As teased last week, it’s time for my annual “Best Albums” mid-year summary report. I usually post my Albums of the (Full) Year reports in early December, recognizing that things that come out after that just aren’t likely to have enough time in the hopper and proven legs for me to want to claim them as being among the year’s greatest musical achievements. Because of that timing practice, I allow myself a wee bit of calendar fudging for mid-year reports; if something hit the streets in the last couple of weeks of 2019, but its greatest impact is felt most fully this year, I’m including it on this list.
My year-end reports contain mini-reviews of each of the ranked albums (here’s last year’s, the 28th such annual installment I’ve written for newsprint and/or web purposes), but at mid-year I simply provide links for further exploration. Many of these will obviously make the year-end list, but not all of them, since with six more months of musical exploration ahead of me, there’s gonna be tons of great tunes yet to be heard, and I am not ambitious enough to write 50+ album reviews when we finally get to December. The year-end reports also rank the albums numerically, culminating in an Album of the Year honoree, but for mid-year, I just go alphabetical.
It’s been a really solid six months of listening, with a lot of variety, a lot of fave artists issuing late career gems, and a lot of artists who I had never heard before 2020. That’s the way I like it. I hope never to get stuck listening primarily to the music of my teen and college years and declaring that those days were somehow intrinsically “better” than anything released since then. That sort of catalog ossification is obviously common, but I consider it a stunted statement that denies and denigrates ongoing growth, and I like to expand my (musical) horizons, even when my (real-life) horizons are shorter than they’ve ever been in my adult life as social distancing and travel restrictions keep me looking at the same places over and over and over again.
Maybe these albums will help transport you elsewhere, as they have for me over these recent tough weeks and months. It’s worth a try anyway, isn’t it? Click and enjoy!
- Awale Jant Band, Yewoulen
- Dark Sky Burial, De Omnibus Dubitandum Est
- Einstürzende Neubauten, Alles In Allem
- Hazel English, Wake UP!
- Childish Gambino, 3.15.20
- Hyperlacrimae, Yoga Darśana
- Theophilus London, Bebey
- Bongeziwe Mabandla, iimini
- Hailu Mergia, Yene Mircha
- Mowgan and Solo Sanou, Soya LP
- Myrkur, Folkesange
- Plone, Puzzlewood
- Ras Michael, Live by the Spirit
- Run The Jewels, RTJ4
- Sepultura, Quadra
- Shriekback, Some Kinds of Light
- Sightless Pit, Grave of a Dog
- Slow is the New Fast, Slower
- Snog, Lullabies for the Lithium Age
- Sparks, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
- Moses Sumney, Grӕ
- Various Artists, Mogadisco: Dancing Mogadishu (Somalia 1972-1991)
- Vula Viel, What’s Not Enough About That?
- Wire, Mind Hive
- X, Alphabetland