Find part two (1-50) here.
100. New Druids – “Hearts That Can Mend”
Some of the bests from around town got together and shaped up an album with the same feel-good vibe the members themselves put off in real life. A much rarer feat than it should be. Looks like there are still a few Making Love To Make Music To Make Love To limited release cassettes available. If you are still on that “support local” train, this album is not a bad way to consider going about it.
99. Hershguy – “Laundromat (Yeah)”
In a year deeply troubled by a lack of New York trash surfacing, this instant scuzzy hit hidden on the back end of the super fun Pop Rocks EP at the very least scratches the itch just right.
98. Night Glitter – “Transparency (La Transparence)”
Austin artist doing songs in French isn’t exactly a novel idea these days but this Night Glitter track just might be the first noise to come along this side of Crooked Bangs to be actually enjoyable.
97. Isolation Society – “Saturation”
96. The Rotten Mangos – “Volando Con Los Mangos”
We’re taking bets on whether The Rotten Mangos conquer the world or if they disappear in a moment’s notice like the mystical specters they are. Maybe they get beamed back to whatever planet they came from. Maybe they grow weary of throwing out crumbs of potential to a world not yet prepared for their intelligent designs. Either way, you and I dig them completely, and hopefully, that will be enough to keep em hanging around for another decade or two.
95. Sheverb – “The Other Side”
94. The Spits – “Up All Night”
93. Bass Drum of Death – “Too Cold to Hold”
Bass Drum of Death may have lost their way for a minute but we haven’t forgotten they were once leaders of the tough-guy-fun-time pack. Have you? They made a solid attempt at showing they still have it in em this year with a couple notable strides at getting back to doing what they do best; avoiding the pop and chorusing the hell out of the slop. If you are reading this John Barrett, could you take a moment to get Broncho on the phone, they are devastatingly in need of a few pointers.
92. Sky Furrows – “Alyosha”
91. Thomas V Jäger – “The Bitter End”
90. Shadow Show – “Charades”
89. Flora & Fawna – “Pause”
There was certainly no shortage of bands writing songs that offered little to the discussion of being stuck in quarantine beyond saying the superficially obvious. Good for them for staying active. Where the other bands went wrong is swimming in the wrong genre. Being bored and stuck at home with an acoustic guitar, free time, and recording software is a tale as old as time. Pop music demands the sort of simplicity saying life is on pause will work for. Of course, that is no free pass. The electronic dancier side of life still requires a knack for keeping things creatively interesting in the process. Which is exactly Flora & Fawna’s proverbial wheelhouse so to speak. They weren’t making the most of their time putting this together, they were doing what they always do. Which is why “Pause” gets put on repeat and the others get skipped after thirty seconds.
88. Hollow Ship – “Magic Mountain”
87. Greyhounds – “Tune In”
86. Cody Mauser – “Our Hearts”
Maybe there is a genre of music Cody Mauser (The Rich Hands/New Attractions/The Reputations) might dip his toe in sounding mediocre and dismissable. Ain’t happened yet though. This year’s favorite tracks list is chock full of worthy reviews which unfortunately found themselves shelved while looking the bleak futility of existence squarely in the eyes. That does not mean we weren’t listening though. The whole Fake Love Songs album is an enjoyable surprise from 2020. We probably should have said so sooner.
85. The Slideshow Tragedy – “After the Fall”
84. Caroline Rose – “Nothing’s Impossible”
83. Brower – “Two Thousand Twenty New Tanks”
82. Hideous Sun Demon – “Distractions”
81. Kevin Morby – “Campfire”
80. Trees Speak – “Soul Sequencer”
79. Kay Odyssey – “No Birds Sing”
Catch our feature on “No Birds Sing” here.
78. Jerry Paper – “Quicksand”
77. Greg Mullen – “Greg Mullen’s 115th Post-Intoxication Regretrospective”
We ALL have been there dude……on one side of the equation or the other. Can someone build a career around their best songs being about regrets and self-alienation? Greg Mullen is gonna find out. We are cheering him on for what it is worth.
76. The Goners – “Are You Gone Yet?”
75. Lomelda – “Reach”
74. Nevil – “Heart of Stone”
Consider this a public service announcement relevant for when we get back to being corralled into venues too cheap to turn their AC up high enough so we don’t feel like we are about to die. WE KNOW NEVIL ARE GREAT LIVE. YOU CAN STOP ASKING THOSE ON STAFF IF WE HAVE SEEN THEM! THIS GOES DOUBLE FOR THE NEXT SXSW THAT HAPPENS! If you aren’t sliding over free drugs or a couple of shots to take—let it be known we are collectively on the verge of cold-shouldering the statement. The best bands in the world to see live are Amyl and the Sniffers and The Bad Lovers; both combined have not been name-dropped to us anywhere quantifiably close to that of Nevil. Seriously, we get it.
73. JD Clark & the Stuck in the Mud Band – “Bright Lights”
72. Israel Nash – “Canyonheart”
71. Cold Jackets – “I Can’t Do This Dance No More”
What is surprising about Affairs of the Heart—the second Cold Jackets album—is how they come off from start to finish as a band unwavered in strengthening each tangent of their sound to make what they have been about since day one notably better. This is the band we have been listening to for years, the exact same band, only bigger, only better, and that is as motivational of a story as there is these days. “I Can’t Do This Dance No More” is a standout applaudable moment on a standout applaudable album. The universal reception seems to be of pure thankfulness they are exactly the way they are. The hard work shows.
70. R.I.P. – “Judgement Night”
69. Paper Bomb – “Waves”
68. Ringo Deathstarr – “I Don’t Want To Lose This”
*see our Nevil statement above
67. Izaak Opatz – “You Made a Country Singer Out of Me”
66. Schwein – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Pity”
If you missed our review of Schwein’s Easy Does It. Let us sum up this song and the rest of the album with this excerpt,
“There were giants in this town—Bad Sports, Pharaohs, Bad Lovers, A Giant Dog—beside them stood Schwein, an equal cut from a more resigned cloth; Chbosky might call it “the sort of Rock N Roll which doesn’t make a big deal about itself.” In the heart of that golden age surfaced the first Schwein album, The Future Is Gnar; a brilliant, idealistic, clever, master’s class in creativity. Whether you were there at one of the shows or had it on repeat in your car for a month straight, that record, those songs, hit—physically, mentally, and about seven other ways scientists have yet to discover and label. On Easy Does It we get a Schwein who has been long away from Chicago, the slow gentle southern appreciation of the simple has saturated his every tissue. Texas wins again y’all.”
65. Rose City Band – “Only Lonely”
64. Ice – “Run to Me”
The early seventies called; they are offended by the dismissive nature in which the term “dad rock” gets thrown around by kids with unrefined tastes blinded by their plastic favorite bands bubble. Ice are one of the highlights waiting when they get over themselves and open their ears to how great expanding what is acceptable to enjoy in their derivative greatness can be.
63. Soul Glo – “2K (ft. Archangel”
On the other side of the judgment coin mentioned about Ice. All y’all hung up on the seventies need to get your head out of the sand and walk around in some of the boundaries being pushed outside of your comfort zone. Bands are getting down to the job of moving things forward. Every genre is alive at the moment with greatness. Stop and take a look around from time to time. You are only hurting yourself missing it. Stagnation is disappointing; Soul Glo aren’t having it.
62. Ponyboy – “Rigor Mortis”
61. Half Dream – “Know You Best”
If you have missed any of the heart swoon words we have had for Half Dream, take a moment to catch up on it here.
60. Star Parks – “All Your Saturdays At Once”
59. Quin Galavis – “The Top”
Quin Galavis has been slowly growing into his own realized potential. We can only hope he believes in himself as much as the rest of us do. “The Top” really stopped us in our tracks. This is a late-night repeater if ever there was one.
58. Female Gallery – “Wtiching Hour”
57. The Sun Machine – “Why Did I Run?”
There are a few bands who seem equally worthy of becoming the next Black Angels in Austin. The Sun Machine are on their way. We just gotta get back to live shows going off so they can continue proving it to crowds with each set they play.
56. The Midgetmen – “WUTW – Out of the Blue”
55. Holy Wave – “Hell Bastards”
54. Sweet Spirit – “No Dancing”
53. Bonny Light Horseman – “10,000 Miles”
52. The Tender Things – “The Secrets We Could Tell”
51. Wil Cope – “Mexican Cigarettes”
Wil Cope is one of the most consistent and committed artists around yet his lyrical genius manages to still remain word of mouth. The entire concept album this song is part of is vivid yet stripped-down, just as the story it tells demands. If anyone rightfully—and appropriately—carries the torch of Townes and Blaze in this town it is Cope, Keowee might be the single stand out album at reincarnating the sound and presence of his kindred spirits best. We might have put “Ghetto Whiskey” on this list instead but seeing as that is an early single from an album no doubt we will be drooling all over next year, “Mexican Cigarettes” it is.