40. SUFJAN STEVENS- THE ASCENSION
Overly long, electro album with select moments of brilliance which plays as a musical if not spiritual sequel to 2010’s “Age Of Adz”. The beginning and end of the album contain some of Sufjan’s best songs but the middle drags.
Key Tracks The Ascension; Video Game
39. JAY ELECTRONICA- A WRITTEN TESTIMONY
Long-awaited debut album from already legendary rapper lives up to the hype. Electronica, notably an Islamic five-percenter, collaborates throughout with Jay-Z and addresses spirtuality and societal ills thoughtfully and directly.
Key Tracks Shiny Suit Theory; Ghost Of Soulja Slim
38. DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS- THE NEW OK
Second full-length of 2020. “The New OK” is the DBT’s quarantine album, taking on Trump, BLM protests and everything this crazy year has brought us from the unique perspective of a blue collar, liberal, deep southerner. The 30 minute album ends with an on the nose cover of Ramones “The KKK Took My Baby Away”.
Key Tracks The Perilous Night; The New OK
37. THE CHICKS- GASLIGHTER
Dropping ‘Dixie’ from their name in the wake of BLM, the Chicks also capture the zeitgeist by naming their first album in 14 years after one of the most relevant, if overused, phrases today. Though some of the album is a bit paint by numbers, the best half of its tracks contain the typical Chicks glorious harmonies, upbeat punch and skillful instrumentation to make “Gaslighter” a very worthy additional to their canon.
Key Tracks Gaslighter; Texas Man
36. JASON ISBELL & THE 500 UNIT- REUNIONS
Low key album which continues this former Drive-By Trucker’s winning streak. Isbell is slowly becoming an alt country star, whose deep, insightful and often autobiographical lyrics make him one of the best writing musicians today; both within and outside his own scene.
Key Tracks It Gets Easier; Dreamsicle
35. PORRIDGE RADIO- EVERY BAD
Second album by Brighton, UK, female led four-piece band. “Every Bad” is one of the better rock bands of the year. Porridge Radio was completely off my radar prior to 2020.
Key Tracks Sweet; Don’t Ask Me Twice
34. CHARLI XCX- HOW I’M FEELING NOW
Album made entirely during quarantine by one of the leading lights of forward thinking, futuristic electro pop. Her beats are of the moment and hard hitting as usual, while she songs of love and loneliness while we’re stuck in this moment that we can’t get out of.
Key Tracks Anthems; Enemy
33. MEGAN THEE STALLION- GOOD NEWS
2020 was truly this Texas rapper’s breakout year. Megan is now emphatically one of rap’s biggest stars, if not in pop music in general. “Good News”, arriving very late in 2020 is her official album debut, though she released the excellent EP “Suga” in the spring as well as some of the year’s best and biggest songs like “Savage” and “Wap”.
Key Tracks Savage (Remix); Girls In The Hood
32. MOSES SUMNEY- GRAE
20 song, double album, which initially arrived digitally in two parts. “Grae” is a soulful, gender fluid examination of both the masculine and feminine aspects of Sumney. After a very promising debut, his second album delivers a bigger and deeper version from this leading light of indie-soul.
Key Tracks Polly; Neither/Nor
31. SOCCER MOMMY- COLOR THEORY
Second album by early 20-something singer songwriter who once again delivers one of the year’s best songs in “Circle The Drain”. “Color Theory” is a sadder record than her debut with three colors representing depression (blue), illness (yellow) and death (gray). She (real name Sophie Allison) seems just on the verge of delivering a full-blown classic album.
Key Tracks Circle The Drain; Lucy