Live music took a hit this year. Still, a ton of local music came out, displaying unprecedented amounts of creativity, emotion, and resiliency within the Boston music scene during a global pandemic. For one reason or another, the artists behind these six albums spoke up, stood for something, captured a moment — and, frankly, couldn't have picked a better year to release new work.

Anjimile - Giver Taker
The album cover of Anjimile's "Giver Taker."
Courtesy of Anjimile and Father/Daughter Records

Anjimile, Giver Taker

Anjimile spent years molding Giver Taker into its final form, released it during a global pandemic, and came out the other end with a critically-acclaimed work of art that celebrates their journey to getting here. Few things have been as rewarding as watching their ascent into the national space this year.

Cover at for Thomas's new EP For Better or Worse.
Cover at for Thomas's new EP For Better or Worse.
Courtesy of the artist

Billy Dean Thomas, For Better or Worse

Vulnerability, our recent election, and finding hope during a crippling global pandemic are just a few of the themes to be found on Billy Dean Thomas' 2020 release. From "Flexxin & Stressin" to "Trump Vs. Biden," For Better or Worse embodies the local style icon's infectious flows and a raw emotion that can only be captured by recording and creating music during this time.

Social Distance EP Artwork
Nick Martin

Cliff Notez and Dephrase, Social Absense

It's impossible to isolate a favorite from Social Absence because each of the three songs lends itself to the other, creating a sonic cloud that carries the heavy emotions looming over our post-pandemic world. The EP is soothing and, at the same time, emotionally suffocating, creatively capturing the psychological exhaustion felt throughout this time as each day melts into the next. Cliff Notez, Dephrase, and Latrell James are exceptional musicians on their own, but they feel unstoppable together.

Good Things by Lake Saint Daniel
Daniel Radin

Lake Saint Daniel, Good Things

Daniel Radin's musical career has spanned from the Americana vibes of the Novel Ideas to the indie pop-rock tinge of Future Teens. This year, Radin let his folk roots shine with new solo work. Good Things, self-released under the name Lake Saint Daniel, is a reflective album that uses soft vocals and thoughtful guitar work to explore deep-seated emotions surfaced by the pandemic.

Prateek, The Band's All Gone
Prateek, The Band's All Gone

Prateek, The Band's All Gone

Give the folk singer-songwriter's debut album 90 minutes of your time, and it'll transport you back to when live music was a regular part of your day. Sure, Prateek's soulful lyrics, lush string work, and friendly audience banter will leave you longing for shows in a bad way. But in a time where live music has been indefinitely postponed, you'd best jump at the chance to experience it where you can.

Red Shaydez, Feel The Aura
Red Shaydez, Feel The Aura
Red Shaydez

Red Shaydez, Feel the Aura

The agency in the latest album by Red Shaydez is contagious, as are its bangers "We Got It On," featuring Cakeswagg and Brandie Blaze, and "From Bahamas To Atlanta" featuring Oompa. Both will get stuck in your head for days and are chock full of local collaborations that — with our without a global pandemic — display the real camaraderie among the city's hip-hop community.