Look at us, all living in the year 2020 and stuff. What are we, space aliens from the future or something? As weird as it is to now be alive in the era of flying cars and foods in pill form, things haven't really changed that much. We still put our pants on one leg at a time, we still pay taxes, and we still anticipate albums from bands we love. Or love to hate. Now that we're in the '20s like we're flappers and whatnot, let's take a sec to gaze into the bright lights of this new decade, our eyes watery with hope for the new year's bounty of musical goodies. What will inspire us? What will define us?
These are good examples of the kinds of questions this column won't be addressing, because this column was written by one guy who really doesn't know what people like or want, or what they're looking forward to. This ain't Entertainment Weekly, folks — this is a column by a regional rock musician who's now firmly in his 40s and never much cared for popular chart music even 20 years ago. So, prepare for a list of what's on this here writer's radar, and ready yourself to get a lot of news about what some old white guys are up to. This is just how this one is gonna be.
Let's take the band Sparks, for example. Old white guys, to be sure. But they've been awesome for 50 years or something, and they're poised for a big 2020, what with the impending release of the musical film (“Annette”) that they've been working on for years. Directed by Leos Carax and starring Adam Driver (who is legally required to be in every film, nowadays) and Marion Cotillard, the film will finally find Ron and Russell Mael — the brothers Sparks — getting their wish to make a movie of their own. And then, they've got an Edgar Wright-directed documentary on the way, as well as a new traditional Sparks studio album coming. With the Maels now in their 70s, this is likely their last chance for wider acceptance and appreciation. Hopefully, they get it, because Sparks is one of the greats.
Speaking of the greats, check out Ozzy Osbourne's new songs “Under the Graveyard” and “Straight to Hell” to hear one of rock's all-time greatest voices back in action. January's “Ordinary Man” will be Osbourne's first solo album in a decade, and it comes after a year that found the 71-year-old former Black Sabbath singer battling one health ailment after another. He was surely on a lot of death-pool lists, last year, but the first two singles from his new record are quite vibrant, and they don't feature the obnoxious pinch harmonics of guitarist Zakk Wylde, thank goodness. If the whole album is as thoroughly decent as the first singles, it may end up being one of his best since the Randy Rhoads days.
Recently-reunited British rockers Supergrass are releasing their career-spanning box set “The Strange Ones: 1994-2008” in January, and here's hoping it gets set loose in the United States, too. The box contains all their albums along with rarities and B-sides and a whole new disc of previously-unreleased outtakes and other oddities. The group's best work is up there with any of the best Brit bands like The Who or Radiohead, so hopefully this collection will help demonstrate that.
Hey, here's a curve ball: the Texas rock act King's X is planning to release their first new studio record in over a decade in 2020. This band's music has aged quite well, and their first four or five albums are still an incredible mix of Beatles vocal harmonies and heavy riffage. The band's also getting up there in age, and drummer Jerry Gaskill has suffered several heart events over the last several years. So here's hoping that this new release finds the band in good form one more time. Fingers crossed.
This just scratches the surface of what's to come in 2020. Much of what is on the way has yet to be announced, and there will be surprises. (Who knows — maybe even Weezer's new album won't be a pile of hot garbage!) Let the new era of music begin.
Tony Bennett reviews albums for the News Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.