Best of 2020
My annual round-up of music that did it for me. This year was a decent split between heavy post-punk, shoegaze, and imaginary soundtrack music.
Neubauten made a stylish comeback this year. A. A. Williams was a new find in the vein of Sharon Van Etten. Agnes and Anna deliver their welcome signature sounds while another new find Cuesta Loeb straddles the Best Coast/Dum Dum Girls wall of guitars. Emma Ruth Rundle’s album with Thou borders on metal and Idles continue to hammer away. Mrs. Piss is a grinding collab between Chelsea Wolfe and Jess Gowrie. Lithics, Porridge Radio and Shopping hark back to 80s post-punk bands like Au Pairs and Gang of Four. A Medicine Boy album is like a letter from an old friend who has relocated to Berlin. Sea Lion is sad and Midwife provides layers of distortion. Links (non-affiliate) to the albums on Spotify, Deezer, and Apple are provided for your listening pleasure.
Listen to the playlists below. They include many other brilliant tracks I came across in 2020 that were either just singles or were from albums that didn’t make it to my shortlist. Some great tracks by Lera Lynn, Angel Olsen, Drab City, Lingua Ignota, Orville Peck, BOYO, Twelv, Chromatics, Sightless Pit, Peaking Lights, Max Richter, Nils Frahm, Purity Ring, and Perfume Genius among others.
As always, one is UP (for the music with a noisy pulse) and the other DOWN (for the more sad introspective stuff). I do a lot of writing and research, so tend to gravitate to the quieter stuff as it helps me think. The rest is for swearing at white Toyota Corolla’s that start with F-number plates that travel at 40 in a 60 zone (if you live and drive in Johannesburg, you’ll understand)
Roughly in alphabetical order
Einsturzende Neubauten – Alles in Allem
A. A. Williams – Forever Blue
Agnes Obel – Myopia
Anna Von Hauswolff – All thoughts fly
Cuesta Loeb – Grass it grows EP
Emma Ruth Rundle/Thou – May our chambers be full
Idles – Ultra mono
L.A. Witch – Play with fire
Leandro Fresco – Una Presencia En La Brisa
Lithics – Tower of age
Medicine Boy – Take me with you when you disappear
Midwife – Forever
Mrs. Piss – Self surgery
Porridge Radio – Every bad
Sea Lion – I heard there’s music on the town
Shopping – All or nothing
Wray – Stream of youth / Blank world
Although not new or original material, I did love these: