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