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Friday 23 December 2022

2022: A List

If you ever find yourself in the car park hell of Asda in Stockport, a car park split over two multi- storey sites linked by bridges and with different walkways to enter the supermarket, take some comfort from the fact that even in these unpromising conditions a moment of joy can still arrive- someone painted this little devil on the wall in a corner. This has nothing to do with the post that will follow, it's just a disconnected intro. 

As is traditional here is my end of year list, twenty two musical artefacts 2022 in list form, a list combining singles, albums and EPs into one countdown- you'll notice I've cheated, there are many more than twenty two releases contained within. In a year shot through with all kinds of personal difficulties caused by grief and bereavement following Isaac's death at the end of last year, music has been an area of solace and distraction for me and I have listened to and enjoyed a huge amount of new music this year. I know as well there are albums I haven't heard and should have- Working Men's Club and Fontaines DC come to mind- and hopefully I'll get to them eventually. So, with no further ado...

Number Twenty Two

Some albums that have made the year tick, in no particular order: 

  • Coyote: Everything Moves Nothing Rests
  • Sheer Taft: And Then There Were Four
  • Société Étrange: Chance
  • Gabe Gurnsey: Diablo
  • Timothy J. Fairplay: Free Andromeda
  • Half Man Half Biscuit: The Voltarol Years
  • Rich Ruth: I Survived, It's Over
  • Wet Leg: Wet Leg
  • Red Snapper: Everybody Is Somebody
  • Tigerbalm: International Love Affair
  • Panda Bear and Sonic Boom: Reset
  • The Order Of The 12: Lore Of The Land
  • Spiritualized: Everything Was Beautiful
  • Warrington- Runcorn New Town Development Plan: Districts, Roads, Open Space
  • Jon Hopkins: Music For Psychedelic Therapy

Number Twenty One

Some singles and EPs that have been on rotation at the Bagging Area this year, again, in no particular order:

  • Justin Robertson's Deadstock 33s and Brix Smith: Brix Goes Tubular
  • Sault: 10
  • Phil Kieran and Green Velvet: Enjoy The Day Hardway Bros Meets Monkton
  • BTCOP: Just A Disco especially the Lights On A Hill Mix
  • Al McKenzie: Sail On
  • Steve Queralt and Michael Smith: Sun Moon Town
  • D: Ream: Pedestal (Jezebell's Dizzy Heights remix)
  • Throne Of Blood EPs 1 to 4
  • Matt Gunn: Disko Drohne EP and the massive remix package
  • The Vendetta Stone remixes 12"
  • Peak High: Was That All It Was Hardway Bros remixes
  • Perry Granville: Lumux and Cleveland Sundays
  • Confidence Man: Feels Like A Different Thing (Daniel Avery remix)
  • Cantoma: Alive Remixes EP
  • Unknown Genre: Elevator Ride
  • Dirt Bogarde: Triumphe De Liebe and So Far Away
  • Curses: Gina Lollobrigida
  • Orbital and Sleaford Mods: Dirty Rat
  • Hifi Sean and David McAlmont: All In The World (and just wait for the album that gets a full release next year, a stunning record- the title track alone is one of next year's best songs)
Number Twenty

Various albums by Various Artists

There have been a slew of great compilation albums this year, multi- artist releases containing umpteen gems and treasure- The Chill Out Tent Volume 1, a compilation from Warm titled Home complete with animal and bird sounds between the tracks, Spun Out's Oompty Boompty Music compilation, the Shelter Me compilation from Leeds based Paisley Dark label and the cream of this crop, Higher Love Volume 2 (from the Brighton label of the same name).

Number Nineteen

Fontan: Iriz

A 7" single released on Hoga Nord at the start of the year, a gorgeous spaced out, instrumental warm bath with slowly building drums. 

Number Eighteen

Boxheater Jackson: We Are One

Exeter's Mighty Force label has had quite a year. Boxheater Jackson's ten track album We Are One is a sublime set of chugging, optimistic, cosmic acid house. Also worth checking out on Mighty Force are Golden Donna's The Truth About Love, lovely washes of ambient techno, and the funky acid house/ indie- dance crossover Pro- Oxidant by Long Range Desert Group. 

Number Seventeen

Mark Peters with Dot Allison: Sundowning/ Richard Norris ambient remix

Mark's latest album, Red Sunset Dreams, is pointing away from Wigan and towards the wide open landscapes of the US. With Dot Allison on vocals Switch On The Sky was a highlight- and then Sundowning came out, shimmering instrumental floaty ambience with a superb pair of Richard Norris remixes. Dot also had a solo EP out with the final remix from Lee 'Scratch' Perry, a lovely dubby version of Love Died In Our Arms. 

Number Sixteen

The Orielles: Tableau

Tableau is one of the year's most unexpected treats, a double album spanning spoken word, dream pop, 60s jazz, indie and whatever else the trio decided they could turn their hands to. The recent Eyes Of Others' remix of Darkened Corners was superb spun out psychedelia and The Orielles own remix of Unknown Genre's Elevator Ride an unexpected visit to early 90s ambient techno. 

Number Fifteen

Anatolian Weapons: Selected Acid Tracks

Strong acid from Greece, 808s set to stun, seven tracks of mind bending stuff. Acid Research 63, Acid Research 20 and Desert Track 66 are the picks and so much more than their functional titles suggest. 

Number Fourteen

Rude Audio: Big Heat

A five track EP with typically brilliant tracks and remixes. Big Heat is a low slung, throbbing, dub techno groover, straight outta South London. 

Number Thirteen

Pye Corner Audio: Let's Emerge

The latest Pye Corner Audio album left the dystopic sounds of last year's Entangled Routes and looked towards the summer, as typified on the glorious Warmth Of The Sun single with Andy Bell adding guitar to the analogue synth ambience. Sonic Boom remixed three tracks from the album, released as an excellent EP, Let's Remerge. A PCA remix of Principles Of Geometry's First I Heard Color is in the same area. 

Number Twelve

Rhenizand: Atlantis Atlantis

More brilliant Belgian dance pop/ Balearic pop, an album that lights up any room it's played in. They can do no wrong for me. 

Number Eleven

Unloved: Turn Of The Screw/ Turn Of The Screw (Erol Alkan Rework)

The new Unloved album, The Pink Album, found David Holmes, Keefus Ciancia and Jade Vincent and their 60s Now! sound extended over four sides of vinyl, twenty two songs (with Raven Violet, Etienne Daho and Jarvis Cocker along for the ride). On songs like Mother's Been A Bad Girl the woozy, disturbed, reverb drenched sound hit the spot and on Turn Of The Screw they nailed it, a driving, urgent, psychedelic pop song with Raven Violet on vocals and in charge. The remixes were bang on too, Erol Alkan's remix of Turn Of The Screw especially (and it sounded huge when David spun it at the Golden Lion in October). There's' an exhibition of Julian House's sleeve art at The Social in London too if you're in that neck of the woods.

Number Ten 

10:40: three EPs

Jesse Fahnestock's 10:40 has one of 2022's ongoing delights, a slew of tracks and remixes from the start of the year to it's recent advent calendar end. Kissed Again, a gorgeous piece of emotional slow motion Balearic dance first came out in 2021 but was released this year by Brighton's Higher Love as an EP with the equally lovely Fin and Coat Check. Thickener (both versions) and The Knack (three versions) were both wonky dancefloor oriented thumpers.

Number Nine

The Summerisle Six: This Is Something/ This Is Something (Rico Conning Remix)

Sean Johnston's Wicker Man/ Todmorden inspired psyche folk/ indie dance side project grew from a trio to a sextet for this release (Andy Bell, Jo Bartlett, Duncan Gray, Kev Sharkey and Mick Somerset Ward all on board) for one of the year's best 12", an indie dance floor filler. Rico Conning's remix, a ten minute blissed out sunset journey, is the remix of the year.

Number Eight

Jazxing: Pearls Of The Baltic Sea

An album of Polish Balearica that appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Start with the sax led Fala and go from there. 

Number Seven

Michael Head and The Red Elastic Band: Dear Scott.

Mick Head's latest wonderfully crafted and written set of songs, tales of life lived and lives observed, with typically lovely melodies. 

Number Six

Daniel Avery: Chaos Energy

A double vinyl ambient/ industrial/ techno album- emotive and hard hitting human/ machine music. 

Number Five

Jezebell: Jezebellearica

A nine minute tribute to DJ Alfredo, the White Isle and an open minded approach to music, Jezebellearica was the song of the summer round here. Jezebell's The Knack, Dancing Not Fighting, Et Moi and Concurrence were all worth mentioning here too. 

Number Four

Decius: Vol 1

Decius's album is twelve tracks of heady, sleazy, minimal, techno, inspired by the proto- house of Ron Hardy, with it's tongue firmly in its cheek, single entrendres rubbing up against distorted synths and banging beats. I reviewed it for Ban Ban Ton Ton back in November. In a turn of events I wasn't expecting some of my review has been pulled out for the press release, where my words are directly below a quote from Iggy Pop. As a year end treat Decius have made an end of year mix available, a pay what you want deal, with many of the tracks from the album included in it. You can get it here

Number Three: EP |Of The Year

Andy Bell: Untitled Film Stills and I Am A Strange Loop

Andy Bell's Flicker came out at the start of the year, a beautiful and fully realised solo album with songs spanning the range of his influences- backwards tracks, guitar songs reprising the chord sequences from the earliest Ride records, cosmic instrumentals and straight ahead guitar pop. During the course of the year cover versions and remixes appeared, compiled in the autumn onto two four track 10" vinyl EPs (with a third of acoustic versions) and extras available digitally. Untitled Film Stills is a beautiful way to spend twenty minutes, his covers of Pentangle's Light Fight, Yoko Ono's Listen, The Snow Is Falling and The Kinks' The Way Love Used To Be all right up there and the small hours, quiet devastation of his cover of Arthur Russell's Our Last Night Together capable of bringing tears. The remixes EP is superb too with David Holmes Radical Mycology Remix of The Sky Without You and Richard Norris' lovely slowed down, string laden version of Something Like Love the standouts. 

Number Two: Album Of The Year

A Mountain Of One: Stars Planets Dust Me

Existential Balearica, yacht rock, symphonic dark pop- however I slice it this album has been the one I'v enjoyed and played more than any other in 2022. Bubbling synth basslines, FXed vocals, acoustic guitars, piano, tom tom drums, cosmic hippy questions with no answers, spaced out and widescreen sun baked music with Rolo from The Woodentops on board for good measure. The remixes of Star in the summer stretched things further still, the Glok remix linking this with Andy Bell (at number three).

Star (GLOK Starlight Dub)

Number One: Single Of The Year

David Holmes: It's Over, If We Run Out Of Love

It's Over, If We Run Out Of Love was released on Valentine's Day and has been there throughout the year for me, played daily at times. David's tribute to the youth movements of our youths- the mods, rockers, rastas, punks, soul boys, teds, ravers and clubbers- sung by Raven Violet is a triumph, its two note keyboard blast and boom- tish drums capable of lifting the spirits on the lowest of days and the lyrics- 'I remember back when we were young/ They said the people's day would surely come/ It's over now if we run out of love'- don't really need picking through. It's the best single/ song I've heard this year and hopefully at some point will, along with last year's Hope Is The Last Thing To Die, form the centrepieces of an album. But if not, on its own, it's more than enough. 

There was a remix a little while later, the song being toughened up and stretched out for late night revelry- Darren Emerson's Huffa Remix and the Hardway Bros one were the pick of the bunch for me. Holmes has had quite a year, his DJ gigs in small venues have been on fire- the Golden Lion in Todmorden was particularly memorable not least because I was on the turntables that evening and handed over to him, a chain of events a younger me would struggle to comprehend. Friends who went to his gig at the Social in London in February raved about it as did friends who saw him in Glasgow more recently. A few months ago David released a 7" on Hoga Nord, the motorik/  Joy Division glide of No One Is Smarter Than History another highlight of 2022 and his remix of The Vendetta Suite's Purple Haze, Yellow Sunrise is another 2022 peak as is his remix of Orbital's Belfast, thirty years after the original. You'll notice David appears elsewhere in this list as Unloved and with a remix of Andy Bell too. When you're on a roll, just keep on rolling. 


JC said...

Now that, sir, is a comprehensive and exhaustive list of music that would take a long time to get through from start to end.

I played 'It's Over, If We Run Out Of Love' as part of the pre-match tunes at the football the other day. It's such an uplifting and monumental track. It's up there as one of my favourites of 2022, but it really needs a physical release, doesn't it??

Swiss Adam said...

If ever I song needed releasing on thick 12" vinyl, it's this one

Anonymous said...

An excellent list. Daniel Avery was very high up on mine.

Khayem said...

Great selections, Adam, some will appear in my round up, some I’ve yet to hear and optimistically say that I will catch up with (I’m still trying with 2021)

Thanks again for switching me on to fantastic music and for your incredible - sometimes very raw - writing. It’s been a privilege to read.

I know Christmas will be difficult in many ways but I hope you enjoy time with Lou and Eliza, friends and family, and look forward to the year ahead. Much love and best wishes from Casa K in the South West.