Top 10 list for 2020

This year has been a very extreme expression of both highs and lows. Since the beginning of the lock down I have bought a lot more music than I normally would. If I bought your record, I listened to it. Believe that. If I didn’t buy your record, it may still be on my purchase list, but I slowed down the pace starting with December, so I could formalize this list.  Regardless, this was just one way to help stave off the boredom while helping put some money in others pockets.

Many musicians make their living off live performance and merchandise, because (let’s face it) hardly anyone purchases music anymore.  In a world full of streaming services  the record is not the product but the loss leader. I purchase most of my music via Bandcamp. With them I get the best of both worlds: streaming from their app or direct download in the format of my choice with the ability to do with it what I will (Plex), and I get to give the artist most of my money.

Thru out this pandemic, they have been trying to help artists mitigate their lost revenue from the lack of playing live by waiving their fees one month a day. I applaud this, as should you. All links to the following records will be to the artists Bandcamp site if possible.


The top ten albums list of 2020:

  1. REZN – Chaotic Divine: This is the record I listened to the most this year. In fact, I’ve had to consciously push myself to listen to other records since this came out. I’ve listened to all of REZN’s output since Damon turned me on to them over a year ago. The other records are good, mind you, but this elevates them beyond their earlier work. For a heavy doom band, though, it’s not the riffs or rhythm section that stand out the most on this record. Those previous records proved they own that shit. No kids, it’s the god damn saxophone! A mere presence on their last record, on Chaotic Divine it truly comes to the forefront. Weaving in and out of lyrical content and playfully bantering with the guitars. It’s simultaneously beautiful and brutal.
  2. Bob Mould – Blue Hearts: Bob’s anger is palpable on this solo effort. Bob’s best when he’s angry. Grrr! Argh! Interestingly the angriest track is the opening acoustic one “Heart on My Sleeve”.
  3. Anihila – Kosmobushir: Duncan Ritchie ( from The Rosenshoul and Flowers for Bodysnatchers) comes out swinging with another Sci-fi inspired collection of dark ambient pieces. For this second outing he explores an alternate universe wherein the USSR won the space race and has begun to explore space and terraforming other planets. The starkness and cold of space is on full display.
  4. Eraldo Bernocchi and KK Null – Superradiance: Kazuyuki Kishino has been a consistent addition to my record collection over the years. This first time collaboration with Eraldo Bernocchi sees him taking a very different approach to his typical noise fare. For me it’s mostly about the percussion on this record. Echoes of Drum & Bass, and Dub, without actually being either. The track Echoes of Darkness, though, is a masterful drone piece. Do NOT listen to it without headphones, preferably in the dark. It’s simultaneously brittle and dense. The lows on this record are sometimes bone shaking. Amazing!
  5. Boris – No: This record feels like it’s steeped in early Venom, late stage Black Flag, and Motörhead. Raw and untamed this stands right up their as one of the great Boris records (ie Pink). Released by the band via Bandcamp it’s also the first without a label in quite some time, so it’s pretty much just the band with no one to get in their way. 
  6. Dr. Pete Larson and his Cycotoxic Nyatiti – S/T: The great American master of the African Nyatiti (he’s gonna hate me for saying that but it’s true where I’m concerned) comes out with a studio record that simply blew me away. Having worked with Pete in one of our In The Toolshed recordings and watching him perform live many times prior to this record, I thought I was primed for the hypnotism coming my way. I was ill prepared to say the least. The Nyatiti is a part drone part percussion instrument and can be as hypnotic as a steel drum to my ears. Adding in the percussion and drumming respectively of Mike List and Tom Hohman really drives the mesmerizing aspects of this record, with Dave Sharp anchoring the whole thing right along with Pete. But what really elevates this albums transcendence is the vocalizations of Kat Steih and the guitar work of Fred Smith. Kat’s harmonizing with Pete on the track Abiro leading into Fred kicking the piece into high gear is just gorgeous thru and thru. I’ll be listening to this for years to come and can’t wait to hear what comes next!
  7. Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny (demo): A quick word on nostalgia: I typically abhor it. Whether done by someone that didn’t live in the moment they’re reaching for or done by someone well past their prime trying to re-explore their youth it rarely lands well imho. This record, though, doesn’t give a fuck about any of that. It feels like it came out in 1986, because the songs were written in 1986. Add to this Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo and this record feels authentic, just like everything Mike Patton does. So excuse me while I go brush up on my speed picking.
  8. WOORMS – Twitching, as Prey: Mature: That’s the word this record evokes to me. The first record, last years “Slake” had hints of God Bullies and Laughing Hyenas if both those bands were born in a swamp, but it felt like only a hint of greatness. on Twitching, the band gives you those same subtle hints, but with a lot tighter groove, thicker more precise tone, and a less disjointed  more cohesive feel. As if these were jammed out in a room to the point where someone just said, “Roll tape” and they laid it all down in one take for the demo, then painstakingly relearned it all, then spent weeks making it all sound good to rerecord it.  I NEED to see this band live.
  9. Run the Jewels – 4: A lot of people, who have a much firmer grasp on the English language than I do, have written a ton on this album already. If you don’t already own it, go buy it.
  10. LadyShip/Warship – ST: I first saw this band when we played the third Punk Rock BBQ at Kelly’s Bar in Hamtramck. As others stood out that night for their antics, these two stood out strictly because of the music. A pair of adults surrounded by children (including our puerile attempts at making music). Combining the best parts of Warren Ellis and Sixteen Horsepower this record truly captures them at their best. I want more of this!