Bob Short Filth, Blood & Roses, Dead Rabids, 4 Stooges, The Light Brigade et al Sydney, Australia
Twenty-twenty is a phrase used to demonstrate a standard of visual acuity. Providing a Top Ten list for the year of that name using normal standards of vision presents certain difficulties.
The harbinger of our civilization's downfall was, of course, the motion picture "Cats". This was a movie that spent its first hour-and-a-half introducing a series of characters played by celebrities in bad valley CGI mode licking themselves inappropriately whilst singing and dancing. Spoiler: It ends with the ritual suicide of the most downtrodden character by balloon.
Its similarity to the year it announced were too staggering to avoid. All year, we have been bombarded by celebrities entertaining (themselves) us from their living rooms in bad clothes and makeup whilst the poor and broken down die gasping for breath.
What stands out in the year that broke the world? And make no bones, the world is broken. Certainly, rock and roll is broken. It has been a long time coming but that bucket has been firmly kicked.
There has been illness for a while now. We've all been getting old. Most people stop adding new songs to their playlists in their early 20s. Some of us have kept our ears open much longer but that ultimately makes no difference. You could make the most stunning new music and no one would be there to listen. The old aren't interested in the new and the young aren't interested in the old.
"Pizza, Punks & Prophets" Barfly Top Ten 2020 Dean Darkloud of The Dark Clouds Wollongong, Australia (Anthony Mitchell photo)
“Rock n Roll ain’t dead. It just sounds a little different”
10. Wreckless Enterprise. Hats off to these two DIY Crazy Cats for doing what they do. With passion and intent, tirelessly flying the flag of creative support. 2020 saw them release, amongst other things the third instalment of their "Short Fuse" compilation series: 15 tracks, all under a minute jammed packed onto a 7” (or CD). It’s a punk rock smorgasbord.
Wreckless Enterprise: keeping the underground above ground. So, if it’s a home grown, all you can eat punk rock buffet that you are after; check out this blossoming grass roots label. "Short Fuse" we salute you!
9. Mike Foxall. The man behind the Art of Fox. You may know him as Inverted Crucifox, guitarist extraordinaire in Neptune Power Federation whom in my opinion are one of Australia's best modern live acts.
The Barman sent me a message asking some folks to tell us all about our 2020 top tens.
Apart from new recordings from the likes of Hugo Race, Velatine and Michael Plater, and the other few I've written about during the year, I've not been listening to a lot of music. Read a lot (including the three books I've reviewed here - the best three music books I've read this year), including a few Stephen King, Clark Ashton Smith, John Wyndham and a few books on plagues past and present.
But really. 2020, huh? What a trip. So many dead. Wept more than a few times myself - but hey, my life's a doddle by comparison to the misery of so many.
But hey! First, we got to see an utterly evil President of the United States trainwreck, taint (and generally fist-fuck with studded gloves) any world-wide respect the USA ever had. I don't use the term 'evil' lightly.
Apart from being genuinely narcissistic and wilfully ignorant, Papa Ubu took great delight in splitting the country into a condition very close to civil war, while being utterly unmoved by the hundreds of thousands who got ill, and the thousands who have died, of which he is a goodly part to blame. If you wrote a modern take on Pere Ubu, Trump would be your starting point.
Top 10 releases for 2020 Mark Fraser Wrtiter for Redback Rock and Vynil Records label honcho
Bad Dreems- “Doomsday Ballet” Snotty, raggedly beautiful, punkesque pop that's as honest as a day's work. One beautiful yellow and black splatter platter of endearing, edgy popnificence. Ten double plus!
Dune Rats - “Hurry up and Wait” The perfect blend of pop and punk, that’s as catchy as a case of COVID. On permanent rotation.
Gold Hearts- “Beach Butts” (single) The Gold Hearts' sounds are pure 60s wahine surf pop...wahoos and all. Gorgeous.
Lachlan Edwards- “Once More” (EP) From the very first, this is a total charmer. The title track is an instant creeper... gorgeous sparse guitar...semi-yearning vocals and cruisy riffs that crawl right on in.
Little Quirks - “Florence’s Town” (single) Gorgeous vocal harmonies...that folk tinged heart warming popestry...and songwriting skills that are way beyond their years.
1. Armored Saint - Punching The Sky My favorite metal band of 2020 was my favorite metal band in 1984…the mighty Armored Saint. This is their best in a decade and one of the best of their career. John Bush is the Paul Rodgers of metal, a swaggering bluesy beast over vintage yet modern power metal. I fucking love this band.
2. Kix - Midnight Dynamite Re-Lit Producer Beau Hill went back and stripped away all that bad ‘80s reverb and my favorite Kix album it sounds the like AC/DC meets Aerosmith album it always should have. And the demos are way cool, junior!
3. Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters The piano in the opening song “I Want You To Love Me” literally made me burst into tears when I first heard it. And every time since. Not kidding.
4. The City Kids - Things That Never Were Best OC Punk band Leeds ever produced! These guys got a Social Distortion by way of Backyard Babies vibe that just won’t quit.
5) It was inspiring to see Australian venues working creatively to keep live music afloat. As much a struggle as it was/is for venues, musicians, crew to keep afloat…..
6) "My Love for You" - The William Loveday Intention (album.) Will there ever be a day that you’re hung like a thief? Good ol Billy Childish rides again!
7) "Shadow Show" - Silhouettes (album). Girl group trio from Detroit- love their blend of '60s garage psychedelia with their own modern twist.
8) Chimers' debut single "Mono". A Wollongong two-piece - a husband and wife and good mates of mine - released a ripper debut single!
9) Fangin Felines weekend live analogue recording at The Pin Shed with Jez Player. Pinheads was a fun experience.
10) March 2020 with Fangin' Feliners supporting The Schizophonics at Lalalas & Marrickville Bowlo. These will forever be remembered as not only really fun shows (also with Los Tones, Drop Offs & DJ Rusty & Boonge) but our last live shows, pre COVID. Lockdowns occurred the week after.