Favourite “New” Music – December 2022

So, in the great tradition of starting a new year by looking back at the one just ended, I can say that 2022 sort of blew. This isn’t hindsight: I was very aware of its high degree of suckage while I was in the middle of it. It began with my wife and I both having COVID (mild and unenduring cases, thankfully, but even the weaker forms of this malevolent virus can kick your ass hard), and went down from there. We dealt with other medical challenges over the year, both personally and in others who we love, and those, at least in my own case, gave my mental health a ginormous pantsing. My work performance was well below what I expect from myself, I took suboptimal care of the aspects of my health over which I had some control, and I generally was largely unmotivated for big chunks of the calendar.

The good news is that, my health now restored, I am feeling pretty good about 2023. Yes, the world is still a cesspool and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. But you can often (not always – all piles of shit are not equal) choose to only go in up to your knees instead of to your neck. And you can choose to focus on the things that matter to you – the people you love, the relationships that sustain you, the pursuits that give you joy – instead of those that don’t. Trying to do just that is my sole resolution for the year ahead.

As always, while travelling the 365 days of the metaphysical Sodom and Gomorrah just ended, there was music. I offer below a list of new songs that sustained me with repeated plays over 2022. If any of them were hits, that will be news to me: they (mostly) came to my attention as album tracks that stood out from their neighbours. What they have in common is that they triggered a response: to dance, to smile, to grimly contemplate the contours of my existence. But, mostly, hearing them just made me happy, in that inexplicable way that our favourite art does, and that’s more than enough.

  • Arcade Fire – Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole) (The Art vs the Artist debate comes up here, of course. But Win Butler isn’t the only member of Arcade Fire, and I loved this hypnotic record.)
  • Caracara – Ohio (My favourite lyric of the year – “I remember playing your favourite song / hoping you’d hum along” – has that air of love mixed with despair that guts me every time.)
  • Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul – Ceci n’est pas un cliché
  • Flo Milli featuring Rico Nasty – Payday (I don’t know if they are objectively “better” at rapping, but females are almost always a lot more fun to listen to than males.)
  • Mallrat – Teeth
  • midwxst – riddle
  • MØ – New Moon
  • Mura Masa with Leilah – prada (i like it) (Probably my favourite song of the year.)
  • My Idea – Popstar
  • Nilufer Yanya – stabilise
  • Omar Apollo – Talk 
  • Santigold – Fall First
  • Say Sue Me – Around You
  • Sobs – Burn Book
  • Spoon – Wild 
  • The Juliana Theory – Less Talk
  • The Linda Lindas – Oh!
  • The Wombats – Everything I Love is Going to Die
  • Years & Years – Starstruck
  • Young Guv – Couldn’t Leave You If I Tried

And, of course, here’s the usual roundup of my favourite albums of the past month.

  • The Cure – Seventeen Seconds (1980)
  • Lester Young – In Washington, D.C. 1956, Volume One (1980) (I still know next to nothing about jazz, but when a song like “D.B. Blues” gets you strutting around your kitchen at 6:00 a.m. like you’re Mack the Knife, you know you’ve stumbled onto something magical even if you don’t really understand it.)
  • The Jam – The Gift (1982)
  • Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque (1991)
  • Yellowcard – Ocean Avenue (2003) (The title track is an all-time favourite, so the failure to play the whole album before now is inexcusable.)
  • The Cribs – The Cribs (2004)
  • Ben Kweller – Ben Kweller (2006)
  • Remington Super 60 – Go System Go (2006) 
  • Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts (2018) (Kanye is always brilliant, even on throwaway side projects, but it is really hard to play his stuff these days and not feel queasy.)
  • 100 gecs – 1000 gecs (2019) (So, so weird.)
  • Chinese Kitty – Kitty Bandz (2019) (See the comment on Flo Milli above.)
  • Wild Honey – Ruinas Futuras (2021) 
  • Sobs – Air Guitar (2022) (My new favourite band, this album just guarantees me 32 minutes of happiness.)
  • Disq – Desperately Imagining Someplace Quiet (2022)
  • Cola – Deep in View (2022)
  • Billy Woods – Aethiopes (2022)
  • Alex G – God Save the Animals (2022)
  • Asake – Mr. Money with the Vibe (2022)
  • Rich Aucoin – Synthetic: Season One (2022) (Maritimers: I hope you are supporting this guy. I hadn’t heard anything from him since 2011’s “We’re All Dying to Live” (the video for “It” is a delight), but he was just off making deliciously odd records like this one.)
  • Ari Lennox – age/sex/location (2022)

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