BBC 6 Music has just had a day where all the DJs played their favourite tracks of the first half of 2020. I listened to quite a lot and loved it. And, as ever, discovered a few new tunes I really liked. There is so much music out there, even in lockdown, that you can never keep up. Best just to cherish what you do hear, rather than worrying about what you don’t.
So, in the spirit of 6 Music’s Recommends day, I thought I’d offer you 40 of the tunes I’ve liked this year. The tip of the iceberg – same as it ever was. Most of them I’ve picked up from listening to 6 Music. Whenever I hear anything I like, I try to stick it on a Heard on 6 Music playlist that I keep on Spotify. You quickly forget otherwise. There are other sources: Rough Trade does a good podcast called Rough Trade Edits which has some great recommendations, for example. And there have been one or two things that I’ve been alerted to on Instagram – Maisie Peters being one such.
We’ve all had our different reactions to lockdown. I found myself at first listening to a lot of the classic artists – the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen especially. I guess I was just seeking reassurance from the very best, the roots. I also made a jazzy playlist, which now runs to over a hundred tunes, which mixes some of the jazz greats like John Coltrane and Miles Davis with artists who have fused jazz, soul, funk, rap, electronica, you name it, over the years. I called it All That Jazz, even though a lot of it isn’t jazz. It’s in the same spirit. I listen to this more than anything now. Not only is the music brilliant, but I find I can keep writing while I listen to it – it has a groove. The perfect combination!
But as we’ve continued in this state of limbo, I’ve found my way back to new music. And I never gave up on it completely. 6 Music is my guide more than anything else. All the DJs – to single out any one of them would be invidious. They are all brilliant. And, between them, they cover the waterfront. So, in a new burst of enthusiasm, I’ve compiled this playlist of some of the tunes I’ve loved this year. There are one or two from 2019, I think, but I first heard them this year. There’s a Spotify playlist to accompany it, if you have access to that. Sorry if not. I’m sure all the tunes will be on YouTube and other platforms.
40 FROM 2020
The List by Maisie Peters – Circle the Drain by Soccer Mommy – Dear Sweet Rosie by Freya Beer – Texas Sun by Khruangbin and Leon Bridges – Space Samba by the Orielles – Shift by Lilly Palmer – What Moves by LA Priest – Melt! by Kelly Lee Owens – Cherry Baby by Bess Atwell – Hallelujah by HAIM – Daily Routine by Disq – Dip by Tina – Sunrise over the Flood by Eli Winter – You’ve got my Number by Margaret Glaspy – Too Young by Phoenix – Conditions (Petit Fantome remix) by Rozi Plain – Give it up 2 Me by Ojerime – Slow Drive by Moon Panda – Face Down in Ecstasy by Number – One Rizla by AJ Lambert (cover of the Shame song) – Question it All by Lucy Rose – An Afternoon of Endless Drift by Awkward Corners (good lockdown title, that) – Switch by Biig Piig – Light Turn Green by MXXWLL and others – Paper Thin by Lianne la Havas – Felt by Cloth – I Used to Dream in Color by Eve Owen – Stranger Than Fiction by Moses Boyd – Paper Cup by Real Estate – Home by Caribou – Everybody Hurts by Alice Boman (not the REM song) – Boulevard by Isobel Campbell – A Hero’s Death by Fontaines DC – Black Dog by Arlo Parks – Lizard Street by Oscar Jerome – Scarecrow by Wilma Archer – Pace by Nubya Garcia – Five and Dime by Hazel English – Yeah I Know by The 1975 – School by Four Tet.
There’s no dominant theme to the selections. A fair number of singer-songwriters, quite a lot of electronica, a bit of indie guitar (but less than usual), some jazzy soul and a few jazz numbers too. If I had to choose a favourite, it might just be Boulevard by Isobel Campbell. This was a Rough Trade recommendation and comes from an album called There Is No Other. Isobel used to be in the Scottish band Belle & Sebastian. She has also collaborated on a few albums with Mark Lanegan, as well as making her own albums. She has a beautiful voice and Boulevard is her at her most wistful, conjuring up hazy memories of Paris, even though the song may just be about those down on their luck. The lyrics are elliptical.
Best album of the year so far? I’ve not heard anything that has really blown me away, but I do like the new one from The 1975. It’s had mixed reviews, some critics saying it is over-ambitious. That’s what I like about it! Not everything hits the mark, but it is like a journey through pop from about… 1975. I’ve included one of the more electronic songs Yeah I Know on the playlist. Still six months to go before the year’s Best Of. The strangest year in our lifetimes for sure – who knows what the next half will bring.
Anyway, if you have access to Spotify and fancy checking the playlist out, it’s here.
My Heard on 6 Music and All That Jazz playlists are publicly available too if you want to have a listen.