Welcome to my annual list of my favorite music of the (last) year. While I used to burn CDs, since 2016 I’ve been offering links to playlists on Apple Music and Spotify instead.
This list, my 16th annual, is a sampler of my favorite music that I discovered this year. I hope you enjoy it.
1. Disaster Party
Magic Giant, Disaster Party (single) (2019)
Early in 2020, I found out that Magic Giant was coming to Fort Collins for a concert. I called up some friends and bought tickets as I heard their latest single, Disaster Party. The song is about people getting together for a party as the world ends. The truth of course is that the world did end in 2020, and rather than being a party, the concert was canceled. With irony like that, how could this not be the lead-off trace for this year’s collection?
2. I Don’t Wanna
HAIM, Women in Music Pt. III (2020)
3. Monsters (feat. blackbear)
All Time Low, Wake Up, Sunshine (2020)
Larkin Poe, Kin (2014)
Larkin Poe’s Venom & Faith was my favorite album from last year, so I spent 2020 working through their back catalog.
5. The End of the Game
Weezer, Van Weezer (2020)
I’m embarrassed to say that I got into Weezer via their Teal Album of silly covers, as evidenced by songs appearing in both my 2019 and 2018 collections. The Van Weezer album was originally slated for release in 2020, but the pandemic has kept pushing it back, presumably until a time when they can support it with a tour.
6. Death by Rock and Roll
The Pretty Reckless, Death by Rock and Roll (single) (2020)
Unabashedly, The Pretty Reckless is all about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Definitely a throwback sound, but one I still enjoy. This is the first of two tracks from this band on this year’s collection.
7. Special Lady
Wolfmother, Rock’n’roll Baby (2019)
8. My Medicine
The Pretty Reckless, Light Me Up (2010)
Similar to Larkin Poe, I discovered The Pretty Reckless a year ago, and listened to their back catalog in 2020.
9. Yesterday’s Yesterday
Joe Satriani, Shapeshifting (2020)
Switching up the mood…
10. So We Won’t Forget
Khruangbin, Mordechai (2020)
I discovered Khruangbin and So We Won’t Forget on an episode of Song Exploder. This fantastic podcast has the tagline Where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made, and I highly recommend it if you like hearing about the creative process that artist go through as they write and record songs.
11. For Elise
Saint Motel, “saintmotelevison” (2016)
I love the play on Für Elise, and the piano solo that goes along with it.
12. It Gets Easier
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Reunions (2020)
Jason Isbell is on-record as a recovering alcoholic, explored by the mournful and intense lyrics of this song.
Last night I dreamed that I’d been drinking
Same dream I have about twice a week
I had one glass of wine, I woke up feeling fine
And that’s how I knew it was a dream
13. Last Train
Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado, Come on In (2020)
Blues from Denmark? Why not?
14. Rollin’ and Tumblin’
Jeff Beck, You Had It Coming (2000)
Imogean Heap provides vocals for this rollicking rendition of the old Muddy Waters tune.
15. The Best
AWOLNATION, Angel Miners & the Lightning Riders (2020)
16. Heat Seeker
DREAMERS, This Machine Kills Fascists, 2020
17. bad guy
Billie Eilish, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? (2019)
I think there’s a law that says that men over fifty are not supposed to listen to Billie Eilish, but I like this song anyway.
Highly Suspect, MCID (2019)
19. Level of Concern
twenty one pilots, Level of Concern (single) (2020)
twenty one pilots is a band that everyone likes but me. Except this song. I like this song.
Tame Impala, The Slow Rush (2020)
21. I Don’t Understand Rock and Roll
White Denim, World as a Waiting Room (2020)
22. Everything Has Changed
Best Coast, Always Tomorrow (2020)
23. Easy Street
Larkin Poe, Self Made Man (2020)
Larkin Poe bridges the gap between blues and country, with this track falling on the country side of the line.
The Annual Pronunciation Guide
To native English speakers, Zweitausendzwanzig looks intimidating, but it breaks down as follows:
- Zwei (2)- pronounced with an “s” sound, followed with “veye” (rhymes with eye), all packed into a single syllable
- tausend (1000)- pronounced like the English word “thousand”, replacing the “th” sound with a straight “t” sound (there’s no “th” sound in German)
- zwanzig (20)- pronounced like the English word “swan”, with a “z” in front instead of an “s”, followed by “zig”
Now mash that all together in one single word. There you go, that wasn’t so hard, was it?