Our Favorite Massachusetts Albums From A Year Like No Other

In 2020, nothing was as before. So we did what we always do in times of crisis: we sought solace in music, and escape. And while many Massachusetts artists struggled to make ends meet in an industry brought to its knees by the pandemic, it is reassuring to look back on the year and see that, amid so much loss, we gained some beautiful things. Here are our critics’ favorite local albums to emerge from a year like no other.

How the AMS RMX16 Defined a Generation of Drum Sounds

The inimitable AMS RMX16 and its signature “Non Lin 2” gated reverb sound would go on to shape the drum sounds of numerous chart-topping and timeless releases through the 1980s, like John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane,” and Van Halen’s “Jump,” but before the distillation of the effect into a compact and portable audio effects unit, gated reverb was just an abstract concept, and emulating its sound was like trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

The Lagniappe Sessions : Dirty Projectors

Dave Longstreth’s Lagniappe Session emboldens and broadens his homage to Gilberto. Performing two tender ballads from Stan Getz and João Gilberto’s seminal self-titled album, “Corcovado” and “Para Machuchar Meu Coracao,” Longstreth sings entirely in Portuguese, accompanied by only a nylon string guitar and the warm noise of a tape machine, in tribute to a bright and brilliant man and his all-embracing musical influence.

Unwelcome Jazz : Jah Wobble Talks Bass, Brian Eno and 25 Years of "Spinner"

We’ve had 25 years to reflect on the strange, oscillating chasm of Eno/Wobble’s collaboration, which in many ways feels as relevant now as it did in 1995. The music feels as cold and mesmerizing as the surrounding atmosphere of the moon, its synthetic ripples swelling into great oceans of sound. Wobble brought a zealousness to Eno’s ambience, one that stirred a great fire in the belly of an ether otherwise shapeless and benign. "Spinner" exudes an anxious desolation that is impossible to overlook as I type this in 2020.
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