Ruth Medjber is a music photographer whose eyes have been hired by Arcade Fire, Hozier, Glastonbury, Electric Picnic and many others.
This year, Medjber authored the lockdown window photography book Twilight Together: Grá Sa Bhaile, which you can buy in all good bookshops as Christmas presents.
LYR – Great Coat
This is a little cutie, trust me and just go with it. Apparently the dude is a really famous
songwriter/singer. I know nothing of that, the song just slapped me in the face and scooped me up into its mad little journey.
Orlando Weeks – Milk Breath
I discovered Orlando Weeks when an algorithm threw his 2017 record, The Gritterman, at me. I was walking through some foreign city while away on tour and it instantly became one of the most important pieces of art in my life. It’s a story, narrated so perfectly by Paul Whitehouse, that tells the tale of an ageing man and it’ll break even the hardest heart. Orlando is your man from the Maccabees, but that shouldn’t matter. Milk Breath was released this year and as the lyrics suggest, it’s about his newborn son. Check out The Gritterman too, in full, start from the start and finish with tears in your eyes.
Sinead White – The World Stops Spinning
Legit my most played song of 2020. This song kept me mentally focused on surviving this year. I used to whack it on when I went on my nightly jaunts around Ireland photographing windows. The lyrics are so gut wrenchingly relevant (it was written about lockdown). “This feels like drowning….keep your head up, keep your mind sharp, keep your hopes in check”. My 2020 mantra. Since Sinead is a mate I can confirm that this is just the tip of the banger covered iceberg that she’s about to release.
James Blake – You’re Too Precious
I am very late to the James Blake party. I Shazamed this song about 17 million times this year. His haunting raw vocals send shivers and fanny flutters. There’s a lyric “I’ll be your bubble, I’ll make myself useful” which I know isn’t about covid bubbles (the song came out in April, long before we had to bubble up), but I like to think he’s got a bit of mystic meg in him.
Ghostpoet – I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep
There’s some serious Black Mirror vibes from this track. A paranoid, anxious, dystopian chill washes over me as I listen and incites a kind of call to arms against 2020. Oh that’s just me? Cool, cool, cool.
Nadine Shah – Kitchen Sink
You couldn’t do a 2020 list without Nadine Shah and something from her Kitchen Sink album. I could have picked any song but I went with the title track. That intro. The rich, seductive, Grace Jones-esque vocals and filthy guitars. It’s pure sex.
Sufjan Stevens – Video Game
Right, I’m picking things up with this bop. I found myself dancing alone in my kitchen a lot this year. Totally sober, but obviously just missing dance floors so much that I took any opportunity to stop doing the dishes and get my groove on. This song always seems to be the catalyst.
Disclosure – Douha (Mali Mali)
Once we’ve cleared the furniture and are going full daytime disco, it’s time for this tune. The vocals are from singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara, who (as the title of the song would suggest) is from Mali. This glorious song will make you wish you were in a festival, surrounded by your mates, dancing your tits off at sunset. Sorry.
The Avalanches – Wherever You Go (feat Jamie xx, Neneh Cherry & CLYPSO)
It’s not like you could ever put this gang of folk together and get anything other than brilliance.
Jonsi – Swill
This is dark Jónsi, mixed with some weird sci-fi vibes and this song has a whole load of girth to it. It’s as if he time travelled to 1996 to hang out with Einstürzende Neubauten. His vocals are still sweet and at times, vulnerable, but by christ when it all kicks off you can feel the power, especially for the “pew pew” bits at the end.
James Vincent McMorrow – Gone
I know I’ve gone over 10, but you try picking 10 tunes from an entire year! Here’s another bop. I find myself aligning with the JVM vibes more and more these days as he gets funkier with each release. I particularly like belting out “G’way outta dat” in my most Northside accent even though they’re obviously not the lyrics.
FUCK IT, ONE MORE TUNEEEE!
Chris Lorenzo & The Streets – Take Me As I Am
Technically this single came out in 2019 but the album was 2020 so it counts. This song is HUGE. The whole album is amazing but the drop in this song is the reason I cried when they cancelled Glastonbury. When I first heard this tune all I could think about was being in a thick, sweaty, pulsating crowd worshipping at the main stage together. Fuck Covid. Tíocfaidh ár Sesh.