2018 has been a great year in music. In culture generally but definitely in music. I’ll write at some length on some important bullshit, that you’ll have to sift through to get to where I make this point eventually. Please do read on though, since I think I am really smart and even at one point or perhaps even some, whitty about it. Remember I mean well even though I’m an arrogant, self important fool and who knows… you might just agree with me on something …and yeah eventually I get to music stuff.I recently filled out the nerdfighteria census (I’m a huge fan of all things Green Bros). Near the end there was a question asking something along the lines of “how are you feeling” or perhaps something more substantial, doesn’t matter much for the point I want to make. It was phrased such that it made the statement that it had been “a rough year” and I was meant to answer whatever the question was in consideration to that.
A rough year?
It’s very interesting that I didn’t even pause at first since it was obvious that by rough they where specifically referring to Trump and his policies ranging from child separation to taking over the supreme courts of the US. Generally ofcourse they were also talking about the populist political freefall most of the western world is witnessing but probably more specifically Trump.
I kind of had to slam the breaks there. It seemed weird to just go ahead and answer this question without a moment to reflect first. As scary as Trump is, has he really made my year a rough one? To be honest this far he has naturally had very little negative impact on my year outside providing ever more absurd comedy material. Of Course if he gets too much leeway eventually things will turn dark all over the globe but as is… well he is more fun than anxiety inducing as long as one have enough distance (I’d say the atlantic ocean is about the minimum here).
Well one could easily argue that Europe has had even worse populist waves crashing onto our shores in recent years with Orban, Le Penn and Brexit all in different ways draining european policy making of humanitarian values. Our Nordic countries that used to be beacons of humanitarianism and solidarity have all had major shifts towards populism and xenophobia. Here, in Sweden, this whole fall and now well into the winter months, have been spent trying to sort out the debrie of our cluster fuck of an election with still no new government formed. So of course, the Green Brothers are right, in that it has in some sense been a rough year, but has it really though… for me? …I mean, how has this affected me?
Well this far not much, it really hasn’t, it will, if it is allowed to keep going. I’m in no way arguing for complacency, on the contrary, but it is important to sort out our emotions here. I am outraged and disgusted by some policies that have been coming into effect over the course of this year but to claim it has been a rough year for me, would be to seriously disrespect those that are actually affected by these policies.
In recognising that our democratic institutions thus far has had the strength to shield me, a white cis male, almost entirely from the consequences of this political shift, I simultaneously become aware of both the solution to the problem as well as what has been lacking all along, see a lot of non-white, non-cis, non-males (err maybe females should do it here since I think non-cis covers the rest but heck let’s be as non-binary as possible since it makes me feel good to do so) are far less shielded.
I choose to approach the world with the mindset that so far things have mostly been getting better over all. I believe that the Sweden Democrats as well as Trump and Brexit are all growing pains caused by the improvements to our society as a whole. Most people are not more bigoted now than 10 years ago, in fact, I think the opposite is true. I believe we are as a society constantly getting more and more humanitarian, not by default but because most of us see error and injustice and try to improve.
The only explanation for the fact that records as amazing as Capture the flag by War on Women was released this year is that people react to what is happening. The strength of this reaction is obvious when you listen to the music produced this year. It has been amazing! 2017 was good but 2018 was crazy!
Be it the escapism in to a state of cuddly cosy bliss of Cosmo Sheldrake or the righteous rage of the Royal they, War on Women, Tragedy Khadafi & BP, Field Medic, Slapshot, Jesus Piece, Tragedy (…well they were always angry but they are back, back and still angry or perhaps angry again) …and on and on, strong sincere emotion makes for great art. It’s one thing to have a cause or champion great ideas. It is an entirely different thing to write out of the urgency, urgency to rally for the cause or just to get a few moments of peace of mind. It’s an urgency that is felt by so many of us. Some however, take it opone themself to express this in art and for that we are so very very grateful.
This is the reason that my ultimate playlist of music from this year happens to be a tad bit on the longer side. The harvest was too bountiful this year, go ahead and weep why don’t you.
For me it hasn’t been a rough year. If I sit idly by, there will certainly come rough years. I don’t. I might not make much music these days but I still take part in civil society every day and speak to what I believe so strongly to be an even brighter future and how I would like to try to get there. Of Course sometimes I wish I still had a band so that I could do that in a more “on the barricades” way, since that is what music often does best. Nonetheless, onwards and upwards. We will only fall if we are not careful …and most importantly, we are probably looking at some uniquely great music to be made in the coming year.
The world is going to shit. On some level, I think we all know it, even climate change deniers – the world is bonkers and will get bonkier. While the world was busy building walls and not getting along some pretty awesome stuff happened! For starters, a whole bunch of good music was released.The year kick-started in January with The James Hunter Six releasing their crazy good I Got Eyes!
In February Cosmo Sheldrake blew my mind with Wriggle. I was ready to call it game over as I thought that no one would come close after that. I was wrong. Very wrong. The very same month Spielbergs and Otoboke Beaver did their best and floored me totally.
Then in April, perhaps the best month of the year music-wise, a whole box filled with awesomeness was delivered to our ears. Our tune of the year; Beyond, came out. Ryan Downey releases his masterful album. The Ruen Brothers tried to kill me with another perfect tune that I played so much the whole family could sing along. Bull, Albinos Congo and Anguid amongst other’s tried their best to keep up.
Then in the words of Cosmo Sheldrake:
In the merry month of May
A solemn fact does lurk
For Spring it sprang as Spring it does
And put the bees to work.
May started with a twitch and Finnish indie power. Before the month had ended it had delivered the cover of the year in You and Me by Durand Jones & The Indications (also the falsetto of the year, yes first and second place. The backing vocals.. OMG!) and also the lovely Joe By the Book by Buck Meek.
In June Shannon Shaw blessed us with Golden Frames, LVL UP decided to call it quits (damn you LVL UP!) with the excellent Orchard. This month also gave us the very danceable – so danceable that I had to – You’re Not Wrong by Wet.
In July I turned 40 and as an early gift I got the new version of You Think I Don’t Know (but I Know) by Charles Bradley, re-imagined by Victor Axelrod and given a new fantastic reggae suit; Whatcha Doing (To Me). The Whimps Moped Around and Gently Tender thought that 2 Chords Good.
November is the month where Viktor and I nominate tunes and albums for the upcoming Yule Calendar and I waited and waited for Linn Koch-Emmery to release her EP Waves and I’m very happy I did – crazy good EP and marvelous tune!
This year that we know as 2018 ends with Conversation by Swine Tax and it also ends my playlist and like they sing, it’s an endless conversation and we will keep the conversation going in 2019, it’s a promise!
…and for our next task, we will find a tune that…
A brand new year comes with the promise of brand new releases of course. Some artists have been teasing or otherwise testing the waters with singles, EPs or just some tune for streaming to get the hype rolling. Well what has caught our eye and peaked our curiosity or just plain hooked us up with an addiction feverishly needing more.
Be sure to check back January the 14th to see how we resolve this our first challenge of the the year!
see you in two weeks!