36 Reasons To Still Be Cheerful In 2020

From huge new records to innovative livestreams, you can't lose complete hope in 2020 just yet…

36 Reasons To Still Be Cheerful In 2020
Nick Ruskell

Look, pretty much everything this year is rubbish. We get it. But as 2020 slowly starts to draw to a close (thank god), there’s actually plenty of good stuff happening to balance out all the crappiness before the year ends – from exciting new records to videogames, movies, books and TV shows. Things aren’t all bad, so we’ve rounded up some of the best stuff out there to get excited about…

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit (out now)

As if Mario Kart could get any more fun, those damned geniuses at Nintendo have only gone and put it in the real world. In Mario Kart Live, real little RC cars with cameras on drive around tracks you set up in your house, and you control it via your Switch, which brings up all the usual shell-throwing, banana-slipping hazards. Which is good, because throwing shells around your house and treading fruit into the carpet is an expensive hobby.

Rob Halford book (out now)

What don’t you want to know about Rob Halford? Fortunately, everything you could possibly wish to learn about the Metal God is covered in detail – sometimes hilarious, sometimes sad, always engaging and usually thought provoking – in his Confess autobiography. Stealing from a Beatle? Check. Trying to seduce Pail Di’Anno when Iron Maiden were opening for Priest? Check. Loads of other stuff we don’t want to spoil? Yeah, check.

VUE re-showing classic movies (happening now)

Even with the normal movie release calendar largely out the window (come on, Bond, just release yourself already), people still want to go to the flicks. Kudos to VUE, then, for screening a host of classics back on the big screen. Sadly, there seem to be no plans to do an all-night Police Academy marathon, but they are showing actual classic movies like The Silence Of The Lambs, Psycho, The Empire Strikes Back, Hot Fuzz, Pulp Fiction, Alien, The Exorcist, The Shining and loads more. Days and cinemas vary, but head to myvue.co.uk and find something to sink your teeth into.

Design Museum Electronic Music Exhibition (happening now)

If you want to know where Enter Shikari, Trent Reznor, Carpenter Brut and anyone else who’s ever made music using the power of electronics learned their stuff, The Design Museum are hosting Electronic: From Kraftwerk To The Chemical Brothers until February 14. Taking you deep into the world of electronic music and culture, it features exhibits on the titular artists, as well as luminaries like techno whiz Frankie Knuckles and Brit loon Aphex Twin.

Pearl Jam celebrate 30 years of gigs with special livestream (October 22)

Thirty years to the day they played their first show at the Off Ramp in Seattle, Pearl Jam will be celebrating by streaming a never-before-seen gig recording from 2016, at Philadelphia’s Wells-Fargo Center. It’s three hours long and features Ten played in full – that’s banging. More info at Nugs.net.

Just in time for Halloween, Ghostemane releases his album (October 21)

U.S. rapper Ghostemane is one of the spookiest dudes we’ve met in a long time. And we like him a lot. He tells us his new album, ANTI-ICON, is a work of “musical mutations, a personal sonic statement reflective of many years of craft”. Intrigued? You should be, and such interest in the man’s dark music will be rewarded when you hear the damned thing. It’s killer.

iDKHOW bring the Razzmatazz (October 23)

If 2020 needs something, it’s razzmatazz. And even though the title of iDKHOW’s full-length debut album is intended to be ironic to go with its withering view of frontman Dallon Weekes’ time living in hollow Hollywood, musically it’s about as glittering as you can get without actually being a disco ball. And, really, when you haven’t been able to have a raging night out in months, this kind of smooth class is just the ticket to escape to the club in your mind and party the darkness away.

Pallbearer return with Forgotten Days (October 23)

It’s been more than three years since Arkansas doom kings Pallbearer released their stunning third album, Heartless. We know, right? Anyway, good news: album four is almost here. It’s called Forgotten Days, and we’ve heard it, and it’s awesome. As ever, it’s heavy and somewhat complex, and dealing with topics of grief and illness, it’s emotionally weighty, but the musical language Pallbearer use to express it all is peerless.

FEVER 333 blast back with a scathing new EP (October 23)

FEVER 333 frontman Jason Aalon Butler spent 13 days marching in protests in his LA hometown following the death of George Floyd. Already a man and a band in tune with the injustice of such things, this turn of events ignited something further in the singer. All the anger and frustration of a truly awful situation has been turned into a call for unity and hope on FEVER’s new EP born from it, WRONG GENERATION. And as if that wasn’t enough, they’re also going to be streaming live shows using pioneering live audio technology. Find out more at FEVER333.Veeps.com.

PUP release an EP with the silliest name ever (October 23)

“Lads,” PUP said to each other. “What are we going to call our new EP?” “New EP?” said someone. “PUP?” suggested someone else. Nah. Then, in one voice, the obvious solution to the problem made itself known: “Why don’t we call it This Place Sucks Ass?” Full disclosure: we’re only guessing that this 1980s comedy schtick is how the Canadian punks hit on the name, but it may as well be true. But anyway, it’s good music that doesn’t suck ass, which is important.

Record Store Day (October 24)

Now, more than ever, it’s important to support your local independent record shop. And, yes, getting up at farmer time on a Saturday morning to go and stand queueing in the cold for a couple of hours doesn’t sound great written down, but it’s this kind of energy that keeps these places alive. And if you don’t fancy it, go another day and fill their tills with lovely cash in exchange for albums then instead. For this instalment of the special day, there’s limited edition records by Alice Cooper, Asking Alexandria, Clutch, Dio, The Obsessed and loads more to get your mitts on, as well as, most importantly, the soundtracks for all three Austin Powers movies. Yeah, baby.

The Craft – Legacy comes to cinemas (October 28)

True ’90s kids will remember 1996 teen occult flick The Craft, and the truest will have spent a lot of time trying to make their mates levitate, or make pencils stand on end instead of listening to the teacher. And just how much did you want to go to that witch’s shop to buy black candles? Anyway, the sequel, The Craft – Legacy, is about to hit cinemas. Trailer’s out now, and David ‘Mulder’ Duchovny is in it, so you know it’s going to be killer.

Puscifer release their album and do a livestream from the desert (October 30)

October 30 is going to be an exciting day. There are, for one thing, approximately two billion records coming out to listen to while you get ready for Halloween. And as a rider to their new album, Existential Reckoning, Puscifer have just announced a celebratory livestream, direct from Arcosanti in the Arizona desert. Google it, if you don’t know what it is. Looks amazing. The perfect spot for whatever madness Maynard James Keenan and co. have in store.

Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou album (October 30)

Having already teamed up for a load of Nirvana covers, as well as their Misfits sets in a skatepark at Roadburn last year, U.S. doomsters Thou and dark folk artist Emma Ruth Rundle have brought their collaboration to bloom with a proper album, May Our Chambers Be Full. It is, as expected, uneasy listening, and nowhere near as banter as skateboards and Misfits, but it’s also perfect for these long, dark evenings.

Season Two of The Mandalorian kicks off (October 30)

Though the past few years have, even for the most dedicated fan, felt a bit like Homer Simpson trapped in Hell being force-fed doughnuts when it comes to new Star Wars stuff, a second lot of Mandalorian is still welcome news. Yeah, yeah, baby Yoda, but the whole rest of it so far has been superb as well. And, actually, you’re missing having new Star Wars stuff to gorge on already aren’t you? Yeah.

Bring Me The Horizon drop Post Human: Survival Horror (October 30)

Bring Me The Horizon haven’t let downtime be dead time. They recently released Obey, their track with YUNGBLUD, along with a killer, battling robot-themed video, and they’ve just announced a full, nine-track EP – Post Human: Survival Horror. And why stop at one guest, when you can get BABYMETAL, Nova Twins and Evanescence’s Amy Lee in on the action as well? Is that title a very, very niche reference to 1983 teen nuclear holocaust fear flick Wargames? Hopefully. Either way, we’re all over this.

Watch GWAR from the safety of the sofa (October 30)

Look on the bright side here: seeing GWAR live no longer comes with making the decision between wearing a raincoat like a fucking dork, or ruining a set of perfectly good clothes when the Virginia horror-metallers soak them in fake blood and jizz. Watching on stream, that mess is entirely someone else’s problem. And with the U.S. election that week, you can expect even more hilarious cartoon violence than usual to be thrown in the direction of a bloke dressed up as 45. What more could you want?

NOTHING bring you The Great Dismal (October 30)

Jesus Christ, boys. Even by NOTHING’s standards, that title makes us feel sad. Other hand: you know they haven’t tried to be funny or anything daft like that on their third album, so all good. And it is good. Really good. Get ready for more shimmering guitar minor-chords and feeling a bit lonely while you listen (this is a good result, trust us).

Truth Seekers starts on Amazon Prime (October 30)

Nick Frost (Spaced and Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead and that) leads a team of paranormal investigators who post their findings and shenanigans online. However, eventually they go too deep and accidentally uncover a massive conspiracy. Sounds hilarious, and it’s also got Julian Barratt and Simon Pegg and Kate Nash in it.

Perry Farrell releases a massive boxset (November 6)

Dubbed The Glitz; The Glamour, this exhaustive collection of rarities and oddments from Jane’s Addiction frontman and alt.rock dandy Perry Farrell will keep you going ’til next Christmas. Featuring nine discs of music remastered for proper audiophiles, plus photo book and mesmerising art, it is a staggering amount of stuff that’s also uniformly intriguing and artistically explosive.

Xbox Series X launch (November 10)

There has never been a better time to be able to really, really, really, get stuck into gaming. And the graphics on Series X are proper awesome as well. It’s a treat to yourself at £499, but by the looks of things it’s worth it. Games announced so far include Assassins Creed Valhalla, Battlefield 6, Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Cyberpunk 77 and loads more. Happy gaming.

…And then the PS5 launch (November 12)

It was hard to order, you have to put it in a weird stand and they’ve put the controller buttons in the wrong place which will make undoing 25 years of muscle memory to play old games maddening, but it’s a new PlayStation, innit? And you love it. Games on launch include Spider-Man Miles Morales, Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Demon’s Souls, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Immortals: Fenix Rising, Destruction All Stars and Mortal Kombat Ultimate, with loads more to follow in early 2021.

The new AC/DC album POWER UP is coming (November 13)

We’ve already heard Shot In The Dark and it slaps, so the rest of AC/DC’s new album will almost definitely follow suit. After some is he/isn’t he stuff after he was replaced for gigs by Axl Rose on account of tinnitus, Brian Johnson is back on the mic, which is amazing, but what’s really cool here is the sense of tribute to their late guitarist Malcolm Young. Although his brother Angus has said there’s none of Malcolm’s playing here, he’s credited as a writer anyway, which is how you do it, and wherever the big man is, he’d surely be proud that his band have smashed out such a banger here.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes demolish O2 Academy Brixton (November 13)

You would think that playing to nobody at Brixton would be disheartening, not to mention wholly embarrassing. Not for Frank Carter, who’s doing a closed-shop livestream from the venue, which, if his last appearance there is any measure, will be absolute carnage, even with no audience. Fans can tune in via Melody VR, which promises a virtual stage invasion – this sounds bonkers, but we’re up for it.

YUNGBLUD gets Weird! (November 13)

We see you there, YUNGBLUD, stealing our bit and having extra punctuation in your album title. We fucking see you. But it’s also just as necessary as our exclamation mark, because the second album from the most OTT man in Doncaster has the volume on absolutely everything turned up. He’s already given us the Technicolor riot of Strawberry Lipstick and the saucy Cotton Candy, so don’t expect the rest of the album to suddenly be a drab, tie-done-up-to-11 affair.

Orange Goblin livestreams (November 15 and 16)

God how we’ve missed Orange Goblin gigs. God how we took those riots of volume and heavy metal thunder and beer for granted. Good news: they’re doing two livestreams to celebrate their 25th birthday, one for roughly the first half of their career, the other for, uh, the other. Better news: you can buy tickets to go and remember what gigs were like for these shows at London’s Tufnell Park Dome. You can get the deafness back just fine, but social distancing means you don’t have to worry about man-mountain frontman Ben Ward accidentally dislocating your arm while enthusiastically high-fiving you, like he did to some poor sod at Ramblin’ Man last summer.

Metal’s heaviest supergroup, Killer Be Killed, return (November 20)

A Soulfly / Dillinger Escape Plan / Converge / Mastodon sandwich – it’s basically so heavy they had to make the band up of bits of other bands to prevent some sort of astral collapse or black hole or something. On Reluctant Hero, Killer Be Killed are even more intense than they were on their debut album. Because that’s something that was in short supply before, clearly.

Refused release The Malignant Fire EP (November 20)

Not a drill: there are new Refused songs coming your way. One of them is called Organic Organic Organic (Go Fuck Yourself), and another is Faceless Corporate Violence, so you know you’re in for something good already. And if any band can bring the exact temperature of anger and wilding out to help you let off some of the uniquely shitty steam of 2020, it’s the Swedish hardcore pioneers. Get ready to practice not smashing yourself through a wall with joy when you first hear it.

Iron Maiden’s Mexico City Live Album (November 20)

Can you ever have too many Iron Maiden live albums? If your answer is anything other than, “Of course not”, you are an idiot. So hurray for the Irons’ latest live outing, Nights Of The Dead, Legacy Of The Beast: Live In Mexico City. If you saw the band on their Legacy Of The Beast Tour, you’ll know that the show and setlist are awesome, with tunes like Where Eagles Dare and Flight Of Icarus being dusted off and fired up again for the first time in decades. On the live album, you can’t see Bruce Dickinson’s 512 costume changes or Kenneth Brannagh theatrics, but you can hear them and imagine them. And if you really must, there’s (probably) nothing stopping you building your own fake Spitfire to hang in the lounge while you listen.

Photo: Andy Gallagher

Lego Star Wars Holiday Special on Disney+

After the first Presidential Election Debate, Mark ‘Luke Skywalker’ Hamill tweeted “That debate was the worst thing I've ever seen and I was in The Star Wars Holiday Special.” The original one sucks. But, there’s nothing that a bit of being-done-in-Lego can’t fix, and this new bit of The Force getting festive on Disney+ is sure to be infinitely better. Fun fact: Jon Bon Jovi’s first commercial vocals were on the Star Wars Christmas Album. Really.

Black Friday (November 27)

There’s always time for consumerism, and not even a pandemic can stop Black Friday bargains. This year’s probability of punching someone over a discounted telly is lower than usual because that’s not very social distancy, but online discounts are there to be had if you can’t be arsed to queue in the cold. Plus, while you browse from the comfort of your laptop, you’ll no doubt still be treated to YouTube videos of people being dicks about not wanting to wear a mask, so you’ll be entertained anyway.

Hatebreed unleash Weight Of The False Self (November 27)

Now that’s what we’re talking about – reliable, angry Hatebreed, Hatebreeding it up once more. So long off the road must be absolutely killing them, so we can only imagine how much aggression’s going to be flying all over the place when the U.S. hardcore legends finally get to lay these songs down onstage. And if anything should make you want to toe the line and do what it takes to get live music back, surely it’s that.

New Smashing Pumpkins album (November 27)

It’s nice to know that Smashing Pumpkins’ reunification of Billy Corgan, James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin is going so well that they’ve done a second album so soon, just two years after the exhaustingly-titled Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. And in that time, Billy Corgan has written a whole solo album as well, last year’s Cotillions. So, here we have Cyr, that album’s sequel, and the band’s second double album after Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. We are in for a treat.

Billie Joe Armstrong releases his No Fun Mondays album (November 27)

Back in March, Billie Joe Armstrong started doing No Fun Mondays, in which he’d do a weekly cover to make the evenings go faster in lockdown. It was such a good idea that he’s gathered them together for a proper release. Highlights include Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now, and Kim Wilde’s Kids In America. Which isn’t as raucous as Brit comedy thrashers Lawnmower Deth’s take on it, complete with Kim herself on special live occasions. Anyway, this is still great – get it.

Gama Bomb album (December 4)

Irish thrashers Gama Bomb are more fun than a monkey with an air horn. And sometimes, like now, you just need a dose of actually very clever blokes being lovably silly over killer thrash riffs. On Sea Savage, they’ve gone the whole hog and done a concept album, “presented as a 19th century play, with Act One and Act Two playing out on side A and side B of the record respectively. The pelagic tale follows the crew of the steamer ‘S.S. Gama Bomb’ as they voyage in search of a real-life Yeti, only to go slowly mad on the high seas. It also features songs about ’80s and ’90s movies.” This last bit explains the brilliantly titled She’s Not My Mother, Todd. Although no explanation for a song called Ready, Steady, Goat! has ever been necessary.

Wonder Woman 1984 (December 26)

Gal Gadot’s first outing as Wonder Woman was brilliant. In this sequel we find Wonder Woman / Diana Prince in the ‘80s, which is always good, doing her thing against a backdrop of Cold War badness (again, always good). Taking on Cheetah and slimy ’80s Gordon Gekko type Max Lord, it promises to be even more explosive than the WWI-themed original. And it’s out on Boxing Day, so you can sneak a turkey sandwich into the cinema with you, if you’re feeling rebellious about it.

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