Artists and Their Choices For 2020 (part 1)

by Staff

To mark the ending of this year unlike any other, PAN M 360 has opted for different selections of extreme eclecticism. For what we hope will be your greatest pleasure, we have grouped over 60 choices presented by music artists of all genres, all generations and all languages, from local, national and international origins.

We put out our antennas and launched a quick call – some 62 artists responded! While their choices are not necessarily their number 1 albums of 2020, they most certainly marked their year.

Needless to say, we respect and appreciate the musical tastes of the artists posted on this platform since its launch in early 2020. We feel sure that their fans will be thrilled to have them express themselves on PAN M 360, and are honored by this generous collaboration. What’s more, these choices are complementary to our community’s selections!

Wishing you a Happy New Year 2021, here are the exciting selections of A 2020 Artist, A 2020 Choice! – Alain Brunet

Backxwash : 2020 was a terrible year for many people, but not for the Zambian-born Montreal rapper who won the Polaris Award for her acclaimed experimental hip-hop noise album God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It.

Black Dresses – Peaceful As Hell (Blacksquares)

“Black Dresses continue to be one of the most forward thinking groups with their approach to the general sonics. It is not only that, there is a huge aura of friendship even in the darkest times and that is the soundtrack that 2020 needs right about now.”

Fuzz is a trio from Los Angeles with Ty Segall (drums, vocals), Charles Moothart (guitar, vocals) and Chad Ubovich (bass, vocals). Fuzz released III last October on In The Red Recording, an album that takes the essential ingredients of “guitar music” and “rock and roll power trio” and puts them brilliantly to work. Here’s what band leader Charles Moothart enjoyed the most this year.

Run the Jewels – RTJ4 (BMG/Jewel Runners/RBC)

“This album was a huge source of light in an otherwise bleak year. I love all of the RTJ records, but this album just catapults over the top. Lyrics, production, flow … everything about this record is incredible.”

Cold Beat – Mother (DFA)

“This album is beautiful. I have always loved Hannah’s (Lew) songwriting and singing. The amount of space in the production feels like a deep breath of fresh air. I have always felt lucky to know Hannah, and this record is yet another installment of that appreciation.” 

Gen Pop – Ppm66 (Post Present Medium)

“I really like the production and the songwriting on this album. It is nice when records come along that feel so personal and unique. You can hear so many different songwriting and aesthetic influences, but it never feels lifted.” 

Eman was part of the Accrophone adventure with Claude Bégin, before the two joined the ranks of Alaclair Ensemble and pursued respective solo careers as keb rappers alongside the flagship.

Larry June – Adjust to the Game

“I don’t place albums in order of importance, that would be too complicated. However, I do listen to different types of music according to my moods. This year, I really dig Larry June’s work. Start with Adjust to the Game. The kind of vibe you want in your cassette radio.”

Dominic Berthiaume of Corridor : 2020 should have been the year of Corridor (the year of many people in fact) after the acclaimed Junior, released in October 2019 on Sub Pop. The Montreal art-rock band still managed to keep the momentum going with music videos, the re-release of the Supermercado album and all sorts of band-related merch. Music lover and journalist in his spare time, Dominic Berthiaume (bass, vocals) reveals his favorite of 2020.

Cindy Lee – What’s Tonight To Eternity (W.25th)

What’s Tonight To Eternity may not be the album I listened to the most in 2020, but it’s certainly the most enjoyable. Every time I listen to it, I discover something new. With What’s Tonight To Eternity, Pat Flegel finds the right balance between the noise experiments and the 60s pop/motown melodies that have characterized his work in recent years. Bewitching, poignant, confusing, introspective and sometimes difficult, the work deserved, in my opinion, to be shortlisted for this year’s Polaris Prize. Great stuff!”

Ellemetue released En pays lointain two years ago. This French-language electro-rock and/or krautrock poetry ended up winning us over!

Jyoti (aka Georgia Anne Muldrow) – Mama, You Can Bet!

“We like this artist for her experimental and jazz feeling. We also liked her album Vweto II.” 

Ela Minus : Punk attitude, pop sensibility, electro allegiance, sensual rebellion, this young Colombian released the album Acts of Rebellion on Domino, last October. Composed, performed in English or Spanish, arranged, recorded and produced entirely on her own, this invigorating work reveals a complete artist.

Caribou – Suddenly

“This album surprised me in every way, musically it challenged and expanded my taste. And lyrically, starting with the title, it could not be more fitting for the biggest lesson learned through experience in 2020. We can lose – or gain – everything in the blink of an eye.”

Jasamine White-Gluz, aka No Joy, creates soundscapes that are both melodic and overwhelming, punctuated with disco, trip-hop, trance, electro and even nu-metal charges. Motherhood, the Montreal band’s new album, gives the shoegaze a much-needed second wind.

Backxwash – God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It

“My favorite artist of the year who absolutely crushed it on this album. Everytime I listen to it I hear something I hadn’t heard before. I am so excited to hear what happens next, there are no limits to what she can do.”

Jérôme Minière is a master of the post-modern song. His texts, his vision of the world, his referential choices have led him to great heights, and his achievements of 2020 are definitely up to par.

M. Ward – Migration Stories

“M. Ward is not an artist I had been following up to now, I came across his album a bit by chance and in these particular times. I came back to it often and found real comfort, warmth, elegance, delicacy, simplicity on the surface, complexity beneath. My other discovery of the year is the English artist Rozi Plain, but her albums are not of this year… My favorite songs of hers are “Jogalong” (2015) and “Conditions” (2019). This year, she actually released a remix of “Conditions” by Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet), but I prefer the original!”

Simon Angell was a significant musician for Patrick Watson before founding the remarkable band Thus Owls with his partner Erika Angell.

Alabaster DePlume – To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals Vol.1; Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo; Brahja – Brahja

“Impossible to have only one top album! How do you compare a Kendrick Lamar with a David Bowie with a Tim Hecker? So, je te donne mon top 3.…..In no particular order: Alabaster DePlume, To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals Vol.1; Mr. Bungle, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo; Brahja, Brahja (to be fair, this one came out in the fall of 2019, but considering this shit-storm tire-fire of a year, I feel the records that were released in late 2019 were subsequently lost to the public eye, so they should still be considered).”

Laroie is Montreal singer-songwriter Gab Godon, also known as being half of the Heartstreets duo. With the recordings she developed working closely with Robert Robert, she offers true refinement to the fields of synth-pop and soul-pop.

Emmavie & Alfa Mist – Epoch

“This album has been with me since the beginning of the pandemic and hasn’t left me since. I discovered two artists I didn’t really know and I fell in love with the nonchalant way Emmavie tells her stories and shares her energy.” 

Yonatan Gat : Accustomed to the Montreal scene, the out of the ordinary Tel Aviv guitarist, relocated for several years in New York, has been working on another collaborative album with the Eastern Medicine Singers and other traditional musicians from North and South America.

Mourning [A] BLKstar – The Cycle (Don Giovanni)

“It’s a great collective from Cleveland. I heard of MaB from the guy that runs their label Don Giovanni, Joe Steindhardt. I thought their record was the best new record I heard this year. It sounds like soul music, but it jumps between styles in a way that I love, completely ignoring any definition. They truly do their own thing.”

Marie-Pierre Arthur, bass player, songwriter, composer, producer, is leading an increasingly important solo career. Des feux pour voir, her most recent album, released in early 2020, has garnered a lot of praise.

Moses Sumney – Græ

“This record does not define itself… everything exists on it. It’s an album that has no limits and no form. It touches the heart as well as the mind. It is experimental music but it takes us there on familiar paths. There are sensations of soul or psychedelic even though the song is all over the place. And the singing is in all registers. The kind of album where there is so much going on that you can listen to it over and over again and always discover something new. It’s a work of genius!”

Marie Gold is now a figurehead of keb rap, one of the too rare female MCs to bring her undeniable talent to Franco hip-hop.

Doja Cat – Hot Pink

“This artist who combines singing and rap, in addition to having a completely disjointed and uncomplicated style, really lit up my year 2020.” 

Lance Phelps (The Spits): The drummer returned to the Kalamazoo outfit for a short but intense new effort. Spits VI is without a doubt one of the best punk albums of the last few years.

Digital Leather – New Wave Gold; King Khan – The Infinite Ones

“I always enjoyed any release from Digital Leather, who has discovered the master key for creating this really great ambient synth sort of dance music that is still edgy. I also really liked our friend King Khan’s free form jazz thing too!”

Carla Blanc is the solo project of Charles from Dear Criminals, one of Montreal’s most interesting bands, with each member creating their own sound universe.

Yussef Dayes & Tom Misch – What Kinda Music

“Because it’s the album I’ve listened to the most this year, my instinctive choice was What Kinda Music. Category: aromatic and fleshy. I’m from the generation where liking an entire album was “cool” and I just don’t get tired of that one. Every time I listen to it, a new detail hooks me and gives me the feeling of rediscovering it.  The collective side is permeable; the South London jazz of Dayes (and the succulent collaborations) pushes the sometimes conventional London pop of Misch (who always left me a little indifferent before this album) into its confines, while it skillfully retains the excesses of the virtuoso drummer who, if left to himself, tends to quickly drown us in an indigestible icing. The whole thing pushes me into a sexy-elegant mood, because it’s rich but dosed, catchy and deep, never consensual.”

Nikki Belfiglio is the singer of New York art-punkers Bodega, whose next album will be released at the end of 2021. PVT CHAT, a movie created by Nikki and her boyfriend and Bodega’s singer and guitarist Ben Hozie, will be released on most streaming platforms on February 5th.

DEHD – Flowers of Devotion (Fire Talk)

“I’m a sucker for brutal, searching lyrics over warm instrumentation – in similarity to my last years favorite, Purple Mountains. There’s nothing like smiling through the deepest sorrows – joy as an act of resistance. Listening to this album is like floating down a lazy river in summer while someone throws knives from the shoreline at your inflatable tube. Seductive and tense.”

Mathieu Gaudet is another illustration of the link between music and science: a high-level pianist and emergency doctor, in addition to being the father of three children. Mathieu Gaudet has an atypical trajectory.

Van Kuijk Quartet with Adrien La Marca (alto) – Mozart Quintets K 515 and 516

“These are little played and little known works, elaborate and complex, among Mozart’s most masterful, and superbly played here!”

Alan Prater: Singer, trumpet player and trombonist, this Montrealer by adoption was a member of several funk, R&B and jazz bands, the best known being The Brooks, of which he is the frontman.

Childish Gambino – 3•15•20

“This is an album I just found recently and it got my attention. Childish Gambino is unafraid to take chances (sonically, melodically). And sometimes he gives a different approach to an R&B style track. Playing with no rules is what I like mostly about this album and this artist.”

Georgette is the brand new project of singer Emily Skahan, previously associated with the group Motel Raphaël.

Peter Peter – Super Comédie; Calamine – Boulette Proof

“Dark lyrics, tender and meditative music, it’s a real masterpiece! Another great discovery this year for me is the rapper Calamine. Her album Boulette Proof,which was released in November, is rich in poetry and refreshing for keb rap. I think we needed her this year.”

Franck Camus is the drummer for the Montreal metal band Hybrid Chaos.

Napalm Death – Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism

“I have two favorites, both from the same city, Birmingham, but it will be Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism from my fetish band Napalm Death, who still know how to kick ass with an album that is still as brutal as ever (the other band is Anaal Nathrakh).”

Sessa: Following his departure from the Yonatan Gat Trio, the Brazilian bass player surprised everyone in 2019 with Grandeza, an album of samba, bossa nova and other Brazilian sweets that clearly contrasted with the fierceness of his previous band..

Kiko Dinucci – Rastilho

“I think my favorite record this year would be Rastilho by Kiko Dinucci, that came out at the beginning of 2020,  because it’s great vibes for these hard times.”

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