From 1978 to 2004 there was one end-of-year ritual I anticipated with more fervour than any other: John Peel's Festive Fifty. We now know that list-loving males are to be pitied, if not condemned, but for me it offered a musical heuristic. Others might use the pop charts as a useful short cut, for me The Festive Fifty served the same purpose.
For those unfamiliar, each year, using nothing other than a handwritten ledger, and for some reason collating the task single-handedly, the iconic English DJ would ask listeners for their top three tracks of the year. Then, at the end of December, over 5 nights, he would play a 'Festive 50' in descending order.
Peel developed a love-hate relationship with his Frankenstein over the years. His main objection was that listeners ignored the highways and byways he'd introduced into his show over the year, the happy hip-hop, the deep dub, and time and again voted for "white boys with guitars". There was certainly some truth in the accusation. But it was at least the best type of white boy with guitar music. And over the years, certainly, more variety crept in.
There are some differences with this Festive 20. First, it's curated by Sombrero Fallout, not the product of a democratic vote. It's how Trump would run things. Secondly, we have attempted to spread the musical genres around, and also balanced genders and, to a limited extent, countries as well. Thirdly, we have day jobs and haven't listened to remotely enough music this year. Inevitably the Senior Sombrerite (me) and Junior Sombrerite (Scott) have relied on curation themselves, and there will be all manner of tracks that should be included but aren't, simply because we've never heard them.
But if nothing else, here's a helpful rejoinder to those who believe nobody writes them like they used to, and tracks 20-11. Tracks 10-1 follow in the next podcast:-
20. Broken Social Scene - Halfway home
19. The xx - I dare you
18. Idles - Well done
17. St Etienne - Take it all in
16. Mountain Goats - Andrew Eldritch is moving back to Leeds
15. The National - Guilty Party
14. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Rattlesnake
13. Juana Molina - Paraguaya
12. The Clientele - Everyone You Meet
11. St Vincent - New York