|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.
"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.
Overture To A Dream
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).
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.
Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible
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.
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.
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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
|4||Off Road Minivan|
"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.
HUMAN. :II: NATURE.
"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.
|2||The 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.
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.