Sigh…Yeah, there’s going to be 99 of these bad boys this year. I told you, there’s been a lot of great music released in 2020!
A second ‘sigh’, however, for The Men, whose 2018 record ‘Drift‘ was an absolutely stonking collection of quasi-Bad Seeds brilliance, but I never got to talk about it at the time because Jose Mourinho had just been sacked. There was much rejoicing to be had. If you don’t follow football, just accept it when I tell you that Manchester United have spent the last two years wisely building themselves back up to their worthy position as the world’s greatest football team. No further questions.
‘Drift’ was The Men’s big opportunity, There are no Manchester United managers getting sacked (at time of writing), so now I could concentrate entirely on gushing over how this once abrasive noise rock band making further evolution into a sort of gentle swamp rock troubadours. “Gentle swamp rock troubadours”! Even I wanna get behind a band described that way, and I’m the guy who came up with the description!
Unfortunately, ‘Mercy’ is… yeah, it’s an evolution, and fair play to everyone involved, but unfortunately it’s an evolution into a dangerously easy listening AOR band. The opener Cool Water is a lovely little ballad, but it’s the only thing on the record that even suggests the band’s capacity. Must Do Better
Sigh… I’m doing a lot of sighing to start this list, aren’t I? Probably because we’re currently on the part of the countdown where I’ve included albums that I didn’t really like that much, but they’re buy artists that I have a lot of time for so I’ve let them slide into the list out of respect. Soon, we’ll get to the part pf the countdown where I list weird albums that I couldn’t really call ‘good’ in any sane sense, but still wanted to give them shout-outs. After that, we’ll get to the actually great albums, OK? It’s gonna be a lot of fun!
Teyana, though, come on, yeah? Your 2018 record was one of the tightest twenty minutes imaginable. It contained two of the worst songs and two of the best songs of 2018! It was unbelievably ridiculous one minute and then- Christ- hit you with Rose in Harlem the next and blow your tiny mind. How do you follow up that perfect and breathtakingly atonal debut? With 23 tracks and 73 minutes of mid level and slow pace jams. Opening it with the delivery of your child is, yeah, pretty cool, but the remainder of the album seems designed not to wake the baby.
#97 Beatrice Dillon: Workaround
Here’s a ripping yarn for you, gather around and get comfy, as you’ll likely want to repeat this little anecdote at any social occasions you find yourself at in the foreseeable future/
I remember when I made this list in 2014, which, holy shit, was six years ago, time is forever stalking us ready to pounce, before we know it we’ll all be dead, anyway, when I made the list in 2014 a good friend commented on me placing tUnE-yArDs at no.57. If you’re not familiar with tUnE-yArDs then… well, first of all, get familiarised, because they’re awesome. After you’ve accepted your new favourite band into your life, you’ll understand how their sound is a little bit off kilter, a little bit experimental, a little bit whoo, a little bit whaaay, a little bit dodgy, you know? This friend of mine saw how I’d rated the band and asked me how do you know if that music’s good?! To this guy, the admittedly unconventional but hardly avant garde fauvistic tUnE-yArDs were so idiosyncratic, that they simply defied normal analysis. I, of course, chortled at the philistine’s low culture and bid him away to enjoy listening to his Coldplay and Sam Smith, happy in the knowledge that a man of such refined taste as myself would never experience such befuddlement over high art.
This year, I listened to the critically fellated ‘Workaround’ again and again and again and thought…
…how do people know this is good?
It’s not nice to feel that left behind, to feel thoroughly ‘out-cultured’ by a work of music. If the Tate Modern puts on an exhibition featuring 150 ostrich carcasses being hung from the ceiling while a naked woman with a swastika painted across her vulva dances around the floor and slaps a variety of carcasses rhythmically to the tune of We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister with a rolled up copy of The Morning Star, then I’m not sure if I understand what’s going on, but that’s fine, because I never make out like I’m an authority on performance art, political symbolism or even ostriches. ‘Workaround’ is music though, this should absolutely be my ‘thing’! Yet the the album is naught but an extremely technically impressive but emotionally cold repetition of beats that often slip into repetitiveness.
Also, who spells it ‘Dillon’??
Don’t think I’ve ever used the word ‘naught’ before. See what this shit does to me?
#96 Holy Golden: Sleepwalkers in the Milky Way
Holy shit, I literally up until this very moment thought the band were called ‘Holy Garden’! You know what? That was probably why it took ages to find a decent picture of the album cover.
Yes, Holy… Golden (?) are the latest act that I’ve been introduced to via the production of Seth Manchester (I don’t have time to explain it here, but me getting my hands on every record he produces has long turned into a creepy obsession). Actually released way back in 2018, when all we had to worry about was the Beast from the East and potentially getting lost in Thai caves; ‘Sleepwalkers in the Milky Way’ is a lovely record that sees Seth Manchester step outside his common ‘metal guitars reaching for the brown note’ cacophony and producing some extremely pleasant dream pop. And Strength?? Fuggedaboutit!!
Now, I love Shamir, never forget that. I feel like he is one of the most unique and ven potentially important independent artists working today. However, when Cataclysm was released back in March… I thought… for a second… that maybe… I was done with him…
No, no, no! It was just a thought! I would never act on it! It was just that, combined with 2019’s ever so slightly underwhelming ‘Be the Yee Here Comes the Haw‘(yes, the title’s fucking amazing, but that’s not the point) suggested that he migh have been stuck in something close to a rut, with album after album of grungey drone rock, not quite communicating his talents fully. There are a few moments that approach ‘bangerlevel’on this record, but not much evidence of progression.
Most damning of all, you can hear the passion for the work slowly ebbing away over the past couple of releases…
Of course, Shamir would then release one of the best songs of the year and shut me right up.
43 in 2018
41 in 2017
26 in 2015
Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees, I am having this! I am here for this!
Lady Gaga might get props for her understanding and appreciation of art and her situationist stunts, but we often forget that she is more than capable of burping out some absolute pristine pop music. ‘Chromatica’ is by no means perfect, but when it hits it really hits.
‘A Star is Born’, though? I’ve not seen it but… it’s shit, right? Like… no… I don’t accept that’s a good film. It’s crap, surely. Yeah? Someone back me up on this…
#93 Lafawndah: The Fifth Season
There might be more of these, but Lafawndah’s incredible and delicate ‘The Fifth Season’ is definitely the first album on this list so far that I really wish I had more time to spend with. It’s subtle, it manages to be both chilling and warm, but always conscious of an overbearing mortal threat. Also, it wins points for its link to N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, which is an amazing series of books that…
That took ages to make. The fuck are you doing with your life, Alex.
#93 Royce Da 5″9: The Allegory
I feel cheated.
I’d only just been introduced to Royce with his exceptional 2018 record ‘Book of Ryan’. I fell in love with a rapper who could combine a healthy sense of humour with sharp introspection and honest appraisals of his life, his addictions and his upbringing. Ka-zam! Remove my entrails, stick me on your wall, Mr 5″9, because I am caught! His follow-up to the minor-classic that is ‘Book of Ryan’ as one of my most anticipated records of the year.
Was ‘Book of Ryan’ an anomaly? Is this what Royce is actually like?? Boorish, greedy, ultra capitalistic and, yes, an antivaxxer.
I thought Royce might be something quite special. He’s not who I thought he was. Once ahain, I feel cheated
#91 Psychic Graveyard: A Bluebird Vacation
Yeah, Seth Manchester again, though more in his wheelhouse this time with wonderfully antagonistic noise rock. Check it out, it’s good but, fuck me, I’ve actually finished today’s post! Only 90 more to go!
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