In 1990, Lovey was a huge step forward for Evan Dando and his Boston band The Lemonheads. It was their major label debut on Atlantic Records after releasing their first three albums in the previous three years. Those records were a collision of noisy melodic punk rock. Part Black Flag, part The Replacements. Co-founder Ben Daily had left the band prior to Lovey and that gave Dando the opportunity to rejig the band’s sound to more of a country and indie/alt-rock blend.
This reissue has been superbly remastered to give Lovey a greater warmth and sonic richness, further accentuating the sense that this was the start of a new chapter for Dando. The album contains absolute classics such as ‘Half The Time’ and ‘Ride With Me’ as well as their version of the Gram Parsons’ ‘Brass Buttons’. The variety of Lovey is what really elevates it – with the alt rock swerves of ‘Ballarat’ and ‘Lil Seed’ and the tumbling remnants of their punk past on ‘Left For Dead’. It was a turning point for the band and one of the landmark early releases of 90s alternative rock.
The 2xLP/CD formats come with a deluxe book with expanded liner notes and unseen photos as well as an eight song triple j Live at the Wireless session from their tour of 1991.
Despite the weirdness and social and political fracturing of 2020, there were still plenty of great albums that saw the light of day – and that light was a salvation for many. You can check out our Post To Wire (alt-country, cosmic Americana & dark folk) Favourite Albums of 2020HERE and Favourite AU & NZ Albums of 2020HERE.
Here are our 40 favourite albums of the year, ranging from alt-country to electronic, ambient to indie rock, post-punk to soul.
* Full disclosure – I worked on the publicity campaigns for the Golden Fang and Buddy Glass albums
On our favourite AU/NZ album of 2020, Thomson delivers his most accomplished work to date… ‘Sunday Girl’ is the closest Thomson’s got to a pop song, ‘Roll Away The Stone’ is smoky, winding blues, while ‘See The Wheels’ could roll on forever with its effortless groove. ‘Fatal Ribbon Highway’ is a dreamy slow dance, cosmic, heavy-lidded and sparkling and just one example of the diversification Thomson has brought to his impressive songwriting on Golden Exile.
9 Arlo McKinley – Die Midwestern
A new name for us and what a way to announce your arrival. Restrained songwriting with some exceptional lyrical content, Die Midwestern is built on poetry of the finest quality, delivered in a wonderful roughed-up country voice.
8. Moodymann – Taken Away
We couldn’t stop listening to this when it came out. Like a mix of D’Angelo circa Black Messiah, soul-jazz and futuristic electronic space funk. It was all in the rhythms, the breaks and the soul of it all. Deep hypnosis par excellence.
7. SAULT – UNTITLED (Black Is)
An album (and its follow-up UNTITLED (Rise)) completely of it’s time politically and socially, yet timeless in its blend of soul, funk, r&b, trip hop and more.
For us, Isbell was off his game on his last album The Nashville Sound but here he’s fully resumed his mantle of one of the finest songwriters of his generation. Lyrically and melodically there are gems galore right across Reunions. It was one of those albums that constantly inspired repeat listens throughout 2020.
4. Coriky – Coriky
Coriky are half of Fugazi (Ian Mackaye & Joe Lally) with Amy Farina (The Evens) and it’s the iconic DC band that they swerve closest to in the stop/start, quiet/loud dynamics and lyrical repetition, though it’s a less caustic, more intimate and organic vibe overall. Great drum sound on this damn catchy and gently visceral record.
3. Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death
The Irish quartet sought to find different angles to approach their second album after the success and touring of Dogrel. They were hugely successful too. Widening their palette, going for denser guitar textures and rhythms that dug deeper and with more insistency. The vocals were just as earnest if more detached, observational and aloof. The key success to the album was that they showed they weren’t one trick ponies and look to be in it for the creative long haul.
2. Bob Dylan – Rough And Rowdy Ways
Once again Bob brought the element of surprise with this immense piece of work. Bold, literary, graceful, funny and highly moving. We thought his muse may have taken an early retirement with the endless touring and American songbook albums taking up his creative real estate. But no, Bob was back, hunched over his typewriter, casting an eye over the last century of pop and political culture, weaving in heartache and devotion. Nobody can bring together universality and the minutiae quite like the master.
1. Young Jesus – Welcome To Conceptual Beach
An intoxicating blend of post-rock and indie rock that in my mind ranged threw up comparisons to Talk Talk, Lift To Experience, Talking Heads, Wild Beasts and Radiohead. This was an album that created a sonic world to escape to, with heady and evocative ideals and some incredible dynamics in the arrangements.
There’s some clever stuff going on with this glorious new single from Dave Cherub. Sweet soul music meets 60s psych pop, country-folk and the kind of skewed indie guitar rock that bands like Built To Spill and Flaming Lips mastered.
‘Chalk and Glitter’ comes from Dave Cherub, the self-titled debut album from the Vancouver country-folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of the same name.
Thirteen songs, written in 30 days, recorded in a single year; this record finds Vancouver music veteran Dave Cherub writing, performing, producing and mixing every note of the record he’s always wanted to make. The result is a single piece of country-folk hewn from the beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, arranged in a mosaic that straddles the line between heartbreak and happy place.
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.”
“A stream-of-consciousness ramble of a day living in the inner-west”
Hooks and riffs abound with laidback verve and hypnotic charm on this new single from Blue Mountains, NSW resident CJ Stranger. That’s the nom de plume of songwriter and guitarist Cameron James Henderson and on this track he hits a sweet spot between The War On Drugs and Kurt Vile with a cool blend of his voice and the guitars that surge and swagger beautifully.
Expect an album called Hey Strangerin 2020 and you can catch Henderson playing these upcoming shows:
November 14 – LazyBones Lounge, Marrickville
w/ Gavin Bowles, Liam Gale (fb event)
November 21 – Django at Camelot, Marrickville
w/ Pat Tierney (fb event)
J.R. is the moniker of Ontario songwriter Julianna Riolino and her group that includes musicians who have worked with Daniel Romano. ‘PAL’ is a light and bouncy slice of indie country rock that wins due to her great melodies that she builds into the song’s two and half minutes. It reminded me a bit of Margaret Glaspy.
Brisbane band Sunny Flynn Hugo first impressed us with their self-titled 2018 album which artfully and seamlessly blended Americana and indie rock sensibilities. Songs that sparkled and chimed with melancholy and warm melodies. Since then they’ve released the EP City Always lets You Down, which continues their exploration of introspective mood-driven songwriting.
They recently played an in-store at the fine Sonic Sherpa record store in Greenslopes, QLD. Check it out below…
Americana sounds are the order of the day on this lovely understated track from Chicagoans Jacob and Matthew Boll, under the name Edwin. There’s not a lot to find online about the American duo other than they’ve previously released two EPs. They’ve got a nice autumnal and melodic sound, reminiscent of Wilco, Elliott Smith and The Lemonheads.