According to my Spotify Wrapped I listened to 25,636 minutes of music by 2,150 artists, 699 of them were new (as far as Spotify would know) in 2020, which seems like a lot. But 2020 was also the year that my kids really got into music and thus all our road trip playlists were dominated by their music. The top 5 songs listened to on my Spotify account were by Dua Lipa (2), Demi Lovato, The Weeknd and Aldous Harding (an artist both generations agree on).
Reflecting on what my top albums of the year have been, I feel as if I didn’t scratch the surface of what came out in 2020 as much as I have in previous years. So you’ll see a lot of names that have featured in previous years, or albums on lots of other best of 2020 lists. Which I guess is fine. This also explains why my little blurbs after each album sound apologetic.
But for now…
Best Albums of 2020(in the order in which they made it onto my "I think this might be one of the best albums of the year playlist...)
The Big Moon – Walking Like We Do
This one came out in January, which feels like eight years ago. A notch poppier than their 2017 debut (Love in the 4th Dimension), which I loved, and being immersed in so much pop this year I’m totaly fine with that.
The Beths – Jump Rope Gazers
The singles ‘I’m not getting excited’ and ‘Dying to believe’ had me hyped before the album dropped and I was a little underwhelmed with the remainder on my first few listens, but it definitely grew on me. Great live, too.
Protomartyr – Ultimate Success Today
This is the kind of album where my 2 year rolling list idea may be insightful. I really enjoy listening to this album, but it hasn’t stuck with me the same way Relatives in Descent (my fave from 2017) did.
Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
I feel like the algorithms have really been pushing Bridgers at me, but they needed try so hard. She’s great. I like this album. I feel a bit like that kid in Hype (documentary about Grunge-era Seattle) with cotton swabs up his nose complaining that everyone now likes the bands he liked when there were 20 people at their shows, but that’s the way it often goes.
Lo Tom – LP2
An album featuring David Bazan is becoming a tradition in these awards. Just as good as LP1 – but doesn’t quite compare to the last Pedro the Lion record, which felt way more personal.
Mac Miller – Circles
Leaving aside all that can be written about post-humous albums and the rap to muted indie aesthetic, I just enjoy listening to this album.
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
2020 really was Dua Lipa’s year. She just kept dropping hit after hit. Don’t Start Now, Break My Heart, Physical, Levitating – the family all sings along in the car. She walks the line between hackneyed and fresh, as all good pop must, and mostly succeeds.
Margaret Glaspy – Devotion
I must have listened to this five times and I still feel I haven’t spent enough time with this album… Which is a compliment!
Bill Fay – Countless Branches
I love Bill Fay. This album sent me back on a big BF kick. Countless Branches is up there with his other albums. So it’s a “yes” from me!
Soccer Mommy – Color Theory
I was a big fan of their song, “Your Dog” off their 2018 album. Color Theory doesn’t have a track that stands out as much as that one, but it hangs together to well as an album and a vibe.
BEST SONGSBest new song - Black Licorice by Peach Pit
This award usually recognises one of two types of songs. Hideously catchy songs with nonsense syllables or a great song from a band I suspect I really like but haven’t spent enough time with their latest album for it to appear in my top 10.
Black Licorice falls into the latter category, which is not to downplay it’s catchiness. It’s just to foreshadow that Peach Pit’s You and Your Friends might appear in my rolling top 10 (maybe it should be 20?) next year.
Best old song I heard for the first time - Oh I Wept by Free
Heard it on Watchmen. Shazamed it. So good.
Proto-everything that’s good about music in the last 40 years.