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 Waltz — Rebel 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.
Bad Nerves — Self-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.
Worst Horse — Self-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.