From albums released in the first part of 2020—during what we now refer to as the “before time”—to records that kept us afloat during the loneliest summer, miraculously enough there hasn’t been a shortage of incredible new music this year. And to our minds, many of these albums arrived just when we needed them most.

Here are The 11 Best Albums of 2020 So Far, a dazzling crop of LPs that we connected with at a time when connection was fraught and we were stuck missing and worrying over the people in our lives. This the music that anchored us into the unfolding present rather than stewing over the uncertain future. Here are the records that were so dazzling, so realized, they allowed us to remember that life goes on as long as art is still being made.

11. Run the Jewels: RTJ4

Why We Love It

When rap music aficionados look back at this moment and history, when they are tasked with accrediting musicians who stood up lyrically and addressed the world in their songs, the duo of Killer Mike and El-P—otherwise known as Run the Jewels—will be amongst the first who are named. The highly anticipated RTJ4 confronts current issues like racism and the police, but with the lightheartedness of trash-talking, the approachable banter between Killer Mike and El like that of two high school buddies catching up amidst a growing dystopia. RTJ4, built with compassion, playfully instructs us on how to be better.

Will Run the Jewels Tour in 2021?

Run the Jewels were scheduled to open for Rage Against the Machine on their 2020 reunion tour. Once Rage Against the Machine reschedules their tour for 2021, we think it is likely that Run the Jewels will still tour as their opener.

10. Thundercat: It Is What It Is

Why We Love It

Though less polished, perhaps to reflect the hazy outlook surrounding many of us during these uncertain (and smoky) times, Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat’s latest offering is an intricate jazz session filled with strong guests spots. Ty Dolla $ign, Kamasi Washington, and Lil B all arrive in the nick of time on It Is What It Is, demonstrating Thundercat’s ability to assemble outfits to suit his needs. Though less compelling than 2017’s opus Drunk, Thundercat’s It Is What It Is is undoubtedly one of the best listens we’ve come across this year.

Will Thundercat Tour in 2021?

Currently, Thundercat does not have plans to tour in 2021.

9. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit: Reunions

Why We Love It

Working once again with David Cobb, who has produced all of Jason Isbell’s records since 2013’s Southeastern, the alt-country musician has yet again managed to create an emotionally forthright, intimate, dramatically interpersonal album. And, yet again, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit prove they can navigate this terrain with command and ease. With tracks like “St. Peter’s Autograph” and “Letting You Go,” we are brought into direct reflections of Isbell’s personal life, while tracks such as “Be Afraid” show us that Isbell and friends can still scorch us. We’re not sure if Jason Isbell is capable of not releasing an album that comes straight from the heart. And we’re all the better for his truth.

Will Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit Tour in 2021?

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit will be playing a string of West Coast and Texas shows next Summer, with Lucinda Williams serving as opener. Will Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit embark on a full U.S tour? We think it’s very likely.

8. Perfume Genius: Set My Heart On Fire Immediately

Why We Love It

Mike Hadreas, otherwise known as Perfume Genius, released his fifth studio album Set My Heart On Fire Immediately at the top of the Summer, granting us the perfect album to hold our hands through what would be one of the most tragically sublime seasons we’d ever experienced. But instead of a hog for sorrow’s backdrop, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately is a breakdown and a breakthrough, a complex celebration, a triumphant examination of what it means to be a body in the world.

Will Perfume Genius Tour in 2021?

Perfume Genius was scheduled to tour alongside Tame Impala this Summer, a plan that was scrapped due to the pandemic. Will Perfume Genius Tour in 2021? We think so, and hopefully with Kevin Parker as originally envisioned.

7. Tame Impala: The Slow Rush

Why We Love It

After long periods of silence, an absence painfully felt when our favorite artists duck out of sight, we begin to fantasize of the greatness that will emerge once they are ready. When it came to Kevin Parker’s highly anticipated follow-up to 2015’s Currents, fans were hungry for a mammoth of a record. Thankfully, Tame Impala’s fourth studio album, The Slow Rush, delivered in the fullest. Thoughtfully composed, his melodies ringing as both nostalgic and uniquely modern, The Slow Rush exemplifies the range Kevin Parker has for approximating just about any moment.

Will Tame Impala Tour in 2021?

Tame Impala has already rescheduled his concert tour for 2021. You can find Tame Impala Tickets here.

6. Chloe x Halle: Ungodly Hour

Why We Love It

It’s been an insane two years since the Bailey sisters dropped their darling debut The Kids Are Alright. From starring in two seasons of Grown-ish, to opening for Jay-Z and Beyoncé, to Halle being cast as Princess Ariel in Disney’s upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid. Chloe and Halle have been immensely busy since 2017, but they’ve also been cocooning, readying themselves to make a graceful, and slightly seductive, entrance. Top to bottom, with features by Swae Lee, Disclosure, and production from Mike WiLL Made-It, Chloe and Halle have dug a sexy, confident, layered dwelling into the R&B scene.

Will Chloe and Halle Tour in 2021?

Though Chloe and Halle do not currently have plans to tour in 2021, we would be very surprised if the duo doesn’t take their outstanding record, Ungodly Hour, on the road. Considering Ungodly Hour is widely recognized as one of the best albums of 2020, with nods from Beyoncé and several other industry greats, Chloe and Halle have all the steam they need to enact a dazzling 2021 tour.

5. Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind

Why We Love It

Sean Bowie, otherwise known by them record producing moniker Yves Tumor, has published an era-defining record for the experimental music scene. Combining the likenesses of glam rock, soul, Brit-pop, psych rock, and beyond, Yves Tumor’s 2020 offering—Heaven Is A Tortured State of Mind—glorifies everything messy and true about the musician. They are brimming with eccentricity. They very well might be the mystic reincarnate of Prince. They are immensely talented and can do, very supremely, anything they want.

Will Yves Tumor Tour in 2021?

Yves Tumor previously scheduled to take their act on the road in 2020. This past January, they announced the “Yves Tumor & Its Band” trek. The stint would bring Yves Tumor to North America, Europe, and the UK in order to perform songs from their 2018 album Safe in the Hands of Love and new music—a promise made before Heaven Is A Tortured State of Mind hit the shelves. Now that Yves Tumor has another album to promote, we think they will definitely be touring in 2021.

4. Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher

Why We Love It

This is the year the world outside of indie music realized the talent of Phoebe Bridgers. And this is the album, Punisher, that will always be known as the record which ushered her into mainstream fame. With vision and control, Phoebe Bridgers created a mural of acoustic, psychedelic, folk, and rock sound. Using indie rock giants such as Conor Oberst for anchoring background vocals and roving folk instrumentation, Bridgers commanded one of the most beautifully surreal Americana albums of the decade.

Will Phoebe Bridgers Tour in 2021?

So far, Phoebe Bridgers does not have plans to tour in 2021. Considering the growing acclaim of Punisher, we can see Phoebe Bridgers touring a number of small venues in 2021—perhaps even with Conor Oberst? We think it’s possible, if not likely.

3. The Weeknd: After Hours

Why We Love It

In a way, The Weeknd’s rousing fourth album After Hours was a return to everything we’ve grown to love about him in one traumatic, emotionally complex record. Potentially the most dazzling combo of dream pop, R&B, trap, and new wave that we’ve encountered in this lifetime, After Hours manages to make us fall in love with one of the most infamously toxic—and infinitely compelling—characters Abel Tesfaye has ever created.

Will The Weeknd Tour in 2021?

Not only have we witnessed The Weeknd make efforts to connect with his fans during quarantine with virtual performances, but the musician has already confirmed rescheduled tour dates for 2021. The “After Hours” Tour will commence, exactly one year and a day after it was originally set, in Vancouver this upcoming June. The Weeknd will be on the “After Hours” World Tour through November 11, 2021.

2. Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG

Why We Love It

Though it feels like a lifetime ago, Bad Bunny dropped YHLQMALG (abbreviation of “Yo hago lo que me da la gana,” Spanish for “I Do Whatever I Want”) back in February. The experience of listening to YHLQMALG is one of layered ecstasy, a trip that just keeps rolling, 20 tracks and just over an hour long. Reaching the end of YHLQMALG feels like going home after meeting someone larger than life, someone like Bad Bunny himself, a similar adrenaline courses through. Now, YHLQMALG is here for us, much like Bad Bunny, our mighty companion in the dark.

Will Bad Bunny Tour in 2021?

As of now, Bad Bunny has scheduled tour dates in Europe. Will Bad Bunny Tour the U.S in 2021? We think so, as his U.S fandom has significantly grown since he last toured the states in 2019. Bad Bunny will be touring through Spain, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and several other European countries in 2021, beginning with the Primavera Sound Festival on June 2nd.

1. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Why We Love It

For those who’ve been with Fiona Apple since the very beginning, who latched onto 1996’s Tidal, recognizing within its lyrical depth the mind of a courageous songwriter. Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Apple’s first album in eight years, was recorded entirely in her Venice Beach home. To create an intimate symphony of herself, Apple banged on the walls, beckoned barks from her dogs, screamed and scatted her way through 13 emotionally percussive tracks. Fetch the Bolt Cutters is some of her truest work to date, a lighthouse drawing us out of helplessness and onto strong, fearlessly fertile ground.

Will Fiona Apple Tour in 2021?

Before the pandemic, Fiona Apple hinted that she might be planning a tour behind Fetch the Bolt Cutters. But talk around those plans has gone quiet since. Will Fiona Apple Tour in 2021, if it’s safe? We think it’s likely, as she artist hasn’t released an album in eight years. Fetch the Bolt Cutters, in addition to being one of the best albums of the year, is a reason for Fiona Apple to reconnect with her fans. We hope to see an upcoming tour announcement from Fiona Apple, soon.

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