Frances Quinlan - "Likewise"

"Likewise," the first solo album from Hop Along's Frances Quinlan, has been a bright spot among 2020 music releases thus far.

With or without a public health emergency, there will always be more music available than is possible to hear. Even less than three full months into 2020, there have been a ton of great albums released in every genre. Here are a few that might have flown under your radar.

 

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“Mark Kozelek with Ben Boye and Jim White 2” - Mark Kozelek

For those looking for a long album to pass the time with, look no further than the latest stream-of-consciousness folk stylings of Mark Kozelek, of Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters fame. The seven-track, near-80 minute album is chock full of the type of storytelling that Kozelek’s fans have been enjoying since his 2015 masterpiece, “Benji.”

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“We’re New Again: A Reimagining” - Mackaya McCraven/Gil Scott-Heron 

Here’s a tricky one: In 2010, spoken word and proto-hip hop legend Gil Scott-Heron released what would be his final album, “I’m New Here,” a collaboration with XL Records founder Richard Russell. Ten years later, jazz drummer Mackaya McCraven has done — if not the impossible, certainly the unlikely — by re-energizing a recent classic and making it sound more thrilling than the original.

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“Likewise” - Frances Quinlan

When Frances Quinlan releases new music, it feels like a win for the home team. After releasing music with her Philadelphia-based band, Hop Along, since 2012, “Likewise” is the first album under Quinlan’s name. Featuring contributions from all of her Hop Along bandmates, as well as harpist Mary Lattimore, “Likewise” is the perfect thing for Hop Along fans who love the band for the immediacy of Quinlan’s voice and songwriting.

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“A Written Testimony” – Jay Electronica

Generally when an artist proclaims that their new album is “coming soon,” it doesn’t take over a decade to fulfill that promise. And yet, inexplicably, Jay Electronica has finally released his debut album, and it’s more or less worth the wait. Perhaps even more bizarre is that Electronica cedes the spotlight to his label boss and far more familiar artist named Jay, Jay Z, who appears on over half of the tracks.

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“Everything is Beautiful/Everything Sucks” – Princess Nokia

Maybe Princess Nokia had a feeling that listeners would soon be clamoring for more material? After a buzzworthy debut in 2017 with “1992 Deluxe,” she returned this year with two albums, the fittingly-titled duo of “Everything is Beautiful” and “Everything Sucks.” Lyrically and musically, the songs on each album do a good job of representing their respective titles, so maybe choose based on how you’re feeling at the time you listen.