DERRICK OGRODNYHeavy Medication Records honchoWarsaw, PolandTo be honest, 2020 wasn’t too big of a train wreck for me. I generally work remotely, so there was no adjustment to the joys and pitfalls of working from home. Even though live concerts were few and far between, I still managed to catch a few great ones before the gates closed. (Poison Heart’s Ten-Year Anniversary gig and an aurally hallucinogenic set by Brazil’s Rakta come to mind.)
Alas, some long-anticipated plans got scrapped (some well-paying DJ gigs, a Heavy Medication LabelFest with Puffball and Hell Nation Army in Berlin, travelling somewhere to catch Pat Todd & the Rankoutsiders on their European tour), but new plans rose out of the ashes of the fallen ones to make the best out of a bad situation. But more on that later…
Here are some things I dug in 2020:
1.) Smalltown Tigers “Five Things” mini-album(Area Pirata Records)Loud guitars, catchy tunes and simplicity have always worked in punk rock’s favor, and these three Italian chicas (sorry, regazze) follow this recipe while mixing in their own sonic special sauce through the eight songs on this tasty debut platter. The Ramones and Runaways are obvious reference points (especially Valli’s gritty Joan Jett growl), but these Tigers manage to sound both ferocious and sweet at the same time. The no-frills execution and earworm-quality of the songs kept me playing this mini-LP on endless repeat. Listen up here.
GERRY RANSONVive Le Rock magazine writer and Mule Freedom PR publicistLondon, UKTOP TEN TRACKS FROM 2020
Like going deaf or blind, a lack of gigs seems to have sharpened my other music-loving senses, so I’ve been digging more sounds than ever this year. This is just the tip of a very big, and very loud, iceberg. Working as a PR, I’ve taken the flaming liberty of including some of my own wares in here – can you spot ‘em? But I make no excuses: I’m incredibly lucky and privileged to get to work with people whose stuff I love. I hope after reading this, you’ll love it too. - Gerry x
PS - The Celibate Rifles' "Extract From The Fungus" would’ve been No.1 if I’d heard it yet.
10.) James Williamson & Deniz Tek – "Jet Pack Nightmare"They may be getting on – ain’t we all? – but Ann Arbor’s finest can still cut the Stories For Boys action rock! A venomous boogie riff to kick off "Two To One", the album that was bound to happen one day.
9.) Blue Öyster Cult – "The Alchemist"It’s taken them nine years to come up with a new studio album and when they do, it’s recorded in lockdown conditions. And it’s still the best thing the boys from Stony Brook have done in donkeys’ years. Fourteen newly minted and totally Cultish songs, "The Symbol Remains" is conspicuously low on epics, but this six-minuter – with its "Flaming Telepaths" dink-dink-dink – hits the spot.
THE BARMANI-94 Bar barkeepSydney, Australia
“Monday Evening Gunk”My favourite thing to do on a Monday night. Props to Jill, Wax, Pat and Sonjaat MoshPit, News and Brews co-pilot Rossy, tech-head Zac, photographer/chronicler of choice Shona Ross, and the many guests and hosts involved. My original Top Ten was going to be a chronological list of Gunk episodes because it would be like picking a favourite child.
“Goose Lake” – The Stooges (Third Man Records)What a fucking trip.
"If This Is The Hand I'm Dealt" and "I'm Gonna Cheat As Much As I Can" solo albums by Peter BlackGot to these very late in 2020 and the Hard-Ons and Nunchukka Superfly guitarist just goes from strength-to-strength with his quirky, catchy and compelling solo work. One acoustic, one electric. Get a full hand.
Five Things - Smalltown Tigers (Area Pirata Records)
There’s nothing new in rock and roll. The same goes for punk rock. So get over it. Reinvention has always been a constant and the trick to being good at the caper is adding as your own unique ingredient.
“Five Things” is eight songs from three Italian girls calling themselves Smalltown Tigers. They come from Romagna in the country's north-east, cut their teeth playing Ramones songs at squats and beach parties and went into a studio in 2019, under the production hand of Stiv Cantarelli.
They're only been around a couple of years but you wouldn't know it. With a single in the racks before this, "Five Things" swaggers with confidence and loads of energy. It would be politically incorrect to say the girls have good looks on their side as well, so we won't. Image counts for much in rock and roll.