2020 titles

Before you proceed, we’d like to point out that two distinct versions of this page exist and you may decide you’d prefer one over the other. While both pages highlight the same titles overall, one page (this one, that you’re on right now) has all the details, artists, album titles, cover art, etc. revealed and available for you to peruse. On the other page, objectivity is the goal as all identifying information has been removed leaving only a brief description of each album, which we thought might be kinda fun. Either page you choose, thanks for checking out what we’ve released this year!

-Mack, Kevin, Sarah, Seth, & Will









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Record Setter


I Owe You Nothing

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TSR228

Explosive, unpredictable, and persistently candid throughout, I Owe You Nothing is a lesson in introspection and identity. The Denton, Texas-based Record Setter are unflinchingly inventive with every new release, creating intricate compositions which balance their fierce spirit and delicate emotions. Frenzied and impassioned vocals soar over thunderous guitars, ferocious percussion, and bone-shaking low-end, comprising fervent songs that oscillate between raw powerful screamo and affective post-rock melodies. Through introspective lyricism and turbulent sonic soundscapes, I Owe You Nothing chronicles the lifelong journey of coming to terms with yourself, your anxieties, and your mistakes, ultimately rewarded by a sense of empowered independence.

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Record Setter


Purge

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TSR227

Intricate guitar work, insistent hooks, and a vocal and lyrical conviction that worm their way throughout the album, Purge finds Record Setter making space to thrive in the cracks between screams and gentle whispers. The record’s centerpiece, the back-to-back emotional annihilation of “We Let Our Youth Fail Beautifully” and “Multiple Attempts at the Same Thing,” sparkles with crisp and technical guitar work, staccato bursts of bass noise, and an effortlessly smooth dichotomy between soft and loud dynamics that defies traditional hardcore songwriting sensibilities.

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Elephant Gym


Dear Humans

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TSR229

Written for the Taiwanese theatre production, Big Band Species, "Dear Humans" finds Elephant Gym at their most dynamic in this whimsical crossover project. Each member of the trio's acumen is featured throughout the composition's distinct movements, which starts on a contemplative piano-led overture before plunging headfirst into unpredictable segments of bass-driven passages which draw influence from math-rock, funk, classical, and post-bop. Ever stylistically all-encompassing, Elephant Gym's deft, diverse arrangements are a perfect auditory match to the Shakespeare's Wild Sisters Group theatre production.

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Topshelf Records


2020 Label Sampler

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TSRS2020

The culmination of a year's worth of work with and for artists that we're so fortunate, excited, and thankful to be affiliated with. It's been the most surreal of years, but has also been one of the strongest in terms of musical output that our label has ever had. Catch up with everything we've released recently with our annual PWYW sampler!

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Gulfer


S/T

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TSR223

Explosive, agile emo serves as the backdrop to guitarist and vocalists Vincent Ford and Joe Therriault's honest and vulnerable lyricism, with the two sharing the writing process on a record that tackles human nature; exploring self-doubt, resentment, complex relationships, climate change, and the waning of youth. The band never lose the sense of playfulness and fun that is omnipresent in their live show, an undeniable, electric energy that stems from being a group of close friends before all else.

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Flung


Shaky But My Hair Is Grown

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TSRC026

Flung’s debut album showcases their aptitude for songcraft; Shaky But My Hair Is Grown is both restless and instantly relatable. Ambient recordings and unusual chord progressions play duets over hard hitting polyrhythms woven from glitchy samples and clipped loops. The album’s whimsical yet poignant songs venture in all directions, a scattering of textures laced together with some intangible thread. Finding cadence in assemblage, Flung never sits in one place for too long, instead inviting the listener to share in the joy of the unpredictable.

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Alexia Avina


Unearth

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TSRC025

Soft, layered, and at times raw, Alexia Avina’s "Unearth" is an exploration of what it takes to rebuild in the wake of a break-up. The songs capture the painful, yet revitalizing process of sifting through damaging emotions and emerging with something slightly new and familiar. Avina’s knack for weaving otherworldly soundscapes and thoughtful lyrical introspection shines through, meditating on what it means to connect and detach.

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Del Paxton


September, Bedtime, Ontario

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TSR221

Their latest work is a trio of singles teeming with the exuberance and excitement of being young, alive, and earnest. With overdriven choruses of diaristic contemplation, Del Paxton's thoughtful ruminations stir up the passions of prolonged youth and the challenges of holding onto friends you could never let go.

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Harry the Nightgown


S/T

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TSRC024

Harry the Nightgown is the sonic playground for the duo of Spencer Hartling and Sami Perez's impressive production chops (they're both engineers at Tiny Telephone Studios). The band's influences range from The Raincoats and XTC to Rosalía and Kate Bush. Their sound has been compared to bands such as Dirty Projectors and Deerhoof. The result is defined by improv “Toast and Punch” recording techniques.

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mouse on the keys


Arche

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TSR219

Seeking to expand their sound and style on tres (2018) and "Circle" (2019), mouse on the keys toyed with form and instrumentation by adding vocals, guitar, and electronic regalia. But on their new EP, Arche, the Japanese trio return to the core of their sound, a dizzying piano-based jazz founded on nimble syncopation and harmonic intrigue.

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Gregory Uhlmann


Neighborhood Watch

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TSR220

Rich in melodic and textural allure, Neighborhood Watch comes from a place of contentment. Consider it a meditation on domestic bliss experienced in early adulthood. The songs on Neighborhood Watch match consummate musicianship and thoughtful songcraft with an innate gift for melody, and that lyricism is channeled through Uhlmann’s unique singing voice—soft and balmy yet also direct and affecting.

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Alfred.


One Trick Pony

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TSR212

On One Trick Pony, Alfred.'s imaginative self-storytelling and twisted streams of consciousness cover a striking breadth of styles across a mere six songs, dancing between dark gospel, Dilla-inflected sampling, and hypnotic bops.

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Thanya Iyer


KIND

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TSR217

Crucial questions around healing, cultural identity, and disability are among the many subjects visited by Thanya Iyer's sophomore album, KIND. Although represented by a concise title, KIND explores an expansive universe where Iyer and her band examine interpersonal relationships, ideas of home and destination, and our collective responsibilities to one another. To aid in this journey of big, difficult questions, Iyer enlists the help of a huge cast of musicians, with guest features ranging from brass trios, vocal sextets, flautists, and harpists.

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Standards


Fruit Island

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TSR218

Led by the exuberant melodies of cross-tapping guitarist Marcos Mena, the LA duo Standards make meticulous instrumental math-rock whose effervescent riffs teem with sunny enthusiasm. On the band's debut full-length, Fruit Island, Standards deftly retool math-rock's unforgiving, challenging tendencies into a style that is both danceable and compositionally profound. Drummer Forrest Rice's boisterous chops complement Mena's unpredictable melodies, grounding the unusual self-dueling riffs and balancing the bright compositions with tasteful fills and immaculate syncopations.

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addy


Eclipse

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TSR215

The Richmond, VA artist serves up a debut album of contemplative magic on the terrain of eloquent, country-reminiscent instrumentation, ASMR-inducing textures, and Casio-sequenced drum hooks.

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Crisman


Crisman

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TSR216

Madeline Dowd's visual artwork playfully relays adult themes through childlike imagery. But with her band Crisman, she swaps the acrylics and spray paint for hazily-filtered vocals gently layered over slowcore instrumentals to find yet another medium for masking emotional turmoil with innocence. The contrasting maturity and juvenility of Crisman’s paintings are refracted throughout this measured ten-song collection.

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Ratboys


Printer's Devil

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TSR206

Upheaval and change are clear themes spread throughout the songs of Printer's Devil, but the moments of uncertainty are embraced as a necessary part of growing. And through it all, Ratboys’ dynamics still beautifully thread together the kinds of intimate folk songs and devastating alt-country tracks that fans have come to expect from them.

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