MMM Staff Picks: Richard John Cummins’ Top Ten Favorite Albums of 2020
#10. PAUL McCARTNEY – ‘McCARTNEY III’
A half-century into his post-Beatles career, Paul McCartney continues to show the world the witty and imaginative tunesmithing for which he’s always been known for. He even goes for bonus points by playing nearly all of the instruments himself (not too shabby for a man of seventy-eight).
#9. SEMISONIC – ‘YOU’RE NOT ALONE’ (EP)
The Minneapolis alternative band best (or perhaps only) known for their 1998 hit “Closing Time” makes a low-key but triumphant return with this five-track EP, their first new release in nearly two decades. The tight musicianship and first-rate songwriting makes it seem as though they never left.
#8. OZZY OSBOURNE – ‘ORDINARY MAN’
Heavy metal’s all-time most iconic and influential figure delivers both what he’s best known for (i.e. blistering hard rockers with titles like “Straight to Hell” and “Under the Graveyard”) along with some surprises (a collaboration with Elton John), leaving several generations of headbangers no doubt grateful that he’s still Ozzy after all these years.
#7. HALSEY – ‘MANIC’
While this skillfully orchestrated synth-heavy pop record involved the input of no less than twenty producers and twice as many writing collaborators, Ashley Nicolette Frangipane a.k.a Halsey delivers an album that’s both intensely personal and an undeniable crowd-pleaser.
#6. THE WEEKND – ‘AFTER HOURS’
This striking and surprisingly diverse collection of synth-heavy soul and R&B shows why Canada’s Abel Makkonen Tesfaye a.k.a the Weeknd has emerged as one of the most important and influential music figures of the past few years.
#5. BAD MOVES – ‘UNTENABLE’
If you want to know where all the fun in rock ‘n’ roll went in 2020, look no further than Washington, DC power pop band Bad Moves’ second album… song titles like “Party With the Kids who Wanna Party With You” should tell you all you need to know.
#4. HAIM – ‘WOMEN IN MUSIC PART III’
Sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim further solidify their place as one of the twenty-first century’s most formidable music acts, expanding upon their well-assimilated influences of ’70s rock, ’80s pop, and beyond.
#3. IDLES – ‘ULTRA MONO’
For a band that eschews being identified as punk, Bristol, England band IDLES sound much closer than many who try to claim the label. On their third album, IDLES lead singer Joe Talbot talk-sings with an unabashed conviction through a dozen hard-edged but melodic tracks of genuine social consciousness.
#2. BEABADOOBEE – ‘FAKE IT FLOWERS’
Once you get past her Dr. Seuss stage name, one will find that Filipino-born British singer-songwriter Beatrice Laus delivers what may well be the year’s best debut album with her stripped-down brand of 90’s-influenced power pop. “Fake?” Anything but.
#1. BOB DYLAN – ‘ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS’
On his thirty-ninth studio album Bob Dylan puts forth more than an hour’s worth of subtle but powerful poetry set to timeless folk and blues music. No lyric samples will be posted here: Rough and Rowdy Ways needs to be experienced first-hand. Dylan was hailed as a genius in 1962, and it seems as though in the years since few have ever reputed that claim…albums like this one are the reason.