[MarsNews] Top Ten Albums for 2020 (A Definitive List)

It really did look like 2020 was going to be a complete bust for new music for a long while.  We had a few releases for the first couple of months, then Covid-19 derailed it all.  It seemed like sometime after the summer, labels and bands came to the realization that live shows were not coming back anytime soon.  So the fall was crammed with new releases.  2020 was saved!

There are a lot of Top Ten Lists on the blogs at this time of year, but what makes this the “Definitive” one is the wording in the title.  So enjoy and if you don’t agree with me, remember The Dude’s words…

 

#10. Armored Saint | Punching The Sky

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John Bush’s “other” band has certainly impressed me with Punching The Sky.  One of my goals for 2021 it to dive into their back catalog and discover more.  This really does put on display how much Bush added to Anthrax in the ’90s.

Full Review
Best Song: Never You Fret

#9. Testament | Titans of Creation

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Titans of Creation came out in April and remained to be my favourite thrash metal album of 2020.  It is another example of how Testament has come into their own as a band that delivers some hard thrash with a hint of rock ‘n roll swing.  It is really time to extend “The big 4” to “The big 5” to include them, isn’t it?

Full Review
Best Song: Dream Deceiver

#8. Neil Young | Homegrown

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A lost album from Neil that was originally recorded in 1974.  Many of its tunes have popped up elsewhere over the years, but they fit best right here. 

Full Review
Best Song: Star of Bethlehem

#7. The Strokes | The New Abnormal

The Strokes - The New Abnormal Cover

The Strokes made a comeback in 2020 with The New Abnormal.  It’s best tune is Bad Decisions, a mash up of Modern English’s I Melt With You and Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself with original vocals and arrangement.  Listen to it for yourself!  It completely works! 

Full Review
Best Song: Bad Decisions

#6. Ella Fitzgerald | The Lost Berlin Tapes

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Ella was best on stage and The Lost Berlin Tapes I believe captured her better than any other recording I have heard.  I normally would not include a live release in the top ten, but I can make an exception for Ella.  Her live performances are better than most who spent months in the studio.  Even if you don’t like jazz I think you should check it out. 

Full Review
Best Song: Mack The Knife

#5. John Fogerty | Fogerty’s Factory

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Throughout the past spring and summer, John gathered with his children to make YouTube videos covering some of his classic tunes.  The band was dubbed Fogerty’s Factory, and listening back to it is like a time capsule for 2020.  I will cherish this positive side effect of continuous lockdowns forever. 

Full Review
Best Song: City Of New Orleans

#4. Huey Lewis & The News | Weather

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Thank goodness the next two albums are short because that was the ONLY thing that made the rest of this list a wee bit easier to rank.  Weather is likely Huey Lewis’ final appearance in the recording studio.  It is a blessing how they recorded all 7 tracks before he was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease.  Every song is performed behind the idea that is was just “another album” instead of a final one.  Not a somber note is played making his last run a sweet one.

Full Review
Best Song: I Am There For You

#3. Freeways | True Bearings

Free ways True Bearing cover

Hard Rock done without shenanigans!  You can’t get more Canadian than that!   Freeways’ debut is short and left me wanting more.  These guys sound a bit like Thin Lizzy/’70s Judas Priest/Budgie while bringing their own into the mix.  Follow the links, listen to their tunes, then support them on Bandcamp.  I want to see this little ol’ band from Brampton performing live at some point!

Full Review
Best Song:
Dead Air

#2. Storm Force | Age of Fear

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Labeling Storm Force’s debut album as a throwback to the sound of ’80s hair bands does it injustice.  Their music really does transcend the genre.  Think Cinderella, Van Halen, or Guns ‘n Roses.  Bands that were part of the scene, yet above it at the same time.  That’s where Storm Force belongs!

Full Review
Best Song:
Breathe – Words

#1. AC/DC | PWR/UP

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Thank goodness my favourite band of ALL TIME took some time this year to spread their anti-noise pollution message!  Another stroke of luck for me as it made the decision for top spot a little easier.  I’ll admit, part of the reasons why I give PWR/UP the distinct honour of #1 are AC/DC’s legacy and timing of this release. 

As we began to enter the “2nd wave” in September, it cemented the notion I had for a while.  That one trip I took to the record store in August was really going to be it for a very long time.  The end of the year won’t be spent with friends and family.  We got the extended dance version of Covid-19 instead of the radio edit.  Forget 2020, I’ll be surprised if 2021 delivers “normal” at all.  That was a funk.

Then PWR/UP was officially announced.  Wait a minute… yes, things are garbage right now but good can still happen!

And AC/DC did deliver a fantastic album.  Many are saying it is their best since The Razors Edge.  I might even go back further.  Every spin of PWR/UP has me liking it more and more.  It is different while being their usual comfort food. 

Full Review
Best Song: Through The Mists Of Time

I’ll be handing out some awards tomorrow! Stay tuned!

[EP Review] Huey Lewis and The News | Weather

How can I possibly remain objective with the last 26 minutes of recorded music from Huey Lewis?  The man has been a part of my life since I could form memories.

The answer is, I cannot.

So, grain of salt and all of that…  but I really think Weather contains some of the band’s best work ever.  Good enough to belong along side their classic albums from the early ’80s. 

The album began in 2012 when Huey wrote its first track with band members Jimmy Colla (guitar) and John Pierce (bass), While We’re Young, their first new song since Plan B from 2001.  By 2017 the band had recorded a handful of tunes and set a goal of finishing a full album with a release date for 2018.  Those plans fell apart apart when Huey was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease, a chronic disorder that affects the inner ear causing issues with balance and hearing loss. 

Huey claimed to not be able to hear music well enough to sing at a proper pitch, so the band put the album on hold with the hopes that he could get well enough to finish it.   But, unfortunately that does not look like it is going to happen anytime soon.

So, Weather was released in February of this year as is.  7 tunes that make up just over 26 minutes.  

They all sound classic and new at the same time.  While We’re Young, Her Love Is Killing Me, I Am There For You,Hurry Back Baby, and Remind Me Why I Love You Again could have been written and recorded at anytime.  It is that Huey Lewis brand of pop, soul and classic R&B all blended together without any effort.  Truly timeless.  

I Am There for You might be my favourite of the bunch.  It needs to be the theme song for some family show. 

Also on the EP is Pretty Girls Everywhere, which the author of one review I read said how they didn’t like the lyrics.  “Old-man Huey” singing about ogling young girls felt creepy.  Thing is, they complexly missed how it is a cover of the classic R&B hit from Eugene Church and The Fellows in 1958.  I’d take that as a compliment.  

Finally, the EP wraps up with One Of The Boys which brings the band back to their country roots just like how Honkey Tonk Blues did on Sports in 1983.  Perfect.

If this is Huey’s last, it is fitting how the album was recorded prior to the band having a hint that this might the case.  There are no somber notes or an indication that Huey has lost a step on vocals.  Weather is light, breezy, and fun.  Exactly how I want to see this band hang it up if they must.  

5/5

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