2020 IN MUSIC (PART 3 OF 4) – ALBUMS 50-26

I began my yearly Pop music wrap-up with Part 1 Saturday, re-capping most of my thoughts about the year in general and broached my favorite 25 songs of the year. Part 2 continued with my favorite LPs 175-101 listed, and then capsule reviews of 100-51 (in 25 LP increments). Today I continue with Part 3, my favorite LPs listed 50-26 with brief reviews to each record (the final installment, Part 4, covers records 25-1 and is here). Enjoy and Happy listening.

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My Top 894 Horror Films

Pieces (J.P. Simon… 1982)

As I’ve done twice in the past, here is a compendium ordering of my favorite film genre, Horror, updated to include—to the best of my ability—my lifetime within the genre*. It’s dedicated to anyone who’s ever laughed while being frightened, who’s ever been willing to watch anything past 500 or so. Happy Halloween.

The previous version of this list, published in 2016, is here.

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My Favorite 150 Records of 2019

It was, by nearly all accounts, a tremendous year for Pop. Of course, given the nearly limitless ways new music can be offered out and streamed, this is true for any given year. There are never bad years for music, just as there are never bad years for movies, the only difficulty is perhaps the opposite; the extreme over-abundance of riches and the difficulty to stream all, or even a reasonable percentage of it. Meaning, I’m presenting a huge list this year because I listened to a lot, being blessed to work at a job where hours are spent working with headphones affixed in my ears for long passages. Thus, I got to well over 250 new releases this year, and sampled dozens more enough that I could make judgement. But still I know there are masterpieces that I haven’t even heard of, and probably never will. Such is life, but I do hope I offer enough of an argument to prompt listens to new music that a reader here wasn’t previously aware. I remain, as ever, a devoted follower in the Church of the Sonic Guitar.

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My Top 113 Television Productions

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When I was asked years ago to rank television, I attempted my best to contain all the TV works I’d seen, finally putting it here for records sake. While 113 is a strange number to land on, it was just what I considered the ones I’ve seen that I’d say approach masterful, or at least highly entertaining status. So grab your TV dinners, turn off the hot plate, and enjoy!

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2018 in music, my favorite 90 records

I tweak how I present my top 50 every year, sometimes picking a top disc and then offering the next dozen or so unranked. Other years I merely put the 50 selections in three tiers, and then separate out a definitive, standout top 5. Sometimes, I’m straightforward, and do a full 50-1 ranking in the best order I can manage. In attempt to always mirror what I feel is most appropriate given the years output, this year, I’ve found a clear top favorite, but also a number of terrific EPs. Thus I’ve included many EPs this year in an otherwise strictly albums list. The additional twist this year is I’ve gone all the way to 90, since I listened to so much new stuff this year, and attempted to include most of what I thought was truly exemplary. Then, I tried to thanklessly rank it all, knowing full well that after about 10 or 20 it’s all pretty arbitrary, and I hope that the small right ups will provide enough information for listeners to potentially hone into stuff they might find particularly agreeable.   

Happy listening. Protect your ear drums boys and girls, you only get one set.

My Favorite Album of the Year, 2018:

1. IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance
Merely attacking toxic masculinity is low-hanging fruit, but discussing its systemic roots in song is altogether more illuminating. But why IDLES second is so tremendous is that they also offer ways out, or refuge for the victims of such an environment. That it is often heartbreakingly touching and always at the cusp of noisy, brilliantly performed rock n’ roll music, it was places it at the top of my list. The best songs—the pro-immigration ‘Danny Nedelko’, the depression lifeline ‘Samaritans’, the tense ‘Colossus’, and the body image drenched ‘Television’—are some of the best of the year, and after their triumphant display on their Jools Holland introduction, you’re in for the next of the great English rock bands. They’re here.  Continue reading

Wolf of the Steppes

 

This Halloween season, I’m happy to unveil a mix outlining a story about a man/wolf hybrid, otherwise loosely know in Horror as the Werewolf. I grafted in the idea that this man perhaps isn’t an actual Wolf, but merely symbolically one, not unlike the idea at the center of Herman Hesse’s great metaphysical novel Steppenwolf. The idea that inside a man is his darkest monster, and when this is the truth, it often renders that man an ultimate loner, not unlike the wolf of the Steppes, an arctic wolf that lives its entire life in virtual solitude, merely attempting to survive into the next day (the species can be seen in one of those recent Planet Earth videos on Netflix). From there, some of the ideas in Universal’s 1941 The Wolf Man added additional heft. While I love the foggy moors of Wales depicted in that film, I thought of a swamp here and the imagery conveyed offer a cool idea of a wolfen-man oarsman drifting into the marshes and swamps of ‘Southern Georgia’ and pushing bodies overboard, tied with rocks and engine manifolds to that they sink to the dark abyss. It adds to the delusion of his mental state too, sung so romantically you almost think he mourns the losing of loves, never realizing that they’re being lost by his own hands. For additional story flow help, an audiobook of Steppenwolf was employed. I hope you enjoy it this spooky season, and as always, with the stereo quality, I urge listeners to use headphones.  Continue reading

Songs I Love: Who Makes the Nazis?

I’d commented earlier to a friend upon being shocked at hearing the news of Mark E. Smith of the Fall’s passing that at least, living into 2018 and seeing the world’s truly fucked up global political events of 2017, that we could take solace knowing that he’d seen his query posited on 1982’s Hex Enduction Hour’s ‘Who Makes the Nazis?’ answered. Of course, you listen to the song, and you quickly get that he already knew this, and the question was rather rhetorical. Of course he did, he was maybe the greatest intellectual rock has ever seen. RIP.

Who makes the nazis?
Who makes the nazis?
I’ll tell ya who makes the nazis
All the Os
Wino
Spermo
29 year old
Arse-licking hate old
Who makes the Nazis?
Bad Tele-V
Who makes the Nazis?
etcetera.

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Awake and Scheming

 

This mix, in its original form, started as a mere concept to show the beauty of Pop music that is purposefully arty and outwardly beautiful; the type of stuff that the form has really sought to do on a few remarkable occasions (the 1966-1967 sunshine era, the mid-1980’s jangle period, and the early 90’s post-modern boom). It started when I noticed the remarkable similarity in a melodic motif in Chad & Jeremy’s ‘The Cruel War’ (an outtake from Before and After that is listed as being from Chad and Jill Steuart) and Sagittarius’ ‘Would You Like to Go’ from 1967 (from one of the great Pop lps ever made, Present Tense). From there it was just a very loose playlist, something I’d add to every time I heard something I thought highly artful, but poppy. Then, after a few listens, a bunch of lyrical references pointed me in the direction of day and night and a concept emerged, the most repurposed idea in all of Pop: that there are conflicting natures, and artists often represent them similarity. Hopeful happiness is painted with imagery towards light and darkness sitting in for depressive melancholia. What if the mix was a Pop journey through literal darkness, a night spent tossing and turning in bed listening to a still, quiet city or township outside in complete stillness, only connected, if at all, in the minds of those who have psychosis wandering about in insomnia-induced states. The playlist then becomes where the beauty in Pop music comes from: the deep black nights of the mind and those that have optimism enough to provide the lamplight with which to brighten the shadowy recesses. At a few points you’re even able to see the passage of time in references to the slow moving alarm clock numbers. It’s then, in equal measure, the most depressive and optimistic playlist I’ve ever made. Or, in the words of a song selected here, ‘For I have the warmth of the sun/within me at night’. Continue reading