Shore (Fleet Foxes)

It has to be said, that prior to the release their fourth album (at the autumnal equinox on 22 September 2020 after being announced only one day in advance) I hadn’t really paid much attention to Fleet Foxes, an American folk band.

Singer/songwriter Robin Pecknold…wanted the album to exist in a liminal space outside of time, inhabiting both the future and the past, accessing something spiritual or personal that is untouchable by whatever the state of the world may be at a given moment, whatever our season.

It’s a musically adventurous album that’s life affirming, warm and full of grace; one that faces life’s realities yet comes across as a breath of fresh air. It’s one of my favourites of 2020.

You can see all my favourite 2020 albums by clicking here.

Favourite Albums 2020

My musical listening during 2020 has been somewhat haphazard, mainly because of circumstances (coronavirus, retirement, young children, and moving to a new house) as well as a desire to listen to comforting old and established favourites.

Similarly, my choices this year reflect the unique nature of 2020. a year unlike any other for all of us. Indeed, many are comforting, meditative, and reflective.

This year I’m going to be doing things a little differently, I’ll post my favourite albums of the year individually between now and the end of the year. I’ll choose my top album(s) in the last week of December.

It’s obvious, of course, that I can never listen to all the albums released each year, but I’ve listened to less than my usual in 2020.

You can see all my favourite 2020 albums by clicking here, or individually below. Note: Some albums are not linked to a post yet.

Myopia (Agnes Obel)

break_fold (break_fold)

Coast (Cousin Silas)

Coloured Fragments (Cousin Silas)

Electric Portraits (Cousin Silas)

Honey For Wounds (Ego Ella May)

Hey Clockface (Elvis Costello)

Vestibule (Fictions and Poetics)

Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Fiona Apple)

Shore (Fleet Foxes)

1000 Hands: Chapter One (Jon Anderson)

Inner Song (Kelly Lee Owens)

Fragility (Kevin Buckland)

Spook the Herd (Lanterns on the Lake)

Song for Our Daughter (Laura Marling)

Eine Phase des Übergangs (Martin Neuhold)

Serpentine Prison (Matt Berninger)

Dark Matter (Moses Boyd)

Moonlight in October (Puppy Bordiga)

A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip (Sparks)

You can see the albums that just missed out here.

This post is a work in progress and subject to change.

Dark Matter (Moses Boyd)

Dark Matter by Moses Boyd is one of a number of albums I’ve discovered this year because they were nominated for the Mercury Prize 2020.

Moses Boyd is a British jazz drummer, composer, record producer, bandleader and radio host. This debut solo album is a wonderful jazz album, one that’s fused with so many other genres, and described as a ‘melting-pot of genres and styles’. It’s one of my favourites of 2020.

You can see all my favourite 2020 albums by clicking here.

A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip (Sparks)

Sparks have been around since 1967, but I first came across them in 1974 when I heard their most well-known song, This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us. It was the opening track on their third album, Kimono My House.

A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip is their twenty-fourth studio album, and it’s one of my favourite albums of 2020. Unusually for Sparks it does contain the F*** word, especially in the title of one of the songs, a powerful environmental plea.

You can see all my favourite 2020 albums by clicking here.

Moonlight in October

This lovely ambient album by Puppy Bordiga is one of my favourite albums of 2020. He describes it as new music for new times.

He goes on: October was always a month of before and after, leaving its mark on us, so I tried to reflect that characteristic in this new work. This work is not intended to be programmatic music, but if you like, it could be another relaxation tape (at least some parts), for your enjoyment. The instrumentation varies throughout the tracks, but was mostly done with keyboards, along with some sustained (barely noticeable) notes here and there with Guitar & FX. Listening at medium to low volume levels is recommended.

Your soul is a chosen landscape
Where charming masquerades and dancers are promenading,
Playing the lute and dancing, and almost
Sad beneath their fantastic disguises.

While singing in a minor key
Of victorious love, and the pleasant life
They seem not to believe in their own happiness
And their song blends with the moonlight,

With the sad and beautiful moonlight,
Which sets the birds in the trees dreaming,
And makes the fountains sob with ecstasy,
The slender water streams among the marble statues.

Paul Verlaine, 1869.

You can see all my favourite 2020 albums by clicking here.

Coloured Fragments (Cousin Silas)

A third, and possibly final, favourite album by Cousin Silas in 2020.

Coloured Fragments is quite a long album, more of a double album really. Cousin Silas insists that all the titles are ‘proper’ colours! You can make your own mind up, just enjoy these soundscapes.

My friend Thomas Mathie, who has his own Bandcamp label, writes: This is truly an exceptional release from Cousin Silas … delightfully low key and chilled ambient music … nothing too strenuous or taxing … perfect for resting.

You can see all my favourite 2020 albums by clicking here.

Cover by Kevin Lyons/Cousin Silas

1000 Hands (Jon Anderson)

Two things before I go on; firstly, the full title is 1000 Hands: Chapter One and secondly, this is actually a 2019 album that I unfortunately missed, but which was re-released in 2020. Well, no one’s perfect!

Compiled over many years, it’s a wonderful collaborative album, one that’s clearly been made with love. It features a whole range of guest performers, from the late Yes bassist Chris Squire, through pianist Chick Corea, to Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull on flute.

You can see all my favourite 2020 albums by clicking here.

Coast (Cousin Silas)

This is another new release by my friend Cousin Silas (not his real name) on his Bandcamp label to become an instant favourite album of mine in 2020. The previous one is Electric Portraits.

It’s a delightfully relaxing collection of ‘aural snapshots’ inspired by the coast. As he writes: I have always had an affinity for the coast. Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of my weekends and holidays, as a kid, on the East coast. Whatever the reason, it has often ‘inspired’ me, usually for the reflective and lonely places they can be … I hope you enjoy them as much I did making them.

This album is a perfect tonic for the struggles of 2020. The artwork is again by my friend Thomas Mathie, who also has a Bandcamp label that features music by Cousin Silas and others.

You can see all my favourite 2020 albums by clicking here.