December 28, 2020

HCTF's best of 2020 (20-16)

HCTF's annual list of the 20 albums that will be in regular rotation for many years to come. As per usual many genres are represented. This blog covers a lot of ground and it shows in this eclectic, final tally.

Today: countdown from number 20 to 16.

Please shop at your local record store. Most of them have a website where you can order your stuff. Buy directly from the artist, attend live shows when it's safe to do so again. Educate your friends. Word-of-mouth can't be beat as the prime source to discover new music.

Middle Blue: Weird Funk in Small Bars

20 HMLTD: West of Eden

Remember parties? Just before the pandemic hit a London art-rock quintet let rip in earnest while having a whale of a time.

Over the top glam-rock, post-punk, dance, vaudeville and psych-pop are clamoring for a place in the spotlights in a carefully sequenced bunch of tracks: the Devil popping up in all his guises, hedonism, dressing up for a night on the town and celebrating life like there is no tomorrow. Eccentricity as a guiding light and haters be damned. Not Paradise Lost, but paradise right fucking now, as the world's balance of powers is changing and drifting off to uncharted waters.

» Full review

Middle Blue: Weird Funk in Small Bars

19 Combo Qazam: Flight Music

Dutch indie quartet write their own rules (and break them when they want to).

Pigeonholing their sound is next to impossible - try post-retro progressive Krautrock. They write songs about physics, predatory birds, the shallowness of social media, the godfather of Communism, and the sound of firearms. While they have cast their net far and wide really wide for the lyrics, the music itself is free-flowing, pushed forward by shifting, yet consistent, propulsive rhythms.

» Full review

Middle Blue: Weird Funk in Small Bars

18 It's Karma It's Cool: Woke Up In Hollywood

Swing, ska and swagger playing catch. Smart power pop never goes out of style.

Power pop as a genre is about jangling guitars, playing catch with the vocals and James Styring nasal delivery serves as a counterpoint for the sunny side up sound of the 6 and 12-string guitars. Being English they could not resist to sneak in a bit of Ska and brass into New Age Eve, making it a hybrid of genres that is pretty damn catchy.

» Full review

Middle Blue: Weird Funk in Small Bars

17 Labasheeda: Status Seeking

Rambling noisy art-punk goodness from Amsterdam.

Raw tenderness is captured in a hectic, but melodic, maze of music. Lead singer Saskia van der Giessen glides up and down the scales, improvising her parts as the band keeps throwing curve balls, with guitarist Arne Wolfswinkel acting as both Thurston Moore and Joey Santiago. Fans of the Au Pairs, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the Sugarcubes can pick this up before hearing a single note.

» Full review

Middle Blue: Weird Funk in Small Bars

16 Sothiac & Paul Jolly: Superluna

Late night, meandering avant-garde. Sweet dreams are made of this.

Based on drones, floating wordless vocals and free-jazz they conjure up the dark blue indigo of the night, with a giant moon as the sole source of light. It is a hauntingly beautiful piece of avant-garde that should be experienced using a pair of top of the line headphones in one, undisturbed sitting.

» Full review

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