Archive for January 3rd, 2020

It was, by nearly all accounts, a tremendous year for Pop. Of course, given the nearly limitless ways new music can be offered out and streamed, this is true for any given year. There are never bad years for music, just as there are never bad years for movies, the only difficulty is perhaps the opposite; the extreme over-abundance of riches and the difficulty to stream all, or even a reasonable percentage of it. Meaning, I’m presenting a huge list this year because I listened to a lot, being blessed to work at a job where hours are spent working with headphones affixed in my ears for long passages. Thus, I got to well over 250 new releases this year, and sampled dozens more enough that I could make judgement. But still I know there are masterpieces that I haven’t even heard of, and probably never will. Such is life, but I do hope I offer enough of an argument to prompt listens to new music that a reader here wasn’t previously aware. I remain, as ever, a devoted follower in the Church of the Sonic Guitar.

Today, I’ll present a straight up list, 101-150 with no additional write-ups and 51-100 with small capsule like reviews. From there on Monday, will be 50-26, with the Top 25 appearing on Tuesday, with the write-ups growing the closer we get to the pole position. Happy listening.


51. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
There is a riff about 1:28 seconds into ‘The Giza Power Plant’ that rolls for the next half minute or so that goes a long way in describing Blood Incantation’s newest sonic assault. They’re a death metal band, but at their base is a throwback thrash riff band from the 1980s, grounding all the mysticism and atmospheric brooding in a real human element. It’s power that drives Metal you see, and after about 3 minutes of ‘Inner Paths (To Outer Space)’ it’s just this gale force that cuts through the ambient meander.


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by Sam Juliano

Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas in my hair
A home for fleas, (yeah) a hive to bees, (yeah) a nest for birds
There ain’t no words for the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it, long as God can grow it, my hair.      -The Cowsills, 1969

The “norm” in the classic Twilight Zone episode “Eye of the Beholder” are humans with contorted ape-like faces who in the narrative’s central deceit promise to help a beautiful blonde woman via facial surgery to drastically alter her appearance to match their own.  Similarly, the two irreverent sixties sitcoms The Munsters and The Addams Family played the same game to the hilt subverting perception of ordinary and grotesque.  The former show’s “Marilyn” character, a dream to any hot-blooded young man is to her immediate family of monsters a physical aberration to be pitied.  The same role reversal is at the heart of a fantastical picture book by Esme Shapiro titled Alma and the Beast, in which a wide-eyed hairy creature befriends a prim young girl wearing a yellow dress and cap.  Thematically and pictorially elements from The Secret Garden and Beauty and the Beast are discernible yet Shapiro is clearly attempting to coax her lower grade school students to never judge a book by its cover and that what we have been predisposed to label can often turn out to be quite the opposite.

The book’s maiden double page tapestry depicting a stone house in the woods a la the Brothers Grimm is a forest primeval defined by a hair stylist in a phantasmagorical realm.  From within we are introduced to “Alma” a single-toothed fur-ball with a markedly joyous disposition who rises from a bed of braided hair to brush her teeth and prepare the morning tea.  In a field where flowers and insects thrive harmoniously Alma treats her plumpooshkie butterfly to some butter-breakfast tulips after consuming one herself.   Then like a barber negotiating a fever dream she braids such rust colored trees, “combs” the grass (adults might recall the fairy tale about King Midas and his Golden Touch) and “pets” the roof – also constructed with hair which almost suggests that everything in this magical place came about after direct contact with Alma whose activities seem to resonate most when the days grow “chilly and pink.”  On this fateful day when cosmetic manicuring is performed at abandon Alma and her butterfly gazed on the strange appearance of a little beast who is beyond conspicuous in in a hamlet where bees create “strands of honey” in their fuzzy hives and fountains pour out “waves of hair.”  The little beast as incredulously titled as the eight year-old “monster” played by Billy Mumy in TZ’s “It’s a Good Life” is a young girl clad in yellow who is lost but far from panicking. (more…)

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