Favourite ”New” Music – May 2022

I spent a chunk of May checking out music that came up in “Major Labels”, a fantastic book by Kelefa Sanneh that I was reading, and a few of them ended up on the list below. Sanneh does a sort of history of seven major genres: rock, R&B, country, punk, hip-hop, dance and pop. I say “sort of” because it takes a lot of pruning to survey such a topic in under 500 pages, but also because the book is as much about the author’s journey through the music he loves (and loathes) as the music itself. A writer after my own heart.

There’s a fantastic quote in the introduction that shapes much of what is to follow:

  • But even those of us who are nominally grown-ups may find that we never quite outgrow the sense that there is something profoundly good about the music we like, something profoundly bad about the music we don’t, and something profoundly wrong with everyone who doesn’t agree.

I’m on record as saying there is no such thing as bad music, and I stand by that. But I think Sanneh is spot on here. It makes sense that we would have difficulty understanding others’ tastes. What are these people hearing in Ariana Grande that I’m missing? Or why don’t they get how fantastic Fountains of Wayne were? We like what we like, and are confused that everyone else doesn’t hear what we hear. Sanneh tries to make sense of that dynamic. I highly recommend it to any music lover.

To my amazement, this month’s list (21 albums again – I just couldn’t bring myself to make that last cut) does not include the new Kendrick Lamar record, “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers”. I expect I will listen to this multiple times over the year to come, and perhaps it will rise in my estimation. But after the majesty of “DAMN.”, I just wasn’t feeling this one after two plays. Which means that anyone paying attention to this list might get a chance to find something else new and exciting, which is why I do this every month anyway. Sorry, Kendrick. (He’ll be fine without me.)

  • Muddy Waters – At Newport 1960 (1960)
  • Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies (1973) (I don’t understand why Vince doesn’t get more love as one of the giants of his era.)
  • Waylon Jennings – Honky Tonk Heroes (1973) (Probably my favourite lyric in a while, from “Black Rose”: “Well, the devil made me do it the first time / The second time I done it on my own”.)
  • Cristina – Sleep It Off (1984) (An amazing dance-pop record from one of the earliest arts world victims of COVID-19.)
  • Black Sheep – A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (1991)
  • Dr. Octagon – Dr. Octagonecologyst (1996)
  • The Darkness – Permission to Land (2003) (I totally slept on these guys when they had their brief moment as stars – there is much more to them than just “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”.)
  • Free Cake for Every Creature – Talking Quietly of Anything With You (2016)
  • The Obsessives – The Obsessives (2017)
  • She Drew the Gun – Revolution of Mind (2018) (Updated mid-60s psych pop with a danceable vibe.)
  • Sir Chloe – Party Favors (2020) (Bristling alt pop with a punkish flare and a keen sense of when to turn it up to 11.)
  • Miranda Lambert – Palomino (2022)
  • Sunflower Bean – Headful of Sugar (2022)
  • Let’s Eat Grandma – Two Ribbons (2022)
  • Arcade Fire – WE (2022) (Not understanding some of the negative press for this – sure, it’s no “The Suburbs”, but it’s hardly fair to expect that from anyone.)
  • Yard Act – The Overload (2022)
  • The Juliana Theory – Still the Same Kids Pt. 1 (2022)
  • Say Sue Me – The Last Thing Left (2022)
  • Phelimuncasi – Ama Gogela (2022)
  • Pastor Champion – I Just Want to Be a Good Man (2022) (Uncomplicated songs of faith, sung with conviction.)
  • Barrie – Barbara (2022)