The big list from InternetFM’s own resident musicologist.

  1. Fiona Apple “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” – Nothing sounded like this record all year. The title track still captures the shut-in feeling I had at the beginning of the pandemic.
  2. Rufus Wainwright “Unfollow The Rules” – So glad he ditched the opera and came back to songs with melodies.
  3. Orville Peck “Show Pony” – His schtick would be meaningless if he didn’t have the songs and a glorious voice to wrap them around.
  4. The Dirty Knobs “Reckless Abandon” – Mike Campbell was as big an influence on Tom Petty as Petty was on Campbell. The proof is in this record of straight-up rock sounds that would have made Petty proud.
  5. Bob Dylan “Rough And Rowdy Ways” – Bob Dylan dropped this masterwork early in the pandemic. It’s 17-minute “Murder Most Foul” is a nostalgic reference fest that folks will be studying for years.
  6. Sparks “A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip” – How do they keep doing this? Another humor-filled platter with the brothers Mael.
  7. Bill Callahan “Gold Record” – Callahan’s tongue-in-cheek songs focus on matters like family life and Ry Cooder. Any record that begins with the line “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” is alright by me.
  8. “Angelheaded Hipster: The Songs Of Marc Bolan & T. Rex” A Hal Willner Compilation – Willner’s magic was matching songs to artists, and this collection brings out the best in Bolan’s songs.
  9. Sufjan Stevens “The Ascension” – One of the densest records this year. What presents itself as difficult at first, pays huge rewards with perseverance.
  10. The Dream Syndicate “The Universe Inside” They reformed and created a double record out of one long edited jam that sounded nothing like anything that they released before.
  1. Run The Jewels “RTJ4” – The year in rap in just one record.
  2. Monophonics “It’s Only Us” – The finest neo-soul voice to come out of Colemine Records is the great Kelly Finnigan. This time, he’s with his band, The Monophonics. Check out his brand-new holiday offering, “A Joyous Sound.”
  3. Khruangbin “Mordechai” – Saw them perform at Pitchfork a few years ago and was captured by their cool instrumentals and their visual schtick. They broke big this past year with this groovalicious elpee.
  4. The Flat Five “Another Word” – Chicago’s favorite vocal group, featuring the songs of Chris Ligon and the harmonies of some of the most in-demand Chicago session artists; Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, Scott Ligon, Casey McDonough and Alex Hall. This album is a cool breeze.
  5. Eels “Earth To Dora” – A happy Mark Oliver Everett is not necessarily a good thing for his art. I’m happy to report that the great E is miserable again!
  6. The Third Mind “The Third Mind” – The brainchild of Dave Alvin, their takes on Fred Neil’s “The Dolphins” and The Butterfield Blues Band’s “East/West” are amongst the most exhilarating covers this year.
  7. Porches “Ricky Music” – Breaking up was never so melodic when in the hands of songwriter, Aaron Maine. His song “Do U Wanna” is the big hit single that never was but should have been for 2020.
  8. James Hunter Six “Nick Of Time” – The British neo-soul man has a great voice and superb songs to burn.
  9. Bruce Springsteen “Letter To You” – Bruce is much easier to listen to than he is to watch these days. He needs to lay off the insufferable self-congratulatory films to promote his records. Nevertheless, this one has a few stunners on it, although the album was marred by the inclusion of four older songs that didn’t fit in stylistically.
  10. Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets “Live At The Roundhouse” – It turns out, Nick Mason was Pink all along!

Worth A Spin 2020

  1. Pearl Jam “Gigiton”
  2. Khruangbin/Leon Bridges “Texas Sun”
  3. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard “K.G.”
  4. Magnetic Fields “Quickies”
  5. Jeff Tweedy “Love Is King”
  6. Gorillaz “Song Machine”
  7. EOB “Earth”
  8. Gordon Anderson “Moon Man”
  9. Danzig “Sings Elvis”
  10. Elvis Costello “Hello Clockface”
  11. Low Cut Connie “Private Lives”
  12. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit “Reunions”
  13. Thurston Moore “By The Fire”
  14. Ghost Funk Orchestra “An Ode To Escapism”
  15. David Bromberg “Big Road”
  16. Bettye LaVette “Blackbirds”
  17. Fleet Foxes “Shore”
  18. Car Seat Headrest “Making a Door Less Open”
  19. Chicano Batman “Invisible People”
  20. Fontaines D.C. “A Hero’s Death”

Legacy Reissues

  1. Prince “Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe”
  2. The Staple Singers “Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection”
  3. The Rolling Stones “Goats Head Soup Deluxe”
  4. Tom Petty “Wildflowers & The Rest Super Deluxe”
  5. David Bowie “I’m Only Dancing: The Soul Tour 1974”
  6. Lou Reed “Live at Alice Tully Hall January 27, 1973 – 2nd Show” (Vinyl)
  7. Mort Garson “Mother Earth’s Plantasia” (Vinyl)
  8. Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings “Just Checked In To See What Condition My Rendition Was In”
  9. The Butterfield Blues Band “Live At Woodstock” (Vinyl)
  10. Joni Mitchell “Archives Vol. 1 : The Early Years (1963-1967)”
  11. Neil Young “Homegrown”
  12. Wilco “Summerteeth Deluxe”
  13. Jonathan Richman “I, Jonathan” (Vinyl)
  14. Various Artists “WILCOVERED”
  15. Replacements “Complete Inconcerated Live” (Vinyl)

New Jazz

  1. Sun Ra Arkestra “Swirling”
  2. Dave Douglas “Dizzy Atmosphere”
  3. Rudresh Mahanthappa “Hero Trio”
  4. Ron Miles “Rainbow Sign”
  5. Charles Tolliver “Connect”
  6. Redman, Mehldau, McBride & Blade “Round Again”
  7. Shirley Scott “One for Me”
  8. Christian McBride Big Band “For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver”
  9. Jyoti (Georgia Anne Muldrow) “Mama, You Can Bet!”
  10. Joel Ross “Who Are You?”

Jazz Reissues

  1. Thelonious Monk “Palo Alto”
  2. Caesar Frazier “Hail Caesar”
  3. George Coleman Quintet “In Baltimore”
  4. J&K (JJ Johnson & Kai Winding) “Stonebone”
  5. Alfredo Linares “Yo Traigo Boogaloo”
  6. Grant Green “Nigeria” Tone Poet
  7. Bill Evans “Live At Ronnie Scott’s”
  8. Bob James “Once Upon A Time”
  9. Willie Colon “Cosa Nuestra”
  10. Sun Ra “Celestial Love”
  11. Donald Byrd “Chant” Tone Poet
  12. Ella Fitzgerald “The Lost Berlin Tapes”
  13. Duke Pearson “The Phantom” Tone Poet
  14. Dexter Gordon “The Squirrel”
  15. Duke Ellington & Charles Mingus “Money Jungle” Tone Poet
  16. Sonny Rollins “Freedom Suite”
  17. Dr. Lonnie Smith “All In My Mind” Tone Poet
  18. Thelonious Monk “Palais Des Beaux-Arts 1963”
  19. Chet Baker “Sings” Tone Poet
  20. Lee Morgan “The Cooker” Tone Poet