The new year has just begun, so what better way to spend New Years’ Day than to ruminate over last year’s best music?
Listening to every new album is a massive task that we at the humble 13th Floor just are not equipped to do. But, that said, we do listen to a lot of new music and with that in mind, here is a list of what I feel are the Top 10 albums of 2020 as covered on The 13th Floor
10. The Bobby Lees – Skin Suit (Alive) One of the unexpected joys of the Covid lockdown was having the time to seek out unknown bands and then to actually talk to them about them and their music. That’s just what we did with The Bobby Lees.
The 13th Floor’s Marty Duda tracked them down as they were on the road on the Pennsylvania Turnpike returning to Woodstock, NY. Click here to watch. Meanwhile our man Rev Orange Peel gave the album a good listen and a couple of thumbs up. Click here to read his review. And why not? The Jon Spencer-produced disc rocked! Simple as that.
9. Suzie Stapleton – We Are The Plague (Negative Prophet) Here’s another discovery made during lockdown…the appropriately-titled We Are The Plague.
Suzie Stapleton is an Aussie native now living in the UK and this album has been in heavy rotation at The 13th Floor ever since Marty spoke to her this past November. Dark, brooding and powerful…if you like Patti, Nick and Stranglers you’ll want to check this out.
8. Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters (Epic) Here’s one that’s pretty much on everyone’s list. It took Marty a little time to get into it as you can read in his 13th Floor review, but the effort was worth it.
7. X – Alphabetland (Fat Possum) They say history never repeats but the four original members of La punk pioneers X have returned with their first album in 37 years(!) and its like they never left. Actually, they’ve been touring regularly but getting this new album was a very special unexpected treat in 2020. Click here to read Marty Duda’s review and here to watch his Interview with John Doe.
6. Lucinda Williams – Good Souls Better Angels (Highway 20) 14 albums into a career that reaches back to the 1970s and Lucinda has yet to make a bad record. This one finds her writing and singing and playing passionately about politics, violence and relationships as she rails against “liars, losers, cheaters and thieves”. Click here to read Marty Duda’s 13th Floor review.
5. The Psychedelic Furs – Made Of Rain (Cooking Vinyl) Another welcome comeback, this time from The Furs as the Butler Brothers treat us with a new album, their first in 27 years. Not only is it new…its good! Click here to read 13th Floor’s Rev Orange Peel’s review. Pretty cool even if he does compare it to Morrissey.
4. Bruce Springsteen – Letter For You (Columbia) Talk about comebacks, here’s a guy that’s never left. Bruce gathers the E Street Band and comes up with his best album since Tunnel Of Love. Sure there’s nostalgia cooked into every track, but there’s a time and a place for that, and if you read Marty’s review, you’ll see that time and place is right here, right now.
3. American Aquarium – Lamentations (New West) This album marks the coming of age of chief singer/songwriter BJ Barham. Based in North Carolina, this is a band and an album the NEEDS to be heard as they address what it is to be a white Southern Man in 2020 as riots, murders and looting fill the streets. Confederate statutes are being torn down and now, finally, Black Lives Matter. Click here to read the review and here to watch the extraordinary interview BJ gives to The 13th Floor. So thorough we had to present it in two parts so you could catch your breath.
2. Reb Fountain – Reb Fountain (Flying Nun) As far as Kiwi music goes, this was Reb’s year. This new, self-titled album is, quite simply, astonishingly good. The level of songwriting, Reb’s performance and her collaboration with co-producer/guitarist Dave Khan should take Reb Fountain to the next level.
We’ve been tracking Reb’s career for years and to see her produce such a wonderful album is the reason we listen to music. Click here to listen to Reb Fountain give a track by track rundown of the album to Marty Duda.
1. Bob Dylan – Rough And Rowdy Ways (Columbia) When Dylan is on, no one can touch him, and make no mistake he is ON here. Most of us had given up after waiting 8 years after Tempest, putting up with “Crooner” Bob along the way. Then, seemingly out of the blue he hit us with Murder Most Foul, a 17 minute song that took everyone by surprise.
When the album arrived, few were disappointed. We say, stop living in the past. Blonde On Blonde was 55 years ago. This Bob Dylan record is as vibrant, passionate and relevant as anything he recorded in the 1960s. Click here to read Marty’s review, then listen to all ten of these albums!
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