Global Garage’s Favorite Records of 2020

Hats off to Bandcamp for abandoning ranked lists this year. In kind, our list doesn’t, and hasn’t, in the years we’ve put together a favorites of the of year list, serve as a comprehensive “best of” list. Music taste is subjective and a lot of “best of” lists include certain albums just because they make for good clickbait fodder. Don’t get me wrong, I cruise “best of” lists for music I might have missed, but I find that the “best of” Venn Diagram of lists across the major publications is pretty close to an overlapping circle.

It goes without saying that 2020 was a weird year for the world and financially devastating for musicians, venues, festivals, etc. I’m not sure if it was the surrounding chaos and stress that makes it feel this way, but music this year seemed to be more prolific than usual. There were some amazing releases, and A LOT of them, in a time of global isolation when anchors of humanity and connectedness were much needed. The 55 records we’ve listed below is just a small sample of the great music that helped us get through this year; our favorites that we found ourselves gravitating to frequently or otherwise caused us to stop what we were doing, forget the outside world, and just listen for a moment.

Here’s where our heads were at when we put this list together:


“Drum-driven Kosmische and jazz influenced music provided the kinds of reflection I needed in this moment: along this emotional rollercoaster through structural injustice, hopelessness and despondency there is a human and innate desire to transcend and overcome: to practice joy amidst deep sorrow (Pain Olympics, Rejoice). Music, at its best, can help us to process cognitive dissonance – opposing sides of techno-mediated modernity: On one side, recognizing the forces which pull us apart, sowing uncertainty, distrust, anxiety and disconnectedness (Monument, Hannah). On the other side we practice defiance, embrace seemingly impossible and distant optimistic futures; soundtracks to dreams of the benevolent community in which we can share our right to live in peace. (Infinity of Now,nijimusi) When I hear that, “software is eating the world,” I can’t help but think “Oh Yoshimi / you won’t let those robots eat me.”


“This year I found myself looking to music for more direct escapism than years past, and as a result my tastes often ran to more joyful sounds whether new (Penza Penza’s excellent debut and Baba Zula’s latest release) and old (pretty much everything Analog Africa reissued this year). Coincidentally, though, a number of my favorite experimental/noise rock combos (The Dead C, Brainbombs, Pharaoh Overlord, Today Is The Day) also released new material that kept me plugged into the wilder side of rock and served as a catharsis of sorts for the pent-up energies from a year without live shows. And of course there were plenty of other surprises, from Japanese singer-songwriter Ichiko Aoba’s beautiful Windswept Adan to Aussie “beat group” Dragoons’ Horrorscope, that served as a reminder that humanity’s artistic impulse is one of the most beautiful, powerful forces in the universe and maybe more important than ever.”


“I found myself listening to a lot of long-form music, psych and black metal, perhaps because it offered some form of distraction or escapism. I also found myself listening to some glitchy/raw punk this year because… well… you lived through 2020 as well.”

Thank you for listening to Global Garage this year, ya weirdos. And thank you to all of our guest hosts for putting together wonderful playlists and helping to connect us in this isolated time. As usual, we’ve included as many bandcamp album embeds as we can. Please add these albums to your wishlist and buy them on an upcoming bandcamp Friday. Musicians have helped us get through this year, let’s make sure they’re being compensated as such.

Region: Africa

Hallelujah Chicken Run Band – Take One (Zimbabwe)
Both perfect party soundtrack and important political document from one of the seminal groups of Zimbabwean popular music. – Paul

Hugh Masekela, Tony Allen – Rejoice (Nigeria)
The final record by two towering legends and pioneers of afrobeat, Rejoice serves as a tribute to genius; a highlight of both players’ singular virtuosity and influence. What could be more of a salve for quarantine than a record that makes you want to tap your toes? – Chris

Songhoy Blues – Optimisme (Mali)
If someone asked me “what does joy sound like,” I would use this record as an example. – Ryan

Voz Di Sanicolau – Fundo De Maré Palinha EP (Cabo Verde)
Reissue of this 1976 release, featuring vocals from Joana do Rosario, the first Cape Verdean woman to appear on record. – Paul

Region: The Americas

BAMBARA – Stray (United States, NY)
I love the feeling after finishing a really good book. Listening to the dusty prose and twanged-out post-punk feels like reading the next great American novel. – Ryan

Bríi – Entre Tudo que é Visto e Oculto (Brazil)
This atmospheric black metal release was another one that I frequently gravitated to when I needed to shut off the outside world and focus on the task at hand. The ambient, electro-psych elements give this record a certain edge that I found quite entrancing. – Ryan

Crack Cloud – Pain Olympics (Canada)
Montreal-based Crack Cloud’s debut LP showcases genuine connection and catharsis executed with the same precision as previous EPs, but now with grandeur and sense of purpose that would be expected from an established artist in the prime of their career. “Bastard Basket,” provides a case study: the previous version showcasing raw, unbridled energy, the new version paced into something more reminiscent of the ethereal plane of Amnesiac-era Radiohead or Faust IV, with a synth-sax solo to boot. – Chris

Death Valley Girls – Under the Spell of Joy (United States, CA)
Under the Spell of Joy builds on a classic 60’s/70’s garage framework paired with punk and a smattering of hypnotic saxophone. 110% rock’n’roll and it sure as hell is good for your soul. – Ryan

Deeper – Auto-Pain (United States, IL)
An emergent trio from Chicago made an excellent album and you just gotta go listen to it. – Chris

Jeff Parker – Suite for Max Brown (United States, IL)
It’s hard to fully contextualize Suite for Max Brown; there are 16 distinct genre tags on this album’s bandcamp, ranging from experimental/folk/fusion to no wave/psychedelic/kosmische and this record delivers on all 16, often several on the same track. Jeff Parker achieves this breaking a sweat or seeming impersonal: in fact, the narrative is personal and familial – his daughter, mother and father playing key roles and influences on the album. – Chris

La Iglesia Atomica – La Guerra Del Fin Del Mundo (United States, PR)
One of our most highly-anticipated records of the year, La Guerra Del Fin Del Mundo saw La Iglesia Atomica continue to further round out their heavy psych jams with keyboards and field recordings. – Ryan

Lomelda – Hannah (United States, TX)
Hannah is full of detailed vulnerability: post-it notes of kindness: “Hannah (self) do no harm,” and recited mantras of poise, “she said: when you get it, give it all, you got (she said…)” From moment to moment, the proportion of emotional range expands and contracts, basements and ballrooms of strangers entranced by an endless 15 seconds of an extended one vocal note. – Chris

MANSIBAL – Mandrágora (Argentina)
Hadn’t listened to this band until they played a virtual show as a part of Posadelic 2020. This record an insane, demented, big band, punk blues, avant-garde mindfuck and I’m only sorry I didn’t hear it sooner… – Ryan

Moor Jewelry – True Opera (United States, PA)
Mesmerizing noise punk that is unapologetically dissonant, offering mantric reflections on the failures of our system and society; a call to action in these troubled times made painfully more apparent by 2020. – Ryan

The Muslims – Gentrifried Chicken (United States, NC)
What would another year end playlist be without The Muslims? With each record the band continues to sharpen and polish both their sound and message. I would say I probably listened to “Punch a Nazi” more times than I should have, but let’s be honest, there’s no such thing as excess here… – Ryan

Object Hours – Piece Goods (United States, NC)
This debut LP from Nora Rogers (Solar Halos), Jenny Waters (Work Clothes) and Harrison Haynes (Les Savy Fav) just recently snuck out. Four tracks, no shorter than seven minutes, of instrumental, hypnotic psych rock grooves that are exactly as one might expect from such a collaboration. – Ryan

Ohmme – S/T (United States, IL)
An emergent duo from Chicago made an excellent album and you just gotta go listen to it. – Chris

Oneness of Juju – African Rhythms 1970-1982 (United States, VA)
Compilation spanning the first half of this long-running jazz/funk/R&B group’s three decades of existence, including early collaborations with exiled South African musician Ndikho Xaba. – Paul

Parque de Cometas – Paseo (Mexico)
Tijuana-based Parque de Cometas say that they make “pop revuelto” or “scrambled pop,” but I’m pretty sure the 7 tracks of Paseo are something like the 63°C sous vide egg of an emergent modern Mexican kosmische pop rock scene. – Chris

Pottery – Welcome to Bobby’s Motel (Canada)
“…in essence, Bobby is Pottery and his motel is wherever they are. But really, Bobby is a pilot, a lumberjack, a stay at home dad, and a disco dancer that never rips his pants. He’s a punching bag filled with comic relief.” – Chris

Sei Still – S/T (Mexico)
If Mexico City is someday nicknamed “The Dusseldorf of Latin America,” it will probably be because of Sei Still’s approach to motoric kosmische finds this record on the shelf right next to NEU! and Can. – Ryan

Today Is The Day – No Good to Anyone (United States, TN)
Stellar new album from long-running noise rock legends, capturing all the ugliness and uncertainty that defined 2020. (See also: Brainbombs – Cold Case) – Paul

Wailin’ Storms – Rattle (United States, NC)
This southern gothic heavy hitter is… heavy. When I wanted to hide from 2020 within sonic vibrations, this is is the record I turned to. – Ryan

Wayfarer – A Romance With Violence (United States, CO)
I love when black metal combines elements from other genres that are beautifully complimentary. Wayfarer fantastically blends atmospheric black metal with a dusty western twang. It’s heavy, captivating, and I found myself listening to this record nonstop this year to curb the 2020 blues. – Ryan

White Canyon & The 5th Dimension – S/T (Brazil)
While it might have “technically” been released last year, I didn’t hear it until Necio Records released the band’s debut in May so I’m counting it because it’s a damn good psych record and I listened to it a lot this year. Don’t @ me, bro. – Ryan

Yves Tumor – Heaven To A Tortured Mind (United States, FL)
So it’s 2016 and you just listened to Yves Tumor’s exceedingly experimental album When Man Fails You, and now I’m telling you that I’m from the future, the person you just listened to has released a fantastic and accessible rock record with touches of glam, hip hop and britpop, and… hold on, you don’t believe me? But wait, there’s more… – Chris

Region: Asia

Baba Zula – Hayvan Gibi (Turkey)
Latest release perfectly captures the energy of these Turkish psych superstars with a set recorded live direct-to-disc in August 2019. – Paul

Ichiko Aoba – Windswept Adan (Japan)
Another stunning, multi-faceted jewel of lush but spare chamber folk from this talented multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. – Paul

OOIOO – nijimusi (Japan)

Only thing left to say is “Ah Yeah!” (Also, um… has anyone seen my Mountain Book?) – Chris

Space Druids – Weird Tide (Russia)
I found myself cruising random NYP albums on bandcamp this year to round out my cart on bandcamp Friday. This was one, recommended by a friend, that I am so glad I added on a lark and I’m so damn glad I did. These cosmic heavy psych grooves reminiscent of what would happen if Jefferson Airplane drifted closer to Black Sabbath instead of whatever Jefferson Starship/Starship was. – Ryan

TootArd – Migrant Birds (Occupied Syria)
In what is a significant sonic turn from the band’s fantastic desert blues release in 2017, Laissez Passer, TootArd jumps into retro Middle Eastern disco with beautiful, bittersweet drum machine & synth pop hooks. – Ryan

Region: Europe

Acid Mess – Sangre de Otros Mundos (Spain)
Sangre de Otros Mundos kept me on my toes with this audio exploration of heavy psych laced with jazz, flamenco, and a pinch of punk. – Ryan

Belako – Plastic Drama (Basque Country)
With dancy rhythms reminiscent of early Franz Ferdinand, I frequently turned to this record to lift my mood and dance around in my home office. – Ryan

Brainbombs – Cold Case (Sweden)
Stellar new album from long-running noise rock legends, capturing all the ugliness and uncertainty that defined 2020. (See also: Today Is The Day – No Good to Anyone) – Paul

Centre el Muusa – S/T (Estonia)
I love when a record from Estonia hits my radar and, WOW, this psych rock record absolutely floored me. – Ryan

En Attendant Ana – Juillet (France)
Charming, catchy garage pop that I found myself turning to time after time to lift my spirits this year. – Ryan

Es – Less of Everything (United Kingdom)
Exciting debut spanning the spectrum of punk from anarcho- to post- while retaining a rough pop sensibility. – Paul

The Heliocentrics – Infinity Of Now (United Kingdom)
With their first release on Madlib’s label, the Heliocentrics up the ante on funk by expertly combining jazz, soul, afrobeat, psych space and kosmische influences. – Chris

Here the Captain Speaking, The Captain Is Dead – Flux Capacitor (Spain)
In a year when I really didn’t want to be on this planet, the motoric space rock of Flux Capacitor successfully launched me into outer space. – Ryan

Izzy and the Black Trees – Trust No One (Poland)
Trust No One was in my heavy rotation this year as it checked all of my main boxes: psych grooves, post-punk rhythms, punk angst, and a dash of saxophone. – Ryan

Juniore – Un, Deux, Trois (France)
Sometimes you hear a song where every production decision feels like the right one to convey a particular aesthetic: just the right vocal delay, the right organ patch, all down to the noise floor of the space. Every single track on Juniore’s third album achieves that in service of their unique surf-psych mystique.” – Chris

Kanaan – Double Sun (Norway)
This second 2020 release from Kanaan is a colorful, velvety psychedelic odyssey. – Ryan

Lonker See – Hamza (Poland)
Heavy psych rock laced with jazzy saxophone; the keys to my heart. – Ryan

Molchat Doma – Monument (Belarus)
Unlikely breakout soviet-post-punk star of Tiktok, Molchat Doma’s first full-length on Sacred Bones accentuates everything that made their release Etazhi go viral. If you don’t understand how or why this aesthetic evokes some kind of emotion from Zoomers who never lived through the 80’s… you might just be a boomer. – Chris

Penza Penza – Beware of Penza Penza (Estonia)
Spaced-out garage psych that packs in a whole party under 30 minutes. – Paul

Pharaoh Overlord – 6 (Finland)
New release sees the restless stoner-rock experimentalists pushing the boundaries even further into disco, death metal, and more. – Paul

Porridge Radio – Every Bad (United Kingdom)
Shortlisted for the Hyundai Mercury Prize, bedroom pop songs with arena rock ambitions is a winning combo. – Paul

Repetitor – Prazan prostor među nama koji može i da ne postoji (Serbia)
A ferocious release of raw garage, punk, and stoner rock that I probably shouldn’t listen to while driving at the risk of getting a speeding ticket. – Ryan

SLIFT – Ummon (France)
We previously highlighted Slift in our “Five Questions With…” series, but this year’s offering really took the band to a new level with their fantastic heavy, cosmic psych grooves. – Ryan

Sons of Southern Ulster – Sinners and Lost Souls (Ireland)
There’s a certain sincerity and sound with this record transports me to the time and place that is so passionately reflected throughout. Most welcome, especially in a year where physical travel was not possible. – Ryan

Super Besse – Un Rêve (Belarus)
Third full-length release from these stalwarts of the Minsk post-punk scene. – Paul

The Violent Youth – Tam, Gde Nas Net (Germany)
Belarussian/Russian post-punk collabo based in Germany that wears its influences on its sleeve while keeping things fresh. – Paul

Region: Oceana

The Dead C – Unknowns EP (New Zealand)
There’s a reason The Dead C have been one of my favorite bands for ages, and this dark but entrancing collection shows why. – Paul

Dragoons – Horrorscope (Australia)
Kosmische post-punk madness as the Melbourne beat group adds saxophonist C.Saniga to the mix. – Paul

Primo! – Sogni (Australia)
The lysergic post-punk of Television Personalities and The Raincoats gets a sunshiny spin on the Melbourne quartet’s second album. – Paul


Ryan first discovered his love of radio at WSOE FM, where he spent all 4 years of college as a DJ, 2 as program director, and 1 as general manager. While his musical tastes are fairly broad, he has a big nerdy spot in his heart for prog rock.