Posted in Listed

Favourite Albums of 2022

5. Tears for Fears – The Tipping Point: The duo of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith returned in 2022 in a big way. A new album, planned tour (that unfortunately had to be cancelled), and numerous TV appearances. The centrepiece of the year was The Tipping Point. The light electronics mixed with traditional instruments on tracks such as “The Master Plan” for both a mature and bright sounding pop album.

4. Lightning Seeds – See You In The Stars: Ian Broudie returned to his Lightning Seeds moniker for the first time in well over 10 years. The result was a terrific pop album bursting with sunny melodies and scratchy vocals. Tracks such as single “Great To Be Alive” reminded listeners of how positive life can be regardless of the news. It was the album many of us didn’t know we needed until we did.

3. Wet Leg – Wet Leg: In many ways, this feels like a 2021 album as four singles were released a year ago. Since then, Wet Leg has taken the indie rock world by storm with sold out shows and appearances on nearly everyone’s year end list. The duo still managed to save the blasts of “Ur Mom” and “Angelica” for 2022 along with several strong album tracks.

2. Liam Gallagher – C’mon You Know: Right from the first moments of the 60s like children’s choir opening, Gallagher’s third solo album was an unexpected powerhouse. As his brother Noel notes, Liam has kept 90s rock alive and well with a younger generation eating it up. “Better Days” has the strut of a quality Oasis tune while “Moscow Rules” co-written with Ezra Koenig opened up further depths to his sound. Liam’s quality control rarely let him down here on a terrific set of 2022 rock tunes.

1. Beach House – Once Twice Melody: The eighth album from the Baltimore duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally ran an ambitious 84 minutes with four separate chapters. Highlights include the title track, “Only You Know”, and “Hurts To Love”. While the formula does not stray too far from their atmospheric, indie rock, Beach House manage to explore new vistas of sound. With a lengthier run time, it is easy to submerge in this luxiourously expanded album.

Posted in Listed

10 Favourite Songs of 2022

10. Yard Act – The Overload: I came across this track through Cillian Murphy’s recommendation on his excellent BBC podcast. The band from Leeds mixes several different genres and on the title track of their debut album, really nail their outsider status with a few pop hooks.

9. Wet Leg – Angelica: The duo from the Isle of Wight saved one of the best tracks from their debut album for a 2022 release. The energetic track really takes off when the drums explode as they sing of Angelica going to a party. Another slice of indie rock perfection from the breakout act of 2022.

8. Taylor Swift (Feat. Lana Del Rey) – Snow On The Beach: A highlight from the Swift’s highly successful Midnights album was her collaboration with Lana Del Rey. While Lana is used sparingly, she adds a bit of texture to a song that would not sound out of place on either of their albums. Hopefully this is just the first of many tracks the two work on together.

7. Tears For Fears – Long, Long, Long Time: Curt Smith takes over the vocals on this midtempo track that adds Carina Round in the chorus. Smith turns in an excellent vocal performance over a bed of shimmering synths and electronic beats. The track is one of several highlights from their very good album, The Tipping Point.

6. Fontaines D.C. – I Love You: The moody track was the second song released from the band’s very good third album, Skinty Fia. It’s a hauntingly atmospheric track that really suits singer Grian Chatten’s deadpan delivery. The love song to Dublin is like one from beyond the grave.

5. Lightning Seeds – Great To Be Alive: This jangly piece of indie pop was the first song that many had heard from Ian Broudie in several years. The upbeat track was an unusual slice of sunshine in an otherwise hard slog for many people that was 2022. Co-written with James Skelly from The Coral, it is never anything than uplifting.

4. Liam Gallagher – Moscow Rules: The third Gallagher solo album had several bangers and highlights. “Moscow Rules”, co-written with Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend, was more understated. The atmospheric track sees Liam turn in a very good vocal performance that gets amped up in the chorus as soon as the drum kicks in. With songs like this, the younger Gallagher can leave a few Oasis tunes off the setlist and add in more solo work.

3. Suede – She Still Leads Me On: Called their punk rock record, Suede released a very good album in Autofiction. One of the highlights was the first track about singer Brett Anderson’s complicated relationship with his mother. To hear him sing with this much passion about something so personal was awe inspiring as the band rocks behind him. Excellent stuff from the legendary band.

2. Beach House – Only You Know: One of the highlights from the second half of the excellent 2022 album from Beach House, “Only You Know” was never released as a single. The cascading synths match Victoria Legrand’s repeated vocals before the tumbling drums appear. A characteristically atmospheric track that easily glides along a celestial plane. The line, “every disaster comes faster and faster” is one of many that can get lodged in a listener’s head for days.

1. Taylor Swift – Anti-Hero: One of the biggest pop tracks of the year deserved all it’s attention. The inward looking track features several moments of clever wordplay that the internet would turn into many memes, specifically as Swift sings, “It’s me/hi/I’m the problem, it’s me”. That is followed by the devastating line, “I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror”. It’s something many of us could do more of in 2023. Nice work, Taylor!

Posted in Album Reviews

Once Twice Melody (2022)

Reaching for something bigger for their eighth album, Beach House released a double album of 18 songs back in February.  Once Twice Melody is separated into four chapters – Pink Funeral, New Romance, Masquerade, & Modern Love Stories – each named for a song in the section.   It’s not unusual for the duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally to release this many tracks, in 2015 they released the albums Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars less than two months apart.  However, a double album is a different beast all together.

The first chapter, Pink Funeral, is one of the album’s best. The title track arrives in a swirl of synths with a soft drum beat appears that sounds like it’s played beneath a pillow.  Strings appear when Legrand delivers the “no matter where you go” line. Throughout the album, many tracks differ in how Legrand uses her voice. A more serious, determined voice brings a harder edge to third single “Superstar” whereas her voice takes a more ethereal, floating quality on “Through Me”.  

Slightly weaker in quality, The New Romance chapter is highlighted by the seven minute opus “Over and Over”. Driven by a simple beat, the song drifts along but adds brighter synths and a shimmering chorus. Masquerade contains two of the albums best tracks.  Acoustic guitars are prominent on “Sunset”  as Legrand reminds us that “just one key ties everything”.  A sun dappled vibe features on “Only You Know” with a echoe-y chant of “Don’t….Blink…”

Once Twice Melody closes with the Modern Love Stories set of tracks.  A basic Casio keyboard beat powers excellent second single “Hurts to Love”. The uplifting song tells listeners that “If it hurts to love/you better do it anyway”. More darker and tension filled is album closer, “Modern Love Stories”. The track has a mature electronic sound that reminds of Pet Shop Boys where “The end is the beginning/beginning to an ending”.

With this many tracks, the Beach House sound both expands and contracts.  Like most double albums a few tracks could have been left on the cutting room floor however, the band sets that floor very high. On Once Twice Melody, Beach House have created an expansive album that envelops the listener into a more dreamy and sumptuous world.  


Posted in Listed

Favourite Albums of 2018

51k7S8+kLDL._AA327_QL65_5. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour: Arguably the biggest country crossover into the indie rock world of 2018. Musgraves’ fourth major album release was as slick as they come but hard not to appreciate the quality of the songs. “Lonely Weekend”, “Space Cowboy” and album standout “High Horse” are the touchstones. But those are accompanied by opener “Slow Burn” and “Velvet Elvis”. While many of these songs could easily be featured in almost every commercial on TV, it doesn’t take away from the fact that virtually every one is a winner.

Mitski4. Mitski – Be The Cowboy : The first vocal on Mitski’s fifth album claims “you’re my number 1” which is fitting as this is topping album polls across the world. Clocking in at just over 33 minutes with most songs around the two-minute mark, it is easy to leave this one on repeat for a few hours. First single “Nobody” provides the longing that is at the heart of this album. The hard rocking “Remember My Name” is followed by the defiant “Me and My Husband”. There is a reason people keep talking about this album, the quick snapshots of music cut across numerous styles but most of all, it does them expertly.

trcy3. Tracyanne & Danny – Tracyanne & Danny : Quietly one of the most welcome returns to music was from Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell. Her voice is like a warm fire on a cold winter night. Here she appears with Danny Coughlan and together they create one of the best runs of music in 2018 from first track “Home & Dry” to infectious single “Alabama”. Second half highlight belongs to Coughlan with his 50s style “Anybody Else”. Overshadowed by bigger releases, this Merge Records release is an easy album to fall in love with.

41M5dXB2SNL._AA327_QL65_2. Courtney Barnett –  Tell Me How You Really Feel: In the disposable world of streaming and downloads, it’s rare that an album is a grower but Tell Me How You Really Feel did just that. Hard to get into at first, it feels disjointed and a bit of a downer album about touring but repeated listens prove that is not true. “City Looks Pretty” and “Nameless, Faceless” are dynamite indie rock songs. “Need A Little Time” features a pretty melody in the chorus and it’s all closed down with the melancholic uplift of “Sunday Roast”. Barnett tore the Winnipeg Folk Fest down on the Friday night this past summer. Too hard rocking for a lot of the crowd but was a glorious racket for the rest of us.

61KEfYl6iVL._AA327_QL65_1. Beach House – 7: When reviewing the latest Beach House on the Celebration Rock Podcast, critic Steve Hyden talked about how 7 does exactly what he wants from a BH album. This is pretty much bang on. “Pay No Mind”, “Lemon Glow and “Dive” standout and the rest of the album does a very good job of being atmospheric and ethereal. “Lose Yourself” is beautiful as is “Woo” but with an 80s synth feel. 7 glides along on its rails and is happy to take the listener to the next station for its duration.