Albums of 2020 – my top 50

Well, the end of 2020 is nearly upon, this sod of a year, but at least we’ve had music as a constant to steer us through. There is always great music every year if you keep your ears open but for me this year has at least afforded more time than I’ve had for years to listen. I travel a lot for work and so much music has been consumed on trains and planes via headphones, so it was great to have so much time with music on vinyl and on speakers. This was the year I really got explore Bandcamp and far too much stuff on vinyl. It must have been a terrible year for so many in the industry and hopepfully Bandcamp has made a difference. Can’t wait to get back to some gigs next year.

Andy Bell tops my list – and an album that I wasn’t expecting to appear. I love when an artist from a favourite band sets sail on their own journey. The album is full of the fuzzy psych, krautrock and late 80’s indie vibe that had me listening on repeat.

The Sault albums were a revelation. They were compelling, defiant and just the best soul, grooves and beats you could wish to hear. Whilst you can feel the vibe from artists like Michael Kiwanuka, the sound is unique to 2020.

There is also so much great music bursting from Africa right now and you can feel the influence in the Sault albums. Many of the great albums of the 21st century will be from Africa. This year I loved the albums from Mali’s Songhoy Blues and the amazing South African vibes of Keleketla!, mixed by Coldcut.

I also loved Denise Sherwood’s debut – her voice transcends, over a trip hop and dubby soundtrack that sounds amazingly fresh.

It was also great to see the young upstarts Fontaines DC and Working Men’s Club put out urgent albums that demanded your attention.

And at the start of the year Arch-Drude Julian Cope burst back with his best album in years, Self Civil War, and showing that he can still throw out amazing pop tunes if he wants to – ‘Your Facebook, my Laptop’ would be a number 1 single in another world.

Tim Burgess and the Flaming Lips came back with some of their best music in years.

Tim’s album will always remind me of staying optimistic in the spring lockdown, the music sound tracking many walks. He sounds effortless in finding the harmonies and tunes on this album. Tim’s listening parties on Twitter were also a revelation – like the best real time music documentaries – the Joy Division and New Order parties were brilliant inisghts into the music and bouncing off everyone else’s love for the albums. The work that Tim has also done to keep venues like Gorilla in Manchester alive has also been amazig. Cheers Tim! – hopefully you’ll get some sleep at some point.

The Lips cut lose from some of their recent experiments and delivered a album of epic space -psch noir ballads.

There were plenty of great new albums emerging from Liverpool – Pete Wilkinson’s Aviator, channelling some dark VU and JAMC vibes on All you haters, Tommy Scott’s filmic Marionette and the wonderful psch and Beach Boy flavoured pop from Paul Molloy.

Finally it was great hear Cornershop back, doing what they do they best – their unique rock and roll grooves and observations on England today.

Dive in and find something new. I’ve added Bandcamp links when available to guide people to buy the physical thing.

  1. Andy Bell – The view from halfway down
    Bandcamp
  2. Sault – Unitled (Rise) Bandcamp
  3. Sault – Untitled (Black is) Bandcamp
  4. Fontaines DC – A hero’s Death Bandcamp
  5. Flaming Lips – American Head Spotify
  6. Tim Burgess – I love the new sky Bandcamp
  7. Catherine Ann Davies & Bernard Butler – In memory of my feelings Bandcamp
  8. Cornershop – England is a garden Bandcamp
  9. Denise Sherwood – This Road Bandcamp
  10. Julian Cope – Self Civil War Headheritage

    and the rest of the excellent best….

  11. Working Men’s Club – Working Men’s Club Spotify
  12. Jarv Is – Beyond the Pale Bandcamp
  13. Bob Dylan – Rough & Rowdy ways Spotify
  14. Hugh Maskela and Tony Allen – Rejoice Spotify
  15. Kruangbin – Mordechai Bandcamp
  16. Doves – The Universal Want Spotify
  17. Paul Molloy – The Fifth Dandelion Spotify
  18. Ed O’Brien – EOB Spotify
  19. Keleketla! – Keleketla! Bandcamp
  20. Songhoy Blues – Optimisme Spotify
  21. Little Barrie & Malcolm Catto – Quatermass Seven. Bandcamp
    Read my review
  22. Throwing Muses – Sun Racket Bandcamp
  23. Lisa Mychols & Super 8 – Lisa Mychols & Super 8. Bandcamp
  24. Tommy Scott – Marionette
    Read my review and interview with Tommy Scott
  25. Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets – Live at the Roundhouse Spotify
    Read my review and also the interview with Guy Pratt
  26. David Ian Roberts – From The Harbour Bandcamp
    Read my review and interview with David
  27. Bdrmm – Bedroom Bandcamp
  28. Snowgoose – The Making Of You Bandcamp
  29. Tricky – Fall To Pieces Bandcamp
  30. Thurston Moore – By The Fire Bandcamp
  31. Aviator – All You Haters Bandcamp
    Read my review
  32. Sonic Boom – All things Being equal Bandcamp
  33. Heliocentrics – Infinity Of Now Bandcamp
  34. Asteroid No4 – Northern Songs Bandcamp
  35. The Third Mind – The Third Mind Bandcamp
  36. Paul Weller – On Sunset Spotify
  37. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways to New Italy Bandcamp
  38. Denise Johnson – Where Does It Go Spotify
  39. Katy J Pearson – Return Bandcamp
  40. Michael Rother – Dreaming Spotify
  41. Baba Zula – Hayvan Gibi Bandcamp
  42. Badly Drawn Boy – Banana Skin Shoes Spotify
  43. Leaf Library – About Minerals Bandcamp
  44. Hello Forever – Whatever It Is Bandcamp
  45. Osees – Protean Threat Spotify
  46. The Beths – Jump Rope Gazers Bandcamp
  47. Green Seagull – Cloud cover Bandcamp
  48. Gwenifer Raymond – Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain Bandcamp
  49. Tame Impala – The Slow Rush Spotify
  50. RIDE – Clouds in the Mirror (this is not a safe place) Spotify

And here’s a track from each album on a Spotify playlist (minus a few that are Bandcamp only)

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