This Week’s Theme: Best of 2022 (So Far)
This week’s Faux Show is a classic countdown list. I have included several different Best of the Year selections followed by a Top 10 albums countdown. These are all albums released through June, 2022. At the end of the year I will create a final Best of the Year show with a Top 20 albums list, so it will be interesting to see how many of these early contenders make the final cut. The playlist includes two tracks from the Top 10 albums, plus one track from each of the Best Of categories and a few additional tracks from albums that would probably make my Top 20 at this point in the year.
Welcome to Radio Faux Show number forty-three.
First things first – click a link to start listening and then come back to read about this week’s songs.
Jazz Album of the Year
Rhythm In Contrast by Charles Goold
Charles Goold is a drummer based in New York, and Rhythm In Contrast is his debut album. This is my favorite kind of jazz combo – all rhythm – with Piano (Taber Gable), Vibes (Steve Nelson), Bass (Noah Jackson), Guitar (Andrew Renfroe), and Drums (Goold). The opening track, “Sequence of Events,” starts with a one and a half minute drum solo showcasing Goold’s talents, and then the whole group bursts in, providing a great opening to a great album. Other highlights include track 2 “Tell Me Something When,” track 9 “Pati’s Mood,” and my personal favorite track 6 “Lo’s Lament,” a gorgeous ballad featuring some wonderful vibraphone and bowed bass.
Rap Album of the Year
Precipice by Dalek
I’ve been listening to Dalek for about twenty years and it is great to see this experimental hip hop duo still going strong. Instead of caving in and attempting to adjust to the new sound of rap, their new album Precipice holds true to form and contains ten tracks of their trademark noise-based sampling and drum heavy beats. The lyrics are still just as confrontational as ever, so they have plenty to say in the middle of all of the shit going on in the world today. This is rap that makes you listen and think. Dancing is optional and extremely difficult.
Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die
The Tipping Point by Tears for Fears
It has been eighteen years since the last Tears For Fears album so who would have thought they had another one in them. If you love Tears for Fears, this album does not disappoint.
Metal Album Of The Year
Impera by Ghost
Impera is the fifth album in twelve years for Ghost, a Swedish metal band. They are on the lighter side of metal relative to a lot of other bands out there nowadays, but they aren’t Winger. They can be pretty heavy when they need to be, but they are strong on the melody and always come up with a decent riff. Their stage shows are very theatrical, and this new record based on the rise and fall of empires provides plenty of material for them to flex their creative muscles on stage. This is possibly their best received album to date, at least for mainstream critics. Metal critics have never really accepted the band as true metal, but I don’t care. It rocks and makes me think of Ratt and Iron Maiden, which is never a bad thing for a forty-plus year fan of the genre.
Funk Album Of The Year
Electric Cowboy: Born In Carolina Mud by Boulevards
Over the last eight years, Boulevards has evolved from an ’80s funk sound (a la Rick James) and a ’90s groove (a la R Kelly) into a funk band focused on ’70s soul and ’60s psych-funk (a la Marvin Gaye and Sly Stone). This is definitely my favorite of their albums yet.
Song Of The Year
“Chaise Longue” by Wet Leg
This was my selection for Song of the Year in 2021, but the band’s full length debut was not released until this year. For now, this song will retain the title until a new, better song is released in 2022.
And now, my Top 10 albums of the year, so far…
Number 10: YAYA KIM
I am not sure that this album will remain on this list by the end of the year, but every time I listen to it I am increasingly intrigued by the variety of experimentation YAYA KIM has produced. Kim is a South Korean artist who does not work in the field of K-Pop. After being trained early in her life to be a standard entertainer, she instead broke away to study art design, production, and classical composition. The end result is a mix of jazz, blues, avant-garde, experimentation, and psychedelic music. She composes, arranges, and records all of her own songs, and also creates the art design, cover design, and videos. This is 21st century avant-garde pop music unlike most anything else out there, and especially unlike any other music you will find coming out of South Korea.
Number 9: Spoon
Lucifer On The Sofa
Full disclosure: I love Spoon. I’ve been a fan for over twenty years. That is not to say that every new Spoon album is my favorite for the year, but I do think most of their albums are consistently good. This one, however, surprised me in just how good it is. There aren’t any instant classics like “Underdog” or “The Way We Get By” on this one, but there isn’t a weak track throughout. If you like Spoon, you are sure to like this. If you don’t know Spoon, I actually think this isn’t a bad place to start. It isn’t their best, and if you like it you would be smart to go listen to Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Gimme Fiction, or Kill The Moonlight, but it is a solid offering from arguably the best indie rock band of their generation.
Number 8: The Weather Station
How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars
I know very little about The Weather Station. From what I can tell, they started out as an alt-country group and released several well-received records during their first ten years or so. Then, in 2021, they released an album that owes as much to post-rock Talk Talk as to any country or folk artists. That album, Ignorance, slipped past me last year or it would have made my Top 20 at the end of the year. Amazingly for this day and age, the band released another album less than one year later, and it is just as good, if not better. Much like Talk Talk’s evolution, the band appears to be moving further away from their origins with each release, and are getting quieter and more subtle as they do so. This new album is gorgeous in its simplicity. Each listen reveals new depth of emotion and new layers of complexity, all within the confines of a very minimal songwriting aesthetic. Beautiful.
Number 7: The Smile
A Light For Attracting Attention
Radiohead are the most important rock band of the 21st century. They foreshadowed the decades to come with their 1997 masterpiece OK Computer and heralded a new age with their 2000 album Kid A. They haven’t broken up, but they are no longer a full-time band, with their members spending the last seven years working on solo and side projects, and releasing the occasional special editions of their old albums. The Smile is a new side project for Radiohead co-founders Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, and is as close to sounding like a full-fledged Radiohead album as it gets. If you are a Radiohead fan, this record is a breath of fresh air. If you don’t care about any of this then may god have mercy on your soul.
Number 6: Beach House
Once Twice Melody
Beach House have been around since 2006 and I have not paid much attention. That was apparently a mistake. This duo play a blend of dream pop, shoegaze, lo-fi, electronic music. This latest album sounds like Stereolab meets Low. It is wonderful. I will definitely be investigating their back catalog.
Number 5: Wet Leg
The female duo Wet Leg burst out of the Isle of Wight and onto the scene last year with their amazing single “Chaise Longue.” They followed that with the amazing single “Wet Dream.” Now they have released their debut album. It contains those two singles along with ten other tracks, only one of which falls short. This is a great debut.
Number 4: Black Country, New Road
Ants From Up There
Black Country, New Road released their fantastic debut album, For The First Time, in 2021 and one year later released this second album. It picks up where their first record left off, and provides their amazing blend of jazz, rock, noise, prog, and post-punk. They are cut from the same cloth as Black Midi, but don’t veer quit as far into the sonic spectrum. This is a fantastic recording and will definitely be in my Top 10 at the end of the year. Days prior to its release, their lead vocalist Isaac Wood left the band due to mental health issues. They cancelled their US tour, but have announced that when they do tour again they will not perform these songs out of deference to Wood. Instead, they have left an open invitation to Wood to rejoin if he ever feels ready to do so. In the meantime, Wood and the rest of the band have given us two of the best albums of the 2020s, and the band has announced that they plan to branch out on their next recording by working with a symphony orchestra. I am down with that.
Number 3: Big Thief
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
This album is the fifth for Big Thief in the last seven years. Like Beach House, I know very little about this band prior to this year, but this album keeps getting better each time I listen to it. It is like if a young Emmylou Harris joined early Wilco and were produced by Sea Change-era Beck.
Number 2: Stromae
Stromae was the Artist of the Week on Radio Faux Show Volume 2, Number 14. The theme of that show was new music, and this album has continued to stick with me as one of the year’s best since discovering it while researching that show. Stromae is an international superstar from Belgium and his mix of hip hop, dance music, and folk music is incredible.
Number 1: Mitski
Mitski began her professional career in 2012 with some self-produced piano/vocal albums recorded while attending music school. She has evolved throughout her career, and this sixth album now finds her as a master songwriter of modern vocal pop music. The songs veer from powerful, emotional, and angry to beautiful, introspective, and moving. Above all else, Mitski has become a master storyteller who can use few words to elicit deep meaning within her songs. This album has been my favorite of the year since I first heard it and after dozens of listens that has not changed.
Thanks for listening (and reading)!
|1||Black Country, New Road||Intro|
|3||Smile, The||The Opposite|
|5||Beach House||Once Twice Melody|
|6||Mitski||Working For The Knife|
|8||Weather Station, The||Marsh|
|9||YAYA KIM||For Dogs And Pigs…|
|10||Wet Leg||Ur Mom|
|11||Nilufer Yanya||The Dealer|
|12||Wombats||If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming With You|
|13||Ibibio Sound Machine||17 18 19|
|14||Sure Fire Ensemble||Time To Rebuild|
|15||Joss Stone||Never Forget My Love|
|17||Charles Goold||Tell Me Something When|
|19||Dalek||Decimation (Dis Nation)|
|20||Stromae||Fils De Joie|
|21||Tears For Fears||My Demons|
|22||Smile, The||The Smoke|
|23||Mitski||The Only Heartbreaker|
|24||Wet Leg||I Don’t Wanna Go Out|
|25||Black Country, New Road||Concorde|
|26||Beach House||New Romance|
|27||Spoon||On The Road Again|
|29||Sharon Van Etten||I’ll Try|
|30||YAYA KIM||Tonight Is Mine|
|31||Big Thief||Spud Infinity|
|32||Weather Station, The||To Talk About|