Best albums of 2020 (imho)

I’ve been doing a top ten albums list for almost 10 years. About 3 years ago my buddy Paul and I started this music blog. We went gangbusters the first year and as these things occasionally do, it lost a little steam over the past 2 years. Paul has posted a few articles but this may be the only one from me since my ten best of 2019. Nevertheless, I felt I owed it to my loyal small handful of followers to get this past years list up. So here goes….

2020 was an interesting year in music. Artists were left without that creative outlet that touring provides, so many improvised. Live streaming performances and stripped down, acoustic music with lo fi production became a thing., even from bands and artists we think of as big loud arena ready performers.Some went to the vault and recorded alternative versions of previously releases. The Bouncing Souls released Volume II , acoustic versions of some of their great rockers. I loved this album.

My number 10 album is by BillJe Armstrong/ Green Day. Really just a fun project of power pop covers including Hanna”s fave “That thing you do ” from the movie sound track> Here’s one i had on regular rotation.

10 Green Day “NO FUN MONDAYS”

9. The Beths. “JUMP ROPE GAZERS”

I like finding new music and owe this find to Paul. Not sure if he recommended this band but he has been a fan of female led bands and opened my eyes to what I was missing. Great range in this band.

8.Drive-by Truckers. “THE NEW OK”

Easy to get fooled into thinking these guys are just a southern rock band. They definitely have that southern twang thing going but they have a bit of punk and a socially progressive message. This song was inspired by the BLM protests this past year especially in Portland.

7.Chris Stapleton “STARTING OVER”

This artist has been around country music more than 10 years as a songwriter. He’s now put out a few excellent albums. This one is no exception and this song cold might be the best single song I heard this past year. AMAZING voice!!

6.Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit “ REUNIONS”

His winning streak continues. whether solo or withe the fantastic 400 unit, Jason Isbell puts outfantastiic music. This song released early in 2020 was like a prediction for the rest of the year.

5. Haim “ WOMEN IN MUSIC PT. III”

These sisters had a hit a few years back and Iv’e always like their cool LA vibe but this album kicked it up a notch . This song is great but the whole album is worth a few hundred listens

4.Dawes “GOOD LUCK WITH WHATEVER”

These guys have become regular occupants of my top 10. They just keep surprising me

3.The Killers “IMPLODING THE MIRAGE”

This band seems to be permanently stuck somewhere between 1985 and 1992(and I mean that in good way). loved this album from top to bottom.

2. The Menzingers “ FROM EXILE”

After seeing them open for Frank Turner a few years ago, I’ve been a big fan of this local PA band. best played LOUD

1.Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band “LETTER TO YOU”

Well, duh…..

Bruce had been pretty quiet for a few years until his very different introspective “Western Stars” last year. I thought that was great and it was my chill out album of summer 2019. I was beginning to wonder if Bruce was settling into his rock star emeritus phase. Then came this…which i think is the best thin he’s done since The Rising. He draws on his whole body of work without sounding like he’s recycling. Quirky characters like from his early work appear in “If I were the Priest”. “Janey Needs a Shooter” would be at home on “Darkness”

The chorus fo this son starts with a defiant “I’M ALIVE…” which was the perfect message at the end of 2020.

Five of my Favorite Christmas Songs

Well, its Christmas Eve 2020 here and while this year has been unique (and not in the good sense) the holidays helps anchor us to the traditions that make our lives meaningful and that can carry us through these challenging times. Yes the pandemic has altered Christmas as well, but it won’t stop me from posting some of my favorite Christmas songs! While there are many to choose from, here are five of my current favorites.

Eurythmics – Winter Wonderland

From the very first A Very Special Christmas benefit album from 1987 – I really love Annie Lennox’s vocals on this track, a very Eurythmics take on this classic. While the album was a mixed bag (imho) this was one of the standouts.

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl)

I’ve heard plenty of other versions of this song, but for me the original cannot be matched. There’s something about Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl’s vocals, and the Irish instrumentation that does it for me.

Pretenders – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Another standout from the A Very Special Christmas album – love Chrissie Hynde’s vocals on this.

Bruce Springsteen and the E. St. Band – Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Of course this Bruce holiday classic would make my list – probably one of most popular rock versions of a Christmas classic ever. There’s nothing like hearing this song live in concert (which I’ve been lucky to hear several times) and hear old Clarence’s HoHoHo. Really miss the Big Man. Here’s a live version from 1978.

Bob Dylan – Must be Santa

I discovered this Dylan cover a few years ago and its my new favorite. To be honest, the video makes it for me – Dylan in the white hat/Santa hat, the accordion player, the unexplained altercation and escape and the exchange of glances between Dylan and Santa. Looks to be a fantastically fun Christmas party!

Hearing wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Song for our Times – Bob Mould American Crisis

A scream of rage in this dark time in the history of US.

I heard a story on the radio a few weeks ago (before we slid off cliff) about what this year’s “song of the summer” will be (last year it was Uptown Road)….

This song has my vote for song for this summer.

You’re one of us,

Or one of them

If you’re one of them

Don’t come near me again

Song of the Day 5/7/20 Frank Turner “Glorious You”

I decided to build a playlist the name of which is TBT. I’m considering anything from pandemic playlist to Purge the ‘rona

any song will do. Old, new, hits, obscure b sides, novelty songs. As long as it makes you feel good during dark days. Here’s my first offer. Great song just happen to hit me at the right time about 3 miles into my run this morningOn a beautiful 50° morning here in Macungie PA

RIP John Prine – another American treasure taken from us by COVID19

Just heard the sad news about the passing of John Prine this evening from complications from Covid19.  Prine was one of those artists that I knew of and appreciated the songs of his that I had heard, but I can’t say I knew more than a fraction of his work (that will change).  I remember really liking his 1991 album The Missing Years.  Here’s my favorite song from that album.  All The Best.