The Best Music of 2020

by Massimo Usai

Yes, it was a beastly year.

A year that runs through history in an impetuous and different way from many critical years for some peoples rather than others is the year of mass suffering globalization.

Everyone in every corner of the hemisphere had (and continue to have) the exact same problem: the Virus, but, regardless of what happens in the world, arrived at these days of the year, I take with me all the records that I have listened to in the last twelve months, and I classify them.

I love making my “record of the year” chart, the list of music that keeps me company throughout the year and has meant so much to me.

I have been doing it since I was a teenager and maybe I will do it as well as a centennial.

So, regardless of what has involved us on a human level in 2020, I still listened to a lot of new music, which is my evaluation of a year of music.

A classic top 10 and then a series of records that have had the same importance as my best albums of this troubled year will greet us in a few days.

So this is it my “Records of the Year 2020” :

N.10 : Set my Heart on Fire immediately – Perfume Genius

Whatever this music is, the results are uniformly fantastic: rich, fascinating and moving, packed with gorgeous melodies and arrangements that feel alive, constantly writhing into unexpected new shapes.

I fell asleep in the evening last summer looking at some trees from my window and I had some hazy dream. His music was on the stereo and when I woke up the soul of this record was inside on me, probably for ever.

N.9 : Someone new – Helena Deland 

The Canadian version of Laura Marling. The new folk it’s so interesting.

Helena’s songs are so beautiful, and her words melts in every inch of my soul every time I listen them.

N.8 : Help – Duval Timothy

Duval Timothy
 is something of a renaissance man – a fashion designer, conceptual artist, pop-up restaurateur and composer. A multi artist in so many deferent fields.

“Slave” has been one of my top 5 songs of the year. All album is minimalist, magic and irresistible.

N.7 : Idiot Prayer – Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace

This album represents 2020 in its whole for me. Famous song revisited alone just with a piano. A concert live just on streaming.

Sadness and hopes in the same moments. Lovely in every single aspect.

N.6 : Man Alive ! – King Krule

King Krule’s music and aesthetic captures the atmosphere of a lot of memories from this year perfectly and probably I can’t explain it but I love it.

Anyway it’s a perfect soundtrack for 2020 but the album come out exactly one month before the first lockdown.

So it’s quite weird how he anticipate the mood of all of us.

N.5 : Debris – Keeley Forsyth

The expressionistic voice of late-era Joni Mitchell, the solemness of late-era Nick Cave, and the artistry of Nico and Joy Division.

Could you ask for more?

“Debris” is easily one of the best debut albums in avant-folk in quite some time.

N.4 : The Archer – Alexandra Savior

Do you like B-movie? Do you like Arctic Monkey last two albums? Do you like cinematic “americana” music?

She has everything. She made one of record of the year.

N.3 : Song for our Daughter – Laura Marling

Three big names in my top 3 of the year.

The third step of my ranking goes to the “Queen of Folk” of the last 15 years.

Album after album, Laura reaches new heights, and it is not the album of the year only because two giants have decided to record their records this year.

N.2 : Fetch the Bolt Cutters – Fiona Apple

Existence is a major theme of the album, on a large scale as living, breathing things, but also on a personal level .

Her records are rare, but every record is a treasure.

“Fetch the Bolt Cutters” is wild and experimental, a gripping listen that refuses to go down easy.

Which means you need to put the right attention to appreciate in full.

N.1: ALBUM OF THE YEAR – Rough And Rowdy Ways – Bob Dylan

In the strangest year of our existence, while all the records are very much in theme with the events around us, Bob Dylan comes out with an album that smells 60 years of music.

I was unsure what to choose as the record of the year, and in the end, the choice went to the great Bob because this song is undoubtedly my song of the last 10 years.

Thanks, Bob, for another masterpiece.

Honourable Mentions

Without any order, .just random …

Petals for armor – Hayley Williams

We will always love you – The Avalanches

Think of Spring – M Ward

Big Bunny – Alaska Reid

Hyperspace – Beck

The Universal Want – Doves

The Night Chancers – Baxter Dury

Gold Record – Bill Callahan

Suddenly – Caribou

American Head – The Flaming Lips

Punisher – Phobe Bridgers

Beyond the Pale – Jarvis…

Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez – Gorillaz

Phantom birds –Matt Berry

Odin’s Raven Magic – Sigur Ros

Magic – Oneohtrix Point Never 

Songs – Adrianne Lenker

Kick! – Arca

Sawayama  – Rina Sawayama

Kitchen Sink – Nadine Shah  

Sister – Mina Tindle

The Ascention – Sufjan Stevens 

A Hero’s Death – Fontaines D.C.

Inner Song – Kelly Lee Owens

Beginners – Christian Lee Hutson

Healing Is a Miracle – Julianna Barwick

Grae – Moses Sumney

The baby – Samia

Earth – EOB

Sixteen Oceans – Four Tet

Disco Volador – The Oriells

Neon Skyline – Andy Shauf

Serpeantine Prison –Matt Berninger

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