One good thing that has come out of 2020 is the quality of the music that has been released, well the music that I have bought anyway. It has been a bumper year in the number of releases too making it hard to keep up and I have had to make more hard choices on what to buy and what to try and forget about. It has also been a year when I have chosen to buy the cd copy of some new releases over the vinyl, mostly forced on me by major labels ripping the absolute pish in relation to price, thirty quid for A Letter To You by Bruce Springsteen or Taylor Swift's latest anyone? And don't get me started about the lack of download codes in an ever increasing number of vinyl releases.
Some record labels are offering a different approach, producing beautifully packaged, well produced records complete with download codes and download links from the Bandcamp pages at a reasonable price, Colin Morrison's Castles In Space is the leader in this field and is now offering a brilliant subscription service. On the topic of labels a couple of new ones that have come to my attention over the past 12 months are Werra Foxma and Cue Dot Records both of which offer some excellent fresh electronic sounds and are well worth checking out.
It has been difficult get my list down to ten albums but here they are.
10. Autotelia - I
The album consists of 5 fairly lengthy pieces of psychedelic, kosmiche that envegle themselves into your consciousness and foster a strange feeling of calm at a time of high stress. Well worth a listen
9. OCH - II
I know very little about OCH other than they are a trio from Sweden and this is their second release, the first being an ep which came out back in 2014. More synth based modern Prog Rock, no, honestly give it a listen. This album was bought on a whim and I am glad that I did. There was a time between April and July/August when, apart from one album which will feature later I had very little time for anything with any vocals at all and this fitted right in with that mood.
OCH - Akssa
8. The Long Champs - Straight To Audio
Another one bought on the strength of hearing one track. Debut album by "the Welsh Idiot", not my description but what's on the Twitter bio for the Long Champs. I really don't know how to describe this other than none of the eight tracks would have been out of place on Weatherall's Music's Not For Everyone and quite a few of them could be included in an A Love From Outer Space set and no one would bat an eye. Yes, it is that good. Only downside is that it only came out on cd or download.
7. Sault - (Untitled) Black Is
It's September and out of the blue, unheralded as with the previous two albums by the mysterious Sault, Black Is is released. An album that has obviously been produced in the wake of the hellish racist murder of George Floyd, the justified BLM protests and the totally disgusting actions of police forces all over the US. An album of protest, brooding, sorrowful in parts, defiant in others but absolutely gorgeous and the album that every right minded person needed at that time.