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Best Albums of 2020

Premier Guitar editors reveal the records that helped them cope during COVID-19 quarantine. Plus, their most-anticipated releases of 2021.

We made it. To the end of a year that has already gone down in infamy as one of the weirdest (and worst) in decades.

As the pandemic turned the world upside down nine months ago, many musicians and their livelihoods were heavily impacted. No concerts, no touring, album release dates postponed, restricted studio access, and let’s not forget the dangers of actually being in the same room with other humans (sometimes that’s necessary to make songs). But let’s try to forget all that for a moment and focus on what really matters: music! The silver linings of tough times can be sweet: beautiful and amazing albums were made this year, connecting us isolated social distancers, and helping us tread water.

At best, this list will open up some new tunes for you to spin at home this holiday season as you’re welcoming a new year ahead. At worst, you can just skip what you don’t like. (But surely listening to any of these albums would be better than reliving this year!) Either way, let us know which albums were your favorites in the comments below.

As we say good riddance to 2020, we wish you this sentiment with more oomph than you know: Happy Freakin’ New Year!

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Bogner's beastliest amp is made miniature—and still slays.

Excellent sounds in a portable and very affordably priced package.

A footswitchable clean channel and onboard reverb would make it perfect.

$329

Bogner Ecstasy Mini
bogneramplification.com

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The original Bogner Ecstasy, released in 1992, is iconic in heavy rock circles. Though it was popularized and preferred by rock and metal artists (Steve Vai and Brad Whitford were among famous users), its ability to move from heavy Brit distortion to Fender-like near-clean tones made it appealing beyond hard-edged circles. Even notorious tone scientist Eric Johnson was enamored with its capabilities.

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Rig Rundown: IDLES

See how chaotic co-pilots Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan bring five pedalboards to mutilate, mangle, and mask their guitars into bass, synth, hip-hop beats, raging elephant sounds, and whatever “genk” is.

Do you hear that thunder? That’s the sound of strength in numbers. Specifically, it's the sound of four 100-watt stacks. (Actually, one is a 200-watt bass tube head.) IDLES’ guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan finally have the firepower to match their fury. (Original members singer/lyricist Joe Talbot, drummer Jon Beavis, and bassist Adam Devonshire fill out the band. Kiernan took over for guitarist Andy Stewart after 2015 EP Meat was released.)

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