It’s finally albums of the year time!
We began 2020 with a bang. The DIY Why Not? Festival feels like an absolute eternity ago. It was a different world back in January; that all feels like it was a wonderful dream now. Of course, there were suggestions of an emerging epidemic in China at the time but many had little idea of its severity or how far it would travel. If you had told us then that we would all be facing music venue closures, pub closures, wearing masks, lockdowns, crippling world debts, mass unemployment and thousands of deaths we would have thought that was a little over the top… but here we are.
On a cheerier note, the mess that was 2020 still provided some great albums. In total we reviewed 40!
Having taken some time to digest what we all experienced (and continue to) here are 20 of our favourites, although we loved everything we reviewed. Click on the player below each summary to hear the artist.
20. Katy And Nick – What I Did For You (Gob Nation)
Members of Es and Bamboo combined on this magical and gorgeously produced debut offering. Katy Cotterell’s otherworldly voice is quite something.
19. Primo! – Sogni (Upset The Rhythm)
Subtly comedic and understated as always. It’s more of the same, but Sogni is a great follow up to Primo’s superb 2018 debut.
18. The Cool Greenhouse – The Cool Greenhouse (Melodic)
The repetition, repetition, repetition of The Cool Greenhouse’s debut album delivered on the promise of their excellent 2019 singles. Tom Greenhouse’s gloriously sardonic lyrics make them one of the most exciting new artists/bands in the UK. For fans of The Pheromoans and The Fall.
17. Order Of The Toad – Re-Order Of The Toad (Gringo Records)
The wonderfully titled “Re-Order Of The Toad” is an album full of retro pop gems. The Glasgow based trio are a true blast from the past, in technicolor.
16. Hen Ogledd – Free Humans (Domino)
Richard Dawson and friends returned with another odd pop gem of an album. The multiple dialects are always a joy. Can this band do no wrong?
15. The Worms – Back To The Bog (Hidden Bay)
The second album by The Worms featured yet more dirty, lo-fi punk of the highest order. Oliver Fisher’s unique vocals are a gravelly delight.
14. Melenas – Dias Raros (Trouble In Mind)
Dias Raros was the perfect summer album for days spent staring out the window. The Spanish quartet are something special.
13. Sleeper & Snake – Fresco Shed (Upset The Rhythm)
Two members of Terry dropped an unexpectedly subtle album with a unique combination of sounds. Sleeper and Snake made the clarinet cool in 2020.
12. Irma Vep – Embarrassed Landscape (Gringo Records)
Another off-kilter, frazzled, crooked and gorgeous folky guitar pop from Birthmarks and Robert Sotelo collaborator Edwin Stevens.
11. Rubie -Take Both (Self-released)
A stunning and raw debut album from F Choir and Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business member Rubie Green. Tackling heavy subjects to often breathtaking effect.
10. No Home – Fucking Hell (Self-released)
A huge, deeply affecting and unique blend of crunchy electronics, no-fi noise and soulful vocals.
09. Naked Roommate – Do The Duvet (Upset The Rhythm)
As fun as the name suggests. ‘Do The Duvet’ embraces No Wave ESG funkiness and electronic beats
08. Merlin Nova – Boo! (Self-released)
An ultra confident performer, as out there as you can get. Boo! Is full of strange skits and Scott Walker-esque weirdness.
07. The Silver Field – Sing High! Sing Low! (Crossness Records)
A slow burning, meditative, loop driven second album fronted by the brilliant and unique Coral Rose.
06. Michael – Tell Your Friends (Cracked Ankles)
Massive Sabbath riffs and Rollins meets David Yow vocals are delivered in knowingly tongue in cheek fashion. Heavy, but great fun with it. Frontman Milo Brennan is a revelation. For fans of Pigs x7, Idles and Black Flag.
05. Clementine March – Le Continent (Lost Map)
A fantastic, long awaited debut that we came back to repeatedly in 2020. In the year we broke ties with the rest of the continent, Stereolab and Pavement combine in equal measure on this runaway indie success.
04. Nape Neck – Nape Neck (Gringo Records)
A jagged, explosive and twitchy debut album. Nape Neck are a devastating band.
03. Merry Christmas – The Night The Night Fell (Self-released)
Multicoloured, giddy pop for fans of Los Campesinos!, Architecture In Helsinki and Gut Waxy. This addictive album is packed with great melodies and cartoonish glee. This band deserve far more attention.
02. R.Aggs – Tape (Self-released)
A low key release by the Shopping, Trash Kit and Sacred Paws singer/guitarist. A new, electronics driven approach unearths a fragility that was always hinted at.
01. Handle – In Threes (Upset The Rhythm)
This utterly inspired album of rubbery, Gonzo no-wave weirdness features members of the excellent Duds.