Rob Perry Best of 2022

Every year we ask some of our music friends to share some of their thoughts on some of the albums/singles that were released in the past year.

Our good friend, fellow Connells fan, thoughtful social media user, and one of the most ardent new music fans Rob Perry agreed to share his thoughts about new music from the past year.

2022, for me, has been a year in that I got to get back out into the live music scene a bit and enjoy a lot of great music released by my favorite artists and some new ones, too.  I saw wildly enthusiastic live shows by Superchunk and Built To Spill (both with new albums this year) and more subdued ones like Waxahatchee and Sharon Silva.

As far as this year’s album releases go, here are five of my favorites.  All are records that I find easy to put on the turntable and enjoy from front to back.

Archers of Loaf – Reason in Decline … their first new album in over two decades was highly anticipated by long-time fans. But this record doesn’t have the signature noisy gnarl of the early releases. This is a band, seemingly now with a different sense of purpose. When I listen to this album I hear impeccably crafted songs, still distorted but looking more positively at our ever-changing world.

Favorite track: “Mama Was a War Profiteer

Tess Parks – And Those Who Were Seen Dancing … Here’s another record that’s been a long time coming. When released, it had been almost 10 years since Park’s last album “Blood Hot”. On this one, her ethereal vocals, mixed with sonic influences of Oasis, Patti Smith, and Primal Scream provide a nicely wrapped feeling of 90s nostalgia. Drop the needle on this and let your psyche explore it all.

Favorite track: “Do You Pray?

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Endless Rooms … This is the group’s third long play and it highlights their consistency and creative growth. What I love about this band and album is the incredible combination of songwriting skill layered intricately into their three-guitar interplay. There seems to be an ego-free vibe among the six-stringers Joe Russo, Joe White, and Fran Keaney. While this release doesn’t use the same template as the band’s debut “Hope Downs” it does expand on the definition of what a great Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever record can be.

Favorite track: “Open Up Your Window

Yumi Zouma – Present Tense … The New Zealand quartet’s fourth album is a subtle shift from their previous records. While it’s still shimmering Dream Pop, this release hints at moving a bit towards mid-80s Fleetwood Mac or Hall & Oates. The band has done a great job of weaving a variety of textures into the songs on this record. “Present Tense” has a little something for almost everyone and listening will most certainly augment your mood.

Favorite track: “Mona Lisa

Spoon – Lucifer on the Sofa … In February, one of my favorite bands “finally” released their latest record after five long years. As their music always seems to be evolving, I wasn’t sure what the signature album sound might be. For me, the edgy-riffed “The Hardest Cut” definitely sets the tone but all of the tunes have a roughhewn and sparsely produced feel. The record sounds like it could have been recorded live in your living room. As usual from Britt Daniel, there’s excellent songwriting and a nice mix of tempo.

Favorite track: “Wild

We want to express our gratitude to Rob for taking the time to write one of these reviews.

Phil Yates Best of 2022

Every year we ask some of our music friends to share some of their thoughts on some of the albums/singles that were released in the past year.

Our pal, Phil Yates of Phil Yates & The Affiliates released a terrific record, A Thin Thread, on July 15th of this year, and much to our joy, he agreed to share his thoughts.

Do you ever tire of hearing people say that there is no good new music nowadays? The music released in 2022 should silence those fools, but you and I know nothing will silence people who think that way. My wallet wishes that I was one of those fools who did not care about new (and old) music this year. Other than what is in the top spot, the rest of my top ten albums of 2022 is in no order.

Wet Leg – Wet Leg. No new release in recent memory has given me as much joy as Wet Leg’s debut record. My actual age is quickly approaching my spiritual age, meaning that I am probably more prone to embracing my inner curmudgeon these days. When a band has so much buzz behind them, my instant reaction is to dismiss them. I am glad I did not do that with Wet Leg.

The record is so much more than the singles released in 2021, “Chaise Longue” and “Wet Dream”. The rest of the record is full of hooks. It feels like the best music from the ’90s but is not a retro record. One of my highlights of the year was seeing them in March at Chicago’s Thalia Hall. It was absolutely thrilling to see a band clearly in its ascendancy yet still figuring things out. I cannot wait to see what Wet Leg does for an encore!

Cate Le Bon – Pompeii. This record contains probably my favorite song of the year, “Remembering Me”. The video to it is incredible. Cate is one of those musicians that I will follow any weird or challenging path she happens to forge.

Elvis Costello & The Imposters – The Boy Named If. I had to check the calendar again. This album came out in January 2022. I am a huge Costello nerd. Huge! This record made me so happy. It is his best since 2004’s The Delivery Man. It is closest to Brutal Youth with respect to the sound of the record. If that does nothing for you, we probably cannot be friends.

The Beths – Expert in a Dying Field. Have The Beths made a bad record yet? Do they even know how to make a bad record? I embrace our new Kiwi rock overlords.

Young Guv GUV III & GUV IV. I’m cheating by combining both Young Guv records as one record. It is full of jangly goodness. These songs sound even more rocking live. One of the highlights of going to England this summer for me was catching Young Guv in Bristol. Great show!

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Endless Rooms. This Australian band constantly hits my sweet spot.

BOAT – No Plans to Stick the Landing. I’ve been a fan of this Seattle band for a long time since probably 2009’s Setting the Paces. I get the feeling they have the same influences as I do: Guided By Voices, Elliott Smith, Teenage Fanclub, and Pavement.

Spiritualized – Everything Was Beautiful. This is a mild upset. When asked to do lists in the past, Spiritualized normally takes the top spot if they released a record in that year. That to me is weird because I never think to name them as one of my favorite bands. I should rectify that and start name-checking them every chance I get.

Angel Olsen – Big Time. Angel Olsen sounds like a country-leaning Roy Orbison on this record. It is “big” and well worth your “time”. Angel Olsen is another artist I will follow on whatever creative path she takes.

Sloan – Steady. Has Sloan made a bad record yet? Do they even know how to make a bad record? Long live Canada’s answer to The Beatles!

I should have an addendum to the list. I also put out a record with my band, Phil Yates & The Affiliates, called A Thin Thread on Futureman Records. If I was feeling particularly cocky, I would have put it in the Top Ten of 2022. For now, let’s leave it as a nice little footnote for this year.

The year 2022 was great for music books, too. I need to get my hands on Bob Dylan’s latest book. Christmas is coming, so family members reading this, consider that a hint. My favorite book from a musician was Jarvis Cocker’s Good Pop, Bad Pop. It is a great reflection on the memorabilia we collect and what makes some of it keepable and other portions of it more disposable. I could hear Jarvis’ voice whilst reading it.

For those of you wanting to give yourself a bit of a challenge, PJ Harvey’s Orlam should be on your reading list. It is a novel-length poem written in the old Dorset dialect. Don’t worry. There is a glossary of terms at the back of the book.

Thanks for reading! May all of you have a wonderful, music-filled 2023!