Staff Picks: The LANDR Distribution Artists We Loved in 2020
Thousands of artists trust LANDR Distribution to get their tracks on streaming platforms worldwide.
But did you know we listen to every single submission?
In this series, we highlight some of the incredible musical talent that comes through our distribution community.
This year sure was something. We’ve been through a lot together: from music production, theory to getting your music out there for the world to hear.
And it shows: we’ve released around 50,000 tracks in 2020—tracks that we’ve taken the time to listen, approve and deliver to streaming platforms worldwide.
From Indonesian, guitar-driven indie rock to windswept soundscapes here are some of our favorites, cherry-picked by our staff.
Nikki Celis’ pick:
Jirapah – Recollapse: 2008-2015
I’m stretching the rules a bit here as this one was released in 2019. But with so many tracks being added to our catalog, I’m literally crate-digging for some unique finds!
Jakarta-based indie rockers Jirapah are stalwarts in Indonesia’s burgeoning indie scene.
With bands like Bedchamber, Atsea, Heals, Sajama Cut and more, the country has captured and localized an era of guitar-driven indie rock and—in my opinion—made it better.
Recollapse is a collection of singles spanning 7 years. From psych-rock revival (“Snake Kills Child”) to 00’s alt-rock (“Drowning Madonna”), there’s a lot to love about this compilation album.
My personal favorite is “Daggers”. Initially released in 2014, the track feels almost like a riff on early Interpol, embellished with a lo-fi, slacker-rock aesthetic that totally fits my vibe.
Nikki Celis is a writer and multimedia creator based in Montreal, Canada. On the side, he’s part of the shoegaze duo cmfrtble.
Lyndsie Alguire’s pick:
SKIN – Grown Tired
SKIN is a staple of the Montreal noise underground. Their ephemeral, one-off live performances are intensely vulnerable and visceral.
With home-made tape loops, frankensteined electronics, field recordings, and powerful vocals, their sound is hard to describe. Think lo-fi power ambient.
Their latest offering, Grown Tired, is at turns diaphanous and heavy. This release feels intimate, and singularly SKIN.
Grown Tired is a pearl in their discography, and one that puts as much longing in my heart and shivers up my arms on the 100th listen as it did on the 1st.
Lyndsie Alguire is an audio-visual artist based in Montreal. She likes things bittersweet.
Mike Hand’s pick:
BRIDEY – Decisions Make Me Sick in the Head
Chicago-based songwriter and filmmaker Bridey Hicks (BRIDEY) crafts some serious quality indie-rock with her latest single “Decisions Make Me Sick in the Head.”
The tune successfully captures her stellar songwriting, while managing to sound like an authentic act in a room. Her vision is clear. My vote? Yes, please.
It’s warm. It’s honest. It’s a confessional piece that you can totally relate to. There is a sense of human vulnerability that resonates with the listener. Her admission of anxious malaise makes me feel less alone in a world boiling over (2020 am I right?).
What impressed me most was Bridey’s skillful arrangement and mature use of dynamics: not once does it become boring.
The choruses pop and the track’s soaring harmonies mesh seamlessly to raise the stakes. Sections rise and fall to complement each other, with halftime pauses and a big abrupt break that does wonders for Bridey’s delivery.
The sing along third act brings the song home—wrapping it tightly with a delightful crescendo leading to my sole criticism: Bridey, I am left wanting so much more.
Mike Hand is a staff member at LANDR Audio who also freelances as a musician, writer, and amateur cryptozoologist
Alex Lavoie’s pick:
Amparo – Amelia
Ambient music kept me sane and calm this year. It’s the perfect calming backing track for stressful days whether it be work related or global meltdown related.
That’s why I tried to keep my ambient music intake as fresh as possible by exploring new artists in 2020.
Amparo’s fall release Amelia was a great find for me—I enjoyed the lowkey and minimalist nature of her production style.
It reminded me of the most relaxing side of early 2000s post rock acts like The Album Leaf.
I’ll be watching for Amparo’s future releases in 2021—can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next!
Alex Lavoie works as a staff writer at LANDR by day and moonlights as a drummer for folk-rock outfit The Painters.
Mike Wynands’ pick:
PIZZA KNIFE – Terreurs des Hommes
With Terreurs des Hommes, PIZZA KNIFE did something I didn’t think possible in 2020. They took me to a sweaty DIY punk venue or basement show.
Thirty seconds into the opening track, “Disgusted Claws,” I can almost feel the bodies bouncing off of me and my feet sticking to the beer-soaked floor. The production style really gives the EP the urgency of a live performance.
For all its grit, nihilist attitude and abrasive vocals, it’s also a surprisingly catchy collection of songs.
The guitar work on “F.J.L.” wouldn’t be out of a place on a Night Birds or Dead Kennedys record. The EP clocks in at under 9 minutes, but those driving basslines hammer themselves into your brain and keep playing long after.
This five track EP was actually released in 2018 but since PIZZA KNIFE is new to LANDR Distribution, it remains my favorite discovery of the year.
Mike Wynands is a copywriter at LANDR and the lead singer of Montreal-based folk punk band Bucky Harris.
Michael Hahn’s pick:
Adult Prom — Baby, You’re A Star
Adult Prom’s “Baby, You’re a Star” hooked me immediately with its lurching slide guitar, staccato piano and steady ¾ groove.
The song unfolds methodically with a keen sense of harmony that ramps up the drama for each new section.
Salt Lake City native Russ Allphin’s dry delivery and clever turns of phrase reward repeat listens and the skillful production and nice tight drum sound are super satisfying.
On top of all that, the song’s titular lyric hits just right in the chorus, making it my staff pick for 2020
Michael Hahn is an engineer and producer at Autoland and member of the swirling indie rock trio Slight.