Although the days sped away like a joyrider on Buckfast, the tumultuous events that dominated the culture and the political narrative meant that long standing divisions deepened and entrenched the troops into uncompromising positions.
Luckily, we still had music to keep us sane. Although recent stats from Spotify showed that most chose to indulge in nostalgia by streaming the back catalogues from classic artists (understandable giving the circumstances), it’s always important to keep your ear to the ground for new albums and new bands/artists. You don’t want music to simply dry up and become another arm of the multinationals, do you?
In June, I did a half term report. Let’s see how many still remain in this, my top 30 of 2020.
♜ ♞ ♟ 30🔊 Napalm Death - Throes of Joy in The Jaws of Defeatism
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Their sixteenth album, the Brummie legends show no sign of losing any of the intensity that made them pioneers of grindcore. Although the album features the usual blastbeats, growled vocals and savage riffing, what really raises the album above the average grind affair is the Killing Joke influenced ‘Amoral’ and the slow grind of Swans referencing ‘A Bellyful of Salt and Spleen.’
Releasing records for nearly 40 years, the Spanish industrialists outdid themselves this year by releasing an album that demonstrates why they are revered by those in the know. Without going full on EBM/faceless techno like a lot of their peers, Cinética manages to pack a punch while still keeping the aura of creepiness that pervaded their best tracks.
For their first album in over ten years, ACR deliver the goods like never before. Although overshadowed by the sudden death of singer Denise Johnson, the album grooves like a bastard, with Jez Kerr and Donald Johnson still the finest rhythm section in England. all of which culminates with ‘Taxi Guy’ which barrages into batucada terrain. Lay down thy raincoat and get funky.
Grime still remains the freshest musical export the UK has given the world and, on Insomnia, we get three of the finest MC’s from London experimenting, boasting and bragging over tunes that exude paranoia and menace. As usual, Skepta takes the crown, especially for the following line: “I just mixed Don Julio with champagne and Hennessy/Taking shots to the head like I was J.F. Kennedy.”
25🔊. Youth/Jah Wobble – Acid Punk Dub Apocalypse
Taking one of the most influential bassists of the post punk era (Wobble) and teaming him with Killing Joke legend Youth was always going to interest me. A dub fused reggae album with touches of dance music and free jazz, it was part of the soundtrack to the blistering sunshine that we experienced in the first few weeks of lockdown, the track ‘Inspector Out of Space’ in particular.
24🔊The Orb - Abolition of The Royal Familia
23🔊Wrangler – A Situation
Having to compete with former bandmate Richard H. Kirk releasing a new Cabaret Voltaire album this year, subsequent listens have shown A Situation to be a subtler, less overwhelming (but just as foreboding) record as their previous LP’s. Stephen Mallinder and co. take the modern age and throw it back at us in a clean, efficient manner that highlights our ambivalence with modern technology.