Welcome to 2020! Here’s a playlist of my favorite songs last year.
Instead of giving my impressions of all 50 of these great songs, I think it will be interesting to list where I discovered each one. Maybe that’s a Spotify playlist, NPR, a magazine, or maybe I don’t remember. Let’s find out!
“Harmony Hall” by Vampire Weekend – Being a long-time fan I was watching the wires for this one. I think the first time I heard anything from the new album was this “All Songs” preview.
“Cattails” by Big Thief – My friend Kenton introduced me to Big Thief first some time ago but I hadn’t paid them much attention, even as they got hyped. “Cattails” appeared on Spotify “Release Radar” and blew me away.
“Manual Transmission” by Susto – I follow this magazine “No Depression” on Facebook. Highly recommended follow! They profiled Susto in February 2020. I listened to the album on repeat on this long drive to Dallas, specifically while on the bypass around Austin. Chilled waay out.
“Sing Along” by Sturgill Simpson – A great album (slash anime) I waited for with bated breath. It’s so abrasive and ragey. Like “Fight Club”, the album traps you in this dark world for a while. And the real world feels even scarier when it finally lets you out.
“Our Hearts” by Randy Houser ft. Lucie Silvas – Contender for all-around song of the year. Well-written and they sing the boots off it. Duets have a way of standing out. I think I found Randy Houser from the Texas Red Dirt Spotify playlist, which I occasionally dig into for new music.
“Dear Rodeo” by Cody Johnson – Another Texas Red Dirt playlist find. But Cody blew up with his new album this year, getting lots of press and big-ups from another singer I like, Aaron Watson. “Dear Rodeo” hits my brain’s country sweet spots real hard. Great song.
“Beer Never Broke My Heart” by Luke Combs – Killer track you almost immediately know all the words to. I think I avoided Luke Combs for some time, don’t know why. Meanwhile, he’s all over the CMAs. This one finally hit me from one of the Spotify playlists, too. Thanks, algorithm!
“Because of Yours” by Jeffrey East – Listen for the lyrics. So good.
“Gone Enough” by William Michael Morgan – Not John Michael Montgomery. Seriously, do make a search for Texas Red Dirt on Spotify and check out the playlists, or Spotify’s Texas Music Now.
“When You’re Here” by John Fulbright – Hmm, I don’t remember. Maybe Spotify’s Discover Weekly?
“Playboys” by Midland – Second album boot-scoots a little further afield from the country showbiz fantasy they perfected on the first one. Like when a fake band from a movie has an actually-ok song on the soundtrack. Except it’s a whole CD now and they’re actually really good. That.
“Escape from Los Angeles” by Holy Ghost! – Thank you Spotify Release Radar! I had forgotten about this group. RIYL: LCD Soundsystem, 2010s elecro-pop.
“Seventeen” by Sharon Van Etten – Recommended by “All Songs”. Wish that I liked the other album songs, but I didn’t. This one is just a stunner.
“Moderation” by Florence + The Machine – Oh so good. Another single surfaced by Spotify. Will Flo have another heyday with a new album?
“You Say” by Lauren Daigle – She was all over celebrity talk shows for a minute, which was really cool. A beautiful voice with such honest lyrics.
“Call My Name” by I’m With Her – I think it was initially found via Spotify, but reinforced with coverage in No Depression. Gorgeous and eerie harmonies.
“The Bottom of It” by The Fruit Bats – They’ve had a few songs come up for me this year. Just a warm, eclectic sound all around.
“After All” by Rob Baird – Found through the country playlists, but Baird is something more haunted.
“Where I Come From” by Patty Griffin – Talk about haunted. “The mills closed down long ago and so we’re way past unemployment/Like a bad joke somebody told on our town for their enjoyment.”
“Five on It” by Spielbergs – I don’t know anything about this band, I just think this one rocks.
“Rivers” performed by Teddy Swims – Got tipped on Teddy by my friend Robert. What a great voice. I love his cover songs better than the sleazier originals being released. Check out his cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me”.
“Love Me Like That” by Home Free – Found when I was searching through Jeffrey East’s songwriting credits. East wrote a number of songs for vocal group Home Free. They’re operating in the same frequency as Pentatonix, massively talented performers covering popular songs on YouTube. Really fun.
“Away From The Mire” by Billy Strings – Showed up in my YouTube recommendations, no doubt after listening to Home Free. An incredible player and singer. Looking forward to even better lyrics and experimentation from him in the future. Meanwhile, there’s awesome shredding in all his songs already.
“Torch Song” by J.S. Ondara – Recommended by my friend Kenton, who heard it on “All Songs”. Lovely singing and songwriting.
“Love Theory” by Kirk Franklin – Just a real soft spot for rocking gospel tracks like this. Kanye’s own gospel turn came out before Christmas 2019 and it’s worth a look, too.
“Is He Worthy? – Live” performed by Chris Tomlin – Recommended by Spotify “Release Radar”. Such affecting lyrics. I love this beautiful choir version.
“Now I’m In It” by HAIM – Pulsing jam. Looking forward to new stuff, hopefully in 2020.
“History” by EXO-K – When I’m looking for new K-pop, most of my searching is in the genre section of Spotify. I’ll skip through trying to find something to catch my ear. There’s usually a fresh treat in there!
“Follow” by U-KNOW – All of these all-caps band names.
“Friend” by BTOB – Really though!