Time for a musical look back through the shit show that was 2020, a year full of hate and fear from covid and political issues, but with some of the best music I’ve heard in years, musicians, singers, DJ’s and producers have obviously had a difficult time of it with no live performances but it hasn’t stopped them creating 1000’s if not 10’s of 1000’s (there’s a limit to how many you can listen to) so instead of a top 10 or top 100 of the year, how about 2020 tracks of the best soul, funk, jazz, disco, dub, house, hip hop and everything in between from 2020.
What we do here on musicto is predominantly streaming based, but what I’ve tried to do this year is also to provide Bandcamp or other download links to all the music I’ve shared, stepping this up, below is a link to a digital tool to access every track featured on the playlist on numerous download/purchase sites, so feel free to dig through the list and see what you dig and go help the artists and download or buy the vinyl.
The first part of the playlist features my stand out songwriters, artists, performers and production teams, rather than overthinking it, I just thought to myself who’s music have I listened to the most, who has entertained me, who has kept my spirits up, in what has seemed, where I live in the north east of England to be on permanent lockdown.
Amy Douglas interviewed here in early 2019 after her breakout year in 2018 when the crooked man remix of her first solo single ‘Never Saw It Coming’ picked up pace in the festival and club circuit, supported by Ashley Beedle, Andrew Weatherall and Bill Brewster also selected as the #2 track of the year on Bill’s Furtive 50 selection of best tracks of the year, record of the year on Ship Full of Bombs and airplay on Radio 1, BBC6 and also on indie pop and alternative rock stations. 2019 was a year spent writing and building on that success, working with two of the biggest disco brands of the decade, Glitterbox and Horse Meat Disco, the first track from easily the best LP of 2020 ‘Love And Dancing’ came early 2019 with ‘Let’s Go Dancing’ a release on Motive records ‘Give Me Love’ with Kenny Summit and Eric Kupper and the self-released Cities in Dust on her own label Ladyball records followed.
But 2020 has been Amy’s year, if it wasn’t for the pandemic her star would have shone even brighter as we would have seen her no doubt perform on the festival circuit and Ibiza with Glitterbox. Early in the year saw a release on the label with Body Music, the excellent ‘Love Games; then a superb EP with long time collaborator Michael The Lion on Soul Clap records also released that month, five great tracks but ‘Find A Way’ stood out, an outstanding John Morales remix followed, is there a higher honour bestowed on an artist. The summer brought that promised (in our interview) production with Luke Solomon and Queen Rose ‘Love. Hope. Happiness’ then a release on the label she first found success DNA with the intergalatic house music of Man Power and a two track EP of deep acid grooves.
On to the big one in October the long awaited release of ‘Love And Dancing’ the album by Horse Meat Disco The culmination of seven years of demos and ideas featuring Amy, Dames Brown, N’Dea Davenport (Brand New Heavies), Kathy Sledge (Sister Sledge), Phenomenal Handclap Band, Fiorious ROY INC, Xavier and more quality singers, producers and performers. Amy wrote and sang on five tracks, flawlessly arranged and produced, fully formed songs with no samples or lame disco rehash sounds, just fully authentic soulful dance music
Something more… yes there was more, Amy wrote a song for the legend that is Róisín Murphy, a quite emotional moment for Amy with being a big fan and now friend of Róisín, ‘Something More’ was the fourth single release from ‘ Róisín Machine’ her fifth solo album, infusing house and disco and again the track received some twisted, dark and atmospheric remixes from Crooked Man
You can also find Amy on Amateurism Radio and like Smoove and Turrell below she can also be heard on 1TBN radio with her ladyballs show, in Amy’s own words “It’s a big, brash, NYC style affair with no boundaries, and where you can see everyone up in my club from Banjees to B Boys to Punks and Metalheads. I want to show the constant connection points where rock music and dance music, do the hustle” Amy has been voted in the top 10 of traxsource vocalists of the year and much of the music she has been involved in has been voted in many of the industry’s top charts of the year.
What about 2021, Hard Feelings, her collaborative work with Joe Goddard of Hot Chip will be released soon and it promises to be a huge bomb going off, coincidentally Joe Goddard is included in my favourite submission of the year and also featured on the playlist with the remix of SeeMeNot ‘Chez Renee’.
Closer to home a band I’ve featured many times on Shake a Hoof Smoove and Turrell, known as one of the hardest working bands and showing true north east grit, they’ve made the most of what was possible, fitting in as many social distanced gigs in as they could during the brief relief from lockdown in the summer, moving quickly with the times and streaming full live band sets and keeping their loyal fans entertained with a facebook live radio style show every week The Northern Coal Experience
Talking of Ashley Beedle and his wife and producing partner Jo Wallace (Owner of Ramrock Records) and studio wizard Darren Morris, as remix team known as ‘North Street West’ it’s been another solid year of new releases on Ramrock and numerous remixes to boot for NSW on Jo’s label and other labels like Shake a Hoof favourite Jalapeno and in many folks record of the year ‘It Ain’t Working’ from the above mentioned Smoove and Turrell, also recently featured here the wonderful Special by Glenn Davis, the retro hip house sound on Bon Voyage track ‘High Power’ on F*CLR and one of my favourite tracks of the year (this is a very big list by the way) Lady Blackbird with ‘Beware The Stranger’ not forgetting NSW remixes of Groove Armada and Bent Hopefully by March on Ramrock we should see the third solo LP from Joseph Malik ‘Diverse Part 3’ the new single ‘I Quit My 9-5’ was recently played on the Craig Charles Funk and Soul show, there’s also a new release from Ghetto Priest ‘Hercules’ and some soulful tunes from Greg Blackman on the way in February and no doubt a few more quality North West remixes..
So looking forward to see what 2021 brings and putting aside the negativity of 2020, what’s my new year wish? Well, it’s all right here on this page, more quality music, performers actually performing live again and how about a song written and sung by Amy Douglas and John Turrell, produced by Smoove and remixed by the North West remix crew of Jo Wallace, Ashley Beedle and Darren Morris, one can only dream…
For now you’ll just have to find yourself a spare 160 hours and listen to this, the first section is a few selected tracks from the featured artists, 30 or 40 tracks are sequenced and after it’s pre shuffled with all the music I’ve added to my numerous new release playlists during 2020 and some many of the songs submitted to me for blog or playlist features from Musicto Groover and Submithub and there’s been some fantastic records shared this year, my favourite from SeeMeNot and the Jo Goddard (Hot Chip) remix of ‘Chez Renee’ deep, atmospheric and full of soul.
Thanks to all the artists, record labels, managers and PR agencies that sent or submitted music to me, special thanks to Jalapeno, Ramrock, Glasgow Underground, Fabyl, Toucan sounds, Color Red, Willwork4funk, Rap & Soul promo, Lack of Afro, AlchemyPR, DiamondMedia360.
I’ve been lucky enough to share music from Lenny Fontana, Dr Packer, The Funk District, MF ROBOTS, Kenny Dope, The Reflex, Ralf Gum, Dave Lee FKA (Joey Negro) Art of Tones, Eli Escobar, Junior Sanchez, Yuksek Natasha Kitty Katt, KJean Jacques Smoothie, Girls of the Internet, Kutiman, Chuggin Edits, Flevans, The Allergies, Dj Spen, Lee Scratch Perry, Prins Thomas and so many more, I’ve listened to well over 4000 submissions and 1000’s more new releases across the year to bring you the best new music… what you waiting, for stop the doom scrolling of bad news and let the playlist below bring you some happiness.