Andy Rench

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.

FACS – Void Moments

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.

Alabaster Deplume – To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals, Vol. 1

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.

Adrianne Lenker – songs

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.

Emily A. Sprague – Hill, Flower, Fog

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.

Jim White & Marisa Anderson – The Quickening

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.

Magik Markers – 2020

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.

Neal Markowski – Language Drifts II

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!

William Tyler – New Vanitas

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.

Microphones – Microphones in 2020

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.

Reissues/Older stuff:

Gillian Welch – Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs, Vol. 1 – 3

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 – Everybody’s Alone (1972 – 1973)

NEIL YOUNG ARCHIVES VOL II. SAY NO MORE.

 

But wait, there’s more!

Runner ups? Honorary mentions? Nope. EVERYONE’S A WINNER.

Imaginary Softwoods – Annual Flowers In Color

Contorno – Won’t Be Gone

Sam Prekop – Comma

Mary Lattimore – Silver Ladders

Lighthawk – Hope This Helps

Wowsa in Kalamazoo – Crown Shy

DOUSING – As The Streets Emptied

AMULETS – Severed Seas

Photo​-​Curio – Photo-Curio (2020)

The Left Outsides – Are You Sure I Was There?

Tre Burt – Caught It From The Rye

Stephen Strupp – The Rest Of My Time

Jeff Tweedy – Love is the King

Helena Deland – Someone New

Luluc – Dreamboat

Sonic Boom – All Things Being Equal

Hamerkop – Remote

Nashpaints – Blindman The Gambler

Ezra Feinberg – Recumbent Speech

Bill Callahan – Gold Record

Stephen Malkmus – Traditional Techniques

Eddie Chacon – Pleasure, Joy and Happiness

Jennifer Castle – Monarch Season

No Age – Goons Be Gone

Gillian Welch & David Rawlings – All The Good Times

Rose City Band – Summerlong

The Green Child – Shimmering Basset

Califone – Echo Mine

Zachary Kale – False Spring

Zelienople – Hold You Up

Nap Eyes – Snapshot of a Beginner

Steve Hartlett – Solitude for Dummies

Yo La Tengo – We Have Amnesia Sometimes

Widowspeak – Plum

Brigid Mae Power – Head Above The Water

Ana Roxanne – Because of a Flower

Andy Bell – The View From Halfway Down

Angel Olsen – Whole New Mess

Bendrix Littleton – Deep Dark South

Buck Curran – No Love Is Sorrow

David Nance – Staunch Honey

David Boulter – Yarmouth

Altar of Harmony – Luke Schneider

Elliott Smith – Elliott Smith Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition

Robbie Basho – Songs of the Great Mystery: The Lost Vanguard Sessions

Neil Young – Dume

Best of 2020