Honorable Mention 2020

@@@ Deena Abdelwahad: Dakar EP (N/A, 2020) There are four tracks on this EP and tracks 3 and 4 are full on electronic Middle Eastern dancefloor banging. Pretty epic melodies over colliding and three dimensional rhythms, it’s the shit as far as I’m concerned.

@@@ Venomous Concept: Politics Versus the Erection (Venomous Concept, 2020) First off great name for an album. A piquant blend of punk, metal, and even some post rock. Excellent excellent dirty ass bass lines, the singer traffics mostly in anger but also touches of desperation. You could bounce a nickel off the ass of this record, it’s that tight.

@@@ Flor do Toloache: Indestructible (Self-released, 2019) Awfully lush, female driven Mexican music for people with jobs who throw nice dinner parties with Sonos audio systems! You know, the elites. But don’t blame the musicians they’re just flying their flag! The sounds and the singing here are exquisite.

@@@ Stormlight: Natoma (David Norman, 2020) The drummer steals the show, followed by the guitar player on this admirable fusion of post-rock, emo, and hard rock. I’m not sure why I’m not a huge fan of the singer but it’s a matter of personal preference and these gents do rock mucho sophisticato. Especially the drummer.

@@@ Santrofi: Alewa (Outhere, 2020) This record just barely missed my best of 2020 list. There’s some incredible guitar playing as well as band playing but I was left wanting just a little bit more. It’s a very very good record but it doesn’t quite compare to Guy One’s #1 record in energy for example. That record is a gold standard for me.

@@@ Jonsi: Shiver (Krunk, 2020) This is a pretty intense listen with some breathtaking moments and others not quite so much, but Jonsi does an admirable job of evoking the epicness of Sigur Ros while using electronic sounds. He’s a very talented sound designer and arranger if he made this whole record himself. I found the fifth tune which has an Icelandic garble title to be one of the most transcendant tunes.

@@@ Shy One: Unreleased Instrumentals 2011 (Self-released, 2011) These instrumentals by a black female electronic musician from London really work for me. She gets into a compelling mix of dancefloor funk, trippy sonics in the right spots, arranging skills, and musicality. The tunes are pretty unpretentious on the surface but I find them very sophisticated and engaging. Start with Immense Mystery Involved and go from there, she hammers that nail.

@@@ Muqata’a: Inkanakuntu (SOUK, 2018) Take the hip hop looping and grooving and smash it into Palestinian/Middle Eastern melodies and rhythms. All instrumental with stretches of a fully integrated world music.

@@@ Chezidek: Hello Africa (Tad’s, 2020) Though he rocks a tad sickly sweet pop reggae flow in place he brings it on track 3, March, a protest reggae track that kills it. Also big ups for Because I’m Black and the last track Runaway from Jah.

@@@ Yves Jarvis: Sundry Rock Song Stock (Anti, 2020) If you take the Crosby, Stills and Nash vocal harmonizing thing and mix it with some space rock, and a bit of hippie rock and a wee bit of electro you get this record. It has a pleasantly narcotic effect without collapsing into all the various hippie ass bullshit.

@@@ Protomartyr: Ultimate Success Today (Domino, 2020) Bits of the Clash, a little bit of Captain Beefheart, some storytelling all wrapped up in nice Brit rock production. Off kilter but still very accessible it does well to balance some rock muscle with concepts. Very good drummer well presented here.

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