top 10 albums OF 2020
This was the year of the global pandemic, the world shut down. Unless you were in a critical field of work like the medical field, you were most likely confined to your home in 2020.
With all that downtime, 2020 saw a huge amount of album releases. A lot of folks have been posting their Top 60 or Top 100 albums of the year. Well, that's just listing all the albums that came out, it's not helping to say which ones you liked best, which ones fans should buy.
Not many folks can afford to buy 60 or 100 albums, so they look to lists to highlight the albums they might like to own. While listing 100 albums ensures that you don't hurt any (Of your friends) feelings, it also doesn't help to reward the best music of the year. At least we narrow it down a bit by limiting it to full albums (Sorry EP's) and Power Pop music.
But, just like the Academy Awards, they have to narrow it down. They don't list every movie that came out last year and say, Here's They Are...The Best Pictures of last year!
At Hop On Power Pop, we have always picked our Top 10 Albums, and recently our Top 10 Songs.
How do you pick 10 from hundreds of albums released this year?
Well, first, for a site like HOP ON POWER POP, they have to fit into the Power Pop genre.
Must be a full album containing more than 6 songs (TRT must exceed 30 mins) EPs aren't full albums but are eligible for the Best Songs List
It must have been released during 2020*
Most of the songs on the album need to fall into the Power Pop genre
Power Pop / another genre albums are acceptable (Example: Power Pop / Indie)
It should not be on a major record label, or promoted by a huge industry. Weezer, Green Day, those guys don't need our help.
Bands or Solo Artist albums only, no compilations
AND MOST OF ALL!
Positions on this list cannot be purchased!
* Re-issues / Re-masterings count especially if the album was not widely known upon it's initial release, or the quality has been markedly improved upon.
Here are the Top 10 ALBUMs of 2020 list!
Hop On Power Pop
(In Alphabetical order, Not Rating order)
After Party (Kurt Baker)
Favorite Track: She Don't Really Love You, Dude
This new album by Kurt Baker is everything you want from Kurt Baker and more. The songs pop, spewing raw energy all over the place. If this is the "after party" then the "party" must have been incredible.
You can get a feel for the party in A Song And A Drink, which makes the party sound like it was all martini's and tiki drinks with umbrellas. A tamer party than the energy of this After Party would lead one to believe.
Sure, he slows it down a bit with Wandering Eyes, and A Song And A Drink. He takes you back to .38 Special with Outta Sight, a song that sums up 2020 in a nutshell that only Kurt Baker can describe.
Usually, you know you're getting a good album from any Kurt Baker release. But this album delivers some of the best songs of his career. If this is the type of after party celebration he throws, I hope he invites us to all the future after parties. (Safely of course)
Backwards Compatible (Chris Church)
Favorite Track: Could've Fooled Me
One of the earlier releases of 2020 came at a time when the global pandemic was just starting. However, this album seemed to be talking about the things to come this year, and it did it with full power.
Chris Church's Backwards Compatible album really rocks. It's on the POWER side of POWER POP with a heavy nod to 70's guitar rock. It's already made many BEST OF lists and will continue to gain fans over time.
2017's Limitation Of Source Tape album was really good, and Backwards Compatible is even better. If Chris Church continues along this trend then the future looks ever so bright for Chris Church.
Almost Ready For The Future (Tom Curless & The 46%)
Favorite Track: House On Fire
This album is not only full of driving, Power Pop songs but the slower songs on Almost Ready For The Future are some of the best songs that Tom Curless has ever written.
Almost Ready For The Future was one of those albums that made 2020 bearable, because it was released earlier in the year and it was obvious that come January 2021 this album would be on our Top 10 of 2020 list.
Here it is! No surprises here.
If you haven't picked up a copy (Physical or Digital) please do it now. It was one of the highlights of 2020 for Hop On Power Pop.
Saturday In Nowhereland (Farrington)
Favorite Track: What Would Your Friends Say
Farrington only came under Hop On Power Pop's radar this year, but what an entrance they made with Saturday In Nowhereland!
Full of power along the lines of Cheap Trick, Sloan, Roger Joseph Manning Jr and by James Patrick Phelan's own biography, influences of Nirvana (Lessons That My Father Never Told Me) and Stone Temple Pilots (See Emily Lovelight, A Day At The Beach). Not a Power Pop band, but those bands, in particular, have extremely melodic songs for alternative/grunge bands. The influences are self evident on Saturday In Nowhereland. There's also a prog rock bone in this music, and some of the slower songs on this album are reminiscent of Queen or even Journey (Celestial World). It's not hard to see why this album is a Power Pop favorite, he had some amazing guests: Eric Dover, John Easdale, Jon Auer, Ken Stringfellow, Frankie Siragusa, Roger Joseph Manning Jr, and Tim Smith.
If there's one gripe I can make about Farrington is that none of his albums are available in physical format, which could prohibit his music from reaching some of the older music aficionados in the field. Not to mention, it would be nice to have a hard copy of this great, new music.
Better From Here (Joe Giddings)
Favorite Track: Better From Here
This album has become one of Hop On Power Pop's favorite albums of the year, but it took some clarification to get there.
One of the things when compiling this list is that it has to fit certain criteria for it to be considered as a candidate for our Top 10 of the year. This album, has songs that were previously released, going back many years, so some could say it's a re-release and not officially a new album. But according to Joe Giddings:
It's an official 2020 release.
Different mix, mastering and artwork with new songs
The album was only released as a digital download with no label support
So that's good enough for us and it qualifies as a new release for 2020.
The second clarification was in the song, Irrelevant. There's a lyric that goes, "My reputation is based on the crap that I say. But I don’t hate anyone and I’m not gay." As a member of the queer community I want to make sure I'm supporting ally's and not people who are anti human rights. So I asked Mr. Giddings and it turns out that it was a supportive line towards the LGBT community who were making positive strides towards marriage equality. It's good to get clarification and this album gets our full support as one of 2020's best Power Pop Album releases. Thank you Joe Giddings.
Paper Airplane (Marshall Holland)
Favorite Track: Waiting For That Peace And Love
Ah this great album by Marshall Holland, a vocalist that's part Aimee Mann and Elvis Costello. (Maybe he needs to cover The Other End Of The Telescope?)
It was obvious that Paper Airplane would fly the distance, at least with us here at Hop On Power Pop. It would certainly make our Best of 2020 Album list and many other's on the web. I believe it's been selected as Album Of The Year by Dan Pavelich Pop-a-looza and it's going to make more before the lists are finished. If Hop On Power Pop picked a Top 10 Album, Paper Airplane would certainly be in the top.
The album mixes everything from The Partridge Family to Sesame Street, from The Fifth Dimension to Power Pop Elvis Costello punk.
Don't Kill The Messenger (Bill Lloyd)
Favorite Tracks: Don't Kill The Messenger & The Kiss Of The Summer Wind
Bill Lloyd is no stranger to Best Of lists, but if you go off the messages of this album, I think he's getting a bit frustrated. From the title, Don't Kill The Messenger to I've Had Enough Of Your Love, I think Mr. Lloyd needs a vacation.
But this album was released in May 2020, one could say smack dab in the middlie of this pandemic, which had been going on for a few months. So, maybe we all were feeling the same way? The album's about getting older (The Girls Of Sylvan Park),
The album's a mix of Nashville tinged rock, Power Pop that sounds country, and straight up rockers that would do any boot wearing musician proud. Still, there's something about Bill Lloyd that adds a strong dose of Power Pop melody to these songs.
I really love the ukulele tune The Kiss Of The Summer Wind. Sure, it's not Power Pop but I'm just a sucker for a good ukulele tune and this is one of the best songs I've ever heard written for the little jumping flea we call the ukulele.
Once In A World (The Overtures)
Favorite Track: Watching The Grass Grow
The Overtures put on a Bootleg Sixties Sight and Sound Show where they perform songs done by bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and so on. It's no wonder that this show is so popular because these guys embody the sound of the sixties. But, their album, Once In A World, isn't just a bunch of covers of those bands they emulate. No, The Overtures write and record their own, original songs and they do it in a way that doesn't sound like Stormtrooper clones of the originals. Although their songs have that same groovy vibe, they've cut out their own path and their songs sound original.
That's not to say a band that copies The Beatles is bad, just look at the wonderful music from The Rutles. Those are great songs, they stand on their own even though they're glaring nods to the originals. It's a fine line to draw, where an obvious Beatles obsessed band sounds like a cheap copy of those guys from Liverpool. But to pull off the music on Once In A World, takes harnessing the DNA from Rubber Soul/Revolver songs, but then making them your own as well. Something that The Overtures accomplished with Once In A World.
Downtime (Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men)
Favorite Track: Going Nowhere
Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men's Downtime album is going to (and has been) making a lot of the best of 2020 lists and it deserves every single vote. I would say that if I was told that I was being exiled to that infamous Desert Island that everyone is always talking about (You know the one it's a deserted island but it has power and a great stereo system?) and I was told that Nick Piunti was one of the only artists I could listen to, it would be alright. (Ok maybe thrown in Eric Barao and I'll pack my bags!)
All kidding aside, Nick Piunti always delivers, he always gives me the same vibe as a Mike Viola song and that's a high compliment. You can never go wrong with anything that Mike "That Thing You Do!" Viola puts out.
But Nick Piunti is his own musical force, his music rocks and if you needed anything to do on your 2021 Downtime then you could do much worse than picking up this album.
For Those About To Pop (The Yum Yums)
Favorite Track: Bubblegum Baby
yum yums, the
This is an album that should be on every single Best Of 2020 list from Bubblegum rock, to Power Pop to Punk. It's bascially part Ramones, part Green Day, or like a punked up version of The Banana Splits. It's like a banana split that bites YOU!
The Yum Yum's aren't new to the scene, this is their 6th full length album release, starting back in 1997, these guys have it down.
There's no favorite song really, as they're all good and if we had to pick a best album of 2020 this would be in the running. With 15 songs, only 3 of them passing the 3 minute mark, this album begs for constant repeat play after repeat play.
We wish we could list every song we liked this year, but there were hundreds of albums, and there's no way to list them all.
Here are some other Favorite Albums of 2020:
(Alphabetical Order by Artist)
DO THE SOB! (Nite S.O.B.) -
It killed us to not include this album in our Top 10 of 2020 list. In fact it would've made it if The Farrington album didn't cross the finish line in the Nth hour. It's so good, fun, happy and poppy especially for an album called Do The Sob! (Complete with tears). This album is a lot like Woke Up In Hollywood, where it's more of a modern take on Power Pop and it wouldn't be hard to see these guys opening for The Killers. Great album.
Favorite Track: I Could Tell You
HEAD ON A SWIVEL (Gary Ritchie) -
First off it should be a crime that a guy like Gary Ritchie not only has the best taste in music, but a huge wall of albums that would make the ending of Raiders Of The Lost Ark look like a closet. But the guy also writes some fun, familiar sounding pop songs too. Really fun album by the nicest man in showbiz.
Favorite Track: Four Letter Word
TOGETHER (The Vapors) -
These guys may take it back to the 80's but they're still delivering great music. It's like blending Power Pop with a retro New Wave vibe, and it feels both regresssive and new at the same time. It probably would have made the Top 10 if it was more Power Pop. Still, highly recommended and I've already turned Japanese.
Favorite Track: Wonderland
THE GET GOS ACTION HOUR! (Paul Melancon) -
A fun album that is very aptly titled, as it feels like one of those old variety shows, The Paul Melancon Variety Hour! The album runs the gamut from Power Pop, Comicon Nerd Music, to slow dramatic pieces. A full variety of moods and emotions.
Favorite Track: Robot World
WISHING ON A DARK STAR (Greg Pope) -
More proof that a lot of good music was released in 2020. Doesn't mean it's all Power Pop, but Greg Pope never disappoints and he's been releasing solid albums since 2011. The aptly named Vacation (From My Vacation) is such a perfect theme for 2020, not that I'd call "mandatory quarantine" a vacation.
Favorite Track: Vacation (From My Vacation)
POP FOSSIL (The Click Beetles) -
Their CD sold out very quickly and it's no surprise since this is their first album since 2014's Wake Up To Music! album. If you put the word "Beetles/Beatles" in your name, no matter how you spell it, you better be ready to deliver some British sounding rock, and Power Pop music and these guys do just that. This album was barely edged out by the lack of spaces in our overpacked Top 10 of 2020 list, but you can be sure it got our attention and love.
Favorite Track: Don't You Call My Name
FACTORY SETTINGS (Pop Co-Op) -
Full of heavy Emitt Rhodes vibes, especially the early years, and 'sthat's a high compliment because it's not from the 70's, it's current. When so many bands are releasing EPs, these guys pump out a 17 track album! Yes, 3 tracls are extras. but I'm looking forward to hearing what else they can bring. Their last release was back in 2017, and this one is even better. I also wonder if the next album will have a Track #3 that starts with talking, and a three word song title, beginning with F and O?
Favorite Track: No Man's Land
SOAK UP THE GRAVY (Emperor Penguin) -
The Emperor Penguin's know how to have fun. From the Go Guitargonauts! comic drenched tune, to the surf vibe of Katie's Only Trending they make sure everything is thoroughly soaked with rich penguin groovy gravy. And if the Lucy In The Sky vibes on Flaming June doesn't trip you out, the rest of the album's got retro vibes a plenty and will have you pressing repeat to soak up every drop.
Favorite Track: You'll Be The Death Of Me
3 (The Weeklings) -
These guys are so Beatle-ley, and that's usually a good thing. But, I also like it best when the songs aren't such obvious nods to The Beatles, like on Change Your Mind. Other than that, it's heavy driven, 60's guitar rock that's a solid soundtrack to accompany a weekend with friends.
Favorite Track: Change Your Mind
DON'T BLAME YOURSELF (Duncan Reid And The Big Heads) -
You know those brands that you buy at the grocery store because there's no surprises, you always know what your going to get? That's exactly like a Duncan Reid & The Big Heads' album, you know what you're getting: high octane, palm muted, Power Pop Rock songs. In this day and age, there's something to be said for consistency.
Favorite Track: To Live Or Live Not
Congratulations to all the musicians who made the list and helped all of us get through the infamy of 2020. If we overlooked your album or song, it's not personal. We tried to distribute the songs on this list across the board, not focusing on one label or one artist in particular, but mainly to shine some light on some of the great music that was released in 2020. You all deserve applause and sales.
Stay safe everyone and KEEP ON POWER POPPING!
Hop On Power Pop