Spanish Love Songs
(Seb Painchaud, the main man behind the Montréal band Tumbleweed Dealer, has very expansive and eclectic musical tastes, which is one reason why for five years in a row we’ve asked him to share a year-end list with us. He did that for 2020 (here), but as explained below he has found some other (mainly non-metal) 2020 releases he wants to recommend.)
As you might have noticed reading my year-end list, I wasn’t in a very good place mentally when I wrote it. Reflecting upon such a shitty year amidst attempts to make holiday plans around the pandemic and knowing the disappointment that was in store for my kid made what is usually the highlight of my year turn into a chore. Even the wife remarked that I’m usually in a great mood afterward and looking forward to it being published, when this year I seemed to power through it like a chore and be happy to just have it done with. I did, and I was.
Seasonal depression had met OCD-induced anxiety and they both basked in my negative outlook as I tried to find something good to say about anything that happened in the last twelve months.
The year itself, other than the plague-filled mess it became, was also a reaction to a 2019 spent scouring new releases where I honestly just wanted to jam some familiar classics. The year-end lists filled me with dread rather than glee, and that was just one more thing that COVID had taken away from me. I gotta admit, I didn’t put in the time I usually do to compile the list, and just didn’t listen to as much new music as I did in previous years.
After a beginning of 2021 spent ignoring all recent albums and basking in nostalgia, my passion for seeking out new stuff has returned, and I’m now realizing 2020 had some damn good releases I just plain slept on. Some I missed completely, some I passed on after too quick of a listen, and some just didn’t click at the time.
So here are 10 albums I slept on last year that you need to check out:
bdrmm – Bedroom
The shoegaze album I usually have in every year’s list arrived just a little too late for me. It’s fairly typical yet takes a bit of every gaze-adjacent subgenre like post-punk, post-rock, and indie rock, and shoves it through an MBV/Ride nostalgic echo chamber filter and achieves the desired dreamy effect.
EYELET – The Devil Shining Out Your Eyes
Take the low-down dirty heaviness of sludge and give it a dose of screamo’s raw emotions. It’s both depressing and disgusting. It’s quite literally, sad shit.
Accidente – Caníbal
Spanish skater punk with attitude and balls yet catchy as fuck and beautiful female vocals. Unique mix. It’s halfway between NOFX and proper old-school punk. Love the way her voice soars over the bass-driven, mostly mid-paced, bang-your-fist beats. Had I discovered it during the year, this would’ve clearly made my top 10.
Grrrl Gang – Here to stay!
For some reason, this didn’t hit me last year when I tried it, but their new 2021 single had me going back for a second try and I was kicking myself in the ass for passing on ’em the first time around. Yogyakarta, Indonesia isn’t in the US midwest but they definitely capture the indie rock spirit of that region. If you liked Beach Bunny, and fucking know I did, this is a more retro version of the same sound.
Mildlife – Automatic
Had I known last year these guys were releasing an album I would’ve prepared a spot in my top 20 for them before even hearing it, but their new release flew under my radar. If we’ve ever discussed music, then you know of my love of Camel’s first five records. These guys took the jazzy canterbury meets classic prog vibe of Camel’s Rain Dances album and ran with it on their first releases. A formula that couldn’t help but win me over. On this new one, they added a healthy helping of disco, giving it an upbeat yet sooky vibe while being silky smooth in it’s execution. This is contentment made into sound. Kind of music that gives you a slight smirk as you nod your head to it.
Mora Prokaza – By Chance
I had heard their ‘Check It’ single and actually enjoyed their wacky brand of black metal meets hip hop but forgot to follow up and ever listen to the full-length. When I finally did this year, I realized it actually has depth and goes beyond just the gimmicky meeting of two opposing genres. They infuse some Belarusian folk and some tasteful Ulver-esque moments in there. Don’t let the video fool you (but if you haven’t seen it then please do!) this is some serious, well-written stuff.
Omnipotent Youth Society – Inside the Cable Temple
This Chinese band plays a unique blend of genres. Imagine the instrumentation of pompous bands like Arcade Fire but played with the cool bad-ass attitude of prime The National, and then drench the whole thing in a delicious post-rock sauce and sprinkle some experimentation on top.
It’s not what you’d expect from a band of that region, and that just makes it more awesome, like the time I had the best burger of my life in a little diner in the Czech Republic!
Sial – Tari Pemusnah Kuasa
Hardcore Punk from Singapore. They have the high-piched, pissed-off, bad-ass female vocalist with balls and crusty vibes to match Helsinki’s Kohti Tuhoa (I’m still kicking myself for not incuding their Ihmisen Kasvot album on my 2019 list) as my favorites in the genre right now. Another great release from the LA VIDA ES UN MUS DISCOS label.
Thanya Iyer – KIND
Indie folk pop of the epic variety. Reminds me of Cosmo Sheldrake (Never heard of him? Look up his 2018 release The Much Much How How And I and thank me later) Didn’t know she was a local artist for me until after I fell in love with this album. If you like jazzy, laid-back, but well-written songs with a wide range of instruments, then this is for you.
Spanish Love Songs – Brave Faces Everyone
This should’ve been number one on my list. Album of the year, hands down. It failed to win me over when I gave one song half a try, but I think that was at the peak of my bitterness and it was just too beautiful for me to take in. To reduce it to just pop-punk is missing the point. Rarely has music been this relatable.