Yep, Princess Nokia states that ‘Everything is Beautiful’ and only makes it to number 70, but when she simply throws up her arms and declares that ‘Everything Sucks’ she opens our top 40. What does this prove? That’s right- absolutely fuck all, as this list is an absolutely meaningless vanity project by some egotistical, fat, ginger, middle aged man frivlously listing albums he’s listened to this year in no real order despite knowing next to nothing about music.
I joke, of course, this list is an entirely scientific exercise. The real reason that the other album that The Princess Regent of Nokia and its Territories released in 2020 ranks so much higher is because, yeah, maybe everything does suck.
Despite of your social media feed attempting to convince you that the world outside is full of mafficking podsnappers deluded enough to believe no wearing a mask while visiting Aldi is an act of righteous act of civil disobedience akin the the Million Man March (you’ve not been out of the house since early April, you have no disproving evidence!), there has actually been on the whole a largely dedicated and considerate response to the lamentable burden of COVID-19. Sure, in the UK (where I lay my hat) there has been a lot of complaining, but the last recorded time in British history where there wasn’t widespread complaining was roughly late 1055, when the country was united in the belief of how healthy Edward the Confessor* seemed these days and anyway, worst comes to worse, that dreamboat Harold Godwinson has eyes that are to die for! The worry is, and the reason that everything may, indeed, suck, is that it is incrdibly unlikely whether all these sacrifices the people on the ground have made, all the work that we have done to preserve our community, our country, our world, may still be in vain as it’s unlikely any real lessons will be learned and acted upon by the cunts in power.
(*”His nickname reflects the traditional image of him as unworldly and pious“- bullshit! I bet he confessed to one thing, one time and was stuck with that nickname for life! One afternoon at the round table, Eddie admits to dropping a particularly pungent fart fuelled by wild boar roasted in hops, and boom! That’s now his official name! Still, could have been worse, look at William the Bastard, Isaac the Right Prick, Rowan Who Doth not Wash His Hands After Visiting the Chamber, and, of course, Borin the Sheep Shagger. Again, one time!!)
Sure, some jobs will become more open to the idea of working from home. But this won’t make a wider difference, this won’t alleviate the issues that were highlighted by caused so much suffering during this pandemic. The kind of jobs that will allow people to work from home are largely the middle class+, middle income+ chattering classes whose biggest sacrifice during COVID was not being able to hold their annual Eurovision Song Contest party at Pamela’s. The people with fucking jobs and fucking income before COVID hit and the people still guaranteed fucking jobs and fucking income AFTER COVID subsides (likely in around 2025). It is absolutely, if you’ll excuse my language, the same old hootenany pallaver. Those who were already living relatively comfortably will remain being able to live relatively comfortably. This was the opportunity- fucking this! This thing right here!!- to respond to how grossly unfair the job market has become for the working classes, to actually notice how the gig economy has decimated any true job security and workers’ rights (along with workers’ health and safety). This was the time to notice how 60% of the country were forced to put themselves in danger so that the top 40% (I’m no millionaire, but I am absolutely in that 40%) could continue living their lives as close to ‘normal’ as possible and convincing themselves that they’re supporting the fight against the virus. It makes no freaking difference nationally if you order you rotisserie chicken from Amazon in order to avoid human contact only for that chicken to be packaged and delivered by people who simply lack the financial means nor the union support to follow proper safety procedures. And then the fucking Prime Minister of the country joins in with the well meaning but essentially powerless ‘clap for the NHS’ gesture??
No. No, no, no, no, no. That’s our way of giving as much thanks to the (wonderful) NHS as we possibly could, given that we are merely tiny cogs in the machine. We can’t change policy, we can’t raise pay, we can’t improve their working conditions, we can just thank them. You’re the fucking Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Give them pay rises. Make it known that each hospital will be assigned a Conservative MP to stimulate every member of staff’s genitals every four hours “to satisfaction”. Lessen their hours. You’ll be able to do this because improving the pay above ‘fucking derogatory’ would convince more people outside of people from relatively developing nations to sigh up, especially because- oh yeah!- you’re making it far harder for immigrants to enter the country! You done fucked up, boy!
Fuck, yeah, you’re right, Reigning Princess of the Municipality of Nokia, everything does suck!!
I’ve always had a bizarre blind spot with Run the Jewels. Everything about them seems to mark them out as a band I would worship. They’re exciting. They’re funny when they want to be and angry when they need to be. They’ve got the beats. They’ve got the tunes. Every song is a scientific banger and has at least one certified donk on it. Holy shit, they have a logo, and a distinctive artistic style that they have committed to over their seven year career. For whatever reason though, I’d never really got the band before. I could see they were good, I could point to the scientific reasoning behind so many of their songs- as Cleonides famously put it- slapping so hard that your genitals are juiced. But they never electrified my soul, never inspired that weird and undefinable part of your heart that shivers whenever the distorted electric guitar lick opens Anotherloverholenyohead. Their music never took me there.
Whoah, mama, does ‘RTJ4’ take me there though! Not politely, either. It roughly grabs me and pushes me there. Takes me to the dark and seedy underground club where there is located, and ties me to a chair and forces me to watch as Killer Mike and El-P strip down to their bikinis and thrust their genitals in my face. And I love it. I don’t know what it is, maybe 2020 was a year that just convinced me that I needed Run the Jewels in my life (Killer Mike’s lyrics are as good a commentary on this ridiculous year as you’re likely to find). OK, boys, you’ve got me. Go easy on me…
No. Treat me like a naughty boy. I deserve the pain…
OK, that’s going to be hard to beat…
OK, serious talk time. Yeah, you’re probably going to want to sit down for this. No, now, I’m not joking. Yeah, I know that I’m always joking, and the fact that I’m talking about how I’m not joking is usually the set-up for another joke, but I’m being totally serious now! This is big talk! Are you laughing right now?? Sigh, yeah, I know, the fact that I’m not funny is by no means proof that I’m not trying to be, the last ‘joke’ I did that you found funny was in my 2014 Azealia Banks review, but trust me, OK?? This time I’m being intentionally unfunny! Can you just please come away from your PC and sit down on the beanbag opposite me?? Listen, that Infinifactory level will be there for you when you come back! What’s that? You’re on level 4-4?! OK, that’s a fucker, I’ll let you finish that first…
OK, I’m going to assume using the law of averages that you’re not notably aware of the band Tao and the Get Down Stay Down, I’m going to submit to probabilities and guess that you were not one of the 312 other people who brought this amazing album on BandCamp. The band’s incredible previous album ‘Man Alive‘ somehow managed to pass you by, and you were laughably ignorant of the follow up four years later. For some reason neither the band nor this record are significant in your tiny brain.
OK, now imagine me slapping your big, dumb face. You fucking fool. You need this band in your life, and it actually and medically troubles me that a band this accomplished, this engaging, this brave, this experimental, this freaking talented aren’t playing at Superbowl halftime shows. This needs to be rectified. Starting with you, OK?
Too low. Sort it out
Do ‘my’ artists get an unearned bump on this list? Do the underappreciated and undervalued artists that I’ve discovered on BandCamp and followed their career closely receive far more favourable treatment than the big, swinging cocks of industry backed mega artists? I plum forgot to listen to Bruce Springsteen’s new album this year. I got Ariana Grande’s last record, listened to it thoroughly then… just forgot to add it to the list. Springsteen though? Ms Grande? These artists going to be fine. As much as I’ve worshipped and lived with so many Boss albums in the past (‘Darkness on the Edge of Town‘, since you’re asking) and as much as I enjoy… talking about Ariana Grande, chiefly, these are the world’s artists, that I have no connection to. Am I always going to name an Aqua Girl album near the top twenty simply because she replied to me on Twitter a few times and let me interview her? If I discovered you on BandCamp and no other cunt has heard of you, are you guaranteed an easy ride?
Pffff, yeah, whatever. Firstly: no. It doesn’t quite work like that. If you look at previous winners of this list, you’re likely to have hear of every album. I don’t go for obscurity for the sake of obscurity. Honestly, I would like nothing more than for one of these smaller, truly independent, hard working artists to legitimately make the album of the year. Unfortunately, some cunt like Nick Cave or Beyonce or Sufjan Stevens swings their dick/tiddies into the equation, and I have to surrender to the science. I hoped and prayed that the latest Don’t do it, Neil album would break that glass ceiling, and it was actually dispiriting when it only came in at number 74. But Age (The Age)’s- no fucking idea what’s going on with that name- new album is legitimately brilliant. It was originally released on the 25th November 2019, five days before I started that year’s list so, yeah, fuck that, it’s a 2020 album. I’ve lived in and listened to it for a year now and it’s an astonishing evolution in sound, production and technique that it truly is one of the greatest records released this year. So ner.
And secondly: so what if they do get an easy ride? You do realise ths list is fucking meaningless, don’t you?
I was joking about his site being meaningless. Love it or hate it, it’s the most important thing going, alright? Science!!
Listen, fair enough, have your peaceful protests, that’s absolutely fine. Organise a quiet sit-in at your local community centre to challenge their decision to move ‘Salsa Saturday’ to Tuesdays, as that completely ruins the alliteration and potentially clashes with UEFA Champions League matches. Picket the local Farmfoods because they have heartlessly replaced the assuredly off brand $2’99 300g jars of instant coffee with £5.99 100g jars of Nescafe Azera on their shelves. You can proudly hold up your “I’m Sure Nescafe Are A Lovely Company But The Simple Fact Is That I Am Now Paying More Than Twice The Price For A Jar Of Coffee That’s Only A Third Of The Size. I’m Effectively Losing Fourteen Pounds And Ninety Eight Pence Every time I Buy Some Coffe, Can You Please Illuminate Me How that Is Supposed To Work For Me, Economically?” outside the store’s entrance in exasperated objection. You might want to write in quite a small font though. Or, maybe, boycott Gap, Adidas, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger or any one of the many heartless and simply evil corporations worldwide that are happily complicit in the Chinese Communist Party using forced labour in concentrations camps in the Xinjiang area in order to produce their products and… Oh, wait, let’s not talk about that! It’s all fine, probably a cultural thing, right? Let’s just let China do whatever it wants and stick our fat, entitled heads in the sand in relation to obvious human rights abuse because they’re an important trading partner! Yay, Capitalism!!
That’s all fair and good, I’m not denying that it can more than occasionally make a difference, hip hip hoorah for Gandhi and all that. But we all have to agree there’s a line. There surely has to be a point when either the considerate suggestion of nonviolent protest is obviously ineffective, or the people in power that you’re trying to influence are committing deeds far too dastardly to be effectively stood up with a stern letter writing campaign. You can still be violent without hurting anybody, or at least without harming the innocent. Sometimes, McDonald’s windows exist to be smashed, police cars deserve to be turned over and burned and your own bones may need to be sacrificed. If that line doesn’t exist for you, you might want to start considering whether that’s because, if things were just, it’s you that people should be protesting against.
Backxwash’s music seems to soundtrack that time, that moment when the last string snaps and the final levee breaks, the exhilarating rush of pure realisation that comes when you realise that you cannot take this shit any more. It’s a brutal record, it’s a furious record, it’s absolutely an angry record but undoubtedly an amazing one. Together with the astonishing ‘Stigmata EP‘, ‘God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It’ (shit, I could have just written 2’000 words on how amazing that title is) is proof that there was plenty about 2020 for Backxwash to be apoplectic about.