With 2020 stumbling to the finish line, let’s focus on something to look forward to in 2021: In April, Jakob Mind will release his debut The One That Got Away on Lövely Records. Jakob Mind is a new solo project by Jakob Arvidsson from Sweden, who you may know from garagepunks Rotten Mind, or the pretty awesome Undertonesque poppunk band Real Tears. Currently, Jakob has leaked two songs of the album, watch and listen below. These songs are fast, melodic, and insanely catchy. Hope they make you as curious about the rest of the record as I am.
I am a sucker for year-end lists. They help uncover releases I missed, artists I overlooked, and curators worth following. I equally love the process of creating my own lists. There is an instrinsic value and joy in revisiting and reflecting on the records that come out each year. It offers a reminder that some records take time to appreciate, while others’ immediate appeal ultimately proved to be short-lived. One noticable trend in this streaming age is that artists release a crazy amount of great songs, whereas their albums often fail to live up to that promise. Quite a lot of my favorite songs of the year were on releases I left out my top 50. This top 50 celebrates the art of great collections of songs, records I own, records that are on my wantlist,records I’ve played and enjoyed front to back. What about those great individual songs? I will share my favorites in a playlist before the year is over (Update: I made two). I will also publish a list of my favorite singles (7″, digital) and EP’s of 2020 next week (Update: it’s here). And, of course, don’t forget to check out Dennis’ favorite records of 2020.
Ok, less talk, more rock. Below you’ll find my favorite records of the year. Mostly punk, garage, powerpop, rock-‘n’-roll, indiepop and indierock releases. I’ve added short descriptions of what I love about each record, and sample songs and video’s. If you like what you hear, just click on the album title and AddToWantlist. Oh yeah, and for you streamers out there, there’s a playlist with my favorite song of each record at the bottom of this post. Let’s go!
Add to Wantlist is all about finding that next musthave record for (y)our collection. There are of course many ways to achieve this. We all have trusted record labels, record stores, music blogs, reviewers and playlist curators. With Gimme 5! we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like, share 5 records THEY love. Sometimes this will be all time-favorites, but the top 5 can also be more genre-, scene-, theme- or region-specific.
To kick things off, we asked our new favorite Argentinian punk band Fievre to introduce us into a scene that, in all honesty, is unknown territory to us. Fievre singer Chelo (left on photo above) was so kind to share his 5 essential Argentinian punk records. Click below to see it. Chelo added words and video’s to his favorite song off each record. We added Discogs links to enable easy adding to your wantlist – which I already did for four out of five of the releases on this list. Thanks Chelo!
OK, let’s start with the obligatory cliché intro text. The only good thing about 2020 was that by being at home more often you could listen to even more music and for those who want to hear it, enough good music has been made. Since January I have checked out 1,100+ new albums. Sometimes after half a minute I knew it wasn’t for me, sometimes I just couldn’t get enough. No doubt I missed a few things that I should not have missed, but right now this is what it is. And it doesn’t really matter either. Music lists are by definition debatable, because they say something about taste and taste is personal. What follows does not really say anything about quality, but simply reflects what I have played and enjoyed the most. In my list guitars and distinctive voices predominate, it’s mostly rock orientated (alternative, garage, jangle, roots, post-punk, …) plus a little bit of soul, with both debuting bands and old rockers with renewed energy who could have been their grandfather. It turns out that 2020 was not that bad at all!
Remember Third Wave Ska, the grandchild of the genre that originated in Jamaica in the ’60’s, bred on a steady diet of punkrock, trumpets and trombones? Remember Reel Big Fish? Less than Jake? Dance Hall Crashers? The Mighty Mighty Bosstones? For a short window in the second half of the nineties, ska was kind of a big deal. Major labels signed the bands, MTV played the video’s, bands sold out the shows, and kids bought the cd’s…or downloaded the tunes. And just as sudden, ska disappeared from the limelight and returned to its natural state: the underground.
Funded by a kickstart campaign, Pick It Up documents this period. It’s all there: the sound, the dance moves, the clothing, the challenging group dynamics of touring with a band of eight human beings instead of the standard three or four, and the cognitive dissonance associated with selling out – or lack thereof. It’s a fun thowback to the heydays of 90’s ska, with many of the main players featured. To be honest, not all of these bands hold up as well, but there are plenty of ska comps and bands that I still enjoy (Bosstones! Hepcat!). I have sweet memories of seeing a lot of these bands live, even though I was more into (hardcore)punk. For a little while, ska made the punk scene more fun and diverse, it made school band geeks cool (well, sort of…), and like comedian Benji Aflalo says in the film: “skankin is so mechanically easy, it gave every awkward kid a chance to move.”
Pick It Up is a documentary very much about nineties ska, though it’s respectful to its history- there is a short animated feature section on ska’s roots narrated by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, that is an absolute treat. In the end, this is a fun and well executed documentary, and a must watch if you were part of that scene or a fan of 90’s alternative music.
Add to wantlist: Skamovie
The Sweatys released two demo’s in 2020: Warm Up and Stretch. Because why make yourself an easy google search, right? I know nothing about this band, but I hope to hear more. They play fast and raucous punk, and show quite the potential. Check out my favorite song of each demo below.
Add to wantlist: Bandcamp
I’ve been thinking about Lookout! Records quite a lot this year. It’s probably because I finally read Larry Livermore’s fascinating account of the rise and fall of the legendary Bay Area pop punk label. Of course, there was Pavid Vermin’s excellent tribute to the infamous Lookout! comps. There were several compilations and reissues of classic Lookout! bands as well, including Mr. T Experience, Groovie Ghoulies, and that hard to get first Donnas LP. And then there are the new acts who are clearly inspired by the classic Lookout! sound. Case in point: Teenage Woman. It’s a sideproject by Grath Madden (Steinways, House Boat), with Miranda Taylor (Full of Fancy) on vocals. They just released a sweet three song single that would fit perfectly on Lookout’s nineties roster. Check out the one-minute I Feel Fine, and see if you agree.
Lookout! Records is dead. Long live Lookout! Records.
Add to Wantlist: Bandcamp
Early 1987, The Ramones played their first ever show in Argentina. Now, almost 34 years later, we still reap its rewards. Fievre, from Buenos Aires, are clearly ‘Ramoneros,’ and their new selftitled record consists of twelve instant bubblegum punk classics. From album standout La vía es bella to No sos como yo, an awesome cover of the Muffs’ Not like me, Fievre clearly wants you to pogo your way through Covid-19.
Add to wantlist: Bandcamp (name your price download)
Australia and New Zealand have become a hotbed for a lot of today’s best punk acts, with Amyl and the Sniffers, Dennis Cometti, the Chats and Stiff Richards. The Cavemen are cut from the same mold. Their 2019 record Night after Night comes highly recommended. On their latest single Euthanise Me, they blister through 4 classic punk tracks in less than 8 minutes. High intensity, plenty of melody.