See that punctuation mark between the ‘big’ and the ‘brave’ in this Montreal band’s name? That actually has many names, depending on what context it’s used. In computing it’s called a ‘pipe‘; in Sanskrit it’s known as a ‘danda’; and in logic it’s known as a ‘Sheffer stroke‘. The ‘Sheffer stroke’ is named after early 20th century logician Henry M. Sheffer who, in cruel irony, actually died of a stroke. Maybe. Probably not. I don’t actually know how he died. Also, I’m not sure that counts as irony, but that’s a debate for a different time. In general, that long, dripping ‘L’ is simply referred to as a ‘vertical bar‘.
Anyway, just thought I’d explain the definitions here so I could say the following sentence: See that vertical bar in BIG|BRAVE‘s name? That’s pretty cool, innit? Don’t know if I’ve seen a band use that before.
On her phenomenally intense and altogether astonishing latest album, Lingua Ignota/Kristen Haytor sticks her claws deeply and violently down the throat of Christian theology, pulling out bloodies entrails that even fellow damned theological researcher Nick Cave feel a little queasy. She highlights the duality and crazed hypocrisy of blind devotion, while also seeming to float the thought of requesting the all-powerful dominance (you could almost call it ‘biblical’) of that good old fashioned Old Testament God to help soother her own wounds by inflicting painful reckoning on the people that have hurt her. Well, I say ‘people’… Men. It’s not a nice story. It’s a grim and horrific story that seems to have been continued recently in her relationship with Daughters‘ frontman Alexis Marshall. I’m not going to cover any of this in detail in this piece, but I feel it is important to be aware of.
The anger and malicious retributory intent reaches such an apex on I WHO BEND THE TALL GRASS, when Hayter sems to collapse to her knees, shivering with rage as she references Corinthians 2:14 and begs God’s help to ‘Take hold of my gentle axe and split him open/Gather up my quiet hammer and nail him down/Use any of your heavenly means/Your golden scythe/Your holy sword/Your fiery arrows studded with stars’ before abandoning any pretence of deference and simply screaming ‘I don’t give a fuck/Just kill him/You have to/I’m not asking’. It’s an absolute fucking trip.
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!!
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’??
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaars! Do you sense that? Those faint but ever rising embers of putrid hellfire? Can you feel that, underneath your feet? The unmistakable rumbles of the devil’s chord painfully calling at your wordlessly from the depths? Can you smell that? That unmistakable aroma of a Nailbomb t-shirt once used in desperation as a makeshift toilet tissue but now hurriedly discarded in shame in a Castle Donington Portaloo? You know what that is? That’s metal, son, like they used to make it in the old/Black country!
Seth Manchester joins us once again, he had quite the 2020. Except, this album actually came out in 2019. And, actually, one of his albums from part 1 was even from 2018. Whatever, I’ve had quite a 2020 belatedly realising albums that he’s produced!
OK OK OK! There were 112 amazing songs released in 2019 (or, erm, released earlier but I just listened to them a lot this year), and here is the definitive, objective and scientifically proven ranking. You can disagree all you want, just remember your disagreement is merely an opinion and this list is fact.
Or maybe not. I made a big change of tablet and therefore music player this year, and I might not have remembered all of the songs I deemed to be Legit Bosses earlier in the year. But whatever, here are 112 amazing songs, here’s the YouTube list and here’s the Spotify playlist, now please leave me alone, yeah?
Starting at number 112 wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiith…
One of the greatest/worst aspects of life in 2019 is how we all have the power to fine tune and curate exactly what world we live in, edit and personalise what news we hear and what bent ideology it pours from. When I was a bairn, the whole country basically had the same experience, all the time. We all heard Love Is All Around until we all wanted to ruthlessly and repeatedly embed a screwdriver deep into our own eardrums until the flowing blood hopefully drowned out Marti Pellow’s smirk (not me though, Love is All Around is a fuckin’ choon). We all watched Coronation Street last night, so could debate the meaning of Mavis Whooptuck performing a blood sacrifice in order to bring Harold Hupptickle back from the dead (my memories of Coronation Street are a bit cloudy, I’ll admit). Most importantly, we all got the same news. Sure, many people would still buy utter horseshit like the Sun or the Daily Mail- or The Guardian if they were a little more middle class and, let’s face it, a bit twatty- but we kind of all agreed that if it made it to BBC News, then it was likely correct. Likely due to laws restricting the bias of TV news in this country and the very charter of the BBC forbidding any bias or political inclinations in the news reporting. It’s, of course, not perfect*, it’s not always 100% observed, but it’s at least enshrined into law and aimed for, meaning that everyone always tuned into the TV news at the end of the day expecting them to brush the propaganda from the day’s events and tell us what really happened.
(*there were shocking scenes earlier this year when a BBC news reporter had the temerity to suggest that, growing up with an Indian mother and Mauritian father, racism was actually really gross and that Trump’s racist comments actually sounded very familiar. That’s how seriously we take impartiality- a woman of Asian descent isn’t allowed to call out the racist president for saying racist things and say that racism was bad. Apparently, a lot of viewers were still undecided on racism and didn’t want the crazy hippy idea that it was somehow a negative thing shoved down their throat. A white BBC news guy said similar things, but nobody complained about that, because… y’know…).
You know what? I’ve got a funny feeling that this might not be my last chance to talk about him before this list is done, so I’m wary of squeezing out all my Kanye Juice before the real party starts. ‘Yandhi’ was the album that he was going to release as his follow up to last year’s ‘Ye‘ (I’m sorry, haterz/liberals, but ‘Ye’ was a pretty fine album, as were most of the eighty four records he released last year, let’s not let our reactions to his general behavior colour the history), but then it was delayed, then cancelled, then briefly revived with Ashton Kutcher playing the role of Kanye West, then delayed, then its name was changed to ‘Spunk Muffin and the Dudes With Attitude’, then it was cancelled again, then it was changed to ‘Jesus Is King’, then it was revealed that it wasn’t actually a name change but a completely separate record, then that record was delayed, then it was delayed again, until, finally, it was released, and Yandhi was cancelled, only briefly being released (seriously) as ringtones. Quite straightforward as Kanye West album launches go, really. I actually only sought out ‘Yandhi’ because I assumed it would contain intriguing scrappy demos of whatever tracks Kanye was working on for his next record (which at that point had been delayed so many times I assumed this would be the closest we’d get to a Kanye album this year), but it’s shocking to hear quite how complete a lot of songs on here are, and how realised many ideas are. New Body in particular sounds less than a tweak away from being a hit single, Nicki Minaj feature and all. Later, it was shocking how few of the songs and ideas on ‘Yandhi’ made it to ‘Jesus is King’. Like, pretty much none of it. Nicki Minaj? She’s gone. Hey, Kanye, maybe stay focused on one thing for more than three minutes? Might result in better albums? Perhaps I’ll get to debate this further later.
Before I start- even though by writing this I am actually starting, and it’s therefore impossible to write anything before I start because I will always be starting however I decide to claim that I am adding something before I start and so something can never be written before I start- I’d just like to let you know that I’m actually writing this entry while at work at the Manchester Refugee Support Network. After you’ve read this (hopefully short) entry, you can decide for yourself whether it was worth the incalculable numbers of Manchester refugees who suffered due to my lack of attention. Just keep that in mind.