In a feeble attempt to post more content and leave a bread crumb trail to what I was listening in 2022 I’m gonna try and do a monthly round up of music that caught my attention. So it doesn’t get out of hand, I’m limiting each month to ten things. Here is January’s top 10.
The Nottingham band’s fourth album and first in eight years quickly sold of the vinyl version, but is in unlimited streaming and download formats. Apparently, folks like this group. If you do and missed out on a physical copy, word on the IG is, that they are planning vinyl reissues of all four of their albums in April. As for the new album Wilds, it’s brilliant in the Broadcast, psychedlic 60’s way of things. The percussion on this record is such a wonder to feel. A Hypnotizing and groovy record.
Speedy Wunderground single are recorded in a single day with no lunch break according to their web site. They are also pressed in limited quantities. There are a number of other rules they adhere to and they break a few too. Like splitting a song onto two sides of a 7 inch single. That’s what they’ve done for this Lewsberg stormer of a song Six Hills. Lucky for us, it’s also streaming so you don’t have to buy two copies to hear the entire thing uninterrupted. Lewsberg do Velvet Underground with a Dutch accent and a sense of humor. Also worth Checking out is their third LP In Your Hands that came out digitally last year with vinyl due in March.
Charles Bert is best known as the singer for Olympia, Washington’s Math and Physics Club. He’s also been seen in Tacoma’s Unlikely Friends, but now he’s decided to strike out on his own. MAPC dealt in the twee/indiepop universe, Bert’s Field School aligns itself more in the East River Pipe, Guided By Voices and last year’s Idle Ray side of things. Gritty, raw guitars, unrequited love and instant melody make this EP must hear stuff.
Remember Wesley Bright and the Honeytones’ number one hit Happiness back in 2018? The sweet soul beekeeper is back, only this time with a rock steady beat. This single is a collaboration with the Soul Chance and it’s a near perfect melding of Bright’s sweet vocals and reggae backing. You might think that January is a terrible time to put out these tropical vibes, but my guess is that Colemine are banking on this record heating up the airwaves over the next few months and arriving just in time for summer for regular folks. Or, you can grab it and go on vacation now.
Lady Wray, aka Nicole Wray was also one half of the duo Lady (with Terri Walker) who’s 2013 album was a favorite around here. Wray released her first solo album Queen Alone in 2016. She’s been releasing singles in between albums and this LP collects most of them, tidying things up nicely so you don’t have to go compiling things yourself. The production is silky smooth and perfectly fits with Wray’s voice that has classic soul in it, along with modern inflections that make this sound old and new at once.
I thought Artsick’s 2018 single Going Down was going to be one of those one and disappear deals, but the Oakland trio have said not quite so fast, and came up with this brilliant album. The sound is a kindred spirit to San Jose’s Sourpatch and steeped in 90’s indiepop with some obvious inspiration from the likes of Tiger Trap and the Blake Babies. These songs are filled with sunny innocence, DIY aesthetic and killer pop instincts. Hard not to get bitten by the bug of this album. Yes, they still make them like this. What a relief.
This single came out early last year and this duo have been around for the last five years. Their debut was put out by Burger and they have been on Heavenly and now ATO. Well, it finally got through my thick skull and I am now counted as the recently converted. Those Words has a classic modern rock sound that reminds me of Siouxsie and the Banshees the Smiths and some Long Blondes. It shoulda been on someone’s top 7 inch singles year end list! Listen up folks, the new album due in March looks to be just as good as this single (The first single Jeff Goldblum is clever). Even if its cover kinda makes me cringe.
Another one that I missed from last year. What was I doing? File Sweden’s Astral Brain into the Broadcast and Stereolab bin along with Soundcarriers, Vanishing Twin and Death and Vanilla, but put them near the top of the heap. The Bewildered Mind is their debut album and it is packed full of beguiling cinematic pop. I went through and obsessive period last month where I listened to the song A Dream too much and started seeing vision of the Beach Boys, Free Design and Wendy and Bonnie dancing in my head. It was pretty great.
The last thing we need is another band with a talking singer (I don’t want to be nice…haha). Well maybe one more is all right. Yard Act joined the ranks of talking bands in 2020 with their novel hit Fixer Upper which put them on the talking map. The debut album the Overload demonstrates they’ve got more where that came from. Good songs and good beats and good pointed riffs even if there is a lot of talking. If they make it big, I could see them considering a move to L.A.
You know what else the world needs? More vinyl reissues. Speaking of which, vinyl reissues have been trickling out of the Lucksmiths catalog beginning a few years ago with Naturalist. Last year we got A Good Kind of Nervous and now comes Why Doesn’t That Surprise Me which is in most peoples’ top three Lucksmiths albums. I mean, Broken Bones, Synchronized Sinking and the Year of Driving Languorously are undeniable, right? Then you add a few snaps and crackles and getting up from your chair to hear the second half, why wouldn’t you want to trade in your worn out CD for a vinyl copy? No matter your preferred format, it’s good to get reacquainted with this 20 year old classic.