1. What are your top five albums that were released in 2020? (In order 1-5)
I pretty much gave up on trying to keep up with the release schedule outside of potential podcast guests for Lamniformes Radio and releases from friends, so the new releases outside of that circle that I have checked out are hardly representative of the music that came out this year. I’m sure I’m missing stuff, but here are some records I really, really liked.
- Sawayama by Rina Sawayama
- Underneath by Code Orange
- Splid by Kvelertak
- Ghosts V: Together by Nine Inch Nails
- Descendants of Cain by Ka
This is also excluding any artists that I interview on my podcast, conflict of interest, etc.
2. What band did you discover in 2020 (can be a brand new band or an older band) that had an impact on your life? What made them significant?
I didn’t “discover” them this year, but after Neal Peart passed I spent the early part of the year listening to a fuck load of Rush. Did you know that “Subdivisions” rules? You probably did.
But that was back in January when I thought 2020 would be one way. Turns out it was the other way.
When it comes to the pandemic part of 2020, the memory that will stick with me is hearing The Style Council’s Our Favourite Shop for the first time. I woke up hungover, angry as hell, and scrambling to start up my remote desktop to work from home. While throwing together breakfast I picked Our Favourite Shop at random from my list of recommended music. As it turns out leftist sophisti-pop was exactly what I needed. It was just as angry as I was, but had the good sense to dress that anger up in a suit and comb its hair first. Later in the year when the protest movements sprung up around the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor I released a cover of “A Stone’s Throw Away” to raise money for bail funds. Maybe once live shows can happen again I can get a full Lamniformes version of “Walls Come Tumblin’ Down” going.
3. How will you remember 2020? (In terms of music)
2020 will be the year musicians were forced to figure out how to exist in the live streaming ecosystem and how to develop income streams that weren’t relying on touring or playing live indoors. What I’ve seen is a lot more Patreons, shifts towards podcasting and video content, and flashy collaborative work that allows musicians to pool their audiences. The actual music itself hasn’t changed significantly from where I’m standing.
4. What can we look forward to from you in 2021?
I’m working on a new full-length record and putting the finishing touches on a remix record. Lamniformes Radio will keep chugging along, hopefully at a more consistent pace, and I’ll keep experimenting with Lamniformes Cuneiform on Substack as well. Maybe some live performances if this country gets its act together.
5. What records are you looking forward to most in 2021?
I have no idea what’s coming down the pipe to be honest. Surprise me, 2021!
6. Trying to put a positive spin on things, what is your favorite development from the global pandemic this year? (Is there a new medium you enjoy, a specific song or collaboration, personal news, etc. that was a bright spot?)
Hmm. I’m hesitant to say that any of the positives in the year stem from the global pandemic itself, and weighing any of the good things that have happened to me this year against a quarter of a million dead Americans would be tasteless to say the least.
Instead, let’s give credit where it's due. I got really into Thomas Pynchon, re-dedicated myself to working out regularly, sharpened my critical thinking by watching a lot of Rick Roderick lectures and related philosophy video essays, which in turn has had a positive effect on my own writing. I’ve watched a lot more older movies on the Criterion Channel, something I may not have done if I could go to the theater on a regular basis. Again, this is all a hill of beans in the face of mass death. But crucially, and I really want to hammer this home, the pandemic didn’t do this to me, I did this despite the pandemic. The same goes for anything else positive that happened this year. You did it, not the pandemic.
Outside of the personal, I’m very happy that Bandcamp Friday’s seem to have reawakened the music scene’s desire to create consumption models outside of streaming. The icing on the cake is that many musicians have in turn used this resurgence in paying for music to direct funds toward social justice causes. I hope we as a community can keep finding ways to support each other and make music sustainably.