Favorite Albums of 2020, Part 3…

(back to part 2…)

67. Kevin Morby, Sundowner

Pulling back on the rock and roll and mostly setting his piano aside, the LA-based singer/songwriter focuses on a heartfelt, acoustic guitar-driven set. Highlights: “Provisions,” “Jamie,” “Don’t Underestimate Midwest American Sun”

68. Kali Uchis, Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)

On her first album in Spanish, the Colombian-American singer and eccentric pop artist re-routes her sound through a variety of Latin influences. Highlights: “Te Pongo Mal (Prendelo),” “De Nadie,” “¡Aquí Yo Mando!”

69. Bob Mould, Blue Hearts

Passionate, political and vital, the punk and post-punk veteran rages as hard, and sounds as vital on his 13th solo album as if Hüsker Dü never ended. Highlights: “American Crisis,” “Baby Needs A Cookie,” “Little Pieces”

70. Ane Brun, How Beauty Holds The Hand Of Sorrow

Norwegian indie folk star Ane Brun’s second album of 2020 is slower and gentler than its predecessor and wraps the listener up in its depth and its warmth. Highlights: “Song For Thrill And Tom,” “Trust,” “Breaking The Surface”

71. Grimes, Miss Anthropocene

Always cinematic, Claire Boucher’s new one is a thought-provoking, narratively elaborate electro-pop / industrial dance concept album. Highlights: “4ÆM,” “Darkseid,” “Delete Forever”

72. Busta Rhymes, Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God

The Brooklyn rap legend’s first proper studio album in 8 years sports apocalyptic themes and a bombastic, high-energy approach. Highlights: “Outta My Mind,” “Freedom?,” “Look Over Your Shoulder”

73. Bill Callahan, Gold Record

With a similar sound to 2019’s Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest, the indie veteran seems to’ve decided that his sparsely arranged, intimate folk is all the vehicle he needs for his warm, poignant and often wry storytelling, and these songs agree. Highlights: “The MacKenzies,” “Pigeons,” “Ry Cooder”

74. Bright Eyes, Down in the Weeds, Where The World Once Was

Conor Oberst returns to his band and after 9 years and they mostly pick back up where they left off: Elegant, elaborately arranged indie folk-rock with varied and inventive production. Highlights: “Mariana Trench,” “Tilt-A-Whirl,” “To Death’s Heart (In Three Parts)”

75. Caroline Rose, Superstar

The one time folksinger charges further into modern pop, foregoing guitars entirely to surround her new concept album in hooky synths. Highlights: “Feel The Way I Want,” “Freak Like Me,” “Do You Think We’ll Last Forever”

76. Bartees Strange, Live Forever

This DC-based artist blends art-pop, indie rock, alt-R&B and other diverse styles into his ultimately (subtly) hip hop-centered vision that is wholly his own. Highlights: “Far,” “Boomer,” “In A Cab”

77. Les Amazones d’Afrique, Amazones Power

The second outing from a supergroup of ten women activist musicians, founded in Mali, spans a continent of musical influences and beyond. Highlights: “Love,” “Timbuktu,” “Rebels”

78. The James Hunter Six, Nick of Time

The always charming English soul singer and his new backing band (same name) keep retro R&B at the core but incorporate some jazz and Latin touches too. Highlights: “Mission in Action,” “How About Now,” “He’s Your Could’ve Been”

79. Lori McKenna, The Balladeer

A Boston-based songwriter who’s written numerous Nashville hits, McKenna’s own eleventh album is full of poignant, often timeless songs with an organic, authentic feel. Highlights: “The Balladeer,” “Marie,” “The Dream”

80. Melkbelly, PITH

Miranda Winters and her band play a unique, coarse but artful blend of grunge, math rock and noise rock on their sophomore album. The guitars are fantastic and the drumming is superb. Highlights: “LCR,” “Kissing Under Some Bats,” “Stone Your Friends”

81. Bishop Nehru, Nehurvia: My Disregarded Thoughts

One-time teenage east coast rap prodigy Marquelle Scott is 23 now, and this album represents a powerful coming of age. Beats are eccentric and delightfully ethereal. Highlights: “Too Lost,” “3:50 in LA,” “Never Slow”

82. Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters, Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters

The Belly / Breeders / Throwing Muses founding member joins with the violin-kissed folk stylings of the Parkingtons’ family band, for a strikingly cohesive covers album. Highlights: “Automatic,” “Days,” “Devil You Know”

83. Don Bryant, You Make Me Feel

The second album in the 79-year-old classic R&B songwriter’s late-career rennaisance features another strong batch of love songs. Highlights: “Your Love Is To Blame,” “I Die A Little Each Day,” “Walk All Over God’s Heaven”

84. Alexandra Savior, The Archer

This Portland singer/songwriter’s immaculately produced, richly textured sophomore album features many shades of indie pop and a fair share of psychedelia. Highlights: “Saving Grace,” “I Can’t Help Myself,” “The Archer”

85. Nubya Garcia, Source

Here’s the proud full-length debut of a saxophonist and bandleader already well-loved London’s modern jazz scene and the Afro-futurist movement as well. Highlights: “Pace,” “La Cumbia Me Está Llamando,” “Source”

86. Sufjan Stevens, The Ascension

Diving headlong into electronic instrumentation, the indie folk veteran’s characteristic introspection, gentle vocal stylings, and thematic ambitiousness remain strong and compelling. Highlights: “Ursa Major,” “Video Game,” “Goodbye To All That”

87. Juice WRLD, Legends Never Die

A heartbreaking, posthumous album, on which this 21-year-old rapper has vulnerably and vividly documented the addiction to pain medication that killed him. Highlights: “Bad Energy,” “Come & Go,” “Wishing Well”

88. Deradoorian, Find The Sun

Angel Deradoorian’s third full-length solo record infuses l- fi indie rock touched with exotic scales and textures to anchor the direct, inviting mysticism of her lyrics. Highlights: “Saturnine Night,” “Monk’s Robes,” “Sun”

89. Glass Animals, Dreamland

This Oxford outfit walks the line between pop and art-pop, crafting evocative lyrics from lowbrow cultural references set to strange, smooth dance music. Highlights: “Your Love (Déjà Vu),” “Space Ghost Coast To Coast,” “Heat Waves”

90. Sun Ra Arkestra, Swirling

The space jazz pioneer’s band returns to make wild free jazz reveries that are digestible and delicious,infusing playful and meandering compositions with cosmic purpose. Highlights: “Seductive Fantasy,” “Angels and Demons at Play,” “Sea of Darkness / Darkness”

91. The Strokes, The New Abnormal

The Strokes continue to weave new wave and synths into their sound and now, after a 7-year hiatus, display a newfound vulnerability and thoughtfulness. Highlights: “Eternal Summer,” “Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus,” “At The Door”

92. Black Thought, Stream of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Able

The 3rd in a series but actually his first full-length solo album finds the Roots MC rapping with characteristic precision and elegance and welcoming a fantastic array of guests. Highlights: “Thought vs. Everybody,” “Quiet Trip,” “Steak Um”

93. Tame Impala, The Slow Rush

Kevin Parker funnels his psychedelic tendencies through a variety of pop stylings on this lyrically introspective, spacious 4th album. Highlights: “Breathe Deeper,” “Lost In Yesterday,” “Borderline”

94. Mark Lanegan, Straight Songs of Sorrow

These deep, dark songs, born from memories triggered by the forthcoming book Lanegan just wrote, are mostly synth-driven, with a few guitar-backed numbers as well. Highlights: “This Game of Love,” “Ketamine,” “Skeleton Key”

95. Norah Jones, Pick Me Up Off The Floor

Jones continues to make subtly adventurous and varied music within the comfortable context of her distinct blend of vocal jazz, pop and folk music.. Highlights: “How I Weep,” “Flame Twin,” “To Live”

96. Archie Schepp, Raw Poetic and Damu The Fudgemonk, Ocean Bridges

Improvised in studio, Ocean Bridges is an uplifting jazz collaboration between a veteran saxophonist, his rapper nephew who is also a children’s author, and a DJ / producer. Highlights: “Tulips,” “Aperture,” “Searching Souls”

97. Laura Marling, Song For Our Daughter

On an express exploration of modern femininity, English singer/songwriter Laura Marling returns to a cleaner, gentler folk-focused sound for her seventh album. Highlights: “Strange Girl,” “Only The Strong,” “For You”

98. Monophonics, It’s Only Us

This Bay Area outfit combines classic R&B sounds with a flair for the psychedelic, with a more contemporary, grittier feel than you might expect from retro-soul. Highlights: “Last One Standing,” “Tunnel Vision,” “Run For Your Life”

99. Christian McBride, The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons

The acclaimed Philadelphia bandleader presents reenacted speeches by four Civil Rights leaders, interspered with Gospel-based choral music, over skillful jazz compositions. Highlights: “Sister Rosa — Prologue,” “Rosa Introduces Malcolm,” “Rumble in the Jungle”

100. Thurston Moore, By The Fire

The former Sonic Youth frontman achieves the long-form art rock epic he’s attempted for years, with elegantly structured songs in the first half, followed by lots of spacious weirdness. Highlights: “Hashish,” “Breath,” “They Believe In Love (When They Look At You)”

101. Phish, Sigma Oasis

Bonus, cause I can’t leave this out: It’s crazy that an excellent album by a long-running band that I love doesn’t even quite make the top 100, but musically, 2020 really was that good. So many other great albums didn’t make it on here at allbut such is the nature of year-end lists…

Anyway, the greatest jam band of their generation released their 15th studio album. It‘s good-natured and easy-going and a fine way to de-stress from all the ways in which 2020 was not a great year. It’s long and rambling, just like yours truly, but it’s full of playfulness and joy.

And now, here’s the master list of my top 100 favorites!

1. Waxahatchee — St. Cloud

2. Fiona Apple — Fetch the Bolt Cutters

3. Run The Jewels — RTJ4

4. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard — K.G.

5. Sa-Roc — The Sharecropper’s Daughter

6. Dehd — Flower of Devotion

7. Adrianne Lenker — Songs

8. Pearl Jam — Gigaton

9. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit — Reunions

10. Ray LaMontagne — Monovision

11. Another Sky — I Slept On The Floor

12. Angelica Garcia — Cha Cha Palace

13. Jessica Smucker — Lucid Stories, Tentative Lies

14. IDLES — Ultra Mono

15. Fontaines DC — A Hero’s Death

16. Songhoy Blues — Optimisme

17. Chemtrails — The Peculiar Smell of the Inevitable

18. Keleketla! — Keleketla!

19. Denai Moore — Modern Dread

20. Phoebe Bridgers — Punisher

21. The Beths — Jump Rope Gazers

22. Fleet Foxes — Shore

23. Perfume Genius — Set My Heart On Fire Immediately

24. Childish Gambino — 3.15.20

25. Sylvan Esso — Free Love

26. Car Seat Headrest — Making a Door Less Open

27. Lido Pimienta — Miss Colombia

28. Osees — Protean Threat

29. Bruce Springsteen — Letter To You

30. Bob Dylan — Rough and Rowdy Ways

31. Midnight Oil — The Makarrata Project (EP)

32. Jyoti — Mama, You Can Bet!

33. Afel Bocoum — Lindé

34. Homeboy Sandman — Don’t Feed The Monster

35. Nadine Shah — Kitchen Sink

36. Moses Sumney — Grae

37. Rufus Wainwright — Unfollow The Rules

38. Aesop Rock — Spirit World Field Guide

39. Grouplove — Healer

40. Frances Quinlan — Likewise

41. DakhaBrakha — Alambari

42. Bombay Bicycle Club — Everything Else Has Gone Wrong

43. En Attendant Ana — Juillet

44. Everything Everything — Re-Animator

45. Thundercat — It Is What It Is

46. Indigo Girls — Look Long

47. Moon Hooch — Life On Other Planets

48. Daniel Romano’s Outfit — How Ill Thy World Is Ordered

49. Coriky — Coriky

50. Hamilton Leithauser — The Loves of My Life

51. Hinds — The Prettiest Curse

52. Ohmme — Fantasize Your Ghost

53. Fantastic Negrito — Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?

54. Darlingside — Fish Pond Fish

55. Arbouretum — Let It All In

56. Sault — Untilted (Black Is)

57. Gord Downie — Away Is Mine

58. Open Mike Eagle — Trauma, Anime and Divorce

59. Wire — Mind Hive

60. Melt Yourself Down — 100% Yes

61. Sault — Untilted (Rise)

62. HAIM — Women In Music Pt. III

63. Sevdaliza — Shabrang

64. Isobel Campbell — There Is No Other…

65. Seamus Fogarty — A Bag of Eyes

66. Throwing Muses — Sun Racket

67. Kevin Morby — Sundowner

68. Kali Uchis — Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)

69. Bob Mould — Blue Hearts

70. Ane Brun — How Beauty Holds the Hand of Sorrow

71. Grimes — Miss Anthropocene

72. Busta Rhymes — Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God

73. Bill Callahan — Gold Record

74. Bright Eyes — Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was

75. Caroline Rose — Superstar

77. Bartees Strange — Live Forever

77. Les AmazonStues d’Afrique — Amazones Power

78. The James Hunter Six — Nick of Time

79. Lori McKenna — The Balladeer

80. Melkbelly — PITH

81. Bishop Nehru — Nehruvia: My Disregarded Thoughts

82. Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters — Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters

83. Don Bryant — You Make Me Feel

84. Alexandria Saviour — The Archer

85. Nubya Garcia — Source

86. Sufjan Stevens — The Ascension

87. Juice WRLD — Legends Never Die

88. Deradoorian — Find The Sun

89. Glass Animals — Dreamland

90. Sun Ra Arkestra — Swirling

91. The Strokes — The New Abnormal

92. Black Thought: Streams of thought, Vol. 3: Cane & Able

93. Tame Impala — The Slow Rush

94. Mark Lanegan — Straight Songs of Sorrow

95. Norah Jones — Pick Me Up Off the Floor

96. Archie Schepp, Raw Poetic & Damu the Fudgemunk — Ocean Bridges

97. Laura Marling — Song For Our Daughter

98. Monophonics — It’s Only Us

99. Christian McBride, The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons

100. Thurston Moore — By The Fire

Stef is a Bronx-bred, California-dwelling, 1977-born Libra-Aquarian lifelong music junkie. He is also a writer, improviser, singer, director and voice actor. .