Best of 2020
Everybody loves a year-end music list, right? (WRONG — I’m guessing a lot of you actually HATE seeing these) BUT for those who are here for the music, here’s the releases from 2020 that I listened to a bunch and appreciated the most.
I listened to this album several times a day back in March when I had the ‘rona. It was was a fitting soundtrack for feeling sick, confused, and oddly liberated in a newly upside down world.
This album has such a wonderful blend of styles. The backstory of “Cy and Lee” is fascinating too — Deplume worked for a charity that supports people with disabilities. He’d make up melodies while working with folks, record them on his iPhone and then translate them to a full band.
Not much needed to say about this one. Easily my favorite of the year. A superb songwriter at the height of her powers making heartbreaking, intimate music.
I love both sides of Emily A. Sprague — as an experimental/ambient composer as well as her singer/songwriter mode (Florist). I take great inspiration from this duality of creative pursuits. This is a great example of her mastery at the ambient side of things.
Powerhouse duo right here. These two were meant to work together. The approaches to their respective instruments are surprisingly quite similar. Combined it’s something even bigger, more spontaneous, and intense than you can imagine.
I’m an idiot for not listening to Magik Markers and the work of Elisa Ambrogio before this year. Rest assured, this has been thoroughly corrected.
I listened to this album in full (is there really any other way to listen to it?) countless times while working “in the zone”. Thanks for this Neal. LONG LIVE THE LANGUAGE DRIFTS SERIES!
One of the modern masters of American Primitive guitar exploring deeper into textured, ambient soundscape styles. I love where he’s been going on these last couple releases and can’t wait to see where he takes it next.
Since the passing of his wife Genevieve Castree, I’ve really started to take notice of Phil Elverum’s work. Not that there’s really any reason to compare the two, but I always considered her the real creative powerhouse of the two. She was one of the greatest cartoonists of her generation as well as an absolute force as a musician. But since her death, Phil Elverum’s music seems to have a new purpose, intensity, and relevance. This album in particular is epic. It’s filled with sadness, joy, and introspection throughout a single long-ass 45-min song.
Gillian Welch is a national treasure. On top of an already super-deep catalog of great songwriting, she nonchalantly released three volumes of amazing tunes that somehow ended up on the cutting room floor. No filler or throwaways here.
NEIL YOUNG ARCHIVES VOL II. SAY NO MORE.
But wait, there’s more!
Runner ups? Honorary mentions? Nope. EVERYONE’S A WINNER.