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Top 5 Album Releases Of 2020

2020 has been quite the odd year. During a normal time, I’d usually be doing more write ups, but this year has been a bit turbulent. There’s been an Earth stopping pandemic, protests, elections and more. The result of all of this has had a considerable effect on musicians, DJ’s, creatives and artists across the world. Not to mention the clubs and venues in which they performed in.

Indeed, there is no certainty for when life will return to a sense of pre-pandemic normalcy. Hopefully, the favorite haunts of memorable concerts will still be around, and there will be dance halls for those fond of the twist and pogo to congregate at again. Only time will tell.

However, despite these wild and unpredictable events, the music manages to live on. This year still saw releases by many notable artists. Almost too many to count. For 2020, I have chosen the records by Faz Waltz, Bad Nerves, The Speedways, Jacob T Skeen and Worst Horse as my top 5 releases for this year. Enjoy!

Faz WaltzRebel Kicks

Since 2007, Faz Waltz have been releasing hit maker records meant for another era. Each one of their new albums are tighter than the last. However, their 7th album Rebel Kicks is the Crème de la crème. Released on a pandemic ridden world this is music that uplifts and provides a much needed relief. Within this records grooves fans will hear the familiar influences of T-Rex  and David Bowie glam twisting the night away with late Beatles inspired rock n’ roll. Rebel Kick’s superbly demonstrates Faz Waltz’s maturing style and masterful pop-sensible hooks that makes their unique take on a 1970’s inspired rock n’ roll sound.

For the full review, click here!

Bad NervesSelf-Titled

Admittedly, I did not provide a write up for the Bad Nerves record. No doubt about it though, something about this record stuck like glue. Upon hearing the tracks on this release there is no shame by suggesting that it blew apart my rock n’ roll world.  These cats do what The Briefs did, but faster and with an impressively infectious intensity that few can dare match. This is the kind of music that jumping about like an idiot mixed up on a cocktail of formal one fuel is made for. If you like it was razer sharp riffs, high voltage vocals and of course electro-centric punk infused power pop, Bad Nerves are essential for you. Top tracks for consideration are “Baby Drummer,” “Can’t Be Mine,” and “Dreaming Boy.”

The Speedways Radio Sounds



NixBeat: What was the process like writing and recording Radio Sounds? How was it different than the work you did with Just Another Regular Summer?

Matthew: A fair few of the songs on Radio Sounds I’d already written around the time of Just Another Regular Summer. I also dug into my song book for older tunes like “This Aint A Radio Sound” and “Good Girls Don’t Break Hearts” ..then there were new songs that I wrote as a response to the first album – “In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young..,” “Daydreaming,” “Brown Eyes Look So Blue..,” “This Is About Girl Who Loves The Sun” etc.. So the writing process was more varied than the first record. Obviously with it being a full band this time there was a collaborative effort in terms of arrangement and individual parts which definitely gave the songs more of a band vibe than before. It’s much more satisfying as a song writer to hear other musicians play and interpret your stuff than to do everything yourself. It makes such a difference. Everyone contributed brilliantly in the studio too (including Jez who produced the album). I enjoyed making it & working with everyone. It turned out really well. A step up in quality for sure.

Jacob T Skeen Death, Thou Shalt Die

Listeners of this record ought to be warned that it is not uncommon to feel a staggering malevolence, as though the cold hand of death has drifted over your heart and into your soul.  The first track, “Elizabeth Felt Payne” captures this essence by luring the unwary listening into the depths of the demented. It’s defined by the wailing razor sharp riffs and Skeen’s booming vocals. This is distorted doom blues at its finest.

Read the full article here!

Worst HorseSelf-Titled

The album as a whole is a trip. It’s got the psychedelic notions that with under the right conditions will evoke a out of mind experience. Songs like “Let The Pain In” carry on the introspective nature that defines this work. It’s mellow, but subtly provoking. This is the same with the track “House of Bees.” Though in contrast, this song has more of the dissociated feel that is also found in Worst Horse.

For the full article click here!

Fast Eddy — Toofer One 7″

Fast Eddy

Toofer One

Spaghetty Town Records

Released 09/12/2019

Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Fast Eddy’s take on rock n’ roll with something meant for the fast and furious. They are comprised of members of Denver’s notable acts, such as Dirty Few and Itchy O. Their release of the Toofer One EP is a special treat that touches on a nostalgic sense of style. It’s the kind of stuff that harkens on sounds emanating from a 1970’s power pop driven classic rock n’ roll sound.

Fast Eddy’s Toofer One EP starts out strong with “Hurricane Alley.” This number emphasizes a nod toward 70’s classic rock through its rolling mid-tempo beat. Overall, it’s a slick and groovy number. It’s short and sweet, but entertaining.

The second track, “Milwaukee” starts off with a jumping beat and carries on with a bit more vocal depth. It’s a kind of nostalgic song with a strong build up to a chorus that is easy to follow. Under the right influence, listening and singing along to “Milwaukee” should inspire one to get out their zippo, light one up and exhibit some kumbaya feels.

The B-side of the Toofer One EP boasts the real charm.  The track is called “Lost.” It’s the track that shows how fast Fast Eddy can really go. Starting off, “Lost” shocks and awes it’s listeners with razor sharp riffs.  With “Lost,” Fast Eddy wastes little time in enveloping those who spin this record in a frantic notions of blitz-fast rock n’ roll. It’s probably meant to be played loud enough to invoke public citation warnings from the local goon squad. 

Fast Eddy’s Toofer One EP is solid for those who want sounds evolving past the simplicity of wild rock n’ roll. This record was produced by Dan Dixton and Tuk Smith (Biters) in Atlanta, Georgia.  Out of the three tracks, the B-Side’s fast and raucous “Lost” is my favorite. That being said, this is the kind of record that may grow on you after a few listens. When playing Fast Eddy for your mates, start with “Lost.” You might blow away expectations and then lull friends or foes to the infectious songs on this records A-side.

The Wead – By The Whey

Artist: The Wead
Album: “By The Whey 7”
Label: Slovenly Recordings
Released: 02 September 2016

Artifacts from the 1960’s are among the holiest of recordings to bare witness to. Compilations like Garage Punk Unknowns, Nuggets, Pebbles and Back from the Grave are the highly spoken of collections that provide a mandatory experience for listeners to wander into depths of a decade of innocence and authentic teenage rebellion. The sheer notion that another release of a sound that defined the teenage punk era could surface so soon after Back from the Grave volumes of 9 and 10 would seem rather naive and hopeful. However, straight out of left field, and for your ears only is The Wead.

Dig the full single review published by Heatwave Magazine!!

A WAILING OF A TOWN “AN ORAL HISTORY OF EARLY SAN PEDRO PUNK AND MORE” 1977-1985

FRONT_COVER

I’ve got to hand it to A Wailing Of A Town for providing the excellent and essential, detailed oral history of San Pedro’s contribution to punk. This book is filled with entertaining and sometimes conflicting accounts from those who were there during the formative years of punk rock like Mike Watt and D. Boon. The book explores the atmosphere of punk and hardcore during the beginning years. However, the main narrative that readers will find here is in the interviews that explore the intimate stories which surround the bands that put San Pedro on the map—most notably The Reactionaries and the Minutemen—as well as looking at the keen relationship the latter had with Black Flag.

Dig the full book review published @ SLUG Magazine!

REVIEW: THE WHEEL WORKERS – CITIZENS


The Wheel Workers
Citizens
ZenHill Records
Street: 05.25
The Wheel Workers = Joe Strummer and Mescaleros + Woody Guthrie

Generations of artists seeking to voice dissatisfaction with the status quo laid out a heritage of sociopolitical consciousness, and when they supercharge those nuances with the ferocity of rock n’ roll, it usually comes across with sheer brilliance.

Dig the full album review @ SLUG MAG!!

Going into the City: Portrait of a Critic as a Young Man


Robert Christgau
Dey Street Books
Street: 02.24

Robert Christgau, aka the “Dean of American Rock Critics,” has been commenting on pop culture for decades through published work in magazines like Esquire, Creem and The Village Voice. So, it is not surprising that his memoir would yield impressive stories about the golden eras of rock n’ roll that saw the rise of The Beatles, a fresh wave of bohemianism and even the birth of punk at CBGB’s.

Dig the full review @ SLUG Mag!

Review: Miscalculations – A View For Glass Eyes

Miscalculations= Wire+ The Cute Lepers+ The Gaggers+ Sharp Objects

There are many groups that sound too much alike and too many that lack that punk punchy angst-filled attitude that makes my blood boil into a creative rage. For me, Miscalculations are the much noted and needed exception. Sharp like a razorblade’s edge, the electro-punk quartet, the Miscalculations, are an electrifying field of distorted passionate fury of agitated post-punk brilliance.

Dig the full album review @ Heatwave Mag!!

REVIEW: JACCO GARDNER – HYPNOPHOBIA

Jacco Gardner
Hypnophobia
Polyvinyl
Street: 05.05
Jacco Gardner = Donovan + The Temples + The Nazz

There is something that is both beautifully infectious and provocatively captivating that defines a great psychedelic album, and Dutch producer/mutli-instrumentalist Jacco Gardener’s Hypnophobia delivers this and more.

Dig the full review @ SLUG MAG!!

REVIEW: THE REZILLOS – ZERO

The Rezillos
Zero
Metropolis Records
Street: 03.10
The Rezillos = The Revillos + The Boys


It’s about bloody time Scottish first-wave punk band, The Rezillos, released an album—and you know what? Even after about 37 years, Zero is proof that this band knows how to deliver with awesome, enthusiastic energy.

Read the full album review @SLUG MAG!!

REVIEW: BOB DYLAN – SHADOWS IN THE NIGHT

Bob Dylan
Shadows in the Night
Columbia Records
Street: 02.03
Bob Dylan = Bob Dylan


Bob Dylan’s 36th studio album is covers of Frank Sinatra pop standards—all chosen by Dylan. After spinning this, I have to wonder whether or not there are still signs of vitality in the genius of this artist or if it has packed up and left the building.

Read the whole review @SLUG MAG!!