zaterdag 2 januari 2021

Wo.'s top 30 albums of 2020, Part 1

Yesterday I introduced the numbers 30 to 11 to you, with some talk about other albums. Today I present the numbers 10 to 1 to you. But first I'd like to focus on a few individual songs that really stood out.

To start, I'm introducing you to the Glasgow band Garlands. It hasn't released a full-size album yet. This year, over the summer Garlands released one song per month. Each one was special. Each one had a great chunk of pop in its alternative rock. All songs to sing along to that the world should be doing by now. Hence my attention to Garlands.

Bob Dylan dropped a 17 minute song 'Murder Most Foul' in spring. Nothing happens in it and no, I will not listen to it often, but it is so impressive. When I put it on, the old bard puts me under his spell and does not let me go until the final second.

On 18 December Aura Blaze released a new song with one of those titles that make we wonder what can it mean?, 'Trans-Dimensional Palm Tree'. Decades of influences come together in the song. In 7 and a half minute Rhode Rachel shows us the universe, hiccups and all. Everything you hear is Rachel playing and singing on his own.

As already mentioned yesterday, the world saw a new The Rolling Stones single and three old/new songs. That makes it four of five new songs in one and a half decade. That new album is still eluding us. The four news ones have made me quite content to be honest. All four made me remember why I like the band so much. Perhaps I have stopped playing its records regularly, the love has not gone away.

Of course there were a few songs that really stood out. The opening song of 'Every Bad', Porridge Radio's latest album, is 'Born Confused'. That song really, really got to me. It was like hearing 'Jacqueline', the opening song to 'Franz Ferdinand' or '(I Bet You Look Good On The) Dance Floor', the first Arctic Monkeys song I heard or 'Maestro' or Kaizers Orchestra for the first time. The same is true for 'I Am', the opening song on 'Black Foxxes' by the band of the same name. What a musical blast! Just like the first Wax Chattles song I heard, 'No Ties'. That sort of impact can still be achieved at a later age. It is a matter of opening yourself to new experiences. And then there's 'I'm Not Getting Excited' by The Beths topping them all. And all in one year!

Another well-deserved mention is for the string of singles Rum Bar Records released in 2020. A whole album by some of the singers and bands all at once may be a bit too much of a good thing for me, the singles are of the sort that can compete with the best of the past. The Hi End, Natalie Sweet, Freddie Dilevi, Muck and the Mires, etc., etc. You can find them all in the singles posts of 2020.

Enough said, let's proceed to countdown towards number 1.

10.  Shade Is On The Other Side. GIRL SKIN

Another album that without Erwin Zijleman I would never have gotten to know. The band thanks The Beatles in the liner notes and rightly so. Hardly a second goes by without me thinking about that band when listening and still this band is totally itself. A beautiful album, with beautiful songs and beautiful singing.

9. The All Is One. Motorpsycho

Another band with a subscription to the top 10 in the past few years. Another great album that shows all the sides of the experimental prog and sympho rockers from Trondheim. Full suits are played, West Coast pastiches and what not. On the four sides Motorpsycho showcases all its strengths. An extra point goes to the artwork as well.

8. Halluzinationen. Sophie Hunger

Living in Berlin now, Hunger comes with a new album that is a nice mix of her previous three albums. The combination works really well, presenting a strong set of songs in different styles that fit Ms. Hunger really well.

7. Reb Fountain. Reb Fountain

Close to a revelation Reb Fountain's album is. The power of her voice does not need anything else than a soft song, delicately played and sung. She dominates the whole in a splendid way. I simply love listening to 'Reb Fountain'.

6. Jump Rope Gazers. The Beths

Another album from New Zealand. The third in this list. Alternative rock like I like it played. Full of memorable melodies, great, surprising solo's and real songs. Jump Rope Gazers holds it all.

5. Hoogriet. De Kift

En natuurlijk staat De Kift in lijst. Met Hoogriet weet de band na 32 jaar zijn eigen lat nog hoger te leggen. Nog betere liedjes, nog betere harmonieën vokaal en muzikaal. Dit is zeer waarschijnlijk het beste De Kift album tot op heden.

4. Tragas O Escupes. Jarabe de Palo

All of a sudden after years of silence, there was a new album. It also turned out to be a swan song. Singer Pau Donés was terminally ill and died this spring. It is a goodbye to be proud of. Everything that made Jarabe de Palo a unique band comes together for a final time. Thank you for the music Pau Donés and band members over the years. It was a great trip, that started in an old factory gone disco in Salamanca 1997.

3. Mediocre, Brutal. Global Charming

What a debut. This album holds so much. Nearly every song holds some kind of twist, something strange, unexpected. It may sound odd but it always fits perfectly. In a way a time machine to the early 80s and yet totally 2020. A deep bow.

2. Everything Bad. Porridge Radio

With an impressive song like 'Born Confused' starting Everything Bad, what can go wrong with an album? Nothing. It isn't even the best song on the album. Everything Bad is really impressive and the starting point of a breakthrough in my opinion.

1. Rough And Rowdy Ways. Bob Dylan

And so a 79 year old, croaky bard defeats them all. With his latest album Bob Dylan surprised me fully, completely as I had not seen this impact coming in any way. No, more the opposite as I had basically lost my interest over the past two decades. And then Rough And Rowdy Ways is released. What can I say? A fabulous album by one of the greatest icons of folk and rock.


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