Sourhouse’s Tunes of the Year 2020
‘Tis the season of “Jokes About What A ________________ Year 2020 Was”.
A word from the editor:
I am sick to death of 2020, and I am sure you are too. Good fucking lord.
Whilst writing this list of the 30 best songs that we were graced with this year, it occurred to me that I associate almost nothing of them with the big defining stories of these past 12 months. All have become special to me in some way in spite of that, whether that be because they offered refrain from the never-ending headache that was the news, or they were a distraction from the strain that modern life has been put through.
Here’s what’s remarkable though; nothing seems to have stopped there being some straight bangers being dropped. Even though live music has been entirely switched off this year and album releases have been scuppered, perseverance has prevailed. Trust me, back in March, I was feeling very much the opposite about how things would pan out music-wise.
The likes of Megan Thee Stallion, Charli XCX, Sports Team, Gorillaz, DMA’s and many more feature on this year’s ranking, with eligibility being based on any single release or individual track that’s had radio airtime released since 1st December 2019 (to give the hits that dropped whilst writing last year’s list enough time to reach my ears). Without further ado, let’s count down this year’s 30 best tunes.
-Munro Page, writer of Sourhouse Music
TRAAMS – INTERCONTINENTAL RADIO WAVES
Not a single instrument on ‘Intercontinental Radio Waves’ isn’t given an inner city grimey-concrete-toughness – the production on the new single from the Chichester alternative rockers is an absolute triumph. After a while without new material, their inspiration here seems keen to pay homage to the Post Punk of early 80s Britain, powered by a similar need to overcome urban dross and political boredom.
PILLOW QUEENS – HOLY SHOW
Something about the voice of an Irish lead vocalist just hits the right spot for me, and Dublin newcomers Pillow Queens have just that. On ‘Holy Show’, the mood is twilight-esque, heavy with emotion and finality. Backed by its roomy production and deft instrumentation, its a sadcore indie ballad that reaches for the heavens by the time that guitar solo comes in to close out the show.
OLIVER MALCOLM – THE MACHINE
Recommended to me by my flatmate, Malcolm has a knack for that uniquely British banger where all manner of genres are brought together under the firm guidance of one of this island’s many dialects. Strangely enough, Malcolm is actually Swedish, but was raised on the outskirts of London, giving further life to his positively jumped up ‘fight the capitalist machine’ message. No, its subject is matter is hardly original, but the fun he has with it – including in the great video that goes with it too – are impossible to ignore.
ARIANA GRANDE – POSITIONS
Just look at Ari go! It’s another straight up banger from her. Albeit a more consolidated one; ‘Positions’ still derives much its strength from the usual catchy hooks we know her for, but its real talent is in its manifesto-eseque self assertion. Grande describes her relationship with policy-like detail, her wants and needs laid out in a constructive manner. Its PSHE-friendly healthy relationship advice in chart-friendly form.
CARO – CAT’S PYJAMAS
What’s more 2020 than an indie ditty with joyful instrumentation and lyrics about late-stage capitalist dross making you want to end it all! Too on the nose? Hardly; Caro decorate this tune with such a gorgeous array of guitars and stuttery drums that you can only be carried along its wave of happy-clappy death knell spirit.
FLOHIO – UNVEILED
If you haven’t heard of Flohio yet, now is the time to get on the hypetrain. ‘Unveiled’ is built on everything that has made her material so good so far – a chill-as-anything chorus, a night-drenched Grime beat and aggressive production. Blends the murky with the cool for a swirling, fierce listen, whilst Flo’s delivery is simply untouchable.
HAIM – THE STEPS
Pixies-esque 60s rock riff; gorgeous vocals delivering disgruntled lyrics; rustic, wood-brown production; even amongst all of the great tunes on HAIM’s third album, ‘The Steps’ feels like their most complete single release of the year. Despite the argument that plays out within its lyrics, HAIM never seem aggressive or rude. It’s driven by a human need to rant and resolve, and that grounded quality is impossible to beat.
MISS WORLD – IPHONE 11
Few artists around today have the ability to take the piss the way that Miss World does, styling herself as the walking influencer-cum-primadonna wanna-be successful stereotype. On ‘iPhone 11’, the tongue-in-cheek of her whole schtick reaches new heights of brilliance, backed by the thrummy 60s influenced pop rock that has given all of her work such candor and underlying comedy.
ALIBHE REDDY – LOOKING HAPPY
Irish newcomer Reddy commands such a dexterous, less agitated take on typical Garage Rock sounds on this single from her debut album. An apt ditty about the uncontrollable woe that is stalking aimlessly through someone’s social media posts, ‘Looking Happy’s guitars are absurdly catchy and compelling, whilst the production on her vocals gives the tune a clawing, disgruntled quality. A cut destined to be played at cool pre-drinks for indie club nights, and all the better for it.
SQÜRL – MAGIC HOUR
Trust a year like this to have me longing for escapism and relief from being stuck indoors all the time. SQÜRL gained notoriety for recording the soundtrack to 2016’s Paterson (starring Adam Driver and Golshifteh Farahani), and this is further proof of their ability to write acutely effective instrumental pieces. Think longing looks out of the bus window, overcast days and autumn sunshine for this one, it captures the beauty of conventionally ordinary things.