Best of 2020 | Music

Another year in which pop music shifted even further away from skinny white boys with guitars. The most interesting music came at the intersection of soul, r’n’b, jazz and hip-hop, particularly against the background of Black Lives Matters. African pop also continues to produce a steady stream of exciting new stuff.

Brittany Howard. OK, so I accept that this came out at the back end of last year, but it sounds fantastic. Proper soul and r’n’b. One of the best soul albums of the last few decades.

Aksak Maboul. Even by my standards this came out of left field. Aksak Maboul were a 1970s Rock in Opposition avant rock band, who disappeared off the radar in 1979. They came back this year with a fantastic mix of Birkin/Gainsbourg French pop, blended with 70s Canterbury prog, and featuring members of Henry Cow. It shouldn’t work, but it does brilliantly.

Wilma Archer. He’s actually called Will, and comes from Newcastle.

Bab Bluz. Moroccan psych rock/blues. Not sure what instrument the lead guitar players uses, but it sounds awesome. Can you call someone a lead guitarist if they don’t play a guitar?

Moonchild Sanelly. South African future ghetto punk apparently.

Moses Boyd. The future of British jazz, and one of the most exciting young jazz talents anywhere

Nubya Garcia. Another fantastic British jazz talent.

Run the Jewels. Killer Mike was as famous this year as a political activist as a musician. A superb album

Algiers. Last band I saw before lockdown, great night at the Brudenell in Leeds

Cornershop. Still going strong, still making quirky pop.

Mountain Goats. Getting Into Knives was probably the nearest I got to a skinny white boys with guitars album. Still love them.

Luke Haines. Another year, another weird Luke Haines concept album, this one about the occult roots of the American space programme. Featuring Peter Buck from REM

Olafur Arnalds. I’m not convinced this was Arnalds best album, but in the midst of all the madness this was a welcome moment of peace

2 thoughts on “Best of 2020 | Music

  1. That Aksak Maboul completely passed me by – very much my sort of thing (and it appears I have a 2014 album by Veronique Vincent abs Aksak Maboul).

    My white Brit indie picks of the year – Islet’s Eyelet (‘Geese’ is the one to check out). Also enjoyed The Cool Greenhouse – LCD Soundsystem on a low budget, and from France, Sentinelle by Superbravo.

    This is the Kit has a new one out, but I don’t know if it was the right record for a lockdown, but it’s not grabbed me like the previous two.

    The one I couldn’t stop listening to was actually from 2019 but didn’t land in my house until 2020 – Andrew Bird’s My Finest Work Yet – ‘Bloodless’ was a track that crossed over with friends who normally play vintage jazz and soul, Trump’s America in the style of an early 70s state-of-the-nation album.

    1. I liked the Andrew Bird track, and I don’t usually like his stuff, although I can’t remember why. Geese was my favourite

      The album this year that really left me cold was Working Mens Club, which everyone else seemed to really rave over. Thought Cool Greenhouse were far superior

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