2020 is almost over! Like 2021 is going to be any better and we're not experiencing the consequences of decades of choices by the global elite made outside of our control. Still. Surviving this garbage year together is a thing worth celebrating, even if all years are bad.
Next week's Report is the first Team Taco™ exclusive. If you're on the free plan, you'll only get the final report of every month. Join the most exclusive team on the internet — Team Taco™.
If you're on Team Taco™ already — thank you for giving me two to twenty-four dollars. I love you very much. Team Taco™ forever. We will be a refuge for each other in the coming year.
2020 Bad, Music Good
Music, like all the other media I consumed this year, was weird. I was desperate for something new without the energy to appreciate the new the majority of the time. Which explains why I watched Ted Lasso half a dozen times while staring at all the new television, books, or music I could be consuming.
I felt things go in waves significantly more this year than others. My tastes weren't all over the place — they were specific and repeat-based. When walking to my daily take-away, or working late, or making ceramics, I optimized for putting an album on repeat.
I burned through albums. Non-stop for 3-6 weeks, then wouldn't pick them back up for a few weeks or months or ever again. There are albums that I know I'm going to love, like Phoebe Bridgers's Punisher, that I just haven't felt the energy to give a first listen to yet. Or ones that I listened to a few times, like RTJ4, and was like, "Yeah, I love this. Maybe next year."
So my Top Ten Tacos Tunes for Twenty-Twenty are really just the best albums that I've enjoyed in their entirety in my suboptimal mental state. Fair warning — I, uh, gravitated towards men making honest art about their anxiety and death.
Retirement Resort — Funkmammoth
During April through June, when my COVID symptoms were at their worst and my brain was at it's fuzziest, I opted for instrumentals and weird lofi beats. A lot of ChilledCow. One of my favorite artists that came from that time was Funkmammoth. Their entire discography is great, but the album they released this year, Retirement Resort, fit my brain perfectly.
Low Season — Poolside
Why do I always, push away
The things that I, I wanna say?
And can you believe me when I say
I don't deserve you, I don't deserve you?
Can't Stop Your Lovin' — Poolside ft. Panama
Who doesn't love music that you can't tell if it came out this year or four decades ago? The nostalgia that I have for the version of the 80s that only exists in commercials is strong. Certainly how this album ended up on this list.
Week 1560 — Video Dave
We don't talk
We don't Skype
I'll text you next Tuesday
No talking, just typing
Tuesday — Video Dave
Seeing Video Dave & Open Mike Eagle in Amsterdam in October of 2019 ended up being the last live music I went to. Dave opened up the set with an incredible comedy/music set that the Dutch had no idea how to handle.
Fast forward a few months and a pandemic later and Video Dave released a vulnerable album about the little things that we're all deeply missing. Like one-night stands, getting drunk at the neighborhood bar, and taxes.
3.15.20 — Childish Gambino
Humans don't understand, humans gon' sell a lie
Humans gotta survive, we know we gon' die
Nothing can live forever, you know we gon' try
Life, is it really worth it? The algorhythm is perfect, mmh
Algorhythm — Childish Gambino
Y'all remember when we started the pandemic with a global dance party? Before everything really set in. There's a moment burned in my mind. I danced over to the couch while I was making breakfast tacos the morning of March 15th — about a week before my symptoms started — and we laughed and kissed.
Free Love — Sylvan Esso
Oh, people always ask me
What it's like to love everybody
What it's like to love everybody
They ask me
I tell them, "Don't be crazy
There’s too many people around me
If I loved them all, they’d break me, you see"
Free — Sylvan Esso
Three cheers for coming out and talking about the endless pain of love, no matter the gender of whom you're loving.
The Ascension — Sufjan Stevens
I wanna die happy
I wanna die happy
I wanna die happy
I wanna die happy
Die Happy — Sufjan Stevens
Ever have that feeling when someone makes a piece of art and it feels like it was made specifically for you? That's this album for me.
Dreamland — Glass Animals
Usually I put somethin' on TV
So we never think about you and me
But today I see our reflections clearly
In Hollywood, layin' on the screen
Heat Waves — Glass Animals
A decade ago, when I was living in Chicago, there was an overplayed Top 40 song called Animal by Neon Trees. It was the definition of fine. But the radio station I listened to in Chicago overplayed it that summer. By the time it left the radio, I hated it. Shortly after, my Spotify and YouTube started recommending a band called Glass Animals. In my brain, that was Neon Trees. (I don't know. Neon became Glass, the Animal part was the same, it could work!)
So I never listened to them. Just wrote them off completely. "Oh, Glass Animals? I don't like them." Fast forward years to the middle of shelter in place, and I've run out of internet to watch. YouTube recommends a Glass Animals cover of Lana Del Rey's Young and Beautiful. I think, "Well, I like Lana Del Rey. I may like this."
I turn it on. Oh no. It's a goddamned bop. I think to myself, "It's too bad the rest of their music isn't like this." IT IS — I'M JUST DUMB. Anyway. Glass Animals. They rule, and don't trust your brain.
Andy — Raleigh Ritchie
I buy shit, like it for two days, then hide it
And I get excited then drop off a cliff
Eyes on the prize
And the prize is a life realizing that time's not a right, it's a gift
Fuck up, stuck up, speak up or shut up
Champagne socialist, I'm a hypocrite
Melt like butter when other's suffer
Tell myself it's all relative
Pressure — Raleigh Ritchie
A few years ago, while looking up who plays Grey Worm on Game of Thrones, I discovered that Jacob Anderson was also an exceptional hip hop artist. He just performs under the stage name Raleigh Ritchie. At least something good ended up coming from that show.
Anime, Trauma and Divorce — Open Mike Eagle
Should’ve been cool, but dude got screwed up
'Cause shit got burned up, so he fucked her up
Then she turned big, I got chewed up
That shit fucked me up, so I'ma fuck you up
Death Parade — Open Mike Eagle
Open Mike Eagle's therapist told him to write an album about his trauma and divorce. (Feels like he included the anime for himself, you know?) In interview after interview, he was open and honest about the source material. That source material just happened to be about the worst year of his life.
"There’s a narrative arc to it, but I don’t think it’s chronological. It kind of reflects my journey in therapy and isolating original trauma as through lines to a lot of the events that have shaped that year for me, and then goes back and forth between confronting things and dissociating." — Open Mike Eagle in Atwood Magazine
Circles — Mac Miller
Sometimes I get lonely
Not when I'm alone
But it's more when I'm standin' in crowds
That I'm feelin' the most on my own
And I know that somebody knows me
I know somewhere there's home
I'm startin' to see that all I have to do is get up and go
Surf — Mac Miller
Mac Miller's death hit me harder than any other celebrity death for a lot of reasons. The main one that I could articulate at the time was he was really hitting his stride as an artist. As he continued to grow and mature, his albums kept getting better. Swimming came out and felt perfect. And then a few weeks later he was gone. I was heartbroken, in part because we wouldn't get to hear what he had to say next.
So when his estate released Circles at the very beginning of this year as the companion album to Swimming, it broke my heart again. It was the thoughtful, careful, examined piece of music you'd expect from someone continuing to grow in their art. I'm so grateful we have it, even with how much it hurts for him to be gone.
Tacos Eaten This Week — 39
December Taco Total — 130
December this year has basically been Spring Training for next year's taco party. And let me tell you, I'm ready.
Without actively trying to hit it, my daily average for December would put me at ~1950 tacos for next year. I'm on pace to nearly hit 2000 tacos without effort. I'm calling it now. The hardest part of the project is going to be writing the reports, not eating the tacos.
The line between hubris and confidence really is thin, isn't it?