2020 has been the worst year in my living memory, of that there is no doubt. However, it has also been a year of unprecedented musical creativity. This has been the hardest list to compile as the sheer amount of excellent albums that have been released this year has been overwhelming. It has led to me having TWO albums in the number one spot as I couldn’t separate them. I have been really lucky to have reviewed some of these amazing albums this year. If you see an asterisk next to the album name select the picture to read my review in full.
10 – The Homesick – The Big Exercise
This is one curveball of an album. You start off in baroque sixties pop territory, almost Fleet Foxes and by the end of side B it feels like you are front row at an Idles gig! I lose myself in this album every time it goes on!
Key Track – Male Bonding
09/ Kiwi Jr. – Football Money
This one owes a lot to the Pavement sound but my god they do it so well. There isn’t a bad track on here. From the Brighten the Corners vibe of ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ to the Jonathon Richman influenced ‘Leslie’ to ‘Swimming Pool’ which sounds like a lost La’s track this album skips about like a toddler on a litre of Ribena! Utter happy happy joy joy start to finish!
Key Track – Murder in the Cathedral
08/Sweeping Promises – Hunger For A Way Out
This short sharp jolt of pop punk really caught my ears this year. Like a modern day Blondie crossed with The Strokes. From the strident title track to the more laid back ‘Blue’ this album keeps your attention throughout!
Key Track – Hunger For A Way Out
07/ Christian Lee Hutson – Beginners
This is an album of consummate song writing start to finish. The fallibility of the human condition is laid bare in track after track. No punches are pulled and you can’t help but wince from time to time. Behind it all are stunning folk tunes which will stand the test of time from the Paul Simonesque ‘Atheist’ to the confessional duet ‘Keep You Down’.
Key Track – Talk
06/ DEHD – Flower of Devotion*
I discovered this album fairly recently but it has rarely been off the turntable or the car stereo. My intro was the wacky video to the amazing single ‘Loner’. I immediately went and explored the album. All three members of the band turn in lead vocal performances too, which is unusual. The album has that heavy reverb Julee Cruise Twin Peaks thing going on coupled with heartfelt songs packed with interesting hooks and choruses !
Key Track – Loner
05/ EEP – Death of a Great Machine*
I am so so happy for Rosie and the band this year! They have produced one hell of an album and have received all round praise for it from every corner of the Shoegaze community and beyond. This album swept me off my feet in a big way. It’s an incredibly emotional listen which you cannot help but get swept up in. Just listen to ‘Hogar’ or ‘Can’t Keep Hurting’ to see what I mean! I have heard that album number two is being worked on which I am immensely excited about!! Roll on 2021!
Key Track – Hogar
04/ Hum – Inlet
This album, this band even, came right outta left field for me this year!
It was one of those lightbulb moments where you end up going and snagging all the back catalogue !!
The guitars on this are just ….. the definition of HEAVY! But the songs have that amazing balance of melody and mayhem that I like in a band!
Key Track – Desert Rambler
03/ Nothing – The Great Dismal*
I’ve been lucky enough to get early access to a lot of great music this year so I could write blogs on them. Bands and labels have been brill at sending CD’s, vinyl and tracks over early doors to allow me time to properly digest the music to write about it. Nothings people were super generous in giving the album to me a full month prior to release allowing me time to properly soak it up. The album was inspired by the first photo of a black hole and themes of universal collapse but the music on this album is jubilant! Every time I listen I come away elated and wanting to listen again.
Key Track – Famine Asylum
02/ bdrmm – Bedroom
Another album that landed this year with an instant appeal was the debut album from bdrmm. I covered the ‘ Reason to Celebrate’ single earlier in the year and knew from that something special was coming. I wasn’t wrong. This is a stunning debut for any band. Songwriting of the highest calibre coupled with a nailed down shoegaze aesthetic across all the tracks. It was that cohesive, seamless listening experience that has earned this band plaudit after plaudit. If this one has passed you by this year make sure you check it out.
Key Track – A Reason To Celebrate
So now we get to the number one albums for me this year. I judge how good an album is on how much time it spends on my turntable. I just can’t split these two. I adored them both so so much.
01/ Zoon – Bleached Wavves
First time I heard this band was the title track from the album. I couldn’t believe my ears. It literally blew my mind. I scrabbled around trying to think of ways to describe it. The name Zoon derives from the Ojibway word Zoongide’ewin which means “bravery, courage, the Bear Spirit” and aptly describes the inspirations for the project and the lovingly crafted first full-length recording from aboriginal songwriter, Daniel Monkman. In Bleached Wavves Daniel crafted a work of stunning originality, blending the dreamy and psychedelic sounds of shoegaze with the more traditional sounds of his heritage. I have honestly never heard anything like this before and this is only his first album.
Key Track – Bleached Wavves
01/ Laveda – What Happens After*
I first discovered Laveda whilst watching one of DKFM DreamGaze events which brightened our 2020 no end. They performed the song ‘Blue Beach’ and it absolutely floored me. The performance they gave was wholly captivating and the harmony singing was so on point !I chased a copy of the album down hastily and was so happy that Blue Beach wasn’t a fluke. Every track was well crafted, used unique soundscapes and choruses…. man they got choruses !! When you listen to this record it’s hard to believe it’s a debut. Greatness awaits for Jake and Ali (and band). I’ll be waiting patiently for what happens after.
Key Track – Blue Beach
To all my readers, have a wonderful new year when it comes and here’s to a much brighter 2021 for us all.