As is becoming tradition, let’s start with my favourite SONG OF THE YEAR – a full run down of all my favourite songs can be heard on one of our end of the year podcasts – the Kicker one , and, of those, my favourite is The Humdrum Express with this lyrical masterpiece. Bostin.

 

Top 50 Albums

1   The Cool Greenhouse – The Cool Greenhouse

A close call, but this is the album that I played the most this year. Despite failing to win the plant growing competition the band set up (on a technicality, I’d argue), I love everything about this band including their very natty set of t-shirts and badges.  

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2    Guided By Voices – Surrender Your Poppy Field

My favourite of the the two GbV records I have been able to listen to properly this year (a third, Styles We Paid For, was released this month, but hasn’t yet arrived in physical form in Liverpool, so will be considered for inclusion in 2021).

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3    The Apartments – In And Out Of The Light

The sound of heartbreak, This resonated, especially the line: “Ask me about goals, you know I don’t have any / Ask me about wishes, you know I got plenty of them / I’ve had plenty of them”

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4    The Lovely Eggs– I Am Moron

A great album from start to finish. My favourite of the more mature egg sound records.

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5    Revolutionary Army Of The Infant Jesus – Songs of Yearning / Nocturnes

Wonderful to have another (in fact, two) record from this most enigmatic of Liverpool bands just 5 years after the last. No-one else sounds like this. 

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6    Cornershop – England Is A Garden

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7    Guided By Voices – Mirrored Aztec

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8    Coriky – Coriky

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9    Royal Chant – Blank Verse

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10   The Nightingales – Four Against Fate

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11   Ariel Sharratt & Mathias Kom – Never Work

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12   Porridge Radio – Every Bad

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13   Bill Callahan – Gold Record

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14   Datblygu – Cwm Gwagle

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15   Babybird – Gun In A Clown’s Mouth

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16   The Just Joans – The Private Memoirs And Confessions Of The Just Joans

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17   Billy Nomates – Billy Nomates

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18   Working Men’s Club – Working Men’s Club

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19   epic45 – Cropping The Aftermath

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20   Boon – Morning’s

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21   Pop Filter – Banksia

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22   Permanent Clear Light – Cosmic Comics

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23 Nathan Hall & The Sinister Locals – On The Blink

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24   Kiko Dinucci – Rastilho

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25   The Humdrum Express – Ultracrepidarian Soup

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26   Anton Barbeau – Manbird

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27   Throwing Muses – Sun Racket

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28   Jason Henn – Jazz Pigs In High School

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29   Negativland – The World Will Decide

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30   Andrew Bunting – Dancers / For All The Loves Lost

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31  of Arrowe Hill – Hangover Square 

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32  The Microphones – Microphones In 2020

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33  Schizo Fun Addict – The Last Wave

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34  Dog! Paper! Submarine! – Slippery Satellites

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35  Babybird – God Upside Down

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36  Craven Faults – Erratics & Unconformities

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37  Pop Filter – Donkey Gully Road

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38  Moviola – Scrape and Cuss

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39  Veryan – Ebb & Flow

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40  The Soft Pink Truth – Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?

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41  Derrero – Time Lapse 

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42  Bob Mould – Blue Hearts

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43  The Orb – Abolition of The Royal Familia

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44  Wire – Mind Hive

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45  The Bats – Foothills

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46  Asian Dub Foundation – Access Denied

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47  Figueroa – The World As We Know It

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48  The Chives – The Chives

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49  Mythical Motors – Sleepwalking On Main Street

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50  Canshaker Pi – Okay Decay

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… and making up a top 75 albums, all of which you should own, are, in alphabetical order, 25 more:

Belbury Poly – The Gone Away; Boyracer – On A Promise; Cabaret Voltaire – Shadow Of Fear; The Cleaners From Venus – Dolly Birds & Spies; Shirley Collins – Heart’s Ease; The Dream Syndicate – The Universe Inside; Eyelids – The Accidental Falls; The Flatmates – The Flatmates; Fort Not – The Club Is Open; Bernard Grancher – Aveugle Etincelle; The Heartwood Institute & Panamint Manse – Parapsychedelia; Joseph Airport – C O S M O S I S; Mekons – Exquisite; Memory Drawings – A Few Scattered Hours; Milky Wimpshake – Confessions Of An English Marxist; Mosses ‎– T.V. Sun; Pole – Fading; Chuck Prophet – The Land That Time Forgot; Proto Droids – Cybernetic World; The Reverse – Which Way Out; Sakuran Zensen ‎– おれは錯乱前戦だ!!; Sparks – A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip; St James Infirmary – And Then The Wires Sing; Tricky – Fall To Pieces; Zekeultra – (The Power Of) The Will Of Man

 

Top 12 Compilations

1  Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987 (Captured Tracks)

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2  The Land of Sensations and Delights: The Psych Pop Sounds of White Whale Records, 1965–1970

3  Portals (Behind The Sky)

4  Dreams To Fill The Vacuum: The Sounds Of Sheffield 1977-1988 (Cherry Red)

5  Road To Istanbul (Almost Halloween Time Records)

6  The Isolation Tapes (Castles In Space)

7  Come Stay With Me (Come Play With Me)

8  Head In The Clouds (Fruits De Mer)

9  Some Neon Reason: Further Adventures of the Polytechnic Youth

10 Aquabear Vols. 7 & 8 / Mother Of Presidents (Aquabear Legion)

11 Signals, Wires & Amplifiers (Next Phase : Normal)

12 Musik Music Musique – 1980: The Dawn of Synth Pop (Cherry Red)

 

Top 12 EPs

Anthony Burrill – Birds

Yes, this is a record of mashed up birdsong and aircraft sound. It’s even better than that makes it sound.

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Jan The Man – Extended Play 1, 2, 3, 4

Fixtures – Weak Automatic

The Declining Winter – Occupying The Blanks

Wladyslaw Trejo – Es Una Bestia

The Stroppies – Look Alive!

Smug Brothers – Flame Verbatim / Room Of The Year / Every Surface Under Heaven

Metayouth – Speech Balloons In June

Gabe Knox – Cosmic Motorik Adventures & Machine Language Music

10  Pye Corner Audio – Where Things Are Hollow 2

11  Kneeling In Piss – Music For Peasants

12  Honey Radar – Bonus Snow

 

Top 10 Reissues / Re-pressings / Remixes / Not Strictly Speaking New Stuff

Grand Gestures – Low Lights

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Urusei Yatsura – Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura – Lost Songs 1993​-​2000

Honey Radar – Sing the Snow Away: The Chunklet Years

Neil Young – Homegrown

Wire – 10:20

Lou Barlow – At A Loss For Words

Soft Hearted Scientists – The Continuing Escapades

The Loves – Spread Love: The Loves Anthology 2000-2011

UFO – Strangers In The Night (Deluxe Edition)

10  The Pogues – The BBC Sessions 1984-1986

 

Top 10 Live Albums

Guided By Voices – Live From Dayton, Ohio, 2020

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Guided By Voices – Doses Of Nonchalance, Live at Spaceland, Los Angeles, April 21, 1995

Urusei Yatsura – Live In London 1999

Negativland – Live Brain: Eurotour 2019

Lou Barlow & The Missingmen – Live 2009 (Artist Enabler Club – Part 13)

Chuck Prophet – Strings in the Temple: Live with Orchestra at the Great American Music Hall

Doug Gillard – Corona Classic Concert

Eyelids – Eyelids Live!

Courtney Barnett – MTV Unplugged – Live In Melbourne

10  The Unthanks – Diversions Vol. 5 – Live And Unaccompanied

 

Top 3 Gigs

Wire – The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 31 January

The only gig I got to go to in 2020 because of, you know, everything. Seems like a lifetime ago.

Guided By Voices – World Tour 2020, 17 July (Streamed)

Fontaines D.C. – A Night at Montrose, Dublin, 3 August (Streamed)

 

The Robert Pollard Annual Output Roundup

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Even in a killer virus affected twelve months, Robert Pollard has managed to maintain a release schedule to make most mortals weep. This year, we have had two new Guided By Voices albums (with a third delayed into January) – Surrender Your Poppy Field and Mirrored Aztec and the re-release of Vampire On Titus (in 2 different colour versions) and Alien Lanes (multi-coloured vinyl, natch). We also had two singles with non-LP b-sides – Volcano and Man Called Blunder – and a Record Store Day release of Hold On Hope on 10 inch. The latest edition of artwork in book form, EAT 16, also came with a 7 track Robert Pollard EP entitled Soundtrack To Planet Cake and we also had the last ever release of the alter-ego Cash Rivers & The Sinners with Bad Side Of The Coin. Tobin Sprout also released his first album for four years with the low key Empty Horses, and Doug Gillard appeared all over the latest Nada Surf album Never Not Together and The Bye Bye BlackbirdsBoxer At Rest (not pictured as I’ve just found out!). Many of us also had the pleasure of receiving a tremendous CD EP from Mitch Mitchell called Test 4. Slightly further afield in GbVWorld, Todd Tobias released his third collaboration with Pat Moonchy under the name Moonchy & Tobias, the appropriately entitled III, and Chris Slusarenko‘s band Eyelids released their fourth collection, the wonderful The Accidental Falls. Then there was the Hot Freaks subscription…. (see below)

 

Top 6 Music Related Books (Read This Year)

1  Broken Greek: A Story Of Chip Shops And Pop Songs – Pete Paphides

2  The Monkey Dance: The Life And Music Of Chuck Prophet And Green On Red – Stevie Simkin

3   Zeppelin Over Dayton: Guided By Voices Album By Album – Jeff Gomez

4   Diary Of A Hyperdreamer Vol. 2- Bill Nelson

5   Going For A Song – Garth Cartwright

6   Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl – Carrie Brownstein

 

Top 8 Music Films Seen (But Not Necessarily Released) This Year

1   Brainiac – Transmissions After Zero

2   Swearing At Motorists – It’s Not All Rock & Roll

3   I’m Now – The Story of Mudhoney

4   This Film Should Not Exist: Portrait Of Ben Wallers (Country Teasers)

5   Elliott Smith – Heaven Adores You

6   Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records

7   Upstairs Planet: Cleaners From Venus & the Universe of Martin Newell

8   The Go-Gos documentary

 

Best Song That Didn’t Quite Make The Playlist, But Had My Favourite Music Video Award

Well, this is just great in a life-affirming way, isn’t it? (Special thanks to Sean Padilla for alerting me to this in the first instance, and for his equally positive and joyful Monday morning musical recommendations posts).

 

The Stephen Jones One Man Domination Of Record Shelf Space Award

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Just the 280 tracks released by Stephen Jones this year under various guises:

Black Reindeer – Pyre, Keep Me Warm

Babybird – Fake Blood / There Must Be Something Else / God Upside Down / If I Had A Gun / Babybird’s Happy Songs / Not English / Plastic Ape / Short Demos / Once We Have Destroyed Ourselves, We Will Build A New World / A Very Difficult Second Album / Gun In A Clown’s Mouth / Corona Christmas

Stephen Jones – Brain / No Heart Reimagined / The Planets

Gold Rabbit – Gold Rabbit 2

Blak Slab – Ivory Teeth

Anonymous – Untitled Album

 

New Musical Source Of The Year

Guided By Voices – Hot Freaks (Subscription):

Open since May, we have so far received, in the form of weekly downloads, the following:

Mirrored Aztec (preview); Soundtrack From Planet Cake (preview); Do The Collapse – Part 1 (Bob & Doug demos); Live From Industry City – Brooklyn, NY – September 27, 2019 (full show); Quiz Wednesday (How Do You Spell Heaven Demos); Sweating The Plague Live From The Black Cat, 2019; Psychopath Timecard (August By Cake Demos); 2020: Live From Dayton, Ohio; Live from The Metro – Chicago, IL – July 11, 1998; Cash Rivers And The Sinners – Whatever We Give You (Is What You Get); Space Gun Demos; Doses Of Nonchalance, live at Spaceland, Los Angeles, April 21, 1995; Kit Kat Acoustic Break; Live At Heedfest, Dayton, OH, August 30, 2019; Shaking Hands With A Ghost; Never Abandon Ship; Douglas Scott Gillard; Frankenstein’s New Nut Huggers – The Very Best Of Cash Rivers And The Sinners; 2019 Rara Avis (2019 Live Compilation); In Calculus Stratagem (Plus Demo); Robert Pollard – Freak Anthem (Demos); Freak Anthem (Revisited); War Of The Devils (Plus Demo); Douglas Scott Gillard 2; American Superdream Wow; American Superdream Wow (Part 2); Cub Scout Bowling Pins; Mark Shue: Freak Week; Do The Collapse – Part 2

I really hope this will continue well into 2021.

 

Favourite Music Related Moment (Outside of Everything Above)

Bespoke cover art – Ed NolbedBreaking Up Is Never Easy, I Know by Luigi Aht Falagario of Almost Halloween Time Records. I requested Guided By VoicesSame Place The Fly Got Smashed and received this masterpiece:

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As Luigi says: “This is an album of songs about breaking up and finding new love almost at the same time. It’s also an album about rediscovering an old love. It might also be an album about universal love. It’s definitely an album about letting go, picking up, finding hope, losing hope, hurt, healing, anger, reflection, inspiration, desperation.”

Physical copies can be ordered, with a personalised hand-painted cover over here: www.underwaternow.com/catalog.php?id=079 – limited to 100 copies. The idea is that you suggest an album cover of an album that meant something to you during a break-up or just a break-up album you like. This album cover will then be hand-painted and slightly adjusted to become your unique cover.

https://ednolbed.bandcamp.com/album/breaking-up-is-never-easy-i-know

 

An Alternative Best of 2020 Playlist

Here is a playlist of songs I really enjoyed through this most dreadful of years, but that just missed out on inclusion on the podcast. All highly recommended.

 

Please help support all the wonderful musicians mentioned in the lists above by searching out their records, CDs, tapes and downloads and BUYING THEM!!!

About kickerofelves1

Wizard-in-Chief for Trust The Wizards music podcast and blog. Guided By Voices fanatic.

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