SDE’s Best New Albums of 2020

SDE's Best New Albums of 2020

Six of the best from this year

Who has time to listen to new music? That might be a weird question from a music fan who edits a music website, but it’s a serious one. I work from home (so no commute to get those headphones on) and this year, in particular, has offered a million distractions, on top of all the usual ones (like the kids being at home for long periods, pretending to do their schoolwork and saying “can you make me some lunch” at 11.50am) and the obvious health concerns.

I remember working in an office of about 12 people in the early ’90s (the company was video/music industry related) and music was on all the time, often very loud! We’d take turns putting tapes or CDs on. It was like a badge of honour: “Yes, I may be on the phone to a client, but I can still do my job with that racket blaring in the background”. These days I tend to need a bit more peace and quiet if I’m trying to concentrate, especially with writing. It’s hard to choose words to write when someone else is singing other words into your earhole. I often opt for instrumental music to listen to, such as soundtracks and even some jazz (man).

Given that my main ‘job’ (after ten years, I’m still getting accustomed to the concept) is to focus on reissues and box sets, that’s another impediment to getting into new albums – I’m often just listening to old ones.

Despite all of that, I am of course still very interested in new music, although the fuddy-duddy truth of the matter is that I’m no John Peel, spending hours discovering and seeking out new artists. Probably like many of you, my new music consumption is largely anchored around familiar artists, with the odd exception. So with all the provisos and excuses out of the way… Here’s the SDE pick of 2020: Six new albums from six very different artists.

I really look forward to reading about what you have enjoyed this year, in the comments section (by the way, SDE reissues of the year will follow later this week).


Pet Shop Boys: Hotspot

Such were the trials and tribulations of 2020, Hotspot feels like it came out a lifetime ago, but it was actually released at the end of January, with a couple of physical singles extending its lifespan, like in the old days.

While I hadn’t exactly given up on the Pet Shop Boys, if pushed, I’ll admit I got to a point where I was still dutifully collecting and buying their albums and singles but not necessarily enjoying their output too much anymore. Perhaps I was not trying hard enough (although how ‘hard’ should it be?). I was just not overly engaged by albums like Electric and Super and the love affair that had started way back in 1985 was seriously waning. But along came Hotspot and, for reasons I’m still not entirely sure of, I was excited by their music, again

Lyrically, the record is very strong and lyrically, Neil is on top form. I like all the references to Berlin (where much of the album was recorded) and a relatively simple song like ‘You Are The One’ is lifted enormously by the verses and Tennant’s evocative narrative and delivery. ‘Hoping For A Miracle’ is Behaviour quality in virtually every respect, other than the production, with Stuart Price’s slightly compressed and ‘fuzzy’ sound lacking the purity and crispness of Harold Faltermeyer’s analogue beats. But that’s ultimately a moot point, since with Hotspot, the songs are largely great, especially the singles ‘I Don’t Wanna’, ‘Monkey Business’ and ‘Burning The Heather’ (all of which were issued physically and had excellent non-album B-sides).

Only the dubby, dumbed down final track ‘Wedding in Berlin’ is a serious misstep, but they’ve won you over by that point so all is forgiven and you can just leave the party early.

Read the full SDE review of Hotspot

Matt Berry: Phantom Birds

Better known by the wider public for his voiceover and TV work, Matt Berry is a fine musician and songwriter, and has been issuing albums on Eddie Piller’s Acid Jazz Records label for the best part of a decade.

2018’s Television Themes was a brilliantly executed nostalgia trip, but had the significant advantage of being full of music its target market was already very familiar with. Phantom Birds has to keep us interested via 13 original songs, all composed by Berry himself. Previous band, The Maypoles, are appear to have been handed their P45s, and on this record Matt takes care of all the instrumentation, other than BJ Cole’s pedal steel guitar and Craig Blundell’s drums. You might call the sound country-folk-pop.

There’s lots of acoustic rhythm guitar to accompany Cole’s pedal steel, along with unobtrusive drums and bass, and plenty of weird and wonderful opening lines such as “Like the tethered eagle, let me go free” (‘In My Mind’) or “The man who mows the field, take a bow” (‘Take A Bow’). With the possible exception of ‘Waving Goodbye’ – which stands out because it wears its late-Sixties, Byrds influence on its sleeve – the tracks do have a tendency to blend into one another, thanks to a consistency of sound and tone, but I actually quite like that. It simply makes Phantom Birds a true album listening experience; these songs feel like they belong together, almost need to be together to work individually. Their charms creep up on you slowly, in a controlled and steady manner.

Phantom Birds feels like music from another time. Something you might have found in your parents’ record collection in the late-Seventies. Many of the songs clock in at under three minutes and indeed the whole 13-track album is over in a tad over half an hour. Wonderful stuff.

Read more about Phantom Birds

Alanis Morissette / Such Pretty Forks in the Road

Alanis Morissette: Such Pretty Forks in the Road

Eight years since her last record, Alanis Morissette returned with a wonderful and deeply moving album. No celebrity collaborations, no marketing declarations along the lines of ‘this might be my last’ (see Sheryl Crow) , just a highly focussed record full of great songs with heartfelt lyrics.

‘Diagnosis’ is as honest and raw as Plastic Ono Band Lennon as it addresses postpartum depression, set to simple piano and strings. It’s all about self pity either, as Alanis recognises how such a situation affects friends and family [“All of you are so frustrated / And everyone around me is trying to help as much as they can”]. In ‘Losing the Plot’ Morissette decrees that she is “grieving the end of superwoman-ing” and the brilliant ‘Reasons I Drink’ adds some big hooks to proceedings.

An album that spends much of its time concerned with mental health issues such as self-loathing, despair, depression and bitterness might sound a bit bleak, but it’s not. These are remain accessible pop songs elevated by lyrics of truth and meaning, not weighed down by them. The melodies and arrangements are all of the highest order and the reliance on piano accompaniment gives Such Pretty Forks in the Road a classic, timeless appeal. Highly recommended.

Read the full SDE review of Such Pretty Forks in the Road

Paul Weller: On Sunset

Paul Weller just doesn’t do ‘bad’ albums these days (if he ever did). On Sunset leaves behind the autumnal, acoustic vibe of 2018’s True Meanings and opts for more variety and fun, as if someone has shouted ‘lighten up!’. Old Father Tyme has an almost hip-hop beat, the title track shuffles along a feel-good  summer’s breeze (punctuated by horns and strings), while ‘Walkin” is a stompy, Beatles-y piano-driven number.

There’s a joyful everything-but-the-kitchen sink approach combined with a pick-and-mix variety, but, ultimately, it doesn’t matter too much which clothes these songs wear, since the writing and the arrangements are so strong.Many tracks evoke the best of Weller’s early solo career and the cream of The Style Council. Even slightly ludicrous deluxe bonus track ‘Ploughman’ (“I am a ploughman and I plough my earth!”) raises a smile and would have made a fine B-side.

Ultimately, I think True Meanings is slightly better (I’m a sucker for the uniformity of style that album delivered) but now in his early sixties, the prolific Weller deservedly got to number one with this, his fifteenth studio solo album.

Read more about On Sunset.

The Psychedelic Furs / Made of Rain new album

Psychedelic Furs

Like many albums this year, the Psychedelic Furs Made of Rain was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That in turn then scuppered the big comeback show at the Royal Albert Hall and like virtually every artist out there (except maybe Kate Bush, who probably bumbled along, unaffected) plans for 2020 were in tatters. It was particularly unfortunate for the Furs, because they had recorded their first studio album in 30 years and it’s an absolute corker.

Richard Fortus and Tim Palmer did a fantastic job crafting the sound of the record. Every song has that satisfyingly dark underbelly and is enhanced by the rich gritty vocals of Richard Butler. Tracks like ‘Don’t Believe’ and ‘No-One’ are somehow both very immediate while having enough depth and creases to reveal hidden pleasures and reward repeated playings.

There’s just so many good songs on show, including the dark, frantic and slightly dreamy opener ‘The Boy Who Invented Rock & Roll’, the knowing ‘Wrong Train’ (Butler sings of “A wife that hates me / So does her boyfriend”) and my personal favourite the superb, regretful Ash Wednesday which is the album’s centre point.

A fantastic album, full of atmosphere and intrigue. It’s all wonderfully executed. Why did they wait so long?

Read more about Made of Rain

Fiona Apple: Fetch The Bolt Cutters

The cover of Fiona Apple‘s fifth studio album does a pretty good job of conveying the music within. Dense, quirky, ‘homemade’, a bit mad in places.

Despite all the US critical acclaim and Grammy nominations in the last 20 odd years, Apple has not enjoyed much profile or success in the UK (Fetch The Bolt Cutters was a UK career high, peaking at 33 in the albums charts) and my very late introduction came via ‘Container’, her brilliant theme tune to Showtime’s TV series The Affair.

The fact that Fiona Apple chose not to benefit from that show’s high ratings during its five-year run, by commercially releasing the theme song (or even allowing it on streaming services), tells us a great deal. She’s clearly focused on creative, not commercial success, something underlined by Fetch The Bolt Cutters.

The album is Apple doing exactly what she pleases and can be a pretty challenging listen. The rhythms are at times a right old racket, but rather endearing, and Apple’s voice is quite ‘dry’ in sound, seemingly deliberately under-produced and even mumbly at times. The whole individualistic approach evokes the mindset of that other female contrarian Kate Bush, and in particular her 1982 album The Dreaming, which people seem to absolutely love or not like at all (Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ gets a namecheck on the title track of Fetch The Bolt Cutters).

For all the dogs barking in the background and general clatter, the homemade feel belies a certain precision; there are a lot of layers, including vocal lines intertwining. The songs feel like they’ve been worked on endlessly. Elements added, taken away, reworked until everything is exactly as Apple requires.

The best tracks on the album are the ones that pair the rambling verses with a ‘proper chorus’, such as the title track and ‘Under The Table’. The former has a very funny lyric (“I would beg to disagree / but begging disagrees with me”) and the album generally has a defiant ‘I’m not gonna take any more shit’ feel to it, from a lyrical standpoint.

‘Ladies’ offers some respite from the din, driven largely by double bass, drums and Apple’s piano but I’ll be honest, this is a record that requires you to put the work in. But the rewards are there and at this point I’m still exploring and enjoying.

Read more about Fetch The Bolt Cutters

 Bubbling under: Elvis Costello: Hey Clockface, Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways, Haim: Women in Music Pt III, The Lickerish Quartet: Threesome Vol 1 (not an album, I know), Taylor Swift: Folklore.

234 responses to SDE’s Best New Albums of 2020

  1. Mark says:

    Nik Kershaws new album ‘Oxymoron’ is my album of the year.
    From first listens to the teaser EP These Little Things it was evident Nik’s New music was especially strong.
    Anyone thinking of dabbling in some new Nik, I strongly recommend this album…which contains orchestration on a number of tracks and some stunning use of tenor saxophone and other instrumentation from the Audio Network stable edited at Abbey Road studios as well as a broad variety of musical styles across 16 songs…(I can only find one I’d have relegated to beside status) and Nik is singing in fine voice…consistently great vocals, his best recorded vox imho
    A few highlights…
    From Cloudy Bay to Malibu….super catchy (won’t let sun go down on me vibes) pop song about a bloke traveling the world vicariously through his various alcoholic drinks as he drowns his sorrows from a relationship breakup.
    Can’t Go On…..superb reggae style track with stunning tenor sax which progresses from ‘sure, leave me, you’ll never manage without me’ to ‘I can’t live without you’ over 3 choruses….
    Lets Get Lost….this gem is pure joy and abandonment culminating in a jazz and classical fusion crescendo outro and ending
    Little Star…sublimely moving song from father to child,one of Nik’s best
    The Smallest Soul….dark track about a powerful persons downfall bringing others down with them…..with intense choruses and string ending
    The Wind Will Blow…like a modern day ‘Riddle’ melody in chorus about encroaching climate change .,.
    These Little Things.,..super poignant song about appreciating the little moments in life .,warm and life affirming with a melancholic edge and choruses to give you goosebumps.
    happy new year!

    • Mark says:

      Should read….’and other instrumentation from the Audio Network stable RECORDed at Abbey Road studios…’

  2. The Thorn says:

    I gave ‘Hotspot’ a few listens since last week and I understand everyone’s aversion to “Wedding in Berlin”. As an instrumental it’s passable but, with vocals, it has a kitschy/corny vibe to it akin to some of the stuff on ‘Bilingual’.

    Eek. oO

    It’s hardly the PSB’s worst song, but it’s a good thing that the album isn’t all like this. That said, this one side, I very much like ‘Hotspot’. I still think that PSB are faring much better than their peers have in the last two decades.

  3. p britten says:

    Hello Paul,

    Thank you for this review of your favorite new records of 2020. Very honest and illuminating, as always. I will have to check out Matt Berry. Didn’t know him.

    I own eight of the eleven albums you mention (counting the ones « bubbling under »), but I’m ashamed to say Hotspot is the only one of these I listened to regularly during the year. It’s definitely a grower, and maybe I’m not enough of a PSB expert, but I really don’t understand what the bitching towards I Don’t Wanna, Monkey Business or Happy People is all about. Me, I love every track on it, including the Wedding song. I also listened to Rough and Rowdy Ways a few times. I like it a lot, actually. Dylan’s lyrics are better than ever, funny and full of strokes of inspiration (though the dylanologists & scholars on the Net have long ago established they’re all based on the Bible or some Shakespeare’s sonnets), and this is perhaps his best album since Time Out of Mind or Love and Theft, but, I don’t know… Sometimes, I get tired of the mental contortions I must impose on myself in order to create a parallel universe in which I can safely pretend Bob’s voice, or Paul McCartney voice for that matter, is not totally f**ked up and dead, but just « superbly weathered », to quote Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone magazine’s official Beatles/Taylor Swift cheerleader. And speaking of Taylor Swift, am I the only one to find her two Covid-19 albums a little bit boring and soporific, in the « indie beige » style she kind of borrowed from the National and/or Bon Iver (besides being waaaaay too long, at 67 minutes [Folklore] and 69 minutes [Evermore])? Well, I guess I am, since everybody else seem to love them. Sorry to be so negative. Didn’t intend to rain on anybody’s parade, I swear.

    As for Costello and Fiona Apple, there’s no denying Clockface and Fetch the Bolt Cutters are both admirable and wildly daring albums. I long for the day I will be brave and sophisticate enough to listen to them a second time.

    Anyway, here are, in no particular order, the new albums that contributed to keeping me awake and half-alive in 2020 :

    – Shopping : All or Nothing
    – Drive-By Truckers : The Unraveling and The New OK
    – Lori McKenna : The Balladeer
    – Guided By Voices : Surrender Your Poppy Field and Mirrored Aztec
    – Mara Tremblay : Uniquement pour toi
    – Rolling Blackouts C.F. : Sideways to New Italy
    – Brendan Benson : Dear Life
    – The Strokes : The New Abnormal
    – Bob Mould : Blue Hearts
    – Old 97’s : Twelfth

    But to be frank, I mostly listened to old and not-so-old power pop albums : Sloan, Dwight Twilley Band, Nada Surf, Pernice Brothers, Teenage Fanclub, Shoes, World Party, Material Issue, the Records, Paul Collins, anything with melodies and harmonies and a good beat. (It was not exactly the kind of year in which one felt compelled to immerse himself or herself in Leonard Cohen or Nick Cave’s catalogue, was it?) And thanks to the Armed Forces 33 1/3 section of Elvis Costello’s web site (where he talks about the influences behind every song on that record), I rediscovered Cheap Trick’s second long-player, In Color. What a great pop album it was. Sounds as good today as in 1977 IMHO.

    And Reggae, too. Reggae never fails to put a smile on my face. My current fave is Arkology, Lee Scratch Perry’s 3-discs retrospective from 1997. And the Beach Boys, of course. I almost consider their music as therapeutic. Four years ago, after my wife died, I couldn’t listen to anything else. Every night, I loaded my multi-disc CD player with the Good Vibrations box set and I watched the NHL play-offs on TV with the sound off. It was no miracle cure, but it helped chasing the black clouds away. I hope the long-awaited compilation of their early seventies stuff will finally be released in 2021.

    Going through the Comments section of your site, Paul, is often an instructive ride, and I was really surprised to learn Ryan Adams has a new album out. I know the guy has a (probably well deserved) bad reputation and has been facing abuse allegations from his ex-wife, but I think he’s made some great records in the past, such as Heartbreaker, Gold, Love Is Hell Parts I & II and Cold Roses. So, that’s another thing to look forward to… And I had no idea Close Lobsters still existed. I have Foxheads Stalk This Land on vinyl and Headache Rhetoric on cassette, and if their new one is half as good as these, I can’t wait to hear it.

    O.K., I’ll stop babbling now. Here’s hoping 2021 will be a good one for everybody and his sister.

  4. Jarmo Keranen says:

    I bought oldies but goldies in 2020. Only newer one was Joel Paterson’s cd which was released 2019. New cd’s that was released in 2020 AC/DC is the only one that i may buy . Here’s the cd’s i bought in 2020:
    Ronnie Lane: Just For A Moment (6 discs)
    Focus: 50 Years Anthology 1970-76 (11 discs)
    Michael Nesmith: Songs (12 discs)
    Fleetwood Mac: 1969 To 1974 (8 discs)
    Whitesnake: Little Box ‘O’ Snakes (8 discs)
    Bachman-Turner Overdrive: Classic Album Set (8 discs)
    Bob Marley & The Wailers: The Complete Island Recordings (11 discs)
    John Mayall: The Diary Of A Band (2 discs)
    Rico: Man From Wareika (2 discs)
    Joel Paterson: Let It Be Guitar

  5. Andy Haines says:

    I’ve not purchased many new albums over 2020. Possibly only Nothing But Theives Moral Panic, but if it wasn’t for SDE Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters would have passed me by! What an album that requires attention when listening. I’ve only listened via YouTube, but I’m going to purchase this when finances, (and wife), allow it! Thanks for pointing me to it!

  6. Joe Donato says:

    My Top 5 ( I admit that all of my new music purchases are from older established artists). I believe the “newest” artist I have in my collection is Alabama Shakes, and its been years since they put out anything.

    1) Bruce Springsteen – Letters To You
    2) Pearl Jam – Gigaton
    3) Pretenders – Hate For Sale
    4) Bob Dylan – Rough And Rowdy Ways
    5) AC/DC – Pwr Up

  7. Jan G. says:

    1. Róisín Murphy – Róisín Machine
    2. The Jacques – The four five three
    3. Marc Almond – Chaos and a dancing star
    4. Azucar Moreno – El Secreto
    5. Sebastien Tellier – Domesticated
    6. KEiiNO – OKTA
    7. Shirley Bassey – I owe it all to you
    8. Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot
    9. Kylie Minogue – Disco
    10. Bettye Lavette – Blackbirds
    It’s a list.

  8. Stan Stanton says:

    Thought Dylan’s album was the clearly the one masterpiece of 2020. As much as I dig Weller, On Sunset was the biggest disappointment of the year. Macca’s album is quite atrocious and a lot of people are going to start admitting the same soon after the initial enthusiasm wears off. My top albums of the year are:
    2.Jeff Tweedy.Love is the King
    3.Rose City Band. Summerlong
    4.Jack Name.Magic Touch

  9. Michael says:

    My two favourite albums for 2020 are Paul Weller “On Sunset,” and most recently, Taylor Swift “Evermore.”

    I was hoping McCartney III would also be included in my list. And although I’m happy for Paul McCartney gaining the number one spot in the U.K., I was wishing McCartney III as a whole, would surprise listeners with a more ambitious and emotionally revealing set of songs that ventured beyond sweet contentment and life-on-the-farm. Then again, maybe that’s exactly where Sir Paul McCartney is at during this stage of his life. Well, God bless him.

    Anyway, Happy New Year to you and your family, Paul. Hope 2021 is better for everyone!

  10. Beechlander says:

    Have enjoyed building my vinyl and CD collections over the course of 2020, visiting the brilliant SDE site and listening to a huge amount of music (mostly from yesteryear).

    My 2020 nominations:
    –New Category–
    Richard Norris “Elements”
    Eartheater “Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin”
    –Archive Category–
    Bowie “I’m only Dancing Soul Tour” and the “Is It Any Wonder?” EP
    –Boxset Category–
    Ultravox “Vienna”
    Clannad “In a Lifetime”
    Richard/Linda Thompson “Hard Luck Stories”

  11. wesley mc dowell says:

    I really enjoyed new albums by Fish,Its Immaterial,Nik Kershaw,Pretenders,John Foxx,Pure Reason Revolution ,Deacon Blue,Blancmange ,Tim Bowness,Bruce Springsteen and Mark Kelly(Marillion).But my two faves are by Empathy Test and Tiny Magnetic Pets both could be described as Electronic Pop . Monsters by Empathy Test has real emotional depth and some truly outstanding songs .While Blue Wave by Tiny Magnetic Pets is a refined mood piece playing to the band’s strengths and further enchancing their sound.Both can be found on BandCamp and are worthy of any post Christmas money you may still be in possession off !!

  12. MüllerMüller says:

    Old Men First – my top list:
    1 Bruce Springsteen
    2 Bob Dylan
    3 Paul McCartney
    4 Pet Shop Boys
    5 The Weeknd
    6 AC/DC
    7 Taylor Swift (both albums)
    8 Beck
    9 Gorillaz
    10 Haim
    11 Pretenders
    12 Marilyn Manson
    Best re issue
    1 PRINCE
    2 Tom Petty
    3 TFF
    Best wishes for 2021 – Rock On

  13. Tim Barton says:

    In no particular order:
    On Sunset-Paul Weller
    A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip-Sparks
    Songs for the General Public-The Lemon Twigs
    Disco-Kylie Minogue
    McCartney III-Paul McCartney
    The New Abnormal-The Strokes
    The Slow Rush-Tame Impala
    Rough and Rowdy Ways-Bob Dylan
    Pick Me Up Off the Floor-Norah Jonep
    I Am Not a Dog On Your Chain-Morrissey
    Beyond the Pale-Jarv Is

    Bubbling under:
    The Song Machine-Gorillaz
    Shadow of Fear-Cabaret Voltaire

  14. Dave H says:

    I don’t thi k it has been a classic year for new releases or special editions as Covid issues clearly affected output in many areas.

    However there were some very good 2020 releases.

    New albums:
    Nobody Lives Here Anymore – Cut Worms
    Rough and Rowdy Ways – Bob Dylan
    Bare as Bone, Bright as Blood – The Pretty Things
    XOXO – The Jayhawks

    Lola… – The Kinks
    The Focus 50th Anniversary set
    New York – Lou Reed
    The Secret Migration – Mercury Rev
    Gimme Some Truth – John Lennon

    Flaming Pie – Paul McCartney, while nicely produced dropped out of the awards because of greed. I think marketing shenanigans also adversely affected the reception of the new album too with its ridiculous number of formats. Not cool. I am glad he got a number 1 album but this was not the way to achieve it.

    SuperDeluxeEdition bargain of the year:
    Bob Marley box set


    A Place In The Sun – Jason Crest
    How Sweet To Be An Idiot – Neil Innes
    July – Complete Recordings

  15. Eric says:

    My personal Top 10 for 2020:

    1. Rumer “Nashville Tears”
    2. Lara Marling “Song For Our Daughter”
    3. Pet Shop Boys “Hotspot”
    4. Jeanne Added “Air”
    5. Agnes Obel “Myopia”
    6. Shirley Collins “Heart’s Ease”
    7. Sparks “A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip”
    8. Lana Del Rey “Violets Bent Backwards”
    9. Bill Fay “Countless Branches”
    10. Jonathan Wilson “Dixie Blur”

    Ring out the old, ring in the new!
    A happy new year to all SDE obsessives and especially to Paul who feeds us daily with our drug of choice!

  16. Simon Clarke says:

    Here’s my pick of the pops 2020:

    Biffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings
    JARV IS… – Beyond The Pale
    Willie J Healey – Twin Heavy
    Working Men’s Club – Working Men’s Club
    Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter
    Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
    Field Music – Making A New World
    Macca – McCartney III
    The Waterboys – Good Luck, Seeker
    EOB – Earth

  17. Tracey says:

    Some of my favorite new releases/music of 2020 were:

    David Bowie – i’monlydancing(thesoultour74)
    Christine and the Queens – La Vita Nuova
    Elvis Costello – Hey Clockface
    Cults – Host
    Day Wave – Crush
    Destroyer – Have We Met
    Men I Trust – Forever Live Sessions
    Morrissey – I Am Not a Dog On a Chain
    Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot
    Sylvan Esso – Free Love
    Tycho – Simulcast
    Paul Weller – On Sunset
    Washed Out – Purple Noon
    Wild Nothing – Laughing Gas
    Wolf Parade – Thin Mind
    Young Ejecta – Ride Lonesome

  18. Toast says:

    Psychedelic Furs – Made of Rain
    Loma – Don’t Shy Away
    Yaeji – What We Drew
    Fotocrime – South of Heaven
    Too Free – Love In High Demand
    Working Men’s Club – Self titled
    Greg Dulli – Random Desires
    Beabadoobee – Fake It Flowers
    Depeche Mode – Live Spirits
    L.A. Witch – Play With Fire

    Masumi Hara – 4 x A Dream
    Rowland S. Howard – Teenage Snuff Film
    The Beloved – Where It Is AND Happiness
    Momoko Kikuchi – Adventure
    Tom Petty – Wildflowers and All the Rest
    Prince – Sign o’ the Times
    OXZ – Along ago: 1981-1989
    Tears for Fears – The Seeds of Love
    The Fall – The Frenz Experiment
    The Pogues – BBC Sessions 84-86

    Tim Burgess – I Love the New Sky
    Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot
    David Bowie – ChangesNowBowie
    V/A – Bob Stanley presents 76 in the Shade
    A Certain Ratio – Loco

    Bob Mould – Blue Hearts (sorry, lifelong fan and it’s not a bad album but: the production is so muddy, there’s too many three chord thrashers and surely I’m not the only person to notice that “Racing to the End” is identical to “Argos” from 2009’s excellent Life and Times album?)

    Only, I think, one mention of Khraungbin despite the press / sales they’ve had this year.

  19. Melvin Welters says:

    Roísín Murphy – Roísín Machine.
    Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot.
    Kelly Lee Owens – Inner Song.
    Various Artists: Total 20 (Kompakt label).
    JARV IS: Beyond The Pale.
    Also worth mentioning were albums by The Orielles, Foals (3LP of remixes), Travis, GoGo Penguin, Tame Impala and the Working Men’s Club.

  20. Jeff G. says:

    Guided by Voices – Surrender Your Poppy Field
    Field Music – Making a New World
    AngelHeaded Hipster: The Songs of Marc Bolan and T. Rex (various artists, produced by Hal Wilner)
    Elvis Costello – Hey Clockface
    Bob Mould Band – Blue Hearts
    Anthony Pirog – Pocket Poem
    Terry Allen – Just Like Moby Dick
    Lees of Memory – Moon Shot
    Bebopalula – s/t
    Tim Motzer – Inside

  21. Jozek says:

    My favourite albums of 2020:

    1. Working Men’s Club “Working Men’s Club”
    2. Jóhann Jóhannsson “Last and First Men”
    3. Bdrmm “Bedroom”
    4. Morphology “Horta Proxima”
    5. The Orb “Abolition of The Royal Familia”
    6. The Residents “Metal, Meat & Bone”
    7. Max Richter “Voices”

    Happy New Year everyone

  22. Uncle Meat says:

    Here are some albums worth mentioning.

    Best in 2020:
    Khruangbin: Mordechai
    Alanis Morissette: Such Pretty Forks In The Road
    Bob Dylan: Rough And Rowdy Ways
    Frank Zappa: The Mothers 1970
    Joe Satriani: Shapeshifting

    Bubbling under:
    Frank Zappa: Halloween ’81 Live At The Palladium
    Deep Purple: Whoosh!
    Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets: Live At The Roundhouse
    Ozric Tentacles: Space For The Earth

    • Musicmacca says:

      Hadn’t bought a Deep purple album since 1984 but heard Whoosh! And couldn’t believe it.
      One of the best albums they have ever done (and without Mr Blackmore ).

  23. The Thorn says:

    It’s funny… it seems that, unlike a lot of people here, and unlike their peers, I find that the Pet Shop Boys have only gotten more appealing in recent years.

    I loved their early output (‘Behaviour’ remains my favourite!), but there was a period where they weren’t doing anything for me (ex: ‘Release’ bores me to tears).

    They’re far more consistent now and, aside for ‘Elyzium’ (which I never took to, with or without vocals), I’m always enjoying their new offerings.

    ‘Electric’ was stunning – I got so much replay value out of that one. And, ‘Super’, though a bit ironic (like ‘Exciter’ for Depeche Mode) has a stellar second half.

    I’m only now getting to ‘Hotspot’ and, unsurprisingly, I very much like what I hear. :)

  24. Foxee says:

    I’d go for (in no particular order):

    1. I Am Not a Dog…. Morrissey
    2. Mindset – Blancmange
    3. Revel in the Drama – Rene Harvieu
    4. The Universal Want – Doves
    5. A Steady Drip, Drip – Sparks
    6. Manchester Calling – Paul Heaton & Jackie Abbott

    Reissue of the year has to be Sheep Farming in Barnet – Toyah
    Boxset of the year – Our History – Shakespears Sister

    Biggest disappointment of the year – ongoing delay to new Abba album!

  25. Jorje Chica says:

    I’m at that stage/age where I don’t buy new music much anymore, just old stuff I never got to begin with and reissues. Happily accepting my old man curmudgeon status. Of the four (!) new records I bought this year, only two really stand out:

    Luke Haines and Peter Buck, Beat Poetry for Survivalists
    Jar Is, Beyond The Pale

  26. Daniel says:

    This has been a tough year in so many ways, but there was a lot of great music released this year! Here are my top 22. These are in no particular order, except for the top 3. Those are my absolute favorites that I can’t stop listening to.

    1) Something for Kate – The Modern Medieval (Australian trio’s first new album in 8 years is a new masterpiece!)
    2) Eyelids – The Accidental Falls (Gorgeous album from Portland heroes with lyrics by Larry Beckett)
    3)Psychedelic Furs – Made of Rain (Long anticipated album that does not disappoint)
    4) We Are Who We Are (Orig HBO Series Soundtrack includes Prince, Klaus Nomi, Blood Orange, Radiohead, …)
    5) Faithless – All Blessed
    6) Nothing – The Great Dismal
    7) Sparks – A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
    8) Roisin Murphy – Roisin Machine
    9) Nada Surf – Never Not Together
    10) Pylon – Box (Amazing new box set!!)
    11) Fontaines DC – A Hero’s Death
    12) James – Live in Extraordinary Times
    13) The Twilight Sad – It Won’t Be Like This All the Time Live
    14) Washed Out – Purple Noon
    15) X – Alphabetland
    16) Jarv Is – Jarv Is (Jarvis Cocker)
    17) Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
    18) Nina – Synthian
    19) Cheap Trick – Out to Get You! Live 1977
    20) Kelly Jones – Don’t Let the Devil Take Another Day
    21) Love Tractor – Love Tractor (debut album remastered)
    22) Magic Shoppe – Live in London

  27. DJ Salinger says:

    Five of my best from 2020:

    All the energy of Savages and then some crammed into less than 39 powerful, fat-free minutes. By turns pulverisingly brutal and heartstoppingly tender (sometimes in the same song). She’s one of those artists who still carries a torch for the the album as a thoughtfully structured, holistic experience and not just a random selection of tracks. And I get the distinct impression her best is yet to come.

    Four albums in and her musical partnership with Ben Hillier is really hitting its stride. Confident, slinky, defiant and angry; to these ears a journey that carries traces of territories marked ‘Siouxsie’ and ‘Tom Waits’… by way of Tyneside.

    An intimate, brooding grower that repays time spent. She seems to channel the dark, despairing energy of late-period Scott Walker but still finds some light in the dark. Just about. How very 2020, eh?

    Handmade, pastoral and largely instrumental, this little gem was a welcome, soothing soundtrack for lockdown gardens and clear summer skies eerily devoid of aircraft. Pandemic hauntology, anyone?

    Outrageously neglected in end of year polls (‘Uncut’ mag: you’re fired) this one arrived a mere 29 years later than planned. The obstacle-strewn tale of its gestation is worthy of that Greek bloke Sisyphus but thankfully messrs Jarvis and Whitehead persevered. The result is subtly ravishing from beginning to end; beautifully recorded and standing proud in their small but perfectly formed catalogue. Blue Nile fans are advised to check out ‘Up On The Roof’ immediately – a swooning tribute to a lost love and lost times. Their next LP should arrive just as my kids dump me in a nursing home in 2050. Hurrah.

    • GTR says:

      ‘Up On The Roof’ could be my track of the year. Like a bar of Galaxy in music form. I wonder if they don’t have enough record company support to get the press to pay attention anymore. A shame as it’s such a great album with a good backstory to its creation.

  28. CosmoCastanza says:

    Thanks for the reviews and all your fine work throughout the year Paul.

    I lost my hearing for the last 3 months of the year , so I read reviews and hungered for music but stopped buying anything …..there seemed little point , it was rather depressing.

    Fortunately it has all but returned in the last 2 days ……I won’t ever take it for granted again.
    I have a lot of catching up to do , started today with the Psychedlic Furs .

  29. David J says:

    Only one choice for me:

    Camelphat – Dark Matter Triple vinyl

    Breathe, Panic Room, Cola and Be Someone already released plus collaborations with Noel Gallagher

  30. Richard S says:

    Sadly (?) most of the stuff I have bought this year has been reissues, but mostly of stuff I didn’t already have before, so it’s new to me or not something I originally had.

    New stuff would be mostly synth stuff:
    Empath Test – Monsters
    Linea Aspera – II
    Battery Operated Orchestra – Yesterday Tomorrow And You
    Krakow Loves Adana – Darkest Dreams
    Tiny Magnetic Pets – Blue Wave

  31. Michael Baether says:

    I’m not biased but my personal highlights of 2020 are
    album: Bob Mould “Blue Hearts”
    boxset: Bob Mould “Distortion 1989-2019”

  32. Bruce Nicholson says:

    Happy new year to you Paul and all readers of SDE. It’s been a truly horrible year, and I dearly hope we all have a better year ahead of us.

    Like Paul, and others who have mentioned it, I too work at home but while working find it impossible to listen to music which has people singing. It’s a huge distraction. Instead I listen to a lot of instrumental music, which seems to do the job.

    Here are my six most enjoyed new albums of 2020 [no particular order]:

    – Applied Music Vol. 3 Land + Sea – Jon Brooks
    – Healing is a Miracle – Julianna Barwick
    – Music for Healing – Richard Norris (12 x 20 minute instrumental ambient pieces, which are just wonderful)
    – Made of Rain – Psychedelic Furs
    – Yarmouth – David Boulter
    – Got To Be Tough – Toots and the Maytals

    Happy new year everyone.

  33. Stefan Benninghaus says:

    My favourite albums are
    1. Fish – Weltschmerz
    2. Bruce Springsteen – Letter to You
    3. Die Ärzte – Hell (german Fun-Punk band)
    4. Booka Shade – Dear future self
    5. Taylor Swift – Folklore
    6. Alicia Keys – ALICIA

    Best Live albums
    Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets

    Best Re-Issue/Box
    Prince – Sign ‘o’ the times

  34. Frank Sidebottom says:

    The Lovely Eggs – I Am Moron

  35. Mad Earwig says:

    No time to actively seek out new music and have a lot to listen to already. Often very disappointed at the music that Uncut/Mojo magazines are raving over so ignore it but I know what I like-

    Loved It:
    Harold Budd/Robin Guthrie Another Flower
    Rush Permanent Waves 40th Anniversary
    Tom Petty Wildflowers And All The Rest
    Steve Roach A Soul Ascends
    Joe Satriani Shapeshifting
    Springsteen Letter to You
    Pearl Jam Gigaton
    Blue Oyster Cult The Symbol Remains
    Terje Rypdal Conspiracy
    Porcupine Tree Delerium Years Set
    Buckethead The Sea Remembers Its Own
    Tangerine Dream Pilots of Purple Twilight set
    UFO Strangers In The NightBox set

    Bob Dylan Rough And Rowdy Ways (I have listened to the 1970 Copyright Collection which is perfect Dylan- roll on the official release)
    Pat Metheny From This Place
    Bob Mould Blue Hearts

    RIP and missed: Harold Budd, Eddie Van Halen, Pete Way, Neil Peart

    Happy New Year

  36. Victor says:

    A somewhat different selection of discs is welcome than what appears in all the magazines (which is more or less the same disc up disc down).

  37. Alessandro Duca says:

    Hi everyone here : )
    This is my Top 6 for 2020
    (perfectly balanced through Goth, New Wave, Pop):

    1) Rosetta Stone – Cryptology
    2) Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
    3) Pet Shop Boys – Hot Spot
    4) Psychedelic Furs – Made of Rain
    5) The Wake – Perfumes And Fripperies
    6) Lady Gaga – Chromatica

    I wish you a better new year : )

  38. Another Finnish Guy says:

    Thank you Paul for the great site and thank you all for the great listings, I got several new ideas what to buy next.

    Here’s my list:
    1) Levellers: Peace
    2) Hawkwind Light Orchestra: Carnivorous
    3) Alanis Morrissette: Such Pretty Forks in the Road
    4) Roger Eno and Brian Eno: Mixing Colours
    5) Delain: Apocalypse & Chill

  39. Kevin says:

    Plenty of downtime this year to enjoy new music… this is my Top 10 list, the albums I find myself returning to time and again. Many others I’ve enjoyed, but more so in a fleeting moment.

    1) Tiña – Positive Mental Health Music
    2) James Leonard Hewitson – Only The Noise Will Save Me
    3) Moses Boyd – Dark Matter
    4) Working Men’s Club – Working Men’s Club
    5) Juniore – Un Deux Trois
    6) Keeley Forsyth – Debris
    7) BDRMM – Bedroom
    8) Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
    9) Gilroy Mere – Adlestrop
    10) Willie J Healey – Twin Heavy

    Thank you Paul for all the ‘tip-offs’ this year, my most prized bargain purchases were the Ronnie Lane and Bob Marley boxsets.

    • SimonP says:

      Not being home and having a 53 year old brain that can’t remember a thing, I just read through everyone else’s lists to see if there was anything I bought myself in 2020.

      Yours caught my eye, Kevin, because of the Moses Boyd entry. An excellent album.

  40. martin farnworth says:

    I rely heavily on end of year lists to find out the best new/recent music. I found myself listening to the PSB album much more than Super. It’s reassuring that they can still manage the odd killer track. Others this year- Jarv Is, Everything Everything and Bowness/Chilvers.

  41. JMD says:

    Album of the year: ‘Even In Exile’ – James Dean Bradfield
    Long time faves with albums I liked:
    Fiona Apple
    Smashing Pumpkins

    This year was pretty amazing for great K-Pop, with Jay Park’s label ‘H1GER MUSIC’ going off with the double compilation The Red Tape & The Blue Tape. The track ‘The Purge’ being my song of the year.
    Also Black Pink dropped their 1st self titled album, Itzy killed with their 4th mini album called ‘Not Shy’, Red Velvet’s Irene & Seulgi gave us ‘Monster’ and new rookie group Aespa ended the year with ‘Black Mamba’ – over 89 million views on YouTube since November 17th with their 1st ever song!

    Only major bummer was Tears For Fears – not enough copies of STSOL were made and allocated copies never showed up to where they were supposed to go – and I missed out.
    Prince’s SOTT’s was everything I could have ever dreamed of and more.

  42. NICO says:

    Thanks Mate. Your website is my music buying guide! My 2020 list:

    1 TAYLOR SWIFT forklore
    2 THE AVALANCHES We Will Always Love You
    3 DEACON BLUE City of Love
    4 PERFUME GENIUS Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
    5 RUUSUT Kevätuhri
    6 SCHOOL OF X Armlock
    7 STEPS What the Future Holds
    8 DISCO Kylie Minogue
    9 PET SHOP BOYS Hotspot
    10 THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS Made of Rain
    Tie ROISIN MURPHY Machine

    1 U2 All That You Can’t Leave Behind
    2 BANANARAMA Ultraviolet
    3 NEW ORDER Music Complete (Limited Edition Orange Vinyl)
    4 DURAN DURAN Eponymus
    5 JOY DIVISION Still
    7 ALPHAVILLE Forever Young
    8 KEVIN ROWLAND My Beauty
    9 SMASH HITS The ’80s
    10 ULTRAVOX Vienna

    2 ROXETTE Bag of Trix
    3 THE STYLE COUNCIL The Long Hot Summers / The Story
    4 ACE OF BASE The Classic Albums

    • The Ragman says:

      Nice to see DEACON BLUE’s City of Love get a mention on one list – the follow up isn’t bad either – Riding On The Tide Of Love (I’ve heard a stream of it for reviewers) – the only pity as a fan of the band is that it looks as if they have decided against doing more deluxe versions of new albums (A New House and Believers both had nice bonus discs and also a 1988 soundboard recording on cassette and download!)

  43. Vincent(au) says:

    Off the top of my head.
    On sunset, Paul Weller.
    Presently looking into his impressive back catalogue.
    Finally bought Other aspects, really enjoyed that album.

  44. CJ says:

    This year feels like it’s been at least three or four years long. I actually had to look up a list 2020 releases to remember what actually came out this year, and some of them definitely surprised me, because I was certain I had owned them for several years. Like many people, I’ve been spending a ton of time with old favorites for the comfort factor in a year where everything has been upside-down.

    In no particular order, my favorites for new albums in 2020:
    Kylie Minogue: Disco (OK, this one is deliberately at the top, but the rest aren’t in a specific order)
    Bright Light, Bright Light: Fun City
    Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
    Adam Lambert: Velvet
    Niall Horan: Heartbreak Weather
    The Vamps: Cherry Blossom
    Hurts: Faith
    Troye Sivan: In a Dream (EP)
    Erasure: The Neon
    Lady Gaga: Chromatica
    5 Seconds of Summer: Calm
    Sophie Ellis Bextor: Songs from the Kitchen Disco (I know it’s a greatest hits, but I’ve been playing it non-stop, and I can’t leave it off this list)

  45. Derek says:

    The two new albums from 2020 that I went back to the most were
    “Hurricane Riders” by Snake Oil And Harmony (which is Dan Reed and Danny Vaughn working together)
    “No Weapon But Love” by Icecream Hands.

  46. Jezk says:

    In no particular order…. A Certain Ratio, Doves, Paul Weller, Pet Shop Boys, Sault (both), Avalanches, Roisin Murphy. And for reissues the New Order Power, Corruption & Lies box.

  47. Rich P says:

    I’d go for:

    1. Pet shop boys – hotspot
    2. Erasure – the neon
    3. Lady gaga – chromatica
    4. Jarv is – beyond the pale
    5. Doves – the universal want
    6. Rustin man – clockdust

  48. Geoff D says:

    Lots of great suggestions. I definitely agree with those who loved the Dylan and Roisin Murphy albums and I’ve just started listening to the AC/DC and it is as great as everyone says it is. Thanks for this amazing site Paul and the community you’ve built. Happy New Year all.

  49. Eamonn says:


    1 Appalling Human – Wesley Gonzalez
    2 Gold Record – Bill Callahan
    3 Miss Anthropocene – Grimes
    4 Beyond The Pale – Jarv Is…
    5 Fetch The Bolt Cutters – Fiona Apple
    6 Song For Our Daughter – Laura Marling
    7 The Night Chancers – Baxter Dury
    8 A Hero’s Death – Fontaines DC
    9 Unfollow The Rules – Rufus Wainwright
    10 Women In Music Part III – Haim


    1 Did You Get What You Paid For? – Wesley Gonzalez
    2 Acid – Jockstrap
    3 Cry – Ashnikko feat. Grimes
    4 House Music All Night Long – Jarv Is…
    5 I Don’t Wanna – Pet Shop Boys
    6 Fortune – Laura Marling
    7 Nuns – Seamus Fogarty
    8 Kyoto – Phoebe Bridgers
    9 You Can’t Hurt A Fool – The Pretenders
    10 Eternal Summer – The Strokes

  50. Alan Blevin says:

    1-Rough And Rowdy Ways-Bob Dylan
    2-The Unraveling-Drive-By Truckers
    3-Song For Our Daughter-Laura Marling
    4-Gigaton-Pearl Jam
    5-Live Drugs-The War On Drugs
    6-On Sunset-Paul Weller
    7-Punisher-Phoebe Bridgers
    8-Reunions-Jason Isbell
    9-Letter To You-Bruce Springsteen
    There are 2 new albums released digitally in 2020 but with physical release in 2021 that are good enough to make the list-Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams.In the spirit of this site I will consider them for my 2021 list.

  51. Paul Fitzgerald says:

    Best 2020 New Studio Album Releases (in no particular order & excluding Live Albums).

    1. McCartney III – Paul McCartney
    2. Secrets & Lies – Jakko Jakzyk
    3. Weltschmerz – Fish
    4. On Sunset – Paul Weller
    5. Versions of the Truth – The Pineapple Thief
    6. Homegrown – Neil Young
    7. American Standard – James Taylor
    8. Valor – The Opium Cartel
    9. Earth – Ed O’Brien
    10. Love Is – Steve Howe

  52. Jim says:

    I highly recommend the Eddie Chacon (formerly of Charles & Eddie) album Pleasure, Joy & Happiness – my 2020 highlight. The best pop/soul album of the year – it’s very Love Deluxe. Otherwise, the Jessie Ware and Kylie albums were very consistent, as was Erasure’s The Neon. I also think I’m one of 5 people that loved the new Morrissey album – his best for some time. Hey, it even has a Thelma Houston duet!

  53. ioannis says:

    1.the weeknd -after hours
    2.kylie minogue-disco
    3.miley cyrus-plastic hearts
    4.sam smith-love goes
    6.mccartney iii

  54. Michael says:

    In no particular order…
    Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
    Sault – Untitled (Black Is)
    Roisin Murphy – Roisin Machine
    Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure?
    Faithless – So Blessed
    Active Child – In Another Life
    Black Devil Disco Club – Lucifer Is A Flower
    Woodkid – S16
    Thundercat – It Is What It Is
    The Irrepressibles – Superheroes
    Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot (Enough on there to warrant its inclusion but I could’ve done without I Don’t Wanna, Monkey Business, Happy People, that damn Wedding mess, and I wish they’d used the PSB mix of Dreamland, much more euphoric. As was the case with Super, there were enough b-sides for me to reorganise the album into something better. At Rock Bottom, Decide, No Boundaries, and An Open Mind all outclassed those misses for me. I converted it into a sort of Very 2.0)

    Best reissue
    Prince Sign O’ The Times

    Best Compilation
    Late Night Tales – Hot Chip

    Happy New Year Paul. Thanks for all your hard work throughout 2020. SDE is still the best music reference site.

    • seikotsi says:

      wow no idea black devil disco club released a new album! i thought he he was dead actually. will check it out!

  55. RODOLFO MARTIN says:

    Two things I learn from this post and the input from all the people who visit SDE:
    1- I pay very little attention to new music (shame on me)
    2- The taste for music that we all have is so diverse that it makes this world a great place.
    Happy New Year to all
    (Very anxious to read Paul’s SDE pre-view for 2021, What else besides Let It Be?)

  56. Stan says:

    My favorite album of 2020 is “Post Neo Anti: Arte Povera In The Forest Of Symbols” by Close Lobsters. Every track is amazing! Warning, do not judge this record by the cover artwork (which features a skull holding a knife in its teeth). The music is melodic, modern, guitar pop! Check it out. I am so glad that someone turned me on to this band, otherwise I would never have had them on my radar screen. Some folks might remember them from being featured on C86.

  57. Paul English says:

    Great list Paul and good to see two of my favourites there.

    2020 for me

    01 Paul Weller – On Sunset
    02 Morrissey – I Am Not A Dog On A Chain
    03 Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
    04 Taylor Swift – Folklore
    05 Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot
    06 Shirley Collins – Heart’s Ease
    07 Daniel Avery – Love + Light
    08 Guided By Voices – Mirrored Aztec
    09 Blancmange – Mindset
    10 The Monkees – Live: The Mike & Micky Show

    01 Prince – Sign Of The Times
    02 Neil Young – Archives II: 1972-1976
    03 The Divine Comedy – Venus, Cupid, Folly & Time
    04 Thin Lizzy – Rock Legends
    05 Tears For Fears – The Seeds Of Love
    06 Elton John – Jewel Box
    07 Shakin’ Stevens – Fire In The Blood: The Definitive Collection
    08 U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind
    09 Richard & Linda Thompson – Hard Luck Stories
    10 Fleetwood Mac – 1969-1974

    01 Bob Stanley Presents 76 In The Shade
    02 Eddie Piller Presents The Mod Revival
    03 Shellshock Rock: Alternative Blasts From Northern Ireland 1977-1984
    04 Bubblerock Is Here To Stay! The British Pop Explosion 1970-1973
    05 Martin Green Presents Super Sonics: 40 Junkshop Britpop Greats
    06 Musik Music Musique 1980: The Dawn Of Synth Pop
    07 Make More Noise: Women In Independent Music 1977-1987
    08 1978: The Year The UK Turned Day-Glo
    09 Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present Occasional Rain
    10 The Hits Album ’80s Pop

  58. Guy says:

    Love looking through people’s lists, especially the eclectic ones! For what it’s worth, here’s my choices, in no particular order:

    Albums of the year:
    1. Cornershop – England is a Garden
    2. Sault – Untitled (Black is…)
    3. Working Men’s Club – Working Men’s Club
    4. Idles – Ultra Mono
    5. Kylie – Disco

    Reissues of the Year:
    1. Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express (+ the 7 other coloured vinyl reissues!)
    2. Bob Mould – Distortion

    Rediscovered during lockdown:
    1. Ramones
    2. Dire Straits
    3. Seal’s first album
    4. The The
    5. New Order – Complete Music (Extended remixes version)

    Discovered during lockdown:
    1. Saint Etienne (how have I missed them all these years?)
    2. Cristone Ingram – Kingfish
    3. Soul II Soul’s back catalogue

    Miss of the Year:
    1. Bob Dylan – Rough & Rowdy Ways (sorry all!).

  59. Nigel Day says:

    I hardly bought any new albums this year. Kinda took my eye off the ball with everything going on. I did buy the Fiona Apple but it left me cold and ended up on eBay. Did enjoy Doves, Weller, PSBs and Westermann. My favourite album this year – and I’ve played it at least twice a week since release- is the Sparks one. Wasn’t expecting much but it is actually fantastic.

    Happy New Year to all

  60. Paul A says:

    It’s interesting how wide and varied everyone’s best of 2020 lists are. Enjoyed reading them, even the one’s I completely disagree with! Mine is:

    1 Laura Marling – Song for Our Daughter
    2 Christine and the Queens – La Vita Nuova
    3 Nadine Shah – Kitchen Sink
    4 Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death
    5 Working Men’s Club – Working Men’s Club
    6 Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways
    7 Agnes Obel – Myopia
    8 Bright Eyes – Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was
    9 Keleketla – Keleketla!
    10 Lanterns on the Lake – Spook The Herd

    Honourable mentions for RTJ, Sault, Jehnny Beth, Adrianne Lenker, Tony Allen and Hugh Masekela, B.C. Camplight.

    SDE of the year – Prince SOTT – I cannot wait to see what the Prince Estate has lined up for 2021.

    • Toast says:

      Re: Prince, apparently next up is Diamonds and Pearls, because supposedly the bulk of what was in the vault is from this era (also, it’s a great album IMHO), so expect this one to be even bigger than SOTT and start saving now…

  61. Jerome Glassman says:

    Here’s my top 5 (not in order):

    Kylie Minogue: DISCO
    Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
    Mandy Moore: Silver Landings
    Lisa Loeb: A Simple Trick To Happiness
    Megan Thee Stallion: Good News
    Honorable mention: Fiona Apple: Fetch The Bolt Cutters

  62. Aubrey says:

    Like many people, I found myself frequently seeking refuge from 2020 in nostalgia – old films, old TV etc. (Honestly, I could write a book now on ITC shows, British movies of the 70s and Doctor Who…).

    And it was the same with music. Even though I read rave reviews of everything from Fiona Apple to The Weeknd, I just wasn’t in the mood for ‘challenges’. Below are the only 2020 releases I really listened to with any regularity. All offered some shelter from the storm…

    01. Shortly After Takeoff – BC Camplight
    02. Rose in the Dark – Cleo Sol
    03. Shore – Fleet Foxes
    04. Countless Branches – Bill Fay
    05. Song For Our Daughter – Laura Marling
    06. Phantom Birds – Matt Berry
    07. Color Theory – Soccer Mommy
    08. Your Hero Is Not Dead – Westerman
    09. Mixing Colors – Roger Eno, Brian Eno
    10. Rough and Rowdy Ways – Bob Dylan

    Wishing you Paul, and all the SDE readers, a happy, loving and much improved new year!

  63. kid992 says:

    Dreadful day here in the UK(and in many other places I imagine) NYE officially cancelled on the whole of the mainland pub wise (with due respect to those who have suffered and lost).

    You are not the only writer that cannot listen to music while working. I believe Ian Rankin said he only listens to instrumentals as well while working.

    I work from home and tend to just play my Amazon Music on shuffle( Amazon autorips and music uploaded before they closed their digital locker a couple of years ago), A very enjoyable way to dig into the less visited corners of my collection.

    Marc Riley does a similar thing on his BBC 6 show called “Rusholme Roulette”

    I did not realise SDE.com was your main job now, but all power to your elbow. It isn’t easy running a record shop as well!

    Best Bargains (through the site) this year

    John Lennon Imagine Super Deluxe Edition (4DVD/2Blu-Ray) £26 WH Smith
    Bob Marley & The Wailers The Complete Island Recordings (11CD) £17 Amazon.de
    Barry White Love Unlimited Orchestra The 20th Century Records Albums (1973-1979) (7CD) £13 Amazon.de
    Tangerine Dream In Search Of Hades – The Virgin Recordings 1973 1979 (18CD) £53 Amazon.de
    The Small Faces The Small Faces, The Small Faces From The Beginning and The Jam In The City (3LP) £16 3 for 2! Amazon.de

    Best LOL moment describing The Flaming Pie ultra box set as “flaming expensive”

    Best Video Armed Forces (I don’t need it!) and John Lennon Gimme Some Truth (Sean Lennon no less said so)

    Most Looking Forward to The Beatles Let It Be Film and George Harrison All Thing Must Pass and a better year for everyone.

    Happy New Year Paul and to all the SDE.com readers around the world.

  64. O(+> Peter B says:

    Mine have been:
    Róisín Machine – Róisín Murphy
    Hotspot – Pet Shop Boys
    The Slow Rush – Tame Impala
    What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down – Public Enemy
    On Sunset (deluxe CD) – Paul Weller (although the Equanimity and Ploughman tracks are awful!)
    Song Machine Volume 1 -Gorillaz

    I also bought After Hours by The Weeknd – the singles are great especially In Your Eyes, but the rest of the album, not so much.

    Happy new year!

  65. Hedley says:

    Might I be so bold as to suggest the following ?

    1. Blue Hearts – Bob Mould
    2. London 11/24/1975 – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
    3. The Ascension – Sufjan Stevens
    4. Earth to Dora – The Eels
    5. Miss Anthropocene – Grimes
    6. Rough and Rowdy Ways – Bob Dylan
    7. Ghosts of West Virginia – Steve Earle and The Dukes

  66. Poptones says:

    I didn’t listen to a lot of new albums this year but top of my head, here are the albums (in no particular order) I liked the most :

    Taylor Swift – Folklore
    Pefume Genius- Set my heart on fire immediatly
    Fiona Apple – Fetch the bolt culters
    Grimes – Miss Anthropocene
    Dua Lipa- Nostalgia
    Protomartyr – Ultimate success today
    Run the jewels – RTJ4

  67. Wax Monster X says:

    Back in my teens, 20s, 30s and even into my 40s, my year end lists were huge. No longer! It’s hard to come up with 10. Ouch. Is it my advanced age or the lack of quality releases? This is my favorite SDE post of the year as it gives me a huge list of bands to check out, but the list is pretty sparse so far…
    Sault – Rise
    Sault – Black Is
    Tennis – Swimmer
    Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot
    Roisin Murphy- Roisin Machine
    Yello – Point
    The Orb – Abolition of The Royal Family
    Louis Philippe & The Night Mail – Thunderclouds
    ACR – Loco (just added, thanks SDE readers)
    But the year belonged to the TFF and Divine Comedy reissues. Superb!

  68. Dave B says:

    In no particular order…

    Grimes – “Miss Anthropocene”.
    By a whisker, not quite the peak of “Art Angels”, more an extension of the sound to my ears, but still a very strong release & a great title & artist-created album cover to boot.

    Morrissey – “I Am Not A Dog On A Chain”.
    His best in many, many years. His current lineup are ploughing new fields musically & reaping great rewards for doing so. Many of Moz’s melodies & vocals are up there with his very best, Smiths or otherwise. Unexpectedly joyous (!) and free (!) Who knew? Listen without prejudice!

    Steve Kilbey & Gareth Koch – “Music From Antiquity”.
    The Church (“Under The Milky Way”) leader Kilbey teams up with classical guitarist Koch and they come up with something not too dissimilar to Brendan Perry’s output. A wonderful release. Also worth checking out is “The Dangerous Age”, his collaborative release with Kate Ceberano & Sean Sennett, also released this year.

    Sevdaliza – “Shabrang”.
    Dutch/Iranian Artist (with a deliberate capital”A”) genuinely pushing boundaries. She is an amazing artist, sonically, lyrically, visually, you name it. Type in Sevdaliza into YouTube and enter her incredible world. For me, Sevdaliza is the best new music discovery I’ve made, probably this last decade. Highly recommended! Explore! You won’t regret it!

    Nick Cave – “Idiot Prayer”.
    Cave bare bones at the top of his game. Voice & piano is all you need from the man as he bares his authentic soul and generously lights the darkness of 2020 over two discs.

    Midnight Oil – “The Makarrata Project”.
    Sometimes bands unexpectedly reform after years away (twenty in the Oil’s case) and release music equal to or better than their best, rediscovering the very essence of what made them great & adding something new (indigenous collaborations). Hard to imagine how this release could have been any better.

    The Who – “WHO”.
    Roger Daltrey had his vocal chords injected in specialised surgery, plumping them up and returning them to(wards) their former glory (maybe Paul McCartney should phone his old mate! ;)) Pete Townshend delivers some top flight material here. No, it’s not Tommy, Quadrophenia or Who’s Next, but this late in the game, it’s very bloody decent & well above expectations.

    Bonus mentions: Stevie Wonder’s two new songs were both freakin’ brilliant! Best from him in 40 years. Bob Dylan. Could true fans have ever hoped for more than what he delivered with “Rough And Rowdy Ways”? I strongly doubt it. I think he knows he’s giving them just what they want.

  69. Chubby Brown’s Swearbox says:

    Alas new Music never finds me or it me. Not a lot a lot really holds much interest & my life is Time poor I’m afraid. Now & again the odd thing will seep through & I end up loving it, like Sharon Von Etton’s album last year. This year though, I was bowled over by Ed O’Brien’s “ Earth” album. An album for all Seasons & so many good songs on there. It has a really good feel to it & I’m surprised it’s not mentioned elsewhere here. I’m going to have another listen tomorrow. Also, the Moz album is really really good. He’s very inconsistent so I lost interest for a number of years, a good album will be followed by 2 duds etc etc. This one though is superb. A total joy from the lead single “Bobby…” to “Jim JimFalls”. The only slightly duff track for me is the title track. I am intrigued to hear the Haim album, just to dip my feet in 2020 before it’s too late.

  70. Larry Davis says:

    Working on my lists currently, but in no particular order, my Top 10 so far are…

    Taylor Swift…evermore/folklore
    Reckless Kelly…American Jackpot/American Girls
    Jaime Wyatt…Neon Cross
    The Beths…Jump Rope Gazers
    Supercrush…SODO Pop
    Fiona Apple…Fetch The Bolt Cutters
    Dua Lipa…Future Nostalgia
    Jessie Ware… What’s Your Pleasure??
    Lady Gaga…Chromatica
    Alanis Morissette…Such Pretty Forks In The Road…

    May change in the end, but will have rankings & will be expanded…but this feels pretty good so far…all in all, 2020, shitty year, great music…

  71. Chumil says:

    Best Albums.
    Bob Dylan: “Rough and Rowdy Ways”
    Taylor Swift: “Folklore”
    Taylor Swift: “Evermore”
    Dua Lipa: “Future Nostalgia”
    AC/DC: “Power Up”

    Best Single.
    Rolling Stones: “Living in a Ghost Town”

  72. Guido says:

    Most stuff I buy is reissues, but there were some new goodies this year too:

    Morrissey – I am not a dog…
    Puscifer – Existential Reckoning
    Pearl Jam – Gigaton
    Eels – Earth to Dora
    Elvis Costello – Hey Clockface
    Paul McCartney – McCartney III
    Paul Weller – On Sunset
    Yello – Point
    Ed O‘Brian – Earth
    Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot

  73. Gary says:

    Been loving the UFO Strangers In The Night deluxe set, it really shows what a great live, working band they were in their heyday! Phil Mogg doesn’t always hit the notes (and night in night out, who would expect anyone to?) and Schenkers solos aren’t always note perfect but this box shows a bands’ development towards what would be a much lauded live release and the track listing reads as good as any rock band since. Songs such as Rock Bottom, Too Hot To Handle, Shoot Shoot, Doctor Doctor all feature in the climatic run in to what is a fantastic live set that is balanced and paced to perfection from a group of young musicians on the cusp of greatness that for the most part eluded them. Truly wonderful stuff from a band who will be sadly missed.

  74. Blaahh says:

    I think I discovered Made Of Rain on SDE and definitely my favourite new album of the year. Other honourable mentions for,
    Kylie – Disco
    Nik Kershaw – Oxymoron

  75. rafał stępniewski says:

    only Idiot Prayer by Nick Cave this year.

  76. Jason says:


    1) The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You
    2) A Girl Called Eddy – Been Around
    3) Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure
    4) Roisin Murphy – Roisin Machine
    5) Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
    6) Gorillaz – Song Machine Vol. 1
    7) Woodkid – S16
    8) Sufjan Stevens – The Ascension
    9) Sondre Lerche – Patience
    10) Sparks – A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip

    Bubbling under: Albums from Doves, Baxter Dury, Jarvis, Pet Shop Boys, Destroyer, Working Men’s Club, Magnetic Fields, Marc Almond, Kylie Minogue, Charli XCX.

  77. Theacademyinperil says:

    Was happy to see Emma Swift mentioned — Blonde on the Tracks, her new album of Bob Dylan songs, is quite lovely and well worth a listen!

  78. Andrew Abley says:

    2020 Albums. New Releases.
    Erland Cooper Hether Blether
    Taylor Swift Folklore/ Evermore
    Kelly Lee Owens Inner Song
    Nadia Reid Out Of My Province
    Lucinda Williams Good Souls Better Angels
    Shelby Lynne Shelby Lynne
    Rose City Band Summerlong
    Isobel Campbell There Is No Other…
    Rumer Nashville Tears
    Squirrel Flower I Was Born Swimming

    Excellent year and another continuation of my must buy new music / new artists more approach.
    Couple of sterling albums from old favorites and a “new” discovery Erland Cooper, which has led to buying the back catalogue plus Magnetic North and Hannah Peel. Still don’t know this Simon Tong bloke lol
    Great year for music and the Taylor Swift out doing Ryan Adams using her own material Genius. Ryan’s cover of 1989 made sense but Taylor has taken it a step further.
    Ended up with 3 Top 20 lists, new music, re-releases and things I bought this year that were not re-issue or new. Plus discovered the advantage of purchasing collectable vinyl from Japan
    Thanks Paul, even with the new music focus, your site provided plenty of opportunities and heads-up to buy some top-quality re-releases.

  79. Carl says:

    Working men’s club – Working men’s club
    Black Devil Disco Club – Lucifer is a Flower
    Porridge Radio – Porridge Radio
    Psychedelic Furs – Made of Rain
    Doves – The Universal Want

  80. Liam Bastick says:

    Whilst I was surprised I like Folklore (Evermore is not so immediate for me) by Taylor Swift (isn’t it abhorrent for a man in his 50’s to say he likes Taylor Swift!?), the Psychedelic Furs album is a fantastic comeback (a pity the faithful couldn’t come due to COVID) and AC/DC, who I can normally take or leave, did release one of their strongest albums in years: “Mists of Time” is a great song for me although I know many “standard” fans turn up their noses at that song.

    For me, the standout album of the year is Marilyn Manson’s “We Are Chaos”. I think many are put off just because it is Mr. B.H. Warner, but that album is so strong – once you get past Track 1. “We Are Chaos” is Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” for the gothically depressed, Don’t Chase the Dead starts off with AC/DC’s “Touch Too Much” (thank you Norman Reedus), and then the album swings into full tilt Marc Bolan / T.Rex and Depeche Mode. It has got off scot free on the number of variants though. If you think Paul McCartney’s album has many editions, check out the variations for this album…

    Oh – and an honourable mention because it’s a re-release not a new release: “Odyssey No. 5 – Powderfinger”. Never been off my CD player in 20 years. How this group weren’t massive off the back of this album is beyond me. If there has ever been a better start to Side 2 of an album, I have yet to find it.

    • Paul Mac says:

      Hurrah, another Powderfinger fan!! Agree that between this album and follow-up Vulture Street, they shoulda been huge! Technically, they did release new music this year, too, which brings me to my picks this year (no particular amount or order)…..

      AC/DC – Power Up (their best effort in decades)
      Fish – Weltschmerz (what a swansong to an epic career)
      Powderfinger – Unreleased 1998 – 2010 (a new album of old songs, from a criminally underrated band, at least outside Australia)
      The Waterboys – Good Luck, Seeker (the hot streak continues)
      Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You (is there a better band out there?)
      Rumer – Nashville Tears: The Songs Of Hugh Prestwood (great songs, fantastic voice)
      Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts V/VI (love the Ghosts series and these are worthy additions)

  81. Gary Butler says:

    Great to see the well deserved accolades for The Psychedelic Furs, Made of Rain!

    • Brad B. says:

      Here here, ‘Made Of Rain’ is one of my top new albums this year, sad it hasn’t gotten more attention for them as it’s such a nice continuation of what they’ve done and hopefully will do more of! Also, they’re still such a good live band, once live music is up & running again for all of us I highly recommend people go see them, especially now that they’ll have some new songs to mix into their sets!!

  82. Paul Morris says:

    Badly Drawn Boy-Banana Skin Shoes-Best thing heard this year…(Jesse Ware,Springsteen,Doves,Weller,Pet Shop Boys,Morrissey,Jarv-is,Killers not far behind)

  83. Matteo says:

    As long a we’re sharing…

    1. Taylor Swift – folklore/evermore
    2. Bright Light Bright Light – Fun City
    3. Kylie Minogue – Disco
    4. Cornershop – England is a Garden
    5. Clint Mansell – Berlin
    6. Gorillaz – Song Machine, Season One
    7. Tim Burgess – I Love the New Sky
    8. Jason Isbell – Reunions
    9. Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot
    10. Thunder Jackson – Thunder Jackson

  84. Christian says:

    Lots of comments here, but whenever I see mention made of Matt Berry, I just think of that one scene from the IT Crowd where he shouts, “Father!!!”

  85. MarkF says:

    For me the following stood out:
    Dub Pistols – Addict
    Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
    Caribou – Suddenly
    Paul Weller – On Sunset
    Moses Boyd – Dark Matter

    Also loved (reissues/old)
    Tears For Fears – Seeds Of Love
    Style Council – Long Hot Summers
    Bowie – The Metrobolist
    Nick Mason Saucerful Of Secrets
    Arctic Monkeys – Live at RAH

  86. Seikotsi says:

    My faves:
    – Yello: Point (with extra points for production and sound quality which vastle exceeds anything else released in 2020)
    – Roisin Murphy: ROisin Machine (great dystopian disco album. one negative point for excessive loudness)
    – Bright Light Bright Light: Fun City (completely perfect – both packaging and music)
    – Charli xcx: how i’m feeling now (because it doesn’t sound like anything else)
    – Taylor Swift: Evermore (even better than folklore and mccartney (sorry ) )

  87. Alastair says:

    Reading through all these comments, as well as your list, Paul, makes me realise how many I haven’t got round to buying for some reason.
    Of the ones I have got, Dylan and Fontaines DC stand out for me. But the biggest surprise was ‘Live Drugs’ by War on Drugs. I have previously bought one of their studio albums, and wasn’t over impressed, but their new live album is a stunner.

  88. Gazelle says:

    My album of the year was…

    Laura Marling – Song for my Daughter

    …followed by these nine albums, listed in alphabetical order and completing my top ten:

    Ben Watt – Storm Damage
    Bill Callahan – Gold Record
    Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death
    Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
    Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
    Porridge Radio – Every Bad
    Soccer Mommy – Color Theory
    Sufjan Stevens – The Ascension
    Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud

    • Mark Bunce says:

      Last year I found CARBON BASED LIFEFORMS. This year and helping me through lockdown I found NOTHING BUT THIEVES & IMAGINE DRAGONS. Box sets of Underworld drift series and Global Communication’s transmissions need a mention. Can I say Future Sound Of London are long overdue an outstanding contribution to music from the BRITS.

  89. John Vickers says:

    Although like most people here, I’ve mainly listened to reissues this year, I was happy to see many of my old favourites showing that they still had what it takes. My Top 10 new releases:

    1. Bruce Springsteen: Letter to You
    2. Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways
    3. Paul McCartney: McCartney III
    4. Travis: 10 Songs
    5. Kansas: The Absence of Presence
    6. Fish: Weltschmerz
    7. Rufus Wainwright: Unfollow the Rules
    8. Taylor Swift: Folklore
    9. The Killers: Imploding the Mirage
    10. Fleet Foxes: Shore

  90. Kauwgompie says:

    Agreed that the Pet Shop Boys album is excellent. Not a bad song, well, maybe that last wedding song. The rest are 5 star songs. With all the reissues I buy, I haven’t had much time to listen to new stuff. The Dua Lippa “Future Nostalgia” is a great album too. Very commercial of course but not a bad song and great sound.
    Paul, I do hope you will post an article on best 2020 box sets so we can all post our top 10 in the comment section. Can’t wait to read people’s top 10 choices. Prince and TFF of course in everyone’s top 10!!!!

  91. Mark R says:

    No new albums for me this year as I had to watch the pennies in case I no longer had a job (I work for an airline and it’s been brutal), so I’ve been listening to a lot of radio, mostly 6music as well as Simon Le Bon’s podcast “Whooosh!” (with 3 “O”s). He’s so far clocked up 35 episodes, playing over 350 tracks, and a lot of it is really good stuff. Quite eclectic. New songs I’ve like have been by Dua Lipa, Pearl Jam and some of Fiona Apple’s new material. Most recently I have revisited The Maccabees last album, Marks To Prove It and Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool (both are winter albums for me). I lied! I have bought one album, or rather downloaded Chris Cornell’s album of covers “No-one Sings Like You Anymore” which is a bit poppy and lasts for only 38 mins, which suits me fine (albums can be overlong nowadays). Happy New Year all!

  92. Alan Clarke says:

    My joint favourite LP’s for 2020 were Rival Consoles and The Orielles.
    I also enjoyed Four Tet, Spinning Coin, Jetstream Pony & The Luxembourg Signal.
    I also thought that the OMD Enola Gay 40th edition was a jolly good purchase, nice to hear a different version too.

  93. Andrew M says:

    Nothing valid to add except was Television Themes REALLY three years ago? WTF?

  94. John Archbell says:

    I think the only *new* music I bought this year was Kylie’s Disco and the featured PSB album. Just shows what a dinosaur I am as I bought a stack of boxsets by artists who were celebrating anniversaries etc.

    I’ll save that for a later feature if Paul allows us to.

    Best wishes all for the new year – and a big ‘up’ to Paul for keeping us informed from his respected position within the industry. What a fantastic job he has! Haha.

  95. Andy C says:

    An absolutely magnificent year for pop albums. Here’s my favourites:

    (1) Folklore: Taylor Swift
    (2) love goes – Sam Smith
    (3) Future Nostalgia: Dua Lipa
    (4) What’s Your Pleasure ? – Jessie Ware
    (5) Rare: Selena Gomez
    (6) Ungodly Hour – Chloe X Halle
    (7) Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated Side B
    (8) Plastic Hearts: Miley Cyrus
    (9) Euphoric Sad Songs – Raye
    (10) Positions: Ariana Grande

    Not got to know evermore yet but sounds like it’s cut from the same cloth as folklore.

  96. Dickie says:

    The two Sault albums have been my absolute musical highlight of the year.
    I’ve also loved rediscovering Joni Mitchell, partly thanks to that new box set.

    • Mik C says:

      Best new Albums for me – both Sault LP’s and Dua Lipa

      Best Reissue – ill save for the specific thread

      Happy New Year to you Paul – keep up the great work !

  97. Quante says:

    With all the physical sales information around the McCartney III UK no. 1, which when it is all added up comes to bugger all, then the outlook for new albums is equally bleak. Do artists make enough money from streaming to make it worth their while recording albums? In recent years it seems that new music was created to help sell a tour, so 2020 put the kibosh on that model.

    There were only two stand out albums for me this year, although I still have a list of things I haven’t heard yet, so I’m sure there are many more decent albums out there. The problem with not buying things when they are released is that they continually get overlooked, and some old favourite album is so much easier to plonk on and enjoy. I know I’ll enjoy Alanis and Taylor Swift, but they’ll have to get played another year. I have most of Sufjan Stevens and Bill Callaghan albums, thoroughly enjoy them both, but have yet to get their latest albums. Hell, I love Norah Jones and still didn’t get her new album. Jon Anderson and Fish are also on the ‘must buy one day soon’ list.

    As I write this, Kandace Springs latest album is getting its first play and it’s a classy set of covers. Jamie Cullum’s new Christmas album will get plenty of plays in future Christmases.

    So well done to The Lanterns On The Lake for Spook The Herd. They put out a great album, and I loved the LP sleeve with the lyrics printed inside the gatefold. You know when someone has put a lot of thought and effort into their release when you see the sleeve done like this. To top off the release they put out a limited signed print, free with the album, and played live in the local record shop. They’ve just released The Realist, a vinyl EP / streaming (sadly no cd) of additional tracks that didn’t make Spook The Herd.

    Laura Marling has yet to do anything other than make brilliant albums, and her latest, Song For Our Daughter, is yet another. Her performance on the BBC Live at the Proms from The Royal Albert Hall was superb. Watch it if you can.

    Happy 2021 – where are you Joanna Newsom?

  98. SeanL says:

    “where ever I go, I want to leave” by Love Fame Tragedy, solo album by the The Wombats lead singer is my No1 go to album this year. Plenty of re-issues bought this year but this is on constant rotation :)

  99. Xavier I. Callobre says:

    To me, the best new album of 2020 is “Hate for Sale”, by (the) Pretenders. Outstanding album that cements Chrissie Hynde as one of the best rockers of all time.

  100. Paul Fraser says:

    Definitely Fiona Apple for me. It’s a somewhat tough listen in one sitting, but there are at least 3 sublime tracks and nothing dull on it.

    Other notable albums have also been mentioned in the comments, so I’ll throw in KG by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, as it’s the one that I keep coming back to this year.

  101. Denis Woods says:

    On Sunset – Paul Weller
    ACR LOCO – A Certain Ratio
    Wu Hen – Kamaal Williams
    People Get Ready – James Taylor Quartet
    It Is What It Is – Thundercat
    Shortly After Takeoff – BC Camplight

  102. Gert says:

    These are the best 10 of 2020:
    1. Sault: Untitled (black is)
    2. European sun: European sun
    3. Aksak Maboul: Figures
    4. Steve Kilbey & Gareth Koch: music of antiquity
    5. Julien Gasc: L’appel de la forêt
    6. Baxter Dury: The night chancers
    7. Juniore: Un, deux, trois
    8. Raymond van het Groenewoud: Speel
    9. Rolling Blackouts C.F. : Sideways to new Italy
    10. Dead famous people: Harry

  103. Nick Love says:

    1. The Moons – Pocket Melodies
    2. Maria McKee – La Vita Nuova
    3. Paul Weller – On Sunset
    4. The Dirty Knobs – Wreckless Abandon
    5. Andy Bell – The View From Halfway Down
    6. Travis – 10 Songs
    7. EOB – Earth
    8. Steve Kilbey – Eleven Women
    9. The Flaming Lips – American Head
    10. The Jayhawks – XOXO

    Bubbling Under – Steve Howe’s Love Is, The Pretty Things’ Bare as Bone Bright as Blood & Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold’s Magdalen Accepts the Invitation

  104. Darren Linklater says:

    Love the Matt Berry tune Paul. I will give that a listen over the coming days. I lost touch with Alanis about 15 years ago but will also give her new album a spin (or should I say stream).

    Must admit to losing touch with new music in the main and the new music I listen to tends to be from artists I like rather than new finds. My New Years resolution is going to be to seek out new music and not stay within my comfort zone.

    This years highlights (old and new), include;
    Bruce Springsteen – Letter to You. His best since…err the last one!
    Paul Weller – on Sunset. Mining a rich vein this late in his career.
    The Divine Comedy – best box of the year for me plus the chance to own them all on vinyl
    Chuck Prophet – Land That Time Forgot. Americana at its best with another great set.
    Katie Melua – No 8. My favourite late night relaxing music. Love that voice.
    Wilco – Summerteeth. New box is great. Haven’t heard this in perhaps 10 years and my rediscovery of the year.

    Looking forward to Plastic Ono and All Things sets next year plus more from Paul Weller and getting some gigs in when we are all vaccinated. Oh….and let’s have a full Nick Lowe album please rather than 2 or 3 tracks at a time.

  105. Steven_Wilsons_Prog_Cat says:

    Nothing but thieves – Moral Panic is the standout for me, I would also mention mindset by Blancmange which was excellent, been slim pickings this year for real quality though

  106. Robert Laversuch says:

    Bought lots of releases this year – quite a number were made public on this here site.
    Actual new stuff was Haim that I had not come across before. All the others, while new, are by “old” artists.
    Weller, The Furs, AC/DC and Alanis M. were definite highlights. Thought Morrissey did a good job with his record, but not as a public figure.
    There are several releases like It’s Immaterial and Pretenders that I picked up for collecting reasons but have yet to get to. My bad.
    As to reissues the most weighty in more ways than one must be Mansun- getting there slowly.
    Then there were also those deal alerts like all the Marley Island stuff that was a steal and an absolute joy.
    Thank you to Mr. Paul S. and all who participate in making this site an essential daily visit – several times.

  107. Mister Stick says:

    Every year, when I see the dozens of Top 10, Top 20, Top 50 lists I get a touch more cynical. I think a lot of the critics and writers (SDE excepted, of course) are just looking for cool points by trying to be the first to shout up some indie release. When you track it down, you find it might be a good effort, but is not exceptional or singular. And you can’t imagine how it will be remembered. That’s the criteria I wish some list-makers would use: Will I ever, considering the constant bombardment of new music (even though the industry does not pay most artists enough to buy a sandwich), listen to these albums again? It’s one thing to like an album, but it’s another to add it to your collection, even if only virtually. Let’s say you had to buy the record, or you could never ever hear it again… Would you?

    I looked through my streaming playlists and faves and sticky notes for 2020, and I was pleased to find almost 40 studio albums that were worth hanging onto, and I also loved about a dozen singles and 3 live albums. If we lived in a world where we could only sample music online for a week, then we would have to buy the record to ever have on-demand access, those are the records I would try to purchase – A little over 50 titles, not counting box sets and reissues.

    One great new release per week, on average, has to count as a great year, and I have seen several albums listed here today that I’d like to check out. But of the three-dozen-plus albums I tagged, it looks like I only bought six. That’s because it is becoming very, very hard to justify buying new releases that can be streamed in top quality versus deluxe editions and box sets which might have content not found on Tidal, plus the book, etc. That’s where my dough went, on the shelf-warping Neil Young, Prince, Crimson, and Bob Mould sets… Things that demand attention, offer some reading, create an evening on their own. I’m sure I am not alone here, and I don’t see that changing, do you? Money ain’t cheap. If you splash out for a $250 dollar Elvis Costello reissue (not me, but somebody must have), you just might very well have to settle for streaming Hey Clockface, McCartney III, Rough And Rowdy Ways and so on… All just two clicks away all the time. Especially with box sets in such limited pressings. The Richard and Linda Thompson set was extinct in a month, so good thing I grabbed it. But AC/DC and Jeff Tweedy? On the web forever.

    I’m not going to spend your time with a long list from 2020 (though SAULT, Catholic Action, Destroyer, and Pineapple Thief would be in there), but I would like to pimp my favorite of the year. Check out Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? by Fantastic Negrito. It’s a timely vaccine that takes just one injection and will never go away. Khruangbin and Leon Bridges had my favorite single, “Texas Sun”, though the recent Todd Rundgren/Rivers Cuomo song, “Down With The Ship” is coming up fast on the rail. The live album I loved the most was Nick Mason’s Live At The Roundhouse. That was also one of the best shows I saw in the year before such things became a memory, so all the more reason to treasure it.

    Despite what was a really an above-average music year this past 12 months, here’s to a much better 2021 for everyone. And thanks to Chairman Sinclair and all the other contributors for giving us something nice to hang on to while our train was stalled in hell.

  108. Peter says:

    Musically a great year:

    1. Fates Warning – “Long Day Good Night”

    2. Ulver – “Flowers Of Evil”

    3. Body Count – “Carnivore”

    4. Arroganz – “Morsus”

    5. Napalm Death – “Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism”

    6.Disbelief – The Ground Collapses

    7. The Ocean – Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic – Cenozoic

    8. Karg – Traktat

    9. Riverside – Lost ‘N’ Found – Live in Tilburg

    10. Ihsahn – Telemark

  109. Tom A. says:

    Paul, thanks for your wonderful website that I have thoroughly enjoyed throughout 2020. All the best to you and your family for a fantastic 2021. And the same goes to all the great folks who post messages on this site. Cheers from North Carolina, USA.

    In a year with hardly any new music that I enjoyed, my favorite 2020 release is “Angry Monk” by Ty Tabor (guitarist of King’s X).

    I’d hoped that King’s X would release their highly-anticipated new album this year, which was the plan coming into 2020, but I’ll have to wait and hope that it comes out in 2021.

    For 2020, by far the best “new” album I discovered (something I’d never heard before, nor even knew of) is definitely the wonderful 2005 11-CD “Blue Guitars” earbook by Chris Rea. It’s definitely been my favorite “new” release of this year.

  110. Marcus Fahrman says:

    Best 10 for me:
    10. The Slow Readers Club – 91 Days In Isolation
    9. Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings
    8. Ist Ist – Architecture
    7. Airbag – A Day At The Beach
    6. Katatonia – City Burials
    5. Gazpacho – Fireworker
    4. Lunatic Soul – Through Shaded Woods
    3. The Pineapple Thief – Versions Of The Truth
    2. Mattt Berninger – Serpentine Prison
    1. Christian Kjellvander – About Love And Loving Again

    Quite a good year for new music I think.

    Favourite reissues:

    A Swarm Of The Sun – Zenith (redux)
    Porcupine Tree – In Absentia box set
    Mansun – Closed For Business box set

  111. Francois says:

    My absolute number one of the year is the wonderful and moving ULVER album entitled “Flowers of Evil”. How such a fine pop-électro album “à la Depeche Mode” (yet 100 times better than the very good “Spirit”) can be so underrated is a mystery to me. This is no metal/hard rock album, just take a listen at “Machine guns and Peacock feathers” or “One Last Dance” will convert you to this album.
    Being French, I put two French artists as number two and three.
    1- Ulver “Flowers of Evil”
    2 – Alain Souchon “Âme Fifties”
    3- Julien Doré “Aimée”
    4- The Pineapple Thief “Versions of the Truth”
    5-Ozzy Osborne “Ordinary Man”
    6 – Paradise Lost “Obsidian”
    7 – Alanis Morissette “Such Pretty Forks in the Road”
    8- Fish – “Weltschmerz”
    9 – AC/DC – “Power Up”
    10 – Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets

  112. James John Wilson says:

    My Top 10 Albums Of 2020:

    (1) folklore: Taylor Swift
    (2) Gaslighter: The (Dixie) Chicks
    (3) Future Nostalgia: Dua Lipa
    (4) Fetch The Bolt Cutters: Fiona Apple
    (5) Rare: Selena Gomez
    (6) Plastic Hearts: Miley Cyrus
    (7) evermore: Taylor Swift
    (8) Letter To You: Bruce Springsteen
    (9) Manic: Halsey
    (10) Positions: Ariana Grande

  113. Caroline says:

    Completely agree re: Fiona Apple. Other favourites:

    Autechre: SIGN/PLUS
    Katie Dey – mydata
    Nurse With Wound – Barren
    Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now
    Blóm – Flower Violence
    Duma – Duma
    Taylor Swift – folklore
    Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
    Nkisi – BLK SPLLS
    ARCA – Kick-i
    Heather Leigh – Glory Days
    Such Small Hands – Carousel
    Black Dresses – Peaceful As Hell
    Moor Mother – Circuit City
    Molly Joyce – Breaking And Entering
    The Wedding Present And Friends – Not From Where I’m Standing

    …and, of course, loads more but I need to stop somewhere

  114. Jeremy says:

    I realize that clubbing and dancing haven’t exactly been a big feature of 2020 for most people, but despite that it’s worth noting that Kylie Minogue, Carly Rae Jepsen, and especially Dua Lipa, all produced top-of-the-class new albums this year. I think only Kylie got much attention on this forum.

  115. Mikael says:

    Agree on PSB, and whoever mentioned John Foxx and the Maths, Howl is great.
    I loved the Stuart Price collabs with PSB, all three of them, can’t wait to see them live, hopefully next year (last year’s concert was obviously cancelled).

    But as a Bowie nut, I’m happy with a year that saw I’m only Dancing, soul tour live -74, ChangesNowBowie, BBC acoustic -97, and two Outside shows, all released on CD.

    And yes, I did get Nina’s Synthian, once a new romantic synth freak, always a new romantic synth freak.

  116. Pete says:

    My top 5:
    1. Future Nostalgia – Dua Lipa
    2. The New Abnormal – The Strokes
    3. Petals for Armor – Hayley Williams
    4. Alphabetland – X
    5. Superbloom – Misterwives

  117. Neil says:

    Kelly Lee Owens – Inner Song

  118. Rpic says:

    Where’s DISCO by Kylie Minogue?

  119. MarkD says:

    My favourite 2020 Album releases

    Stone Foundation – Is Love Enough?
    Hey Clockface – Elvis Costello
    Self Made Man – Larkin Poe
    Whoosh! – Deep Purple
    On Sunset – Paul Weller

  120. Sylent Syd says:

    Bob Dylan – Rough & Rowdy Ways
    King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – K.G.
    Busta Rhymes – Extinction Level Event 2

    Gutted that the latter album isn’t available on vinyl until “early 2021,” but at least I have something to look forward to.

  121. dapaladi says:

    Here my 2020 Top10 list, I mostly listen to post-punk, gothic and dark synthpop:

    1) Love, Ecstasy and Terror – Love, Ecstasy and Terror
    2) The Howl & The Hum – Human Contact
    3) Soft Kill – Dead Kids, R​.​I​.​P. City
    4) The Smashing Pumpkins – Cyr
    5) Then Comes Silence – Machine
    6) Korine – The Night We Rise
    7) House of Harm – Vicious Pastimes
    8) Sure – 20 Years
    9) Marilyn Manson – We Are Chaos
    10) Empathy Test – Monsters

  122. Iggie says:

    I’m still loving the new AC/DC album. Does exactly what it says on the tin

    • John Archbell says:

      I enjoyed the first couple of tracks. Pure signature ACDC – I think they were initially the ‘free’ ones on streaming services. They really knocked my socks off. However, when the album dropped it just lost momentum for me and it became a blur of ‘standard’ ACDC. Back in Black it ain’t – a shame as I was primed to buy the silver, yellow and red vinyls. I didn’t bother in the end. But I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

  123. Michael Weber says:

    I’ve spent a good part of 2020 consuming NY Archives. I signed up last year and went through most of the music and videos during these last months. Well done and extremely informative, but also a lot to take in. For $19,99 a year, unbeatable! Other than that, I went through a lot of box sets. My personal highlights were the Motörhead reissues and Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth.
    Many greetings from Hamburg, Germany.
    Stay healthy

  124. Marc Bijlsma says:

    I had never heard of Matt Berry. I love the album cover and the song ‘In my mind’ is great.

  125. BJ says:

    Not a great year for new releases, but these I liked…
    Muscle Memory – Kevin Godley
    We Will Always Love You – The Avalanches
    The Night Chancer – Baxter Dury
    You’ve Always Been Here – The Jaded Hearts Club
    American Utopia On Broadway – David Byrne (memories of one the best gigs ever)
    Threesome Vol.1 EP – The Lickerish Quartert
    Revelations – Daphne Guiness
    Lay It On Me EP – Nick Lowe
    You Make Me Feel – Don BryantModesty Forbids – Graham Gouldman
    Citizens Of Boomtown – The Boomtown Rats
    Jojo Rabbit OST
    Live From London – Gary Moore

    • MarkD says:

      May be wrong but I recall getting my copy of American Utopia on Broadway in 2019, which would exclude it from a 2020 best of.

  126. Derek says:

    Folklore and Evermore- Taylor Swift

  127. I mainly concentrate on prog so here’s my prog list for 2020:

    1. WOBBLER – Dwellers Of The Deep
    2. ELLESMERE – Wyrd
    3. GÖSTA BERLINGS SAGA – Konkret Musik
    4. PYMLICO – On This Day
    5. PIXIE NINJA – Colours Out Of Space
    6. THE FLOWER KINGS – Islands
    8. MILDLIFE – Automatic
    9. MINIMUM VITAL – Air Caravan
    10. RING VAN MÖBIUS – The 3rd Majesty

  128. JuanCa says:

    Great list!
    Especially Alanis. I discovered this site and since then I have visited very often for your great reviews and a matter of fact, I have buy music because of your input.

    My 2020 list:
    Taylor Swift
    Ozzy Osbourne
    Pearl Jam

    • Julián Lara says:

      Who is Bunbury? For god’s sake??!!

      • Albais says:

        Bunbury is a musician from Zaragoza (Spain) that years ago was the leader of Heroes Del Silencio, a spanish rock band very succesful at time that even got a big name on Germany or Southamerica and now goes alone from more of 20 years ago.

        Btw also was shortly member of another group called Niños Del Brasil, a techno pop group from same city not very known here but that they sure deserve a listen if you’re fan of Gary Numan style…

  129. Dirk says:

    Hi Paul, used 2020 to work my way through piles of stuff accumulated over the last few years begging to finally be explored. I would however not be listening to Ronnie Lane while typing this if SDE hadn’t done its usual, and phenomenal, job of adding some new (old) names to this. For all things new I let myself typically be guided by what I see live, for obvious reasons that was a very shallow well this year. I did however find lots to enjoy in
    – Chubby and the Gang : Speed Kills
    – Danalouge: I was not sleeping
    – Fiona Apple : Fetch the bolt cutters
    Hors Catégorie , Arctic Monkeys’ Live at the Royal Albert Hall should get a mention and for the sheer (novelty) pleasure to hear Marc Almond work his way through Black Night we all should finish the year given The Loveless at least one spin – if you have to listen to a covers album, make it a fun one. Best wishes for 2021 during which your website will undoubtedly remain a trusted anchor in my day. Take care, Dirk

  130. Brian Scott says:

    I 100% agree with PSB, Alanis and Fiona Apple, they made my top 5 too.

    To these 3 I’d add Folklore from Taylor Swift as my ‘surprise of the year’ – it’s become my totally unexpected No 1 favourite album of the year, backed up by the excellent Long Pond Studio Sessions she did for Disney+. If you subscribe its definitely worth watching as it is a fantastic insight into how she built the songs during lockdown with her co-writers and for me showcases their craft and the visible joy they all got from the songwriting process. And the music sessions are pretty good too!

    The final album in my top 5 was Album No. 8 by Katie Melua, which I found myself coming back to as my ‘play while doing other stuff” album, as opposed to the Alanis Morrissette and Fiona Apple albums that definitely need me to focus on them for me to enjoy at their best.

  131. GTR says:

    3 keepers for me this year:

    1. Morrissey – I Am Not A Dog On A Chain (his best since ‘Southpaw Grammar’ for me).

    2. Its Immaterial – House For Sale (had pretty much given up on seeing this so it came as a nice surprise).

    3. Taylor Swift – Evermore (just a great mood piece of autumnal/winter songs)

    Happy new year, all!

  132. DaveM says:

    Albums of the year for me:
    1. Blue Oyster Cult – The Symbol Remains. Big reservations when I found out about this release as they are my favourite band and there was such a gap from the last new one. Could they still pull it off? No need to have worried, a bit like how Paul S. described WHO, it’s like the BOC formula was put into a computer and out came this.
    2. The Flaming Lips – American Head. Their best since TSB.
    3. Paul McCartney – Mc111. Okay it’s a bit uneven, quirky even, but there’s enough to love on here by the man who has soundtracked most of our lives. Even with the nostalgia goggles off, it’s a worthy indie album.
    4. Sufjan Stevens – The Ascension. A couple on here that I can’t get into, mainly when he’s more techno, but at around eighty minutes there’s still plenty to love from one of the best song writers to have emerged in the last twenty years. Never afraid to push the boundaries either.
    5. Thurston Moore – By the Fire. Sonic Youth still run deep with me and this has plenty of what I like.
    6. Jonathan Wilson – Dixie Blur. Great Americana. Also loving his vocals on Roger Waters Us + Them.

    Lockdown rediscoveries from the past (been on a prog / new age trip).
    Vangelis (Jon and Vangelis as well)
    Jean Michel Jarre
    Mike Oldfield

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Nice. I walked past Thurston Moore two days ago. He lives quite near me :)

      • NRitH says:

        Did you ask him for an interview?

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          I had a brief chat with him at the beginning of the year about his ‘pop up’ record shop in Hackney with a view to arranging a proper interview, but then COVID came along…

      • FreddyVT says:

        He used to live near me in Western Massachusetts before the break up and I would see him at other people’s shows around there and in NYC. J. Mascis is still here.

    • Mad Earwig says:

      Hi Dave
      Like your Blue Oyster Cult comments, loved this band for so many years, saw them many times even got the tattoo 12 years back
      The new album is so much better than expected… Buck is on top form
      Was playing On your Feet Or On Your Knees only yesterday and it still got me there.

      Happy New Year

      • DaveM says:

        Hi Mad Earwig,
        Thanks. I haven’t got a tattoo, but have seen them nineteen times, the last time being in 2019. As you say Buck is on top form. Met him a couple of times and he’s a really nice guy. Frontiers Music has done a sterling job this year with the reissues, the new live albums and TSR.
        Happy New Year to you, fellow BOC fan.

  133. Michael Fowler says:

    Ok here goes my 6 of the best for the godawful 2020

    * Doves ‘The Universal Want’ – worth the 11 year wait and truly remain one of the most engaging bands out there.
    * Jimbob ‘Pop Up’ – like PSB I had largely given up on any decent output from my much younger selfs fave Carter USM but Jimbob’s latest must be heard by anyone and everyone who can as it is a lyrical and melodic masterpiece and easily the best thing he has ever committed to vinyl. Listen to it Paul!
    * Nik Kershaw ‘Oxymoron’ – Another one I’ve waited a long time for (only the 8 years here). It contains some of his greatest songs since the 80’s and would’ve been an absolute classic had he trimmed it down to 11 or 12 tracks but I’m nitpicking.
    * Biffy Clyro ‘A Celebration of Endings’ – An album that fits together perfectly, something I think this band previously lacked, and of all the albums in the list this is the one which suffered from the lack of live gigs. Best Biffy yet.
    * Travis ‘10 Songs’ – How did this miss your list Paul? The album they should have made years ago, beautiful in every way and I have played it endlessly ever since it was released. A Ghost is the stand out track of the year.
    * Deacon Blue ‘City of Love’ – A band that have never stopped releasing quality albums, as consistent as you like and this album is simply beautiful.

    • Phil Morris says:

      I know what you mean about the length of the Kershaw album. (Hardly unusual and who thought we’d complain about having too much (good) music?) I simply play it in two halves. Just like them old days.

  134. Fogarrach says:

    I thought I was going to wing in with definite album of the year….until I realised that Kiwanuka was released in 2019.. :-)

    And the Matt berry album is great and grows more each time I listen to tracks.

  135. Fogarrach says:

    Dear Paul et al,

    Hope you’re all enjoying the in between days.

    I’ll add The Flower Kings, Islands to the list.
    A band that makes making brilliant prog albums seem easy. This album sounds fresh and contemporary and original and yet has a feel of Genesis and Yes about it. The Flower Kings deserve more success than they’ve had over the years.

    For me, however, the best hard copy release of this year has to be something I heard on a ‘my cousin ray’ podcast, nudirections:just jazz 2.(he’s a very good jazz selector)
    And what was it?

    Elton john, come down in time (jazz version) released only as a limited 12″ (annoyingly no cd version).
    Over seven minutes of sublime Elton and Bernie. It was recorded before the version that appears on tumbleweed collection and I can’t believe that it was not released until now.

    Give it a listen folks. You’ll agree.

    And Elton’s folks, get on with recording a “jazz versions” cd.

    Give it a listen folks. You’ll join my campaign.

  136. AdamW says:

    Porridge Radio – Every Bad
    Throwing Muses – Sun Racket
    Denise Sherwood – This Road
    Bob Mould – Blue Hearts
    Slingbaum – Slingbaum One
    A Certain Ratio – ACR Loco
    The Psychedelic Furs – Made Of Rain
    Denise Johnson – Where Does It Go
    It’s Immaterial – House For Sale
    The Strokes – The New Abnormal
    Einstürzende Neubauten – Alles In Allem

  137. Sascha H. says:

    My top three: 1. Bob Dylan ” Rough and rowdy ways “, 2. Bruce Springsteen & E Street ” Letter to you ” and AC/DC ” Power Up “.

  138. Paul Taylor says:

    My quick Top 10 (in no particular order);

    Bob Dylan – Rough n Rowdy Ways
    Bruce Springsteen-Letter To You
    AC/DC-Power Up
    Morrissey – I Am Not A Dog On A Chain
    The Killers-Imploding The Mirage
    Gerry Cinnamon-The Bonny
    Sparks-A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
    DMAs-The Glow
    Matt Berninger-Serpentine Prison
    John Foxx-Howl

    Honourable Mention; Vistas-Everything Changes
    Favourite reissue-Lou Reed/John Cale-Songs For Drella

  139. Gerry Hassan says:

    Many thanks to Paul at SDE for a superb & informative year in these difficult times. Have learnt abt lots of things musical through reading this site. I think and feel it has been a near amazing year in music aided by some musicians making new music in trying circumstances; but just as importantly lots of new, striking and leftfield music has found a space and got more noticed due to the lack of noise and less corporate claptrap.

    Here are my top new albums:

    1.Billy Nomates, Billy Nomates

    2. Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, Perfume Genius

    3. Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?, The Soft Pink Truth

    4. Untitled (Black Is), SAULT

    5. Róisín Machine, Róisín Murphy

    6. Rough and Rowdy Ways, Bob Dylan

    7. Italian Ice, Nicola Aitkens

    8. Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor

    9. Last Night From Glasgow: Isolation Sessions, Various Artists

    10. The Universe Inside, The Dream Syndicate

    11. Rejoice, Tony Allen and Hugh Masekela

    12. Return to Y’hup: The World of Ivor Cutler, Various Artists

    Special mentions for:
    Drive-By Truckers, The New OK; Sparks; Céu; Cornershop; Nadine Shah; Sault, Untitled (Rise is); Stephen Malkmus; Moses Sumney; Jaga Jazzist; Rustin Man; Paul McCartney, McCartney III completing an unlikely trio.

    Best Compilation/Reissue:

    You Brought the Sunshine: The Sound of Gospel Recordings 1976-1981, Clark Sisters

    Best Older Album Revisited:

    Walking in Space, Quincy Jones (1969)

    Keep up the good work at SDE.

  140. John ob says:

    My best of 2020
    Dylan Rough and Rowdy Ways
    Nick Cave Idiot Prayer
    ACDC Power Up
    Flowet Kings Islands
    Crippled Black Phoenix Ellangaest
    Deep Purple Whoosh
    Nick Masons Saucerful Of Secrets Live At The Roundhouse

  141. Martin says:


    Not many on that list for me I’m afraid – Would def agree with Fiona Apple which still souns as fresh as when first played

    Mine would be –
    US Girls – Heavy Light
    ACDC – Power Up (Stunning return to form)
    Shirley Collins – Hearts Ease (Astounding)
    Haim – Women In Music Pt. 3
    Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
    Taylor Swift – Folklore (Totally surprised and overwhelmed by this one to be fair)
    DC Fontaines – A Hero’s Death
    Run for The Jewels – RTJ4 (A surprise one for me)

    I always try to stretch out and find new artists or ones never tried before and each year never surprises

  142. Stephen says:

    Good list and nice reviews, Paul. Totally with you on Fiona Apple. Have you heard these gems?
    • Pretenders – Hate for Sale
    • Cornershop – England Is a Garden
    • Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
    • Jarv Is… – Beyond the Pale
    • Nick Cave – Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace
    • Innocence Mission – See You Tomorrow

    All unreservedly recommended!

  143. Staale Venstad says:

    The best album I heard this year is Introduction, Presence by Nation Of Language. If You like synthpop ala 1981 this is absolutely thrilling. Check out the song Automobile. Its a lot like The best parts of OMD.

    • Derek Langsford says:

      While it was released in 2019, I have been playing the Quieter Than Spiders album “Signs of Life” almost constantly since I got it last summer. It is a synthpop tour de force, “as if OMD started in the 21st Century” said one review. Can listen or buy a download on Bandcamp or vinyl and CDs from the label, Annalogue Records in Germany, though they can only send small parcels out by surface mail at the moment which takes two months to reach the US.

    • Paul E. says:

      @Staale Venstad – can’t thank you enough for putting Nation of Language on my listening radar! I previewed their album and all their singles on BandCamp and instantly purchased everything they had available! I’m only disappointed that I couldn’t buy a physical copy on CD. (That Pixies “Gouge Away” cover is on another level!)

      I always appreciate SDE reader suggestions and certainly know we all travel down different paths at times…yours made my day.

    • Tony says:

      This is my favourite of 2020 too, Staale. It’s gone under the radar and as you say if you like the early synth pop of OMD, New Order and Depeche Mode I’d highly recommend this.

      1 Nation Of Language – Introduction, Presence
      2 Doves – The Universal Want
      3 Gorillaz – Song Machine
      4 Fontaines DC – A Hero’s Death
      5 The Strokes – The New Abnormal
      6 Blancmange – Mindset
      7 EOB – Earth
      8 The Psychedelic Furs – Made Of Rain
      9 Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
      10 Working Men’s Club – Working Men’s Club

      Many thanks for all your hard work and keeping us entertained in 2020, Paul. It’s a great read. Let’s face it we actually got The Seeds Of Love box this year so who knows the new TFF album could surface in 2021.

  144. John Johnstone says:

    OK, so I might be an old fart but I love Nick Mason’s Live at the Roundhouse, great live versions of songs from the psychedelic past of Pink Floyd, played with freshness, energy and enthusiasm.

  145. DC says:

    Laura Marling – Song for Our Daughter

  146. skreama says:

    Six of the best album 2020
    Made of rain-psychedelic furs
    X,the godless void-trail of dead
    Down in the weeds, where the world once was-bright eyes
    Warnings-i break horses
    Gigaton-pearl jam
    The universal want-doves

  147. Angelo says:

    My favourite new albums were split between familiar singer-songwriters I love and dance pop music which helped cope and escape from this maddening year:

    Suzanne Vega – An Evening of New York Songs and Stories
    Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters
    Norah Jones – Pick Me Up Off The Floor
    Taylor Swift – Folklore
    Kylie Minogue – Disco
    Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure

  148. Tom Walsh says:

    Morrissey’s LP was the best this year in my opinion. My Hurling Days are Done and Once I Saw the River Clean were up there with his very best. Bobbins cover though.

  149. backwards7 says:

    This year I very much enjoyed ‘England is a Garden’ by Cornershop – a breath of Spring air, loose without being careless. You can hear the joy in the performances. Even the song that addresses racial profiling by the police sparkles with humour, and arguably has more impact than any number of shouty Rage Against the Machine-style songs on the same subject.

    It is easy to take Mark Lanegan for granted’ given his ‘at least one album a year’ output, however ‘Straight Songs of Sorrow’ is another fine album. I have been listening to his music more closely recently after reading his harrowing biography, which I strongly recommend.

    Hachiku’s ‘I’ll Probably Be Asleep’ is a promising debut. It only came out recently, however I have been playing it a lot after stumbling across the title track on 4chan.

    There is much to admire in the Fiona Apple album, however I can’t get past the ‘me me me’ undertones in the lyrics. Of course, popular music was built on narcissism, but this was too much for me. It reminded of the second Counting Crows album ‘Recovering the Satellites’ which I also feel didn’t leave enough space for the listener.

  150. Bart Peeters says:

    In all these lists I see these days I fruitlessly search for my own favourite: Monument by Keaton Henson.
    Emotionally loaded, written and recorded while Keaton’s father, actor Nicky Henson, was slowly slipping away.
    Songs like “Prayer” and “The Grand Old Reason” cut right through my soul.
    Send everyone away, dim the lights, have a whisky and let Keaton take you by the hand.

  151. David Elliott says:

    Will check out the Furs based on your comments!

    My own favourites this year are:

    Ruston Kelly – Shape & Destroy
    The Strokes – The New Abnormal
    Jason Isbell – Reunions
    Haim – Women In Music Pt. 3
    Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure?
    Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
    Taylor Swift – Folklore
    The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You
    Ryan Adams – Wednesdays
    Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

    Though I’ve still got a backlog I’m working my way through for this year!

  152. WayneUK says:

    Weller is really the only new album l bought. Very good it is too. Now, if you are talking old stuff l bought tons!

  153. Rob says:

    I was digging the Firs and Weller albums too.

    My favorite album of the year I discovered entirely by accident as it is from a pretty unknown artist by the name of Matthew Grimm. The album “Dumpster Fire Days” is gritty, angry American roots-rock. Protest music for 2020.

    Some other lesser known artists with great albums this year:

    Chris Trapper (formerly of the Push Stars): “Cold Water Waltz”
    Rob Fetters (formerly of the bears): “Ship Shake”
    The Nines: “Reflections”

    Plus I was also loving the latest from Pat Metheny, Pretenders, Low Cut Connie, Drive By Truckers, Cowboy Junkies, Sparks, Dawes, Emma Swift, Jakko M. Jakszyk, Pineapple Thief, Galileo 7. Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen.

    And then there were some great one off singles from Stevie Wonder, David Ford, Neil Finn (solo and with Crowded House) and Van Duren.

  154. Stuart says:

    My 6 of the best from 2020 are;

    Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You; the boss’s best since The Rising

    Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways; Bob takes his ‘American songbook’ voice which has recently served him well and applies it to a great set off original tunes.

    Fish – Weltschmerz: The big man bows out of studio work with an absolute career high.

    AC/DC – Power Up: an album made up of off cuts that surpass the tunes on the original album (Rock or Bust)! Just when they seemed finished they come back with a cracker.

    The Pineapple Thief – Versions of the Truth: They just don’t make bad records and this continues a very strong run.

    Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot: Their most consistent set of songs since Yes imho.

    The only downside to my list is that I think the first 4 artists mentioned have released their swan songs in 2020 (Fish definitely has and I’d be amazed if AC/DC or Dylan release anymore original material)

  155. Branny says:

    As I haven’t bought any new music this year I can’t choose. The last “new” albums I got were last Xmas, by the Who and Liam Gallagher. My local Hmv and Fopp have been closed most of the year so no browsing. After SOTT, I spent most of my time collecting Prince cds I didn’t have. I will be buying the new Steve Wilson album though.

  156. Mike Bee says:

    Surprised not to see McCartney III on your list Paul as you’ve said before that you’re a big fan. I thought it was his most impressive album since Tug Of War made even better by the knowledge that he played every single note on it himself.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I stand by my three star review!

      • Dave H says:

        I think your rating matched mine. We may not have necessarily have matched opinions track by track but I think it was an OK album, just not a great one. I think other things raised its profile and while I understand both the problems involved in its creation and the wish for some good news I think you do need to filter out the external influences when forming an opinion.

  157. K P Young says:

    Sparks – A Steady Drip Drip Drip
    Nick Cave – Idiot Prayer
    Fish – Weltschmerz
    Midnight oil – Makarrata Project
    Future Islands – As Long As You Are

    The best of 2020 for me!

  158. Howard Christie says:

    Loved the Psychedelic Furs Cd.
    Alanis Morissette CD is terrific. Not a bad song on it. Beautifully sung and produced.
    Waterboys’ Good Luck, Seeker is likely polarizing as it is half spoken but I find Mikes voice compelling.
    New Killers is miles better than the last one
    New Sigur Ros is pleasant but doesn’t grab you

  159. Colin Harper says:

    Happy New Year to you and yours, Paul! :-)

    Because I’m involved in various ‘old music’ projects, my listening is generally taken up with intense bouts of time with the music of the projects in question (there was an awful lot of merciless listening to hours of BBC Colosseum 1969-71 recordings in pre-, mid- and post-mastered form during Sept/October, for instance! The resulting 6CD box set is just out…).

    My other (non-music-related) work requires concentration, and – as you’ve said yourself, Paul – vocal music in the background just doesn’t work. Hence, it’s mostly 60s British (instrumental) jazz reissues or Robert Fripp’s ambient music or silence.

    But I did buy one ‘new music’ album this year – Fay Hield’s ‘Wrackline’ (Topic Records). I knew nothing of Fay beforehand but clicked on a video for the lead track, ‘Hare Spell’, via a Topic email newsletter. It was a few minutes well spent. The notion of an album of mystical songs – witches, talking animals, etc. – from the English tradition and songs on a similar theme written by Fay was intriguing. I find it an intoxicating, absorbing and at times moving piece of work – something that really works as a ‘body of work’ in album form and repays listens. I don’t think you have to be a ‘folk buff’ to appreciate it.

    Fay and her band did an online concert during lockdown and thus film clips of most of the songs can be found on YouTube, as can the ‘Hare Spell’ video. In fact, why not… here it is:


  160. Trash says:

    I have had the Pet Shops, Psychedelic Furs and Paul Weller on heavy rotation this year. I really liked Berry’s Television Themes album so I should check out Phantom Birds (although whenever I hear him sing I expect him to burst into his comedy voice with it’s weird emphases and inflections…).

    Other albums I have enjoyed this year:
    Tim Bowness – Late Night Laments
    A Certain Ratio – LOCO
    McCartney III – despite all the negative comments I’m actually really enjoying this -much better than NEW and slightly better than Egypt Station (which I also quite like).
    Gary Daly – Luna Landings

    Happy New Year everyone.
    And thanks for all your work in 2020 Paul!

    P.S. Hoping this year we will finally see some Scritti Politti reissues…

  161. Peter Muscutt says:

    Too early for anyone to consider McCartney III? I can’t comment as I’ve not heard all of it, but where do people think it comes on the strength of other 2020 releases? Not seen anyone who has outright given it Album of the Year yet? Was it “good but not THAT good?” perhaps?

  162. James Pigg says:

    Nice choices Paul.
    I really loved the album Return by Katy J Pearson too.
    Was that close to making your top six,?

  163. Phil says:

    Surprised there’s no love so far for the new it’s Immaterial album ‘House for Sale’ which was a fantastic comeback.

  164. Shawn C. says:

    Happy New Year Paul and SDE!

    My personal 2020 favorites:

    Bob Dylan – “Rough and Rowdy Ways”
    PSB – “Hotspot”
    Erasure – “The Neon”
    Fish – “Weltschmerz”
    Grant Lee Philips – “Lightning Show Us Your Stuff”
    Taylor Swift – “Folklore”
    Lissie – “Thank You to the Flowers”
    The Killers – “Imploding the Mirage”
    Jimmy Buffett – “Songs You Don’t Know by Heart”
    Dyble Longdon – “Between a Breath and a Breath”
    Gustavo Santoaolalla – “The Last of Us Part II”

  165. Marcel Rijs says:

    No ‘Synthian’ by Nina?

  166. Paul Kent says:

    My 2020 Top 10:

    AOTY: Doves – The Universal Want

    …followed by the other nine, in no particular order:

    Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts V / VI
    Sparks – A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
    Haim – Women In Music Pt. III
    Paul Weller – On Sunset
    Rufus Wainwright – Unfollow The Rules
    Everything Everything – Re-Animator
    Elvis Costello – Hey Clockface
    Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo
    Fish – Weltschmerz

  167. Lyle says:

    Good list. Of these I own Berry, Weller, Psychedelic Furs, Costello and Dylan. I streamed the Fiona Apple album and understood why it made so many year-end lists but as Paul says, it’s challenging and tough as a casual listen.

    Here’s my 5:

    Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher; The Cribs – Night Network; Courteeners – More. Again. Forever; Basia Bulat – Are You In Love; Bruce Springsteen – Letter to You

  168. Igor Koscec says:

    Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot. Tottaly agrre with you Paul. This is surprise of the year 2020! Perfect album in classic PSB style with 4 perfect singles available in physical format with various versions like the good old times! Great production!

  169. Ben says:

    My album of the year is Madison Cunningham‘s „Who Are You Now“. It is from 2019, I must admit, but I didn‘t discover it until this year – and it absolutely blew me away.
    The 2020 albums I like most are „World On The Ground“ by Sarah Jarosz and The Strokes‘ „The New Abnormal“.

    Happy new year to all SDE readers and to Paul!

  170. Prince Fan says:

    Sault – Untitled (Black Is)
    Sault – Untitled (Rise)
    Sven Wunder – Wabi Sabi
    Surprise Chef – Daylight Savings
    The Flaming Lips – American Head
    Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways

  171. Paul Barnes says:

    Thanks for your recommendations Paul, I always check out what you like, for me best records were
    Punisher- Phoebe Bridges
    Universal Want- Doves
    Total Freedom- Kathleen Edwards
    Shore- Fleet Foxes
    Blue Hearts- Bob Mould

  172. daveid76 says:

    I have found I’m not listening to Hotspot anymore. It’s very hit and miss with three or four very good tracks and a fair bit of filler. I don’t wanna is possibly the worst single they’ve ever released and though I hate to say it Wedding in Berlin pretty much ruins the album. It has not a single redeeming feature.

    I’ve only listened to Bob’s twice and am still processing it. It’s rather hypnotic and dream-like in parts and has some good moments. Not sure about the 17 minute long history of the Western world since Kennedy though. Billy Joel did something like that 30 years ago to much punchier effect!

  173. Paul S says:

    There’s been a few good albums this year agree with pet shop boys, but for me my album of the year has been Taylor Swift Folklore.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Yes, I really enjoyed Taylor Swift as well.

      • Kenny says:

        Never gave Taylor Swift the time of day. To me her material was poor to average. BUT “Folklore” is staggeringly good. and deserves all the accolades its received. My biggest musical shock of the year (and that includes losing John Prine, Bill Withers and Michael Smith)

  174. Samir Hussain says:

    My two albums of the year are Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers and saint Cloud by Waxahatchee. The former was a new discovery and I quickly bought her first album which is also excellent.

    Bubbling under would be The Secret Sisters album and the BC Camplight album.

    I usually use the end of year best of lists to try and discover stuff that I missed during the year and then have a splurge at Fopp in Covent Garden in early January but that isn’t likely to happen this year and I’m trying to ween myself off Amazon

  175. Steven Lowe says:

    Nobody should be allowed to argue with anyone’s list however here’s mine !

    Bright Eyes : Down in the weeds, where the world once was.
    Phoebe Bridgers : Punisher
    Badly Drawn Boy : Banana skin shoes
    Tears For Fears : Seeds of love (don’t care about the rules it’s going on)

  176. SimonH says:

    Agree re the Furs, Ash Wednesday in particular is fantastic. Have nice seats for the RAH, maybe it will happen…

  177. Matt says:

    Good year, if only for music….

    Fontaines DC
    James Dean Bradfield
    Carly Rae Jepsen
    Roisin Murphy
    Jessie Ware
    Pet Shop Boys
    Fiona Apple
    “After Dark 3” ( IDIB)
    Krakow Loves Adana

  178. Rupi says:

    I love that all I had to do to get a signed Pet Shop Boys print was to buy a cassette. No minimum purchase of a bundle of vinyl, CD, t-shirt, logo cap etc etc. was necessary.

  179. Peter Muscutt says:

    Loved the Matt Berry album, he is always consistent with what he puts out. I also played the hell out of ‘Barbarians’ by Young Knives. Best box set for me was the mammoth Mansun effort – still wading through it now! I enjoyed the new JARV IS album, which was quality over quantity in terms of tracks, but it’s always nice to have Mr Cocker back doing what he does best.

  180. The Golden Age Of The Phonograph says:

    Out of al of those albums only Dylan will figure in my Top 20 from 2020.

    Paul Weller made a fine album and as tu say Paul The Lickerish Quartet ain’t an album but it is very good.

    The rest of your selections are too ‘Pop’ for me but that is just my opinion.

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