Hoodoo Fushimi – “ケンカおやじ” (“Kenka Oyaji”) (1987 / 2021)

I knew nothing about Hoodoo Fushimi when I grabbed this on an impulse the other day over at Seattle’s Selector Records, and despite repeated enjoyable listens, I still don’t know anything about the man. And I think I kind of like it that way.

Stylistically this reminds me a bit of the 1980s On-U sound, a blend of hip hop, electronica, disco, and funk, with some electric guitar thrown in for good measure. Honestly I have no idea what section I’m going to put this in, but I better remember where it is, because it’s going to be getting a lot more plays (though it does look to be on Spotify, along with Fushimi’s 1992 album Kusaya).

Originally put out in 1987, ケンカおやじ got the re-release treatment earlier this year, and we should all thank the vinyl gods for that because original pressings sell for hundreds of dollars. I paid about $30 for my copy, and it’s worth every cent.

The Best of 2020

Like almost everyone else on the planet, I’m glad to see the end of 2020 rapidly approaching. All things considered I certainly can’t complain – we’ve stayed healthy and safe and are both still working. Sure, it’s been stressful. We’re getting a little stir crazy since we’ve both been working from home since March, and we had a number of events and trips cancelled, but with a COVID vaccine coming out maybe, just maybe, we can get back to some semblance of normal in 2021.

If you follow the blog at all, I’m sure you noticed a lot less activity in 2020. I’d have thought lockdown would have made me more prolific, but after something like seven years I sort of lost focus a bit – I just wasn’t sure I had much interesting left to say. I also started playing Dungeons & Dragons again (via Zoom), and that resulted in an entirely new blog that is basically a novelization of our weekly game. It’s called Defenders of Phandalin, so check it out if you’re interested in RPGs or just fantasy-style fiction.

So here’s to hoping your 2020 was safe and as sane as could be, and that maybe I’ll run into you at a record store or concert somewhere in the world in 2021.

Top 5 New Releases In 2020

1. The Ghost Choir – The Ghost Choir (Iceland)
2. Farmacia – Farmacia (Argentina)
3. The Rise of India (Deluxe Edition) – IndiaBoy & Pési-B (Iceland)
4. So When You Gonna… – Dream Wife (UK / Iceland)
5. Neyslutrans – Hatari (Iceland)

Most years selecting my favorite release of the year isn’t hard. Sorting out the rest of the Top 5 can be a bit tricky, but generally there’s one album that hits my like a lightning bolt and rockets right to the top of the list.

That didn’t happen this year. In fact, I didn’t decide on the order of the first three spots until I sat down on Christmas morning and listened to the three albums one more time, and even then it was still tough. What it came down to, ultimately, was this – not only have I played The Ghost Choir a ton, but it’s also the album I recommended to people the most often, and all those folks told me they liked it. Stylistically it reaches across categories – electronic, classical, jazz, soundtracks… there’s something there for almost everyone. It truly is an outstanding record.

Farmacia dropped on December 23, so I have only had a few days with it, but man is it killer. As always, brothers Ariel and Diego Sima stretch the boundaries and expand my mind with their electro compositions. Had this been around for a few months would it have taken the top spot? We’ll never know. My understanding is that this will be coming out in a limited vinyl release soon, so be on the lookout for that, and I’ll likely do a blog about it soon. The Rise of India was probably my biggest surprise Top 5 entrant being that I’d never heard of anyone involved in the album prior to playing it for the first time. It’s a ton of trap fun.

Top 5 “New to Me” Bands/Performers

1. Disciplinatha
2. King Ani Mal
3. Captain Syrup
4. Latimore
5. Idris Elba

This is a bit of a mix of old school and more contemporary stuff, and it covers a wide range of genres. I feel like i didn’t listen to as much new-to-me stuff in 2020, or at least not as albums. Working from home certainly allowed me to listen to more music than ever before, but much if not most of the time I found myself playing Spotify playlists, in which case I knew almost all the music (80s metal and pop) or I didn’t know any of it (Techno Bunker). I guess the difference between 2019 and 2020 was that I was less intentional about what I played. Plus not traveling meant not exploring new record stores, and new scenes which was a major bummer. All that being said, the above are all excellent and recommended.

Top 5 Purchases/Acquisitions

1. Collection of funk/soul/jazz
2. Live at Red Rocks – Devil Makes Three
3. First Demo 12/29/80 – S.O.A. (signed by Henry Rollins)
4. Music for the Other People Place Part 1 box set
5. Is Anybody Listening? – Cell7

I was lucky enough to be gifted four huge moving boxes of 1960s to 1980s soul, funk, and R&B from a friend’s dad. There was some great stuff in here – James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Brass Construction, etc. Probably 75% of it is still in the garage, but the others were cleaned, played and moved inside. Live at Red Rocks was a fun pick-up since we were at the show a few years back. The S.O.A. demo was something I totally lucked into – Rollins posted about these on his Facebook page and on a whim I just ordered one right then and there. It tuns out they sold out in minutes, so for once an impulse buy paid off. The Music for the Other People Place box set was an interesting project in which electronic artists were given free rein… and we as the purchasers are not told who contributed albums to the collection. The Cell7 record was one I supported via crowd-funding, and not only is the album super cool, so is the amazing poster, which i framed.

Top 5 Live Shows


Yeah, we didn’t see any live shows in 2020. Because COVID and all that. Which is too bad, because we had tickets to see KMFDM and Ministry, and also had our early bird passes for Iceland Airwaves. Here’s hoping 2021 doesn’t suck as hard.

Top 5 Most Played Songs On Spotify

1. “Balls To The Wall” – Accept
2. “Beepers” – Sir Mix-A-Lot
3. “World Eater” – Bolt Thrower
4. “Speed of Light” – Alex Stein
5. “Realm of Chaos” – Bolt Thrower

We decided to get a Spotify subscription early in the year. Rest assured, I’m still addicted to physical formats and will buy them whenever possible. But there’s a lot of new stuff I’d like to just check out, plus it dawned on me that there are still a lot of classic albums that I’ve never heard in their entirety. I think it was the Music Exists podcast that got me thinking about this when Chuck Klosterman and Chris Ryan were talking about Exile On Main St. and I realized I’d never listened to it.

My list is interesting. I mean, a metal song from 1983 tops it, and perhaps even stranger, I’ve never owned an Accept album in my life. Go figure. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Seattle’s own Sir Mix-A-Lot made the list, though the fact that the track is “Beepers” and not something from Swass is interesting. That being said, “Beepers” was often requested by Mrs. Life in the Vinyl Lane during backyard evening listening sessions, so it made it to the Top 5. Bolt Thrower’s Realm of Chaos is exactly the kind of reason I got Spotify, and I played the hell out of it for a few months (still looking for a reasonably priced copy on vinyl with the original cover, though). As for Alex Stein’s “Speed of Light”… I was shocked when I saw this because I have no idea who Alex Stein is. I think this track is on the Techno Bunker playlist, which would explain it because we play that one a lot.

Top 5 Places to Buy Records

1. Bandcamp
2. Discogs
3. Karolina Fund
4. Direct from Artists
5. Lucky Records – Reykjavik

We didn’t get to do any travel in 2020, which sucked. We did make some visits to local area shops and have tried to do our part to help them survive all these lock-downs. But 2020 was really the year of mail order music. Bandcamp served up a number of days where all the money went to the artists, and I certainly spent a lot of time there. I also ordered a decent amount from Discogs, particularly from two sellers (who shall remain my little secret) who have some great stuff at reasonable prices and do an amazing job with their packaging and shipping. Karolina Fund is a project-funding site from Iceland, and a lot of Icelandic musicians have used it to do vinyl versions of their releases. I’ve had great success contributing to projects on the site. I also bought stuff direct from artists through their Facebook or Instagram pages. And of course I did three (or was it four?) mail order boxes from my favorite shop in the world, Reykjavik’s Lucky Records. I was bummed I couldn’t shop there in person in November, but if all goes well we’ll be there in 2021.

Top 5 Music Books

1. Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall by Tim Mohr
2. Sing Backwards and Weep by Mark Lanegan
3. Stay Fanatic!!! Vol. 2 by Henry Rollins
4. Rusted Metal: A Guide To Heavy Metal And Hard Rock Music In The Pacific Northwest (1970 – 1995) by James R. Beach, Brian L. Naron, James D. Sutton, and James Tolin
5. Total F*cking Godhead by Corbin Reiff

I think I read seven or eight music books this year, and Burning Down the Haus was the clear winner, a well-written and well-researched history of the punk movement in East Germany. Highly recommended. I also particularly enjoyed vinyl-nerding-out alongside Henry Rollins with Stay Fanatic!!! Vol. 2.

So there you have it kids, 2020 in a nutshell. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you in 2021!

Body Count – “Carnivore” (2020)

It seems fitting that a new Body Count album dropped in early 2020 given what a hot mess this year has been so far. COVID lockdowns, massive unemployment, over 100,000 dead in the US from the disease, and high-profile police killings followed by weeks of protests and riots. Frankly this is the perfect time for Ice-T and Body Count to arrive with Carnivore.

How many more innocent people and kids
Gotta get killed by these police, man
And then it’s always the victim’s fault
This is some fuckin’ bullshit

— “Point the Finger”

Lyrically Carnivore is similar to much of Ice-T’s hip hop output, filled with stories of crime, violence, and police brutality, with a thick layer of profanity spread over it like a glaze – the defiant rage is palpable, the only breather in the form of an “Ace of Spades” cover. Sonically it slips away from the thrash for which Body Count is primarily known, moving in more of a groove (or, dare I say it, “nu”) metal direction. Call it what you want – but whatever you call it, it’s heavy, and Ice-T’s seeming ability to vary his vocal style at will, sometimes mid-verse, allows every song to have its own unique flavor. Ice also does metal versions of two of his own classics, “Colors” and “6 In Tha Morning”, half-sung-half-rapped vocals driven on by metal rhythms and shredding guitars. The originals are in-your-face rage-fests that rail against, well, just about everyone. If you was starvin’, I wouldn’t fix you a hot bowl of shit. Even the ethereal contributions of Evanescence’s Amy Lee can’t take much of the edge off of tracks like “When I’m Gone”, instead sounding like a voice from beyond the grave and introducing a layer of melancholia to a rare introspective moment.

Overall I enjoyed Carnivore. My one criticism is that I’d like to hear more original stuff on here – with two self-covers and one originally by Motörhead we’re left with only eight originals. But that shouldn’t deter you if you’re a fan of Ice-T, because Carnivore delivers.

Tackhead – “En Concert” (1990)

I ran across this album while going down a Discogs rabbit hole a few weeks ago. There isn’t a lot of info about it online, but from what I can tell the recording is from a 1988 live Tackhead show in New York and it was pressed without the band’s approval. It sounds like only about 500 copies were made on vinyl, and there’s also a CD version from the same period. By all accounts it was never re-pressed, making it pretty scarce, and since it’s status is basically unofficial I figured it was only a matter of time until Discogs banned it from sale (currently the CD copy can’t be sold on the site but the vinyl can…), so I’d better jump on it while I could.

I have to admit that I had pretty low expectations for the sound quality – unofficial live albums are generally pretty marginal. So imagine my surprise when I dropped the needle on En Concert, because this thing sounds tremendous. The range is perfect – the lows are low and the highs are high, not exhibiting even the slightest bit of flatness. You can certainly tell it was recorded live, especially in the vocals, but I have to think this came direct from the soundboard because it’s so clean.

While I definitely enjoy Tackhead, I’m not super knowledgeable about individual tracks within their catalog. However, there are still some songs here I know, like “The Game” and “Ticking Time Bomb”, and I was caught off guard by the cool cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic” on the B side.

I give En Concert a strong recommendation – it’s surprisingly good and reasonably priced based on what’s currently listed on Discogs. Get it while you can…

IndiaBoy & Pési-B – “The Rise of India” (2020)

With all the record stores closed I’ve been spending more time online looking for new and interesting music, and with Bandcamp offering specials that funnel profits to the artists or social causes quite a bit of my buying is happening there. Which is how I came to receive this CD copy of The Rise of India the other day. I’d originally run across the listing for it on Discogs and it intrigued me enough to go find and order it on Bandcamp.

I don’t know anything at all about this project other than that it’s based in Iceland. The artists describe their style as trap and that seems to fit as well as anything, the beats low and varying in tempo, the raps a bit languid and sticky as they coat the music in a layer of lyrical goo. The words are in Icelandic, though I find that doesn’t bother me especially with this more trap-like style where the flow and sounds are what I find most captivating. If I’m picking favorites I’d point you to the pair of “Ekkikan Et” and “Restinpeas Coby & Brian”. I’ve been playing this sucker non-stop since it arrived – definitely one of my favorite 2020 releases to date.

The first edition of the CD release is in an edition of 100. The packaging is a bit DIY, the booklet and inserts unevenly cut and the jewel case barely closing as a result. But that’s part of the charm. You can listen to the music and pick up the CD or a download on Bandcamp HERE, and it looks like there is also a limited edition (of one!) on clear vinyl as well.