A lot of you will be familiar with Matt and Simon with their time behind the desk at Tangled Parrot, so I’d like to introduce myself: I’m Rich (the new guy), I make stupid videos for the shop every Saturday and currently work in my favourite place in the world.
So here are my top ten releases of the year, but I would like to shout out these as well: Dragged Into Sunlight Terminal Aggressor II; Quelle Chris & Chris Keys Innocent Country 2; Dragunov Arkhipov, ShitKid 20/20 ShitKid; Deftones Ohms; Run The Jewels RTJ4; Bib’s Delux; Elysian Fields Transcience of Life and Gwenifer Raymond’s Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain. Enjoyed those a lot too.
I also have a 2020 playlist on Spotify that contains a favourite track per release I've heard this year, as well as non-album singles (favourite of the year was easily Lealani's cover of Mangchi's Blu Masheen)
10. MOLCHAT DOMA – Monument
: Post-punk/New Wave
This band was a new discovery early this year when I was introduced to their album “Этажи” (translated: “Floors”) and was instantly in love with their palpable 80’s post-punk/new wave sound – it’s as if they only have access to equipment from that era. So it’s no surprise they entered the Sacred Bones roster too.
With “Monument”, it brings up similar emotions to The Cure’s “Seventeen Seconds”. Although Molchat Doma are no strangers to nihilistic bangers, this just has a particular careless feeling that seduces you into its smokey basement club of dim strobe lights and monochrome figures.
9. VIAGRA BOYS – Common Sense
Genre: Noise Rock/Alternative Rock/Punk
Although an EP, I feel like this needed to be here. Even though they’re still relatively new, Viagra Boys have put together a decent catalogue of releases and have yet to release ANYTHING that hasn’t met a consistent high standard of creativity.
The “Common Sense” EP is no different and my favourite track, Blue, might just be their first ballad (done in true VB fashion). Along with two new tracks since, this just makes my ears salivate for more curiosities from the group. Shrimptech Enterprises forever.
Favourite tracks: Blue, Lick the Bag, Common Sense.
8. PUBLIC MEMORY – Ripped Apparition
This is just an album I can just lose myself in, moody yet sensual electronic pop that feels/sounds like experiencing a break-up in a sophisticated strip club – not that I know what that's like.
It just has that perfect ratio of seduction and darkness that I love in my electronica, and Toher's androgynous vocals only furthers the mystique of it all.
Favourite tracks: Butcher, Düsseldorf Witch Hat, Epigone.
7. DARK BUDDHA RISING – Mathreyata
: Doom Metal/Drone
Dark Buddha Rising is one of those bands I know I always enjoy but never seem to listen to often enough. They’ve managed a string of solid releases over the years, but it seems like this one has had the biggest impact on me.
For me, this is like the band took the Oranssi Pazuzu approach to the sound of their last album, embracing an almost carnival-like menace alongside huge grooves. “Mathreyata” was actually closer to what I was expecting from the latest Pazuzu, despite the two covering different corners in extreme metal.
Favourite tracks: Nagathma, Mahathgata II, Sunyaga.
6. BLACK TAFFY – Opal Wand
: Electronica/Ambient/Instrumental Hip-hop
Last year Black Taffy’s “Elder Mantis” made my top albums of the year, and he does it again with this one. I just end up being drawn back time and time again to the sampled mists of broken-sounding Classical and Eastern instruments while sleepy beats and pillowed synths carry you along.
There’s not much more to say than that, I just listened to it a shitload very easily.
Favourite tracks: And They Saw, Snow Fantasie, Cardinal Advice.
5. NINE INCH NAILS – Ghosts V: Together
Last Christmas, my right cheekbone was crushed and collapsed into my skull, after a few days I went into hospital and had two metal plates put in. During that morphine night in the hospital, I listened to two things over and over: a post-metal playlist and NIN’s 2008 album “Ghosts I-IV”. It was a perfect mix for the time.
So it was an odd feeling when NIN surprised with another ambient double-album counterpart, “Ghosts V: Together” and “Ghosts VI: Locusts”, with very little warning. Whereas “Ghosts I-IV” were like completed ideas, these two contain much longer tracks that resonate in the same way as Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s soundtracks do. This is the one I went back to more.
Favourite tracks: Hope We Can Again, Your Touch, Letting Go While Holding On.
4. YVES TUMOR – Heaven To A Tortured Mind
: Experimental Pop/Funk/Electronic
Waw, what a fucking album. I only got into Yves Tumor after repeated recommendations, sunk my teeth into “Safe in the Hands of Love” and didn’t let go for MONTHS. After that, I felt ready to move onto their 2020 release and was not disappointed.
Although the opener for their previous album showed promise of magnificent and monumental bangers, the album was more experimental and playful with soundscapes. Here, we get a futuristic band led by Yves that’s set on hitting you with huge funky anthems from space. It feels like we’re getting to see just one of many dimensions to come.
Favourite tracks: Gospel for a New Century, Super Stars, Romanticist.
3. DEANTONI PARKS & CHRIS HUNT – Lightlike
During the first UK lockdown, Brainfeeder started doing livestreams on Twitch with sets by close friends and its roster, whether they were live or DJing. One of those broadcasts resulted in this album: a performance by the boundary-pushing drummer Deantoni Parks and musician/filmmaker Chris Hunt.
With a very basic setup, in the dark with only one strobe light to illuminate, the duo surge through just under an hour of growling and throbbing basslines devouring time as Parks locks and evolves through earworm grooves, almost guiding the aforementioned beast.
You can catch glimpses of the performance in this trailer.
Favourite tracks: I. A Scrim Across, V. Ur Presurgery, III. Lightlike Murmuring.
2. ULCERATE – Stare Into Death and Be Still
: Technical Death/Doom/Black Metal
Oh god, I love Ulcerate. Since “Vermis”, they’ve become a personal favourite in extreme metal, a trio so tapped in and talented that they’re almost the musical equivalent of a well-disciplined army, every single move feels precise and particular.
I was slightly disappointed by “Shrines of Paralysis”, but this erased any doubts I had on the first listen. On here, while retaining the technical prowess the band’s known for, it feels like the emotional aspect is more prominent here, possibly even more so than “Vermis”, with the album feeling like a soundtrack for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Favourite tracks: Dissolved Orders, Drawn Into the Next Void, Stare Into Death and Be Still.
1. SUBDUED – Over The Hills And Far Away
I got into this and these when I saw the record in the punk section of the shop. A politically-charged black and white collage cover with an etched band logo was always going to catch my eye there. Eventually I got round to listening to it and was surprised.
It’s hard to believe anyone could sound like they were genuinely transported from the time of Crass, The Exploited and Rudimentary Peni – but here we are. Subdued brings a fresh breath of life in punk for our generation, giving us the excitement that those previous bands did for the anarcho-punks of the 80s.
Favourite tracks: Death Or Lies, The Joke, Wander In The Dark.