Living to Listen’s Top Platters for 2020 (So Far): Hey, Instead of Watching Election Results, Dive into this List and Don’t Come Up Until You’ve at Least Sampled Them All!

Overeem’s Top 90 Fresh Fonograph Records of 2020

I was distracted by the past during October, having taken a DEEP-ASS dive into the dawning of disco (late-’73 to mid-’75) that revealed many joyous obscurities and reduced my tension and foreboding regarding this month. Many of my music-loving peers are flipping for Bruce Springsteen’s newest; I have only played the opening track, and stopped listening before it was over–it’s just the way I am, but his set-up has grown tiresome with me, even though the whole idea behind Letter to You seems designed for me, given the year I’ve been having. In addition, several hot new jazz records have dropped (by James Brandon Lewis–his second of the year–Angel Bat Dawid, Mary Halvorson, the Afrosynth production house, the fascinating Takuya Kuroda, and Kahil El’Zabar–his second of the year) that I haven’t given a fair amount of time to. But four newbies I’ll swear by (I may have over-self-started re: the Zeal and Ardor EP) pushed older records out of the Top 30, and revisited a few items that had paled a bit pushed them down the list as well.  Those two massive reissue box sets are at the bottom of my old-stuff list mainly because they’re too damned expensive for the common man, given much of their contents have been available before, more cheaply–but they are still listenable front to back, something you can’t always say about such white elephants.  If only the Prince box had included the Sign O’ The Times concert film…

Note: BOLDED ITEMS are new to the list.

  1. Run The Jewels: RTJ 4
  2. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  3. SAULT: Untitled (Black Is) 
  4. 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected
  5. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful
  6. Boldy James & The Alchemist: The Price of Tea in China
  7. Fire! Orchestra: Actions
  8. Body Count: Carnivore
  9. Serengeti & Kenny Segal: AJAI
  10. Neptunian Maximalism: Éons (band name and album title of the year, based on music’s justification of same)
  11. Marx Lomax II: The Last Concert—Ankh & The Tree of Life
  12. Mark Lomax II: The 400 Years Suite
  13. The Third Mind: The Third Mind
  14. Jyoti: Mama You Can Bet!
  15. Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs
  16. Kahil El’Zabar: America, The Beautiful
  17. Kahil El’Zabar: Spirit Groove (featuring David Murray)
  18. Roisin Murphy: Roisin Machine
  19. Open Mike Eagle: Anime Trauma Divorce
  20. Anna Högberg Attack: lena
  21. Tee Grizzley: The Smartest
  22. The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved
  23. Various Artists: Hanging Tree Guitars
  24. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  25. Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
  26. Bob Dylan: My Rough and Rowdy Ways
  27. Ashley McBryde: Never Will
  28. Charles McPherson: Jazz Dance Suites
  29. SAULT: Untitled (Rise)
  30. Zeal and Ardor: Wake of a Nation (EP)
  31. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
  32. Joel Ross: Who Are You?
  33. Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia
  34. Bettye LaVette: Blackbirds
  35. Mike & The Moonpies: Touch of You–The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart
  36. James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau
  37. James Brandon Lewis: Molecular
  38. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
  39. The Human Hearts: Day of the Tiles (EP)
  40. Little Simz: Drop 6 (EP)
  41. K. Michelle: All Monsters are Human
  42. Drakeo the Ruler & JoogSzn:Quit Rappin
  43. KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl
  44. Bobby Rush: Rawer Than Raw
  45. Thiago Nassif: Mente
  46. Luke Stewart: Luke Stewart Exposure Quintet
  47. Bette Smith: The Good, The Bad, and The Bette
  48. Florian Arbenz & Greg Osby: Reflections of The Eternal Line
  49. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You
  50. Kesha: High Road
  51. Carlos Nino and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: Chicago Waves
  52. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids: Shaman!
  53. Cornershop: England is a Garden
  54. Elizabeth Cook: Aftermath
  55. City Girls: City on Lock
  56. Moses Sumney: grae
  57. Apollo Brown & Che Noir: As God Intended
  58. Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou
  59. JD Allen: Toys / Die Dreaming
  60. No Age: Goons Be Gone
  61. Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia
  62. Ammar 808: Global Control / Invisible Invasion
  63. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown
  64. Junglepussy: Jp4
  65. Alicia Keys: ALICIA
  66. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
  67. Dehd: Flower of Devotion
  68. The Ridiculous Trio: The Ridiculous Trio Plays The Stooges
  69. Burna Boy: Twice as Tall
  70. Conway the Machine: From a King to a God
  71. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
  72. Various Artists: Eyes Shut, Ears Open–A Burning Ambulance Compilation
  73. Moor Jewelry: True Opera (EP)
  74. Teodross Avery: Harlem Stories – The Music of Thelonious Monk
  75. Asher Gamedze: Dialectic Soul
  76. Optic Sink: Optic Sink
  77. Laraaji: Sun Piano
  78. Tiwa Savage: Celia
  79. Jinx Lennon: Border Schizo Fffolk Songs for the F****d
  80. Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours
  81. Beauty Pill: Sorry You’re Here (EP)
  82. Steve Arrington: Down to the Lowest Terms—The Soul Sessions
  83. Etuk Ubong: Africa Today
  84. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
  85. Julianna Barwick: Healing is a Miracle
  86. Black Thought: Streams of Thought, Vol. 3—Cane and Abel
  87. Speaker Music: Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry
  88. Lori McKenna: The Balladeer
  89. Old 97s: Twelfth
  90. Theo Parrish: Wuddaji

Reissues and Past Recordings Freshly Excavated

  1. Various Artists: Daora–Underground Sounds of Urban Brasil
  2. Wussy: Ghosts
  3. Various Artists: Turn Me Loose, White Man
  4. Thelonious Monk: Palo Alto
  5. Peter Stampfel and The Bottlecaps: Demo ‘84
  6. Various Artists: Saint Etienne Present Songs for the Fountain Coffee Room
  7. Milford Graves & Don Pullen: The Complete Yale Concert
  8. King Ubu Orchestru: Concert at Town Hall – Binaurality Live 1989
  9. Luiz Carlos Vinhas: O Som Psicodelico De L. C. V.
  10. Oneness of Juju: African Rhythms 1970-1982
  11. Junior Byles: Beat Down Babylon (Deluxe Reissue)
  12. Various Artists: Soul Love—The Black Fire Records Story 1975-1993
  13. Sun Ra: Unity—Live at Storyville NYC October 1977
  14. Various Artists: La Locura de Machuca—1975-1980
  15. Tony Allen: No Accommodation for Lagos
  16. Various Artists: All Aboard! The CN Express—Rock Steady and Boss Reggae Sounds 1967-1968
  17. The Pogues: BBC Sessions 1984-85
  18. Ranil: Stay Safe and Sound!
  19. Lee Scratch Perry with Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo: Roots from the Congo (reissue)
  20. Dennis Gonzalez: Forever the Falling Stars
  21. Hiroshi Yoshimura: Green
  22. Milton Nascimento: Maria Maria (reissue)
  23. Jon Hassell: Vernal Equinox (reissue)
  24. The Awakening: Hear, Sense, and Feel
  25. Bessie Jones: Get in Union
  26. TEST: TEST and Roy Campbell, Jr.
  27. Joe McPhee: Black is The Color
  28. Various Artists: Stone Crush—Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987
  29. Walter Bishop Jr.: Coral Keys
  30. Observer All Stars & King Tubby: Dubbing with the Observer (reissue)
  31. Roky Erickson / 13th Floor Elevators: You and Me and I (Live)
  32. Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
  33. Fela Kuti: Perambulator
  34. No Trend: Too Many Humans/Teen Love (reissue)
  35. Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
  36. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings
  37. Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
  38. Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
  39. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  40. Lee Scratch Perry: Play On, Mr. Music
  41. Various Artists: Maghreb K7 Club–Synth Rai, Chaoui & Staifi (1985-1997)
  42. Brother Theotis Taylor
  43. Black Ark Players: Black Ark In Dub
  44. Prince: Sign O’ The Times (Deluxe Edition)
  45. The Replacements: Pleased to Meet Me (Deluxe Edition)

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