50 Essential Albums 2020

Well you don’t need me to tell you that it’s been a pretty weird year. When I was sitting here a year ago global pandemic and lockdown was not something that I would have though would be in the forefront of my mind a year later. Yet here we are, and here is my list of albums for 2020. It’s a list that for the best part of a year I didn’t think I would make. For a good half of it we were homeschooling the kids, and access to my hifi was limited to around an album a week. Most of my listening time was spent lying on my bed with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. I retreated to the sound of comforting old favourites which seemed to take two extremes; and which can be exemplified through Slayer’s ‘Reign in Blood’ and Arve Henriksen’s ‘Cartography’.

In addition to this, of course, there have been no gigs since the very beginning of March, and this has been a massive hole in my life for that time. Live performances are often where new music comes alive for me, when I really ‘get’ what a band or artist is aiming to portray with their music… without this my musical life loses a dimension.

It is only latterly, therefore, that I feel as if I’ve really got my musical mojo back, and while there are not gigs to go to still, there have been a massive number of links that others have been posting over the months, and that I have been saving until now. This has led to some intensive and redemptive listening, through which I have found some simply glorious albums, many of which have made it onto this lists. There are probably one or two surprises on here, and certainly there seems to be a wider range of music than has been on previous ‘Essential’ posts (I call these lists ‘Essential’ because the music is essential to me).

So I hope you find something new here that will maybe become essential for you… if you do then job done! Thank you so much to those who have shared their favourites so generously this year… this selection would not have been possible without you.




Translate by Luke Abbott (Border Community)

Tiatoma by Agile Experiments (Self-Released)

The King of Sudanese Jazz by Sharhabil Ahmed (Habibi Funk)

The Infinite Korridor by  Aquarius Lux (The Weird Beard)

1 by Autotelia (Rocket Recordings)

Volumes 1 and 2 by Naujawanan Baidar (Cardinal Fuzz)

Nayda! By Bab L’Bluz (Real World)

Bent Arcana by Bent Arcana (Castle Face)

Szabodelico by Causa Sui (El Paraiso)

The Chisel EP by The Chisel (La Vida Es Un Mus Discos)

Heather Blether by Erland Cooper (Phases)

0110 by Cosmic Ground (Self-Released)

Erratics and Unconformities by Craven Faults (Leaf Label)

Ballet of Apes by Brigid Dawson and Mothers Network (Castle Face)

Night Lands by Dead Sea Apes (Cardinal Fuzz/ Feeding Tube)

Deafbrick by Deafbrick (Rocket Recordings)

Patchwork 1996-1999 by Electric Orange (Self-Released)

The Storm Sessions by Elkhorn (Beyond Beyond is Beyond)

The Acoustic Storm (Cardinal Fuzz/ Centripetal Force)

Source by Nubya Garcia (Concord)

Deleter by Holy Fuck (Last Gang)

Unexpected Isolation by David Kollar and Arve Henriksen (Self-Released)

Soest Live by Kraftwerk (Inner Space)

Trappmusik by Kungens Män (Adansonia)

Crestless by Lemon Quartet (Last Resort)

Songs and Instrumentals by Adrianne Lenker (4AD)

Mystery by Mong Tong (Guruguru Brain)

Exoplanets by Moths and Locusts (Noiseagonymayhem/ The Weird Beard)

Roped In by North Americans (Third Man)

II by OCH (Rocket Recordings)

Inner Song by Kelly Lee Owens (Smalltown Supersound)

6 by Pharoah Overlord (Rocket Recordings)

House of the Holy by Psychic Temple (Joyful Noise)

Summerlong by Rose City Band (Thrill Jockey)

Dichotomy of Control by Martin Rude and Jakob Scøtt (El Paraiso)

Type II by Sex Swing (Rocket Recordings)

You Become The Mountain by Jeffrey Silverstein (Arrowhawk)

1989 by Solitär (Adansonia)

Spiral Galaxy by Spiral Galaxy (Cardinal Fuzz/ LION)

State of Mind by Stiff Richards (Legless)

Stonegrass by Stonegrass (Cosmic Range)

Folklore by Taylor Swift (Republic)

Wooden Flower by Tambourinen (Cardinal Fuzz/ Centripedal Force)

Nomad by Tengger (Beyond Beyond is Beyond)

Duets by lloyd Thayer and Jerome Deupree (Feeding Tube)

Plong by Harmonious Theolonious (Bureau b)

Shadow Forms/ Ohms by Trees Speak (Soul Jazz)

Long Shadows: 2003-2006 by Urdog (Rocket Recordings)

Fungus II by Wasted Shirt (Famous Class)

The Great Mountain by Waterless Hills (Cardinal Fuzz/ Feeding Tube)

Splintered Metal Sky by White Hills (God Unknown)

ARC by White Manna (Cardinal Fuzz/ Centripetal Force)



Thanks very much for reading my blog, I really appreciate this. I write it as a labour of love to help me enjoy music, and to give something back to the many talented people who put out these incredible sounds.

To make it as enjoyable as possible for others I do pay extra so there are, for instance, no ads on these pages; but it would be great if the blog could pay for itself.

So, if you’ve really enjoyed your visit here and have found some music that you think is amazing, why not buy me a coffee (I write in independent cafés a lot) by clicking the “make a donation” button on the sidebar or footer depending on your device.


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