Of course I did not listen to everything in 2022. Even if I had the time, I wouldn't want to waste it.
I've read through Mojo and Uncut and the New York Times, and I was curious about very little. Maybe that's on me. But when you are consistently confounded or disappointed, or just plain hungry, it's easy to reach for comfort food.
I did listen to enough, though. I bravely made my way through a third of the SZA record before I lost patience. Dry Cleaning got to my nerves much sooner. Mojo's #1, "Dear Scott" from Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band left me cold. (I should have known better.) I wanted to like Panda Bear & Sonic Boom, but the reviews of the record were more interesting than the music. Wilco's "Cruel Country" was half great. Yard Act was third rate Fall. I won't listen to Beyonce for no other reason than I have liked nothing prior and I can't imagine this one will be the game changer.
So...that leaves...well...a lot that I didn't get around to. But while others were getting through Cass McCombs, Kendrick Lamar, Joan Shelley, Big Thief and Richard Dawson (I prefer his earlier, "Hogan's Heroes" material), I rediscovered the often overlooked 80's catalogue of The Ramones, classic records by War after years of only knowing the hit singles, Rhiannon Giddens, The Soft Boys "Underwater Moonlight," which I hadn't heard in over 25 years, the very extensive swamp pop and R&B catalogue from legendary producer Jay Miller, as well as my usual best friends Queen, Bowie, Rundgren, Sparks, Marvin Gaye, Thin Lizzy and the always entertaining Studio One and Trojan Records rosters.
Honorable mention goes to Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard for releasing a very fine debut record. This is #11 on my Top 10.
There were ten records released this year that I played more than a few times. Some of them were played a few dozen times.
Here they are.
10. Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder- Get On Board
Two legends who first played together in The Rising Sons back in the 60's, this record makes me feel good. It oozes authenticity. You can hear the love for the music from the artists, as well as the love of the artists for each other.
9. Eddie Vedder- Earthling
A suprisingly accessible record, with Eddie wearing his influences on his sleeve. "Earthling" plays like a greatest hits of classic radio, with songs that have obvious nods to Tom Petty, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Lennon & McCartney. "Mrs. Mills" is worth the price of admission just to hear Ringo Starr be Ringo Starr.
8. Cecile McLorin Savant- Ghost Song
I hadn't heard a note of Cecile McLorin Savant's music before this release. But much of this record was so musically stunning, I was afraid to dig deeper into her catalogue. I still might but I can't imagine anything topping "Ghost Song." There are many twists and turns on this album and it is an exquisite ride if you are willing to get in. The title track is one of my favorite songs of the year.
7. Charlie Gabriel- 89
The legendary Charlie Gabriel is a senior member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, yet this is his first solo record. Charlie's playing on "89" is absolutely sublime. I've seen Charlie Gabriel play more times than I can remember. He was a frequent guest at both Shannon Powell's Sunday night jams and Bob French's Monday night residencies at the long lamented Donna's Bar & Grill on N. Rampart Street in New Orleans. Never a bad time was had. "89" is a beauty.
6. Tommy McLain- I Ran Down Every Dream
It’s easy to get lost in Tommy McLain‘s story. I bet it’s even easier to fall for the sexy special guests like Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello and Van Dyke Parks. But the real star here is C.C. Adcock, because he produced a record solely based on the love for the artist and the material. That’s a lost art.
"I Ran Down Every Dream" is a melancholy trip down memory lane from an artist who had it all and lost it all. You can feel that on every song.
The Top Five-
5. Horace Andy- Midnight Rocker
Horace Andy is one of my favorite reggae vocalists. His appearance on Massive Attack's "Blue Lines" kept him in the spotlight outside of the reggae world, and "Midnight Rocker' is a perfect combination of old and new Andy. There is even an excellent cover of Massive Attack's "Safe From Harm." If you aren't a reggae fan, try this record.
4. Tears For Fears- The Tipping Point
In short, these two guys have no business making a record this good 40 years on. "The Tipping Point," Tears For Fears first new album in 18 years, is gorgeous. It has a vibe similar to their last record, "Everybody Loves A Happy Ending," which is actually my favorite TFF record. I will give all due credit to producers Charlton Pettus and Sacha Skarbek for not fixing what wasn't broken. The songs are smart and they do not pander, though you will be reminded every now and then, either with a chord change or a vocal flourish of the band's heyday.
3. Dr. John- Things Happen That Way
Why the hell is this being touted as a country record? All of the PR prior and all of the reviews after its release, all refer to it as Dr. John's country album. Did anyone listen to it, or did they just see a couple of Hank Williams tunes and an appearance by Willie Nelson and decide, "Okay. Must be country." This record is pure Dr. John New Orleans grease that would not sound out of place next to "Gris Gris" or "Gumbo." With the exception of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," arranged in 3/4 time with some tinkling piano that would make Floyd Cramer proud, the rest of the country songs that are covered have that sinister vibe and subtle voodoo funk of Mac's most iconic work. "Things Happen That Way" is a fantastic last word from a New Orleans legend. It is not a country record. It's a Dr. John record. A damn good Dr. John record.
2. Wet Leg- S/T
I've said it all too many times already. So to wrap it up, this is everything everyone has been saying it is and more. Wet Leg is my second most played record of 2022.
1. Elvis Costello & The Imposters- The Boy Named If
This was my most played record of 2022.
In brief, the new Elvis Costello record is one of the best of his career.
That is all.
Okay, that is not all.
It's not just because we are 45 years on from "My Aim Is True."
Or, that Mr. McManus has tried the patience of his fans with more genre hopping releases than they'd care to remember.
Or, that no band members were in the same place at the same time at any point during the making of this album.
It's all of those things and the fact that this record reminds me of so many classic Elvis moments both solo and with his bands The Attractions and The Imposters, that I couldn't help but play "Name That Tune" while each song unfolded. For this alone, "The Boy Named If" is the most fun I have had with an Elvis Costello record in years.
This is not to say I haven't loved his output for the last 25 years. I have. From his trip-hop experiments to his collaborations, I have loved most of it. But "The Boy Named If" is a blast from the needle drop. You don't need to figure it out. It's rock and roll.
It's hard to ignore the "Goon Squad" keyboards and "5ive Gears In Reverse/Beaten To The Punch" drive of the opener, "Farewell OK."
Or the subtle vibe and keyboard quotes of "The Beat" on "Magnificent Hurt."
Or, the similarities between "Trick Out The Truth" and "God's Comic."
Or, the melody and arrangement of "Paint The Red Rose Blue" owing more than a bit to Costello's cover of Bill Anderson's "Must You Throw Dirt In My Face."
Or, the absolutely gorgeous album closer, "Mr Crescent,"
which sounds like an unintentional mash-up of "All The Rage" and "Sleep
Of The Just."
Intentional or not, Elvis & The Imposters have taken their greatest moves and created something brand new. "The Boy Named If" is not only musical in ways Costello hasn't been since "Imperial Bedroom," it rocks in ways Costello hasn't rocked since "Blood & Chocolate."
I can't recall the last Elvis release where I thought, "I love every single track."
Kudos to the band: Steve Nieve, Pete Thomas, & Davey Faragher.
And to the genius producer Sebastian Krys, for making "The Boy Named If" sound like the band was feeding off each other's sweat and chops in a studio together.
And there it is.
Got to see Cecile McLorin 2 months ago here in Seville - was spellbinding. Agree with you on her lp, Dr. John, Tommy McLain, Taj/Ry and Charlie Gabriel. Need to listen to the new Costello record. I would add to my list:
Dedicated Men of Zion: The Devil Don't Like It
Sidy Sambs - Dem Dikk Afroflamenco
Alex McMurray - The Recent Future
Stacey Kent - Songs From Other Places
Eliane Elias - Quietude
Feliz Navidad, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza and just have a great, joyous, and peaceful holiday season.
Great list. I LOVE the Tears for Fears record so, so much!
In no particular order, here are my 10 favorite releases of 2022.
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard - Backhand Deals
Tears For Fears - Tipping Point
Dead Tongues - Dust
Ryan Adams - FM
Miles Hunt - Things Can Change
Liam Gallagher - C'mon You Know
Tedeschi Trucks - I Am The Moon
The Heavy Heavy - Life and Life Only
Elvis & Imposters - The Boy Named
Brian Jackson- This is Brian Jackson
Honorable mentions; Simple Minds, Horace Andy, Arcade Fire, Mike Campbell, Bruce Hornsby, The Gabbard Brothers, and Marcus King
Happy holidays to all! Thanks Sal for keeping the flame alive!
finding it hard to believe Sal listened to the Robyn Hitchcock-led Soft Boys. tbf, the SBs were far different than Hitchcock's subsequent output.
i lol'd at the mention of Richard Dawson - he's all over my youtube suggestions despite me never listening to a lick. he owes his publicist some money.
my most played:
Nick Frater – Aerodrome Motel (pure pop in a Squeeze style)
Lady Blackbird – Live at Capitol Studios (an artist that Sal highlighted; a modern Nina, her combo reminds me of Carmel’s “The Drum is Everything”)
Gong – Pulsing Signal (live release by the current prog jazz version of the band)
Left Banke – High Flyer (an EP’s worth of baroque pop that I enjoy for the nostalgia)
Dead Tongues – Dust (scratches the itch left after Uncle Tupelo’s Anodyne)
Urge Overkill – Oui (it’s no Exit the Dragon, but someone in the band has gotten religion which I never would have expected)
The Wedding Present – Locked Down and Stripped Back (the current quartet re-recorded the band’s back catalog while in quarantine, making the songs sound warmer)
Jeff Parker – Mondays at the Enfield Tennis Academy (live excerpts from a Los Angeles club residency that sound like a laid back Tortoise)
Hedvig Mollestad – Maternity Beat (an orchestral release that’s jazzier than her usual power metal)
Ryan Adams – Romeo & Juliet (as close to a Whiskeytown album as he’ll probably do; I could do without the multiple stabs at l. cohen/t. van zandt material)
Fievel is Glauque – Flaming Swords (saxophone, pedal steel and an Annette Peacock soundalike doing pop songs shorter than 3 min)
Hania Rani – Live from Studio S2 (the official release of this performance - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFRdoYfZYUY)
I struggled to cut my list down and had to settle on 20 that I really enjoy.
1. Tedeschi Trucks Band - I Am The Moon
-Played this more than any other 2022 release. Possibly Susan Tedeschi's best singing on record, with more soul and subtlety. The band are as wonderful as always.
2. Zero - Naught Again
- No idea why this sat in the vaults for 30 years, but it is wonderful to have it now. Steve Kimock takes his guitar playing to a spine-tingling level. Would love to have been in the audience. I skip the two tracks which are just Robert Hunter introducing the band only need to hear those once.
3. Joe Pug - Nation of Heat Revisted
- I missed the original Nation of Heat EP back in 2008. That was solo folk-singer work. This is the same songs with full band. Both are fantastic. If you like Dylan, Earle and Prine, this is for you. Standouts are the title cut and I Do My Father's Drugs, but the whole thing is just about perfect.
4. The Rave Ups - Tomorrow
- This came out of nowhere. Talk about picking up right where they left off! Possibly the best of all of their work. It's in regular rotation.
5. Herman Hitson - Let The Gods Sing
- Could this be what Jimi Hendrix would sound like now if he were still alive? The title track is Howlin' Wolf singing Voodoo Chile. Ain't No Other Way is James Brown fronting the Experience. If you are a fan of The JHE and JB, check this out.
6. Kevin Morby - This Is A Photograph
- Past potential leads to this wonderful indie rock album. Where previous KM albums had good songs along with some weak ones, this one is all good.
7. The Beths - Expert In A Dying Field
- If you are a fan of Flying Nun - style indie bands like The Clean, The Bats, and Straightjacket Fits, this album is for you. Smart songs, played with energy and flair.
8. Elvis Costello - The Boy Named If + Alive At Memphis Magnetic
- The Boy Named If is typically high-quality EC, but don't miss out on the companion album.
9. Dawda Jobarteh – Soaring Wild Lands (The Instrumentals)
- Kora player adds a Danish string quartet in his adopted homeland with glorious results. I prefer this version to the one with occasional vocals.
10. Espen Eriksen Trio - In The Mountains
- Stunning set of Scandanavian jazz.
11. Big Big Train - Welcome To The Planet
- BBT put it all together here. The set is well-written, arranged, and performed, but the songs have more hooks than previously. Progressive rock without sounding trite or copycat.
12. Freedy Johnston - Back On The Road To You
- Another unexpected treat. Not quite as stunning as The Rave Ups, but FJ's songwriting is as good as ever.
13. Fantastic Cat - The Very Best of Fantastic Cat
- A heap of wonderful rock/pop songs done with hooks and humor.
14. Gabe Lee - The Hometown Kid
- Americana done well. It's not his debut, but it's Gabe Lee's best set of songs with better production and recording. The last track makes me wish is was in the honky tonk angel band, too.
15. Dr. John - Things Happen That Way
16. Kirk Lightsey - Live at Smalls Jazz Club
- Never heard of KL before this album, but it is stunning. I hope to see this band on tour.
17. Zela Margossian Quintet - The Road
- Armenian pianist relocates to Australia and records a gem with a group of Aussies.
18. Charlie Gabriel - 89
19. Spoon - Lucifer On The Sofa
- As much fun as Kill The Moonlight (2002). Lots of energy, fun, with some contemplative moments in between.
20. Emile Parisien - Louise
- Some tracks swing like crazy with big horn sections and choruses with hooks, others rock out with overdriven guitars duelling with the sax, and some take the spiritual jazz path. A superb modern jazz album.
- Paul in DK
Paul In DK,
I had no idea there was a new Herman Hitson record. I have a couple of deep soul singles from the 70s that I love.
Just looked up the new one and his backing band is the same band backing Dedicated Men Of Zion that pmac mentioned in the chat box. The guitar on both is Will Sexton.
Really great stuff. In fact, I think this is the Top 10 list of yours that I like the best, and have had the most moments of "Damn, I hadn't heard this yet - and it's great!"
Well done. The Cecile McLorin Savant and Tommy McLain songs in particular are just so distinctive and musical and commanding.
And dammit, not every list has to have a Bey or a Tay in it to be relevant in 2022. This works just fine.
Sal, Herman is new to me. Will have to check out his older work.
- Paul in DK
Would like to add Amanda Shires’ Take It Like a Man for consideration
Wonderful lists! Thanks!
Last year we had a lot of overlap in our lists. This year the only common denominator is Charlie Gabriel and that's a fluke. I normally don't listen to that kind of music but it was playing in my local record store one day and I fell in love with it.
As far as new discoveries this year, I went with two non-binary acts, one from L.A. and one from N.Y. I was turned on to KALI (L.A.) who my son knew as a friend of a friend. Her melodies and production clicked immediately. She hasn't put put out a proper album yet but I've been all over he E.P.s
Ling Princess is someone I was turned on to when I watched the Mark Ronson series on Apple. "Ain't Together" from her first album "Cheap Queen" is my favorite song of the year. It's got old soul bones with a cool production veneer.
The other contemporary artist I really liked this year was Harry Styles. He's done a few interesting things in the past but this album is put together so well and so much fun that I couldn't resist it.
Like you I do try to listen to "what's happening". I bailed on Beyonce after the first couple of dozen "mother******s" and Taylor Swift's latest just didn't do it for me, even though I have dug some of her past stuff.
The rest of it is all from dependable artists I've leaned on before to get me through the year. I know Smile is new but I'm counting it as a Radiohead record, sorta.
Here we go. Don't cringe.
KALI - Maltman and Effie
King Princess - Hold on Baby
Harry Styles - Harry’s House
The Smile - A Light for Attracting Attention
Charlie Gabriel - Eighty Nine
Normally not my cup of tea nut c'mon!
David Bowie - Toy
I'm counting it as new, Otherwise I wouldn't have had 10.
Andy Partridge - My Failed Christmas Career
The last EP was a bit of a disappointment but he recovered well with this one. -
Weezer - SZNZ: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Don't hate me. Loved the first 3 EPs so I assume I'll like Winter when it come out. I also just love the idea of it.
Todd Rundgren - Space Force
I was surprised not to see this on your list. I liked it better than What Knight.
James Hunter Six - With Love -
Again, a bit of a stretch as it's a compilation but it's my list and I can do what I want.
King Princess - We Ain’t Together
I'm cheating because this is a couple of years old but it was a new discovery to me.
KALI - Addicted
Elvis Presley - I’m Coming Home (Film Mix)
The best part of the movie.
Yeah, I’m Still In Love With You - Pep in the Cat
That's right. I'm tooting my won horn because I was finally happy with something I'd done.
Billie Eilish - Guitar Songs
Panic! At the Disco - Viva Las Vengeance -
Pugwash - A Good Day for Me
Thee Sacred Souls - Love Is the Way
Yea, Christmas comes early with Sal's list! Thanks everyone else for sharing your favorite music of the year. Lots of great suggestions and some albums I need to revisit. No cringing cmealha! If you like it, great. And I agree with you on the Harry Styles.
Great list as usual, Sal. Some interesting suggestions too from your readers that I'll have to check out.
Was looking for EC's "If" recently and found that there's a "live" version out now that sounds interesting. Has anyone heard it, and waddya think?
The live companion has a few tracks from "Boy Named If" and some covers. EC's voice is a bit rough, as it has been now for a few years. But interesting set list.
Christmas gift of the year for me: Tommy McClain (thank you, Sal!). I knew nothing about him, but he's amazing. Great voice, SOAKED in soul, not black, not white. Jeez. Where are my tissues?
"I Hope" makes me miss Willy DeVille.
Great list, with many on my list, too (especially the top 2). I'd add The Beths - Experts in a Dying Field (perhaps my favorite this year) and Nilufer Yanya- PAINLESS. The new Alvvays record is making a lot of lists, but I didn't care for it that much. Oh, and I've grown fond of the new Robyn Hitchcock since you mentioned Underwater Moonlight.
One more comment. One of my favorite ATL film critics is Eleanor Ringel Cater.
Her "Top 10 Movies of 2022" preamble shares some of your preamble. But with her as with you, not seeing or hearing everything is OK; she knows what's good, as you do.
Check it out:
I need until next week to figure out my best-of-2022. Too much going on. But I'll post them here when I've figured it out (I know you can't wait, but you'll have to... hah.)
But I guarantee "Wet Leg", Sloan's "Steady" and "The Tipping Point" are on it. Those might be my #1, #2 and #3 albums for the year. The other 7, I haven't decided yet. I have a lot to go through.
This must be the first year I haven’t bought 10 new release albums since try teens, it’s not been very inspiring, although there have been some excellent reissues and comps (Sinatra’s ’Watertown’ and ‘Studio One Music Lab’ stand out).
For what it’s worth my favourite new stuff, The Nightingales, ‘Last Laugh’ and a 12” by Shackleton, ‘The Majestic Yes’ and the Horace Andy album.
This has made me keener than ever to scour the yearly best of lists, Elvis Costello and Wet Leg have been added to my Christmas list - thanks for all your recommendations this year Sal!
Was a little surprised to see Dreamers Are Waiting from Crowded House not listed until I realized it came out in 2021. Jesus, time is flying by
I have to make one modification to my list. I’ve been listening to Gustaf since you recommended it. It’s a blast!
BaDaBoom (you know where it goes) and boy are my arms tired
Ditto on Gustaf. Love the Tipping Point. Looking forward to listening to all your top 10 albums--and thanks for helping me to crawl out from under the rock on Wet Leg. Merry Christmas and hope to see you during the holidays.
One question - no "Space Force" in your Top 10?
I really like Space Force. But I had a hard time including it since half of it was from 2021.
OK -- work was slow this week, so I relistened to my larger list and this is what I'm going with:
So there were a lot of things I liked a lot (and I’ve been replaying them this week to confirm that — Brendan Benson, Ginger Wildheart (maybe 3 albums — I’ve lost count how many came out this year!) both new Jack White albums, Lickerish Quartet, Chris von Sneidern, Young Guv, Nick Piunti, etc), but not enough to put on a “best of” list. The following, though, I really *really* liked:
Wet Leg — Wet Leg: what more can be said? It was a breath of fresh air in 2022 and still is great every time I spin it.
Sloan — Steady: Their best album since the last one. Glad to see you on board with it
Tears for Fears — The Tipping Point: I'm not the biggest TFF fan out there, but all the reviews said how good it was — and they were right. This had me then track down “Everybody Loves a Happy Ending” from 2004 — which is also just as excellent.
Butch Walker — Butch Walker as…Glenn: The fake “playing live in a bar” bits do get a bit old, but they are short and don’t detract from an album of Butch’s strongest collection of songs in a while. His was one of the few concerts I saw this year (first time!) and he's a dynamite live performer.
Bird Streets — Lagoon: No Jason Faulkner. And another divorce album with some dark songs. So two strikes against it in comparison to the absolutely fantastic debut album. But it’s got strong emotional songs that hit hard.
Lauran Hibberd — Garageband Superstar —Lots of hooks with some clever lyrics. If you like Wet Leg, I think you’d like this. Maybe. It’s not like Gustaf, tho!
Future Teens — Self Help: Nothing groundbreaking here, but great songs with really good lyrics
Fuzzbubble — Cult Stars From Mars: 20 years after their single album (which is great!) — they are back with a solid rock album with all kinds of 70’s hooks and throwbacks. Centerpiece is a note-perfect cover of Manfred Mann’s version of Blinded By The Light — but the other 9 songs are excellent. A big surprise that came out of nowhere.
Uni Boys — Do It All Next Week: Everything Power-Pop should be — short, insanely catchy and well-produced. The only thing I wished they would have skipped on is the 45-second film dialog starting the 4th track as it almost derails the train after the first three (great!) songs. But it gets right back on the tracks after that.
Tamar Berk - The Restless Dreams of Youth: Cheating a bit here as it was her 2021 release, but I didn’t hear it until 2022. Her 2022 follow up (“Start At The End”) is almost as good, but not as solid as her debut album. Definite Liz Phair vibe, but more poppy. I might actually put "Start At The End" on the list. Both albums are really, really good and she's someone I'll watch in the future.
Compilation I really liked: Paul Weller’s “Will of the People”. 3 CDs of b-sides, etc, that flows really well.
Tribute Album I liked at lot: “We All Shine On : Celebrating The Music Of 1970” (closely followed by “Jem Records Celebrates Pete Townshend”)
Favorite Song of the year: No Return (Extended Version) by Anna Waronker & Craig Wedren. It’s the title song for the Showtime series “Yellowjackets”. It’s amazing in it’s simplicity and it’s probably my most-played (very loudly) individual song this year.
Hope this was worth the wait. :-)
Did you see the credits on the Blinded By the Light cover?
Mike Portnoy from Dream Theatre, Darian from Wondermints/Brian Wilson, Chip Z'Nuff.
Is the first album anything like "Cult Stars?"
Yea! Fuzzbubble's debut album is very very solid and much in the same vein (guest vocals by Susanna Hoffs on a couple of songs) -- but I'd say it rocks harder - but still very much still in the Cheap Trick/Marvelous 3/Redd Kross vein. The "Demos" album put together on Not Lame after that -- is just as good. But that was it. Just one of those lost talented bands that came and vanished. If you dug Cult Stars...I think you'd like the other two albums.
The guitarist in FB is/was also the guitarist in "Teen Machine" -- another one-and-done band who made one of my favorite albums of the 2000s (literally, I *love* "After School Special" and will talk it up any day of the week, but that's for another time...)
My number one pick for 2022 is hands down "Songs From The Green Couch," by Seth Swirsky.A beautiful power pop confection of goodies.
A mutual friend (D. Buckley) turned me on to your site. Currently listening to a lot of great new music that I missed this year that's mentioned here by you and your followers.
Here's my too cool for skool list in no particular order - tho the top 3 got the most plays.
Spoon - Lucifer on the Sofa.
King Hannah - I'm Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me
Just Mustard - Heart Under
Wet Leg - Wet Leg
Angel Olsen - Big Time
Fontaines D.C. - Skinty Fia
Widowspeak - The Jacket
Tallies - Patina
Alvvays - Blue Rev
Momma - Household Name
Iceage - Pull Up
King Hannah - Creme Brulee
TV Priest - It Was Beautiful
Eric, Former NYCD customer
Post a Comment