2020 quelled the live show—leaving many concert-goers yearning for the old days. The changing dynamic was difficult for artists and fans alike, but the once-in-a-lifetime shakeup offered audiences a unique opportunity to enjoy music in a simpler, more personal way. Neither mainstream nor underground artists let our collective hardship slow down their creative output.
Our Unheard Gems team has not slowed down! We kept up with artists this year and seemed to hear more new music than ever before. So with that said we bring to you our teams favorite tracks of this year!
Some of our Unheard Gems’ favorite tracks of the year are as follows:
“Rest Of Us” - Blake Rose:
Anyone who knows me knows I think Blake Rose is the next big thing. People are finally hopping on the Rose band wagon with his TikTok and other socials growing more and more popular. The Australian pop artist was recommended to me back in 2017 while he was still doing covers on YouTube...16 year old Hannah apparently knew what was up because Rose has only gotten better and better with each release. ‘Rest Of Us’ sends chills through me everytime I listen. Learn more here: https://www.unheardgems.com/post/rest-of-us-blake-rose-review
“Two Faced (Album)” - Mathew V:
I think it is safe to say that Mathew V is an Unheard Gems staple at this point, reviews, interviews, podcast episodes, a concert and more. V has my heart. The album delves into Mathew’s love for pop where he pushed for super fun and danceable electro pop tracks with a few heart wrenching ballads in the mix too. V’s honesty as an artist and his storytelling make him an artist to look out for and one of my favorites year after year.
“Overthinking” - Mothica:
I’ve loved Mothica for a while but, musically, 2020 has been her year. With her release of hit track “Vices” with now over 12 million streams, she has taken over the TikTok scene and is making it her own. Mothica is a master of dark electro pop and while I loved her album Blue Hour, her newest release “Overthinking” hits HARD as a moving on track. We were so lucky to get to talk to her early on in the pandemic to hear about how it has been impacting her as an artist.
“No Other Way” by SHAED
“No Other Way” by SHAED is an upbeat track that constantly puts me in a good mood every time it comes on. Knowing that SHAED wrote the song during quarantine, as a reminder to live in the moment, sparks a sense of togetherness in isolation, but also reminds me to take charge and make the best of it.
“There’s Still a Light in The House” by Valley
“There’s Still a Light in The House” made its way to my most listened to song on Spotify this year. From the very first listen, it has brought me such joy, but also calm, especially through quarantine.
“Stay on Me” by Shuffalo
“Stay on Me” by Shuffalo has become a regular on my Spotify “On Repeat” playlist. Did you have a rough day? Are you feeling sad? Lonely? The hardcore base in this song will inject pure confidence into your veins, reminding you that you are, and will always be, a legend.
“Psycho Killer - Acoustic” RAINNE
It’s so much fun when artists rearrange their work. It gives listeners a new way to enjoy their favorite songs. I’m a big fan of acoustic covers, so an acoustic EP release from dark-pop duo RAINNE was a cherished gift. They stripped down to solo vocal, acoustic guitar, and sax—turning their thumping, sinister single into a raw, organic jam with a come-hither attitude. As always, their production seamlessly weaves Klunk’s saxophone into the mix; it somehow does the jobs of bassist, lead brass, and background vocalist simultaneously. The performance is great—not to mention lead singer Annie Dingwall has one of the best unheard voices around.
This song is as close to a concert as you can get in 2020. “Stuck’s” dark theme makes it easy to connect with, while its big, upbeat sound inspires hope and motivation. It’s undeniable chorus and mesmeric background vocals make it one of my favorite tunes of the year. Click here for my full review: https://www.unheardgems.com/post/stuck-coopertheband-review.
“I Know the End” Phoebe Bridgers
I thought moments from The Used’s “The Lottery” or Veil of Maya’s “Outsider” would remain among 2020’s most brutal. That was until Phoebe Bridgers released Punisher in June. The work in its entirety is indisputably the album of the year, but its grand finale is something extra special. Bridgers’ blend of subtle acrimony and blatant ambivalence is beautiful. “I Know the End” checks all my boxes: slow builds, brass sections, and morbidity. Its callback to the album’s overture during its loud, cathartic conclusion is a gut-punch. Both lyrically and sonically, the track is an accomplishment and undoubtedly contributed to her Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album Grammy nominations this year. It’s among my favorite new songs and is responsible for the majority of my ugly-crying throughout the past six months.
“Keep My Knees Safe II” by Port Lucian
This song was an absolute joy to write about. Shoegaze is one of my favorite moments in rock music history, and hearing it revamped with a bedroom pop angle was such a refreshing treat. While writing my review, I had to listen to it at least ten times to really digest all the sounds and do them justice in my review. Every listen was a different experience, and it’s one of those songs you can tell comes from a place of passion and a genuine love for the craft.
“Dreidel” by Ronnie Levin
I’ll always have a soft spot for a song that chronicles a story in such extensive detail that you feel it in your bones. “Dreidel” did that for me, and it had that indie rock feel with a bit of a pop punk edge that really put it above and beyond. It’s authentic and truly captures feelings of betrayal in love, but it’s also loud and incredibly cathartic. Not only is the song phenomenal, but Ronnie is also a really cool dude.
“Break The Ice” by Beach Vacation
I’ve been listening to Beach Vacation for literal years, and they always find their way in my heavy rotation in the spring and summer. Their band name is so fitting for them— this song, along with the rest of their catalog, transports you to a warm, sunny place. I wrote the review for this song in mid-November from my bedroom in Boston, so the beachy vibes were greatly appreciated.
“Greenwich Village Ghosts” by Jakob Leventhal & Sarah Jarosz
I love a good, simple, sad song. This song is piano, vocals, and gut-wrenching lyrics. It doesn’t need anything else. To put it into perspective, this sounds like the kind of song Phoebe Bridgers would cover, breaking the internet in its wake. I listened to this song a lot since I reviewed it. It stirs something in my soul that I just can’t explain.
“Other Side” Khamari
With an R&B and neo-soul sound in “Other Side,” Khamari recounts the past through his previous love journeys but does this without the flashiness seen in other R&B songs.
In the song, Khamari uses calming and intricate production to emphasize his confident voice. Jae Stephens is heard on the track with her gorgeous voice, picking up harmonies on the chorus and backing up Khamari’s soothing lyrics. With this amazing song being his first release, I am very excited to see what Khamari has in store for us.