Thursday, December 31, 2020

My Album of the Year for 2020, and Some Others, Also Good

Fuzz - III

Fuzz III


The weird thing about 2019 for me was that I didn't even hear my favorite album of the year until the end of December. That was poor timing on Duster's part as far as I'm concerned, because they didn't release their swirly, spacy, spacious, ethereal, unexpected third album until the 13th of the 12th*.

The weird thing about 2020, of course, had nothing to do with my favorite album. Good years to compare 2020 to occurred well before my birth, or even the dawn of rock 'n' roll, years like 1347, or 1666, or 1918.. Nevertheless, it is a true fact that I didn't hear my favorite album of 2020 until December, either. And this time, it wasn't because the band didn't release it 'til then. Fuzz III actually came out in October, and somehow, despite my having spent the last four years in wild enthusiasms for their first two, I missed the new one for six or seven weeks.

I was actually looking for an Oh Sees record when I went to In the Red Records' website earlier this month, but that was damned near forgotten when I saw that the mighty Fuzz had reconvened, and released the results of their sessions.

And the album is as great as I'd expected. It maybe doesn't totally remind me of early Blue Cheer the way the first one especially did, but it's still very heavy, especially compared to the thin competition in the field of non-metal heavy music,, and the first track "Returning" is probably their best song ever.

Drummer Ty Segall is a force like Homme or Reznor, a musician whose next project always draws interest, so I can't really figure out why people and publications around the web aren't as excited about this third joint as I am.

Other albums I purchased in 2020 include:

Enslaved - Utgard
Louder called it # 42 on their list of best 50 for the year. With their mix of Scandinavian Black metal, traditional Germanic sounds, and proggy flourishes, there remains no-one in the world who sound quite like this band. I buy everything they put out, and always enjoy.

Maserati - Enter the Mirror
Didn't like this one as much as I might have hoped, "Post-rock with Eurodisco accents" being a microgenre that I maybe could have done without.

Thurston Moore - By the Fire
In which the former noise orchestra cog and no-wave mastermind plays at being guitar hero, to sometimes very nice effect.

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts V: Together

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts VI: Locusts
Of course I didn't buy this one, or the one just above, as Mssrs. Reznor and Ross made them available for free, so thanks for that, guys. Volumes five and six didn't have the textural complexity of the first four, but the fact that they were specifically and deliberately recorded and released in response to the Coronavirus will give them resonance moving forward, that even some of the better albums of the year might lose, I think.

Osees - Protean Threat
I'd guess that John Dwyer, as brilliant as he is, will never make a coherent album. You can turn that into a positive--no genre can contain him!--but their allovertheplacedness has at least thus far been an issue in my appreciation of his many and varied projects.

Pallbearer - Forgotten Days
A hideous cover belies the music inside, which in its own prog-doom way reaches the heights of their first record.

Protomartyr - Ultimate Success Today
Protomartyr - Ultimate Success Today
Slant's 43rd best record of the year, and Paste's 32nd, but I have no idea why no-one else mentioned this. This band, noisy and literary and spacious, is always great, and if pushed, I'd probably say this was my second-favorite of the go-round concluding today.

Solstafir - Endless Twilight Of Codependent Love
It might seem incongruous to foremostly say "beautiful packaging," but man, beautiful packaging.

Rick Wakeman - The Red Planet
While including it in their top 50, Louder noted how it "harks back to prog's halcyon days." Sounds good to me.

Neil Young - Homegrown
Significant. With moments of true weirdness. And very very good.


*That's a Wire reference, by the slimmest of margins.(return)