Luke Haines is always going to earn a place on this list. Aside from his near legendary cantankerousness these days best evidenced through his Twitter account now that he doesn’t sell anyway near enough records for any journalist to want to bother talking to, but he might actually be one of the most influential and important British music artists of the last 30 years without anyone really noticing or caring (least of all Haines himself). Unfortunately, a lot of that influence and importance isn’t really valued in 2020, like Haines has spent a large part of his career building up a collection of several billion Yugoslav Dinar. His previous band, The Auteurs, didn’t just release the greatest album of 1996, but are widely considered to have been the first Britpop band and their 1993 debut ‘New Wave‘ is considered the first album and perhaps the ultimate example of the genre. Unfortunately, crowing about an artist’s importance to Britpop in 2020 is like raving about one of the most important engineers ever because of their revolutionary idea to build houses using asbestos. People are unlikely to share your enthusiasm, and will likely debate whether it should be considered a ‘good thing’. Regardless of the nonsense that Britpop quickly descended into though, it still can’t be denied that Haines played a central part in solidifying the importance and artistic/financial viability of British guitar music at the beginning of the 90s, and without him we may never of had… erm… what British guitar band are they nowadays? Royal Blood. Without Luke Haines we may never have had Royal Blood. Can you even imagine? But, yeah, he doesn’t care, he’s happy enough by ow (all relative, of course) releasing extremely decent but lower scale and borderline comedy solo albums.Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2020 pt.10 (30-26)”
If you’ve ever read this blog- like at all, you ingrate philistine- you know how I spend roughly 40% of my time elucidating how special Katie Crutchfield’s musical project is. I am very much a Waxahitcher, which is a term I’ve just made up for the sort of Waxahatchee fan who’s dedicated/deluded enough to invent a term for the level of insanity that their fandom warrants. She made the most important album of 2013 to me, which, yeah, I didn’t admit at the time, but respect the retcon!
#HanShotWheneverMrLucasSaysHeDid #ThisIsADumbFilmForChildren #GrowUp.Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2020 pt.9 (35-31)”
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.Continue reading “Necesary Evil 2020 pt.8 (40-36)”
I mean… that kinda works, right? Jarvis Cocker splitting his first name into two words, then adding the title of the album to make it seem that you’re making the statement that “Jarv is beyond the pale”. Like, OK, I get it, but to buy into the pun yo have to accept that Jarvis now goes by the name ‘Jarv’ which, come on, mate, that’s a dumb fucking name that ain’t nobody going to answer to. I’m calling you out, Jarvy Boy! I don’t buy into the conceit that the title of your fourth solo album aims to evoke!! Bring it on, Jarv! Anytime, any pla… Actually, not any place. My choice of place. I worry that he’ll have us both do battle in Sheffield, and according to my beliefs about the Steel City that may well resemble the closing scene of Terminator 2. I worry that wouldn’t play to my strengths as a fighter. It’ll likely to be in the Ippon Judo Club in Cheadle. I got a green belt there about 20 years ago, so watch your fucking back, Jarv!!
The album’s great though, successfully hitting references and inspirations as diverse as Leonard Cohen and Kraftwerk. Also, the line “Dragging my knuckles/Listening to Frankie Knuckles” is worth a bump of a few places at least.
The highest so far. Because, unlike me, other critics are scared of his bullshit!!Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2020 pt.7 (45-41)”
Banoffee’s debut album should act as an important reference point for Halsey. The subjects she covers here- from painful reconciliations to painful intergenerational trauma to, Jesus, why didn’t I just leave it as a one night stand with that prick??- are at least as weighty as those covered on Ms Frangipane’s latest. Banoffee simply covers them often more explicitly, with far more humour and raw openness. And, more importantly, does so with no shame about this being a pop album and with the mature knowledge that really shouldn’t take away from its artistic legitimacy. She’s not openly complaining about Band of Horses not being considered pop despite starting with the same three letters, she’s not arguing that her album being considered ‘pop’ and the Javier Muñoz Spanish language production The Occupant being considered a ‘movie’ is just more evidence of the suffocating patriarchy, she’s not pointing to the barbed wire around her wrist on the album cover as poof of how freaking metal she is. She has no qualms about being a pop artist and is confident in the utter magnificence she can still produce, how being a ‘pop’ artist doesn’t act as a barrier to producing such weird, challenging and effective music such as this.Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2020 pt.6 (50-46)”
Halsey sits in that awkward position of being an extremely, very, absolutely great artist, but at the same time being weighed down by almost being suffocatingly overrated by some corners. Also, she’s often really annoying.
Now that last (factual) statement may actually be problematic. Would I refer to Halsey’s objective annoyingness if she were a man? Truthfully, if she were a man I’d probably call her a ‘cunt’, but I’m always aware of how vicious it can sound to use such violent language when referring to a woman, so I’m slightly more polite. Is that sexist? To self censor my language and treat women more ‘gentlemanly’? Am I actually doing it because I feel that the curse is hilariously infuriating to a man but actually hatefully offensive when said to a woman? Is that idea sexist?? Should I maybe not be calling anyone a ‘cunt’??
Jump in any time, these are good topics.Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2020 pt.5 (60-51)”
OK, this year’s method of multiple album posts is kinda looking dumb now- each one of these entries could have easily filled its own post… Two weeks left to finish this fucker!!
Have you ever considered that maybe Princess Nokia has a point? Maybe everything is beautiful? Maybe you don’t agree. Maybe you’re one of those overaged (and- my goodness- way over sized) wannabe teenage edgelords who have developed multiple subconjunctival hemorrhages due to the dangerous amount of times you’ve rolled your eyes at something. Maybe your detachment from positivity and any sort of approving conscientiousness has rendered you completely numb to appreciating any good thing in life. Maybe when the vicar asked you if you take this person to be your lawful wedded spouse you merely shrugged your shoulders and said “Whatever”. Maybe when the doctor handed you your new born baby, you rolled your eyes at how unbelievably mainstream the whole thing was, with the baby crying and wiggling its arms, like that hasn’t been done before. Nothing is beautiful for you, because you refuse to allow it to be.Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2020 pt.4 (70-61)”
OK, remember when I told you that there were so many fantastic records released this year? Well, that pretty much starts here, as Vritra’s
roughly 6’903rd record is yet another example of the unique and intoxicating talents of perhaps the least sufficiently appreciated (former??) member of Odd Future. If this is your first Vritra album, the rapping and musical styles one or two notches above clinically comatose will be sure to bewitch you for a solid half hour (do not listen to while operating heavy machinery etc), but the lack of real evolution of change of styles between records can mean a dangerous sense of disposability and lack of individual character can set in when you listen to multiple records. Like, the guy has released about three albums since that wonderful album with Wilma Archer last year that I didn’t even notice. Which, to be fair, is a docile forgetfulness that’s very on brand.
Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2020 pt 2 (90-81)”
Yeah, that’s right, I review games now! Whadda ya make of that, huh!? I know what you were previously thinking. “This guy, Alex?” You mumble to yourself through bounteous saliva trigged on your thirsting lips brought on by even the mention of my name, “He’s out every night poontang pie eating, his life is all passion, pain and dragon slaying, he wouldn’t even have time to sit alone in his room covered in Doritos dust, slamming down Pepsi Maxes as he twiddles his analog sticks”. Well, guess what ladies and gentlemen? I’m even cooler than you previously thought!
Three things: Firstly, yes, I do play video games, but at a much slower and infrequent rate than, say, the lead game reviewer at IGN. My PS4 is 99% utilised as a way to explore ancient ruins and domesticate live dodos in ARK while playing online with a friend* I bought The Last of Us pt 2 the day it came out in June, and finished it roughly a week ago. It’s my game of the year because, basically, it’s the only game I had time to play this year.
(*if that friend’s reading, I’ve not forgotten that we still need to visit the grasslands in order to hunt pelt to wear to allow us to investigate the mountains, I’ll have time to get to it soon, I promise!)
Secondly, that age old stereotype that I’ve just lazily referred to is based on an archaic Boomer presumption about gamers that dates back to the 80s. Back then, playing games meant sticking 126 floppy disks into your Amstrad CPC 464 and sitting through roughly 72 hours of loading time in order to glance at perhaps an illicitly digitised cleavage in Leisure Suit Larry. Of course these people deserved to be mocked and scorned! Playing video games was purely for children and neeeeeeeeeeeeeerds back then, but now those children have grown into childish adults in a culture that strongly discourages letting go of childish things. In 2020, the average age of a video game player has been said to be as old as 35, while remaining a chief interest of actual children. Now, video games aren’t just a silly pastime for socially awkward preteens struggling with the dangerous sexual enfeeblement of puberty. Video games aren’t just now the biggest entertainment business in the world, but also capable of being legitimate and emotionally affecting pieces of art.
Thirdly, much of The Last of Us pt 2 and the critical response to it seems to still be lost in that debate of the artistic legitimacy of video games, which really shouldn’t still be an open issue. Guys, Majora’s Mask was released 20 years ago!! Many reviews get wrapped up in declaring how this is now proof that games can be considered art, that this is the (sigh) ‘Citizen Kane of video game‘, a lasting monument to the possibilities of the entire form. Then there was an even greater backlash that near unanimously declared that TLOUp2 was actually the worst thing ever, because it doesn’t work as a movie, because they didn’t like plot choices, because decisions didn’t make sense, because, seriously, who is this woman??, and many more. It has meant that what I originally considered to be a somewhat lukewarm explanation of why I liked the game, with dozens of caveats, has actually become a lot more defensive of people’s reasons for hating it that I deem illegitimate. Yeah, there was also the usual sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and transphobic nonsense, which I’m not sure I need to explain the invalidity of.
This will be longer than any album piece I write this year, because- Jesus Christ!- there is so much to say about this game. I’m also venturing into video games journalism, which probably means getting abused online and having my life made into a living hell.
Actually, I’m a guy, aren’t I? I’m gonna be fine. The reason for this extra long introduction is that there’ll be major spoilers for freaking everything after the jump. You’ve been warned.Continue reading “2020’s Best Computer Game: The Last of Us pt 2”