UK group The Young Knives got their start in the mid-'00s, lumped in with the UK post-punk revival that gave us Franz Ferdinand, Futureheads, Bloc Party and The Rakes, but Henry Dartnall and brother Thomas "House of Lords" Dartnall always felt like outsiders in the scene with singles like "She's Attracted To" and "Weekends and Bleak Days (Hot Summer)." After a seven year absence, Young Knives returned in 2020, now light years away from pretty much every band on Planet Earth, with their way, way out there and awesome Barbarians, which melds punk, metal, tribal rhythms, krautrock, Beefheart style blues rock, free jazz, experimental folk, industrial and more into a battle with our current Lord of the Flies world. It's a terrific record, unlike any you're likely to hear this year (or any time soon) and you can stream it below.

Young Knives also just made a video for Barbarians standout "Jenny Haniver," which was directed by Iman Mahdy. "The song is a reflection on the traditional view of women in relationships, and perhaps the old-fashioned male gaze and “phwoar” culture that used to be kind of accepted, or at least expected when we were younger," says Henry. "It’s also about the idea of perfection and beauty and when it gets so pushed in our society that it can become garish and ugly. As with most of our songs we are just playing with the words and not making any kind of point; it isn’t activism, it’s a reflection on the experiences of these things by two middle aged white fellas." He adds, "We were struggling when it came to the concept for the video because we make quite grotesque videos in general, and we really felt like it was time to hand it to someone else who would be able to bring out something different in the story. Iman’s illustrations and animation style has such a dream-like quality, and a real touch of something beautiful even in the weirdest of creatures, it felt like the perfect match." Watch that below.

Meanwhile, we asked Young Knives about their favorite albums of 2020 and Henry and House of Lords each gave us five picks, including Einstürzende Neubauten, Róisín Murphy, OneOhtrix Point Never, Crack Cloud and more. Check out their lists, compete with commentary, below.

Young Knives – Top 10 Albums of the year

Henry’s 5:

Shit & Shine - Malibu Liquor Store
I just love the way that this record pulls from and slides between genres. It’s noise rock, Jazz, No wave, electronica and many more. It really makes me think of Bentley Rhythm Ace and definitely has a Big Beat thing going on as well as being artful and experimental. Each track is like a mood piece, each one filled with surprising twists and turns. I will be stealing the way that they have recorded real drums but added electronica chops and grain delays to them, thanks in advance Shit and Shine. Funky.

Horse Lords - The Common Task
Looping, dreamy and mathy this is like Polvo with saxophone and bagpipes. It has space vocalizations, guitar textures and real depth to the drum production, chopped and organic mix perfectly and are rammed together in something akin to classical movements rather than tracks or songs.

Sharp Veins - Armour your Actions up in Quest
Distorted, mangled, glitchy, kitschy, maddening and completely great. What this album is I don’t really know. Its fairly brutal to listen all the way through, which is what I like. It’s an exercise in creative freedom for sure. Track names like “Nipple Pierced Dog Walks Itself” and “Funcertain” might give you a clue.

Wesley Gonzales - Appalling Human
Wesley is the former front man of Let’s Wrestle and this album is about his incredible songwriting and tone with a tragic comic bent. Self-loathing and isolation are present but it’s so joyful and genuine. His single “Change” may have an Ariel Pink element of irony, but that’s only really detectable in the video. The song is pure Orange Juice filtered through an obsession with those fuzzy synths sliding in and out of pitch and it is played dead straight. It’s heartfelt and emotionally real, and that just makes this record touch me.

Róisín Murphy - Róisín Murphy
It’s disco but it’s such a desolate and industrial version of Disco. Róisín has always made me think of Grace Jones in that there is soul and pop and the aforementioned disco but it’s so alien and blade runner that there is barely a hint of fun or parties here. It’s the soundtrack to a disco nightmare and I love it. Did I say Disco enough?

House of Lords’ 5:

Rian Treanor - File Under UK Metaplasm
I love the sounds on this. I love it when people make music where they get rid of all the ideas of drum sounds or keyboards etc. This sounds like it was made by robots of futuristic teen nerds.

Oneohtrix Point Never - Magic Oneohtrix Point Never
This album is a total trip. It's supposed to sound like flicking through radio stations and it does but also like a lucid dream. My favourite track is "Weather Report "which sounds which is a sort of cosmiche shipping forecast music.

Einstürzende Neubauten - “Alles In Allem"
This is Blixa Bargeld fronting a traditional song writer type album which should be a bit dull but it’s not. He’s completely compelling even without the sonic assault behind him.

The Lemon Twigs - Songs for the General Public
I think the Lemon Twigs are great. There’s nothing less cool than doing retro songs that sound like Todd Rundgren and Sparks and stuff, but they do it better than anyone else I can think of and I can’t help singing along.

Crack Cloud - Pain Olympics
I like that this band just whack loads of ideas into each song and just try loads of stuff out it’s really exciting.


Need more end-of-year lists? Browse our Best of 2020 tag.

More From Brooklyn Vegan