best albums of 2020

TOPS. Photo by Shelby Fenlon

These are the best albums of 2020

Top 10 Albums lists PLUS notes on shows, pleasant surprises and the future of the scene.

Whether you’re looking for suggested listening or want to compare notes, check out these lists of the 10 best albums of 2020, by three music writers at Cult MTL. We’ve dispensed with our usual notes about favourite concerts and biggest disappointments this year, choosing instead to focus on pleasant musical surprises and hopes for the future of the Montreal music scene.


best albums of 2020
Backxwash, God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It (Best albums of 2020)
  1. Backxwash, God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It (Grimalkin)
  2. No Joy, Motherhood (Hand Drawn Dracula)
  3. Chiiild, Synthetic Soul (Avant Garden)
  4. TOPS, I Feel Alive (Musique TOPS)
  5. Krookstar & Numb Blond, 9000 (FYPM)
  6. Omar S, You Want (FXHE)
  7. Westside Gunn, Pray for Paris (Griselda)
  8. DMAs, The Glow (Infectious)
  9. La Roux, Supervision (Supercolour)
  10. Lost, Lostalgik (5sang14)

Well, wasn’t that a lonely year? The one thing I can say about 2020 was the music kept me afloat. When shows eventually come back and we’re all swapping spit and sweat again, I implore the scene folks to finally do away with our city’s overly generous guestlist system. Let’s all buy tickets to shows and infuse some cash back into the scene that’s given us all so much. It’s the only way we’re going to be able to rebuild all that’s been torn down.


best albums of 2020
Lido Pimienta, Miss Colombia (Best albums of 2020)
  1. Lido Pimienta, Miss Colombia (ANTI-)
  2. Backxwash, God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It (Grimalkin)
  3. Kaytranada, Bubba (RCA)
  4. Aesop Rock, Spirit World Field Guide (Rhymesayers)
  5. Gord Downie, Away Is Mine (Arts & Crafts)
  6. Blu & Exile, Miles (Dirty Science)
  7. The Du-Rites, A Funky Bad Time (Old Maid Entertainment)
  8. Run the Jewels, RTJ4 (Jewel Runners)
  9. Khruangbin & Leon Bridges, Texas Sun (Dead Oceans)
  10. Juice WRLD, Legends Never Die (Interscope)

My top three rankings this year share the distinction of being Polaris Prize winners as well as personal bookends to a year of no shows. Gratefully, I crammed in as many concerts as the early winter months allowed, permitting me to be one of the rare creatures who got a chance to see Kaytranada’s new stage show. On the heels of the excellent Bubba (listed for 2020 because its late-year arrival last December) his Feb. 1 Igloofest set, weaving fan favourites and new material together seamlessly, would easily have parlayed into a hit world tour. As it would be my last true dance of the year, I count the experience as a blessing. In late September, I chanced to believe I’d get to see Lido and Backxwash at POP Montreal, and was ready to go when the uncertainty of an impending second wave made me choose to do the more responsible thing in terms of my own non-negotiable obligations to family and work, and stay the fuck home. Thanks to all of our readers who pushed themselves as far out of their own comfort zone as possible this year to do the same. I cannot wait to see you on the dancefloor again soon, babies, and shake these extra pounds off together, Montreal-style. (Darcy MacDonald)


best albums of 2020
STORRY, CH III: The Come Up (Best albums of 2020)
  1. STORRY, CH III: The Come Up (independent)
  2. Dua Lipa, Future Nostalgia (Warner)
  3. The Weeknd, After Hours (Republic)
  4. Fiona Apple, Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Epic)
  5. Busta Rhymes, Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God (EMPIRE)
  6. TOPS, I Feel Alive (Independent)
  7. Tame Impala, The Slow Rush (Interscope)
  8. Conway the Machine, From a King to a God (Griselda)
  9. CRi, Juvenile (Anjunadeep)
  10. 070 Shake, Modus Vivendi (Def Jam)

At the beginning of the pandemic, super producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland joined forces for a “battle of the beats” over Instagram Live. What started as a friendly spar for fans deprived of live events slowly turned into “Verzuz,” a bankable weekly venture pitting music’s hottest names against one another. From Snoop Dogg vs. DMX, to Alicia Keys vs. John Legend and even Gladys Knight vs. Patti LaBelle, Verzuz cultivates quality content in a time in which people need it most. No matter the billings, there is always one true winner every week: the fans.

For our list of the Top 100 Montreal Songs of 2020, please click here.

For more music coverage, please visit the Music section.