2019 was a year where I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am getting more and more out of touch with contemporary music. The less I know about Cardi B or rappers with Lil as a first name the better. But I’m okay with that. I’m in my forties so if I had the same tastes as a teenage girl and wore those skinny pants with the low crotches that make people look like they shit themselves I would look a tad ridiculous. That being said, some newer artists and bands caught my eye this past year, and I can at the very least appreciate their talent. Billie Eilish grew on me over the year, and I even think Post Malone’s new album is actually not bad.
This year I found I didn’t listen to as much music in my spare time as I usually have in the past, and didn’t find one album that automatically leaped out at me as the runaway album of the year. However, there were a ton of killer albums and EPs that made my ears happy. I tended to gravitate towards pop music more so than I have in past years so my list is pretty eclectic this year.
PUP put out an almost perfect punk album. Bad Religion and the Headstones showed once again that old farts can still outrock most of the kids. Bruce Springsteen released the cinematic Western Stars, appropriately accompanied by a stunning film. Charly Bliss released an album full of power pop songs that would sound right at home back in 1994 on The Wedge and Alternative Nation. Tegan and Sara literally went back in time to record a batch of tunes they wrote as teenagers. And sadly, one of the ‘90s biggest bands, The Cranberries, released a nice farewell to singer Dolores O’Riordan.
It was pretty much a coin flip to determine my favourite album of 2020. Jenny Lewis released the best album of her career, On The Line. Her sharp-as-a-tack songwriting and powerful voice has never been better, but Sturgill Simpson became a genre all unto himself with SOUND & FURY. With synths, disco beats, shredding guitar, and a super cool anime Netflix film to accompany the album, Simpson took a risky creative leap and ended up with the best album of the year. (Zac Brown could take some notes on how to change your sound and not embarrass yourself.)
For a taste of each album, check out my Spotify playlist featuring a track from each album.
Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!
- Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury
- Jenny Lewis – On The Line
- PUP – Morbid Stuff
- Bad Religion – Age of Unreason
- Headstones – PEOPLESKILLS
- Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
- Charly Bliss – Young Enough
- Tegan and Sara – Hey, I’m Just Like You
- The Highwomen – The Highwomen
- The Cranberries – In The End
- Jade Jackson – Wilderness
- Tyler Childers – Country Squire
- Taylor Swift – Lover
- Jimmy Eat World – Surviving
- Pixies – Beneath The Earie
- The New Pornographers – In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights
- Iggy Pop – Free
- Leonard Cohen – Thanks for the Dance
- Jesse Malin – Sunset Kids
- Mannequin Pussy – Patience
- The Dead South – Sugar & Joy
- Sheryl Crow – Threads
- Steve Earle – Guy
- Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
- Marshall Burns – Dogs and Booze
- The National – I Am Easy to Find
- Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell
- Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
- The Beaches – The Professional (EP)
- Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
- Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
- Del Barber – Easy Keeper
- Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride
- The Northern Pikes – Forest of Love
- Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
- Arcana Kings – Lions as Ravens
- Tool – Fear Inoculum
- Filthy Friends – Emerald Valley
- Volbeat – Rewind, Replay, Rebound
- Natural Sympathies – Porous