The year is almost over so it is time to look back at what was awesome in music during the year. I have already looked back at the Top Rock Albums of 2020 (click to read). This list will cover all other genres that I listened to over the year including Pop, Country, Christian and whatever other genre you want to classify these albums. Rock is my favorite genre and that is why it gets it’s own list, but that doesn’t take away from any of these choices as I think they are great on their own.
I feel I didn’t get to as many as I would have liked as the year seem to got away from me with all that went on with Covid. I did spend a lot of time on a few series such as finishing The David Coverdale Series, The Gene Simmons ‘The Vault’ Series and starting the epic Kiss Review Series. These consumed a lot of my time. What I am trying to say is I missed a lot.
Note: These albums were my favorites and not necessarily the most played on the radio (which I hate the radio) or even the biggest sellers. There aren’t the trendy indie bands on everyone else’s top albums list (okay, there might be one or two). These are just what I came across during the year and connected with me in some way and some thanks to my kids. So, we might as well get started…
#10 – Richard Marx – Limitless:
I have a soft spot for Richard Marx. I think he is a hell of singer and songwriter. I also have a soft spot for pop ballads and he is the King. This album always put me in a good mood and would relax me when I needed a break from the heavy rock. The songs “Another One Down” and “Limitless” really show off those vocals and are so beautiful. And then when your throw in “Front Row Seats” and “Let Go” well, you get an incredible pop masterpiece.
#9 – Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts:
Miley has brought us her first “Rock” album and it went to #1 on the Rock Charts beating out AC/DC. However, I still wouldn’t consider it a “Rock” album. But it is a great album. There are some rocking moments and the opening track “WTF Do I Know” starts things off with a bang. Throw in a cool song with Billy Idol called “Nightcrawling”, “Bad Karma” with Joan Jett and a re-mix of “Midnight Sky” with Stevie Nicks and I can see why people think it. Maybe I should’ve included in my rock list, but I can’t bring myself to do that…however, this is a killer album and might be her best yet…at least to me.
#8 – Lori McKenna – The Balladeer:
I will admit, I did not know who she was and I still don’t really. All I know is that there was something about that album cover that caught my attention. When I put it on, I was completely blown away. Her haunting vocals were mesmerizing, captivating and hooked me immediately. She is a singer/songwriter with probably a country flair, but the genre thing doesn’t really apply to her. She is just amazing. Give her a chance and I think you will be hooked as well. Check out “This Town is A Woman”, “When You’re My Age” and “The Balladeer” and you will hear what I do.
#7 – Billy Raffoul – International Hotel:
Billy Raffoul keeps outdoing himself with each album. This one was exceptionally brilliant. He has had a number of E.P.’s, but this is first full length album and it is everything I hoped it would be. International Hotel was recorded with two microphones in Raffoul’s girlfriend’s room in his hometown of Leamington, Ontario. Just him and his instruments. The singer/songwriter dug deep and brought us some very personal songs and some amazing storytelling. The acoustic album sounds amazing and the simplicity in its recording is its magic. Check out “What Makes a Man”, “Everything Marie” and “Massey Hall” and you will be sold.
#6 – Adam Lambert – Velvet:
Adam Lambert does his own thing and when he is not singing in Queen, he is doing what he does best and that is deliver solid tracks and this case they run from funky, to dance to rock to whatever the hell he is feeling. He unapologetically goes his own way and that is what I enjoy about him and his music. Plus, that voice is one of the best out there in music period. Songs like “Roses”, “Velvet” and “Superpower” showcase his vocals and his willing to try anything and everything. I think his time with Queen has improved performing and his showmanship.
#5 – The Wild Feathers – Medium Rarities:
The Wild Feathers have been one of my favorites for years and we now get an album of rare tracks, b-sides, covers and if this is the stuff they originally left off the table, wow! It shows you how good everything else they do really is. There are 3 new songs that fit perfectly in their catalog and the band is always getting better. I love how they are a little bit country and a cross between Tom Petty and The Eagles and the way they blend it all together is what I find sensational. Check out the songs “Fire”, “My Truth”, “Guitar Man”, and “Heartbreak” to get a quick feel for what they are all about.
#4 – Chris Stapleton – Starting Over:
There is something about Chris Stapleton’s voice that I never tire of. It is that old school country sound and those classic sounding songs that really hit me right in the gut. This song only just recently came out and I was immediately drawn to the songs, that voice and those stories. He is the type of country that I can find worth listening to and not that Bro-Country crap. Just listen to a few such as “Starting Over”, the rocking “Arkansas”, “Whiskey Sunrise” and “You Should Probably Leave” and you will see this is what Country music should always be like. I just want to drop the needle and sit back and enjoy.
I picked a Live album in my Top Album…my list…my rules. This isn’t just a live show. This is around 45 songs of live shows. There is the main standard album is mostly an actual show that was recorded on his 2019 tour called the “Song Wheel” Extravaganza Tour at the legendary Paradise Rock Club in his hometown of Boston, MASS. What was really cool about this tour is that it was an acoustic show with just Matt and his friend Aaron. And another really cool aspect is the tour included a big wheel called the Song Wheel. There were a ton of songs around the wheel and he would spin it several times during the show and let the wheel decide what song would be played next. This is exciting because basically each show he played would be different than the show prior. That main album is about 20 songs than you get another 25 or so digitally to go along with it. It is the best live album I have heard in ages. Enough said.
They have given us an album that is not the end of an era but the start of a new chapter in the band’s evolution and now 7 albums in they feel revived, refreshed and reborn. A new direction that made me uncomfortable when I heard Bo’s leaving, now I feel relieved that this is still the Needtobreathe I love, but with a different energy that keeps things fresh and alive and completely excited about what is still left to explore. They don’t deliver the same old, same old…they keep striving to do better than the last and keep pushing themselves to explore deeper in to their hearts and minds to bring us not an album, but an experience and that is reflective of what is going on in the world and that feels like it is lifting us up instead of tearing us down. It is the perfect album at the perfect time. The song “Who Am I” might be my favorite song they have ever done, plus you need to hear “Survivor”, “Alive” and “Child Again”.
Will Hoge is now on at least a dozen albums and I was completely blown away by what I heard. “Tiny Little Movies” is just what it says. It is 11 songs that each one feels like its own tiny little movie. He brings a little Americana music mixed with his Country and Rock & Roll roots and if you thought John Mellencamp painted a true picture of Middle America and its problems, Will adds more color and texture to that painting and brings it in to the 21st Century. This isn’t Country though so don’t be concerned. Think more in terms of Springsteen and Petty and and maybe even a little Dylan and you will have an idea where I place him. The most earnest album I have heard in years, Will Hoge delivers another masterpiece in an already stellar catalog. Check out “Even the River Runs Out of This Town”, “The Overthrow” and “The Curse”
And there you have it, the final list of my Top Albums of 2020. I didn’t get through as much Non-Rock this year so I apologize for that, but there is some choice ones for you to check out. I hope you enjoyed the list. Let me know what albums you dug this year and which ones you didn’t. I like to know that as well. Thanks for stopping by.