Another year is almost gone as I write my annual look back at what graced my real and imagined turntables in the past year. As anyone who follows me probably knows, I do not do top ten lists or any other ranking system of what I have been listening to recently. I compile statistics and highlights, so if your album isn’t on this list, do not despair; it has been listened to and will still be in my library, waiting to be heard again.
So, diving right in, what has vibrated the air in my listening space in 2022? So. It is a damn good album that should be listened to at least once every year. Breaking from his string of four self-titled albums, Peter Gabriel released So in 1986 to generally good reviews and tremendous commercial success. Another instance of the people voting with their wallets and not according to the pundits’ jabs. Rising above the pack in 1986 was no easy task. It was a year that, in hindsight, was loaded with significant and lasting music; however, So was still able to sell like hotcakes and make tons of best-of lists and awards nominations. I still enjoy listening to the album, and the video for Sledgehammer is one of the rare videos I will watch from start to finish and more than once.
I have to slip Elysian Fields in here with their album Once Beautiful, Twice Removed. They deserve a spot on the list because they make good music and also because their album cover has a review mirror.
Andy Zipf released an album in 2022 that garnered traction on my playlist, and you can read more about this outstanding album, How to Make a Paper Airplane, here.
Aside from having a name that instantly got my attention, Paris Music Corp. made a standout eponymous album. It flew under the radar and didn’t get a blog, but it still got multiple replays throughout the year.
Here’s an interesting one. The band Black Rose Burning released a new album in 2021, The Wheel, and I listened to it so much this year that it got a blog in April. It has maintained that momentum and made my end-of-2022 listening list.
Tracy Chpman released an album in 1988 that I relistened to three times this year. Her self-titled release has the top ten track Fast Car, but it is not an album defined by top ten songs. Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution is the lead track, and it sets a pretty high bar for the remainder of the pieces to follow. But follow it they do, with Fast Car being the next song. The rest of the album gets pulled along in the Fast Car draft and fills out a darn good slab of vinyl.
Othered is a musical collaboration that created a nine-song album called Vol.1, and I can’t wait for Vol. 2. This album garnered a blog in April of this year and has held that momentum and pushed it onto this list. Othered Vol. 1 is an easy choice, full of good music with some a bit on the heavier side of musical offerings, which adds to my contention that good music is good music no matter the genre or label that gets slapped on it. And this is good music.
Switching into some electronica/alternative, we have the band Vonamor and their self-titled album. Just listen to it. It deserves more airtime.
The musical adventure known as Telifis has been very busy recently. Check this out for a sample of what they do.
I can’t go a year without mentioning some close-to-home musical offerings. St. Arnaud was already a favourite live band and this year found them with a new album, Love and the Front Lawn, and a catchy radio-friendly single, Catching Flies. Extensive touring included a stop in Edmonton at The Starlite Room, where I scored a signature from Ian St. Arnaud himself on a pre-release CD. Thanks, Ian; I hope to see you on the stage in 2023.
Another show in Edmonton, this time at The Station on Jasper, and another home-grown artist, Vic Wayne. Vic spearheads a top-notch band, Star Collector, who now works out of the wet coast, and they gave us an energetic and entertaining show. The tour was in support of their new album, Game Day.
Dmitry Wild. Electric Souls is an energetic album that I am not sure why I like it, but I do.
The album title of the year goes to Ollie for his album Even When I’m Happy I Listen To Sad Music. Even without the title, this album is a winner. Another Canadian entry, I got to support the home team.
You need to watch the video below from a Swedish band I love, Hands Down. Sweden is sort of my homeland that I have never set foot in.
I tasked myself with going through our record collection A to Zed. Below are a few standout albums that don’t get played as much as they deserve. And a few albums that get played yearly and often more than once.
Riding a wave that started in 2018 is the album, Your Queen Is A Reptile by Sons of Kemet. In 2019 I purchased the album at Rough Trade Records in London, England. In 2021 it made my end-of-year list, and Your Queen Is A Reptile is getting bumped onto the 2022 list.
Jackson Browne, Running on Empty. A good friend gave us tickets to see Jackson Browne perform live with James Taylor. Wow, that was a good show and Running on Empty is still a good album.
The Dave Brubeck Quartet gives us Time Out and Time Further Out.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and their fantastic album No More Shall We Part. This is an album that I keep repeating repeatedly. It is deep listening territory.
mewithoutYou was captured live in Vancouver on their farewell tour. I am so glad we saw them live since their records are never far from the turntable. We listened to two of them tonight—[A→B] Life and [untitled].
The Clash. I listened to all of The Clash’s albums in my continuing journey through the alphabet of albums. I enjoyed all of those listens but on this go-round, Sandinista! seemed to connect the most.
Bim. A Kid Full Of Dreams is for acquired tastes, but Bim is a master storyteller, collector of music (78’s primarily) and an all-around good entertainer. I saw him live, and this album is a yearly player.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The catalogue for CSN&Y is profound, and picking one album is impossible, so I will pick two, which is barely possible. Déjà Vu and 4 Way Street.
Daniel Amos is another band with an extensive catalogue, but I am sticking to one entry for them, Darn Floor, Big Bite from 1987.
Deep Purple, Shades of Deep Purple
Miles Davis, Bitches Brew
Okafur Arnalds, Some kind of peace-piano reworks
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon
Ten Years After, A Space In Time
The Beatles, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Call, Let The Day Begin
The Carter Family
This is starting to evolve into a long boring list of everything I listened to in 2022, and I do not want this to be that, so that will evolve into this—time for some fun with numbers. I listened to about 500 albums this year. I only keep tabs on full album listens, no singles.
227 albums streamed from various sources
It came down to a tight race between the physical slabs of vinyl and streaming albums. Streaming narrowly came out on top due to my blogging for various music promotions. A big shout out to Mystic Sons, Big Stir Records and Shameless Promotions for feeding me a steady stream of new music to inform you, the reader, about. I won’t list them all, but I also want to thank the musicians and bands that tossed CDs or MP3 files my way. They are all appreciated.
The year with the most listens was, no surprise, 2022, with 219 albums.
The oldest record played was from 1956.
The remainder was a shotgun blast at the barn door this year, with the 70s and 80s having a slight edge numerically. No surprise since those were my formative listening years, and I gravitate to them naturally.
I don’t track genres; it is just too messy.
I seemed to gravitate to music featuring females in 2022, an interesting demographic shift from the traditionally male-dominated field.
Apple Music has this thing called Apple Replay that gives a snapshot of my yearly listening, but it is weird to use, mainly because it focuses on singles, and I focus on albums. Just for fun, here are a few things from Apple.
2305 songs played
The top two songs are ones that I enjoy listening to as I fall asleep, The Ultimate Sleep System. The Ambient Music Therapy amassed 549 minutes of playtime as I nodded off to sleep.
Othered, a band that made my list above and were featured in a blog, came in at number three in Apple. Good on them; they deserve it.
I listened to 671 different artists this year; gotta spread that love around. The top five, according to Apple, remember that I don’t make top ten lists: Ambient Music Therapy, Daniel Amos, Star Collector, David Bowie, and Víkingur Ólafsson.
Apple says I listened to 399 albums on their streaming platform, with Víkingur Ólafsson nabbing the number one spot with a whopping 78 plays. I am not sure how Apple arrived at that number, but I know that as much as I like that album, I did not listen to it 78 times.
I don’t listen to a lot of curated playlists on Apple, but there are a few that I drop in on. Modernism and Postmodernism, Essentials of Roots Reggae and Classic Rock featured strongly.
So, we started on that note and are finishing there as well. It was a good year for new music with some solid players, and there were the usual suspects that get played every year and are still loved and appreciated. Good art never grows old—happy listening in 2023.