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Yr Welcome's 10 Favorite Records of 2020

070 Shake

Even though 2020 was one of the worst years in the history of mankind, it was made a little better when Kellen returned to KOSU and The Spy and Yr Welcome reemerged in its original form.

With the solo endeavour of Excuse Me in the rearview, the once again collaborative Yr Welcome meant our favorite vinyls of the year episode reflected our mutual music loves. More significantly, our choices were limited to what we actually own on vinyl.

The following list contains five personal selections from Kellen and Beau Brady each. These ten records reflect some mutual favorites that were on the Yr Welcome list along with some more personal selections. This list isn’t numbered, but our absolute favorites will be discussed first.

Yves Tumor - Heaven To A Tortured Mind

Let’s put it this way: this is the record of the year. When Beau and I first listened to it, we gave each other that “what the f***”-style look we reserve for truly special records. It’s bold, it’s innovative, it’s wholly unafraid to be exactly who it wants to be. I could take time recalling references of what the album reminds me of, but it would be a waste of time. There won’t be another record like this for a long time, so make sure you enjoy it! -Kellen

Yves Tumor is a calculated anomaly. Their previous albums toed the line between experimental sound collages and direct attempts at infectious rock music, which is why Heaven To A Tortured Mind is such an eye opener. Yves Tumor shoots for the stars with an album that positions them as the rockstar we need at the dawn of a new decade. There isn’t a wasted second on this lean, muscle car of an album. I’ve been saying “Kerosene!” is a song of the year contender all year long (A song recently given what might be the video of the year as well). Everyone I’ve shown it to has been blown away by the soaring guitar shredding that probably even caught Prince’s attention beyond the grave. Knowing how Yves Tumor loves to be unpredictable, it feels important to shine a light on this album as they may never return to this formula again. -Beau Brady

Nicolas Godin - Concrete and Glass

Air haven’t truly put out a record in quite some time. Luckily for us, the solo careers of both members have blossomed to the point where you can pinpoint precisely what member contributed what sonic construct to each Air record. Concrete and Glass sits atop the impressive collection of Nicolas Godin solo releases as an absolutely delightful record. Everything about this record is easy and it’s one that I feel like I can recommend to just about anyone. If you like Air, you will love this. Full stop. -Kellen

Pure X - Pure X

Kellen introduced me to Pure X in 2011 but it was a long wait for their fourth album that dropped right at the beginning of summer 2020. Leave it to a band that has called Austin, Texas home to open up their anticipated return with the line, “Send help I’m stranded/ Middle America.” It felt like a helping hand out of the sky meant to provide solace and old head wisdom in a time of need. I’ll never forget this album soundtracking a summer drive to Texas combined with the visuals of farm lands and a big blue sky resembling the album’s cover. It’s a solid mix of what Pure X does best, culminating in the most arresting song I’ve heard in years. “I Can Dream” slows down the album before dropping the heart wrenching question to a lost love: “Who stopped loving who?” Despite what has ended, they close their eponymous return with optimism. In a year defined by dark times, I returned to this album time after time to dream of a brighter future with Pure X. Look no further if you seek the same. -Beau Brady

Cut Copy - Freeze, Melt

Warning: this is not your typical Cut Copy record. In fact, we probably haven’t even heard this record in its true habitat yet. I’m of the belief that some records are seasonal. They thrive in certain types of weather. As you can guess from the title, Freeze, Melt will likely see some heavy rotation in the winter. Gone are the infectious dance tunes of In Ghost Colours and Free Your Mind. What’s given to us instead is a record with remarkable substance, revealing just a little more of itself with every listen. It’s ambitious to say the least and I personally think this sonic gamble for Cut Copy paid off brilliantly. -Kellen

It’s difficult to believe Cut Copy have been making great dance music for nearly twenty years now. They’ve earned the opportunity to try something new. Cut Copy have always worked hard to present their albums as cohesive wholes. Freeze, Melt follows stride but truly feels greater than the sum of its parts. In a year when social dance parties were relegated to Zoom calls, Cut Copy couldn’t have picked a better time to chill out and deliver an album full of calming, meditative sounds. -Beau Brady

Washed Out - Purple Noon

Melancholy in a way only Ernest Greene can do it. Purple Noon finds Washed Out in the throes of a bummer summer. Though the themes may be heavier on the latest effort from one of the godfathers of chillwave, the aural architecture we’ve come to love stays the same with a few minor tweaks. Washed Out thrives in the comfort and familiarity of their efforts and Greene continues to prove that he can still put out wonderful music exactly the way he wants to. I found myself playing this record on repeat through most of the summer. It glides effortlessly from front to back and makes itself comfortable in the back of my mind for months. -Kellen


SALEM - Fires in Heaven

I literally waited 10 years for this album to arrive. SALEM’s 2010 debut King Night instantly blew me away with its unique and singular sound. Blending shoegaze, trap beats and screwed Southern rap by the hands of three Lake Michigan natives, SALEM unintentionally predicted where music would end up in the subsequent decade. This year they returned without founding member Heather, but still managed to create a document that could have only come from SALEM. Once again focusing on the darker corners of life, I can’t imagine a better time for them to return than in the midst of a global pandemic. SALEM were always a band that intended to be a guiding light in the darkness, so it’s a blessing that they would return when we needed them the most. -Beau Brady

Chubby & The Gang - Speed Kills

To be honest, I can’t even remember how this record made its way into my life but I am sure glad it did. In a time where unhinged, pure fun rock and roll isn’t as celebrated as it should be, this album is a delightful kick in the teeth. Refreshing, no bull**** songs that remind you what it’s like to joyfully sweat yourself out in the dirtiest, dingiest houses and venues all for just a shot of honest adrenaline. -Kellen

Dogleg - Melee

I need a good rock album every year and Dogleg were able to deliver that with a debut album that burns bright. It is hit after hit as Dogleg show off their youthful intensity and remind everyone how we were robbed of seeing these songs performed live this year. What really seals the deal is on last track “Ender” where they bring in a string section that acts as their artist signature. Melee wasn’t just a collection of rippers, but a definitive statement from a band that plans to stick around for the long haul. Simply imagining the catharsis of seeing them live when concerts return sends shivers down my spine. -Beau Brady

George Clanton - Slide

Technically, George Clanton’s Slide can’t be a Record of the Year (it was released in 2018) but it was the record that had the biggest impact on me as it was my introduction to George, 100% Electronica and the genre known as “vaporwave” in general. I was told about George by my friend James Tunnell (Tokyo Swish) through text and he implored me to take a trip through George’s catalog. I was immediately struck by how familiar and comfortable his music made me feel. It took me back to my days as a kid playing Playstation, Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast late into the night. After the brilliance that is Slide, I was immediately hooked and had to tell everyone I knew about it. Quite a few record purchases later, I found myself madly in love with 100% Electronica and I wouldn’t have it any other way. -Kellen

070 Shake - Modus Vivendi

I received a phone call this summer that an old friend passed away. In the process of reconnecting, our mutual friend told me to check out this album. Given the intense circumstances that preceded this recommendation, I listened to 070 Shake’s debut album with an open mind and uninterrupted focus. What I discovered was this artist that we were introduced to as a feature on Kanye West’s “Ghost Town” was more than capable of crafting a fully realized debut album. Modus Vivendi is a journey that is punctuated with some of the year’s best singles and is brimming with an open heart honesty that makes 070 Shake’s vulnerability feel urgent. It’s an album I’ll forever wish I could’ve listened to with the three of us in the same room. -Beau Brady

Listen to Yr Welcome, every Friday night at 9 p.m. on The Spy on KOSU.

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Kellen is the former co-host of Yr Welcome.
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