It’s that time of year again, folks. Music publications are firing out their “best albums of 2020” lists and all of them are going to go pretty much like this: Taylor Swift made us cry on two separate occasions and we all got our asses whooped for talking shit about Machine Gun Kelly. If it’s an alt mag, an unnecessary argument might be started with The Amity Affliction, Polaris will be venerated rightfully as gods and they’ll tell you they discovered Yungblud first. Since we did that in a couple of sentences, we’ve decided to use the rest of our words instead to let you know which bands to add to your playlists before the new year hits, so you can start 2021 strong with some underrated, unadulterated jams.
Meet Me @ The Altar
Meet Me @ The Altar have had a productive 2020. After the trio’s members formed through the internet a few years ago, they’ve reached the point of finally getting the reaction that they deserve. From being a recipient of Halsey’s ‘Black Creators Fund’ project to signing to Fueled By Ramen, they’re well on their way to achieving their mission of reaching more and more people to change the face of the scene. “We didn’t have people who looked like us playing the type of music we enjoyed,” the outfit shared in a statement, “so we know absolutely how important representation is. It would’ve made all the difference knowing there were black and brown women in the scene to look up to.” Forget misogynistic pop punk, Meet Me @ The Altar are here now, and they also write one hell of a hook.
Despite being a well-known name if your car radio is tuned onto triple j, Slowly Slowly are elsewhere a mostly underappreciated bunch of geniuses. Those who do acknowledge their eminence know that each new track they share is a masterpiece in and of itself. With their fresh single ‘Comets & Zombies’ out now, an expansion upon their early 2020 full-length release Race Car Blues, there’s no way that we will continue to stand back idly by and watch Ben Stewart and the gang be slept on. Here’s the act delivering a hot-blooded Taylor Swift cover if you need further convincing.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Zulu’s recent release My People…Hold On is without a doubt the heaviest EP of the year. Using powerviolence as their weapon of choice, the record is as important as it is brutal. Core member Anaiah Lei uses Zulu as an opportunity to engage with race, injustice and prejudice in a way that’s rarely discussed with such authenticity anywhere, let alone within the halls of the rather white-washed international hardcore scene. Blunt Mag learned first hand of the unstoppable work ethic of Lei, and given the wave of support kicked up from the release of the aforementioned EP, 2021 really is going to be the year of the Zulu.
They may be the new kids on the UNFD block, but Hollow Front have wasted no time at all crafting out their own nook within the metalcore space. The Grand Rapids ensemble capped off 2020 with the release of their debut album Loose Threads. Any fan of duelling vocals, hefty chugg and ambient breakdowns truly isn’t worth their salt if they sleep on this band, who weave them all together using impressive sonic alchemy, alloyed with deeply, deeply personal lyrics. The end result isn’t simply a full-length record; it’s a confidante, a returning old friend who you don’t need to fill in on everything, because they already somehow just get it. ‘Wearing Thin’ is the first warning shot from their recent studio sessions, no doubt sending a chill down the spin of all those who consider themselves to be peers.
Kids of Yesterday
There’s no need to overthink this one. I mean, we can if we want, Sydney’s Kids of Yesterday certainly do provide a fertile ground in which a motivated listener can toil for great meaning and purpose, but we don’t need to do that. Kids of Yesterday are fucking fun. It’s uncanny how much they embody the greats of the genre, from their instrumentals to their tone to their cadence, and it’s impressive how much new flavour they bring to the space while paying tribute to its history. Their album Escape Plant landed with an almighty thud this year, a year in which fun was noticeably, painfully void. Our prediction is we won’t be needing for fun in 2021, certainly not with Kids of Yesterday on the scene.
In the interest of journalistic integrity, it’s important to flag that yes, Crystal Axis guitarist Djae Aroni is part of the Blunt Mag team but no, he doesn’t have a gun to my head to write this. Once in a while you’re graced with a comrade in a band that you don’t have to pretend to like. Kenya’s Crystal Axis are raw and primal, but purely by design. Within the rough edges is a sleek and professional production, leagues ahead of their peers. Incorporating far-flung influences, the songbed is incredibly unique with lyrics that are powerful, relevant and true. This is a band that exists in the gooey centre of activism and punk rock and as history has shown us, those are the bands with staying power.
Look, we’re a simple alternative media publication with simple alternative media publication needs. We see the chance to overdose on early 2000’s sounds? We dive in head first. Pale Waves have managed to embody everything that was cool about the era, somehow managing to step over anything that was cringe. The ‘go-to’ descriptor is ‘2020’s Avril’ but that’s a painful oversimplification. Pale Waves are as ‘devil may care’ as it gets, with an intimidating handle on hooks, as we see with their 2020 jam ‘Change’. The aesthetic is grunge, the attitude is punk, but all in all, Pale Waves are a completely unique beast, one that waits in waiting to thrash and burn 2021.
iDKHOW, also known as I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, have had one hell of a year, despite the fact that they’ve been home for most of it. Consisting of Dallon Weekes (Ex-Panic! At The Disco, The Brobecks) and Ryan Seaman (ex-Falling In Reverse), the duo’s debut full-length album Razzmatazz was shared to widespread acclaim, even including a recent shout out from Sir Elton John. Having not been able to tour the record yet, we have no doubt that 2021 is going to see more music, actual shows and a hotly anticipated but tentatively likely trip down under for Messrs Weekes and Seaman.
If the first and last time you heard Nova Twins was on Bring Me The Horizon’s Post Human: Survival Horror EP this year, then you have been sorely missing out. The British duo, consisting of Amy Love and Georgia South, have been rocking faces off playing on bills with FEVER 333 and Prophets of Rage since before Oli Sykes discovered them during lockdown. Their first full-length outing, Who Are the Girls?, slaps both the first and hundredth time you listen to it.
It definitely feels like THE RIOT appeared out of nowhere, and it still feels that way even after we interviewed them for a feature earlier this year. Signing to Island Records some months back, new music is set to drop in 2021, and we’re so keen we’ll be metaphorically sleeping with our eyes open until then so we don’t miss a beat. The band was formed after frontman JD was caught scaling a fence trying to sneak into a venue, in case you had any doubts that the name was literal and a passion for civil disobedience was being exaggerated.