Our favourite 62 albums of 2020
It's been a wild year, but looking back, there's been a lot of music this year that's made me happy.
The list is in a vague order that would be different if I put this list together tomorrow. But that doesn't really matter, I just want to share some music with you that I've enjoyed this year. Let me know if I've missed out your favourites - I probably didn't come across it in my listening and would love to know what it is.
Here's hoping I'll be seeing you at the gigs when these albums finally get toured in 2021.
Honorable mentions that should probably in the mix below:
Annie - Dark Hearts
Haru Nemuri - LOVETHEISM
62. Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas – III
Mellow grooves by two of my favourite electronic musician, hanging out in a happy middle ground between ambient and electronica.
61. Amy Duncan - The Hidden World
Blissful pop-folk from Edinburgh.
60. Silvia Tarozzi - Mi specchio e rifletto
Fascinating compositions based on the rhythms of poetry.
59. Tomberlin - Projects
Slow-burning folk. A lovely EP.
58. Deyah - Care City
Winner of the Wales Music Prize 2020. Laid back beats, silky vocals and lyrics about keeping faith though tough times.
57. Duval Timothy - Help
A very creative soul. Expansive, reverb-drenched piano-focussed tunes.
56. Sylvan Esso - Free Love
Pop songs made with creative swagger and super fun arrangements.
55. Katie Dey - Mydata
Glitchy and twisted pop tunes make a sunny album about digital intimacy.
54. Isabella, Jasper and Simon Fisher Turner - Savage songs of Brutality and Food. By the Extreme Angels of Parody.
Compositions featuring children singing and chanting. 'Idiot Song' is a wonderful highlight.
53. Peter Broderick - Blackberry
A surprise that was dropped out of the blue. Recorded in his London bedrooms about connecting with our local surroundings.
52. Declan McKenna - Zeros
Bizarrely missed out on the no.1 album spot to a Rolling Stone re-issue but he'll get another shot I'm sure.
51. Loma - Don't Shy Away
Indie that's as dark and glossy as a lake in winter.
50. Moses Sumney - Græ
Like floating on beautiful warm currents.
49. Jeff Rosenstock - NO DREAM
Dream no more if you're looking for some naughties style politically charged pop-punk.
48. Haim - Women in music PT III
So damn catchy and styled to perfection.
47. Gruff Rhys - Pang!
Another assembly of wonderful musicians to make an individual and exciting record.
46. Ada Lee - woman, here
A profound little EP, with guitars like George Harrison and a little bit of the same worshipful spirit.
45. Fenne Lilly - BREACH
Elegant and powerful - a real stunner.
44. Matmos - The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises in Group Form
99 collaborators! 99! The result is gleeful archaic electronica.
43. Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia
42. Gunn-Truscinski Duo -Soundkeeper
Chunky scapes of guitar and percussion.
41. Angel Olsen - Whole New Mess
Hushed and spare and all the more exciting for it.
40. Bill Callahan - Gold Record
Wonderful and liberal instrumentation and the quality song writing we expect from Bill.
39. Dorian Electra - My Agenda
Archaic, high-concept pop that delves into incel culture.
38. Caribou - Suddenly
Endless hooks pop from always clever clever music.
37. William Basinski - Lamentations
Clever things with loops that feels galactic in scale.
36. Khruangbin - Mordechai
Khruangbin with Leon Bridges - warm and chill rock pop. A good time. Some of my favourite bops of the year.
35. Flaming Lips - American Head
Back with a narrative album that feels like a homecoming to a sound and a spirit of earlier Lips.
34. Slauson Malone - Vergangenheitsbewältigung
Jazzy, mumbly, glitchy, intimate, free.
33. Georgia - Seeking Thrills
Thrilling pop for the dancefloor.
32. Adrianne Lenker - songs / instrumentals
Almost like overhearing her writing and recording.
31. Hen Ogledd - Free Humans
Another grand statement of shabbiness.
30. Kelly Lee Owens - Inner Song
Loops and lyrics and lyrics and loops that build to be spiritual.
29. Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters
100% Fiona Apple as soon as the piano arpeggios start in 'I Want You To Love Me'.
28. Lomelda - Hannah
Open-hearted and heart-aching indie.
27. Dirty Projectors - 5 EPs
A collection of EPs and that's enough to count for this list. Always complicated and great to hear Dirty Projectors with interlocking harmonies and again.
26. Shirley Collins - Heart's Ease
Brilliant trad folk.
25. Clipping. - Visions of Bodies Being Burned
This might be the most descriptive album title on this list. Does exactly what it says on the tin.
24. Liaanne La Havas - Lianne La Havas
Lush vocals, lush R&B production, perfectly poised. A break-up album to wallow in.
23. Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers - Get in Union
A collection of 60 wonderful old soul and blues tunes.
22. Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
A swirling collection of stylish songs. A glowing songwriter.
21. Arca - KiCk i
Her most accessible album so far, but still a smashing together of pop and electronica.
20. Master KG - Jerusalema
A shot of joy from South Africa.
19. Bartees Strange - Live Forever
Bartees's genre-hopping hardcore/emo has been one of my favourite discoveries of the early year.
18. Jessie Ware - What's Your Pleasure
A dark disco gem.
17. Fontaines DC - A Hero's Death
Big, bold, funny and philosophical.
16. Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud
A big slice of delicious Americana pie.
15. Trace Mountains - Lost In The Country
More Americana, this time breezy, adventurous and caring like a long road trip.
14. Perfume Genius - Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
The most sublime production. To die for.
13. Run The Jewels - RTJ4
The ruling class and the police get torn a new one and it sounds so good and so right.
12. Julianna Barwick - Healing Is A Miracle
Enchanting tapestries of singing and echoing instruments.
11. Laura Marling - Song For Our Daughter
My favourite album so far from a master songwriter and the recordings are breath-taking.
10. SAULT - Untitled (Rise) / Untitled (Black Is)
Remarkable double album: beautifully crafted and smart. Add a little SAULT to your life.
9. Jay Electronica - A Written Testimony
Tender and subtle then spiritual and earnest. A sharing of experience and strength.
8. Ólafur Arnalds - Some Kind of Peace
A serene and peaceful blend of ambient and classical.
7. Grimes - Miss Anthropocene
Grimes is going to Grimes. Love the melodies and the urgency of this album.
6. Charli XCX - how i'm feeling now
A burst of pent-up energy that sounded just right this year.
5. Black Dresses - Peaceful as Hell
The most fun I had listening this year. Ecstatic noise-pop - sparkling and heavy at the same time.
4. Ichiko Aoba - Windswept Adan
An enchanting, heart-warming world, created by an incredible classical musician.
3. Bob Dylan - Rough & Rowdy Ways
Well this is unexpected. I actually didn't get round to listening to 'Rough & Rowdy Ways' until late in the year and I didn't think it would be high in this list but then I couldn't stop listening. But having written off this album before even listening to it's worked it's way to being one of my favourite albums to listen to right now. It could have been number one too, but it is very boomer (the classics, the Bible, Shakespeare, no women with agency, all that).
2. Helena Deland - Someone New
My favourite indie of the year. Like entering a dream state that is sometimes sullen and always something moody ticking away in the bass frequencies. And then the melodies are so immaculate and tidy, percussion coming in and out for impact. It all works together perfectly.
1. Blu & Exile - Miles
My favourite Hip-Hop of the year and such a wide-ranging and ambitious album. And it's so exciting. It reaches back through generations and even at its most dense the rapping is still graceful. An hour and a half that never stops shifting and exploring and glowing.