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Albums

Best albums of 2022: Albums #10 through #6

Good morning everyone! And happy Monday!

I don’t know about you folks but I am looking forward to the holiday season. I’ve just got a couple of working days left and then, I’m off until early in the new year.

The new year. New beginnings always bring hope for better things. I’ve already heard stirrings of some great music coming out in 2023 but before we get ahead of ourselves, we should take care of closing off 2022.

Indeed, there’s been lots of great music this year as well. And though I’ve had to curtail my vinyl collecting a bit with all the supply chain issues and the rising costs all around, this doesn’t mean I haven’t been listening to all the new music coming out via the various streaming services.

I’ve discovered lots of new artists and rekindled my relationship with many others. Just a couple of days ago, I shared five great albums that didn’t quite make the cut but are worth your attentions nonetheless. Today, marks the start of my top ten countdown in earnest, starting with albums #10 through #6. Then, I plan to post about my favourite five over the next week and half, hopefully, getting them all in by the end of the year.

With all the excellent releases, I am sure I missed out on one or two so as we go through my own 10 favourite albums, I welcome your comments and thoughts and perhaps even your own top ten favourites in the comments space provided.

Let’s do this.


#10 Blushing “Possessions”

Yes, Virginia, social media does work for good sometimes. I kept seeing Blushing pop up on my Twitter feed because of their interactions with some of my favourite shoegaze bands. Well, at some point, I must’ve started following the Austin-based shoegaze quartet because I definitely knew in advance of their self-titled debut’s release back in 2019. I was pretty sure I knew what I was in for when I gave it a go but was still pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it. For their sophomore release, Blushing convinced one of their heroes, Miki Berenyi, to collaborate on a track, really showcasing the similarity in vocal styles. And the rest of the album sounds to my ears like a huge step forward in all senses, fitting neatly on a shelf right next to the best of, not just Lush’s back catalogue, but alongside many of their ilk.


#9 Just Mustard “Heart under”

I haven’t yet heard the 2018 debut by the Dundalk, Ireland-based five piece but I am pretty sure it would fit right in my wheelhouse given that the adjective most used to describe it is shoegaze. I definitely plan to check it out over the upcoming holiday season, the period I usually use to catch up on music I might have previously missed, especially given how much I love this sophomore release. Of course, “Heart under” has a bit more industrial racket and gothy gloom added to it for the shoegaze adjective to be reapplied here. But it’s the haunting vocals of frontwoman Katie Ball that really sets this album apart for me this year and has everyone I’ve recommended it to likening their sound to dark dream poppers Cranes. My friend Tim, who actually turned me on to that latter band back in 90s, had said of “Heart under”, “Not sure about Just Mustard as a band name, but I added that album to my spotify”.


#8 Jeanines “Don’t wait for a sign”

Slumberland Records first came to my attention in the early 2010s when I discovered Allo Darlin’s sophomore record “Europe” and went down the rabbit hole exploring various twee and indie pop bands. Ever since then, they’ve become one of my favourite indie labels, being home to so many excellent bands over the years. And after purchasing a copy of Black Hearted Brother’s lone album off of them one Bandcamp Friday a couple of years ago, I have been getting emails from them every time they release a new album and usually it’s been worth my time to check it out. Jeanines’ sophomore album was definitely one of these this year. It very much fits in the vein of DIY twee and indie pop Slumberland sound. The rapid fire tracks all come in around the one and a half minute mark so that the total of all thirteen on the album is a measly twenty minutes. And yet, it’s far from fleeting. Each impression is deep and each melody will hook you until long after the last note reverberates away.


#7 The Reds, Pinks and Purples “Summer at land’s end”

I came across Glenn Donaldson (aka The Reds, Pinks & Purples) last year and his album “Uncommon weather” ended up being my favourite album of 2021. I loved it so much that I immediately doubled back to investigate his previous two (excellent) albums, released in 2019 and 2020 respectively. The man has been on a serious productive streak of late. This fourth album, “Summer at land’s end”, is far from the only collection of new music he’s released this year. Indeed, it seems like every other week I am getting a notification that he has concocted a new EP, mini-album, or companion album, and all of it is consistently excellent. This just happens to be the first thing that came out of his camp this year and the one I’ve spent the most time with. It is just more romantic, hazy, retro, atmospheric diary entries from Donaldson, whose voice I could listen to at any hour of the day. And yeah, he’s another artist on the Slumberland Records roster.


#6 Tallies “Patina”

It’s kind of a cliché that sophomore albums are considered to be challenging to most new artists. For this reason, I was somewhat surprised to realize that four of these first five albums in my top ten list are just that. So as great as they are, it makes me think that the future can only be brighter, and for Tallies especially. The Toronto-based indie pop band had already wowed those with a keen ear to the past glories of the indie pop renaissance in the eighties with their self-titled debut in 2019. Just around the time they announced the forthcoming release of “Patina” earlier this year, they were signed to Simon Raymonde’s UK label Bella Union. The album arrived on a welcome cloud of Sunday afternoon bliss, jangly wind chimes floating on memories of a warm breeze, all of it a haze from yesterday. Lovely stuff, all nine tracks.


Stay tuned for album #5 on this list. In the meantime, you can check out my Best Albums page here if you’re interested in my other favourite albums lists.

Categories
Playlists

Playlist: New tunes from 2022, part two

Happy Sunday!

And welcome back to this little thing I do every three months, adding twenty five new tracks to a multiple part playlist that soundtracks each year as it passes. If you missed part one for the first three months of 2022, you can find it here.

This year’s first quarter was very much same-same, continuing the pandemic trend that I’ve been living for what seems like an eternity, but in contrast, the last three months have been anything but status quo. The Ontario government continued with its plans of reopening, the lifting of restrictions and mandates, and the people have been slowly dipping their toes back into society, yours truly, a little more slowly than most.

In May, we discovered a new meteorological term called ‘derecho’ firsthand. The fast moving cluster of storms tore a swathe through Ontario and Quebec, travelling more than 1000 km from Windsor to Quebec City in an afternoon and wreaking havoc* along the way. Personally, I didn’t see any damage to our own property and our power was only out for a mere fifty-two hours. I consider myself very lucky, given the other stories I’ve heard and the photos of damage that I’ve seen.

Then, at the end of June, I saw my  first piece of live music in more than two and a half years and as serendipity would have it, the first headlining band that I got to see was the same as the last that I saw before the start of the pandemic. Of course, I instantly remembered why I loved going to shows and got over my initial anxiety of hanging in the crowds again. Over the last week or so, I’ve made a handful of returns to the biggest local music festival, Ottawa Bluesfest, and I am intending on returning to the final night tonight. (The National! Yes!)

Of course, through all this, I’ve been doing my darnedest to keep up with all the new releases and finding my favourites amongst those. So without further ado, I’ll present twenty five new tunes that have helped keep me going over the second three months of 2022. Highlights include:

      • I’ve heard many say that the new album by Spiritualized is the best thing Jason Pierce has done since his 1997 album, “Ladies & gentlemen we are floating in space”… well… “Always together with you” sounds like a sequel to the title track off that iconic album
      • At one minute and twenty-four seconds, “Who’s in the dark” by Jeanines is a pop gem that feels way too short, but fortunately/unfortunately, that’s this band’s M.O.
      • “Tap” is an apt name for this mellow, toe-tapping indie folk ear worm by Tomberlin
      • I couldn’t help myself but include both parts of “The lightning” by Arcade Fire because they fit so nicely and juxtaposed against each, they feel like a perfect revisit to their early days
      • “Toast” is just pure fun bedroom pop by Fanclubwallet, a young artist who is apparently local, living right here in Ottawa
      • Just Mustard is haunting and harrowing on “23”, sounding not a little like the gothic dream pop of 90s rockers, Cranes
      • With its ominous bassline and frittering synth washes, “Shotgun, the advance single off Soccer Mommy‘s third album makes for a great outro

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

1. “Rubberneckers” Christian Lee Hutson (from the album Quitters)

2. “Be by your side” Pillow Queens (from the album Leave the light on)

3. “Ur mom” Wet Leg (from the album Wet Leg)

4. “Always together with you” Spiritualized (from the album Everything was beautiful)

5. “Louis” Charlotte Rose Benjamin (from the album Dreamtina)

6. “Who’s in the dark” Jeanines (from the album Don’t wait for a sign)

7. “Looking backward” Melody’s Echo Chamber (from the album Emotional eternal)

8. “Messy roomz” Frontperson (from the album Parade)

9. “Hall of mirrors” Let’s Eat Grandma (from the album Two ribbons)

10. “Tap” Tomberlin (from the album I don’t know who needs to hear this)

11. “Nervous breakdown” Pink Mountaintops (from the album Peacock Pools)

12. “The lightning I & II” Arcade Fire (from the album WE)

13. “Mistakes” Sharon Van Etten (from the album We’ve been going about this all wrong)

14. “Young and stupid” Belle and Sebastian (from the album A bit of previous)

15. “You will never work in television again” The Smile (from the album A light for attracting attention)

16. “The amarillo kid” Craig Finn (from the album A legacy of rentals)

17. “U can be happy if U want to” Porridge Radio (from the album Waterslide, diving board, ladder to the sky)

18. “Toast” Fanclubwallet (from the album You have got to be kidding me)

19. “Wow” Tess Parks (from the album And those who were seen dancing)

20. “Bad love” Dehd (from the album Blue skies)

21. “Pretenders” Stars (from the album From Capelton Hill)

22. “23” Just Mustard (from the album Heart under)

23. “All the flowers” Angel Olsen (from the album Big time)

24. “Anti-glory” Horsegirl (from the album Versions of modern performance)

25. “Shotgun” Soccer Mommy (from the album Sometimes, forever)

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.


*The photo for this playlist’s cover is one that I took of a couple of gigantic trees that were torn up by their roots at the end of my street.

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.