Features Music Year End 2020 Pass The Mic: Artists and labels on 2020

Year End 2020

Music: Pass The Mic: Artists and labels on 2020

Nato Coles & the Blue Diamond Band (Nato Coles)

1. What are your top five albums that were released in 2020? (In order 1-5)

Hmm. I can't put them in order. But I'll say:

  • Mikey Erg - Waxbuilt Castles (an XTC/Elvis Costello-esque masterpiece)
  • Constant Insult - History In Shorthand (perfect Minneapolis power-pop punk)
  • Painted Zeros - When You Found Forever (cool indie-punk from Brooklyn, NY)
  • Bob Mould - Blue Hearts (some guy, I don't know much about him, but I hear he's got quite a following!)

And last but certainly not least, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - Letter To You.

It's his best record since Magic. Easily. And Magic was his best record since Born In The USA. These are facts and not up for debate.

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?

Two: Keith Secola and Lydia Mendoza.

Lydia Mendoza was a very popular Texan Mexican-American singer, songwriter, and guitar player. She became popular in Tejano music circles in the years preceding World War 2, and remained so with her audience throughout the latter part of the 20th century. For me, her most interesting work is that which she did in the first couple decades of her career, it's Spanish language "cosmic American music," usually just vocal and guitar.

Keith Secola is generally regarded as one of the heavyweights of "Native Americana" music -- his song "NDN Kar" is his signature, and is consistently one of the most-requested songs on Native American radio. He's from Cook, Minnesota, located north of the Iron Range, and is ethnically Ojibwe. To me, he seems very Neil Young & Crazy Horse-influenced. I listened to Circles a lot during the unrest following the murder of George Floyd, and despite the stress of those times, somehow Circles had a soothing, anodyne effect when I would put it on the turntable. I'll never forget that.

3. How will you remember 2020? (In terms of music)

As the year nobody could tour or hardly play shows, especially bands who put out perhaps their best album at the end of 2019 (ahem). And the fourth year of me not hearing much anti-Trump administration "great punk rock" that so many people made mostly-dull jokes about the inevitability of back in 2016 and 2017.

4. What can we look forward to from you in 2021?

We've been practicing and we've been recording. The new songs are sounding good, we think. In 2021, we'll play them for you! I can't wait to get back to playing shows. Maybe even put them together as a record of some kind. I'm still too old-fashioned to want to release things online only, but perhaps 2021 will be the year I reassess that.

5. What records are you looking forward to most in 2021?

I'm not aware of anybody who's got anything exciting to look for in 2021. I wish I was! I blame the lack of bands touring and playing shows for this, mostly. I think lots of bands aren't even practicing.

I hope some of the other people who answer these questions point me in a cool direction.

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?)

I had been going through a terrible writers' block since from the time we recorded Flyover. I don't think I wrote a single complete new song in 2018 or 2019. None worth anything, anyway. Ironically, two weeks before the pandemic lockdown in March began, suddenly the songs began to flow again. There doesn't really seem to be a theme in style or lyrics, either. Writing and inspiration are so mysterious sometimes.

I guess there's one more thing. This past summer, our cat died, my wife Sara had her since before she met me. That was very sad. But then the house seemed too empty without a cat around (despite the fact that we have two dogs), so we got a new cat -- and she's been wonderful. Very vocal, completely unintimidated by the dogs, and always, always hungry. FEED ME!

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Words by Loren on Dec. 13, 2020, 11:25 a.m.

Main photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

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Pass The Mic: Artists and labels on 2020

Posted by Loren on Dec. 13, 2020, 11:25 a.m.

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Pages in this feature:

  1. A-F Records / Nightmarathons (Chris Stowe)
  2. Asbestos Worker (Josh Stever)
  3. Attic Salt (Skip Davis)
  4. Black Dots (Wade Henderson - guitar/yelling)
  5. Body Stuff (Curran Reynolds)
  6. Bootblacks (Barrett Hiatt)
  7. Bothers (John Massel)
  8. Broadway Calls (Ty Vaughn - guitar/vocals)
  9. Burnt Tapes (Phil LaTour)
  10. City Of Industry (Ossa Humilata)
  11. Cloud Rat (Rorik Brooks)
  12. Primitive Teeth (Christine)
  13. Days N Daze / Escape from the ZOO / Chad Hates George (Jesse Sendejas)
  14. DC-Jam Records (Darron Hemann)
  15. Deaf Club (Brian Amalfitano)
  16. Dirt Cult Records / Low Culture (Chris Mason)
  17. Divided Heaven (Jeff Berman)
  18. Foxfires (Josh Lyford)
  19. Heart and Lung
  20. Iron Lung Records (Jensen)
  21. Lamniformes
  22. Locrian / The Holy Circle / Axebreaker (Terence Hannum)
  23. MakeWar (Edwin)
  24. Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band (Nato Coles)
  25. Neighborhood Brats (George Rager)
  26. Netherlands (Timo Ellis)
  27. Old Ghosts (Derek)
  28. Partial Traces (Brad Lokkesmoe)
  29. Quattracenta (Andrea - drums)
  30. Real Numbers (Eli Hansen)
  31. Red Fiction / Secret Chiefs 3 / Estradasphere (Jason Schimmel)
  32. Red Scare Industries (Tobias Jeg)
  33. Reptoid (Jordan Sobolew)
  34. Salinas Records / Quaker Wedding (Marco Reosti)
  35. Sam Russo
  36. Scuba Cop
  37. Secret Fun Club (Sal Gallegos III)
  38. SpiritWorld (Stu Folsom)
  39. Sutekh Hexen / In Solace Publishing (Kevin Gan Yuen)
  40. The Carvels NYC (Lynne Von Pang)
  41. The Path (Jon Berg)
  42. The Pretty Flowers (Noah Green)
  43. Tibetan Sky Burial
  44. To Live A Lie Records / Tired Of Everything (Will Butler)
  45. Western Addiction (Jason Hall)
  46. Strangelight (Nat Coghlan)
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Series: Year End 2020

Our wrap-up of the best music and more for the year we'll all want to otherwise forget, 2020.

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