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Top 40 Albums of 2020 (20-1)

2020 was clearly not a great year, and in the early months of the pandemic, I wondered if I’d even be up for doing a year-end list with so many artists canceling their releases without the ability to go on the road to promote. There was certainly a lot of great music put on the back burner, but despite my original uncertainty, a plethora of exciting new music was released over the course of the year. In fact, some artists used the pandemic as a moment to try new things or use this moment to make a statement. In fact, music was one of the few avenues of escape during a year of perpetual lockdown. Here are some of the albums that helped me make it through the year.

Check out numbers 40-21 HERE!

20. Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas

[Nonesuch; 2020]

When Lianne La Hava’s critically acclaimed debut, Blood, came out five years ago, I wasn’t quite sure I understood the hype. She had a great voice, but the material all sounded so sheen and plastic, resulting in a series of songs that felt inauthentic and dull. I’m damn lucky I gave her self-titled release a chance after such a sour first impression because it’s one of the most soulful and intimate listens of 2020.

This time around, La Havas recorded an album the way she always had before getting signed to a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, with barebones acoustic instrumentation and stripped-down, straight-forward vocals. With all the ornamentation torn away, her talent for emoting each and every line is revealed.


19. Coriky


[Dischord; 2020]

Fugazi was an anti-capitalist band before it was cool. In fact, just when the band’s common messages were becoming a bigger threat with the rise of George W. Bush and his cronies in 2000, the band decided to call it quits. Since then, frontman Ian Mackaye has released sporadic material, but nothing quite as hard-hitting and unflinching as his output in the 80s and 90s. 

One of those projects was his band The Evens formed with his wife, Amy Farina, but those acoustic, muted drum tracks never quite lined up to the world falling around our ears.  Even in the Trump era Mackaye mostly kept quiet, that is until this past spring when he released the first album from Coriky. The addition of Fugazi bassist Joe Lally to The Evens combo has seemed to awaken the activist within MacKaye with the songs on their self-titled debut eviscerating the current state of the world with irony and wit. Lally’s bass looms over the proceedings as MacKaye and Farina trade vocals alongside mounting guitar riffs and rumbling drums. Coriky is a nice reminder that no one can quite hit the nail on the head like Ian MacKaye.

18. Paysage d’Hiver

Im Wald

[Kuntshall Produktionen; 2020]

2020 has been a year of isolation, resulting in many yearning for the warmth of an embrace from a loved one or a connection to the outside world. The first full-length effort from Swiss black metal outfit Paysage d’Hiver could not have come at a better time with Im Wald, an album that basks in exile. 

Much like the pandemic, Im Wald is cold, lonely, and never-ending, clocking in at over 2 hours. Within those two hours, the icy guitars and brittle vocals create ambient, frosty expanses to lose yourself in. These dreary woods of chaos are often counterweighted by mid-song field recordings of someone trudging through the snow, each footstep crunching into the chilly void. If anything, this year has forced us to slow down and look inward, and Paysage d’Hiver’s hike through a blizzard of noise was the perfect soundtrack to this journey of beleaguerment.


17. Bill Callahan

Gold Record

[Drag City; 2020]

This may sound hyperbolic, but Bill Callahan’s 2020 record, Gold Record, features his best lyrics to date. For a man that has had a 30 year, 21 album career, that’s saying a lot, especially when you consider the plethora of profound stories the man has already crooned on past work. 

The stories on the album are from varying perspectives and all walks of life, but what makes them all so powerful is Callahan’s ability to sneak life lessons within each unique tale. The songs sing of love – love of thy neighbor, love of words, and love of the simplicity of life. Musically, Gold Record might be his most mundane effort with its stripped-down approach, but this simplicity helps draw even more focus on the intricate narratives stitched into each, intimate track.



16. Jeremy Cunningham 

The Weather Up There

[Northern Spy; 2020]

Back in 2008, jazz drummer Jeremy Cunningham had his life path pretty much planned out. After graduating with a Bachelors of Music from the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, he had plans to enroll at the Manhattan School of Music. Then, his journey was changed by one tragic moment. His brother was sitting at home playing video games when two men carrying AK-47s burst into their apartment and killed him on the spot. 

Devastated by the loss, Cunningham aborted his original plans and moved to Chicago to entrench himself in the thriving jazz scene. Playing alongside promising young artists like Jeff Parker, Tomeka Reid, and Makaya McCraven, Cunningham began working on what would be an album in memory of his brother, The Weather Up There. The result is a patchwork of personal phone messages, calming piano chords, and emotive horns, expressing Cunningham’s feelings of loss and his search for understanding. 

15. Thurston Moore

By the Fire

[Daydream Library Series; 2020]

Since Sonic Youth’s breakup nine years ago, Thurston Moore has seemed to be going through a bit of soul searching musically. While his bandmates, Kim Gordon and Lee Renaldo, have continued in the vein of their past contributions to the band, Moore has released material that spans the genre divide, from acoustic, singer-songwriter albums, to 60-minute, live experimental improv albums, to his foray into straight forward punk rock with the side project Chelsea Light Morning. But with his 2020 release, By the Fire, he has finally returned to the classic Moore sound that defined classic Sonic Youth albums. 

In fact, there a plethora of moments during By the Fire that will stir up memories of the first time you heard languid guitars of “Teen Age Riot”, the driving growl of “Kool Thing”, and the euphoric discord of “Schizophrenia”. However, By the Fire is more than a nostalgic retread; it’s an artist returning home to the avant-garde dissonance that defined his innovative music decades ago.

14. Ka

Descendants of Cain

[Iron Works; 2020]

There is a lot other MCs could learn from the grizzled veteran Ka and his resume of weighty work over the past 15 years. While many in the rap game bounce around thematically on meandering mixtapes, Ka has always understood the concept of “the album” and how to tell a cohesive story via allusions from our cultural literary.

This time around, Ka uses the stories of the bible to convey his story. The album Descendants of Cain focuses primarily on the story of Cain and Abel, using the trope of the damned son to embolden his own view on what it means to be a black man in America. Ka’s cerebral, calm delivery is strengthened by the backing tracks filled with echoing church pianos, lumbering beats, and ghostly gospel choirs. The music mirrors the bewitching stories professed on each moving track.

13. Kiwi Jr.

Football Money

[Mint; 2020]

In the 90s, bands like Pavement, Archers of Loaf, and Weezer sang of barely scraping by over disheveled guitars and stumbling drums. While this musical demeanor eventually faded with the turn of the century, 2020 is a better year than ever for a resurgence of slackerism with the rising cost of living and the increase in joblessness as a result of Covid.

Kiwi Jr’s brand of downer nonchalance is music perfectly suited for the times we’re living in. On the band’s debut, Football Money, Kiwi Jr focuses on their lot in life, supporting their music careers with humdrum 9 to 5 jobs, with lines like “everything’s out of my price range” and “dropped out of college/took to the streets for knowledge.” Beyond the emphasis on scraping by, the album is also jam-packed with humorous imagery and silly wordplay, a perfect addition to music that is simply put, fun. For those in need of a smile during these trying times, throw on some Kiwi Jr and bask in the slacker joyride. 

12. Mountain Goats

Songs For Pierre Chuvin

[Merge; 2020]

Between 1990 and 1995, John Darnielle released a plethora of material known today as “the cassette tapes” by hardcore fans. The name logically comes from the fact that for all his early work, he recorded songs live, directly to a boombox. The results are what I consider his best work, albums that are homespun masterpieces. 

In the decades that followed, Darnielle used a more traditional, in-studio recording approach and while he still released some great material, something also felt missing from the more polished efforts. In the spring of 2020 as Darnielle quarantined at home, he decided it was time to dust off his old boombox and return to the grainy, authentic sounds that defined his early work. The album Songs for Pierre Chuvin is a callback to simpler times, Darnielle inserting quips between takes and barrelling forward even when a wrong note is struck. I know a lot of people that have used this time of isolation to focus more on their passions (quilting, writing, carpentry) and Songs for Pierre Chuvin is a welcome reminder of what is possible with a little gumption, some extra time to reflect, and a boombox.

11. Dehd

Flowers of Devotion

[Fire Talk; 2020]

Part of what made Dehd’s debut album Water so charming was the lackluster recording quality. Sure, it sounded like they were recording inside of a tin can, but the album was still overflowing with undeniable melodies and comforting guitar licks. As a result, I was a bit uneasy about their 2020 release, Flowers of Devotion, due to it being recorded in a professional recording studio. 

Of course, my apprehension about the band’s new album was misguided. In fact, with the grit and grime wiped away, the band’s penchant for memorable tunes are allowed to shine more. Emily Kempf’s voice sounds even more commanding and clear while Jason Balla’s guitars seem to relish in the echoing spaces found within the studio. The band’s simplicity still reigns supreme, but the little mixing board tweaks have given their welcoming sound a little more luster.


10. North Americans

Roped In

[Third Man; 2020]

While ambient music has been around for almost 50 years, not a lot has changed since those early days of Brian Eno’s knob twisting. That’s what makes North American’s work on Roped In so interesting – it takes the tenets of the genre and imbues them with countrified folk flourishes that bring moments of surprise to the generally soothing genre. 

On most tracks, Patrick McDermott lays down the foundation with his cyclical guitar pick riffs echoing into the ether. Once lulled into a daydream, Barry Walker’s grizzled steel guitar comes sliding up the bar, disorienting the entire affair throughout the album. The addition of guests like William Tyler and Mary Lattimore add even more indelible details to chew on. As a result, Roped In is one of the most satisfying ambient albums I’ve heard in years – both warm and weird at the same time.


9. Sufjan Stevens

The Ascension

[Asthmatic Kitty; 2020]

Back in the 2000s, Sufjan Stevens often hid behind his array of concept albums, whether it be an analysis of artist Royal Robertson’s life or his geographical exploration of states like Illinois and Michigan. But that all changed in 2015 when Sufjan released Carrie & Lowell, an autobiographical tell-all that uncovered his own childhood trauma in a way we’d never seen from the singer-songwriter.

2020’s The Ascension is once again an album devoid of metaphor. Instead, Sufjan continues to release his emotions straight from the heart with lyrics that are direct and earnest. Musically the album returns to the synthesized experimentations found on Age of Adz, but it’s clear that he is more comfortable in the icy terrain this time around. This comfort is fitting for an album where the singer seems clear-eyed in his own struggles with religion, sexuality, and depression. 


8. Protomartyr

Ultimate Success Story

[Domino; 2020]

On Protomartyr’s first four albums, the band shined a spotlight on the ills of the world, so much so that at times, the lyrics took precedence over the music. Frontman Joe Casey refers to himself as a lyricist rather than a singer, and it’s a fitting descriptor for a man that gruffly spouts out diatribes about the crumbling of the American middle class.  

Ultimate Success Story continues in the vein of exposing the awful truth; it’s fitting music for a year that was, well awful. But what makes the 2020 release more impactful than their past work is the complexity of their post-punk anthems. For the project, the band brought in musicians more apt for an orchestra album. The addition of woodwinds, brass, and a cello gives the band’s already unsettling delivery even more resonance. Maybe Casey remains a lyricist, but the band’s dissonant orchestration makes for one jarring listen.

7. Destroyer

Have We Met

[Merge; 2020]

When Dan Bejar put out the smooth jazz album Kaputt in 2014, it felt like a silly little diversion. He has always played around with genres, from singer-songwriter to full-on glam rock, but the sultry saxophones and cheesy synths didn’t really seem like a sound that would stick with the eccentric songwriter. Boy, was I wrong.

Since Kaputt, Bejar has released three albums that remained in synthesized lounge lizard mode, and on his 2020 release Have We Met, he sounds more comfortable than ever in the artificial environs. The beauty of Bejar on the album is the nonchalance and silliness of his lyrics all while conveying them with a voice that seems lost, aloof, and lonely. Bejar has always tinkered with humorous, off-kilter lyrics, but on Have We Met, his strange brand of humor is brimming with more heart than ever. 


6. The Microphones

Microphones in 2020

[P.W. Elversum & Sun]

Microphones in 2020 is the first album in 17 years that Phil Elversum has released under the pseudonym “The Microphones”, and it’s a fitting callback for an album rooted in Elversum’s recollection of his life 20 years earlier when he was still a young, hopeful musician. His work as Mount Eerie has often lived in the moment with Elversum revealing his struggles after the loss of his wife in 2016. Microphones in 2020 is him trying to remember a time before his sole focus was loss. 

The album is comprised of one, 45-minute song filled with imagery of a different time whether it be his memories of seeing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or checking his microphones@hotmail.com for fan interactions.  Within this menagerie of early 2000, Elversum tries to make sense of it all, and more importantly how he ended up here, still feeling empty and lost. Microphones in 2020 is an album of digging through memories in hopes of finding that glimmer of hope to get through dark days.

5. Jeff Rosenstock


[Polyvinyl; 2020]

Throughout the annals of rock and roll history, artists have emerged from the shadows to lend a voice to the voiceless during times of darkness. From Neil Young to Stevie Wonder to Public Enemy, impactful lyrics have helped provide anthems of passion and empathy, often helping bring about change in the world.  In what is certainly one of the most uncertain years of the 21st century, Jeff Rosenstock has emerged as the voice for the disheartened with the album NO DREAM

Rosenstock has always dabbled with politically charged lyrics, but never has it sounded as stirring as it does on NO DREAM, an album jam-packed with one passion-laced diatribe after another. As a whole, the album has a recurring theme of everyone being “asleep” as the world around them crumbles, but Rosenstock insists throughout that “it’s not a dream”. In what is one of the biggest wakeup calls in 2020, NO DREAM is an album that has zero interest in pushing the snooze button. 


4. Oranssi Pazuzu

Mestarin kynsi

[20 Buck Spin; 2020]

It’s clear from their 2020 album Mestarin kynsi that Oranssi Pazuzu should no longer be referred to as a black metal band because it simplifies something far more complex than anything else coming out of the genre these days. It seems that 2016’s groundbreaking effort Värähtelijäu was just a starting point for the Finnish innovators.

Mestarin kynsi picks up where the band left off and takes the ghostly experimentations into even more terrifying terrain. The album hits harder than anything the band has done before due in large part to the complexity of their craft, songs riding a wave of proggy stop and halt rhythms and psychedelic guitar squeals. Unexpected subtleties pop up from every murky corner, from whispery flutes to squawking synths. On Mestarin kynsi, Oranssi Pazuzu has created another dense, expansive atmosphere that leaves listeners both in shock and awe.


3. Bob Dylan

Rough and Rowdy Ways

[Columbia; 2020]

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Bob Dylan’s music (he’s our logo, in our name, and featured at the end of every monthly podcast). But I have to admit that it has been a really long time since I truly enjoyed a new Bob Dylan album. The last album I’ve felt a kinship with was Time Out of Mind, and that came out over 20 years ago. I guess I had subconsciously resigned myself to the fact that the aging troubadour was no longer capable of releasing something as riveting as his output in the 60s and 70s. Boy, was I wrong.

Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways is not only the best album he’s released in the past 20 years, but it might be his most personal, blunt, and honest effort since, dare I say, Blood on the Tracks? Throughout the album, Bob sings/speaks in a low, crackling voice, the somber backing tracks setting the mood for one prophetic song after another. Bob is in no rush to move along, instead, songs range from 5-17 minutes, each slowly unrolling like a pastoral landscape outside a train car. Rough and Rowdy Ways begs for your undivided attention as Bob unveils one unpredictable image after another, his allusions spanning the 79 years of his time on this earth. In a time of constant distraction, Rough and Rowdy Ways invites you to turn the outside world off and bask in the wisdom of our greatest songwriter. 

2. Run the Jewels


[Jewel Runners/BMG; 2020]

The weeks that followed the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer were filled with anger, sadness, and uncertainty. Amidst a Twitter feed of frustration and fear came a beacon of light from Killer Mike announcing an early release of the new Run the Jewels album writing, ““Fuck it, why wait. The world is infested with bullshit so here’s something raw to listen to while you deal with it all.” 

The album, written and recorded months before the shocking death of Floyd, zeros in on topics like police brutality, racial profiling, and the endless parade of dead black men across this country. Despite being written before the country erupted into frustration and anger, Killer Mike was spitting out bone-chilling lyrics like “You so numb you watch the cops choke out a man like me/Until my voice goes from a shriek to whisper—‘I can’t breathe’”. El-P’s true talent in the Run the Jewels collaborative has always been his gifts as a producer, and on RTJ4 his beats, samples, and menacing basslines provide the emotional backdrop required for an album that stands unflinchingly in the face of hatred and inequality. 


1. Fiona Apple

Fetch the Bolt Cutters

[Epic; 2020]

Back in 1996, the music industry was ready to make Fiona Apple a mega-popstar. She had everything the mainstream crowd loves: young, beautiful, and a sultry voice to boot. But Fiona had other plans. It was controversial when she won the VMA award for the song “Criminal” and told the audience of music industry insiders and celebrities that “This world is bullshit.” Many saw it as the end of her career; for Fiona, it was a new beginning.  

Since that career-altering pronouncement, Apple has continued to buck expectations, remaining out of the spotlight while all the while releasing one riveting, unpredictable album after another. Her 2020 release, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, might be her best effort yet, a collection of homespun, confessional anthems that continue in her tradition of doing and saying what you least expect. The album, released during quarantine, was recorded at Apple’s Venice home, and the raw, crafty elements of the album were a welcome arrival during a time many of us were self-isolating. She stomps the floor, she bangs on her walls, and all the while, her dogs’ barking seeps into the nooks and crannies of each track. Lyrically, Fetch the Bolt Cutters is an album of feminist anthems, from the title track to the post-Kavanaugh hearing response “For Her”, to the rising anthem “Under the Table” where Fiona proclaims “kick me under the table all you want/ I won’t shut up,” – thank God she hasn’t.

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20 Best Album Covers of 2015


With the year coming to a close, it’s that time again to take a look back at some of the best that the music world had to offer in 2015. First up, I will run-down the most compelling album covers of 2015. Throughout the year, I kept a list of album covers that I found strange, beautiful, and provocative.  This list is a compilation of my favorites from this year-long collection.  Anyone who loves the album as an art form knows the importance of a powerful LP image, and the following 20 covers elevate their corresponding albums.

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BDWPS Podcast #36

This month’s episode is chock-full of new music from Oddisee, Fred Thomas, Speedy Ortiz, Theesatisfaction, The Amazing, and Built to Spill. I also discuss the Kurt Cobain documentary “Montage of Heck” and end the episode with a look at Bob Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding.” To check out the latest episode, listen HERE or you can subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher (search keyword: BDWPS).


Oddisee “Counter Clockwise”
Fred Thomas “Cops Don’t Care pt. II”
Speedy Ortiz “Raising the Skate”
Theesatisfaction “Earthee”
Mountain Goats “Heel Turn 2”
The Amazing “Circles”
Built to Spill “Living Zoo”
Nirvana “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter”
Bob Dylan “Drifter’s Escape”


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Video Clip of the Week: Arcade Fire wins Album of the Year

Well, it happened. Arcade Fire “Suburbs”: album of the year.  Wow.  Who would have thought?

And despite giving the Grammys a thrashing last week,  I watched the last bit of the ceremonies, and my alibi is that I was waiting to see Arcade Fire’s performance. But I have to admit there was some curiosity as to if Arcade Fire could pull it off.  And they did. And I cheered like the Spurs had just won the NBA Championship.  I’m not sure exactly why. As discussed in my last blog, Grammys are a joke, yet it was exciting to see a band I’ve loved for years actually get recognized. Maybe this is a sign, or maybe it was just a one year fluke (probably the latter), but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

My favorite part is that instead of giving a lengthy, self-congratulatory speech, the band simply wanted to play another song:

The otherwise torturous Grammys were made much more tolerable thanks to Tweets by fellow artists that came up throughout the night. Here are some of their reactions:

@mountain_goatsThe Mountain Goats

Hear furious scribbling. Pretty sure cat is downstairs journaling about the Arcade Fire straight up winning a Grammy

@leftfordamian Damian Abraham (lead singer of Fucked Up)

Shout out to the good folks @arcadefire for adding a bit of credibility to the Grammy’s.

@owenpallettOwen Pallett

Damn I lost $50


Good. Does that mean there is actual hope for music?

@arcadefireArcade Fire



Congrats Arcade Fire!

@jonwurster Jon Wurster (drummer from Superchunk)

I’m happy for the Arcade Fire but now I’m worried Superchunk will get dropped from Merge.

@timesnewvikingTimes New Viking


@kanyewest: KanyeWest

Arcade fire!!!!!!!!!! There is hope!!! I feel like we all won when something like this happens! FUCKING AWESOME!

@SPINmagazineSPIN Magazine

Win Butler just casually placed a Grammy on top of his amp. Then started playing the best song he ever wrote.

@SurferBloodSurfer Blood

Okay…that fucking rules.

@ACNewmanCarl Newman

I love that Arcade Fire winning album of the year is greeted with controversy, yet no one ever questioned Starland Vocal Band’s win.

@okkervilriverOkkervil River

“Never heard of ’em!” is such a bullshit insult. It just means you’re ignorant.

And here’s a page that has compiled Tweets from  ignorant douche bags who are upset about Arcade Fire’s win:



Filed under Video Clips

Meursault “All Creatures Will Make Merry”

“All Creatures Will Make Merry”
[Song, By Toad, 2010]

Rating: 8.5

A few days ago I saw the strangest post on Facebook: “You must go to Whole Foods and get a package of these figs. I cannot remember what they are called, but right in the fruit section. soooooo goooood.”  Not only is the act of buying figs a bit out of the ordinary, but my friend Trunks Carter felt the necessity to convey this act to all of his “friends”.  Other than the Newton variety, I’ve never actually had a fig, and I’ve certainly  never desired one.  I would place a bet that my local grocery store doesn’t even sell figs. In fact, the last time I actually heard about figs was when I was four years old and read a book where a pig ate a fig which caused him to dance the jig.  But a human, eating a fig, without performing any dance moves? Ludicrous.

Yet, I don’t doubt my friend’s assertion for a second.  He’s not one of these Facebook whores who posts every mundane event in his daily life.  For Mr. Trunks Carter to post something it is almost guaranteed to be of the highest importance. Not only did he buy figs at Whole Foods, but they were “soooooo goooood” that he thought all people, fig lovers and the uninitiated to fig culture, needed to know.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had my own prized fig, my own little secret discovery that I needed to share with the masses.  Months ago I first heard the Scottish folktronica band Meursault and instantly became entranced by their epic, lo-fi approach.  Much like Trunk’s search for the perfect fig, I began scouring record stores for Meursault’s 2010 release “All Creatures Will Make Merry”.  Austin, Omaha, Portland, it didn’t matter where I looked, the CD or LP were nowhere to be found.  My search moved online, but Insound and all illegal downloading sources didn’t have the album either (not that I’d illegally download music…).  Eventually, I had to give up on my search for a physical copy of the album, purchasing it digitally from the Evil Empire i-Tunes (Songs Sucks will probably berate me for not trying Aquarius Records, and I know I deserve it).

I’ve been listening to  “All Creatures Will Make Merry” constantly since my purchase and each time I’m captivated by the fine line the band walks between the lo-fi fuzz of the Mountain Goats and the epic grandeur of Arcade Fire.  You won’t see John Stewart swooning over these guys any time soon, and I doubt they will ever sell out Madison Square Garden, but Meursault’s latest album is just as ambitious and intense as Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs”.   While most bands are forced to rely on a more polished production value to push that sense of urgency to a higher level, Meursault rely solely on a strange mixture of popping beats and crunching piano riffs that are reminiscent of a CB radio broadcast.

A candidate for best song of 2010, “Crank Resolutions” features a beat that is beyond description (which is a good thing):

The album also has its slower moments, off-setting the heartfelt anthems.  On songs like “One Day This’ll All Be Fields” and “Another” the band shifts gears and takes on the persona of a Scottish folk outfit, often sounding like The Tallest Man On Earth (by the way, the tallest man ever from Scotland was 7’9 and his name was Angus MacAskill…no, that’s not the latest burger from McDonalds although their angus burgers can definitely kill your ass).  While their folky numbers seem stripped down and harmless, they are at times just as riveting and poignant as the rest of the album.

There were probably better versions of “One Day This’ll All Be Fields” on YouTube, but this clip seemed so intimate and raw. I wish I was there to sing along with the sea of drunken Scots:

With Neil Pennycook’s commanding, Scottish voice echoing throughout each stunning song, I’d like to think that this is the album fellow countrymen Frightened Rabbit were aiming for with their latest release. While Frightened Rabbit’s “The Winter of Mixed Drinks” fell short of it’s high aspirations, “All Creatures Will Make Merry” surpasses expectation and blasts-off into the cosmos.  I understand that Meursault and this album will probably never be the apple of the music world’s eye, but for now, it’s the fig that makes this pig jig.

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Top Albums of the Year 2000 (30-21)

30. Entombed – Uprising

True Entombed fans are probably the faction who prefer their earlier, more brutal death metal albums.  This one is often referred to as “death ‘n’ roll.”  Ha ha, I usually hate lame made up genres (even though I am more guilty of it than most) but this one really fits and it’s kinda funny.  I started with Uprising, maybe that is why I tolerate the slower tempos and yelled (rather than growled) vocals.  Definitely not a sellout ploy, it is still WAY too brutal for MTV or the radio (although not in a perfect world).  One of my top metal albums of the 00s.  I like walking the dogs while listening to it; it makes everyday activities like that seem badass.  – Ho Chi Unser Jr.

29. 16 Horsepower – Secret South

How’s this for another made up genre: post-rock Americana.  I don’t know what to

call it, but it is brooding and one is jolted into the realization that hell is a mother fucken real place.  And we all might end up there.  No one knew banjos, violins, organs, bandoneons, and stand up basses could be so heavy and ominous. — Pthestudp

28. Mountain Goats – The Coroner’s Gambit: or Slavonic Dances if you prefer

John Darnielle disagrees with Android50 about the Bible being punch-lineless.  I’ll tell you that right now.  In “Jaipur”, after he gets done singing about sugar pastries cooked in clarified butter, he tells the story of being sold to evil men by his brothers.  An obvious Joseph reference and a definite a “punch line.”  But even though they would disagree on that topic, this is exactly the type of album Android50 pines for from the Mountain Goats: lo-fi songs with hilarious and often poignant lyrics.   He sings about blood running through the streets of Rome, growing a garden, having no money or sense, going to Canada with a Tolstoy quoting woman, divorce, suicide, death and the afterlife.  In fact, he is really the only person I want to hear sing about the latter three. And of course maybe my favorite lyrics ever: “bag full of oily rags, fifty cent lighter/dreams of retirement in Cancun burning ever brighter/there’s a lot of ways to make money in this world/but I can’t recommend insurance fraud.”  But even though he is probably the only lyricist the last fifteen years who can give Bill Callahan a run for his money, you really can’t get it off of a page.  You have to hear the demagogue himself preach it from his pulpit on high.  – Kid Kilowatt

27. Microphones – It Was Hot We Stayed In the Water*

No one should have been too surprised by the black metalness of 2009’s Wind’s Poem. First of all Phil Elverum hasn’t been too secretive about his love of the dark metal and secondly his music never really has been too far removed from being classified as such.  IWHWSITW’s nature themes and his massive noise WTFs and hissy lo-fi recording techniques owe something to BM.  It is really just noisy, massive, fist pumping black metal for the soccer arenas, albeit with loads of pop dynamite, some sunny mumbling vocals and a pack of cavemen beating on random things for percussion.  If you like The Glow Pt. 2 you really must have this one as well.  – Suzy Creamcheese

26.  Weakling – Dead as Dream

Five songs, (the shortest being over 10 minutes) of the most intense black metal ever issued from this side of the Atlantic.  Will surely separate the men from the pussies (and poseurs).  Don thy corpse paint and thy Gorgoroth spiked arm bands cos we’re about to fuck some shit  up.  – Dr. Anonymous

25.  Agents of Oblivion – s/t

It’s funny looking back to high school and the music we listened to.  I say this because I grew up in rural Wyoming, with no college radio and practically no internet.  How did we find good bands?  I still don’t know; so when I remember us listening to a good band I feel like providence somehow led our path.  My buddy’s older brother introduced me to Acid Bath and I followed Dax Riggs wherever he went after that, and Agents of Oblivion was formed after Acid Bath’s bassist died.  I’ve heard Dax’s voice compared to Jim Morrison.  So how’s this: a Queens of the Stone Age fronted by Jim Morrison that grew up in New Orleans on Eyehategod and weed, instead of in the desert on LSD and ecstasy. — Pthestudp

24. Black Heart Procession – 3*

I have a BHP t-shirt.  It depicts a bunch of naked zombie girls running around hypnotized.  That is what this postwar desolation album sounds like, given the fact that one or more of the hypnotized naked zombie bitches can play the saw. — Pthestudp

23. PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

One can tell a lot about the music from Polly’s album covers.  The raw, blaring guitars of Dry were presaged by the picture of Polly’s lips and chin pressed against the glass with an ominously dark background.  Rid of Me’s cover, a naked Polly in black and white with her hair flying presumably from a whip of her head, foretell Steve Albini’s abrasiveness had been added to the bone rattling mix.  To Bring You My Love has Polly in a red dress, lying down in water, heralding grandness, passion and theatricality. One look at this albums cover will tell you times have changed.  Polly dressed and looking normal in every way, crossing some NYC (where she lived for 6 months for inspiration, as indicated by the album’s title.  I’m assuming the sea part comes from her life in England) street.  Many do not like the change in Harvey brought by SFTCSFTS but they should have seen it coming.  Look at the cover people!  — Suzy Creamcheese

22. Avey Tare & Panda Bear – Spirit They’re Gone… Spirit They’ve Vanished

This album is like a child who frequently begs their parents for candy.  The parents get tired of the child’s incessant whining, so occasionally they give in and dish out some candy; but sometimes they beat the shit out of the child whenever they ask.  Then, about 25% of the time, in spite they think: “you asked for it, you got it” and drown the child in a vat of yummy honey.  And the child thinks to themselves, “hum, I kinda wish my parents would have beat the shit out of me again; instead of immerse me in sweet sweet candy.” – Songssuck

21. Christine 23 Onna – Shiny Crystal Planet

Another Pthestudp recommendation.  He said to put it on when I was hungover sometime.  Which I did and didn’t know why the fuck he would say that.  It was like I was hungover on Mars and getting anally raped by Martians or something.  But then I found as the album went on, it did soothe my hangover like nothing else (maybe I like being anally probed by aliens).  I couldn’t believe I had never heard these guys, this is the grooviest cosmic attack (without ever getting wanky) ever!  — Songssuck

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