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2022 Music Mid-Year Favs!

Some music that I've enjoyed so far this year (in no particular order)!

Capsule reviews of each item on the list!

Angel Olsen - Big Time

- During my first listen to this one on the highway I wept during "Dream Thing"->"Ghost On" at the sheer beauty of what I was hearing. This LP features immaculate co-production work from Jonathan Wilson, and it is super refreshing to hear a non-Father John Misty voice over his musical flourishes. Together, Olsen and Wilson absolutely nail that countrypolitan, Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball sweet spot for me. The accompanying film on YouTube is also a great companion to the world that this record builds.

Wednesday - Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling 'em Up

- An expertly curated, perfectly executed covers record, which is a thing that needs to be done more. (Weezer, please take note! lol). This record has introduced me to like 4 or 5 other "new to me" records that I've loved, and what more can you ask from a release than that it lead you to other cool stuff that you might enjoy like solo Greg Sage LPs?

MJ Lenderman - Boat Songs

- Brilliant indie-rock/singer-songwriter record that - in its unshowy literateness and oddball humour - carries the torch for previous musicians in a distinctly American vernacular: David Berman, Mark Linkous, Jason Molina, etc. Probably every week since I discovered this record, I've had the opening lyric to "You Have Bought Yourself A Boat" blare through my head at some point and laughed to myself.

Destroyer - LABYRINTHITIS

- A thrilling late-career record from Dan Bejar, who is a national treasure at this point. Hearing the quasi-spoken word meltdown part of "June" is definitely already a quintessential musical experience of 2022 for me. "A moment alone please / A moment alone please / A moment alone please / With this, with this / With this rhapsody." Also, the opener ("It's In Your Heart Now") has to be one of the most affecting songs in Bejar's entire catalogue based on vibe alone.

Raum - Daughter

- An understated LP from Liz Harris and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma memorializing the late filmmaker Paul Clipson. Definitely created to be taken in as a whole work. Incredible integration of field recordings in with live instrumentation throughout.

Huerco S. - Plonk

- Super interesting release from Brian Leeds and a runner up to Claire Rousay & More Eaze for best LP title of the year. Certainly the most onomatopoeic title of 2022 relative to the sonic content. Challenging at times, though it cohered for me once I heard SIR E.U over "Plonk IX" later in the album, which is a super far out, sick track on this delightfully futurist record.

Christian Lee Hutson - Quitters

- CLH, a "songwriter's songwriter" in the truest sense, returns with a great sophomore record. I enjoy the poppier direction he went in on "Rubberneckers." "State Bird" rips and has an incredible opening lyric. "Blank Check" and "Triple Axel" are heartbreakingly beautiful. "Black Cat" sounds like it's a forgotten song from the XO or Figure 8 sessions.

Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

- A sprawling, multi-genre 80 minute double LP that manages to be effortlessly compelling and repeatedly breathtaking. Some of the different things that I hear across DNWMIBIY's runtime: John Prine's ghost ("Spud Infinity"), faint echoes of Dave Matthews Band ("Little Things"), Gillian Welch & David Rawlings ("Dried Roses," "12,000 Lines"),The Charm of the Highway Strip era The Magnetic Fields ("Wake Me Up to Drive"), classic early 70s Dead ("Red Moon"), solo Lennon ("Love, Love, Love"), Elliott Smith's "Angeles" fingerpicking ("The Only Place"), chill lo-fi beats to study to ("Heavy Bend"), and Cocteau Twins ("Flower of Blood"), amongst many others.

Burial - ANTIDAWN EP

- 2022 started off intriguingly with this polarizing, largely beatless album-length (non-album) entry in the Burial catalogue. I think this one is going to stand the test of time, though, with a song like "Shadow Paradise" being one of the most beautiful entries in his oeuvre.

Claire Rousay & More Eaze - Never Stop Texting Me

- The best album title of the year. Love the pop-punk guitar in "iphone2" and the harpsichord in "art." A carefree, fun-loving LP that, in its seemingly low-stakes presentation, obscures the amount of craft on display in combining disparate sonics and aesthetics by two masterful producers.

Two Shell - home

Two Shell - !?secretbox?!

- By far the most thrilling, immediate music I've heard this year has been Two Shell's "home"/"no reply" single and the music they shared as part of their mystery Bandcamp release, !?secretbox?!. My first time hearing "home" reminded me, immediately, of the thrill of hearing early SOPHIE singles (RIP) like "BIPP" and "LEMONADE" in terms of the sheer inventiveness of the sound design on offer.

TOPS - Empty Seats EP

- One of Canada's best live bands releases a stellar new EP in time for the spring/summer. I loved the new direction they struck out in on "Perfected Steps," in particular, on this in writing a longer, more multi-part track with different sections of hooks. David Carriere is one of the most underrated guitar players alive in terms of the economy and melodicism of his playing.

OMBIIGIZI - Sewn Back Together

- A beautiful collaborative record from Zoon's Daniel Monkman and Status/Non-Status' Adam Sturgeon. "Cherry Coke" and "Zaagitoon" are 2 of the most moving songs of the year, while "Residential Military" and "Birch Bark Paper Trails" are 2 of the most provocative rockers.

Jane Inc. - Faster Than I Can Take

- An infectious disco/dance pop record by Carlyn Bezic featuring beautiful background vocals by Dorothea Paas, creator of one of my favourite 2021 LPs (Anything Can't Happen). Harder driving dance vibes ("2120") commingle with loungier fare ("Picture of the Future").

Duster - Together

- Basically, every Duster release can be accurately described as "guitar tone porn," and this one delivers in spades from the opening notes of "New Directions" through the end of (the hilariously named/self-aware?!?!) "Sad Boys." Love the use of the drum machine on "Sleepyhead." 

The Weeknd - Dawn FM (not on Bandcamp)

- Conceptually, Abel Tesfaye basically stole the idea for this ~album as radio station~ from the 2020 Oneohtrix Point Never LP (Magic Oneohtrix Point Never). Daniel Lopatin must have been alright with that, though, given that he produces a few tracks on this. Honestly, the concept is dumb, the Jim Carey interludes (lol) are totally inane, but it's still great somehow. "Gasoline" and "Don't Break My Heart" have been mainstays on my skiing/running playlists since January. Also loved hearing the gorgeous sample of Tomoko Aran's "Midnight Pretenders" on "Out of Time."

Anticipating:

- Soccer Mommy - Sometimes, Forever

- Joan Shelley - The Spur

- Marci - Marci

- Stella Donnelly - Flood

- (Sandy) Alex G - God Save the Animals

- SZA - ?

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