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01.06.21 Early 202101.03.21 Albums I Just Picked Up
01.02.21 Top 10 Local (NY) Albums of 202012.30.20 My Favorite 20 Songs of 2020
12.26.20 My Favorite 10 Albums of 202012.24.20 R.I.P. Leslie West
12.15.20 This Week's Pickups12.11.20 James Bond Films Ranked
11.25.20 Finishing Out 202011.08.20 AEW Full Gear - ***SPOILERS***
11.01.20 Latest pickups10.30.20 November 2020 Song of the Day
10.15.20 Contenders for My 3000th Rating10.14.20 11 Ratings to 3000
09.29.20 Fall Gift Basket08.14.20 Top 10 Horror Films of the 2010s
08.03.20 Weekend Haul06.19.20 Folk Tournament Finals
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My Favorite 20 Songs of 2020

So yeah, another year gone. Rough year for the world, but I liked a lot of the music at least.
Silver Tongue

"Two of Everything"

This isn't the first time singer/songwriter MacKenzie Scott (aka Torres) has made one of my Best Of lists. But this one is all about the lyrics. It's the story the song is telling that fascinates me, as Torres sings to her lover's lover, and sort of passive-aggressively taunts them, with questions like, "Does she also call you 'baby'?/You should know she calls me 'baby'." Heh. Poor sucker.
19Mora Mothaus
Overture To A Dream

"Toxic Snow"

I don't have a whole lot of information I can tell you about Japanese singer/songwriter Mora Mothaus. Her EP "Overture to a Dream" was actually the first album I listened to in 2020, and it stuck with me. This song is slow, hypnotic, and oh so cold. And also a little sad.
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum


This one was actually a single, and a fairly successful one. I never really listened to this South African hard rock band before this year, and I was surprised I liked their 2020 LP "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" (which means "If you want peace, prepare for war" in Latin) as much as I did. The song has a nice undercurrent of menace to it, and the video is pretty sick (in a good way).
17Alexia Avina

"Inner Garden"

This pretty, ethereal song is my favorite from the latest LP by Canadian singer/songwriter Alexia Avina. This year's list, especially the tail end of it, is pretty heavy on slow, quiet songs, and on songs by female singer/songwriters.
16Enter Shikari
Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible

"Modern Living"

I've noticed that this album by British alternative rock band Enter Shikari is a bit divisive among Sputnikers. It's got a good overall rating (3.6/5), and it's getting significant action in the Top 10 Albums of the Year voting. But some people really hate it (and the band). Well, no matter. I can't tell you exactly what I like about this one - it's kind of obnoxious. But like it I do.
15Psychotic Waltz
The God-Shaped Void

"Devils and Angels"

Now this one picks up the pace. This is the opening track on the new LP by Californian progressive metal band Psychotic Waltz, their first new LP in 24 years. It's a reasonably heavy track, but with a good sense of dynamics that keeps it interesting throughout its 6-minute-plus run time.
14Lisa Loeb
A Simple Trick to Happiness


Oops, back to the whole female singer/songwriter thing. What can I tell you, I'm a sensitive male of the 21st century who's in totally secure with his feminine side and not even a little toxic. (Cough!) Anyway, I think this might be Loeb's best song since "Stay," not that anyone else noticed. This was actually released as a single also, although it didn't go anywhere. But I like it, and since this is my list ...
13Hayley Mary
The Piss, The Perfume

"The Piss, The Perfume"

Now you might think, given the rest of this list, that this is yet another sensitive singer/songwriter track, but you'd be wrong. This one is actually a fairly raucous shitkicker of a number, by Hayley Mary, the lead vocalist of the Australian band The Jezebels. It's the title track from her first solo effort, an EP released early in the year.
Strange To Explain

"Just to Fall Asleep"

Brooklyn indie folk band Woods is another one of those outfits I just discovered this year, although they've been making albums for more than a decade now. This hypnotic little track probably would have finished higher on this list, except for a weird and abrupt ending. But it still deserves its place in my Top 20.
Lonely Generation

"Everyone Cries"

Yes, I am secretly a 14-year-old girl. What can I say, I like the song. It's purty.

"This Human Equation"

Ayreon is essentially Dutch multi-instrumentalist Arjen Anthony Lucassen with like a million guest singers and musicians. This is a cut from his latest double-album rock opera. It finds Simone Simons, the lead vocalist of Epica, stealing the show as The Angel of Death, as she and her Furies try to work out the puzzle that is humanity. Note that The Narrator, whom you hear at the beginning of the track, is none other than Doctor Who's Tom Baker.
9Tame Impala
The Slow Rush

"Lost in Yesterday"

I can't say I was blown away by this Australian indie rock band's latest album, "The Slow Rush". But I found this particular song to be one I couldn't get out of my head. It's got a nice groove to it.

"Hopelessly Slipping Away"

Two songs later, and we're back in Transitus. On this track, we find the ghost of our hero Daniel trying desperately to make contact with his lover Abby, as she contemplates taking her own life. They can sense one another's presence, but can't actually communicate. Cammie Gilbert of the Houston doom metal band plays Abby, while Swedish metal vocalist Tommy Karevik (lead singer for bands such as Seventh Wonder and Kamelot) gives voice to the part of Daniel.
7Best Ex
Good At Feeling Bad

"Good At Feeling Bad"

I have loved Best Ex (formerly known as Candy Hearts) and their singer Mariel Loveland for a long time, and a pair of their tracks made my Top 30 Songs of the 2010s list at the end of last year. This is the title number from their latest EP, and it's a song that would make Stephin Merritt himself feel proud -- and depressed, of course.
6Nada Surf
Never Not Together

"Live, Learn and Forget"

This is the standout track for me from this band's excellent new LP "Never Not Together", and it's another song where the lyrics won me over as much as the music itself. If I tried to tell you how many times I've had to learn life lessons over and over, you wouldn't even believe it. But maybe you would, because maybe you do that too?
5Leslie Mendelson
If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

"The Hardest Part"

OK, we're gonna do this whole female singer/songwriter thing one last time in 2020 with this excellent track from native Long Islander Leslie Mendelson. I just love the guitar in this song, and Leslie's voice is perfect as well. I don't care what you say, folk gals rock.
4Off Road Minivan
Swan Dive

"It's Harder to Make It Below Third"

This track is from "Swan Dive", the debut album of this alternative rock band from Red Hook, NY. They're another band I was unfamiliar with before this year. This is pretty much a perfect alt rock track. The guitar line is true, and the chorus has a hook that even Mike Tyson would admire.

"How's the Heart"

Finnish symphonic rockers have become my favorite band of the modern era, and this is the standout track from their latest LP "Human. :II: Nature." It has everything I love about this band, including a standout vocal from Floor Jansen and some nice Celtic pipes from Troy Donockley.
2The Birthday Massacre


Here's another song with a great hook by Canadian gothic alt rockers The Birthday Massacre. They seem to find a way to place at least one or two of these songs on every LP. I knew the first time I heard this song it was going to make this year's Top 20 list.
1Jeff Rosenstock


Long Island rocker Jeff Rosenstock is many things: Clever, rude, funny, obnoxious -- and this song shows off all of those traits, as he extols the virtues of renting the rooms of strange people (in some cases, when they don't even know their place is being rented out). It ain't pretty, but it is a great track. And that's why it's my #1 Song of 2020.
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