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Songs of the year 2020

Songs of the Year 2020 – a quite interesting year shall we say – a story in music

grab the songs:!Agn_EnaTLLuBgttyKD6ZgTnwq3mFmA?e=JDr2my

Well – that was a bit of a year wasn’t it? But who would have thought that after all that, old David Griffiths would still be burning his midnight CD compilations to dispatch to pals. And yet – here it is – as reliable as … well, actually it’s one of the few reliable things in the whole-wide 21st century world. In fact, if you know of anything else that is exceptionally reliable, you could deem it “as reliable as David Griffiths’ annual CD compilation”. Bloody reliable in other words. And this year it is saying “fuck off pandemic” – “fuck off trumpy-wumpy” and is basically AGAINST all the bad things and FOR all the good things. I hope it finds you well and with open and eager ears.

So I invite you now – cherished friend – to spend 40 minutes and listen to these songs – joining me in some small way – reading the little stories as you go, of how music helped me through and sound-tracked this year. I hope you enjoy it. Music is power.

xxx David

Introduction – 2020 -wtf!

‘The fear (cov-2020)’ – my own theme music for the real sci-fi movie we’ve all lived through this year. I wrote it in March and clearly I was feeling the fear at that time (or was trying to rise above my own fear by penning such a cheesily melodramatic piece – you decide). Next year’s sequel will hopefully be ‘Eff-off SARS-CoV-2’. My musical accompaniment through the rest of the year reflected many emotions though – listen-on, to relive that journey in the comfort of your own home.

Anger is an energy – defiance …

(2) Pelada

‘Desatado’ (meaning: untied; free; wild) – as a latin-music-loving punk-at-heart who came of age via rave – how could this slab of Spanish-language-punky-ravey joy not be a perfect fit for when I want to leap about proclaiming liberation. I enjoyed spitting out the words whilst grooving – much as the singer clearly does.

(3) Sault

‘Don’t shoot guns down’ – A black live’s matter rallying cry by mysterious Sault (from 6-music’s album of the year). Aside from its poignancy, the song is an alchemy of the Dixie Cups ‘Iko Iko’ and ESG style post-funk – an irresistible mix.

(4) Pozi

‘Whitewashing’ – Pozi were responsible for my favourite song last year (‘Engaged’) and are not far off again with this biting, pulsating piece – the “brilliantly uncomfortable” ‘Whitewashing’.

Interlude – for no reason, do air guitar at least once a week

(5) Juniore

‘Walili’ – for when you simply have to TWANG and be a little French (often in my case) – and for when you want to recall (and look forward to) seeing great live music. Juniore were responsible for one of the best gigs of my entire life a couple of years back.

Dance-floor ‘bangers’ are essential to mental health – shaking one’s booty is always guaranteed to help …

(6) Logic100

‘Perfume’ – A sweet-spot song (for me) being, in equal measure, a full-on trancey banger AND a sharp-tongued break-up song full of emotional rage – perfect for defiant dancing in lockdown kitchens.

(7) Roisin Murphy

‘Narcissisus’ – as well as the virus there was another entity many of us wanted to send packing this year. Cheerio ex-President/still-narcissist Trump – good riddance. Here’s a banger especially about you.

Ultimately, love is the answer …

(8) BC Camplight

‘Arm around your sadness’ – what better sentiment for this year than the notion of ‘comforting’ each other in difficult circumstances. An aching ballad but ultimately very uplifting. BC Camplight was also responsible for consistently brilliant streamed ‘home concerts’. He is an incredibly engaging entertainer who makes fans feel like family.

(9) The Innocence Mission

‘On your side’ – a band which has honed over 30 years – seemingly under most radars – a blissful stripped-back sound totally unique to themselves. A delicate and wistful sound that always plays well in the winter (a fact not lost on the band, as many releases down the years have appeared in December). There is a line in this that literally makes me tear-up a little every time I hear it – potent.

(10) Courtney Marie Andrews

‘If I told’ – the ethereal atmospherics of this track take country singer Courtney Marie into almost Sigur Ros-like territory – to wonderfully haunting results. It comes from a GREAT album – ‘Old flowers’.

Don’t over-think it: lie back, clear the mind and RELAX – chilled out soundscapes to close

(11) Gilroy Mere

‘Christs Hospital’ – The label Clay Pipe music is a consistent source of (broadly speaking) electro-acoustic loveliness, always sporting phenomenally fantastic artwork by label-boss Frances Castle. There is often a psycho-geographic theme to the albums released – as is the case here (charting an imagined journey on a defunct branch railway line Devon) and on the next track – also on the label.

(12) David Boulter

‘Across sea to sand’ – David Boulter is a founder member of the Tindersticks and there is something of that band’s atmospherics in this evocative piece – which forms part of a lovely suite about his serendipitous re-connection with Yarmouth – the place he holidayed in as a child.

(13) The British Stereo Collective

‘In the tall grass’ – as a track from an album conceived as ‘imagined theme tunes to distressing 1970s children’s TV’ (‘Scarred for life 2’ on the impressive Castles in Space label) you might expect music of an unsettling nature, but this is an oddly reassuring (and very pretty) tune which, despite not hitting the brief for the album, will hopefully provide you a relaxing end-point to this year’s compilation.

Honourable mentions to the following artists who released wonderful music in 2020 but whose songs couldn’t quite fold into this narrative:

Jaga Jazzist (praying the Spring 2021 Bristol show happens for “best live band in the world”); Sufjan Stevens (despite “I wanna die happy” a sentiment I related to muchly); This is the Kit; Nadia Reid, Belbury Poly; Sven Wunder; Plone; Jon Brooks; US Girls; Destroyer.

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