2020 – A Retrospective
I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few weeks thinking about what I could focus on for the Fakeman yearly retrospective. In years that have passed i’ve covered top albums, top live events.. This year has been one to forget for us all so I even wondered it there was any point in writing any form of yearly review.. But then I took some time to think about the things that has pulled people through this unprecedented shit storm. Music. Writing. Collaborations. And the extra downtime that people have been given and have used to their advantage to create and produce some of the most exciting and accomplished music that we have had in recent times.
For the listener it has been a time of discovery. New music from old favourites and exciting creations that we wouldn’t have found had the online communities not been looking out for each other and what would make us all happier. The best thing that anyone could have done for me this year is turn me onto an artist or tracks that I might not have found had the world kept me as busy as I planned. I’ve also been incredibly grateful for friends old and new who are established artists and chose 2020 to bring us their new creations.
Another side effect of our community is that we often discover a new appreciation for the very music that influences its new sounds. We remember those 70s and 80s legends that paved the way for the music we have today and we journey through their discographies to enrich our weekend mornings as we sit with coffee and pretend to make plans for the day we haven’t been able to experience to its fullest.
So I thought I would spend a little bit of time talking about my highlights of the year. Those limited but appreciated friendship interactions, those new discoveries and those musical highlights that have got me through it. First and foremost I am a music appreciator, whatever the genre.. So this isn’t an exclusively synthwave article. If you are looking for pure neon, then I don’t want to disappoint you.. But Fakeman has always been about more than just Synthwave… Regardless, I think you’ll enjoy the reflections.. So stick with me.
Live Music and ACTUAL PEOPLE
For me, 2020 started in the fashion we would all expect, seeing New Year in with the awesome Jean Frais (yep, that dude from RFF with the leotard). The rules were simple – Bring some drinks and come ready to party. Sunglasses Kid was there to throw out some pure 80s jams as we saw in the year. Man, even writing that – It feels like 10 years ago! I was hot off the back of my City Pop binges courtesy of Vincent from Timeslave so the world was a a soft and happy place. People were smoking indoors, there were pizzas being delivered in stacks.. We were living a John Hughes movie.
Lebrock managed a tour in early 2020 and played live in Bristol with support from local lads Player One and Dark Smoke Signal. Given that we had no idea that would be the only live event of the year, we actually milked the entire evening. Dark Smoke Signal’s act was solid and the highlight of the night. His Forever Synth live performance of the year award, well earned. Bristol also brought with it the first time meeting Space Jams’s Jack Dyson. Bristonian Jack was the ultimate host and dragged us all bowling after an ear blistering evening at the gig. The least said about my performance on the lanes, the better.. Jack has been a solid mate this year. 2020 brought Space Jams to Nightride FM and I was honoured to cohost Jack’s monthly show which will continue into 2021! Thank you for being hilarious, Jack.
Fakeman readers will remember that back when the world was normal I spent some time with Ollie Wride and Sunglasses Kid to discuss what was to be their 2020 million-streamed hit ’Stranger Love’. One of 2020s top tracks was a labour of love for both men and learning about their writing and production process made for a great afternoon. You can read that interview HERE. Ollie and Ed have been kind friends this year and we’ve managed to navigate our way around the ‘rona rules to a few evenings and catch ups. Thank you to you both. Talented bastards with great taste in whiskey and wine.
Do you like Genesis? OK, I appreciate the irony of a chapter about Genesis given my namesake, but music’s most divisive band have been a key part of my 2020. In this months review of Yatte’s latest release I spoke of enjoying meeting someone who is as into them as I am.
Granted, when has a fan of the 80s not enjoyed that latter body of Phil, Mike and Tony’s post ‘And Then There Were Three’ work? But for me this year was much more about digging deep into the earlier works. The true prog albums served as the foundation and often split opinion on where the band took their sound. Yes, the Gabriel era was not as accessible as the pop-focussed work of the 80s and 90s but shit, you have to appreciate the musical craft that went into tracks such as Supper’s Ready on the Foxtrot album and Carpet Crawlers from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. 2020 was a ideal time to explore prog rock, and its long and winding tracks that made Bohemian Rhapsodylook like a short walk in the park.
Specifically the early Genesis work was an area I hadn’t explored for a number of reasons. I’m a huge Phil fan – It was easy. Consumable. Simple. It takes time to appreciate the Gabriel work and the albums between their debut and 1980’sDuke. But there is magic in them-there vinyl sleeves. As early as Trick of the Tail (The first album with Phil on lead vocals) you can hear that distinct Collins percussion integrating itself into the established sound. Their albums from this point to Duke are a true journey and demand the attention of music fans.
Regardless of the early work exploration, 2020 was just the excuse needed to play a lot more of the post-Duke work that has been the most commercially successful for the band. Mama, Invisible Touch, Domino, Abacab, Man of Our Times, Land of Confusion. All pure hits.
There will be a Fakeman article in 2021 around Genesis and their work so I will leave my dissection there. If such an article is your thing then great! – I look forward to your company. If you have a view on the band then hit me up. I’ll be keen to incorporate your fandom* / hatred* accordingly.
*Delete as appropriate.
One element of lockdown life which has benefitted us all is the amount of great music that has either been produced entirely during this period of lockdown has allowed for those in-development projects to be completed early. It would be remiss of me not to highlight some of the great releases that have come our way.. Where the tile or artist is highlighted, you’ll find a link to a review or interview.
Couples Resort by the excellent Timeshare ’94 and Waterfront Dining
Enter the Night by ED.
PureCoreSynthRock2 by Peter Zimmermann
Electric Pillow Talk from Beckett
Blush from Lost Outrider
The Beginning from Swayze
Spectral Hands and Sunset Heat from Alpha Chrome Yayo
Locked Live by OSC
Captain Video by Your Sister is a Werewolf
Music from Droid Bishop
Master Switch by Sebastian Gampl
All strong releases with some solid production and brought some excitement
Amongst the ‘rona compliant drinks and catch ups, there were some Fakeman highlights directly from the site. I was lucky enough this year to interview 2 80s movie legends in Terminator composer Brad Fiedel and Scarface and Breaking Bad actor Steven Bauer. Expectation is never high when approaching such people to chat all things 80s and their careers but both men were gents and took the time to explore their careers with me. They made my year and brought much needed excitement and surprise to 2020. I’ve thudded many an armchair to Brad’s scores and quotes Steven’s Scarface lines far too often to remember. It was a pleasure to chat with you both Thank you.
All the other stuff
This year has also been one for catching up with some of those people who I’ve admired from my Soundcloud for many a year. Adam and Joe from Le Cassette were kind enough to use the anniversary of their seminal album Left to Our Own Devices to sit down with me and chat about the making of the album we all love. It remains a favourite. As well as that, Zach Robinson celebrated the release of his D/A/D album The Construct on Vinyl and the third season of Cobra Kia moving to Netlfix. We chatted about his work on the show and what we can expect from the Netflix hit. Cobra Kai is not just a storytelling gem but its score is fantastic and its new home on Netflix has widened its reach considerably. Much love to my fellow humans who were on the Cobra Kai train long before Netflix were interested though!
The 2020 pace has certainly been slow for us all.. There has been some strong appreciation for me of Japanese jazz from maestros such as Ryo Fukui and Casiopea. These legends were slamming great jams before I was on the Earth and their influence on city pop and even elements of the vaporware and future funk sounds is undeniable. With some soft light and hard liquor you can’t go wrong with an evening in their company.
And that’s it.. The Fakeman 2020 in a large, but hopefully digestible nutshell. Forgive me a few thank yous.. It’s not normally my thing but this year has been crazy!! A big thank you to Aaron Vehling for his constant support, Ed for being a good mate and his input on the Fakeman work this year. To Ollie for being the kindest dude in the world and Adam Sullivan and Joe Ward for being the biggest pisstakers. Glenn Jones – For supporting my work with his visuals and being one of the most giving dudes i’ve ever met and Vincent Bailey for becoming a good friend this year and our idea bouncing sessions – i’m looking forward to our 2021 plans! To Alex Karlinsky for our vaporwave sharing and for the Cocktail OST cassette! To Alpha Chrome Yayo for the music, recipe exchange and Japanese fan-boying. To Stu McLaren for the most surprising WhatsApp audio messages and last but not least – Scandroid for being ridiculous.
Biggest thank you to all of you who read and engage with this little blog. As side hustles go I just love watching it grow naturally – Entering into its 3rd year, it’s a pleasure to write.. and it wouldn’t be what it is without you.
Here’s to a 2021 that brings us all back together again.
Now you’ll need to excuse me.. I have to return some videotapes.