2020 has been a strange and difficult year for most people, but that hasn’t stopped the release of some truly fantastic music. As we near the close of this tumultuous and trying year, here are the 20 albums that have resonated the most with me in 2020.
Sour Cherry Bell (Kranky) is the second full-length release from New Orleans-based artist Melissa Guion, who releases music under the moniker MJ Guider. It primarily deals in atmosphere. Guion uses heavily processed electronic textures, often drenched in thick treacle-like reverb, to create moody and evocative soundscapes. There are synthetic drum sounds, but this is certainly not dance music. The emotion-laden washy chord sequences recall the 1980s “Gothic” music and perhaps the “shoegaze” that followed in its footsteps, but this is music that doesn’t fit neatly into any category. Many of the sound-worlds have a lush warmth which lends them a meditative quality, but there is also an unsettling element of tension, as though dissonance and harmony are in competition with each other. Guion’s voice is tender and graceful and with it, she weaves flowing melodies. But the voice is often intentionally distant – buried in the mix and concealed by long reverb tails. It feels as though Guion has intentionally engineered a situation where opposing elements battle it out for dominance. These songs could have been presented in a radio-friendly indie package, but instead, the melodies and words only just lift their heads above the walls of noise that encase them. It takes audacity and boldness to attempt this sort of approach which flouts so many of the accepted rules of composition and music production. It seems that Guion was pushing the boundaries of her creativity and her tools: “I was curious to see how far I could go with them, even if that meant reaching the ends of their capacity to do what I wanted.”Continue reading
Roadburnhad a landmark festival in 2019, and they continue to share full audio streams of sets from bands. Among the performances that went going live today from RB2019 are Thou (acoustic and Magus-era), Lingua Ignota, Henrik Palm, MJ Guider, Louise Lemón, Thor & Friends, Grails, Wolvennest, Bliss Signal and the Seven That Spells album trilogy shows. Teaming up with their partner VPRO 3voor12, Holland’s major cultural network, they bring you these full concert streams in all their glory. As has become tradition, with the invaluable help of Marcel Van De Vondervoort (Torture Garden Studio) and his team, you are now able to relive or uncover some true highlights from the Roadburn vaults.Continue reading
Thou kicks off a huge slate of west coast tour dates tonight riding high on another prolific year of incredible new music with five new releases in 2018 (I Have Become Your Pupil (Split with The Hirs Collective), The House Primordial, Inconsolable,Rhea Sylvia and Magus. The band is hitting the road with MJ Guider, and other like-minded bands like Lingua Ignota, Blood Incantation, Many Blessings, Euth and more followed by more midwest and east coast dates in 2019, a residency at Roadburn 2019, and much more next year. Among the current tour dates will be special “quiet” dates where the band doesn’t quite play unplugged, but chilled out is a good description. Don’t miss your chance to see one of the most vital bands in all of heavy music perform live in your town. Continue reading
Prolific southern heavy music chameleons Thou have booked a new string of tour dates covering Mexico, the west coast, and the south-east of the US. Some of these shows will be acoustic and some will be more typical with MJ Guider providing direct support on some of the dates. The band just released their stellar new album Magus (Gilead Media), and three other EP’s, and now have a new 12” split LP with Ragana, which is streaming now! Continue reading