Devon Gilfillian brings us his “Black Hole Rainbow”, the first great album of 2020. This is a fantastic soul record. You should listen to it. That’s all you need to know to start. I knew even less when I put it on.
Update: this was published initially on 12/25/19, and I recognized, through doing a different “year in…” recap that I’d missed some stuff. I’ve added it. Hopefully y’all check back and find it.
Just in time for you to hopefully spend some of your holiday gift moneys on it, here’s my annual list. If you’re wondering where the 10 records that are on everyone else’s lists are (and my list isn’t devoid of that sort of thing), there were a bunch of records out this year that were objectively good to great, interesting, or otherwise noteworthy (my big playlist of noteworthy albums that were anything from recommendations to ubiquitous albums to “Hey, this act I’m familiar with released something” hovers around 72 hours long, and if you’re feelin’ frisky, it’s here), but these were the ones I had the best listening experiences with, and defaulted to listening to the most. Your mileage may, of course, vary.
In no particular order, beyond that the Karen O & Danger Mouse record was pretty much the soundtrack to my year, and that Julia Michaels’ “Happy” from “Inner Monologue Part 1” was my song of the year. (I loved both of Julia’s “Inner Monologue” records, but Part 1 got the edge from me over Part 2, if you’re curious.)
Pissgrave-Posthumous Humiliation (Content Warning: the album cover is REALLY fucking gross and violent. Like, seriously, y’all. It’s a great record, but holy fuck, that record cover is literally the worst. I can provide a Spotify link as well, because they didn’t use the uncensored cover for the album on Spotify, but there are “also by Pissgrave” links from the album page that also point at the really gross album cover now because they used it for their singles there, so yeah, you kinda have to commit here.)
This one came up in the same Discover Weekly as Royal Thunder, but it took me a minute to circle back and listen to the rest of “Give It To Me”, another one that snuck past me in 2017.
Miya Folick makes music that reminds me of the 1990s in the best way. (Hopefully, if she ever reads this, she takes that as the high compliment it’s meant as here. A lot of people try, but it’s not easy to evoke that vibe and also do it really well.) She’s got solid range both vocally and stylistically, and her approach to songwriting is honest and unafraid. Start with “Trouble Adjusting”, as I did, and then make your way around (There are two EPs and a couple of singles on Spotify; if you’re not a Spotify person, her music’s on Bandcamp as well…).
Dave Vanian sounds terrific on this new Damned single, and the rest of the band, after 4+ decades, have finally gotten the hang of being Captain Beyond rather than The Damned, which I think always was a career goal of theirs.
New They Might Be Giants album! I need to spend more time with it, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard so far a bunch. In doing a little digging, I’ve also discovered that I’ve missed about 20 albums of theirs since the last time I’d listened to one in its entirety, so I have homework.
Holy shit! New Jonny Polonsky record outta basically nowhere! I’ll have to spend a little more time with this as well, Release Radar just hipped me to this, but as a rule, I love this guy, and after a first listen, I love “I Can’t Get Your Face out of My Mind”.
Last but not least today, there’s a new Simple Minds single, with the album, “Walk Between Worlds”, coming out in 2 weeks. This sounds like present-day Simple Minds (basically anything from about “Real Life” on, though it’s hard to call an almost 27 year old album “present-day” with a straight face; if it helps you, I liked their last, “Big Music”, a bunch, so I’m not hopelessly behind or anything…). I wasn’t stunned by it, but it’s them and I’m always happy to see them releasing new work.
Though I tried as I did, I missed a bunch. Here’s a few more releases from last year…
My friend Pete turned me onto Ball. They sound kinda like Black Sabbath, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and Riverbottom Nightmare Band decided to form a supergroup.
Found this one and the next via Discover Weekly. “When You’re Depressed” is Go-Kart Mozart’s first new track in 5 years, and I’ve apparently been living under a rock and didn’t even know Lawrence was still making music after he stopped doing Felt records.
Asger Techau’s “Stick In The Mud”, from his “Waves” EP, sounds like a missing track from The Fixx’s “Shuttered Room” album, which is a gorgeous thing to sound like. I knew nothing of him before I heard it, but apparently he’s been making music for a quarter century, both solo and with his band Kashmir, in Denmark. Never, ever, ever let anyone anywhere try to tell you that they’ve heard all the great music there is to hear. There is virtually no end to it if you just keep looking and listening.
This was me IRL when I realized exactly how easy it was to make decent potato salad, and that I’d been freed from the shackles of Corporate Potato Salad forever…
(Best experienced for these purposes from 2:23 on, as the link intended…)
I’d been meaning to post this basically since I thought of it, but life (and a flu that beat the flu shot and still hasn’t entirely quit, but is getting there) got in the way.
In other news…
I’ve been banging on the code behind the scenes here, so when I post, some of you may get emails that do not end up going to your spam folders or getting blocked outright. We’ll know when this post goes up if any of it works. Basically, if you’re on the mailing list and you actually get an email that isn’t in your Spam folder when it arrives, comment here, and I’ll know I done good. Actually, even if it does show up in Spam, useful information for me to have, so let me know on that as well if you can. Thanks in advance for that. I appreciate the work that the early adopters to the email subscription setup have done to help me kick the tires.
Watched all of The End Of The Fucking World, and then watched it again while I was super-sick so it was kinda hazy and weird and cold mediciney. Enjoyed the hell out of it both times. I’m not exactly new to the material, though…
I got the first 7 of these when I was in California in 2012, and ordered the rest from Chuck Forsman as they came out. Re-read them all recently, before watching the show, when a new printing of the collected edition came out (I missed the first printing of it). Really happy that he’s got a hit on his hands. If you liked TEOTFW, check out his other stuff, especially his recent I Am Not Okay With This, which is in the same vein.
I’ve also been playing a lot of Skyrim (a well-spent $5, in spite of its various problems), listening to as much music as I can (I’ve posted evidence of this recently, and I’ll be closing this post with just a bit more), trying to free myself from the shackles of Big Social now that I’ve beaten Corporate Potato Salad (I’ve spent a lot less time on the big two sites lately, thankfully), and just tryin’ to survive and stay entertained/distracted without being too numb or too disengaged from the world, or too consumed by the hyper-awareness that it’s burning (with little I can do as an individual right now to stop it from burning). Hopefully, I’m doing right by myself and others in the process.
I promised y’all more music to wrap up, and here’s my friend Andrew W.K. with that music. It’s called “Music Is Worth Living For”, and it’s the first single from his new album “You’re Not Alone”, which is due out March 2nd if memory serves.
I put a bunch of work into figuring out my favorite albums of 2017, but I’m like a week and a half into 2018 and I’ve found two now that I totally missed. “Strange Attractor” isn’t a perfect record or even a perfect Alphaville record by any means, but when it hits, it totally hits, and it’s great to hear Marian Gold still doing what he does.
Over the past few years (’13-’15, I did not nail it, but ’12, ’16 and ’17, I’ve done it, and I’m already working on ’18), I’ve tried to stay in the habit of making a “songs that embody the year” playlist as the year’s gone on, and then tightening it up at the end. I will say that this is the biggest list I’ve made during any of the years I’ve done it. It was a pretty good year for music. Enjoy.