Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: Spiritualized “Everything was beautiful”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Spiritualized
Album Title: Everything was beautiful
Year released: 2022
Details: Limited edition, pink, 140gram, removable pill box cutout

The skinny: I just finished wrapping up the countdown of my favourite albums of 2022 a few days ago and this latest by Spiritualized came in at the top spot. I told the story in that post about how I resisted the urge to listen to the album before I received the physical copy, despite having the digital copy included with the preorder from Bandcamp. “Everything was beautiful” was exactly as advertised and everything I’d come to expect from Jason Pierce and more. For me, it plays like “a sum of all of Pierce’s ideas and work, like you can hear pieces of all his career on this album”. When placing my pre-order, I went with Bandcamp to get the deluxe version of the release, pressed to 140 gram pink vinyl and with the special packaging that features a pop-out pill box on the cover. Classic Spiritualized.

Standout track: “The A song (Laid in your arms)”

Categories
Playlists

Playlist: New tunes from 2022, part four

Saturday morning, December 31st, 2022.

Here we are at the precipice of another year. And though I honestly didn’t have high hopes for this year, it was an improvement on the previous two, which makes me think it can only get better from here. Right?

Right.

If you’ve been paying attention to these pages over the last couple of weeks, you’ve seen me counting down my favourite albums released in 2022, the number one album seeing the light of day just yesterday. And now, keeping with the tradition I started over the last couple of years, I’ve left the final instalment of my annual four-part playlist sharing some of my favourite new tunes released during the year to post on this last day of the year. You are welcome to go back and revisit parts one, two, and three, which include songs from the first three quarters of 2022. This final playlist, much like the previous three, collects twenty-five bangers from the last three months. Usually, I would have to bolster this last part with the b-sides, or tracks that I just missed including in the previous three parts, but there was plenty of great new music this time around and I only needed to add a small handful.

Before I carry on, I just wanted to thank those of you who have been reading and listening along this year and for the past handful. I write these words and share these thoughts and it’s all just for the passion of it, for the love of music. So let’s just enjoy this moment and the music that makes it. These here are the final twenty five tunes of the year that have made it all bearable. Highlights include:

      • Where else would I start this last playlist but something from the newest album Canadian indie pop heroes, Alvvays, and “After the earthquake” is everything that we would have hoped it would be
      • “Let the lights on” is a grimy ear worm that begs repeat listens and Sorry is not apologizing for it
      • Don’t be fooled by the moniker, Skullcrusher is not death metal but delicate and lilting indie pop and “Whatever fits together” is just that
      • “Hurricane” and its country/folk delight has us hoping for more from Plains, the collaborative efforts of Katie Crutchfield and Jess Williamson
      • Canadian quartet Sloan shows us that power pop is still safe in their hands with their latest album and this new single “Magical thinking”
      • Canadian indie folk troubadour Dan Mangan is the latest in a string of artists to pay tribute to former Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison, promising everyone that we’ll be “In your corner”
      • I’ve let Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess close things off with a ray of sunshine and hope and “Here comes the weekend” and a brand new year

Here is the entire playlist as I’ve created it:

1. “After the earthquake” Alvvays (from the album Blue rev)

2. “Satellite” Courtney Marie Andrews (from the album Loose future)

3. “Let the lights on” Sorry (from the album Anywhere but here)

4. “Baby don’t you know” Ciel (from the EP Nor in the sun, nor in the dark)

5. “Into the blue” Broken Bells (from the album Into the blue)

6. “Whatever fits together” Skullcrusher (from the album Quiet the room)

7. “Part of the band” The 1975 (from the album Being funny in a foreign language)

8. “Emily smiles” The Lightning Seeds (from the album See you in the stars)

9. “My very best” The Big Moon (from the album Here is everything)

10. “Hurricane” Plains (from the album I walked with you a ways)

11. “See you better now” Wild Pink (from the album ILYSM)

12. “Warm wine” Batts (from the album The nightline)

13. “Abigail” Frankie Cosmos (from the album Inner world peace)

14. “Magical thinking” Sloan (from the album Steady)

15. “One day (it’s being scheduled)” Robyn Hitchcock (from the album Shufflemania!)

16. “Swallow” Girlpuppy (from the album When I’m alone)

17. “In your corner (for Scott Hutchison)” Dan Mangan (from the album Being somewhere)

18. “Out of my head” First Aid Kit (from the album Palomino)

19. “Come on sun” Jason Collett (from the album Head full of wonder)

20. “Morningstar” Smut (from the album How the light felt)

21. “Children of the empire” Weyes Blood (from the album And in the darkness, hearts aglow)

22. “Working for the knife” Mitski (from the album Laurel Hell)

23. “Jackie down the line” Fontaines D.C. (from the album Skinty fia)

24. “Civil liberties” Fake Palms (from the album Lemons)

25. “Here comes the weekend” Tim Burgess (from the album Typical music)

Those of you who are on the Apple Music train can click here to sample the above tracks as a whole playlist.

And as always, wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and continue to be well. Above all, enjoy the tunes.


If you’re interested in checking out any of the other playlists I’ve created and shared on these pages, you can peruse them here.

Categories
Albums

Best albums of 2022: #1 Spiritualized “Everything was beautiful”

In 2018, Jason Pierce released his eighth studio album as Spiritualized, “And nothing hurt”. I remember hearing in advance of its release of how great it was, how it was a return to the sound and scope of their masterpiece, 1997’s “Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space”, and how it might very well be his last album. I was so excited I jumped on it right away, downloading the digital version that was granted me with the pre-order of it on vinyl. Of course, I fell in love with it and it ended up landing at number four on my end of year list for that year, but what struck me the most was how different the album sounded when I dropped the needle to the disc on my turntable.

When “Everything was beautiful” was announced, I was first of all relieved that the fear of Pierce packing it in was unwarranted and secondly, I was determined to wait for my pre-ordered physical copy to arrive before giving any of it a listen. And so I held off on release day, even as I heard once again that this album was the man’s best work since that aforementioned masterpiece, and I was duly rewarded to brilliance and beauty when I gave it a spin the very night the record arrived. It was like a perfect synergy between my ears and my earphones, music and emotion and (forgive me here) spirituality.

Billed by Pierce as a companion album to its predecessor, the two titles taken together form a quote from the Kurt Vonnegut novel, “Slaughterhouse five”, apt considering the songs from both albums were all written and demoed around the same time. This second album, however, has had more time to steep and has the experience of many other lifetimes, these felt even more deeply with all that we have collectively been through in the interim. As great as “And nothing hurts” was and as much as was put into it*, “Everything was beautiful” feels just more complete, more a sum of all of Pierce’s ideas and work, like you can hear pieces of all his career on this album. But this is more a revisit than a rehash, retracing his footsteps in a different set of shoes.

At surface, one might surmise that this album was a throwaway, given that it’s only seven tracks in length. However, it uses every millimeter of space on the record, filling out the forty-five minutes and colouring in the skies in a mass of sound, his sound, space rock. If you’ve never heard Spiritualized’s particular brew of psychedelic noise, gospel, and free jazz, “Everything was beautiful” is just as great a starting point as any of his works. And yes, I would say this is definitely the best Spiritualized record in more than two decades.

The best way to listen to “Everything was beautiful” is end-to-end, all the way through on vinyl but I’m willing here to offer up three picks to lead you by the nose to the prize.


“The mainline song“: When I first saw the title of this track, I immediately thought back to Spiritualized’s second record, “Pure phase”, and the instrumental track that picked up on a theme that coursed through that whole album. This one is different though, more about trains than heroin, and though about half of the track’s six minutes is purely instrumental, we do get into some words. “Sweet heart, sweet light. Oh babe, it’s a beautiful night, and I wanted to know if you wanted to go tell the city tonight.” It’s a track inspired by lockdowns and protests about lockdowns and about finally getting things right. Setting things right.

“Let it bleed (For Iggy)”: “Laboured over these words too long / And nothing to behold / Wanted it to be special for you / But it’s just a song.” Pierce’s ode to his hero Iggy Pop certainly starts off mellow and ventures into delicate balladry, but in his hands, a song is never just a song. The choirs sing and horns call and guitars vibrate. It is about putting everything into it and having faith, perhaps blind fatih, that the efforts will be appreciated. This is about Jason Pierce as much as it is Iggy Pop.

“Always together with you”: Echoes of the title track of “Ladies and gentlemen”, the first track of the album opens with a female breathing the title of the album over space echoes but this time the voice is provided by his daughter, Poppy, instead of his ex-lover, Kate Radley. The similarities don’t end there, indeed, this feels like a sequel, a revisit, but the object is the future and not the past. It is just as epic and beautiful and heartrending. It is six and a half minutes of hope and love, strings and choirs and horns and angels. “If you want a silver moon, I would be a silver moon for you. If you want a unicorn, I would be a unicorn for you. If you want a satellite, I would be a satellite for you. If you want a universe, I would be a universe for you.” The universe would be pleased.


*I remember writing about it at the time that it sounded to me like Pierce was putting his all into it.

In case you missed the previous five posts, here is the rest of the list:

10. Blushing “Possessions”
9. Just Mustard “Heart under”
8. Jeanines “Don’t wait for a sign”
7. The Reds, Pinks and Purples “Summer at land’s end”
6. Tallies “Patina”
5. Suede “Autofiction”
4. Wet Leg “Wet Leg”
3. Beach House “Once twice melody”
2. Alvvays “Blue rev”

You can also check out my Best Albums page here if you’re interested in my other favourite albums lists.