Top 50 Tracks of 2020 (30-21)

30. Fontaines D.C. “Televised Mind”

Politics transcend borders, this much we know to be true. While radical political regimes have often been found to produce the best and most important counterculture artists, across the pond Fontaines D.C. is no exception even in 2020. As an updated subtle homage to late 80’s pop-punk Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s “Kill Your Television”, Fontaines D.C. revisits the subconscious persuasive power of our networked personas:

16 bars for the televised mind
Dublin line for the televised mind
We’re all televised minds

Greg Scranton

29. Big Boi & Sleepy Brown “Can’t Sleep”

It is exceedingly rare for a track to feature Big Boi and he’s not the best part of the song. In the case of “Can’t Sleep,” it goes the 5th Dimension-sampling Organized Noize-produced beat, Sleepy Brown‘s velvety vocals, then Big Boi’s verse. And Big Boi’s verse isn’t even bad but the instrumental is so strong it almost doesn’t matter who is rapping over it. – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

28. Naked Roommate “Mad Love”

Is there any more iconic a post-punk sound than that found on Oakland based Naked RoommatesDo the Duvet? Recalling the dub influenced angular punk sound of A Certain Ratio and Liquid Liquid, Naked Rommate renew this Factory Record sound for the next generation of DIY lo-fi punk rockers. – Greg Scranton

27. Taylor Swift “Invisible String”

Taylor Swift has had quite the year. Releasing two surprise albums, the singer’s new brand of heartfelt, story-based lyricism is brilliantly showcased on her song “Invisible String.” Glistening, plucky guitar dances as Taylor remarks on the beauty of being constantly connected to another person, weaving a story that spans years. Throughout the track, there is an undeniable sense of joy and love that’s just plain infectious. It’s hard to listen without singing along. – Hunter Waswick

26. Brontez Purnell “Forgive Me, Philip”

There’s a lot happening on the multi-talented Brontez Purnell’s wonderfully fun and infectious “Forgive Me, Philip”. In addition to two guitars, drums, and bass, the seven-piece band Brontez pulled together for the song also includes a saxophonist, keyboardist, and violinist. “There’s no certain way about it to feel, why are you playing with my life, Philip?” Purnell sings in his high and oddly appropriate nasally whine as he pleads with a lover apparently not as committed. As busy as the track already is, with its non-stop dual guitar interplay and happy keyboard line running through, “Forgive Me, Philip” packs even more tricks into its tight three minutes, including a catchy-as-hell, all-in chorus that builds each time it comes around, a fake-out ending, and a guitar solo capper. – Andy Mascola

25. Damaged Bug “I Tried”

What is essentially a reimagining of selected Michael Yonkers’ cuts from one of the pre-eminent musicians of our time, John Dwyer, Damaged Bug creates fresh new iterations of the Minneapolis based avant-noise composers often overlooked late 70’s early 80’s pioneers of the now well established noise-rock scene. If nothing else, Dwyer’s recreations celebrate the trailblazing career of Yonkers for a new generation to rediscover. – Greg Scranton

24. RJD2 ft. STS & Khari Mateen “Pull Up on Love”

23. Destroyer “Cue Synthesizer”

At the beginning of the second verse of Destroyer’s “Cue Synthesizer”, Dan Bejar sing-speaks, “The idea of the world is no good.” Like many of Bejar’s lyrics on his 2020 album, Have We Met, the line is cynical and darkly poetic. The music that accompanies this line on “Cue Synthesizer”, however, is sexy and danceable, reminiscent at times of Sade’s “The Sweetest Taboo” but with a slap bass and a slick, hard rock-toned electric guitar soloing all over it. The song’s chorus with commands to, “cue synthesizer, cue guitar, bring in the drums, cue fake drums,” is not Bejar literally conducting the song’s structure, but rather a way of demonstrating the artist’s lack of control.

22. System of a Down “Protect the Land”

21. Wax Chattels “No Ties”

2020 may be characterized in many ways, however, one you likely haven’t considered is: “2020 – the year of the power trio”. Atop my nominations of “best of…” songs, albums, and artists that qualify are the New Zealand three piece, Wax Chattels. What sets them apart from other contenders on my list (Coriky, Dehd, Smokescreens, and Sweeping Promises) comes down to the tremendous output of energy and exuberance throughout the entirety of their sophomore release Clot. Trained as jazz musicians, Amanda Cheng (bass/vocals), Peter Ruddell (keyboards/vocals), and Tom Leggett (drums) cull sonic influence from early industrial acts and layer them atop a jazz landscape of complex timings and tight cohesive instrumentation. “No Ties” is a fitting example of this explosive and cacophonous sound fit within a meticulously machined song structure. – Greg Scranton

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