It’s coming to the end of the year. Not that it matters much with THIS year. But the calendar is going to be thrown out soon, anyway. Or it’ll just refresh when you click into it on January 1, since it’s on your fucking computer now and none of you keeps a paper calendar, you bunch of shits…but I digress (and apologize for coming out of the gate so hot by calling you a “bunch of shits” in the first paragraph).
Anyway…it’s almost time for me to post my top ten albums of 2020. I’m also readying a podcast episode that’ll be the same thing, so I’m not going to blog them before I put out that episode…but I will take a moment to acknowledge the big-ass pile of new stuff I’ve been listening to this year, nevertheless. I’ll do an actual “best of” post on the same day the podcast goes up, but the below contains the “also-rans” as well. Per usual. You’ve read the blog before, probably…you know how this works…you bunch of shits…
Here’s all the stuff I bought this year that was new and I’m assigning a letter-grade to each album. The letter-grade is NOT a guarantee that it will be on or off the top ten, of course. It is a grade based on what I EXPECTED based on the artist. Everything is graded on a curve. And so on. Let’s just get to it, huh?
In no particular order, here’s what I picked up this year–and I’m sure I’m missing a couple/few…and YES, some bands released multiple albums because everybody’s bored and can’t tour:
- …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – X:The Goddess Void – A-
- Drive-By Truckers – The Unravelling – B
- Guided By Voices – Surrender Your Poppy Field – B
- Childish Gambino – 3.15.20 – A
- Jason Isbell – Reunions – A-
- Taylor Swift – Folklore – A+
- Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts V – VI – C
- Laura Marling – Song for Our Daughter – A
- Lamb of God – Lamb of God – B-
- Rufus Wainwright – Unfollow the Rules – A+
- Guided By Voices – Mirrored Aztec – A-
- Michael Manring – Small Moments – A+
- HAIM – Women in Music Pt III – C+/B-
- Willie Nelson – First Rose of Spring – C+
- Alanis Morissette – Such Pretty Forks in the Road – B+
- Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways – B+
- My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall II – C…maybe?
- Drive-By Truckers – The New OK – B+/A-
- Bruce Springsteen – Letter to You – A+
- Bob Mould – Blue Hearts – A
- The Lees of Memory – Moon Shot – A
- Elvis Costello – Hey Clockface – C? (I’m not sure I even understand it.)
- Mountain Goats – Songs for Pierre Chuvin – A
- Max Richter – Voices – B
- John Petrucci – Terminal Velocity – B+
- Dream Theater – Distant Memories: Live in London – A–but ineligible because it’s a live album.
- Robert Plant – Digging Deep: Subterranea – A- but ineligible because it’s a compilation
- Pearl Jam – Gigaton – B-
- Mountain Goats – Getting Into Knives – B-
- Neil Young – Homegrown – A+ but ineligible because it’s an archival release.
- Neil Young – The Times – A+ but ineligible because it’s mostly new acoustic versions of old songs.
- Fantastic Negrito – Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? – C+
- Jayhawks – XOXO – C+
- Anti-Flag – 2020 Vision – C+
- Spinning Coin – Hyacinth – B+
- Potomac Accord – Let Me Get Lost – A
- Taylor Swift – Evermore – TBA – Too new.
- Guided By Voices – Styles We PAid For – TBA – Too new.
…and Ryan Adams has something out in streaming form right now that doesn’t come out in physical form until March…and also he still might be a sex-offender. So I’m withholding judgement. I’m pretty deeply conflicted about it. Part of me wants to say “If it’s good I’ll text every minor I know about it, just like Ryan would.” A bigger part of me wants to say, “I’ve had to overcome some demons too, and none of them were heroin, so I don’t know his struggle and maybe it’s amazing and addresses some of those demons and I’ll be all about it…” So…I’m waiting to buy it until it’s actually on SHELVES, and I’ll catch up with you in March when/if I’ve heard it…because God doesn’t want you to listen to streams. And also because I’m still not 100% sure I want to hear it and I’ve got to wrestle with that a while.
2020 also led to me correcting some blind spots and FINALLY becoming a fan of Tom Petty, Baroness, and Weezer. And there are singles out there by Aimee Mann, Michael Penn, and Demi Lovato that are worth your time.
There are also some I’ve missed that are on my “if I bump into it, I’ll buy it” list. And they’re In This Moment, Fiona Apple (I’m the only person my age who hasn’t heard it), Paul Weller, Margo Price (which I can’t BELIEVE I haven’t bought!), and Angel Olsen.
And I’m sure there’s more out there that I’m supposed to love, but that I won’t know about until next year or the year after that or the year after that or ten years from now or whatever…
But that’s the whole field that’s presently under consideration…you’ve got about a week to wait to see if you can guess who gets the top spot and who isn’t listed at all. And a week to text me or whatever to tell me what I’ve left off!
Blog ya’ soon…
- I’m DEEP into my yearly Peter Jackson/Tolkien Universe watch-thru. I started with the Hobbit movies and I’m presently watching Appendix #2 of the Fellowship of the Ring Blue Ray set. This is my happy place.