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.
- Andy Bell – The view from halfway down
- Sault – Unitled (Rise) Bandcamp
- Sault – Untitled (Black is) Bandcamp
- Fontaines DC – A hero’s Death Bandcamp
- Flaming Lips – American Head Spotify
- Tim Burgess – I love the new sky Bandcamp
- Catherine Ann Davies & Bernard Butler – In memory of my feelings Bandcamp
- Cornershop – England is a garden Bandcamp
- Denise Sherwood – This Road Bandcamp
- Julian Cope – Self Civil War Headheritage
and the rest of the excellent best….
- Working Men’s Club – Working Men’s Club Spotify
- Jarv Is – Beyond the Pale Bandcamp
- Bob Dylan – Rough & Rowdy ways Spotify
- Hugh Maskela and Tony Allen – Rejoice Spotify
- Kruangbin – Mordechai Bandcamp
- Doves – The Universal Want Spotify
- Paul Molloy – The Fifth Dandelion Spotify
- Ed O’Brien – EOB Spotify
- Keleketla! – Keleketla! Bandcamp
- Songhoy Blues – Optimisme Spotify
- Little Barrie & Malcolm Catto – Quatermass Seven. Bandcamp
Read my review
- Throwing Muses – Sun Racket Bandcamp
- Lisa Mychols & Super 8 – Lisa Mychols & Super 8. Bandcamp
- Tommy Scott – Marionette
Read my review and interview with Tommy Scott
- Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets – Live at the Roundhouse Spotify
Read my review and also the interview with Guy Pratt
- David Ian Roberts – From The Harbour Bandcamp
Read my review and interview with David
- Bdrmm – Bedroom Bandcamp
- Snowgoose – The Making Of You Bandcamp
- Tricky – Fall To Pieces Bandcamp
- Thurston Moore – By The Fire Bandcamp
- Aviator – All You Haters Bandcamp
Read my review
- Sonic Boom – All things Being equal Bandcamp
- Heliocentrics – Infinity Of Now Bandcamp
- Asteroid No4 – Northern Songs Bandcamp
- The Third Mind – The Third Mind Bandcamp
- Paul Weller – On Sunset Spotify
- Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways to New Italy Bandcamp
- Denise Johnson – Where Does It Go Spotify
- Katy J Pearson – Return Bandcamp
- Michael Rother – Dreaming Spotify
- Baba Zula – Hayvan Gibi Bandcamp
- Badly Drawn Boy – Banana Skin Shoes Spotify
- Leaf Library – About Minerals Bandcamp
- Hello Forever – Whatever It Is Bandcamp
- Osees – Protean Threat Spotify
- The Beths – Jump Rope Gazers Bandcamp
- Green Seagull – Cloud cover Bandcamp
- Gwenifer Raymond – Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain Bandcamp
- Tame Impala – The Slow Rush Spotify
- 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)