2020 certainly has been a thing but as you’ve probably been able to tell by reading my blog for the last few weeks, it’s been a GOOD thing for your humble narrator. With that said, it fills me with great joy to be bringing you my 5-5-5 lists again this year after taking a year off. This is a three-part series where I follow in the footsteps of some of my favorite music blogs and present my favorite music of the year. This is going to be broken down into three parts — 5 favorite new releases of 2020, 5 favorite NOT new releases that I rocked hard in 2020 and 5 songs I made my eardrums bleed with — both new and old — in 2020. With a few close calls worth mentioning, I’ve chosen to provide a few honorable mentions per post as well.
All three sets, as per usual, are in no particular order.
This is part 2 of 3.
TOP 5 OLD RELEASES OF 2020
Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Release Date: August 30, 2019
My Favorite Tracks: Norman Fucking Rockwell!; Mariners Apartment Complex; Venice Bitch
I’ll admit, when NFR was released last year, I was a little afraid. I preordered the record on vinyl (of course) and was a little horrified to see the cover depicting so much color, a comic-book-esque new logo and not only another person on the cover but *GASP* a MAN!?!?!? What’s going on with you, Lana? I asked her, rhetorically of course. But when I dropped the needle and heard the opening lines of the title track, I knew everyting was okay. Another classic filled with hit after hit after hit; An awesome followup to her previous record Lust for Life. My year-end Spotify report indicated that I listened to Lana for 1,683 minutes in 2020 and I believe it. I loved this record when it came out back in August of last year but I didn’t dive deeply into it until January or so. Since then I’ve been obsessed with the angelic voice that comes out of my speakers — that same voice that made me fall in love on Paradise, that motivated me to be a better man on Born to Die, that gave me a somewhat dark-happiness on Ultraviolence, that sang me to sleep on Honeymoon and inspired me on Lust for Life. I literally went from being skeptical about the record to playing it nonstop because it now has what may be my favorite Lana song of all time (more on that tomorrow).
DREAMCAR – DREAMCAR
Release Date: May 12, 2017
My Favorite Tracks: After I Confessed; Kill for Candy; All of the Dead Girls
Boy was I sleeping … Earlier this year I randomly came across drummer Adrian Young’s Instagram account and saw in his bio that he was promoting his most-famous band No Doubt but also a band called DREAMCAR. I’ve always admired Adrian as a musician so I checked them out. Really unique, yet classic, New Wave … and is that Tony Kanal and Tom Dumont, both also of No Doubt? So basically No Doubt playing New Wave Pop, I can dig it. But why do I recognize this weirdo lead singer’s voice? BECAUSE IT’S DAVY FUCKING HAVOK OF AFI. What an unreal supergroup! And what a pleasure to listen to! I listened to the lead single Kill for Candy several times before deciding I needed to support the band by buying a copy of their record. Their label was the only place selling the album on vinyl and it was only $10!?!? Are you even serious!? After placing my order and celebrating the major bargain I’d found on a record by this “new” band … I realized this record came out THREE YEARS AGO. Where the hell have I been? If I were to ever be given an award based on missing out on something for too long, it would be because of this album.
Van Halen – Women and Children First
Release Date: March 26, 1980
My Favorite Tracks: And the Cradle Will Rock; Loss of Control; Everybody Wants Some!
COVID-19 killing hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions around the world was 2020’s biggest disaster second only to the passing of the great Eddie Van Halen. I hadn’t been hit that hard by the death of a rock star … maybe ever. My Toastmasters group mourned his loss as part of our meeting, every band on the planet expressed condolences on their social, tribute songs — even full sets — were performed by bands around the world and the influence of EVH was recounted worldwide. Every guitar player ever was in some way inspired by his work. I, like so many others, took a deep dive into the Van Halen discography while I tried to come to grips with the fact that one of the greatest guitar players of all time had left our world. The time spent spinning CD after CD, record after record, stream after stream, led to my newfound appreciation for Women and Children First. By the way, Have you seen Junior’s grades?
Misfits – Static Age
Release Date: February 27, 1996
My Favorite Tracks: Bullet; Hybrid Moments; Some Kind of Hate
Something I did this year for the first time ever was perform punk rock concerts live on Facebook from my tainted townhouse. I think I did five shows over the course of four weeks where I played five punk rock songs on my acoustic guitar for my friends. My one rule I had for the performances was that each night had to include a Misfits song and over the course of those four weeks I played She, Hybrid Moments, Last Caress and American Psycho. 3/4 of those come from this record. And just like every year I’ve ever done this, Static Age remains on the list of favorite old releases and will likely stay there until the end of time.
Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Release Date: March 29, 2019
My Favorite Tracks: Bad Guy; When the Party’s Over; My Strange Addiction
Wow — Another amazing artist I’ve been sleeping on. When Katie and I went on our first date, we ended up at her place watching heavy metal music videos on YouTube (dream girl much?). It was this night, however, that I was introduced to Billie Eilish. I was familiar with her name but not her music — and in fact, I unfairly didn’t give her a chance because all I knew about her was that she had freaky hair and played the ukelele. Apparently made playing that idiotic instrument super hip as well. Regardless, Katie played me Bad Guy and When The Party’s Over that night and I was hooked. THE VERY NEXT DAY I picked up a Target exclusive copy of this record on vinyl and it glows in the dark. I now look forward to hearing all of her work. More things that Katie turned me onto coming tomorrow.