With January dragging its heels and with my usual sense of procrastination spreading posts out ever thinner, the time is probably past to look back at that music of 2022 that tickled my fancy. And yet…
In music terms, at least that which sits within this blog’s wheelhouse, 2022 was a bit of an outlier in as much as there’s not one specific album that stands out as ‘album of the year’ for me.
I listened to a shed load and, I’d like to think, broadened my musical palette somewhat if only geographically. Holding off on the ‘new’ stuff for a moment, it was 2022 that I took a deeper diver into Neil Young’s back catalogue. Having had my curiosity piqued by a compilation cd included with a magazine (one that wasn’t hits heavy) I also picked up his book ‘Waging Heavy Peace’ -typically I embarked on this journey as Mr Young pulled his music from Spotify and so I’ve been exploring his albums (from This Note’s For You thru to Mirrorball thus far) on cassette – this feels somehow appropriate to me. So Neil Young and, in particular, Ragged Glory was a pretty regular sound in 2022.
While it was released in 2021, Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram’s 662 was ‘new to me’ last year and got a shit load of plays from me in 2022 as both my son and I get a real kick out of his guitar tone. On a similar note, 2022 was the year I discovered Larkin Poe thanks to a random flick over to a different DAB station. Their 2022 album Blood Harmony is a cracking listen.
Thinking back there were a number of songs that stand out. A good chunk of these came from spending two weeks listening to the radio over in France – which is probably the longest I’ve consistently done so and stayed with the one station. The down side to that being that you hear a lot of Maneskin’s bloody ‘Supermodel’. The upside was hearing songs like Sting’s ‘Rushing Water’ and tracks like Adé’s ‘Tout Savoir’ and Marie-Flore’s ‘Mal barré’. Tracks that wouldn’t normally sit within my wheelhouse but their connection to a great memory means they’re in the mix for 2022’s favourites.
On the subject of individual songs, there were a couple of albums that I expected to like a lot more than I did which were home to some good tunes even if the rest weren’t quite up to muster. I’m thinking here of Eddie Vedder’s Earthling and songs like ‘Invincible’, ‘Long Way’ and Brother The Cloud’ which definitely sit up with his finest. I’d hoped for more from Regina Spektor’s first album in six years but Home, before and after wasn’t quite there. It’s home to a good few tracks though, amongst which ‘Up the Mountain’ got a lot of plays this year.
Anywho, if there wasn’t one particular ‘album of the year’ for me in 2022, there were a good few that stood out and got plenty of spins:
Placebo – Never Let Me Go
This was a surprise for me – I hadn’t bought a new Placebo album since Meds in 2006 but after hearing the lead of singles (including plenty of plays of ‘Beautiful James’ on French radio), streaming the album more times than I could count I actually bought the album toward the end of year and it’s a real solid, consistent return to form for the band that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Emotional Eternal
Apparently the aim of this album is for the listener to find their bliss while Melody Prochet searches for hers. This was another discovery via the radio and the album has had many a play over 2022 – there’s a lot to love on this melodic, psych/dream-pop record with hints of baroque, gallic and shoegaze sounds melding together and gliding along on a trippy vibe from start to finish.
Built to Spill – When The Wind Forgets Your Name
A new Built to Spill album is always worth checking in for – they seem to come along so infrequently these days – and this tight, taut and guitar-tastic offering from Doug Martsch (this time working with Brazilian band Oruã’s rhythm section) is a late-career stunner.
Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
The idea that a band could consistently release such brilliant albums as Big Thief have done is bonkers – but then they did call their debut Masterpiece. Seemingly not content with two fucking great albums in 2019, Big Thief hunkered down at the tail-end of 2020 and spent five months recording songs in five different locations. The result, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You is that rarest of things – a double album that’s essential throughout: spanning, as it does, the full range of Adrianne Lenker’s songwriting range while still highlighting the strength of the band as a unit.
Soccer Mommy – Sometimes Forever
All signs that Soccer Mommy’s new album was going to be a cracker were in place – the progression evident on Sophie Allison’s previous albums and EPs was evident and Sometimes Forever didn’t disappoint. Appropriately sitting next to last year’s album from Snail Mail in my collection, Sometimes Forever uses those guitar-driven, often slow-build / reveal, mood setters to offset intense and sometimes confessional lyrics to great affect. The pop-minded melodies, big choruses and electronic production touches make this her fullest sound and best yet.
Am Fost La Munte Și Mi-a Plăcut – La Vale
There were a lot of great post-rock albums in 2022 and while it’s a close call with Exxassen’s Le Voyage, Am Fost La Munte Și Mi-a Plăcut’s La Vale has easily had the most plays from me in 2022.
Hailing from Bucharest, their riff-driven take on post-rock has been a favourite of mine for some years now and La Vale is a fantastic slab of the good stuff.
I’ve even put together a playlist of those tunes that stand out as highlights from 2022 – some mentioned here, some not – in no particular order so probably best enjoyed on shuffle, should you be so inclined.