to be released later in the year.

Left Neglect- Children
January 1, 2020
Stream/buy on Bandcamp
I had never even heard of this band until today, but a link popped up in one of my social media feeds. The backbone of the band is one of my favorite drummers, Matt Johnson, of Roadside Monument and Blenderhead. After one stream on Bandcamp I fell in love and bought it ("pay what you want.") Listening to these songs was my final push and inspiration for this blog post.
Vekora- EP2

January 1, 2020
Stream/buy on Bandcamp
Another band I follow because of the amazing drumming, this time from Jesse Sprinkle. Surprise guest vocals from former Poor Old Lu bandmate Scott Hunter are a terrific addition to this band's music. Scott has formed a new band with 3/4 of Vekora called Bright and Harrowing that should release music later this year.

Frances Quinlan- Likewise
January 24, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
Pre-order on Saddle Creek
This was the first 2020 album I pre-ordered, which I did back in November. This is Quinlan's first solo album after three Hop Along LPs. I pre-ordered on Saddle Creek to get an exclusive vinyl color variant.

Nada Surf- Never Not Together
February 7, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
While I included the Bandcamp link, I actually pre-ordered from Bull Moose. I'd prefer the pink vinyl on Bandcamp, but it is EU only and the overseas shipping is understandly expensive. So I bought the black for $18.97. While I have loved Nada Surf for nearly two decades, most of their recent work I have found fairly blah. I am more excited about this album as the first two singles, especially "Looking For You." Matthew Caws seems to be experimenting more, which is exactly what the band needs.

The Innocence Mission- See You Tomorrow
January 17, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
This band has been around 30 years! Have loved them since I first heard Glow (which needs a vinyl release!). Haven't pre-ordered yet, but will soon.

Worriers- You or Someone You Know

March 6, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
This band is new to me (was a recent recommendation), but they have been around quite sometime. I enjoy their new single more than their older work, so I'll be sure to listen to this full album when it releases.

Gladie- Safe Sins
February 28, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
Pre-order exclusive vinyl variants from Lame-O Records
The email for this new album arrived while working on this post. This is the new band from Augusta Koch, frontwoman for Cayetana. My impression is that Cayetana is inactive/broken-up. This new outlet is fun and excited to see what the full LP holds.

Har Adonai- Now is Golden
January 14, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
Indie-folk rock from Israel; a meditation on the value of work, the purpose of art, and the meaning of life in the gig economy. Produced with the help of Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, The Pixies) and Benjamin Esterlis (Morphlexis). Mastered by Kramer (Galaxie 500, Low, Danielson Famile).

Wayne Everett- Two Ghosts
January 24, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
While loving Wayne's work as singer of the Lassie Foundation, and as drummer of the Prayer Chain, I admittedly did not enjoy his first solo album Kingsqueens back in 2002. However, the first single from his upcoming album is different, and 18 years later, I am excited to hear what Wayne has been working on. Speaking of the Prayer Chain...

The Prayer Chain- ???!!!
When Chris Colbert posted to Instagram last month, my initial thought was that he must be remastering or mixing some older Prayer Chain tunes, or doing something with one of the live shows from 2018. However, considering almost all existing Prayer Chain music has been reissued, and the reunion shows are already on Bandcamp, I feel pretty strongly this music must be new Prayer Chain song(s)?!

Finally, other albums that are definitely or probably coming later this year:
Black Bra- New band from Beth Cameron of Forget Cassettes. Album is finished and will be releasing soon. As I tweeted, this may be my most highly anticipated album of 2020.

Mountain Time (Chris Simpson of Mineral, The Gloria Record, Zookeeper)- has taken him years, but I think it's really close

Phoebe Bridgers- seems definite, almost certain it has been recorded based on Instagram

Manchester Orchestra- recording/pre-production is in progress (lots of Instagram posts)

Waxahatchee- No specific proof, but seems probable based on clues and timing

Sleigh Bells- Definite per band Instagram

Fiona Apple- Probable per published interviews

Grimes- Definite, February. However, concerned quality of her work has significantly diminished.

Luxury- They are playing a show in Septemeber at Furnace Fest XX in Birmingham, and Lee Bozeman has mentioned he has written new Luxury tunes.

Fleming & John- They Kickstarted the funds almost 5 years ago, so surely we are getting close? They do provide updates every 6-9 months, but it has been awhile.

Haim- Probably considering the release of recent singles. Speaking of those, this is one of my favorite songs of 2019 that I didn't mention in my year-end post: