After my review of this year's album just a few tracks that wasn't named enumeration but still worth to be named at this place right now.
Let's finish my musical review of this year's music. The collaboration of Sonic Boom and Panda Bear came unexpected but gave us a lot of great songs with great harmonies, melodies and a massive retro-charm.
Part two of this little retrospective bring us a band that now after The Fall has gone are the last survivors of 80's indie-rock. Nigel Blackwell and HMHB are too long in business to make any worse album an so is The Voltarol Years another example how indie-rock should sound today. Powerful guitars and intelligent lyrics.
2022 was a year that changed almost everything. A megalomaniac autocrat started a war against Ukraine, the cost of living raised higher and higher and I see a lot of people not knowing how to pay the heating of their homes and their regular food. The medical system is closer to a meltdown before and we are also not willing to change into a climate-neutral future. So I used to ignore these bad news turning into listening to music.
The year is almost gone and like every year a lot of folks out there are going to a retrospective about this year in music. In my opinion it was a very good year in music. Many new bands appeared on the scene and also successful artists released new stuff. Looking back this year I didn't bought many physical copies and owned more digital copies than before. One reason is the price I have to pay for copies coming from Great Britain and the taxes are horrible because German dealers have to include the taxes into the final price.
So I am presenting a very subjective list of 22 albums that were released this year. Let's start with a few compilations.
Version Excursion released by Don Letts via Late Night Tales is a very own conglomeration of songs from the last decades many will know but not in a reggae-dub inspired versions. A compilation I always come back to.
Our good friend Drew introduced me to Flying Mojito Bros a California based band reworking the music of the early 70's in a very special way. I always had a fondness to Steely Dan but this version is a belter.
Fell From The Sun is a compilation built on the best of 1990 released songs and reworks. None of them is a mistake and brings back great moments in time.
Let's turn to the new albums of the year. Paul Osborne surprised me with his Project Gemini. The Children Of Scorpio is nothing more or less a homage to early 70's soundtracks with great wah-wah guitars and an accentuated bass drifting into a psychedelic space.
The year is going to end and as usually I escape for a couple of weeks to Sri Lanka. Leaving all the troubles and work behind to load up my battery. I prepared some posts in advance and I am not sure if I can write more until January. Until then I wish you all a peaceful Christmas time and a great start into 2023. Keep your pecker up, compadres.
Bryce Cloghesy, a Canadian guitarist is the mastermind behind Military Genius, a band that released with Deep Web one of the best new albums two years ago. It is hard to describe his music and I think motorik based excursions on guitar and saxophone will come close to it. When I Close My Eyes is a foot-tapper and makes addicted to this sound. A forgotten little masterpiece.
Military Genius - When I Close My Eyes
It's December and Christmas is not far away. The cities are lit up and many people meet at Christmas markets to drink mulled wine after doing their Christmas shopping. Personally, I don't have much to do with the pre-Christmas season and don't immerse myself in consumerism. That's why it's all the nicer that Jesse Fahnestock aka 10:40 has a present ready for us. Since the beginning of the month, he has had an Advent calendar on his Bandcamp homepage in which he gives us an insight into his musical cosmos every day. One Way To Go is a shoegaze based excursion to cosmic sounds that could be a highlight on every record by Andy Bell. This song and four more you can get as a free download here. Have a contemplative second Advent
Another superb remix by GLOK was released a few days ago. Damascene is originally just another good ballad by Do No Harm, a band to be frankly I've never heard before. Any Bell succeeds again to remix a good song to an excellent song. A perfect start into the weekend.
One of Dublin's finest bands released during the last years a couple of years a few albums that are all still worth to listen. Fontaines D.C. were formed five years ago in Dublin as a post-punk band, they struck a chord that was ripe for a heavier sound. Their first album Dogrel is still a highlight of 2019 for me. With their second album they are more playful and open to other influences without giving up their driving and demanding style. The title track A Hero's Death is still a trademark of their sound, especially in the remixed version by Soulwax.
Fontaines D.C. - A Hero's Death (Soulwax Remix)
Alabama 3 - Sister Rosetta
In the days of mist and cold there could be a song by Weyes Blood from their new album the best opportunity to start into Sunday morning. Weyes Blood is the stage name of Natalie Mering and she is known as an indie-folk singer/songwriter. Sometimes compared with Joni Mitchel or if you like an exceeding Velvet's Nico she made records since a couple of years and is maybe known by a duet she done with Lana Del Ray a couple of years ago. Like many Californians she walks the folk path with her clear voice picking out the state of our world and love as central themes. on one song she moves away from acoustic guitars towards soft retro-drums an drum-computers for her rhythmic basic framework. A beautiful voice anyway and a sound you can drift away if it fits to you
It seems like Andy Bell is in a highly productive phase these days. Since his fantastic album Flicker at the beginning of the year he released almost every second month a new EP. Now he surprised me with Untitled Films Still an EP with four songs originally released on soundtracks. I am grateful that he took a song by Ray Davis to cover. The Way Love Used To Be originally released on Percy soundtrack is one of these songs by The Kinks that was seldom played but in it's beauty it is one of Davis' highlights.
Just the news arrived that one of the greatest guitar player from the last decades sadly past by. CC over at Charity Chic Music wrote great last words about an artist that had an immense influence in modern guitar play. I always loved the way he played guitar and without him Dr. Feelgood wouldn't be the ones they were. Always angry and precise anyway. Now another great artist is gone and probably not the last one this year.
Rest easy Wilko
The Vacant Lots is a Brooklyn, NYC based post-punk, electronic duo that is active since a decade and made some albums that are far over the average. A few name them as the devisee of Suicide. But you can't compare them with the synth-punk pioneers Alan Vega and Mercury Rev although you can hear fragments of their sound in their music. They have also influences of New Order, Pet Shop Boy and Human League in their songs. Red Desert is a song that could appear on any album by Sonic Boom and this is astonishing because Peter Kember mastered a few of their albums.
Mogwai released their second album Come On Die Young back in 1999 as rock music was on the search to find itself. Eminem appeared with his Slim Shady EP, Red Hot Chilli Peppers released Californication, a hit album but for me one of their most uninspired albums and various US rapper tried to tell us their sorrows from the suburbs. And Mogwai, the post-rock band from Glasgow gave us one the albums of this year. Filled with melancholic guitar experiences that sometimes turned into destructive sound this album is still a classic and worth to be listened, especially in autumn, when it is cold and wet outside these songs show a warmth that other artists seldom reached.
Mogwai - Cody
In the early 80's Bill Carter formed The Screaming Blue Messiahs a band that played music different to all the other bands that were around at this time. Grown up with pub rock and the energy of early punk they created their very own cosmos of rhythmic, blues influenced blues rock and a massive feedback sound. I really enjoyed them not only because they were fresh and powerful but they reminded me to Captain Beefheart the old Zappa lad that interpreted blues in a very special way as well. I can't explain why I came back to The Messiahs but listening to them brought back glory days to me. Maybe it is also because Carter played his guitar in a way less people did in this time and I can't remember anyone played an electric slide guitar.
The Screaming Blue Messiahs - Wild Blue Yonder
The Screaming Blue Messiahs - I Wanna Be A Flintstone
The Screaming Blue Messiahs raised from a band that borrowed their name by a song by Joe Strummer's 101ers. Motor Boys Motor showed on their only recorded longplayer the potential with a pre-version of Flintstone. And the cover of this album made me to buy it blind.
Motor Boys Motor - Drive Friendly
These days the World Climate Conference takes place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The leaders of the world and and many other politicians from all over the world debating about how we can stop the global warming. Since the last conferences all the politicians are just talking and no one is able and willing to stop the carbon sink since decades. This is one thing that makes me worrying about the next generations who have to bear our heritage. In the early 80's Plan B a band from Berlin appeared on the scene and became a little success when the were the support band for The Clash and The Ramones during their tour through Germany. Their first recording The Greenhouse Effect has repeatedly addressed issues such as environmental destruction and the consequences of false idols in their songs like in Beam Me Up, Scotty.
Plan B - Beam Me Up, Scotty
Their post-punk/new wave sound was played in many indie-discos at my place and especially Discontentment was one of these songs a lot of people could agree with.
Plan B - Discontentment
The recent days when I made a backup of my hard-drive I found a song in the deepest corner that I have almost forgot. Quixote is the stage name of Scottish producer and DJ Alex Smoke and now living in London. He is known for minimal techno and electronic sound. This song is maybe his a forgotten gem with it's great bass line, electronic variations and the voice of Lisa Li-Lund.
The sad news arrived that Kristof Schreuf died at the age of 59. Schreuf, born in Frankfurt was one of the leading figures of the so called Hamburger Schule, a post-punk sound from the early 90's and most of the bands were from Hamburg. He formed Kolossale Jugend a band that only released two albums but had a massive influence to German bands from the 90's. Like many other bands from this era they had a clear political left wing influenced attitude and their striking slogans were synonyms for many of us. I remember buying a t-shirt with Shut Up Germany. It was a statement to what happened Hoyerswerda, east Germany when neo-nazis lightened up an asylum-seekers home. Schreuf named his band after the debut of Young Marble Giants and Heile Heile Bouche was one of the soundtracks of the early 90's and their version of Talking Heads Heaven is still a great song.
Rest easy Kristof
During the last weeks I developed an album that was released 30 years ago. In 1989 Bob Mould made a great album after Hüsker Dü split with Workbook under his own name. A few years later he formed with Sugar a new three piece band. Copper Blue was an unexpected highlight of this year. I seldom listened to an album later that had these intensive and emotional, powerful sound. This was the true legacy of Hüsker Dü and still a landmark in rock music from the 90's. Always a pleasure listen to him.
Sugar - A Good Idea
Sugar - If I Can't Change Your Mind
Sugar - Where Diamonds Are Halos
In spring this year Matt Dunn released Disko Drohne an EP an uptempo dancehall inspired piece of music that now was remixed by various artists via Paisley Dark Records. Jesse Fahnestock made under his stage name 10:40 a rework that was inspired by The Doors early Stone Roses with sitars and leads you to a dark atmosphere on a cold November night.
In 1990 Ride appeared on the music scene as the new hot thing. Formed by vocalists and guitarists Andy Bell and Mark Gardener in Oxford they really made the sound of the year as they released during January and September 1990 three EP's in row. Soon they were filed under shoegaze a genre I didn't really understood what it should mean if I am honest. Now these EP's are going to be released again and you can get these masterpieces once again. Ride was a band I always agreed with even even though the musical minds of this band have increasingly disputed in their musical orientation. Starting with an untypical upbeat song like Chelsea Girl further songs like Close My Eyes show what potential Andy Bell has and that this was the basis of fantastic albums he gave us during the last years.
A few years ago I purchased a compilation in a charity shop. When I was looking for something in my CD collection recently, I came across a compilation that I no longer knew I owned. The compilation is called Disco Roots 68-75 and filled with late soul and funky gems but also some songs that I wouldn't file under early disco. These songs are from bands that I would categorize as rock/jazz-rock bands. But all have one thing in common - a strong driving rhythm, accentuated guitar riffs and a throaty vocals. In this context you can name them as pre-disco sounding but after all this are classic songs from decades ago.
Chicago - I'm A Man
Doobie Brothers - Long Train Running
Dr. John - Right Place, Wrong Time
One of the most interesting and confusing albums I listened to during the last weeks was Paste by Moin. I don't know what moin means but in northern Germany it is a way to say hello in the morning time. As far as I know Moin is a side project by Tom Halstead and Joe Andrews probably known as the masterminds of electronic pioneers Raime. To describe their music is difficult and for me it is a mixture of post-rock with dub elements and spoken words. But this words are not all they also created a guitar based sound fantastic bass-lines and the drum-work by Valentina Magaletti that I would like to compare Tortaoise did decades ago. Paste is a raw and emotional experience where you can't grab the core of their ideas. An outstanding album where you can hear new nuances the more you listen to.
Love - My Little Red Book
Love - Live And Let Live
Love - Alone Again Or
Love - Old Man
Life's Hard And Then You Die was the title of It's Immaterials debut album and probably the best title back in 1986. It was an album full of great pop songs and shows the potential of this Liverpool band. I came back to this album a couple of days ago while I was sorting my CD's once again and I enjoyed this album once again after decades.
It's Immaterial - Driving Away From Home (Wicked Weather For Walking)
After a very long time I went to watch my team live again. After the pandemic, I didn't renew my season ticket anymore because I didn't want to watch how Stuttgart lost almost every game at home and spoil a whole Saturday away from home. I watched the games particular on a TV-scream at my local pub or missed the games at all and I took the chance to watch them in the stadium when a working mate asked me if I am willing to join him because a friend of him didn't have the time to see the game. So I started at late morning and hit the train to meet the supporters on a sunny and warm day in cult-pub. They were all surprised to see me again after many months and we had a great time talking about this and that with a couple of beers beside. The game itself was what I expected from a team that is close to relegation. Dominating Augsburg over the whole time but not able to create scoring chances until the last 20 minutes. Until then it was a draw 1:1 and Stuttgart started fighting and winning the game. They created in 10 minutes more chances than in the 80 minute before. But not successful because shooting the ball on the post or Augsburg's keeper had every ball safe. You can't imagine how the crowd went crazy when Stuttgart made the final goal to win in the third minute of the extra time. And this is what I sometimes missed during the last months.
Today's song is the new one by Dives, a three piece female band from Vienna that was featured at this place a couple of years ago. I liked their sound inspired by pop, punk, surf and garage with a massive feeling for vocal harmonies. Wanna Take You There impresses with its catchy indie sound, multi-voiced vocal harmonies and a beautiful hookline that won't let you go so quickly. "The perfect late summer/autumn soundtrack: melancholic but extremely danceable.
The news arrived that Jerry Lee Lewis died at the age of 87 today. He was a bigamist when he was 18. With 22 a world star, a year later a persona non grata. After he became well known during a tour in England that his third wife, Myra Gale Brown, was his cousin and just 13 years old, the world turned away from him. Before that she had willingly received his songs like "Whole Lotta Shakin 'Going On," "Great Balls of Fire," "Breathless" or "High School Confidential." These were lustful manifestos in the dress of the rock 'n' roll conquering the world, whose craziest tailor he was: Jerry Lee Lewis, whom they called the killer. One of the first to live rock'n'roll and who hasn't cared about anything (and I'm sure I'm not going to call everything he's done good). One of the great ones from the early days of music has left us.
Rest well Killer
Adam over at Bagging Area featured a song by the latest compilation of Higher Love records on Monday. I thought about featuring this song during this week but he was faster than me. But this doesn't detain me to feature this album at this little place in the internet again. Higher Love records is one of these labels featuring Balearic sounds during the last years. And this compilation shows once again how many artists are able to create a smooth and interesting sound of laid back and relaxed sounds for recreating yourself after a hard days work. As far as I know Vijnana is a remix by Coyote that gave me the most relaxing sounds during the last years. Softly flowing sounds over a floor of rhythmic beats made this one outstanding of many other songs released this year so far.
20 years ago a Sheffield based band appeared with thrilling guitar sound with a mixture of post-punk and garage rock on the scene. Arctic Monkeys and their debut album reached very high places in the charts and many called them the next big thing in music. I have to admit that I liked a few of their songs but they didn't really fascinated me. Now they returned with their seventh album The Car and they got a lot of critical acclaim. That made me starting listening to them once again. And after listening to this album I am not sure what I should think about this album. Is it a masterpiece of brit-pop and great songwriting or just another arty album showing their abilities in songwriting and ending in a Coldplay-like disaster? There are songs on this album, written and arranged well like I Ain't Quite Where I Think I Am but overproduced where Alex Turner can't decide if he plays a guitar like Mick Ronson or if he would wallow in a wah-wah-sound. On the other hand he tries to be a crooner like Elvis Costello trying to play an Bacharach-song. All in all every song was heard before in better quality. Sadly I am disappointed by this album. But this is only my opinion - maybe other people would like this one.
Another new release I got aware last week was the Hyena Hopscotch Remixes a remix project of an album London based DJ and producer Pete Bones released earlier this year. The original album was hybrid of industrial funk with a massive pop feeling and psychedelic elements. Now the re-work of this album is made by today's most talented DJ's like Duncan Gray, Justin Robertson and Jezebell. This album will be released next week and will reach probably in my years end list.
During the last days I listened to various independent radio stations and it is conspicuous that many of them featured Kid Kapichi a band from Hastings, not far away from Dover. I don't know if there is a music scene but the band soaked up newer British music. Their sound is modern British punk rock located somewhere between the sound and attitude of the Idles, Slaves, Sleaford Mods, Slowthai & The Streets. Surely not a worse taste and the result is I.N.V.U. They envy him - NOT! - the Mr. MTV, who stumbles around with his alligator shoes and his Rolex and can afford to sleep comfortably while the whole world has to get out of bed early. The four musicians have now packed their disgust at this kind of person and his staging on social media into a song. I am not sure if their whole album is as good as this little song that I can't get out of my mind after listening the first time but I am sure the medias will feature them massive during the next weeks.
Ryan Lee West is a British music producer and DJ. He performs under the pseudonym Rival Consoles and produces electronic ambient music with the help of mainly analog devices. Four years ago he released Persona one of the best ambient albums in this year. Now he returned after a couple of releases with Now Is a new full album. I just listened to the title track and a few other ambient songs and I think he is still one that you should have a listen to. Pulsating beats that drive constantly forward and still create a quiet and relaxed atmosphere I could not hear this year in this quality. If only this song will stand the test of time - this one could be an exception
With "You Want It Darker," the title track of his 14th and last album of the same name, Leonard Cohen had released an impressive number in autumn 2016 shortly before his death at 82. The dark talking blues, in which the deep voice of Cohen, drawn from life, comes eerily close to the listener, negotiated to soft pulsating bass and sacred backing choirs an approaching end of life - "I'm ready, my Lord" is the climax of the chorus.
The track is thus made for Iggy Pop, whose voice also works excellently for narrative singing in the deeper registers.Pop puts on "You Want It Darker" a little more gloomy and tanned, the soundbed sounds a bit more jazzy, but the endless depth of the spiritual number he receives completely. Iggy's version is found on another tribute album for Leonard Cohen released a few days ago. The rest of this tribute album I didn't listen completely but any tribute album is a reason to go back to the originals - especially by Mr. Cohen.
Earlier this year Andy Bell released his last album Flicker one of the best albums released this year. It was on heavy rotation at my place since I fought this record and now he released an EP of remixes from a couple of songs. DJ's like David Holmes and Richard Norris took over the controls and reworked one of the finest songs. The result was a new interpretation of Andy's songs and always a great work. You can hear more of this reworks here. I think that this record will be played more than once at my place.
Kings Of Leon - Knocked Up
Manchester's indie-pop band released their new album Tableau the recent days. I have to admit that I have big fondness to them because they interpret rock/pop in their very own way. On this album they add more different styles to their sound before. Now you can hear a bassline remembering French band Air, a dance track like The Room that morphs into a guitar lead indie song or a the eight minute long Beam/s that starts as a dark shoegaze song and turns into distorted house. Seldom listened this year to an album that had so much different facets.
Kerala Dust is a band formed in London in 2016 and now living and producing in Berlin. As they said about themself, they grew up with the sound of Tom Waits, Can and Velvet Underground you can hear references to them in their sound. They added to their rhythmic sound a bit of Talking Heads and dancefloor and you have a melange that is incredible. They released their last album earlier this year but I forgot to listen to it. But now I found the time to enjoy their unique kind of music.
As a side effect of the punk movement was that many bands included reggae sounds into their own music and a British version of reggae came with a big wave to my ears. One of those were Steel Pulse a band named after a place where they came from, Handsworth a district of Birmingham. They released their debut album back in 1978 and were together with Black Uhuru compatible to many of my friends in these days. Their sound is different to roots reggae from Jamaica and not similar to the sound systems and the music that was was produced in many studios in Kingston but their legacy is that they introduced me to dive deeper in reggae and explore many artists that I wouldn't know without their inspiration. They also got big with their political attitude and forcing anti-racism themes - necessary in the late 70's.
Steel Pulse - Prodigal Son
Steel Pulse - Ku Klux Klan