Dec 142020
 

Follow all our Best of 2020 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

best tribute albums 2020

It’s hard not to look at everything in 2020 through the mirror of the pandemic, and a few of the records on our list can be traced directly to it. One artist used her time in lockdown to cover every song on Radiohead’s The Bends, while another did the same thing with Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. An indie label pulled together a tribute to one of the many great artists tragically taken by this goddamn virus, Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger. Hal Willner’s long-in-the-works T. Rex tribute album wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with current events, but Willner, too, died of COVID-19 in the spring.

That being said, the majority of the albums on our list have nothing to do with the news. Any year’s a good year for covering obscure Neil Young songs. And if you want to try to tie 28 different bands covering Blink-182’s “Dammit” to 2020, good luck. Even the klezmer-cabaret artist who recorded an album covering the recently deceased released it March 13, just before she’d unfortunately have many more names to add to her list.

In a way though, the whole concept of the covers record is appropriate for a bleak year. They’re all about paying tribute in some way or another, lifting up influences or even guilty pleasures, honoring those that came before. You can listen to these through that prism if you like. Or you can just take a break from thinking about such things and listen to 28 covers of “Dammit.”

– Ray Padgett, Editor-in-Chief

The list starts on the next page…

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Nov 242020
 

Neil Vol. 1Famed alternative rock sideman Scott McCaughey is perhaps best known for his contributions to R.E.M. and The Minus 5, his band with R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. In November 2017, McCaughey had a serious stroke that, in his words, left him without “my ability to talk, sing, make music.” He used Beatles and Neil Young songs to help recover his music-making skills. Now he’s released some of the Neil Young recordings, under the nom de rock Scott the Hoople.

McCaughey performed and recorded 13 Neil Young deep cuts, on an album he’s calling NEIL (Vol. 1) (leaving the door open for a sequel). Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready guests on seven of the tracks, but otherwise, this is completely McCaughey. The songs range from early Buffalo Springfield tracks like “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing” to deep cuts from Young’s ’70s peak to ’90s songs about reuniting Buffalo Springfield. It’s a interesting selection which feels really personal.
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