Written for The Argo by Katherine River Sage
DISCLAIMER: These recommendations are entirely my own. I received no compensation from any of the artists mentioned, I just want to promote some good music from this garbage year that you might otherwise not hear about.
Having said that, let’s get into the list!
- IDLES: “Ultra Mono” LP ( Partisan Records; released 9/25/20) – The latest from Bristol, UK, punk rock heavyweights IDLES proves that punk is not dead, and not even a global pandemic can kill its spirit. There are some biting critiques of sexism, racism, homophobia, gentrification, nationalism, and toxic masculinity that may seem obvious and easy at first-listen, but these critiques are as accurate at this current moment as they’ve ever been, and it’s refreshing to hear a band taking a clear position on these matters, rather than being wishy-washy or just giving non-statements in the guise of activism. You can buy/stream the album, or get some cool IDLES merch HERE.
- Party Dozen: “Pray For Party Dozen” LP (Grupo; released 5/22/20) – On their Bandcamp page, Party Dozen describe themselves as “… a project loosely based around improvisation.” There’s definitely some free jazz influence in places, but there are other points where they sound like a doom metal band with saxophones. It’s absolutely disgusting and heavy and AMAZING!! Stream/buy it HERE.
- Sharhabil Ahmed: “The King of Sudanese Jazz” LP (Habibi Funk Records; released 7/10/20) – This archival release from Habibi Funk compiles 7 awesome songs from the catalog of Sharhabil Ahmed, a Sudanese guitarist, oud player, singer, and songwriter. Ahmed was most active during the 60’s, mixing rock and jazz instrumentation with traditional Sudanese scales and Arabic lyrics. Ahmedi is an incredibly important and influential musician in North/East Africa, and now we can all hear why. Stream/buy the album HERE.
- Tommy McGee: “I’m A Stranger” 2XLP (Numero Group, released 5/8/20) – Another archival release here, this time from one of the best labels around, Numero Group. In keeping with their mission, Numero has once again uncovered and released an obscure artist that we may not have known otherwise. Tommy McGee was a soul singer from Michigan, who was most active during the 60’s and 70’s. This double album compiles all of his work, from his first recorded music with his band, The TMG’s, to his later solo work, which gets downright funky! If you’re a fan of Al Green, you’ll enjoy this, as McGee was discovered and produced by Palmer James, who wrote for, produced for, and promoted Al Green early on. You can buy the album physically or digitally HERE, and stream it HERE.
- Xylitol: “I’m Pretty Sure I Would Know If Reality Were Fundamentally Different Than I Perceive It To Be” EP (Thrilling Living; released 9/4/20) – Standing in stark contrast to its long title, this new six song EP from Pacific Northwest punks Xylitol is only around 7 minutes long. The bio on their label’s Bandcamp page touts front woman LORD GOAT (yes, LORD GOAT, all caps and everything) as “one of the greatest punk lyricists of all time.” I can’t say I disagree after listening to this. Her lyrics are topical, abrasive, honest, and perfectly encapsulate this often-frustrating moment we’re currently living in. If you like your punk rock fast, loud, and in your face, this EP is for you! You can buy/stream it HERE.