Albums of the Year 2020

Compiling music lists is always a nice way to reflect on a year, so in keeping with tradition, here are my favourite records from 2020.

This year I’ve narrowed it down 10 and there is little between them to be honest. Recommendations from readers will be greatly welcomed.

10.Whyte Horses – ‘Hard Times’

Manchester psych-pop outfit Whyte Horses’ latest endeavor continues on from where 2018’s ‘Empty Words’, as they whisk us off to a land of blissful, dreamy psychedelia, sounding both familiar yet fresh. Ostensibly feeling like a mutating shape-shifting pop art project, ‘Hard Times’ feels like a mixtape with a difference. It isn’t just simply selecting tracks, choosing the running order, but  recording and producing a selection of much-loved songs while rounding up some of your favorite artists into the bargain. Sound like fun? That’s exactly what Whyte Horses have pulled off on their third record.

Listen in full here.

09. Aoife Nessa Frances – ‘Land of No Junction’

Aoife Nessa Frances’ debut album ‘Land of No Junction’ draws from an eclectic array of influences – ’60s psych-pop, offbeat folk, orchestral flourishes and flair for avant-garde – which sounds familiar yet fresh, as it meanders through ever shifting scenery that blurs the lines between dreams and reality. Frances’ smoky vocal is a constant and gripping, and no matter the ever changing environs –  waltzing beats, undulating groove,  rippling guitar lines, hypnotic organ hums or swirling psych or hazy blanket of fuzz – it is a voice that shines like a lighthouse amid a dense bank of fog. Land of No Junction is a serene, hypnotic and stunning debut (and one that could have been called Llandudno Junction). 

Listen in full here.

08. Khruangbin – ‘Mordechai’ 

Texan trio Khruangbin – Laura Lee Ochoa (bass), Mark Speer (guitar), and Donald “DJ” Johnson (drums) – are peerless sonic sorcerers and funky force of nature. Borrowing from a world of influences, theirs, and indeed third album  ‘Mordechai’,  is a colourful coming together of different sound, genres, cultures and era; there is funk, soul and hip hop, some Latin, Middle Eastern and Asian influences and a whole lot of beautiful psychedelia. It is an intoxicating brew, built on seductive grooves and mostly cool, calm and chilled vibes, offering either a zen-like sense of peace or funky, hypnotic groovy seduction – or a coming together of both. This is super chill, beautifully addictive and mellow, ‘Moredechai’ is a record to watch the sun go down.

Listen in full here.

07. Silverbacks – ‘Fad’

Irish post-punk outfit Silverbacks long-awaited debut album was worth the wait. Having patiently building a rep with superb single after superb single, there wasn’t too much doubt that ‘Fad’ would live up to its billing. Unspooling the ingredients of their sound is tough; there are touches of post-punk, art-rock, new wave and 90s indie to name but a few as tracks, built around a motorik rhythm and taut groove, rush past with a whirlwind of shifting multi-sensory sound as triple guitars attack. Lyrics are multi-layered and uniquely Silverbacks. There’s is a sound comparable to a place where parts Talking Heads, Television, LCD Soundsystem and Gang of Four can all coexist and flourish. A debut to remember.

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Oddnesse – ‘Hot Air’

We’ve been keeping tabs on Oddnesse for a number of years now, and has impressed at every given opportunity with a a slew of lush, dreamy and alluring indie-pop gems – ‘Are You Down’, ‘I Used To, ‘Donut Shop’ & ‘All American Lie’ instantly spring to mind.

For those of you new to the name, Oddnesse is the fruitful collaboration between musician Rebeca Arango and producer Grey Goon, two east-coast heads based in Los Angeles with a shared affinity for catchy hooks, heavy grooves and apocalyptic hypothetical – and demonstrating their propensity for the brilliant, Oddnesse is signing off 2020 in fine form with stunning single ‘Hot Air’.

With ‘Hot Air’ we find Oddnesse’s penchant for richly melodic and lavish indie-pop pushed to new and exciting levels. We are entranced by the dual powers of Arango’s melodic cooing and entrancing, propulsive groove, as a dazzling blend of glistening guitar-lines, choppy chords, shimmering synths and bubbling basslines create a beautiful, melodic and bewitching splendor.  A stunning way to sign off on 2020 and one that will be bobbing around your head all week.

Listen to ‘Hot Air’ below:

Total Rubbish – ‘Someone Else’s Dream’

Philadelphia trio, Total Rubbish, have garnered a serious rep for solid psychedelic garage rock gold throughout 2020 and culminating in debut EP, Triple Negative – a tour de force of psych-rock.

The trio are back with another single called ‘Someone Else’s Dream’. Lifted from the EP and much like the previous singles – ‘Honey Ryder’ & ‘What’s Your Damage?’ – it ekes out a sweet spot between forcefulness and ear for melody, coexisting in a sea of dense atmospheric tones and swirling riffs. ‘Someone Else’s Dream’ sees dreamy vocals float breezily above the buzzing riff, crunchy guitar, slo-mo swagger and rich melodic allure – and all bathed it a thick layer of fuzz and distortion. Yet again, the inappropriately named Total Rubbish have served up an irresistible slice of dreamy yet swaggering psych-infused rock.

Tune in to ‘Someone Else’s Dream’ below now:


Wilding – ‘Swipe Right’

Melbourne psych-pop purveyor Wilding – aka Justin Wilding Stokes – has charmed us with gloriously playful, jovial and off-kilter pop at every given opportunity and following a period of relative quietness, he is back with some life brightening music.

Infectious and jaunty cosmic psych pop is the order of the day with ‘Swipe Right’ – the third single from his new album The Death Of Foley’s Mall – as he leads us through the dispiriting pursuit of finding human connection through online dating amid lockdown. ‘Swipe Right’ is quintessential Wilding as it bops along an infectious groove, bouncing synths and bright syncopated guitars and hooks you could hang your hat on with melodic vocals floating above. It is a sweet and charming sound all wrapped with a delicious pop sensibility that will have you hooked from the get-go. This is irresistible pop eccentricity at its best and a timely reminder of Wilding’s boundless talents, and is an artist that merits such wider acclaim.

Listen to ‘Swipe Right’ below and if that floats your metaphorical boat, why not check out the new album The Death Of Foley’s Mall here.


Vanessa Anne Redd – ‘Dark Minds’

London-based British/German artist Vanessa Anne Redd is preparing to release her third album, Sweet Way Around, in the new year., and ahead of which, Redd has shared lead single ‘Dark Minds’.

As far as intros go, ‘Dark Minds’ is as fine as you could ask for. It sweeps into view with hazy, smokey vocals centre stage as it drifts and meanders along a languid and syrupy groove, aided and abetted by undulating bubbly bass and snare combo before shifting through the gears. The seductive grooves are complimented (rather than overwhelmed) by a surging swell of fuzzed-up riffs and crunchy guitars, with Redds powerful vocals matching the rising tide step for step. It is dreamy, seductive and languid yet ultimately rousing and anthemic by the close – an utterly stunning song.

Tune in to ‘Dark Minds’ below and keep the eyes and ears open for the new record come the new year:

CIEL – ‘All My Life’

CIEL are Brighton-based, Dutch dream-pop trio fronted by Michelle Hindriks.

Together, the trio concoct a heady brew of starry-eyed dream pop with shoegaze, psych and indie brushstrokes – demonstrated exquisitely by their debut EP Movement earlier in 2020. The trio are back with a brand new single ‘All My Life’.

It is another sumptuous single that marks yet further evolution of their dream-pop origins. Opening with a gently pulsing synth underpinning Hindriks’ dreamy tones as we are slowly enveloped by a woozy wonderland before a change of pace, as it surges atop bristling guitars and huge hooks to anthemic heights. It is still dreamy and richly melodic but there is a harder edge to it with CIEL striking a perfect balance between indie-rock and dreamy pop, synths and guitars, and power and elegance.

Listen to ‘All My Life’ below:

NANCY – ‘7 Foot Tall Post-Suicidal Feel Good Blues’

Based in the North East of England, NANCY have demonstrated an enigmatic talent with a propensity for audacious sonic adventures that are anything but conventional, and hot on the heels of the ‘Happy Oddities EP’ comes news of a brand new mini album ‘7 Foot Tall Post-Suicidal Feel Good Blues’, and we’ve been afforded the title track as a taste of things to come.

Inspired by all the bullshit he had to deal with getting picked on growing up, ‘7 Foot Tall Post-Suicidal Feel Good Blues’ is as wonderfully warped as anything NANCY has done to date. It’s dark, it’s stark and super catchy as it swaggers through a haze of fuzz with a super seductive glam rock era groove and stomping riff, and vocals unfurl with a drawn out warped drawl. Sounding like a warped record played on a dodgy turntable, this is a sleazy, stomping and groove ridden reminder of NANCY’s enigmatic talent and flair for the unconventional – perfect imperfection if you will.

With the 10 track mini album set for release on January 15, check out the title track below.

MÊL – ‘Cusco’

‘Cusco’ is the third single from Welsh outfit MÊL and marks their move from being collaborators to a fully formed “proper” band; they are Rhodri Owen, Morgan Jones and George Amor with help from Eryl (Pearl) Jones and contributions from musician/producer Llŷr Pari and poet Geraldine Mac Burney.

Inspired by a trip to the Peruvian city of the same name, ‘Cusco’ was recorded in September, as the freshly liberated outfit emerged from lockdown cabin fever, blinking into the sun. A mash of ’60s-leaning-psychedelia, pastoral folk and freewheeling exploration, ‘Cusco’ opens with a sunken bassline and off-kilter groove ushering us into a mystical atmosphere that feels revelatory and transcendent and as it reveals itself, a mesmeric hypnotic pattern emerges for the hushed and withdrawn vocals to thrive. The slowly plodding, off-kilter bass-line wanders at its own pace as if existing in its own space and time while mingling with hazy guitars that meld into the percussion while mumbling of words babble in the background. Taken separately, these components would make little sense but in tandem they hum sweetly.

‘Cusco’ is a real treat – listen to it below

Sprints – ‘Manifesto’

Sprints are Dublin-based post-punk foursome – of Karla Chubb (vocals/guitar), Colm O’Reilly (guitar), Sam McCann (bass) and Jack Callan (drums) – who together, create a raw, raucous and potent post-punk sound – one bursting with a ferocious blend snarling vocals, driving rhythms, meaty riffs, swagger and noise.

These aforementioned attributes are offered in spades on their aptly titled latest single ‘Manifesto’, a tenacious statement of intent. An early taste of their forthcoming debut EP of the same name, due in the new year, it comes exploding out of the blocks. A powerful stomping beat underpinning an assertive and meaty bassline rumble as raspy, fierce and fiery vocals come to the for before soaring high above the explosion of buzzing guitar, scintillating riffs and crashing drums. It is a huge, explosive and supremely confident anthem. Previous single ‘The Cheek’ was great but ‘Manifesto’ sees them kick it up to another level entirely – a simply stunning tune.

Don’t just take my word for it, listen to ‘Manifesto’ below:

Low Hummer – ‘Take Arms’

Low Hummer are a Hull quintet who do a fine line in wonderfully crafted post-punk meets indie-pop, sprinkled with synths, it is danceable and ridiculously infectious.

Having formed in 2019, Low Hummer have been indulging us with a steady stream of superb singles of the aforementioned ilk – and follow their excellent previous single, ‘Sometimes I Wish (I Was a Different Person’), with another agitated jam which takes the band’s sound to the noisiest level yet. Driven by a pulsing synthline and relentless bass, ‘Take Arms’ is a fiery rallying cry bursting with rebellious spirit as powerful raspy vocals duke it out anxious guitar riffs amid a sea of frazzled electronics. Where previously guitars have taken centre-stage, on ‘Take Arms’, they take a backseat to the synth/electronics for a relentless, pulsating Krautrock indebted end of days address. It is searing, passionate and raw – while a little dancey too – ‘Take Arms’ is their finest work yet.

‘Take Arms’ is out now through Dance to the Radio.