Walking out the venue door, boots sticking to the ground covered with beer. It’s the last thing I can remember. My ears were still ringing as I took out my plugs and tossed them into the trash. A whiff of fresh cold air struck my exhausted and aching body, luckily I had my leather jacket ready as I exited the building. My roommate and I exchanged words and walked half a block to my car, ready for our 3-hour + ride home. The drive was filled with adrenaline, octane blasts, and black coffee. This was my final concert trip of 2020…
Now in the middle of December 2020, I am DESPERATLY wanting to go back to concerts. That last concert was in March 2020 with Cult of Luna, Emma Ruth Rundle, and Intronaut, some of my favorite post-metal, folk, progressive metal (respectively) acts out there. More shows were planned and tickets were purchased to at least two more concerts for that year with many more to come. I usually go to about 10 to 15 every year. But with the lockdown and many bands that I enjoy (rightfully) staying safe, it’s given a new appreciation for listening to music at home.
Although I haven’t listened to as much new music as I had hoped this year, there are currently five albums that I would love to bring your current attention to consider. Now fair warning, I love music from all ends of the spectrum (although I have a slight disposition for the extreme). These albums and artists cover a wide range of genres from experimental hip-hop to luscious country to blackgaze (black metal mixed with shoegaze) and much more. Enough of my strange genre descriptions, let’s jump into the albums in no particular order:
Show Me A Dinosaur – Plantgazer (December 4, 2020)
This band’s name had my head turning, I seriously thought that they may be an emo/punk outfit. I was DEAD wrong. It is a four-piece from Russia that thread that beautiful line between chaos and order. Show Me A Dinosaur play a distinct combination of black metal and shoegaze that blend gorgeously, akin to Deafheaven’s Sunbather (2014) with a slight lean into gaze. The album opens up with the uplifting “Sunflower” that flows in-and-out of that lackadaisical afternoon you may have been in prior to listening. Much as the album name of Plantgazer suggests, the concept of the record places one in the forefront of a situation where isolation meets a sunny day filled with your only company being plants. There’s no way to head outside, so the only life you have around you are your green companions. Fascinating abstraction and duality to our current living situation. If you enjoy harsh sonic shrieks and gentle melodies that drift you away to another world, then this album is for you.
Clipping. – Visions of Bodies Being Burned (October 23, 2020)
Horror and rap, all masked up like Ghostface from Scream (1996). I must warn the reader (listener?) about this one, as it dives deep into experimental hip-hop, which even I needed to adapt to for true enjoyment. Ever since I have heard “Say the Name,” I CANNOT STOP singing “Candle sticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned…” it has encroached into my psyche. Experimental hip-hop is not something that is new to me, as I was indoctrinated in 2012 with Death Grip’s Money Store, but I haven’t been hooked into that twisted world in ages. But once I knew that actor Daveed Diggs, who blew me away in Blindspotting (2018), was the MC, I was hooked even further. Give this one a spin, if you enjoy the stranger things in life.
Honey Harper – Starmaker (March 6, 2020)
I had no idea that I would have my second coming of being-stunned-by-country-music moments, so soon. Kacey Musgraves absolutely blew me AWAY back in 2018 with Golden Hour, and I haven’t looked at modern country the same way since. There has been some solid outputs from Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, and much slept on Adam Faucett, but along came Honey Harper to pull me back. This dreamy cosmic dive into a melancholic-filled world, is an absolute delight of the senses. My favorite tracks include, “In Light of Us,” “Suzuki Dreams,” and “Strawberry Lite,” but the whole album is the journey you desire. Trust me it’s as sweet as honey.
Ichiko Aoba – Windswept Adan (December 2, 2020)
Okay…how to explain Aoba’s music? Honestly, I can’t. I had an amalgamation of Bjork, Joanna Newsom, and Timbre all wrapped up in my head, but Aoba is incredibly unique. It may be hard to describer her music, but I can tell you exactly where and when I listened to this album, and the emotions that washed over me like a calm monsoon.
I drove in a light drizzle through a park that I’ve visited countless times in the past few months. Each trip a transition of the season, seeming to last years. My head was clear and my eyes gazed upon the stillness of the trees, the movement of the water, and the drifting of the dark clouds throughout the hour. I could have stayed there forever, but I know life goes on past those moments of clarity. If you want to be carried away and relax for awhile, do yourself a favor and give her a listen.
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full (October 30, 2020)
My most consistently played record of the past month and one that gives me goosebumps each and every time. Blending the ethereal dark-folk world of Emma Ruth Rundle (who I had last seen live in March!) and the crushing doom-ridden riffs of Thou, we see two worlds that certainly should NOT belong together. It’s quiet, it’s loud, and it’s something that grips you upon first sitting. Albeit not for the faint of heart, it is a rewarding listen for those brave enough to delve deep. Pure artistry bundled together in ambience and metal. 🤘
There are many other albums that I have been listening to from past to present, but I will leave you with five current albums on my rotation. 2021 is right around the corner, and HOPEFULLY, so are concerts. I can’t wait to walk through those venue doors with my black boots stepping on beer-stained floors, earplugs snug in my ear, and a leather jacket wrapped around my body.
What are some albums from 2020 that are on your radar? What are your favorites from 2020? What are the bands/albums you’ve been listening to lately?
Thanks for reading, I’m not Jonesing around 😉