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20 Of Our Favourite Albums From The First Half Of 2020

A quick trip back through the memory cells and some scanning of my music library has thrown up these twenty artists (in alphabetical order) who have released some of our favourite albums of 2020 so far. There are plenty more I haven’t heard yet, hopefully some gems among them. In the meantime, I hope this throws up a few that you may not have had a chance to check out yet. They come highly recommended by Doubtful Sounds.

Andrew TuttleAlexandra
Baxter DuryThe Chancers
Bob DylanRough And Rowdy Ways
CalifoneEcho Mine
CorikyCoriky
D.C CrossTerabithian
Drive-By TruckersThe Unraveling
Fiona Apple Fetch The Bolt Cutters
James Thomson Golden Exile
Jason Isbell & The 400 UnitReunions
Luke VibertPresents: Amen Andrews + Presents: Modern Rave
MoodymannTaken Away
Neil Young Homegrown
Rolling Blackouts Coastal FeverSideways To New Italy
Rose City BandSummerlong
RVGFeral
Shopping All Or Nothing
Suicide SwansThrough The Years
Tony Allen & Hugh MasekelaRejoice
ZelienopleHold You Up

NEW MUSIC: Montecore – Ott Sauce

Straight out of the gates into a krautrock, psych sprint from Chicago group Montecore. The song comes from their One Night album that came out in May and they’ve already followed it up with a new album, House Fire Themes, which hits the same frantic, hyper-melodic hypnotic sweet-spot, Those kinds of songs that could (and should) go on endlessly as guitar solos fire off into the stratosphere, drums hit like a metronome and bass-lines tie it all together like Peter Hook on a bender.

NEW MUSIC: Peter Bibby – Whyalla

Great new song from the esteem larrikin-rock exponent Peter Bibby. The verses sound like S.P.U.D/Solid Gold Hell from 90s Auckland. Countered by the sweet chorus, the song goes everywhere else across 6 minutes. Recorded with the band Dog Act.

‘Whyalla’ is simultaneously a love letter and a cursing damnation to regional Australia. Its spoken-word bridge lays down tall tales about some of its most notable legends, while the chorus draws you in like a mozzie to the zapper, only to get promptly shocked once again by the song’s churning riff. “I wrote this song a few years back after my mate Racoo asked me to write a song for an Australian road trip compilation she was putting together.  I don’t think it saw the light of day.  I had a lot of help from Wikipedia,” says Bibby of the track. 

‘Whyalla’ comes from Bibby’s new album Marge, out Fri September 18th via Spinning Top Records.

ALBUM REVIEW: RVG – Feral

RVG

Feral

Our Golden Friend/Fire Records

RVG’s new album finds them presenting a fuller sound with even greater depth and clarity in the guitars and the spotlight still firmly on Romy Vager’s declamatory yelp and melancholic musings.

Quality Of Mercy already had the defining ingredients of the RVG sound – The Smiths-like insistency and nimbleness of the rhythm section, those sparkling, chiming and shimmering guitars and Vager’s voice a commanding strident force out in front. What Feral does do is highlight some sharper songwriting with more space and dynamics, in a wider, more sonically detailed sound courtesy of producer Victor Van Vugt. 

You can particularly hear the sound of The Go-Betweens and Echo & The Bunnymen amid the jangly post-punk and garage rock. It’s simple, melodic indie guitar pop but those guitars sound perfect in the way the notes tumble and cascade from the speakers, all frantically free-falling and forlorn. 

I Used To Love You is a heartbreaking ballad par excellence with its ache and swoon perfectly conveyed, while Photograph sends the listener out on a high. Tentative at first, it builds into a glorious rallying cry. On Feral, Vager’s dissection of how it feels to be sidelined and disenfranchised is treated poetically and ultimately there’s a sense of hope and resilience that rises from the near perfect musical backdrop.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: S.G. Goodman – Old Time Feeling

There’s a great upbeat feel to ‘Old Time Feeling‘, a song that skips along with loose shakedown rhythmic feel. S.G. Goodman at times remind us of a more rural Hurray For The Riff Raff in the way she blends indie rock and Americana and mixes hooky melodies and open-highway, rustic grooves.

The song, with its biblical images and Southern feel, is the title track from Goodman’s new Jim James (My Morning Jacket) produced album, released July 17th.

Raised in Western Kentucky on the Mississippi River Delta in a strict church going family of row crop farmers, Goodman went from singing in church three times a week to a prominent member of the Murray, KY indie scene. She grew up in one of the most isolated parts of Kentucky, and Goodman’s new record catalogues her unique perspective of feeling like “the insider who is also the outsider.” 

NEW MUSIC: Harrison & Dunkley – In CD

‘In CD’ is a collaborative release from UK duo Stuart Harrison and Peter Dunkley who have played in post-punk bands together in the past but more recently reconvened to explore intstrumental minimalism in the vein of Phillip Glass and Steve Reich.

‘In CD’ is a piece in two parts. The first section is built around keys and guitar circling, looping and overlapping as they build up a hypnotic pulsing post-rock sound. At the track’s mid-point the mood changes, while some of the central repeating motifs still drive the piece along, albeit with a more subdued and reflective tone.

Says Stuart Harrison: “We don’t think that In CD sounds anything like In C – but we took some of the compositional elements, and in particular how Riley instructs ensembles to play his piece, as ‘inspiration’ as we constructed our music. We compose through a process of continual improvisation without necessarily having a defined outcome or even a structure, which tends to take us into unexpected. We’re constantly surprised at what we produce! With this piece, however, we took certain motifs and played them in slightly different ways on different instruments, particularly in the second section.”

Says Peter Dunkley: “Actually, it should have been ‘In DC’ as the first part is in D and the second C. We thought In CD was funnier, though!” 

Check out their profile on Spotify for a bunch of other new compositions.

NEW MUSIC: Tallinn – At The Freeport

Liquid bass, stuttering heartbeat rhythms and melodies that fold in and out of the mix, overlapping dancing with free-spirited interplay. These are the hallmarks of Tallinn’s track ‘At The Freeport’, an art-pop song that inhabits a beautiful sonic space.

The song comes from Varieties Of Exile II, the second in a series of EPs from the New York-based experimental pop project of Scott Whittaker.