Wednesday, 16 December 2020

20 for 2020 #2

Last week I gave you my Top 5 albums of the year. The thing is, it wasn't quite that simple, as when it came down to it, only the top 3 were unarguable. For positions 4 and 5, I had three to choose from. In the end I plumped for Nadine Shah and Katy J Pearson to take the slots.

So while the rest of the albums in this series are not listed in any particular order, the first of today's choices is 'the one that got away', the record that just missed the top 5 by an absolute whisker.

Phoebe only became known to me in the latter part of the year. I can't really believe how she'd escaped me before. 'Punisher' is an album of personal, confessional, sometimes confrontational songs that no one her age should be able to write. But she's channelled her experiences into making some of the most beautiful songs of the year. The apocalyptic I Know The End also has one of the most stunning videos of 2020.

I was a big fan of Polly's debut album way back in 2009. It took her four years to follow it up and sadly that one didn't do much for me. Her new album, arriving a further seven years later, is a real return to form. Plenty of quirky songs that veer from dark masterpieces like Red, to gentle piano ballads, to strange electronic spoken word pieces. She's not one to rush things, but on this evidence that's no bad thing. Another exceptional video here.

What a record this is! Mali's finest Songhoy Blues have been building to this, their third album, which knocked me for six. As wll as the sociological lyrics that depict struggle and adversity, the power of the music is ramped up a notch, giving us their hardest hitting set of songs to date. "Ir Badala in Songhai means "I gon't give a fuck", and is inspired by the youth in Mali, especially young women, who are pushing back against patriarchy & societal controls. This song celebrates that courage, fearlessness & agency through the story of a woman ending her relationship, and choosing her own destiny."

BOB MOULD 'Blue Hearts'
After last year's album of sunny, happy songs, Bob made a quick turnaround with a record of extra-loud angry noise. In many ways, it sums up the times we live in, especially this past 12 bizarre months. My fave track on the album is also its most melodic, but its message is as powerful as Bob's usual barrage of sound!

IDLES 'Ultra Mono'
Having reached mainstream-level status, Idles are showing no signs of letting up. Some may write them off as punk for the woke generation, but you know what? They make great music. That's all I care about. 'Ultra Mono' saw the band reach out to friends and acquaintances, and as a result you'll hear David Yow of The Jesus Lizard shouting on this, as well as a piano intro from, erm, Jamie Cullum...

More to come next week.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Polly Scatterwood album! Enjoy a lot of what Phoebe Bridgers has to offer. Nice to see Bob Mould not going down the mature Rocker route on Blue Hearts. I'm dealing with Idles. I kinda like the idea of them being Punk for the Woke Generation, which means, to me, that they can't be Punk at all - something completely else.