Today we reveal five more of our favourite albums of 2020, a strange year in pretty much every respect, but one that still managed to deliver some stunning new music to our ever-growing collections of albums.
25. bdrmm - BEDROOM
24. AOIFE NESSA FRANCES - LAND OF NO JUNCTION
23. TIM BURGESS - I LOVE THE NEW SKY
22. SMALLTOWN TIGERS - FIVE THINGS
21. WORKING MEN'S CLUB - WORKING MEN'S CLUB
20. THOUSAND YARD STARE - THE PANGLOSSIAN MOMENTUM
19. THE BLINDERS - FANTASIES OF A STAY AT HOME PSYCHOPATH
18. THANK YOU I'M SORRY - I'M GLAD WE'RE FRIENDS
17. MARIE DAVIDSON / L'OEIL NU - RENEGADE BREAKDOWN
16. HANIA RANI - HOME
15. PILLOW QUEENS - IN WAITING
14. THE SLOW READERS CLUB - THE JOY OF THE RETURN
13. DOVES - THE UNIVERSAL WANT
12. MATT BERNINGER - SERPENTINE PRISON
11. CHERRY PICKLES - THE JUICE THAT'S WORTH THE SQUEEZE
10. PINK TEARS - PINK TEARS
Pink Tears is the debut album from Jamie from Blackley M9 (he has a thing with postcodes) who describes himself as "Goff soul // Pop tart // Laptop // Geetar" in his bio. From the park shot of the album's cover through ten songs, he takes you on a twisting, winding journey through the deepest recesses of his creative mind, moments of dark reflection contrasting with those of shiny pop tones, often next to each other. Out of potential chaos comes surprising beauty.
The email started "I’ve written recorded my debut LP in my garage in Denton, Manchester (m34) with my acoustic n a heap load of knock off plugins. I thought, or maybe was hopin you would be interested", the dropbox link didn't work first time and yet there was something that drew me to the Pink Tears album. Over several weeks (and plenty of times since), I played it at different times, loving it more with each listen as this most rudimentary of recordings unveiled new subtleties each time. Never judge a book by its cover.
Our review concluded : "Pink Tears is one of those records that surprises at every turn. It could have been an unmitigated disaster, but against the odds of its modest humble birth, it rises up, uses its unpredictability and natural unpolished roughness to make you love it if you like your music to not be shined to within an inch of its life. It's raw and full of imperfections - but that is its charm and if you let your guard down it'll seduce you completely and you'll be wondering just how.Pink Tears are on Facebook and Instagram. The album is available digitally from Bandcamp and is on Spotify. 9. SPACE MONKEYS - MODERN ACTIONS
Released on January 1st we'd almost forgotten that Space Monkeys album had come out this year given everything that's (not) happened since the clocks struck midnight on January 1st. Modern Actions is a record that a record that straddles the band's creation in the days following the end of Madchester and the autumn after the summers of love and a fresher modern sound. It's a record that screams peace and love from the rafters, celebrates life and friendship and people coming together - an antithesis to the malignance that's seeping through society.
Our review concluded - "an album that aims to see the positives in life despite all the crap that's going on, to never give up on finding love and your own version of happiness. It's not afraid to reference influences or borrow soundbites or lines from others in context and in doing so it makes Modern Actions an immensely accessible record that will grab you on first listen and hold your attention and reveal more on further listening. It's full of heart, soul and genuine Northern sweat and tears"
8. NICOLE ATKINS - ITALIAN ICE
Truth Or Consequences is Yumi Zouma's third album, a record that came to our attention via repetitive Facebook ads. Immediately struck by the melodies of song in question, Lonely After, further investigation unearthed an album full of songs (plus two prior full-length records and three EPs) with similar qualities that felt like a joyful escape from the claustrophobia of the first months of lockdown.
There's a warmth to Christie Simpson's vocals and those melodies, which feel like they've been pored over to make them both perfect yet at the same time seem very simple, that make Truth Or Consequences such a delightful listen. Behind that there's a restlessness to the lyrical content of the song that gives Truth Or Consequences a depth beneath the surface. The band's desire to continue to work on songs saw a second version of the album released later in the year recorded remotely as the band's touring schedule had to be torn up, imaginatively titled Truth Or Consequences - Alternate Versions that provides a different view of one of our favourite random discoveries of the year.
6. DULCIMER MELODY - DARK ALCHEMY
We stumbled across Dulcimer Melody's digital-only self-released debut via an enthusiastic fan post in a Facebook group. We know little about Dulcimer Melody other than she is a North-West based multi-instrumentalist with a love of the harp and who declares on her Facebook that she loves "composing music and using the technology and instruments I have at my disposal to create big orchestral symphonies and ambience in my music. This was a huge undertaking as it took hundreds of hours to record each individual instrument you hear on the album and then produce each piece in a way that it sounded professional" Hit play on Dark Alchemy and it's immediately evident that she's achieved all that and more.