Hey there Traveler. I told you a while ago that I was gonna talk about things I liked this year, 2020. Well...here it is. Ta-da. I figure I’ll lay out the headings for the things and then write about ‘em as I get the time, so visit back every once in a while and I’ll have new, exciting stuff to read. I know I've read a few books and watched some good movies too, but I can't seem to think of any at the moment. As I said, check in every now and then and I may have new things to say.
1000 Gecs and the Tree of Clues by 100 Gecs (and guests)
If you haven’t had the chance to listen to 100 Gecs you should definitely go listen to 100 Gecs. This’n here, Tree of Clues, is a remix of their album from last year. They’re both delightful collages of striking sounds and loving distortions of familiar musical genres and phrases.
Pulsing, glitchy hardcore. They're a band I've long loved, and they had a really neat creative output in a really fuckin’ horrible year. Throughout 2020, Code Orange did active work to foster community, support anti-racist causes, and pointed me in the direction of some of my other favorites of 2020 (see entry below).
Teeth gnashing break core. To be perfectly honest Traveler, I don't know electronic music very well. I couldn't tell juke from… some other, easily distinguishable, electronic subgenre. But Machine Girl is noisy and scary and funny and a real delight for me as a loud music liker. Machine Girl was just the fusion of electronic and hardcore I needed to get me excited to explore what the wider genre has in store.
John Prine by John Prine
A great artist I learned of from terribly sad news. The recent pandemic (and the general indifference of US federal and state governments) resulted in his death, among the hundreds of thousands of others. Prine made incisive, funny folk/country that speaks to the beauty and ugliness of life in the US. RIP
Ønyøurcømputer by Thotcrime
Great, manic scene/grind album. I have long loved Blood Brothers and their kin. Thotcrime deals with subjects of various seriousness in similar ways to the Blood Brothers: their songs ache, holler, and joke; and throughout, it's surprisingly danceable music.
Darkness on the Edge of Town by Bruce Springsteen
Gurgling, achingly sad (and angry) songs. I'd never listened to Bruce Springsteen before this year, and this was a really beautiful introduction to his stuff. I've got plenty of room in my heart for a sad guitar friend, Traveler.
Golden Horde by Phalanx
Golden Horde is exceptional, Traveler. Concussive, galloping battle metal. I talked to you a while back about the heavy metal excess I love. Phalanx’s three hollering vocalists are a great example of that excess leveraged to devastating effect. That’s not to say there’s no restraint here. Golden Horde runs about 15 minutes in total, and each of its tracks are concise, thoughtfully constructed, and surprisingly catchy. I spent a lot of time this year humming these tunes to myself, as silly as that may sound.
beyond the edge of the world by lookfar
I read the Earthsea books on either side of reading the first in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Now, I enjoyed the Wheel of Time books I read just fine, but Earthsea is much more to my taste. Each Earthsea book offers pensive stories about reaching into the dark, the power of language, and the weight and importance of mourning--all in a decidedly compact form. beyond the edge of the world was made in response to the 3rd Earthsea book. It is the foggiest, smokiest dungeon synth I’ve ever heard, and I can’t get enough of it. It does an exceptional job evoking the eons of history, language, life, loss, and death bound up in the five little Earthsea books.
Àdá Irin by Navy Blue
Sage Elsesser's rap debut. Warm, minimalist hip hop production provides a backdrop for pensive lyrics about his relationship to his family, lineage, and the culture of the United States.
Peaceful as Hell by Black Dresses
Crackling pop/rock/metal. I learned about Black Dresses through that 100 Gecs album above, and I’m so glad to have learned about all the music its two members, Devi McCallion and Ada Rook, make. Peaceful as Hell is sweet, scared, introspective, and angry. Go have a listen, Traveler.
A 2019 meditation on exploration and endings.
A 2017 meditation on exploration and endings. I think I'll start 2021 talking about these two games. Stay tuned Traveler.