The 2020 Playlist

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, December 30, 2020, 3:26 PM | comments: 0

In what was otherwise a fairly terrible year, we did have a solid year for music. This year's playlist is not as long as others, but it isn't propped up by musicals, and we finally had entire albums that were good.

First off, yes, I copypasta'd Sofi Tukker's "Purple Hat" from last year, because as the year began, I just wasn't done with this song. Also, I might have a grade school crush on Sophie. When Covid hit, they committed to live streaming DJ sets every day, which they did for most of the year, and have since turned it over to various guest DJ's. But they also released "House Arrest," which became something of an anthem for a pandemic:

I decided not to leave my house and go outside
I held myself sweetly, made myself a lullaby
This won't last forever, treat your sadness with a smile
We can't have what's next 'til we hang inside it for a while

This is house arrest...

Meanwhile, The Naked And Famous, still one of my favorite bands, released Recover. It didn't grab me at first, but then I recall that their first album didn't either, and now it's one of my favorites of all time. Recover grew on me, and while it's not my favorite of the four to date, I dig it. I just wanted it to have more noise, which they tend to have less of as they become better song writers. The song "Come As You Are" is a wonderful, chill tune that puts me at ease every time I hear it.

Grouplove released Healer this year, and it unfortunately did not really grab me the way their previous albums did. But the first single, "Deleter," came at a time when I was completely disappointed with the people in the world (and my world) that we designate as leaders. Talk about the right song for the right time! I wish I could say the same for the Alanis Morissette album, which doesn't really stand out in any particular way. It's repetitive and down. I included "Smiling" in the list because it reminds me vaguely of "Uninvited" or "Still."

There was a time when I wondered if The Black Keys were just one of those radio-friendly rock bands that could keep churning out hits, but I don't even care now. "Let's Rock" is one of the best rock albums I've heard in a very long time. It's so good. I haven't really been much of a guitar-driven rock guy in a long time, but this album is a masterpiece.

The big surprise album for me was Missio's Can You Feel The Sun. The title track is just fantastic, maybe the best song this year. I'm also fond of "Vagabond" and several others. I investigated the album when the title single started playing on AltNation, and was surprised, because this is the "Middle Fingers" band. Not that that wasn't a good song, it just felt like a novelty. But they're the real deal, this is a great album.

The year had a number of predictable returners, like Billie Eilish. She's one of those people I recognize as a great talent, even if most of her songs aren't really my thing. Glass Animals is another one that surprises me, with three songs this year. AJR makes big radio hits at least a few times a year. I'm super excited about what beabadoobee might be. "Care" is a song that reminds me a lot of a cross of Juliana Hatfield and Liz Phair, and she looks amazing as this tiny guitar shredding woman. I'm very intrigued by Paris Jackson, whose first song is pretty good, and nothing like anything her late father ever made. Next year, I'm looking forward to the new Foo Fighters album, because the first single, "Shame Shame" is really good. Dave Grohl is gonna keep making music until he can't.

I also had to throw in the title theme from The Mandalorian. What a cool composition that is. I mean, who thinks to combine a plastic recorder with electronic elements and a full orchestra, and it still sounds like Star Wars? It's brilliant.

Of course, it's worth noting that music was a big deal for me this year, as I built my own music cloud service, and I did 21 hours of radio shows on PRX. I listened a lot this year.


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