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Best of the Rest: Favorite Jams of 2020

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Good Lordy, did 2020 just blow or what?!


Truly awful by any conceivable standard.

So terrible in fact, that I gave serious consideration to skipping out on writing this article, just so I wouldn’t have to add the cursed 2020 moniker to the title.

I had also given deep pause to swapping out any and all reference of 2020 in favor of “the name that shall not be spoken” or something approximating it. The plausibly expensive copyright lawsuit aside, I’ve decided that we can take some of the power away from this accursed year by just sucking it up and talking about it.

Whatever, 2020. You can fuck right off.

The great musical irony of this whole dumpster-fire is that there were loads of most excellent records dropping all over the place. I mean, thank fuck ,right?!

Thank the actual Lord and Savior above (although this year alone might give even the most devout cause to question) that amidst this torrentially abhorrent year, a truckload of talent shifted memorable album after memorable album our way.

The rocket juice was really flowing, people!

Thanks rockers, we sure as shit needed you guys!

I mean, some years are too weak to even fake a list of favorites. Not this time. I went ahead and picked my 10 favorite records of the year and tossed a few memorable tracks from each release on the accompanying Spotify playlist, as is my way. That said, what are you so busy doing that you can’t check out a whole album, BTW?

Seriously, you’ve got nothing going on.

These aren’t ranked. No competition needed. That’s just silly. Just 10 of my most beloved albums released during (ahem…) 2020.

All 10 rule!

You’re welcome!

Donovan Woods: Without People

I love me some Donovan Woods. I mean, I LOVE this guy. It’s deep, people.

Man crushing all over the place. He’s currently on a streak of releasing back-to-back-to-back classic albums. With Without People he’s Babe Ruth calling out his shot.

Katie Pruitt: Expectations

The disgustingly talented Katie Pruitt was one of my great revelations this year. This record has a little bit of everything you need. She’s got a Brandi Carlile level voice and can play the fuck out of a guitar. This album holds on to these really cool breezy Fleetwood Mac moments contrasted against some of the most emotionally raw songwriting you’re likely to hear. Massive, massive talent.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Reunions

Nothing to see here – unless you care about songs written and sung by basically the greatest American songwriter living. No biggie! I wrote about this behemoth of an album earlier this year and asserted that this was his best front to back album yet. I stand by that. It really is!

Biffy Clyro: A Celebration of Endings

The mighty Bif has indeed stolen my heart and aren’t giving it back. If you are a fan of Rock and aren’t diving semi-regularly into the deep well of amazeballs concocted by these three Scottish gents, you just plain aren’t getting it done and might just have to settle with a lump of coal this year. Santa ain’t putting up with that shit, either.

Will Hoge: Tiny Little Movies

I’m relatively certain that Will Hoge and I are supposed to be friends. Drinking buddies even. His ascension to becoming America’s favorite liberal Southerner has been a thing of beauty to watch. I’m wearing my “wIll trade trade fascists for refugees” Will Hoge shirt as we speak. He’s probably the finest singer out there and this record will slay you.

Luca Fogale: Nothing is Lost

Always a fan of the Irish troubadour, and in Luca Logale’s case, the rewards are aplenty. This is a deft and sad album. So so gorgeous.

Margaret Glaspy: Devotion

This splendid record was my great companion over countless masked, sheltering in place-induced walks up and down the many hills of San Francisco. Actually, that’s kinda how it sounds, too. Special stuff.

Pearl Jam: Gigaton

As a from-the-womb Pearl Jam fan, it’s been a rough ask trying to defend (let alone enjoy) their last handful of albums. Now worries here, thankfully. This album is amazing in its diversity. As weird as it sounds, it’s actually a fun album to listen to.

Bob Mould: Blue Hearts

Professor Mould has been turning out loads of solo albums over the last few years. Which is great, although it has been getting a wee bit difficult discerning which is which due to their similarity. Gloriously though, this politically enraged offering stands out LOUDLY amongst the rest. Bob’s super pissed on this album, which is the way we’ve always loved him best.

Soccer Mommy: color theory

Sophia Allison really came to play on this one. The hype around this Nashville transplant is well deserved. She’s got a really sly sleight of hand thing going on. While this live feeling album is likely to appear often on many a year’s best list, it’s the quiet sad moments that really get me.

Link to Spotify List: