Best of Springfield Music 2020: Albums/Releases #11-20

Good morning! We are continuing our best of Springfield Music 2020 series today and diving into your TOP voted albums / releases of 2020! Yes, we know 2020 was a minute ago now but we are still doing this. These were all featured in the January print issue of Activator Magazine, which we still have a few copies of left at Dumb Records. Thank you for everyone who contributed in doing write-ups for this series. We’ll be back again tomorrow with the top ten voted releases for the year.

20. Marble Teeth: “Park”
Park is a great release. Marble Teeth is a project that continues to grow now into mixed instrumental sounds that carries Caleb’s message, creating new and pioneering textures that we all can be influenced by. Every time I listen back to this release, I always find something new in a sound on a different track or I pick up a new chord change that catches my ear. Caleb’s epitaphs of emotional instances and fables will indeed grow fondly with Park but, I keep finding myself wanting to hear loud drums and big guitar swells. Maybe, that is just the post rock indie guy in me. Bob Dylan once said, “my favorite sound is the sound of a song played on an AM radio across a busy street.” I hope Marble Teeth will be that sound Dylan pleasantly discovers one day. I hope. -BJ Pearce (Bottom Bracket)

#19: Bonards: “Mask To Protect
The Bonards may arguably be the closest thing Springfield, Illinois has ever had to the experimental, anonymous -weirdo geniuses, The Residents. From the late eighties and on through the early 2000s, These cats made a point of keeping their  identities on the hush. It may not have been that hard to figure out who Exacto Mundo (vocals) or Nomad Repos (guitar) or even Zaphod Beeblebass (Bass) were,  but the whereabouts of the periphery members [Cynthia Sugercane-(Synth-guitar), ButterMonkey- (Noises/ Sounds), Hanger The Cat- (Drums) and Dave the Hot Dog Cook- (Grill)] was, and remains a minor mystery. I remember once watching the oddity known as The Bonards play in the early 2000s. While this fascinating sound and visual experience was happening, I had to shake my head and laugh at the ensemble’a slendered-up hot dog cook. His sheerly confident  grilling abilities whilst grilling those damned wieners. Working on his physique by pumping iron at the same time as grilling. This was dada-esque  In the perfectly odd mix of experimental music and outlier performance. On their latest release, “Masked To Protect”, The Bonards present 18 tracks that Exacto and Nomad recorded during shelter in place orders that were issued due to Covid-19. They recorded these songs by emailing WAV sound files back and forth until each song was as finished as those grilled hot dogs. “Masked To Protect” has more of a “techno/politico rap (feel) than any of their early recordings”, states Nomad himself.  The song “Confusion”, may be the best example of Nomad’s description, as it revisits the sound of the mid 1980s, when exploring this newer (to many) and exploding music form known as “rap” or “hip-hop” grew from urban America to worldwide phenomenon.  – Jeff Williams (NIL8)

18. Demons On Wheels – “Still Left Standing

17. Mark Schwartz – “Suite Aidan

16. Forest Saints – Backyard Twilight Symphony

15. Baby Ocho: “Demos EP”
Im kicking back to another 2020 pandemic evening. I’ve got my eggnog and am thinking back to years ago when Baby Ocho rocked the house in one of the last few Dumb Records shows before we all had to go home forever. That night they played full band and Rocked it! It seems the followup release is a nice quiet chill batch of solid accoustic tracks. It has a bit of an alt country vibe with some Bazan level of morose wistfulness. The title of the EP straight up tells you these songs are going to be a little rough around the edges, but there also lies the charm. Still since this came out back in April, I’m thinking someone better check on Mateusz as he was cranking out these bummer jams back then and has been a bit quiet since… Still has anyone come up with a more killer lyric as “I could be your dog, I’d lay down at your feet, just to watch you sleep, until i die”. – Jeff Black (Dumb Records)

14. The Dixie Narcos: “Nantucket 2”
I’ve got a fairly blank, yet vivid memory. A show at Black Sheep, a band from Jacksonville, IL called Flamingo. They opened, I think, and destroyed. That’s all i remember. I don’t remember what the show was, who booked it, if I did or someone else, who else played. The only detail that stuck was goddamned Flamingo. I became a fan. A few years ago, there I was minding my own business, and band pops on the feed. Lo and behold, it was The Dixie Narcos. And John Franz came so absolutely correct. They haven’t missed a beat since with album after album after EP after album. Just cranking out good ass tunes. And 2020’s been no different with two full lengths and a new EP. Nantucket 2 (IE Charley) is now the 2nd most recent release by the John Franz helmed Dixie Narcos. And it wastes no time, a psychedelic barnburner straight out of quarantine. Great songwriting and melodies, LOUD recording, cool visualizations. Just a straight up cool record. It’s a real heart warmer knowing this came out from our corner of the globe. All I can say is I’m stoked to finally see this band again, as we inch closer to be on the other side of 2020. Recommended listen: “Samsara” and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Meth Mouth” into “Stuck In Line at the Post Office With the Methamphetamine Psychosis Blues Again” – Cory VanMeter (Caterpillar Club, Night Night Boy)

13. Imaginary Colours: “HEAD_SPACE”
This year, Imaginary Colours, the electronic project of Michael LeFrance (Balki Bros, Snuff Rider, and drummer of other past groups) came out with another release called HEAD_SPACE. Head_space feels like it’s not meant to be individual songs to be played by Imaginary Colours live, but rather a listening experience for us to take in while alone. Perhaps kicking off with the first track “Drifter” while you are coming up on the Stanford Overpass at 3:00 am, with absolutely no other traffic in sight in a very quiet city. It’s foggy out. Then you get to the title track “Head_Space” and the sun is starting to rise. You’ve made it all the way down Wabash to Centenial Park. With “City Limits” the sun is out and shining brighter than ever. Okay, with “Up All Night” we’ve made it to the party that we were heading to. Okay, I change my mind, this  is the song that would be good to hear Michael do live. There are a bunch of aliens and robots dancing at the party and a bunch of lasers. Then the tone of things takes a turn. “Broken Memories” is about a ghost that lives deep within the rubble of the Pillsbury Factory, who is very sad. Then with the last track “Stay With Me” the camera shifts focus to a leaf or a feather that is blowing past the buildings of the factory through the air. The wind blows it up very high. We see the city in the background and we are reminded that life is beautiful and things maybe aren’t so bad. The end. – Brian Galecki (Dumb Records)

12. Demons On Wheels: “Souvenirs

11. Ricki Marvel: “The Prisoner”
Ricki Marvel has created something powerful with “The Prisoner.” The album is filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, and incredible emotion both in what is said, and in what is left unsaid. Ricki creatively uses varying material and patterned sounds to build her rhythms, and it works to develop her sometimes mechanical grooves that you’ll feel in your body. But she does not hide behind rhythm by any means, choosing to often venture beyond any traditional structure. There are no limits in this record. Ricki takes this music where it was meant to go, creating deep and immersive synth soundscapes that could easily be the score to an art pop film. Never does the music feel bare or underdeveloped. There seems to be intention in the quieter, more sparing parts of her songs. The vocals speak to a beautiful but challenging journey of bravery and authenticity. There is so much honesty in this record, and the listener walks away knowing a deeper Ricki. – Dani Sakach (Blushe) 

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