This year marks my first published ‘best of the year’ compilation, but I’ve always made lists. And I think I can say with some confidence that I have never had a lower proportion of guitar-based rock n’ roll in my year end list than 2020. Maybe it’s the brilliance of other genres this year. Maybe it’s the paucity of great guitar-oriented rock, which increasingly all sounds very formulaic to these ears. Or maybe I’m just getting older. Now I think about it, I do like rocking a cardigan from time to time, although I haven’t started dusting down my Gran’s old Jim Reeves records yet.
One ‘rock’ album stood out this year – Jehnny Beth’s awesome To Love Is To Live. You can read my full thoughts in my Louder Than War review. The thing is, what makes it special is the fact that it’s not ‘straight ahead’. It has an intensity and drama that you will struggle to find elsewhere. It is claustrophobic. It is dark and complex and laced with stories of sex, sin and guilt. As I said at the time, it’s not Savages III. But it does still channel the true spirit of punk like nothing else in 2020.
Vive le rock!
Key track: I could pick any of them. But I will go for the remarkable Innocence. “And it’s the guilt of course, cos I was raised catholic.”