Our 100 Favorite Songs of 2020


Find part 1 (51-100) here.

50. Skyway Man – “Old Swingin’ Bell”
49. Tommy and the Commies – “Power on Standby”
48. Thelma and the Sleaze – “Come Back Now”

Turns out adjusting to a life indoors had a minimal learning curve; a couple of mental breakdowns, some stress yelling, stress sleeping, stress eating; minimal none the less. Who would have thought working from home without pants on, experiencing the world outdoors in small doses of smoke breaks and looking for packages dropped off by our blue and brown suited heroes, might not be half bad? For Thelma and the Sleaze this must have been excruciating. While most bands talk about going twice a year on three week trips toward one coast or the other like they are some weathered committed touring band, Thelma and the Sleaze make their ego projections sound childishly laughable. This band lives and breathes on the road so much they probably don’t even have furniture at home; they just unhook the bench seats from the van and move them inside while making the routine pitstop with friends. Their streak of consistently recharging the American belief in the possibilities of rock n roll town by town like guitar slinging Johnny Appleseeds was put on pause. At least they used the free time to turn out some songs. Seeing as we likely wouldn’t have gotten anything new for another year or two while they continued corner pushing Fuck. Marry. Kill,Come Back Now“—and Sacred as Hell in general—was a silver lining of 2020.

47. The Speedways – “Kisses Are History”
46. El Goodo – “Home”
45. Skegss – “Fantasising”
44. Hey Cowboy! – “Feelin’ For”
43. Baby Jesus – “Do Worry”
42. Eternal Champion – “Skullseeker”
41. Bob Mould – “American Crisis”

It seems safe to say Bob Mould and Mike Watt are the most consistently committed artists for the cause. No one blames others for settling to the bottom; floating philosophically between the piss venom passion of high blind self-righteous youth and cynical nietzschian defeated seen-this-all-before soft shapelessness anchoring of old age takes cultivated focus. It is unfair to expect more from artists than we do our friends; life happens, people fade into boring nothingness…..but not all of us! Bob Mould strengthens our hope. Gracefully he has transitioned along the path of age with a sound reflecting positivity towards affecting change and bitterness in it still having to be his motivation to keep on going. The one-two punch of “Next Generation” and “American Crisis” on the American Crisis album defines this. Of all the songs making our Favorite’s Of 2020 list, this one is the lyrical crème de la crème.

40. The Budos Band – “Sixth Hammer”

The Budos Band are part of a growing surge of notables setting precedent for how good it can be when musicians pick up pioneeric torches, stretch their legs from the cocoon of genre loyalty, and deliver us into near fabled possibilities. “Sixth Hammer,” in its blur of jazz and soul, is the cloth simply passable films could be scored into greatness by.

39. The Cavemen – “Euthanise Me”
38. Clipping. – “’96 Neve Campbell (ft. Cam and China”
37. Dougie Pool – “Vaping on the Job”
36. Dumb Punts – “Breaking My Brain”
35. GYGAX – “Welcome to the World”

Sure the guitar ripped on the original but turns out without Michael Bolton’s vocals this Blackjack cover goes off! Now let’s see GYGAX get down to the real task of turning something great out of that Billy Joel Atilla mess.

34. The Reflectors – “Baby It’s You”
33. Crocodylus – “Social Climber”
32. Holy Sons – “Cast Bound King”
31. Las Cobras – “Ida”
30. Meat Belt – Harsh Delivery

When Jon Chamberlain and Nate Ulmer work together—be it visual or audible—their natural creative genius as individuals seems to find comfort leaning on the other in such a way the ideas they collectively shape ease into memorable experiences shining with integrity. Their photography/ painting endeavors floor us. Their work together as musicians has the same comfortable compatibility; the likes of which fittingly one could draw comparison to that of Arish Ahmad Khan and Mark Sultan (King Khan and BBQ). Ulmer and Chamberlain do everything with such a hushed demeanor, it is hard to tell whether you have already come across Aloud to Live or not. On the chance you have not; “Harsh Delivery” is the center mark on a pendulum swinging album whose pivot point is some strange unknowable stream of consciousness sewn by the hands of two masters. Meat Belt might be stripped down, energy first, rock n roll but underneath it all is a strange John Caleion buzzing one has but to lean in, eyes closed, to take note of. All unnecessary descriptors aside, “Harsh Delivery” is a damn fine song by some damn fine people.

29. Little Richard – “California I’m Coming” / Neil Young – “Love is a Rose”

Look, if the two unreleased albums put out this year from Little Richard and Neil Young were not literally some of the best they ever did we would not be including them. We will lump the two together though. “California (I’m Coming)” surfaced a few years ago as part of a Reprise Records compilation but justice is not served to its power until you hear it screaming from the needle as it opens up Southern Child like the ghost of Little Richard proving once more to the world he will forever be the true king of kings in rock n roll, soul, and any other genre he touched. The entire Southern Child album reaches the heights of intentional sound-shifting derivative inspiration as Link Wray’s Link Wray and Leon Russell’s Hank Wilson’s Back with twice the energy; those are two of the greatest albums ever made; Southern Child sits neatly between them as equal.  “Love is a Rose,” and the entire Homegrown album, might be the strongest Neil Young has at getting weary listeners to give him the open-minded embrace his music deserves but often does not get. For long standing fans, listening to it feels like coming home. The fact both albums never saw release speaks immensely of their talent and how confident they felt during that period of creativity in which they were formed for both artists to allow them to be swept under the rug with a shoulder shrugged “meh, I’ll make another one.”

28. Christine Renner – “Drinking Coffee”

It takes little imagination to predict how much will be written in the future from Anon about Christine Renner. We will just say this for now; she has a presence every other person bravely climbing on stage solo with a guitar in hand dreams of. The songs she puts out impressively gather in outstanding beauty. The two we got this year are proof positive. Catch her live. Renner is a long lost favorite sweatshirt found on the first cold night of fall, a warm cup of coffee on a winter morning, a calm moment of reflection at the halfway point on an adventure.

27. Bill Fay – “How Long, How Long”

After criminally being marginalized in the early seventies and disappearing off to obscurity like a real life Eddie and the Cruisers, Bill Fay is beginning to see his notable brilliance gaining recognition. His Countless Branches album is a beautiful addition to his career. The full band version from the deluxe edition of “How Long, How Long” is solid but this stripped back version was the perfect choice for the initial album. Fay is one of those rare songwriters who can tell you an entire song without even putting in the work on lyrics—another song for solid comparison is Roky Erickson’s “I Walked With a Zombie.” One can only hope Fay knows there are people out there being moved by his music and that the sound of it will carry on for generations to come.

26. Spirit Adrift – “Cosmic Conquest”
25. Outtacontroller – “Hurry Up and Wait”
24. DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ – “Strayed Ocean”

You can put “Strayed Ocean” and “Forever” from DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ on repeat and throw a one person party that will keep your feet dream dance floating from room to room for hours. No bullshit. Throw a couple John Hughes films up muted in the process and life might never again feel so right.

23. Agnes Obel – “Broken Sleep”
22. Seth Gibbs – “Same Old Same Old”

Maybe time heals all wounds. Some losses leave us doubtful. At this rate, if the saying turns out true, then it will be another forty years before the sound or memory of Seth Gibbs won’t be a crippling moment difficult to overcome for so many. Writing about his songs—knowing the weight that comes with it—nearly kept any of this posthumous release from being featured on this year’s list. Then again, so many came to love him through and by his music—not to mention the entire We Are All Connected album was created in his songwriting prime with a purpose behind it which had not existed on anything before it. Cheers to an incredibly gifted person having strong as hell people around him willing to see this project to fruition. These posthumous songs will speak for his memory long after all of us are gone with him and that is something such a talent deserved.

21. Pelvis Wrestley – “Keep on Running”
20. BBQT – “Savage”
19. Ryan Lee – “Best There Ever Was”

Ryan Lee of Crypt Trip fame put out two solo songs this year. Two songs, that is all it took to make us believe he has a psychic line directly with the spirit of Doug Sahm; on about the fiftieth time playing through them it finally sinks in they are not the same person and these are actually just from some dude in a denim jacket most couldn’t pick out from Adam kicking dust behind Hotel Vegas. Absolutely flooring. Putting these out under the radar and giving us no hint of anything bigger in the works, we guess he expects us to sit on our hands counting ceiling tiles until the Sahm spirit moves him once more to make an entire album. We don’t care what the cost is. Take our money in advance if you have to, just get the thing into our ears.

18. The Chats – “Do What I Want”

Louder just in case the people in the back couldn’t hear us the first fifty times; THE BEST ROCK N ROLL IN THE WORLD IS BEING CREATED RIGHT NOW, IN REAL TIME, IN AUSTRALIA!!!! Everytime one of these bands touches state side you can hear the wave of jaws dropping in their wake. We said it about Drunk Mums, we said it about Amyl and the Sniffers, and we almost got to prove our point yet again back in April with The Chats. Of course, the bottom dropped out on our universe cancelling their tour and to be honest—outside of, uh, like, all the deaths and stuff—it is more upsetting to not have Austin witness yet another transcendetal sweat and spit scuzzed moment than anything else that happened.  “Do What I Want” is the Johnny Rockers anthem of a lifetime and the ideal spiritual sequel to “Having a Smoko.” Keep this one in your pocket for the days ahead when you just want to slip on your leather jacket and stand around out front chainsmoking, pretending you got something to do later that doesn’t involve a screen. It is a shit-mood-lifter if ever there was one.

17. Pillow Queens – “Donaghmede”
16. Damaged Bug – “I Tried”
15. Billy King and the Bad Bad Bad – “Erase Her”

You already know how we feel about what Billy King and the Bad Bad Bad are about, here’s a refresher if you need it.

14. Mini Skirt – “Give It Up”

Give It Up” is like getting high on The Spits while watching someone Twisted Tea fragile masculinity at the same time. Jello Biafra eat your heart out.

13. Dead Ghosts “Holding Me Down”
12. Croy and the Boys – “Ain’t Been Tested”

It would be near impossible to convince us someone has been grinding it out harder day to day than Cory Baum was last year. Nonstop output, constantly on the local radar, all the while making us look on the laughable side of the three-ring clown circus of stupidity we have been quarintined in the stands for. “Ain’t Been Tested” wades so deep in our tangible mind-numbing reality, to compare it definitively with any song ever to come before it feels trite; maybe John Prine is too close to our hearts at the moment but it certainly is of the caliber worthy of suggesting “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” floats in the back of our experience. His songwriting abilities have kept us in awe since his Dumb days—maybe they go as far back as the first time he put pen to paper.  Still he continues getting better. Having grown from one of Austin’s most entertaining performers into one of the most notable songcraftsman around. 2021 should be the year for Croy and the Boys. Thanks to not letting his career sit on ice waiting for life to resemble how it was before, he now has word-of-mouth familiarity with everyone whose opinion matters in Texas. No doubt he is itching to get back on the road again. His bright light, big dream, reality seems to all of us on the outside to be waiting just beyond the horizon.

11. Toots and the Maytals – “Just Brutal”
10. Swamp Dogg – “Memories (ft. John Prine)”

We lost some greats this year. John Prine might have been the hardest to process. Having left us on such a sighing, bleedingly appreciative, note as he did with Tree of Forgiveness may have contributed to why. Swamp Dogg turning up with two tracks featuring Prine on his Sorry You Couldn’t Make It album was the final push to making it almost too much. The album itself might be the best of 2020, demanding being left all day on the turntable to be turned over and over again. Still, even on an album so perfect; the two songs featuring Prine—”Memories” and “Please Let Me Go Around Again“—are the specific moments where you want to thank god, the universe, or whatever it is you sort-of-believe-in that is beyond us for gifting ours and our parents lives such honest heavy souls whose magic spellbinds us together forever in togetherness whenever their music comes on. How truly lucky we are to have had the artists we have had. We could do better by being a bit more conscious of it moving forward. “Memories” makes our favorites list by its collectively infecting appreciative leaning—albeit backhandedly somber ala Prine tradition—whereas the timing of this album’s release with Prine’s death gives “Please Let Me Go Around Again” too eery of an experience; there is no way to justify placing it between a Toots and the Maytals socially motivated kickstarter and Mdou Moctar giving a whole new generation five minutes of motivation to try psychadelics for the first time. Swamp Dogg, John Prine, y’all always gonna be with us. ALWAYS.

9. Mdou Moctar – “Chismitten”
8. Brian Fallon – “When You’re Ready”

We’re not crying. WE’RE NOT!

7. Nemegata – “El Llamado”
6. ISS – “Too Punk For Heavy Metal”

It does not seem likely we will be getting any less hyped about “Too Punk For Heavy Metal.” It ages like those two near forgotten PBR’s hiding in the back of the fridge, you can already taste how good they will feel when the time comes for you to need em.  Here is our review in case you missed it.

5. Sailor Poon – “Be My Dog”

You can catch our Sailor Poon review here.

4. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – “Cosmic”

3. Merry Jane and the Fondas – “Slump”

2. RVG – “Photograph”

1. Blue Jean Queen – “Wild Wild Woman”

Wild Wild Woman” was the highlight of 2020. Like we said in our Blue Jean Queen feature from October,
…to be an artist is to be a poet, and to be a poet is to honestly show us the experience of our lives we look over everyday beyond the just-gotta-get-to-tomorrow, to see in it the majestic wonder our untrained eyes could never have noticed without them. Unless an artist strictly thinks of themselves as an entertainer, all who make music try their best to create something bigger than their small place in life with the hope others will hear it, finding meaning in the experience. It is incredibly rare for those ambitions to be met. “Wild Wild Woman,” sets a precedent for everyone else making noise right now, a clear reminder that ambitions sure are nice, but there are giants among us who make amateurs of them all. Doing it with such seemingly careless ease that the struggles she experiences cannot weigh her down any longer than the song took to make. Because when this song is over, all of that future Blue Jean Queen is motivating us to square up with, we believe she has already faced and came out on the other side with a triumphant song to show for it; a song for all of us to off-key scream along with when alone in our car needing something real to hold onto.

Anon Magazine’s Favorite songs of 2020 (51-100)


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