Eight Tracks IV

After I published the latest apoplectic.me post in August, Paul commented that

the new music in 2020 hasn’t caught my ear yet. Nothing like last years Jaime by Brittany Howard, which I loved. I also fear we are about to get some not very good quarantine inspired music coming our way.

Comments to Under Cover Under Wraps
Fetch The Bolt Cutters, indeed.
Paul’s made Fiona Apple sad. Bad Paul.

Amid the huge static roar of distraction that was 2020, perhaps it’s unsurprising that there’s something out of time about my Eight Tracks of the year.

Join me, won’t you, on a journey to a place that isn’t here in a time that isn’t now. It’s gotta be better than this, right? Or, just hit up the Spotify playlist.

[Check out the Apoplexy Tiny Letter for a bonus track.]

Gotta start with a track from the album that came closest to soundtracking my year – RTJ4.

Someone saw these goofy guys at the top of my Spotify 2020 summary on Facebook and just went – 😂

Look at this! People dancing! Being happy! Touching each other! In New York City!

As Killer Mike and El-P say, in a different context – On the day we are finally free, let’s throw a MF party!

Y’know, or not

Right. Next. Man is the theme from the Netflix documentary series UNABOMBER: In His Own Words. The Worst is Adam Litovitz, who suffered from depression, was last seen on June 15, 2019, and reportedly died the next day. According to Toronto Police, his body was found on June 18, 2019. Man is great, obviously.

Are we feeling a bit more on-brand yet?


OK, that’s better. Bey swinging a bat? You know it. Yes, of course, the entry should really be Cardi B’s WAP feat. MeganDAMN, that bass – but I wrote one of The Scotman’s Scottish Books of 2019, for goodness’ sake. You’ll have to click through to get WAP.

2020 kind of has to give up in the face of WAP, so the next three tracks kind of take some of the best bits of the best year in popular music – 1991, you may recall – and distill it into three kinds of awesome.

No mistake

Allmusic describes the Orielles’ first album as the sound of

a group of British teens making the best album of the ’90s a couple of decades too late

Allmusic review of Disco Volador (the second album)

and goes on to say that Disco Volador meets that bar. Lap it up, kids, and remember what it was like to happily mopey.


Dark Ecstasy by Toner is up next. Before going on to be nice about Toner, Jeremy Winslow writes

it’s easy to write Toner off as just another lo-fi, slacker rock band aping off the revived shoegaze sound

Toner – “Silk Road” | Album Review – Post-Trash

Lo-fi? Slacker?? Shoegaze??? HOUSE!!!!

🎶 I’ve finally had it up to here 🎶

That’s the spirit, Jeanines. Like Post-Trash, Allmusic inadvertently heaps the greatest praise on the Jeanines

Fans of ’90s indie pop looking to recapture the jangling thrill of groups like Heavenly or the noisy jumble of Tiger Trap need look no further than the Jeanines.

Allmusic review of Jeanines by Jeanines

OK. Maybe you’re not the fan of shambolic indie stumblebums that I am.

But if the highpoint of Scottish popular music is Primal Scream’s Screamadelica (IF?!?!), then its midwife was produced and DJ extraordinaire Andrew Weatherall.

For Andrew Weatherall

Of course, 2020 took Weatherall from us. His Two Lone Swordsmen project somehow projects into a lot of my short fiction in ways I can’t really explain, and I’m really glad I had the chance to see him DJ.

Daniel Avery’s Lone Swordsman is a fitting tribute, melancholic and hands-in-the-air at the same time. Oh. Maybe that explains it.

“To me Toba Tek Singh reminds us that this feeling of displacement is not a new one.”

Finally, brilliantly and sadly, Riz Ahmed’s Toba Tek Singh is the sound of 2020 Britain. It’s inspired by the story of the same name by Saadat Hasan Manto, and it’s the best track of 2020.

Now, I’m going to look forward to exploring 2021 with you. I’ve got some new stories and poetry in the offing, and something of some of these tracks somehow bleeds into that work. If you don’t like

I mean, not WAP, obviously.

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7 thoughts on “Eight Tracks IV

    1. An excellent choice, Joyce, and you’re too kind as always. If you’re enjoying The Orielles, I’m guessing you [would] enjoy the first band Mrs Stroke Bloke saw live, Lush.

      Hope you’re doing as well as can be expected under our current circumstances.

  1. “But if the highpoint of Scottish popular music is Primal Scream’s Screamadelica (IF?!?!),”

    Um… I hate to argue with a Scotsman about such an important issue, but I find Primal Scream rather overrated. OK, maybe they had a big impact on the music of the ’90s and beyond, but I never much enjoyed listening to them. Plus, the Confederate Flag album cover is a big no-no (different album, but still). Even 20+ years ago it was very objectionable, and claiming artistic license or whatnot does not justify it.

    One Yank’s opinion: somewhere among the first five albums by The Jesus and Mary Chain, you will find the Highlands of Scottish popular music. And when I say “popular”, I mean to music nerds, of course, not the bloody general public.

    To paraphrase Slashdot: Music for nerds. Stuff that matters.

    1. Ha! I’m aware I’m being axiomatic there. Bobby’s such an interesting character. Seems to work on pure instinct – when he’s good, he’s very, very good, and when he’s bad…

      This is good:

      Was lucky enough to see both XTRMNTR-era Scream Team and (a one-Reid) JAMC in NYC. JAMC are kind of the ur-Scottish pop band, miserable and straight outta East Kilbride.

      Here’s my actual track of 2020, notwithstanding its release date. More anarcho-syndicalist than their “anarcho-syndicalist speedfreak road- movie record”. Never change, Boab.

      Enjoy, my friend. Or summat.

      1. P.S. If both of these moments have shown up on the blog during the past twelve months (‍♂️), that’s merely a tribute to both my and Boab’s consistency

    1. Ha! I love the confusion you’re inspiring as to whether there’s an appealing (Hey Ya! at #1) / appalling (Nickelback at #2?!) autocorrect going on here or not. Nice to see Snow Patrol as the closest thing to a fully-fledged Scottish band on there. Here’s the obligatory I-liked-them-when-they-made-a-bloody-awful-racket moment for you.

      If you’re working on this level of musical nerdiness, do seek out the BBC Scotland documentary history of Scottish pop, Rip It Up – it hits on the positive feedback loop coming back from the US.

      Happy New Year, pal, and lang may yer Lum reek.

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