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 2020 HERE and Favourite AU & NZ Albums of 2020 HERE.

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

40. Khruangbin – Mordechai REVIEW

39. Jessica – The Space Between REVIEW

38. Choir Boy – Gathering Swans

37. Buddy Glass – Wow & Flutter

36. Darren Cross – Keeping Up? REVIEW

35. Cinder Well – No Summer

34. Arbor Labor Union – New Petal Instants

33. Califone – Echo Mine

32. Shopping – All Or Nothing

31. Baxter Dury – The Chancers

30. Luke Vibert – Presents: Amen Andrews

29. Cable Ties – Far Enough REVIEW

28. The Phoenix Foundation – Friend Ship

27. Blake Scott – Niscitam

26. Thurston Moore – By The Fire

25. Makaya McCraven – Gil Scott-Heron – We’re New Again: A Reimagining

24. Billy Nomates – Billy Nomates

23. Brian Eno & Roger Eno – Mixing Colours

22. Drive-By Truckers – The Unraveling REVIEW

21. The Bats – Foothills

20. Suicide Swans – Through The Years

19. Bill Callahan – Gold Record

18. Jeff Tweedy – Love Is King

17. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters

16. Neil Young – Homegrown

15. Rose City Band – Summerlong

14. Golden Fang – Here. Now Here.

13. Protomartyr – Ultimate Success Today REVIEW

12. Courtney Marie Andrews – Old Flowers REVIEW

11. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways To New Italy REVIEW

10. James Thomson – Golden Exile REVIEW

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.

6. RVG – Feral REVIEW

Feral found 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.

5 Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Reunions REVIEW

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.

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
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
Shopping All Or Nothing
Suicide SwansThrough The Years
Tony Allen & Hugh MasekelaRejoice
ZelienopleHold You Up


DS Featured Imageskbaddreems

Bad Dreems are one of the essential bands emerging out of the growing Adelaide scene with their lo-fi, melody-rich guitar songs. 2012 was a big year that saw them release the brilliant single Chills and before dropping Tomorrow Mountain with its darker and moodier undercurrent and the infectiously melancholic Too Old. We caught up with guitarist Alex Cameron to find out some of the albums that shaped his musical life so far.


The first album I bought – Nirvana | From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah


The cool high school kids were either into Guns ‘N Roses or Nirvana. I took a punt and bought this because the ones that were into Nirvana seemed cooler. It was a good punt I guess. This is still my favourite Nirvana album. A lot of their studio recordings don’t really float my boat. I prefer the US punk bands that preceded them like Black Flag, The Minutemen and other SST bands, The Replacements and Husker Du.


The album that soundtracked a relationship – Bob Dylan | Blood On The Tracks


If ever I feel down about this type of thing I always listen to this album. It has a song for every sort of broken heart. I think it is the Dylan album that offers the best glimpse behind the shades. Hard to pick favourites but I love Shelter From the Storm, If You See Her Say Hello and Idiot Wind – “You’re an idiot babe, it’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe”


The album that inspired me to form a band – Scott and Charlene’s Wedding | Para Vista Social Club 


I moved back to Adelaide from Melbourne after 7 years. All my old friends had gone and I spent a long summer working in a hospital in an outer suburb, on the way to Snowtown. Sort of near Para Vista actually. I bought this album and listened to it ever morning and night on the drive there and back. It’s honest and unpretentious but really powerful songwriting and anyone that’s lived in Melbourne with little money and big hopes can relate to the subject matter. It reminded me of what I really liked about music so I found some new friends and we started a band. We did our first recordings with Jack Farley who recorded Para Vista Social Club along with heaps of amazing records out of Melbourne over the past few years. He’s best pals with Craig Dermody and they used to live in his warehouse together. Jack has big hands and a big heart.


The album that reminds you of my high school years – Patti Smith | Horses


I was lucky to inherit my parents’ record collection as I got more and more into music. It got me into stuff like MC5, The Rolling Stones, Roxy Music and Tom Waits – and so all this music still reminds me of that time. The album that I probably played the most was Horses – I couldn’t believe that my dad was ever into anything so cool!


The album I’d love to hear live and played in full – Sea Scouts | Beacon of Hope


I love the aura that surrounds this band. Despite their relative obscurity, everyone who knows them holds them in such high regard. Bird Blobs were also great, as well as Degreaser. As much as I would have liked to watch Sea Scouts I’m sure that the legacy is best kept alive by the recordings and grainy super 8 footage. My friend Darren Cross toured with Sea Scouts and he has awesome stories about Tim Evans’ homemade guitar and the amps that he made out of cardboard boxes to take on tour.


My favourite album cover art – Roxy Music | Country Life


Another album from my parents’ collection. This appealed to me as a 15 year old (and still does) for obvious reasons.


My guilty pleasure album – Bruce Springsteen | Born To Run


The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves, the magic rat, wrap your legs round these velvet rims, a real death waltz, show a little faith there’s magic in the night. It’s a town full of losers and i’m pulling out of here to win. THE BOSS!!


An album I loved but now have no idea why I bought it – Dylan & The Dead


For completists only.


The last album I bought – Blank Realm | Go Easy – Woollen Kits | Four GirlsThe Mark of Cain | Songs of the Third and Fifth


There is so much good music being put out on Australian independent labels like RIP Society, Bedroom Suck, Negative Guestlist and Chapter. Blank Realm’s album is awesome psych-pop with Berlin-era Bowie, Flying Nun and Fleetwood Mac influences. Woollen Kits write amazing garage guitar pop songs. I saw them supporting Home Blitz last year in Melbourne and they stole the show. The Mark of Cain are our heroes from Adelaide. Their new album is awesome. Mathematical outsider rage.



SONIC KICKS | Albums That Shaped Me

Ahead of the release of his long awaited debut album Breaking Hearts and Saving Souls on August 1st, Roland K Smith of Roland K Smith & the Sinners takes us through some of the albums that shaped his musical life. The band will be doing a run of dates to celebrate the release of the album, check the details at the end of this post…

The first album I bought…

It was my ninth birthday and I was allowed two choose two cassette tapes to accompany my brand new Sony Walkmen. I chose Blind Melon | Blind Melon and Michael JacksonDangerous. I listened to Dangerous to death. I knew every word to every song. I might have played Blind Melon twice.

An album that soundtracked a relationship…

I don’t want to give too much away here, but PrincePurple Rain was on heavy rotation when I started seeing the missus. That was about eight years ago and she’s still with me. Take the tip, gentlemen.

The album that inspired me to form a band…

Nirvana | Unplugged in New York. That was the album I was listening to when I started learning guitar at age ten and the album I revisited years later while I was forming my first band. It’s such a great collection of songs and Kurt sings them all so well.

The album that reminds me of my high school years…

Violent FemmesViolent Femmes was already twenty years old by the time I got my hands on it, but its honest musing on teenage life hit me like a ton of bricks. This was an example of hearing the right album at the right time.

An album I’d love to hear played in full live…

The Beatles | Please Please Me but by the Beatles in 1963 or whenever it was released (DS –  yep!). In this fantasy I’m eighteen years old in a sweaty, smokey pub in Hamburg, hammered on beer and surrounded by 1960s babes and then these guys rip into I Saw Her Standing There and Twist & Shout. Imagine how bat-shit-crazy that would be.

My favourite album artwork…

Bob Dylan | Bob Dylan. It’s a picture of Dylan at about nineteen years of age, holding a guitar and wearing a sailor cap, and it feels like the calm before the storm. He’s this cocky little kid looking straight into the camera with a cheeky grin that says “I’ve only ever written two songs, but I’m going to be the greatest songwriter of all-time.”

My guilty pleasure album…

Everclear | So Much For The Afterglow. I know they’re daggy, I know they’re a shitty second rate grunge band, but they still hold a prime position in my playlist. The songs are way too earnest, but they’re great pop tunes, and the guitars are masterfully over dubbed. I don’t think I’ve heard better production on a mainstream rock album.

An album I loved but now have no idea why I bought it…

Oh god, there would be tons… I have a habit of throwing out CDs as they reveal themselves to be shit. I think the first album I ever jettisoned was Pearl JamTen.

The last album I bought was…

Justin Townes Earle | Nothing’s Going To Change The Way You Feel About Me Now. Great record – really nice songs, performed really well. I’ve been into this guy since his first album and it’s been a pleasure watching him grow into one of the best musicians doing the rounds.

NEWS: Bob Dylan announces new album Tempest

Columbia Records announced today that Bob Dylan’s new studio album, Tempest, will be released on September 11, 2012. Featuring ten new and original Bob Dylan songs, the release of Tempest coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the artist’s eponymous debut album, which was released by Columbia in 1962.

Tempest is Dylan’s 35th studio album and his first since 2009’s Together Through Life. The album was produced by Jack Frost (Dylan).


  • Duquesne Whistle
  • Soon After Midnight
  • Narrow Way
  • Long and Wasted Years
  • Pay in Blood
  • Scarlet Town
  • Early Roman Kings
  • Tin Angel
  • Tempest
  • Roll On John

SONIC KICKS | Albums That Shaped Me…

In this first instalment of SONIC KICKS, Iowa’s Dylan Stewart takes us through some of the albums that shaped him.
The first album I bought was...
Chuck Berry – Greatest HitsIt was the cassette version with an orange cover.  I played the heck out of this!  Classic tunes with great blues solos.
The album that soundtracked a relationship was...
 Doves – Lost SoulsSuch an amazing record that feels like a soundtrack to your life.  Very dreamy and atmospheric!

The album that inspired me to form a band was...

Dinosaur Jr – Where You BeenWhen I heard the opening guitar chords of Out There I was hooked! For life!  Although I now think that Bug is my favourite, this record still has one great tune after another!  A classic!

The album that reminds me of my high school years is...

Beastie Boys – Ill CommunicationI loved this album and Check Your Head.  I was a try hard skater in my teens that could never skate but this record soundtracked that whole period in my life.
The album I'd love to hear played in full live is...
Iggy & the Stooges – Raw PowerI was actually lucky enough to see them play this record at ATP in New York a few years back.  It goes down as one of the best gigs I’ve ever witnessed!

My favourite album cover art is...

My Bloody Valentine – LovelessNot only does this cover look cool and psychedelic with its pink hazy guitar image, the guitar is actually a Fender Jazzmaster which is one my favourite guitars. When I lived in London a few years back, I worked at a music store in Denmark street and was lucky enough to help Kevin Shields pick out a couple of vintage Jazzmasters that he was planning to play for their reunion shows. Their show at the Roundhouse a few weeks later was absolutely mind blowing too! I think my ears are still ringing!

My guilty pleasure album is...
Wings – Venus & MarsI still think this album is a good listen when I’m in the right mood but I don’t usually talk about it in interviews. I grew up with my brother playing this record and it just rubbed off on me.  
An album I loved but now have no idea why I bought it.

Hits of 1988 – I don’t want to talk about it!
The last album I bought was...

Bob Dylan – Live at Brandeis University 1963This is a brilliant recording.  It was only recently discovered in 2009 and is a live concert of Dylan when he was hardly known. His second album was about to come out so he plays a great list of tunes.
Iowa’s excellent debut album Never Saw It Coming is out now and available from Bandcamp and all good record stores.

NEWS: Dylan looks back with new Bootleg Series Vol. 9

Sony Music has announced details of 2 new Dylan releases before the end of 2010. The first and most interesting is the latest instalment in the Bootleg Series – Volume 9. Sub-titled The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 it will be released on CD and 4 LP 180-gram vinyl. It captures Dylan accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, harmonica and occasionally piano. All of the 47 original recordings on The Witmark Demos, were written – and their subsequent demos recorded – before Dylan turned 24 years old.

There are 15 previously unreleased Bob Dylan songs including the plaintive Ballad For A Friend the civil rights era-inspired Long Ago, Far Away and The Death Of Emmett Till and the poignant Guess I’m Doing Fine.


LP 1 – Side A

1. Man On The Street (Fragment)

2. Hard Times In New York Town

3. Poor Boy Blues

4. Ballad For A Friend

5. Rambling, Gambling Willie

6. Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues

7. Standing On The Highway

8. Man On The Street

LP 1 – Side B

1. Blowin’ In The Wind

2. Long Ago, Far Away

3. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

4. Tomorrow Is A Long Time

5. The Death of Emmett Till

LP 2 – Side A

1. Let Me Die In My Footsteps

2. Ballad Of Hollis Brown

3. Quit Your Low Down Ways

4. Baby, I’m In The Mood For You

5. Bound To Lose, Bound To Win

6. All Over You

7. I’d Hate To Be You On That Dreadful Day

LP 2 – Side B

1. Long Time Gone

2. Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues

3. Masters Of War

4. Oxford Town

5. Farewell

LP 3 – Side A

1. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

2. Walkin’ Down The Line

3. I Shall Be Free

4. Bob Dylan’s Blues

5. Bob Dylan’s Dream

LP 3 – Side B

1. Boots Of Spanish Leather

2. Walls of Red Wing

3. Girl From The North Country

4. Seven Curses

5. Hero Blues

6. Whatcha Gonna Do?

7. Gypsy Lou

LP 4 – Side A

1. Ain’t Gonna Grieve

2. John Brown

3. Only A Hobo

4. When The Ship Comes In

5. The Times They Are A-Changin’

6. Paths Of Victory

LP 4 – Side B

1. Guess I’m Doing Fine

2. Baby Let Me Follow You Down

3. Mama, You Been On My Mind

4. Mr. Tambourine Man

5. I’ll Keep It With Mine

Also to be released prior to Christmas is a 9LP box set (and CD) titled The Original Mono Recordings containing newly mastered mono versions of Dylan’s first 8 albums.

Bob Dylan – 1962

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – 1963

The Times They Are A-Changin’ – 1964

Another Side Of Bob Dylan – 1964

Bringing It All Back Home – 1965

Highway 61 Revisited – 1965

Blonde on Blonde – 1966

John Wesley Harding – 1967

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NEWS: New BOB DYLAN album due in April…


That’s right, he does tend to sneak up on you sometimes. Word on the interstreet is that Dylan will be releasing his followup to Modern Times in late April (yes, only 6 or 7 weeks from now!). The untitled album was recorded after Dylan wrote a track for the new Olivier Dahan film My Own Love Song and decided to leave the tape running while he recorded another nine songs.

Details are sketchy but we do know it has a border/cafe feel featuring alot of accordion.

Some of the song titles are:

  • I Feel a Change Coming On
  • Beyond Here Lies Nothin
  • If You Ever Go to Houston
  • This Dream of You
  • My Wife’s Home Town
  • It’s All Good
  • Sample lyric: “I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver / And I’m reading James Joyce / Some people tell me I got the blood of the land in my voice.”