Duncan Clark Poop 2020

Buy BOB DYLAN- Rough and Rowdy Ways New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
1. BOB DYLAN – Rough and Rowdy Ways. The arrival of “Murder Most Foul” shortly into lockdown was like a bolt of lightning. It was either a sure sign that the apocalypse was near or that this was going to be a most unusual musical year. The album was mysterious, complex, abstract and literally the first Dylan album in decades to grab my interest like this.

Buy BUTCH WALKER- American Love Story New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
2. BUTCH WALKER – American Love Story. A concept album that was an allegory for the divide in this country. It starts out by repeatedly sking the question of whether we’re having a conversation that ultimately becomes a demand. Lyrically it can be a bit heavy handed at times but it’s wrapped in some of the best power rock that will ear worm into your brain this year.

Buy STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES- Ghosts of West Virginia New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
3. STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES – Ghosts of West Virginia. It may not be very long but this soundtrack to a play about a mining disaster is Earle’s best work in years. He demonstrates an empathetic understanding and solidarity with people who really have been forgotten in this country.

Buy PEAT & DIESEL- Light My Byre New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
4. PEAT & DIESEL – Light My Byre. This is every bit as strong as their debut. They also get extra credit for doing a musical tour on the back of a lorry during lockdown that made Stornoway seem like a thriving metropolis.

Buy  SONGHOY BLUES- Optimisme New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
5. SONGHOY BLUES – Optimisme. The strength of this band of expatriates (or any great band for that matter) is a solid rhythm section muscled by guitar lines that dance in and out of the songs.

Buy DRIVE BY TRUCKERS- The Unraveling and The New OK New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
6. DRIVE BY TRUCKERS – The Unraveling and The New OK. I started and ended my record buying year with these albums. There’s not much to differentiate the albums- both angry and committed.

Buy BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN- Letter To You New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    ?]
7. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Letter To You. He’s reflecting a lot on his past which sort of flows from his book and stage show. “Last Man Standing” hit the hardest here.

Buy JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT- Reunions New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
8. JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT – Reunions. This one took a little longer than usual to kick in but then you find yourself haunted by songs like “St. Peter’s Autograph” and “Only Children”. He’s been on a roll with the last several albums.

Buy NEIL YOUNG- Homegrown New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
9. NEIL YOUNG – Homegrown. I can understand why he held it back in the 70’s as it would have seemed like a step back towards his earlier commercial success. Sure beats anything he has put out in recent years though.

Buy ROLLING BLACKOUTS C. F.-Sideways To New Italy New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
10. ROLLING BLACKOUTS C. F.-Sideways To New Italy. Australian rock by way of Athens, Georgia circa 1984.

11. KATHLEEN EDWARDS – Total Freedom. A remarkable comeback story. I think she has successfully lost the tag of being a Lucinda wanna-be.
12. THE MONKEES – Live The Mike & Mickey Show. I saw this show up in Albany a couple of years ago and can’t remember the last time I had as much fun at a concert. Long live Nez!
13. PRETENDERS – Hate For Sale. With Chambers back in tow and using her touring band, this is the closest to the sound of the original band that any Pretenders album has gotten since. Energetic and tight, the band charges through the album at almost Ramones-like speed.
14. SHEMEKIA COPELAND – Uncivil War. Biden could have taken his inauguration speech from the title song. Like her last album, this is the most political album on this list.
15. SHIRLEY COLLINS – Heart’s Ease. Now in her fourth musical life and two albums into her return to music after a 40 year absence. She always knew her away around a song and has always picked strong collaborators but the truly remarkable thing is that at age 85 she is singing with as much command and presence as she ever did.
16. THE HANGING STARS – A New Kind Of Sky. Yet another offshoot of the Eighteenth Day of May, a band that apparently I was the only one to ever hear or appreciate. This has more of a Byrds bent to it than it’s folky ancestor.
17. LILLY HIATT – Walking Proof. Solid album although not as edgy and lacking the punch of her last album, Trinity Lane.
18. X – Alphabetland. Considering that their last album was almost 30 years ago, this is surprisingly good and hangs in there with some of their better albums.
19. MIDNIGHT OIL – The Makarrata Project. Racial reconciliation is hardly an American problem. The band sounds as powerful as ever.
20. MIDWINTER – The Waters of Sweet Sorrow. Not exactly a new album. It was recorded in 1973, remained unreleased until 1993 and, most importantly, was not actually heard by me until 2020. It counts. East Anglican folk group that was a poor man’s Pentangle. Their only album.
21. THE WEEKLINGS – 3. Ostensibly a Beatles cover band but for the most part this is their original material. They know their way around a strong pop tune.
22. SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS – Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In). One of the more popular trends over the past year was releasing albums of all cover songs. This collection was easily the best of the lot. Jones remains sorely missed.
23. THE CUNDEEZ – Teckle An Hide. Punk, ska and rock band in kilts from Dundee Scotland. Even though they have been around for a while, they not only covered Peat & Diesel, they even wrote a ska tribute to the band.
24. LISA MILLS – The Triangle. Journeywoman soul and blues singer who decided to tour and record in some of the legendary recording studios in the deep south. Her choice of material is impeccable and ably performed.
25. SETH LAKEMAN – A Pilgrim’s Tale. An English folkie’s musical take of the story of the Pilgrims on the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower.

Duncan Clark