Features Music Year End 2020 Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2020)

Year End 2020

Music: Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2020)

Overall list (16-30)

16

Spanish Love Songs

Brave Faces Everyone

Pure Noise

At their core, Spanish Love Songs is emotional, personal and, frankly, melodramatic as all get out. Brave Faces Everyone isn’t a collection of songs, it’s a collection of anthems about struggling to pay the bills and struggling to get by emotionally. It’s about facing demons – not conquering them, but managing them enough to survive. It’s epic but with a punk energy and undercurrent: a firm stance amid the struggle. It’s powerful stuff that will speak wonders to a lot of people. Personally, it’s enjoyable and hits hard, but the drama level makes it best suited to certain moods. (Loren)

17

Dropdead

Dropdead

Armageddon Label

Having paved the wave for a new generation of extreme hardcore acts, combining metallic influences and grid methodologies with a punk ethos, Dropdead return 22 years after their latest full-length. In their third album only chaos prevails as short bursts of angst and purpose erupt through their trademark, extravagant aggression, their no-bullshit attitude and a take no prisoners mentality. (Spyros)

18

Napalm Death

Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism

Century Media

Very few acts pass the test of times, but these grind legends, the pioneers of a genre have kept all their releases on an extremely high level. Napalm Death have become a standard of how an act can perfect their craft, drawing abundant strength from their grindcore and death metal core, while at the same time exploring without reservation their industrial and off-kilter side. (Spyros)

19

Sial

Tari Pemusnah Kuasa

La Vida Es Un Mus

Cathartic hardcore is the name of the game here. This band channels their aggression through a slightly melodic lense. The record is over before you know it, which is the only downside. After listening to this record I always feel tranquil, which is funny considering the blunt aggression and screamed vocals. (Dennis)

20

Yuri Gagarin

The Outskirts Of Reality

Kommun 2, Sound Effect Records

It's funny how some bands can take you on a mental trip through the galaxy without uttering a single word. Yuri Gagarin is one such band. And boy, do they know their craft. This truly is music to explore alien planets to. (Dennis)

21

Ulver

Flowers of Evil

House of Mythology

It’s no secret that Ulver have long since moved on from their black metal past and while the Norwegians have firmly left the harsh, cold winters behind, their music still moves in less than positive circles – at least when it comes to the subject matter. The Ulver of 2020 plays in the pantheon of synth-driven pop, however, the lyrical approach is decidedly less upbeat than the music would suggest. Flowers of Evil is a dark record that is housed within a shimmering orb of sound. One should not forget about the horrors of the past or those that are occurring right now and Ulver are using historical texts and events, art and literature to pull their ideas together – that the world will crumble under the gaze of those in power yet we are the ones who must pick up the pieces. (Cheryl)

22

Regarde

The Blue And You

Epidemic Records/Through Love Records

Regarde play the kind of emo that I listened to for a short period of time when I studied. I was a bit tired of metal at that time and emo was exactly what I needed then. Bands like Further Seems Forever and The Juliana Theory still hold a special place in my heart. And this is the exact corner of the universe where Regarde operates. This record has proven itself to be addictive. I am enchanted by the nuanced melodic emo. Lots of playtime is too follow on the short term and on the long term as well, no doubt. I highly recommend you to check them out! (Dennis)

23

Lamp Of Murmuur

Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism

Death Kvlt Productions

Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism is as exciting as it is dense; the first track “Of Infernal Passion And Aberrations” is a synth-laden, bombastic introduction to the album and Lamp Of Murmuur weave blackened groove into the fabric of the song, twisting the tempo on a whim and inserting noticeable bass-lines in order to fully push forward the melody. Vocals are, of course, slightly held back in the mix to give that shadowy atmosphere a boost but the voice is still a strong element. Songs that speak of the night and being drawn to the mysticism of the moon, the glamour of death and the call of darkness – Lamp Of Murmuur can be taken to be an extension of the artist’s mind and as such the music is deeply personal. (Cheryl)

24

Drain

California Cursed

Revelation

Drain got snapped up by legendary hardcore label Revelation Records after their fun-filled boogie board mayhem at Sound and Fury 2019 sealed the deal for their label rep. With this many guitar solos and double bass drums, I wouldn’t call this “straightforward ’80s hardcore” as I’ve seen it described -- I don’t mean to split hairs and take away from how much I enjoy Drain, I’d just prefer to define it from my own perspective. I would relish the opportunity to get punched in the face while stagediving to “California Cursed,” which perfectly closes the album, ending with a fade-out of crashing waves and a warped sample of the surf rock classic “California Sun,” a song long co-opted for local ads for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I’m willing to be shown otherwise, but this is an instant classic for me. (Campbell)

25

The Avalanches

We Will Always Love You

Modular

Wildflower didn’t really do it for me, as much as I wanted it to, particularly after the ridiculous prep time of some 16 years. We Will Always Love You, on the other hand, released late in 2020, for me marked a return to the joyous and wondrously inventive type of music featured on this sample-heavy Australian group's seminal Since I Left You. The most fun listening experience I had in 2020... and we could all use some fun right about now. (Andy)

26

Jaga Jazzist

Pyramid

Brainfeeder

This Norwegian eight piece is their first self-produced offering in a career spanning decades, and just as essential as their other jazz/fusion releases. Four "symphonies" make up the album, and closer "Apex" melds synths, dance and 180-degree turns in a riot of sound. (Matt)

27

Ditches

Ditches

Drunken Sailor

Am I going to be able to review this record without comparing Ditches to Marked Men? Clearly not, but I made it 14 words. This debut album from Stockholm’s Ditches bears a lot of similarity to that band. Given how good that band was, I’m not sure that’s a knock against them. Besides the sonic similarities, the record was also recorded and mixed by Jeff Burke (including a couple of guest vocal cameos) too, so it’s kind of a family thing. This self-titled debut features 11-songs of that familiar vein of garage/pop/punk. It’s crisp, clean and hyper-melodic. It’s also sugar-fueled and high adrenaline; the kind of power pop that is played so fiercely that it actually has heart. You can damn near see the blood on their fingers from playing so hard, but it’s soothing and friendly at the same time. (Loren)

28

The Other

Haunted

Drakkar Entertainment

Like most bands who have a career this long, The Other have figured out who they are and what they want to sound like. It has been a long and awesome ride ever since. The band is not walking radically new paths, but I don’t think I want them to that. I want more records like this! Will The Other win over new fiends with this record? Probably not. Have they released an album of the year contender? Yes they did! (Dennis)

29

Imperial Triumphant

Alphaville

Century Media

A rip-roaring tour through black metal and jazz fusion, covering incredible musical virtuosity and daring—even deranged—songwriting technique. Unconventionak, experimental and even beautiful. (Matt)

30

Owen

The Avalanche

Polyvinyl

Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc, American Football reunion -- if we really need to reset the stage this much on Mike Kinsella, then this might not be the place for you. The Chicago legend’s solo acoustic project Owen has garnered a dazzling cult following for half a generation, often feeling more like an elusive myth than a real person. He’s an absurdly talented multi-instrumentalist who can come off like Will Hunting, apathetic about the true gifts he possesses and occasionally displaying minimal interest in it at all. But that’s part of his appeal, as his fans obsess and pine over his work that he does as a side note, and it’s because he doesn’t care about fandom as a concept, not because he refuses to make music. If you’re oversaturated with Owen, I can’t promise you that this record will change your mind. But if you’ve fallen out of favor, this is the album that will draw you back in, even if it takes a few rounds to work yourself into it. For what it’s worth, I can’t get these songs out of my head, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. (Campbell)

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Words by the SPB team on Dec. 21, 2020, 6:21 a.m.

2020 photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2020)

Posted on Dec. 21, 2020, 6:21 a.m.

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Pages in this feature:

  1. Overall list (16-30)
  2. Individual staff lists
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