In compiling our Top 10 Albums of 2020 list there’s no getting away from the fact that this year has been the pits. The Covid-19 pandemic has decimated the health, emotional wellbeing and finances of a generation.
And the music industry is no exception. Gigs have been cancelled, to adhere to social distancing. Albums have been mothballed and many, many musicians have been wondering where their next pay cheque is coming from.
For us at Neonfiller.com music reviewing has had to take a back seat as we focus on our day jobs. No gigs to go to has robbed us of some eye-opening new music in particular.
But amid the health crisis we have still managed to do our bit to support new music and releases when we can.
And its still been a great year for music for those that managed to get albums out or release them before the world shut down. Whether deliberate or not they have all ended up being the soundtrack to our year.
In addition, there’s been some inventive music and performances still being ushered out to our ears and eyes online by musicians amid the pandemic.
Here are our Top 10 albums of 2020.
10. The Sinclairs Sparkle
What an intriguing debut to emerge during lockdown from The Sinclairs, formed by Damned drummer Rat Scabies and Jesse Budd, aka Billy Shinbone, from Flipron and guitarist with Neville Staple’s band.
Ennio Morricone with a New Wave twist and added electronica. Read the full review here.
9. John Howard- To The Left of the Moon’s Reflection
The pandemic is inescapable across album number 17 from 1970s singer/songwriter turned 21st century indie artist John Howard, althrough it was written and production began prior to the health crisis.
Although unintentionally it provided us with a beautifully meloncholic look at life in our strange world of social distancing. Read the full review of this top 10 albums of 2020 here.
8. Seazoo – Joy
Sometimes, and this year has definitely been one of those times, you just want a good natured guitar pop album to enjoy. Joy, the second album from Wrexham based Seazoo, is definitely that kind of album. Ten songs in a breezy 33 minutes is, simply put, a joy.
As with lots of bands on this list we’d hoped to get to see the band touring the album this year, but hopefully they’ll be out on the road in 2021. Read the full review here.
7. The Orielles – Disco Volador
The Orielles are one of our favourite new bands, and we enjoyed them a lot at Indietracks 2019. Their second album, Disco Volador, was an album I picked up just around the start of the 1st lockdown.
It is a fun and eclectic slice of pop music that manages to be in equal parts dreamy and danceable. ‘Bobbi’s Second World’ is the stand-out single but there are plenty more tracks to enjoy here.
6. Mountain Goats – Getting Into Knives
Considering the world has gone to pot due to Covid-19, the Mountain Goats have been relatively prolific in terms of album releases this year. Fresh from releasing his DIY album Songs for Pierre Chuvin at the start of lockdown, John Darnielle’s troop are back six months later with this deserved entry into our top 10 albums of 2020 list, Getting Into Knives.
There’s some proper hits on Getting Into Knives. Get Famous is particularly marvellous with a fabulous chorus and superb woodwind and horns. Read the full review here.
5. Laura Marling – Songs for Our Daughter
A concept album written to an imaginary child – simple, stunning and uplifting in this troubled year, when family means so much more. It would be lazy to compare Laura Marling’s beautiful Song For Our Daughter to Joni Mitchell in her 70s pomp. But screw it. I’ll do it anyway. This is a downright instant, timeless classic, with its sweeping strings and shuffling drums perfectly accompanying Marling’s vocals.
4. Field Music – Making A New World
Field Music are a band that we have championed on this site for many years, and took top spot in our end of year chart for 2010. Making A New World is a fascinating addition to their discography.
It isn’t a straightforward set of songs, it is a concept album themed around the aftermath of the 1st World War. That means there are more instrumentals and short songs than you’d expect from the band, but there are also some big pop classics like ‘Money Is A Memory’ to enjoy.
3. BC Camplight – Shortly After Takeoff
Despite his clear talent and string of excellent albums it is unlikely that BC Camplight will ever become a household name. He was a revelation when we saw him at The Larmer Tree Festival in 2019. He’s never been lucky, and his excellent latest album being released during the year of Covid seems strangely appropriate.
Shortly After Takeoff is a sophisticated and emotional album, with enough humour to balance some of the more painful lyrical subjects. It is brilliantly played and contains as many musical ideas as you’ll find on any album released this year.
2. Eyelids – The Accidental Falls
Eyelids are one of the bands we have championed most since we first discovered them back in 2014. The Accidental Falls is a fascinating album in that it uses lyrics written by Tim Buckley collaborator Larry Beckett for all the songs and that really drives the musical feel of the record.
It is a real grower of an album and reveals a little bit more with every listen. You can read our full review of the record here.
1.Rolling Blackouts CF – Sideways to New Italy
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever already have a couple of fine EPs and a brilliant debut album behind them, but that doesn’t stop Sideways To New Italy sounding totally fresh. They aren’t doing anything new here, it is the same driving three guitar pop-rock we’ve come to expect, but delivered with enough verve as to sound like they’re just starting out.
They are simply one of the most exciting bands we’ve discovered in years and this album is just a string of single-worthy future favourites. They are also a great live band and we hope that they manage to come to the UK for their planned tour in 2021.
The top 10 albums of 2020 list is compiled by Dorian Rogers and Joe Lepper
Brilliant, thank you very much!