music recap: first half of 2020

we’re slightly past the halfway mark of the annual album release cycle. here is a small smattering of the music –singles, EPs, LPs, mixtapes– that diasporasians have put out thus far in this otherwise cursed year of 2020. all but the least enjoyable works are accompanied by brief (honestly kind of reductive lol) descriptors. here’s my loose ranking rubric for now:

***** = i love this so much, drive a fucking stake thru my heart and put me out of my earthbound misery now (ex. mitski puberty 2, be the cowboy)

**** = some great stuff here!

*** = stuff i think is worth 3 or more listens

**= stuff i think is worth a 2nd listen but that’s about it

* = stuff i think is only really worth the initial listen

0 stars = stuff i actively dislike


****1/2 – yaeji – what we drew – yaeji breaks out of her usual 4-on-the-floor house track lane (which, to be sure, i love) and expands outward, pulling in a bunch of underground collaborators to make a record that ranges from sax-punctuated ambient electronica, to warehouse-ready house tracks, to playful kilo kish-y rap records.

**** – rina sawayama – SAWAYAMA – working on a review for this one; stay tuned.

**** – charli xcx – how i’m feeling now – catchy charlipop with reduced levels of kooky pc music experimentalism, tho she did still work with a.g. cook on pieces of it. this is her quarantine album—maybe one of multiple at the rate this pandemic is going—that she elicited fan feedback to create and during which she was holed up with her boo, for whom, it is clear, she is head over heels.

* – tokimonsta – oasis nocturno – eh. though “get me some (ft. drew love & dumbfoundead)” is fun.


*** – park hye jin – how can i the house princexx has gotten more bitter, disillusioned, and spiteful, and i can relate!

*** – joji – gimme love it’s nice, moody.

** – SATICA & MKNNA (1/2 of whom are asian) – pool haus very LA, like almost cartoonishly LA

* – khalil fong – 宅這 – solidly lukewarm. sometimes endearingly corny like a lot of mandopop but also sometimes painfully corny. also, boring.


*** – mitski – “cop car” for the soundtrack of the turning film — apparently the film sucks, but the music director got some real indie darlings to make the music. song is creepy but also very mitski, so i like it.

*** – anderson .paak – “lockdown” – .paak’s answer to the Uprising.

** – aobeats, kiana v, satica – “ambrosia” – if you’re high and in your feelings, i could see enjoying this.

** – maurice fulton & peggy gou – “jigoo” – track off fulton’s 2020 Earth EP on gou’s record label, Gudu.

* – yuna – “stay where you are” – it’s got that milky, glittery quality a lot of yuna’s music has, but it’s nothing remarkable.

* – beabadoobee – “care” – normally, i would want to revisit the yellowcard/patd/dashboard confessional years with a dash of sheryl crow and an asian woman at the fore. unfortch, the delivery of the promise is pretty middle of the road.

rich brian – “love in my pocket”

jay park – “all the way up” (english & korean)

who have i missed?

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