The older I get, the harder it is to put together a year-end list. Not because I’m getting more musically discriminating in my dotage. Quite the opposite. Every year, I find countless new (and old) artists and albums and genres to add to my ever-expanding playlist — and it becomes increasingly difficult to narrow down my choices to anything approaching a reasonable number. This massive two-part list is as close as I could get this year. It’s far from perfect, but it’s the best I can do. To read more about these albums, click on the cover art or check out the Tinnitist TV page, where I interviewed plenty of these acts. See you in 2023.
MY TWO CENTS: By balancing defiant feminist anthems with ambitiously expansive production, the powerhouse vocalist fashions her most focused and fully realized release to date.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Recorded at Neil Finn’s Roundhead Studios in her adopted hometown of Auckland, New Zealand, Kingmaker marks Canadian-born singer-songwriter Tami Neilson’s most provocative and powerful collection to date. Fueled by the world-changing events of the past two years, the album’s songs expose and explode the patriarchal structures that pervade the music industry, family life, and society as a whole. While Neilson has previously explored these themes on such acclaimed LPs as 2018’s Sassafrass!, the new album draws these challenging ideas out even further, shining a dramatic musical light on what the late bell hooks referred to as “the politics of domination” that render women nameless and voiceless. Songs like Baby, You’re A Gun and the cinematic title track see Neilson giving her own resonant voice to women everywhere — to their strength, power, fierceness, and resilience in the face of structural and cultural barriers to their full participation in society.”
MY TWO CENTS: The dynamic British duo continue to push limits and buttons with their explosive sophomore album.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Supernova is a piece of work that’s fearlessly itself — once again playing with genre and rich in different moods, textures, and layers, all the while retaining that purity and simplicity of the essential elements: Georgia South, Amy Love, bass, guitars, drums, and a whole lot of energy. Ultimately, it captures the tension and release that we’ve all been through lately, while imagining what’s to come. Speaking on the album, Amy and Georgia said, “Supernova is the beginning of a new era. As we delved into the unknown, making this album became our medicine through a turbulent time. It’s a reflection of where we were and how far we have come, encased in a fantasy world that we imagined. Supernova is made out of dreams, triumphs and colourful nightmares. When you get to the other side, you will always come out a winner.”
MY TWO CENTS: The L.A. supergroup blow your mind with their expansive & intense fourth set, taking a supersonic trip to The Stooges’ Fun House with their fusion of punk, psyche, free jazz & more.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “OFF!’s first new record in eight years translates the work of an alien race attempting to rebuild the remains of your destroyed record collection. It has so much of everything that it melds into one thing without playing a spot the reference of the hard funk at times or the weird Hawkwind departures or pop of The Sweet or The Boxtops. Free LSD hits reset like The Beatles conjuring Revolver, The Walker Brothers’ Nite Flights refusing to be a reunion album, The Everly Brothers’ Roots digging into the core of the planet, or that record by Baby Huey where every influence merges so effortlessly and seamlessly that it is simply one sound unified. They have no time for fucking around. Here, now, sublingual, on the tongue. Like the first three records, the raging two-minute bonfires that make up Free LSD were written by the core of the band, Keith Morris and Dimitri Coats. But this time, there’s no time for song separation or palette cleansing as OFF! push their punk pedigree into the cherry red. The album introduces new members in drummer Justin Brown (Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Herbie Hancock) and bassist Autry Fulbright II (…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead). The new rhythm section pushes the idea of punk into another dimension as they rip through 38 minutes that count down from T-minus 10 to 0, fast, hard, and loose. As if these new elements are not enough to make you wonder if you’ve changed enough over the last eight years of your life, Coats manipulates, wrestles with, and blankets a number of these tracks (and any breathing space that might have separated them) with whispers and layers of electronics. It is a tell that the only other new element at play in this whole package is Jon Wahl of the seminal band Claw Hammer, whose free-jazz sax illuminates the four improvisational interludes (F, L, S, D) as opposed to being a mere flashy flourish.”
A Foul Form
MY TWO CENTS: The unstoppable John Dwyer and his psych-rockers get back in touch with their inner punks.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Osees don’t seem to mutate or morph so much as remain extraordinarily open to what moves them to do next and capable of getting music done that’s consistently good. What motivated the band to turn loose this hyperconcentrated, slightly less than 22-minute burst of meteor density somewhat punkazoidal music? When it comes to the Osees, that’s at best a mediocre inquiry as they just do the next thing, genre, prevailing tastes or whatever influence might guide a lesser unit are not even a consideration. A Foul Form is a cool pivot from their 2020 studio efforts Metamorphosed, Panther Rotate and Protean Threat. A Foul Form vigorously shakes the Osees etch a sketch clear so whatever comes next (which will probably be sooner than later) will likely be something completely different yet again. As far as a potential inspirational indicator, you might notice the final track on A Foul Form is a cover of Rudimentary Peni’s Sacrifice, which can be found on their Farce 7” released in 1982. A fitting way to blow out this rad slice.”
In The Midnight Hour
MY TWO CENTS: This New England art-punk trio’s dynamic, frenzied fusion of post-hardcore, jazz, garage rock, soul and more will hit you like a triple espresso straight to the dome.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Featuring Chelsey Hahn on electric organ, Chad Jewett on guitar and Wil Mulhern on drums, Perennial’s sound is a kinetic collage of ’60s soul, post-bop jazz, ’90s post-hardcore and British Invasion garage rock. Their live sets are quick, sharp, and ferocious — 20-minute bursts of energy, with all three members in constant, whirling motion. “Our goal for In The Midnight Hour was to make a bright, loud, impressionistic collage,” Hahn says. “Along with our producer Chris Teti (The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die), we tried our best to craft something that would surprise with each listen, a post-hardcore headphone album.”
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Live At The Fillmore 1997
MY TWO CENTS: The heartland hitmakers’ 20-show San Francisco residency is condensed into to an all-killer, no-filler box set loaded with classics, covers and cool cameo appearances.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The long-awaited new box set Live At the Fillmore 1997 is Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ first live album in 13 years. Before starting the 20-show run at the Fillmore, Petty outlined his plans in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle: “We’re musicians and we want to play. We’ve made so many records in the past five years, I think the best thing for us to do is just go out and play and it will lead us to our next place, wherever that may be.” The shows at the Fillmore ended up being some of the most joyful, honest, inspirational and prolific experiences of the band’s career, creating a unique bond between the group and their fans. This album features more covers than originals, paying tribute to the artists and songs that shaped Petty’s love of music as he was growing up — before he became a legendary songwriter and performer in his own right. Highlights include Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, J.J. Cale’s Crazy Mama, The Rolling Stones’ Time is On My Side and more from The Kinks, Everly Brothers, Bill Withers, The Byrds, Chuck Berry and Booker T. & the M.G.’s. The collection also features special performances with The Byrds’ frontman Roger McGuinn and blues legend John Lee Hooker.”
The Unraveling Of Puptheband
MY TWO CENTS: Synthesizers! Saxophones! Sardonic concept pieces! The pop-punk fuckups have never sounded weirder — or more inspired — than they do on their wild fourth album.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Every Pup record arrives with an implied “contents under pressure” warning; the tension between the band’s instinct for the melodic and its gift for chaos propels the songs forward while making them also seem close to flying apart in a horrifying spray of tears and gore. To listen to Pup enough is to spend parts of every day mentally echoing some hilariously self-lacerating, utterly undeniable choruses; you will find yourself thinking “this is the mosh part” at moments when you would otherwise be tearing yourself apart. It is one thing to feel, as Babcock sings on The Unraveling Of Puptheband’s Totally Fine, “like I’m slowly dying / and if I’m being real I don’t even mind,” but it is another, very different thing to find yourself shouting along with those words. There’s a tension here, too. “There’s only so many times you can write a song about how much you hate yourself before you write a song about how fucking good you are at hating yourself,” Babcock says. “It’s funny that we’ve provided for ourselves by being fuckups and writing songs about being fuckups. We’ve been fuckups forever, and now we’ve got a responsibility, to others and to ourselves, to fuck up in a productive manner.”
MY TWO CENTS: The Grammy-winning Spanish singer-songwriter deconstructs Latin-pop music and rebuilds it from the ground up on her adventurous and ambitious third studio album.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Rosalía’s much-sought-after third album Motomami has been declared ‘one of the most anticipated albums of 2022’ by multiple global press outlets. And no wonder: The album’s spirit combines grit and grace, strength and vulnerability, fierce femininity, and an unapologetic, brave attitude. Recently, Rosalía rewarded fans with Saoko, a new track accompanied by a Valentin Petit-directed colorful video, complete with an all-women motorbike gang. “Naming my next track Saoko and sampling Yankee and Wisin for me is the most direct homage I can make to classic reggaeton, a genre that I love and that has been a constant and great inspiration throughout the Motomami project,” Rosalía says. “I started Saoko’s beat playing the upright piano at Electric Lady’s Studio B in NY, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was at night and making this beat seemed as fun as driving a Lambo. I then distorted this piano and added some classic reggaeton drums from a library that NaisGai had sent me some time ago, which by the way is something very special to me because this library has been passed from one generation of producers to another for a long time.”
We are all the heroes of our own stories. So it only makes sense that guitarist Sam Jr. is the guitar hero of his. Finally.
After more than a decade of mostly ducking the spotlight in Canadian supergroup / collective Broken Social Scene, Sam Jr. takes center stage with his long-overdue solo debut. But if you’re expecting anything approaching the experimental pop artsiness of his day job, you’re in for a surprise. A fuzzy, hazy, gnarly, lazy and totally pleasant surprise. Sam Jr. (the album) finds Sam Jr. (the bearded six-stringer) taking his act to the sonic sub-basement — while simultaneously setting a course for the stratosphere, if that makes any sense — and cutting loose on a solid slab of spaced-out, slow-burning, space-rock overdrive. Imagine the first 10 seconds of The Stooges’ 1969 turned into a lifestyle and you’re cooking with gas. Then toss in dashes of Jesus And Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Spacemen 3, Living Things and a few other likely suspects, angel-dust it with some flutes, saxes and bongos for the beatnik brigades, and wash the whole thing in wah-wah-pedal love and you’re home free. Which is not to suggest that this is just some no-holds-barred psychedelic freakout — even as he sets his (and your) sonic controls for the heart of the sun, Sam keeps things grounded with tightly reined songcraft, instrumentation and production. So dig out the strobe light and the lava lamp, plump up the beanbag chairs, buy, beg, borrow or steal the biggest damn speakers you can get your mitts on — then spark the incense, fire up the light show, indulge in your favourite chemical enhancement and let Sam Jr. save the day.”
MY TWO CENTS: Ex-JSBX drummer Russell Simins and former We Are Hex singer Jilly Weiss hit the ground running with their devastatingly heavy new outfit. This is a record that walks up to you, punches you in the face, throws you to the ground, has its way with you — and leaves you begging for more.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Service are an urgent, howling, earnest rock ’n’ roll band who have steadily cemented their reputation as a great live act — and bring that same brand of explosive energy to their debut album Drag Me. Formed in the Manhattan apartment of renowned drummer Russell Simins, Service are now based in Indianapolis, home of the other two core members: Jilly Weiss (We Are Hex) and Mitch Geisinger. The band sum up their sound with the quip, “post-punk then punk again,” which reflects their smart, self-deprecating lyrics as much as the music. Jilly is an iconic frontperson with the boastful confidence of Nick Cave or Mark E. Smith, combined with the sort of confessional sincerity of PJ Harvey. Mitch’s wild guitar manipulations recall The Birthday Party and Butthole Surfers with an array of effects that Liars would admire. At the helm from behind the kit is Simins, best known for his tenure in N.Y.C. garage-rock and blues-punk heroes Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Simins’ uniquely hard-driving, powerful beats give Service their huge sound.”
A Light For Attracting Attention
MY TWO CENTS: Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood cut out the middlemen — and cut to the chase, musically speaking — on the band’s sharpest, strongest side project to date.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The Smile are a band featuring Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, along with Sons of Kemet’s Tom Skinner. Their debut album A Light For Attracting Attention was produced and mixed by Nigel Godrich and mastered by Bob Ludwig. Tracks feature strings by the London Contemporary Orchestra and a full brass section of contempoarary U.K. jazz players including Byron Wallen, Theon and Nathaniel Cross, Chelsea Carmichael, Robert Stillman and Jason Yarde. Says Greenwood: “I feel grateful that we managed, with Nigel’s help, to record these songs in a way they deserve. And the singles released so far have been liked — as far as I can tell — which makes me feel dangerously confident in the rest of the record. As the all-knowing algorithm has it, if you liked that, you’ll love this, right? Hope so. Aside from anything, the brass and strings players who helped out — I really can’t wait for you to hear all their work too.”
Jon Spencer & the HITmakers
Spencer Gets It Lit!
MY TWO CENTS: The hardest-working man in garge-rock introduces his new supergroup with a freaky and freewheeling disc that pushes the sonic and stylistic bounds of his trashy aesthetic.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Spencer Gets It Lit, the debut album from the indelible Jon Spencer (Blues Explosion, Boss Hog, Pussy Galore, Heavy Trash, etc) and his new supergroup The HITmakers, delivers friction, excitement, and post-modern depravity in a gonzo retaliation against idiocy that is as good a balm for our collective PTSD as any. Across layers of big beats, fuzz guitar, and fat synths, Spencer spits, croons, rhapsodises, and seduces. Spencer Gets It Lit is his most complex, groovy, and fun record in years; a dark and danceable odyssey — both a studied take-down of the early 21st century and a celebration of the place where electricity meets the mind. And it introduces his latest killer lineup: Quasi’s Sam Coomes on synthesizers and vocals, M. Sord on drums, and former Sonic Youth drummer Bob Bert playing trash. The touring lineup will feature former Sleater-Kinney / Jicks / Quasi / Wild Flag indie-rock goddess Janet Weiss on drums.”
Everything Was Beautiful
WHO ARE THEY? The neo-psychedelic, gospel-tinged space-rock crew formed and fronted by singer-guitarist, songwriter and visionary Jason Pierce (aka J. Spaceman), formerly of the beloved underground outfit Spacemen 3.
WHAT IS THIS? Their ninth studio release and the followup to 2018’s moody and melancholy outing And Nothing Hurt. Fun fact for Kurt Vonnegut fans: The two titles form a quote from his time-shifting 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? The more rocking yin to And Nothing Hurt’s mellow yang. As those conjoined titles suggest, this was originally envisioned as a double album. Clearly, this would have been the more upbeat half (in every sense of the world). These seven energized, songs take their sonic and lyrics cues from ’70s era The Rolling Stones and Iggy Pop, before being filtered through Spaceman’s supersonic sensibilities, of course.
Lucifer On The Sofa
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Spoon live, thanks to their near-perennial appearances at SXSW back in the day. But if I’m being honest, some of those early shows and albums were hit and miss for me — mostly because Britt Daniel sometimes sounded (to my ears, anyways) like he was playing it a little too cool for school. Not this time.
Regrouping their native Austin and taking their cues from a slew of classic rock influences — check out the extended YouTube playlist below to hear what the band calls “other people’s songs we were in love with during the writing & recording of the album” — the band come out swinging and pull no punches on their lively, lean and crisply punchy 10th studio album Lucifer On The Sofa. The beats come in hot and heavy. The guitars sizzle and scorch, chime and churn, chug and choogle. And while there’s definitely no shortage of consummate tunesmith Daniel’s stylish songcraft and pop penchant, everything here feels like it’s being delivered with more urgency than they’ve shown for a while. Grab a seat and get ready for a devilishly good time.”
Tedeschi Trucks Band
I Am The Moon
MY TWO CENTS: After covering Derek & The Dominos’ Layla album live, the married guitar jammers and their massive band turn the ancient poem that inspired it into an ambitious four-album set.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “I Am The Moon, the fifth studio release by Tedeschi Trucks Band, is the most ambitious and, at the same time, intimate recording that America’s best rock ’n’ roll big band has ever made: A genuinely epic undertaking in four albums and 24 original songs inspired by classical literature but emotionally driven by the immediate drama, isolation and mourning of the pandemic era. There is the recurring fight for hope too, the reaching across damaged connections — all of that trial and urgency unfolding over a robust tapestry of blues, funk, country, jazz and gospel in collaborative writing, luminous singing and the instant fire of improvisation. At more than two hours of music, the four albums that comprise I Am The Moon — Crescent, Ascension, The Fall and Farewell — are like a full evening of all-new composition and performance with Tedeschi Trucks Band, the 12-piece touring phenomenon founded in 2010 by its married leaders, guitarist Derek Trucks and singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi. In its heart and scale, I Am The Moon is also a living, evolving map of the soul: The enduring tale of star-crossed devotion in Layla and Majnun by the 12th-century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, brought forward to present day, through universal experience and faith. As Tedeschi sings at the start of Crescent, in the gently swinging R&B of Hear My Dear – As we watch the world go by / There’s so much we search to find / Holding on to memories / Knowing there’s so much more to say — it’s immediately evident that I Am The Moon is a record as big as its stories, not to mention the life and love inside.”
MY TWO CENTS: The colourfully creative, ceaselessly prolific Finnish multi-talent continues to bounce between jazz, ’60s pop, electronica, Afrobeat — and whatever else strikes his fancy.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Jimi Tenor has always been something of a Renaissance man. On leaving his Finnish homeland for New York in the early 1990s, and later as he travelled through Europe, he quickly discovered what he calls his ikigai, his great joy in life: To record and produce music in DIY mode at home with the most rudimentary of means, spontaneously and intuitively. In more than 30 years of making music, Tenor has remained true to his ideal, whether as a solo artist on his early electronic albums or in the widely diverse collaborations and constellations which followed (with the likes of Tony Allen, Kabu Kabu and Abdissa Assefa). Multiversum is his third album for Hamburg label Bureau B.Tenor and the label first teamed up in 2020 for his NY, Hel, Barca retrospective and continued their association with Deep Sound Learning, a collection of rarities, in spring 2021. Whilst Tenor has predominantly released jazz and Afrobeat records over the past two decades, his live performances have often seen him return to his minimalist roots. Enthralled by how Tenor conjured up his space music with just a synthesizer, flute and saxophone, Bureau B invited him to record an album with this basic and yet astoundingly effective setup.” Find out what Jimi has to say about it all by watching our interview HERE.
Brown Acid: The Fourteenth Trip
People think all the music ever made can be found online. Sorry to say: It just ain’t true. For one reason or another, tons of great shit ends up falling through the cracks of time and landing in the dustbin of history.
Thankfully, the crate-digging fanatics behind this series are here to help. They rescue some of the choicest rock obscurities from the late ’60s and early ’70s, clean them up and compile them into the essential Brown Acid collections. Like its 13 predecessors, The Fourteenth Trip is a mega-dose of awesomeness — in the form of nine long-lost nuggets of top-shelf hard rock, heavy psych and proto-metal. Unless you spend most of your life (and money) sifting through used-record bins and listings looking for sonic needles in historical haystacks, I doubt you’ve heard any of these tracks. I know I haven’t. But trust me, you need to. From the Hendrix-inspired wah-wah funk-rock of The Legends’ Fever Games and the organ-topped propulsion of Liquid Blue’s Henry Can’t Drive to the hard-hitting choogle of San Francisco Trolley Co.’s Signs and Raven’s shapeshifting epic Raven Mad Jam — complete with drum solo! — every one of these cuts is a quintessential example of fringe-vested, head-banded, bell-bottomed hippie-rock magnificence. And, perhaps more importantly, another gem saved from the dustbin. Turn on, turn up, etc.
Brown Acid: The Fifteenth Trip
MY TWO CENTS: Think you’ve heard everything? RidingEasy’s latest essential collection of long-lost psych, garage, rock & metal nuggets from the ’60s and ’70s will prove otherwise.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Lo and behold, The Fifteenth Trip is upon us — and it’s another mind-melting dose of brilliant long-lost, rare, and unreleased hard rock, heavy psych, and proto-metal tracks from the ’60s and ’70s. RidingEasy Records’ crate-digging mining expeditions, and growing network of the original artists keeps on giving with more and more incredible discoveries every time they go back for more. As they’re done throughout this series, all of these tracks were painstakingly licensed legitimately and the artists were paid. Make yourself comfortable and prepare for yet another deep, deep dive into the treasure trove of dank, subterranean, wild-eyed and hairy rock ’n’ roll of yesteryear:
Earl’s Closet: The Lost Archive Of Earl McGrath 1970-1980
MY TWO CENTS: A late music mogul’s storage space yields a treasure trove of unreleased gems.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Earl McGrath was the ultimate ’70s jet setter, an art collector and comic bon vivant who stumbled into the record business between legendary parties in New York and L.A. and discovered Hall & Oates and Jim Carroll. Atlantic founder Ahmet Ertegun gave Earl his own label, Clean Records, in 1970; Mick Jagger hired him to run Rolling Stones Records in 1977. After Earl died in 2016, journalist Joe Hagan, author of the critically acclaimed Sticky Fingers, the biography of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, discovered a trove of rare and unheard tapes in Earl’s apartment in New York — literally inside his closet. Earl’s Closet is a double album of the treasures discovered inside, including unheard music by Daryl Hall and John Oates, David Johansen, Terry Allen, Delbert McClinton, Andy Warhol “Superstar” Ultra Violet, Detroit sax legend Norma Jean Bell, Jim Carroll and an eclectic cast of undiscovered artists who once vied for fame and glory — folk, rock, country, funk and R&B gems that virtually no one has heard in decades. Whether it’s the almost-famous power pop of Shadow from Detroit, or the Delfonics-style soul of the Blood Brothers Six, Earl’s Closet retraces the dreams of artists who once sent demos to McGrath.”
MY TWO CENTS: Absurd times call for absurd measures — which is what the Swedish post-punks serve up on this massive collection swaggering intensity, bizarro bravado and noisy brilliance.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In this time of strife, insanity and confusion, only one band is depraved enough to offer themselves up as herald. Like sin-eaters if sins had to be ingested from a very small spoon, Viagra Boys have consumed the utterly incomprehensible chaos of our era and distilled it into 12 immaculate tracks of post-truth-cow-funk-kraut-wave-enlightenment. This album is a pure feral attack and an absolute immense release. Some say Viagra Boys are something akin to a mirror for the absurdum of existence and illusions of realness. A twisted and ferociously bass-driven judgement on western society. A distorted 24/7 party on the acid highway going nowhere fast. Or perhaps more like a crude joke on modern masculinity, serving up escapist narratives lacking any form of self-preservation, like an obscure back-alley door into the backwaters of the human psyche. Metaphors aside, Viagra Boys is an unapologetically raw sextet comprised of classically trained jazz musicians, karaoke-loving tattoo artists and seasoned hardcore scene veterans, churning out spastic, pulsating sounds from the sub levels of contemporary rock music — a bellowing, unstoppable force majeure of latter-day punk, PTSD disco and synthetically enhanced kraut. As equal parts Iggy Pop and Hank Williams, singer and frontman Sebastian Murphy embodies all that which Viagra Boys are ultimately about; a fractured, perhaps disillusioned act, wrapped up and held together by inextinguishable bravado, explosive appearances and resourceful songwriting.”
“Hey!” barks Voivod frontman Snake on Paranolmalium, the opening track to the Quebec metal mathletes’ 15th studio Synchro Anarchy. “Can you hear me? I’m alive.” Damn right they are. And that ain’t the half of it.
After nearly four decades of bashing it out in the studio and grinding it out on the road, the four horsemen of Voivod’s latest incarnation aren’t just surviving — they’re beating the damn odds, defying gravity and reversing the aging process to boot. All of which is to say that Synchro Anarchy is the latest in a long line of artistic and technical triumphs. Intricate and intense, angular and adventurous, mind-blowing and head-crushing, its nine tracks deliver all the lofty lyrical concepts, shifting prime-number time signatures, thrashing speed, flawless musical execution and psychedelic flourishes you have come to know, love and expect from Voivod — not to mention plenty of lyrics about the intensity and insanity of life in pandemic times. How do they keep pulling it off?
MY TWO CENTS: If you loved Chaise Longue (and who didn’t?), you’ll find more where that came from on the long-awaited debut album by the overnight sensations of British post-punk.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Wet Leg’s debut single Chaise Longue — delivered with dry wit, a Mean Girls nod and A thumping indie-disco beat — turned it into a runaway hit in 2021, and it was named one of the best songs of the year by countless media outlets. Now, the duo of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers have dropped their self-titled debut album, an instant classic that peels back the layers of the band to reveal the smart, dark heart at the centre of it. Wet Leg was mostly recorded in London, in April 2021, and the duo chose Dan Carey (Squid, Fontaines DC) to produce the bulk of it. They had recorded a lot of their demos at home, on Garageband, and a lot of audio from those sessions was reused, rather than rerecorded.”
Fear Of The Dawn
MY TWO CENTS: Those who love their Jack White albums heavy and weird have nothing to fear from the blue-haired blues-rocker’s first release in four years — and one of two that arrived in 2022.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Earlier this year, Jack White announced his plan to release two new studio albums in 2022 — his first new full-length collections in over four years. Fear Of The Dawn is the first of them, followed by Entering Heaven Alive. White has been writing and recording music throughout the entirety of the past several years, creating two entirely distinctive albums — each defined by different inspirations, different themes, different moods. Born and raised in Detroit as the youngest of 10 siblings, White’s utilitarian approach filters through all of his work, from self-producing his own music to the Third Man empire he founded (which currently includes a pressing plant, a record label, a photo lab, a lounge/bar, and more), his upholstery and various other art and design pursuits, and anything else that crosses his desk. Over a quarter century into his professional musical career, White’s ability to weave relevant, compelling, and poignant artistry into his music leaves him unparalleled.”
MY TWO CENTS: After decades on the edge of country, Jeff Tweedy and co. finally take the plunge — and go deep with this introspective, epic concept piece about their own country.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Wilco’s 12th studio album Cruel Country is — by singer-songwriter and guitarist Jeff Tweedy’s own definition — the Chicago band’s first actual country album. “I think there’s been an assumption over the years that Wilco is some sort of country band,” Tweedy admits. “There’s a lot of evidence to support that way of thinking about our band because there have been elements of country music in everything we’ve ever done. But to be honest, we’ve never been particularly comfortable with accepting that definition of the music we make. With this album though, I’ll tell you what, Wilco is digging in and calling it country. Having been around the block a few times, we’re finding it exhilarating to free ourselves within the form, and embrace the simple limitation of calling the music we’re making country. More than any other genre, country music, to me, a white kid from middle-class middle America, has always been the ideal place to comment on what most troubles my mind — which for more than a little while now has been the country where I was born, these United States.”
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Super Deluxe Edition
MY TWO CENTS: The game-changing fourth album from Jeff Tweedy and his Chicago shape-shifters has been generously augmented with umpteen alternate versions and live recordings.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Wilco’s now-classic landmark 2002 album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was released commercially on April 23, 2002, after a circuitous and storied gestation, including a period of streaming for free on the band’s website. It was their first release on Nonesuch Records following the band’s infamous split with Reprise (both labels are part of Warner Music Group). It was also the first release featuring the lineup of drummer Glenn Kotche and multi-instrumentalist Leroy Bach, who joined founding members Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt. The 2002 Sam Jones film I Am Trying To Break Your Heart documented the fraught recording and mixing process, personnel changes, and label issues. Despite its difficult birth, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was widely acclaimed as one of 2002’s best albums, appearing in multiple year-end and decade-end lists. For its 20th anniversary, the essential release has been remastered and will be reissued in an exhaustively expanded form, including demos, drafts, and instrumentals charting the making of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot — plus a 2002 concert recording and a 2001 radio performance and interview.”
Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners
Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners
MY TWO CENTS: The Wildhearts frontman fully embraces his inner Southern roots-rocker with the help of some drinking buddies — and some of the catchiest tunes he’s written in years.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners‘ self-titled debut is an energetic album that celebrates rock ’n’ roll — and as Ginger explains it, “the spirit of the music that we all collectively love, from childhood to the present day. Little Feat, The Allman Brothers, Wilco, The Band, Creedence, The Jayhawks, Lone Justice, Jason & The Scorchers, Georgia Satellites, Status Quo, The Stones … from roots-country to rock ’n’ roll and Americana.” Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners were formed in August 2019, when Ginger joined forces with Neil Ivison and Nick Lyndon from the band Stone Mountain Sinners. The lineup was completed with drummer Shane Dixon (Tri-City Fanfare). “Me and The Sinners met for the very first time in the studio, in preparation for recording an album together. We figured out that if we can’t get along with each other, then the music would be ultimately worthless. So we went to the pub and got drunk together. The next morning the music started flowing with ease. This is the sound of friendship.” The album was recorded at Mwnci Studios in Pembrokeshire, Wales, with Dave Draper producing.”
Summer Forever And Ever
MY TWO CENTS: Three indie-rock legends are better than one — and that’s just what you get with this slamming, sizzling, raw, raucous and rambunctious sophomore set from the trio of Kid Congo Powers, Mick Collins and Bob Bert.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “On the eve of his revealing memoir Some New Kind Of Kick, underground icon Kid Congo Powers — a former member of The Gun Club, The Cramps, Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds, Chris D’s Divine Horsemen and more — is back with Summer Forever and Ever, the second release by Wolfmanhattan Project, his supergroup with Mick Collins and Bob Bert. Summer Forever and Ever succeeds Blue Gene Stew, 2019’s debut by the Wolfmanhattan Project, a collective unit co-starring two other musicians familiar to garage-rock fans: Singer-guitarist Mick Collins, frontman of the seminal Detroit-bred Dirtbombs and Gories, and drummer-vocalist Bob Bert, whose skin work has distinguished albums by Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, Lydia Lunch’s Retrovirus, and Jon Spencer and the HITmakers. Powers says of the genesis of the Wolfmanhattan Project: “I met Mick at the South By Southwest Music Conference in Austin. There was just a great vibe from him, and I admire him so much. I said, ‘We should do something together someday!’ Bob is a mutual friend of ours, and he actually pulled it together by saying, ‘Hey, let’s go in the studio.’ We had a rough concept of two baritone guitars and drums, with all of us singing. It ended up that I found a baritone guitar and no one else did, so I became the default ‘bass player.’ ”
MY TWO CENTS: Intimate, intriguing & intricate, the London popster’s second set goes down smooth.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Nilüfer Yanya’s sophomore album Painless finds her running headfirst into the depths of emotional vulnerability. It was recorded between a basement studio in Stoke Newington and Riverfish Music in Penzance (owned by her uncle Joe Dworniak, a former bassist in funk band I Level), with Miss Universe collaborator and producer Wilma Archer, DEEK Recordings founder Bullion, Big Thief producer Andrew Sarlo and musician Jazzi Bobbi. Where Miss Universe stretched musical boundaries to include a litany of styles from smooth jazz melodies to radio-ready pop, Painless takes a more direct sonic approach. By narrowing down her previously broad palette to a handful of robust ideas that revolve around melancholy harmonies and looped industrial beats to mimic the insular focus of the lyrics, Yanya has smoothed out the idiosyncrasies of previous releases without losing what is essential to her. Painless is a record that forces the listener to sit with the discomfort that accompanies so many of life’s biggest challenges whether it be relationship breakdowns, coping with loneliness, or the search for our inner self. “It’s a record about emotion,” Yanya explains. “I think it’s more open about that in a way that Miss Universe wasn’t because there’s so many cloaks and sleeves with the concept I built around it.” She adds, summing up the ethos of the new album, “I’m not as scared to admit my feelings”.
MY TWO CENTS: Angular and angry, political and propulsive, the post-punk Leeds foursome pick up where Sleaford Mods and Pulp left off on their witty, wacky and wonderful debut disc.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The Overload is a record of great dexterity and curation, the output of a band who were raised on a ’00s digital-revolution buffet of wide musical influences. Growing up on U.S. MTV hip-hop, minimal ’70s no-wave and sharp-witted British indie, Leeds foursome Yard Act benefit from this rich tapestry of musical near-history, using it to create something that feels like more than a trendy pastiche. While time-travelling in parts sonically, The Overload weave a very-2021 storyline. The group made the decision early on to leave Fixer Upper and Dark Days off their album debut (“it sounds arrogant, but we felt we had enough good songs without ’em”), but the joyous specificity of their early lyrical observation is still in fine evidence, plotting a visceral, satirical journey through capitalism and greed. Across the album’s 11 tracks, an unnamed character — a bricolage of characters that frontman James Smith has met, imagined, or himself been — finds himself in quite the financial pickle, ricocheting from desk job to desperate illicit activity to police investigation, before culminating in the kind of half-cut personal epiphany that even the most law-abiding among us could relate to. Bookended by cheeky cameos from Fixer Upper’s Graeme and a clear structure of four parts, there is no getting around it — Yard Act have written a soap opera.”
Yelawolf & Shooter Jennings
I must have been asleep at the switch or something. This one actually came out a coulple of weeks before I heard it. I completely missed it. I have no idea how that happened.
I’ve been a fan of Shooter Jennings for years. I’ve heard enough Yelawolf to know he’s a cut above the usual crop of southern rappers. And I thought the preview singles were pretty solid — especially the flat-out ’80s-style rocker Make Me A Believer. Turns out the whole album is every bit as good as that. On the one hand, you’ve got Shooter’s roots-rock / ’70s glam / conspiracy theory / alien abduction / vintage pop / synth-fuelled weirdness. On the other, you’ve got Yela’s lyrical smarts, introspective poetry and melodic sensibilities. Put ’em together and you get an album that seems like some long-lost artifact from a world where Night Ranger, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cheap Trick, David Bowie, Funkadelic and Ram Jam all got together in the studio. Don’t miss it.
The Mothers 1971
MY TWO CENTS: The latest massive box set from the iconoclastis icon’s vaunted Vault expands upon one his most triumphant live releases — and unearths one on his most tragic shows.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The monumental and definitive eight-disc/digital collection The Mothers 1971 that showcases that year’s short-lived but unforgettable lineups and commemorates these storied chapters in Zappa’s legacy. The 100-track, nearly 10-hour set brings together every note of the fabled four shows that closed down the vaunted Fillmore East in New York City on June 5-6, 1971, including the entire John Lennon and Yoko Ono encore, along with the full Rainbow Theatre performance in London. Also included is an unreleased hybrid concert culled from June 1 and June 3, 1971 performances in Scranton and Harrisburg, Penn., which denote the first time Mothers shows were recorded on Zappa’s preferred, then-newly purchased ½-inch 4-track tape machine (throughout the ’70s, this was the main tape recorder used to document shows if the budget allowed). This release is significant for marking the first time the complete back-to-back double-header Fillmore East concerts have been released in their entirety, allowing fans to hear the full performances that Zappa edited the album from, and for the very first time anywhere, contains the official audio of the Rainbow Theatre show’s truly shocking ending, which was thought to have not been recorded until recently discovered while putting this project together.”
MY TWO CENTS: The prolific artist’s jazzier ’70s outings are the focus of this archival box — which comes accompanied by the usual assortment of high-quality rarities and live recordings.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In 1972, following the aftermath of being pushed off stage at the Rainbow Theatre in London by a crazed attendee, Frank Zappa found himself recuperating for months in his home in the hills of Los Angeles. Although he was confined to a wheelchair and in immense pain, his work ethic could not be tamed, and he would end up having one of the most prolific years of his hugely prolific career. During this time, he managed, among other things, to assemble an ensemble that quenched his thirst and desire to work with a large “Electric Orchestra.” Ultimately, he contracted a 20-piece group for recording sessions and an eight-city tour. Shortly thereafter, a scaled down 10-piece configuration, now popularly known as the “Petite Wazoo” toured for almost two months. After all was said and done, Zappa finished the experiment with two albums in the can — Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo — plus two tours and an archive of show masters in his vault. In celebration of half a century of this pioneering phase of Zappa’s peerless career, the box set Waka/Wazoo — a five-disc multi-format box set that features a complete historical rundown of the entire project — boasts unreleased alternate takes of almost every composition recorded during the album sessions, Vault mix session outtakes and oddities, and also includes the full final show of the 10-piece tour, recorded at the famous Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco on Dec. 15, 1972.”
MY TWO CENTS: Featuring a trio of different mid-’70s Pennsylvania gigs, this live box finds the groundbreaking singer-songwriter, guitarist and composer balancing current gems against a host of early classics.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The latest audio treasure to be excavated from Frank Zappa’s vast and legendary vault, Zappa/Erie brings together an exciting trio of shows that the Maestro performed in Erie, Pa. and the surrounding area between 1974-76. The six-disc box contains more than seven hours of unreleased, electrifying live performances from Zappa and three different lineups of incredible musicians from this peak period. Of the 71 tracks, only 10 minutes have been released before — on Zappa’s classic 1974 live album Roxy & Elsewhere — outside of the amateur recordings that have been passed around on the bootleg tape-trading circuit.”
Zappa ’75: Zagreb/Ljubljana
MY TWO CENTS: A varied setlist loaded with unusual offerings and a unique, short-lived band lineup help make this compilation of two vintage Eastern European a must-have for FZ fans.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In the fall of 1975, towards the tail end of a typically productive and prolific year that included finishing production on the One Size Fits All album, a spring tour with Captain Beefheart (immortalized on the live album Bongo Fury, released in October of that year), and a performance of orchestral works, Frank Zappa and his band The Mothers played their first and only shows in Yugoslavia while in the midst of their fall tour. The Mothers of Invention Yugoslavian Extravaganza — as Zappa called it — took place in Zagreb and Ljubljana (now the capital cities of Croatia and Slovenia respectively) on Nov. 21 and 22, 1975 with the short-lived and slightly stripped-down lineup of Andre Lewis (keyboards), Napoleon Murphy Brock (tenor sax and lead vocals), Norma Bell (alto sax, vocals), Roy Estrada (bass) and Terry Bozzio (drums). In characteristically Zappa fashion, the maestro made sure to record these historical shows behind the Iron Curtain. Zappa ’75: Zagreb/Ljubljana features the best performances of the Yugoslavian concerts sequenced in the exact order of the show’s setlist to present the crème da la crème from each night for the first time ever.”