As I verge towards the last section of my mid-40's, I find that I no longer feel the need to keep abreast of 'hot new music' or even what is being released on a weekly/monthly basis. I used to be super aware of what was going on, even if I didn't know or like the artist. I still knew the breaking band/artist names, song and album titles. That really is no longer the case. I find myself browsing The Guardians end of year countdown asking who? never heard of them regularly.
But new music still found me. I suspect it always will. Whether that be debut albums by Yard Act, Poster Paints, Gabriels, through established veterans like Michael Head, Spiritualized & Tim Burgess, artists like Alvvays and The Beths who both released their third albums, or the wonderful Weyes Blood who I'd never heard of before, but she released her 5th album this year.
Unusually, as a lot of albums released towards the end of the year miss End of Year lists, 5 of my favourite albums from 2022 were released in October and November. At one stage this year I did wonder if I'd be able to create an end of year favourite albums list!
As always, I'm sure other end of year lists will lead me to discovering music released in 2022 that I've missed. At the time of writing, here are my 9 favourite albums from 2022, with 7 more bubbling under that I have enjoyed throughout the year. You can check 22 of my favourite songs from 2022 on this playlist. There are also links to videos for singles/songs from each album in this list.
Poster Paints by Poster Paints
11 by SAULT
Dear Scott by Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band
And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow by Weyes Blood
Everything Was Beautiful by Spiritualized
I rarely find/make the time to blog about albums upon release these days. But I found the time to write about this. Released in spring, near the start of the war in Ukraine, I really needed this album.
At times Pierce sings tender lysergic lullabies, at other times he goes beautiful, bold and grand. There are layers of noise, grooves, drones, guitars, gospel choirs, songs of love, death, regret .... all the ingredients that make Spiritualized albums so special.
Read my blog HERE
If you want a rocket ship, I will be a rocket ship for you
If you want another world, I will be another world for you
Janky Star by Grace Ives
DIY pop from NYC. Ranges from the chaotic to the sublime. There are songs that will leave you thinking, hmmm that's kind of Taylor Swift, others where hooks come out of nowhere, many where beats suddenly change direction and Ives just goes with it.
On Lazy Day Ives vocals are beautiful as she sings; Hard drugs oh they're no longer appealing, I got addicted to the hurt and the healing while on Lullaby the synths are playful, beats are cool and Ives singing I watch that movie ten times a day, I can recite it, you press replay. It all sounds rather effortless and all the better for it. The beats, playful synths, vocal melodies and hooks all combine gloriously across the whole album.
It's nothing to be sad about
It's just something I've been thinking about
Midnights by Taylor Swift
Did someone mention Taylor Swift?
Taylor Swift has only just turned 33 and Midnights is her 10th album, her fourth since 2019. She is a remarkable talent. Midnights seems to flow from start to finish. I listened to it 3 times in a row when it came out. Karma is a real favourite, a super cool vocal and melody over sublime production that just sounds crystal clear.
Swift has described the album as a collection of songs written in the middle of the night. There is certainly a dreamy quality from start to finish. That comes across in the lyrics, but there is also that reflection and realisation that Swift does so well, sometimes with humour, sometimes brilliantly blunt like on Labyrinth when she sings I'll be getting over you my whole life before going on to sing oh oh I'm falling in love again.
And it's like snow on a beach, weird but fucking beautiful
Lying in a dream, stars by pocketful
The Overload by Yard Act
Released back in January, I found The Overload to be brilliantly refreshing. The bluntness with humour mentioned above for Swift is delivered in a very different way by Yard Act. I was gutted I had to miss their Glasgow QMU gig in November. Thankfully they are back in Glasgow at the Barrowland on 28th April.
My friend Simon wrote a guest blog where he described the band and album as a perfectly postmodern example of what guitar music can be.
Simon also urged: please listen and listen well, because this record matters. If it's the hipster dish du jour, it's also so much more: a piece of work that arrives so fully formed that its scope, its ambition, its sheer bloody humanity might be easily missed. All the jagged, twitchy Fall-ings, the majestic abrasove PIL-ading, the wryly self-referential Cocker-ness: sure, these are four young men who know the past 40-plus years of left-field indie inside-out.
Palomino by First Aid Kit
Big Time by Angel Olsen
That voice! It really does tug on heart strings.
Freakout/Release by Hot Chip
Still bursting with energy and ideas 18-years after their debut album. You kind of know what you're going to get, but the surprise is that Hot Chip still have loads of beats, synth riffs and vocal melodies up their sleeves. Always delivered with a sense of care and fun, Hot Chips always make me smile ... and dance. A good thing.