In this end of the year series, we at Ears to Feed spoke with some of our favorite artists to see what albums, films, shows, and any other forms of art or activities have helped them to cope through 2020.
In a world that continues to teeter on the brink of destruction, New Orleans’ Special Interest soundtrack the disparity of modern America. Their sound is a fluid movement of jagged post-punk scrawl, hypnotic electronics with a discordant tinge and vocalist Alli Logout’s bold as brass lyricism, built on political strife. A group that has crafted a dedicated fanbase who long for someone to actually say something meaningful that isn’t a trite rehash of punk’s past.
Their 2018 acclaimed debut album Spiraling is infused with abrasive character and dance elements. The album is made up of anthems that stand against the oppressive systems that weave through our world, whether that’d be state police or fellow punks. Their live shows are a sight to behold — high energy, wreathed in flame chaos that builds to great heights. In their latest release The Passion Of , the band truly comes into their own while offering a poignant album in a time that lacks empathy. Logout’s voice is unabashed in its fury as it combines with the instrumentation of Guitarist Maria Elena, Bassist Nathan Cassiani and Keyboardist Ruth Mascelli. For many, this album has acted as a coping mechanism, and in turn we’ve asked the band what has helped them survive 2020.
P-Valley has been a standout TV series during quarantine. It touches on a lot like the looming haunt of gentrification and the daily struggles of holding all your narratives and hustling. The show is very southern and has some of the best representation I have seen of black sex workers in the media. It’s mainstream so there is a trash element to it too but watching their struggles mirrored a lot of my own so it made me feel held. Cursed films is a great mini series, which goes in depth on famous horror films that had “cursed sets.” Each episode is a different film and features interviews of the cast and crew. It’s super fun for any filmmaking nerd.
First and foremost, the main things that have gotten me through this last year have been sleep, weed, my boyfriend, dried legumes, Hunan Wok and the fact that I have stable housing. For these things I am eternally grateful but here are some albums that have also been inspiring and comforting along the way:
Ana Roxanne – Because of A Flower
I’ve listened to a lot of ambient and new age music this year. And much of the charm is that it’s all soothing in a vaguely similar way and doesn’t usually occupy the forefront of your attention, but Ana Roxanne’s music is different. There is something so seemingly effortless and natural sounding about it and I think that is the mark of someone who is totally in control of and very intentional with their craft. As soon as this album ends I start it over.
Favorite track: “Suite pour l’invisible”
Alice Coltrane – Eternity
You can’t go wrong with almost anything in Alice Coltrane’s discography, but I really like this one for how weird and varied it is. Every piece sounds completely different and really shows the wide scope of her vision and style. There are these huge orchestral swells, meandering harp explorations, intensely personal devotional music, a reinterpretation of the “Rites of Spring,” and some mildly stressful mutant funk. The electric organ sound on here is absolutely perfect.
Favorite track: “Om Supreme”
Prince – Around The World in A Day
I somehow had never heard this one until a few months ago. Of course, I knew “Raspberry Beret,” but there was a huge gap in my understanding of the Prince narrative. He chose to quickly follow up Purple Rain with this bizarre concoction of heavy psychedelia and ‘80s art pop? Listening to “Paisley Park” and “Conditions Of The Heart” back to back really mirrors the emotional rollercoaster most days have felt like this year.
Favorite track: “Pop Life”
Cooking is pretty much my main coping mechanism. Even on tour, I have to find ways to cook. Please let me iron chef post show snacks or breakfast for everybody in your kitchen. I’m an avid YouTube cooking show watcher and trolled bon appetit pre call out (“y’all really can’t find a Black chef in New York City?” was my signature comment). Sohla El-Waylly remains a favorite with her twee personality & flavor techniques that hit hard. I don’t think I’ve made a full recipe of hers but I have incorporated dozens of her techniques into my recipes. Tabitha Brown is great for hippie recipes and Stephanie who does “Views on the Road” is a major tía vibe. Her jamaica birria tacos recipe fucked me up!
AceMo – I Want To Believe
AceMo has been releasing a new solo or collaborative work about every month of this year. I haven’t listened to everything yet (I’m an obsessive music fan more than a voracious one). But this release in particular is what really got me listening. I hope someday I’ll hear the vocals for “I Want I Need (Your Love)” live in the club.
Physical Therapy – “Genre Explorations @ The Lot Radio”
A friend of mine said recently that Physical Therapy is a national treasure. I agree. I’ve listened to so many of his mixes so many times during the pandemic it’s almost embarrassing. It’s hard to pick just one so I’m picking this series. The slower disco, UK garage, and dubstep mixes are my personal faves.
Roxy Music – Country Life
I have a hard time with the present, so I had to pick at least one thing from the past. Somehow I had never really given this album the full attention it deserves. I guess no better time than a pandemic to really absorb something. I’d been listening to so many techno mixes for a few months and I really needed an album like this to ground me and bring me Back To Rock. Proof that Ferry didn’t need Eno.