FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2020

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.

FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2019

DS Favourite Albums 2019

Another fine year of music (isn’t it always?!) and one where we found ourselves heading in multiple directions with the kind of things we were seeking out and listening to. From metal to ambient, electronic to country music – there were aural gems to be discovered across the musical spectrum in 2019. Here then are 50 of our favourite albums from the year. The ones that we returned to the most, the ones that made us think, shake our heads to in physical release, or records that cut deeply and wisely, in a lyrical sense.

50. Pitch Black – Third Light
49. Tyler, The Creator – IGOR
48. J Majik – Full Circle
47. Sunn O))) – Life Metal
46. Lankum – The Livelong Day
45. Caterina Barbieri – Ecstatic Computation
44. Amyl & The Sniffers – Amyl & The Sniffers
43. Ryley Walker & Charles Rumjack – Little Common Twist
42. Moon Duo – Stars Are The Light
41. Warmduscher – Tainted Lunch
40. Baroness – Gold & Grey
39. Pixies – Beneath The Eyrie
38. Lambchop – This (Is what I wanted To Tell You)
37. HTRK – Venus In Leo
36. Cass McCombs – Tip Of The Sphere
35. Tony Molina – Songs From San Mateo County
34. Beastwars – IV
33. David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights – Bobbie’s A Girl
32. Underground Lovers – A Left Turn
31. Mannequin – Pussy Patience
30. Big Thief – Two Hands
29. Underworld – DRIFT Series 1
28. Earth – Full Upon Her Burning Lips
27. Tool – Fear Inoculum
26. The Chemical Brothers – No Geography
25. Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury
24. Jamie Hutchings – King Hits & Goldfish Memories
23. Chris Forsyth – All Time Present
22. Orville Peck – Pony
21. Sean McMahon – You Will Know When You’re There
20. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
19. Justin Townes Earle – The Saint Of Lost Causes
18. Lost Ragas – This Is Not A Dream
17. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
16. Tindersticks – No Treasure But Hope
15. Big Thief – U.F.O.F.
14. Aldous Harding – Designer
13. Mark Moldre – Fever Dreams
12. Bill Callahan – Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest
11. Eilen Jewell – Gypsy

10. Leonard Cohen – Thanks For The Dance
9. Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Colorado
8. Skyscraper Stan – Golden Boy Vol. I & II
7. Jake Xerxes Fussell – Out Of Sight
6. Omni – Networker
5. The Felice Brothers – Undress
4. The Delines – The Imperial
3. Ian Noe – Between The Country
2. Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

  1. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains

An exercise in arch self-analysis, Purple Mountains poses as many questions as it answers. It’s both universal and nakedly personal. It’s funny and entertaining too. It’s also a faultless and highly compelling record and the towering pinnacle of Berman’s work.

 

Favourite Albums of 2014 (so far)

DS 2014July faves

2014bestcovers

In the obsessive tradition of music lists, here are the albums I found myself listening to and enjoying the most in the first six months of 2014. For a more comprehensive list of our favourite ’14 Americana releases you can head over to our other blog Post To Wire.

  1. Sun Kil Moon – Benji
  2. Little Bastard – Little Bastard
  3. The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream
  4. Hurray For The Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes
  5. Blank Realm – Grassed Inn
  6. Tiny Ruins – Brightly Painted One
  7. Robert Ellis – The Lights From The Chemical Plant
  8. Infinity Broke – River Mirror
  9. The Felice Brothers – Favorite Waitress
  10. Beck – Morning Phase
  11. Protomarytr – Under Color of Official Right
  12. East Brunswick All Girls Choir – Seven Drummers
  13. Wild Beasts – Present Tense
  14. The Men – Tomorrow’s Hits
  15. Real Estate – Atlas
  16. Mogwai – Rave Tapes
  17. The Horrors – Luminous
  18. Beach Pigs – Grom Warfare
  19. You Beauty  – Jersey Flegg
  20. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun

Chris Familton