2020 Top Ten List Spotlight: Kevin Cole

2020 Countdown
DJ Kevin Cole with Run the Jewels // photo by Melissa Wax (view set)

For the next few weeks, we'll be spotlighting our KEXP DJs Top Albums of 2020, leading up to our 2020 Top 90.3 Album Countdown. TODAY is your last chance to vote for your favorite albums of the year, and then tune in on Friday, December 18th to hear if they make the list! Voting ends at 6:00 PM PST on Friday, December 11th.

I have a love/hate relationship with ‘Best of” lists. As a general principle, I have an aversion to them — they’re reductive, never definitive. It’s impossible to “rank” art; to assign a metric of value is arbitrary and demeaning to all the creators of art, and to art lovers. As music lovers and curators we bring our implicit biases into the mix and one's relationship to music and art is constantly changing and evolving, just as we as individuals evolve. That said, I understand the utilitarian value of End Of Year lists. They can be a great source of music discovery. I look at other’s lists obsessively — to see if I missed anything. And, I have found amazing  music I might have overlooked that way. I religiously review Wire, the Quietus, the Vinyl Factory, and Mojo’s Best of Year lists. With so many lists out there, the key is finding trusted sources/curators — people who will help you discover something new. 

Over the course of the year, in lockdown and quarantine, I listened to a lot of music — more than ever. Music was a savior. A constant companion. And while 2020 was a crazy-ass shit year overall, it was a great year for music! Thank goddess! With my list, I do not claim any aesthetic supremacy or definitive statement of judgement. My Best of 2020 list is simply a list of the records I enjoyed repeatedly over the course of the year. Knowing full well I’m missing some great records, or simply, at this point in time, do not understand someone else's masterpiece. With that, I bring you my favorites of 2020 with the hope that reviewing this list will inspire and/or motivate you to check out some music you might not have heard, and that in doing so, you’ll find something you love that changes your life. These records changed mine... — Kevin Cole

Kevin Cole's Top 30 Albums of 2020

rank artist album label
1 IDLES Ultra Mono Partisan
2 SAULT UNTITLED (Black is) Forever Living Originals
3 SAULT UNTITLED (Rise) Forever Living Originals
4 Deep Sea Diver Impossible Weight High Beam
5 Jessica Winter Sad Music Ruya
6 Songhoy Blues Optimisme Fat Possum
7 Ólafur Arnalds Some Kind of Peace Mercury KX
8 Joensuu 1685 ÖB Svart
9 Caribou Suddenly City Slang
10 Derek Carr Pursuit Part 1 and 2 Pariter
11 Working Men's Club Working Men's Club Heavenly
12 Bob Dylan Rough and Rowdy Ways Columbia
13 Fontaines D.C. A Hero's Death Partisan
14 Taylor Swift folklore Republic Records
15 Lido Pimienta Miss Colombia Anti
16 Laura Marling Song for our Daughter Chrysalis
17 Run The Jewels Run The Jewels 4 BMG
18 Fiona Apple Fetch the Bolt Cutters Epic
19 Pillow Queens In Waiting Pillow Queens Records
20 Kelly Lee Owens Inner Song Smalltown Supersounds
21 Fleet Foxes Shore Anti
22 Bob Mould Blue Hearts Merge
23 RVG Feral Our Golden Friend
24 Phoebe Bridgers Punisher Dead Oceans
25 Beverly Glenn-Copeland Transmissions Transgressive
26 Khruangbin Mordechai Dead Oceans
27 Populous W Wonderwheel Records
28 Spillage Village Spilligion Dreamville
29 Old 97s Twelfth ATO
30 X Alphabetland Fat Possum

Favorite Songs (Not on Albums)

rank artist song
1 Janelle Monáe Turntables
2 John K. Samson Fantasy Baseball At The End Of The World
3 Brandi Carlile Black Hole Sun
4 John Prine I Remember Everything
5 Jessica Winter Psycho
6 Adia Victoria South Gotta Change
7 Ellis May ESC
8 Beyoncé Black Parade
9 Anderson .Paak Lockdown
10 Æ MAK i dance in the kitchen ( feat. seba safe )
11 India Jordan For You
12 Jayda G Both of Us
13 Benin City Hold Them Close

Favorite Reissues of the Year

rank artist album
1 Prince Sign o' the Times
2 Replacements Pleased to Meet Me
3 Tom Petty Wildflowers & All The Rest
4 PJ Harvey Dry, Rid Of Me, To Bring You My Love + Demos
5 Delano Smith An Odyssey

Kevin Cole is the host of Drive Time, on the air Tuesday through Friday from 4-7 PM.

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