The year wasn’t great, but there were some great tunes along the way. Here’s some that were mostly new in 2020, but all pertain to it somehow.
21. American Aquarium – Me + Mine
2020 - one long lamentation.
20. Sturgill Simpson – Ronin, Remember To Breath, Sing Along, A Good Look, Make Art Not Friends
Mr. Simpson's two bluegrass albums this year are delights, but I listened to this side from Sound & Fury more than any of his other songs this year, drafting deposition question sequences.
19. Americans - Protesting
What's better than Americans exercising their First Amendment rights? Americans with musical instruments doing it.
18. Phoebe Bridgers - Kyoto
Life’s not all lamentations, fury and protests though, even in 2020. Here’s Ms. Bridgers’ wispy breakout, off her excellent sophomore effort, Punisher.
17. Gum Country – Somewhere
Pitchfork says; “The record is as ironic as it is fun, where goofiness is the answer to anxiety in the face of isolation and new beginnings.” I says, “Pitchfork is right.”
16. Bartees Strange – Boomer
15. Anti Flag – Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down
Looking for an anthem? A coda? A tattoo, perhaps?
14. (tie) The Strokes – Bad Decisions / The Killers – My Own Soul’s Warning
Heard both of these on @thenewkrml and, both times, thought I had somehow missed these songs from years ago, because they sound / feel so band-correct.
13. Old 97s – Bottle Rocket Baby
The Old 97s release a new album, a song goes on the list. Dems da rules.
12. Fiona Apple – Heavy Balloon
Fetch The Bolt Cutters is, and please forgive the technical terminology, amazeballs. This percussive hallucination is the tip of the iceberg.
11. Tyler Childers – Long Violent History
Looking to break some rules? How about centuries of systemic racism? With this (here) companion handy guide to being a decent human being.
10. Nathaniel Rateliff – And It’s Still Alright
If there’s a lullaby for 2020, this is it.
9. Bon Iver & Taylor Swift - exile
Wisconsin & Pennsylvania, coming through again.
8. Regrettes – What Am I Gonna Do Today?
Nathaniel has the one you sing going to bed. Lydia has the one you sing at breakfast.
7. Elizabeth Cook – Perfect Girls of Pop
If this is not a perfectly produced song, I don’t know what is.
6. Jason Isbell – Dreamsicle
Gonna cheat a little bit, and sneak in a couple other songs and marital banter that I find comforting, whilst 2,000 miles apart from my beloved.
5. Amanda Shires – The Problem
Devestatingly poignant, and more of that Shires/Isbell comfort.
4. Rhiannon Giddens – All You Facists Bound To Lose
Democracy rules, as does Woody.
WARNING – TISSUE ALERT
go get a box of Kleenex – you’re gonna need it for these next three songs
3. Brian Fallon – When You’re Ready
Off his quite fantastic Local Honey album.
2. Brand Carlile – Hello In There
You watch this and think nothing could be more genuine…
1. John Prine – I Remember Everything
… and then you watch this. America’s Poet Laureate, taken by this hellish year.
Be kind, stay safe, buy records, don’t stream them … and sing a little John Prine every now and then