Thursday , February 25 2021
Tom Petty - Wildflowers and all the Rest (Credit: WarnersMusic.com)

Charlie Doherty’s Top 50 Releases of 2020 (Phantogram, Nils Lofgren, Hum, Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, and More)

If you’re a big fan of music, despite all the madness and darkness of the pandemic and social unrest of the past year, it is likely that a good amount of your favorite artists and bands were active in the recording studio, on a stage (live at home mostly), or both. There was something for just about everyone. In fact, with all the new music that came out last year, I probably listened to over 100 new studio/live albums/EPs/compilations combined.

You will see numerous modern artists in my 2020 list (Phantogram, Grimes, Kehlani, Kvelertak, etc.). But I balance it out with (new) music from reliable sources of greatness, including: Bob Dylan, Bruce, Neil Young, Bob Mould, Pearl Jam, Nils Lofgren (whose incredible 2CD live album Weathered I had the thrill of a lifetime interviewing him about last August), and Tom Petty.

Titled Wildflowers & All the Rest, the (2020) Super Deluxe 5CD edition is a treasure and now one of my favorite box sets of all-time. With numerous rare, previously unreleased recordings and four separate handwritten sheets of lyrics, it feels less like a big purchase and more like an intimate gift from the Petty and Heartbreakers family. The care and detail with the liner notes, track details and packaging is as rich and informative as you can get.

Tom Petty - Wildflowers and all the Rest (Credit: WarnersMusic.com)

Here now is my entire list of favorite releases from 2020. As per usual, I don’t rank the releases numerically, but the 10 or so closest to the top meant the most to me. Hope you enjoy the read.

Top 50 of 2020:

Tom Petty – Wildflowers & All the Rest (5CD Super Deluxe Edition)

Phantogram – Ceremony

Neil Young – Homegrown

Taylor Swift – Folklore and Evermore (the two best records she has made yet)

War on Drugs – Live Drugs

The Postal Service – Everything Will Change (live release)

Bruce Springsteen (with the E Street Band) – Letter to You

Hum – Inlet (First new album in over 20 years)

Chris Cornell – No One Sings Like You Anymore (holiday gift to fans featuring covers of his favorite songs)

Nils Lofgren – Weathered (2LP live release)

Deftones – Ohms (follows 2016’s Gore)

Prince – Sign O’ The Times (Super Deluxe Edition)

Chris Stapleton – Starting Over

Cream – Goodbye Tour – Live 1968

Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts

The Stooges – Live at Goose Lake: August 8, 1970 (final show of original lineup, including bassist Dave Alexander)

Bob Mould – Blue Hearts

Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways

Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

Soccer Mommy – Color Theory

Joe Bonamassa – Royal Tea

Margo Price – That’s How Rumors Get Started

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways to New Italy

Run the Jewels – RTJ4

Kehlani – It Was Good Until It Wasn’t

Kurt Vile – Speed, Sound, Lonely KV EP

Rilo Kiley – Rilo Kiley reissue of 1999 demos (aka The Initial Friend EP) now called their debut album)

Lamb of God – Lamb of God

Bryan Porter Hinkley – We Live Through It EP

Grey Daze – Amends (honoring the late great Chester Bennington and his pre-Linkin Park ’90s band)

Gorillaz – Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez

Dion – Blues with Friends

Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Jerry Garcia Band – Garcia Live Volume 13 (2CD September 16, 1989 Poplar Creek Music Theatre show in Illinois with E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons)

The Lone Bellow – Half Moon Light

Lucinda Williams – Good Souls Better Angels

Drive-By Truckers – The Unraveling

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Reunions

Hayley Williams (of Paramore) – Petals for Armor

Pearl Jam – Gigaton

…Trail of Dead – X: The Godless Void and Other Stories

Kvelertak – Splid

Grimes – Miss Anthropocene

Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man

Mark Lanegan – Straight Songs of Sorrow

Destroyer – Have We Met

Real Estate – The Main Thing

The Psychedelic Furs – Made of Rain

Nothing – The Great Dismal

Honorable Mentions:

Best Coast – Always Tomorrow

Naeem – Startisha (Debut album by the rapper known as Spank Rock – it features two tracks co-written with Justin Vernon)

The Who – WHO

Travis – 10 Songs (with Susanna Hoffs guesting on one track)

Smashing Pumpkins – Cyr (the latest 2LP album from the Chicago alt-rock icons)

Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down? (f/ George Clinton, Nas, Black Thought, Questlove, Ice-T, Mike D, Ad-Rock, and Run-DMC)

Jimmy Chamberlin Complex – Honor

About Charlie Doherty

Senior Music Editor and Culture & Society (Sports) Editor at Blogcritics Magazine; Prior writing/freelancing ventures: copy editor/content writer for Penn Multimedia; Boston Examiner, EMSI, Demand Media, Brookline TAB, Suite 101 and Helium.com; Media Nation independent newspaper staff writer, printed/published by the Boston Globe at 2004 DNC (Boston, MA); Featured in Guitar World May 2014. Keep up with me on twitter.com/chucko33

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