Tunes to close out the year
Edited by Caitlin Kindig
December 22, 2022
It’s usually fun to end the year & look back on some of my favourite new releases of the year…I love using NeverEndingChartRendering. No funky branding and I can pull music from wherever. I ignore albums that I listened to a lot but weren’t my favourites, and add in albums that can’t be found on streaming (stuff I stumbled into on YouTube, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, or random hosting sites, usually).
Some of the highlights from my year (in no particular order), and a full list of albums at the bottom:
Frequent Vancouver/Melbourne collaborators D. Tiffany & Roza Terenzi released this joint album earlier this year—a nostalgic, fast-paced, and optimistic electronic record. D. Tiffany is a regular in the Toronto electronic scene, collaborating with Ciel, and last Fall opened her new imprint, Planet Euphorique (watch that space). It’s groovy, it jams, it’ll get you dancing. (I also have to self-plug that I wrote D. Tiffany’s Wikipedia article earlier this year…)
This record was released this fall—it’s an electronic interpretation of Julius Eastman’s oeuvre, a minimal composer best known for his prolific body of work released over the course of the 1970s and 1980s. Loraine James had a packed year, working with the London Contemporary Orchestra, releasing a record under her new moniker “Whatever the Weather”, and touring shows against her 2021 album Reflection (also a great listen, if you haven’t yet). This album is more toned down than her previous work, but the airy vocals and melodic pacing are wonderful to sit back and get cozy with. I’m quite bummed to have missed her show at MTELUS, which also had some crazy visuals by local Montreal crew susy.technology.
Recorded mixes are very hit-or-miss for me—either I play one that runs on a loop for weeks orI can barely make it five minutes before turning it off. This year Marie Davidson turned her talents back towards turntables and came out with a couple of fabulous mixes (see also: RA.857). These have been my grocery shopping jams. Highlights include DBBD & Miss Bashful’s “Muschi Muschi” (“Boy you better pay me” / ”Eating up my muschi muschi”, along with more good stuff) and Deborah de Luca’s “You’re Toxic” (the original is… okay… but the marie d remix is insane, especially live).
The instrumentals on Natural Brown Prom Queen are jam-packed. Probably most distinct is her violin work, though a healthy dose of hand claps, synths, and plenty of percussion layer behind Brittany Parks’ lyricism on identity, relationships, and hometown of Cincinnati. If Athena was a tease of the kinds of invention Parks can come up with, Natural Brown Prom Queen dives headfirst into the deep end. “Selfish Soul” is probably one of the most exemplar tracks, with layers of instruments backing catchy, driving lyrics (“If I cut it all off, will it even grow?/”Will it grow back real long?”/”Gotta prove them all wrong”).
I was lucky to see Parks perform the album this summer, and her stage presence is riveting. She keeps the violin on her shoulder throughout the set, and the intensity is just unmatched as she jumps back and forth between her instrumental and vocal roles.
Motomami, Rosalia’s third full-length (after the sublime Los Ángeles and El Mal Querer) is quite the party. It’s high-wired, TikTok primed, and completely whacky. I think my favorite track is “G3 N15”, a love ballad which closes with a monologue from Rosalia’s grandmother in Catalan, reminiscing on family and fame. Rosalia’s vocals are ridiculous on every song — her roots as a professionally trained singer (El Mal Querer was her baccalaureat project at Catalonia College of Music) fade and reappear magically in the album’s many flamenco and ballroom flourishes. The production is inspired and breakneck. The music videos? C’mon. Watch the TikTok performance (is that the best thing to call it?), which probably is the year’s best visual, as soon as you possibly can.
Okay, so here we are, 30 years into the careers of those Radiohead guys, and a subset of the group releases an album of new songs under a new name, and a tour to match, which is only playing those new tracks—none of the classics. And it’s just fantastic! Last Fall we had the privilege of getting soundtracks (or at least motifs) to Spencer, The Power of the Dog, and Licorice Pizza from Jonny Greenwood, and months later he’s back with Thom, Nigel, and newcomer Tom Skinner for this record, with standouts like “The Smoke” (that bass line!) and “Free in the Knowledge”, which plays incredibly live.
Skinner, recruited for drums, also has a stellar solo album out this year, Voices of Bishara, which I easily recommend checking out.
DJ-Kicks has been around since the mid-90s, releasing strings of DJ mixes and compilation albums. They tend to be lower stakes as they highlight underground tracks, transitions, and genre. One of this year’s records from the Detroit-based DJ Theo Parrish, just bops. The album is hyper-local—a deep dive into the Detroit scene—and is motivated by the idea of bringing together Parrish’s peers to produce a record consisting almost entirely of original material, which is relatively uncommon for a DJ-Kicks release.
The diversity in genre and instrumentation makes each track stand out, but the quality of mixing keeps everything in one place. Lush vocals, laid back guitars, field recordings, and a healthy dose of electronics serve for a set of jams that deserve to be cranked loud, loud, loud. I wish I could go dance to this set (come to Montreal!).
Here’s the full list:
Marie Davidson — Crack Mix 471:Marie Davidson; Sudan Archives - Natural Brown Prom Queen; Bibi Club - Le soleil et la mer; Tom Skinner - Voices of Bishara; Sault - Today & Tomorrow; Theo Parrish - DJ-Kicks: Theo Parrish; Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
Aldous Harding - Warm Chris; Rosalía - MOTOMAMI; Loraine James - Building Something Beautiful For Me; D. Tiffany - Edge Of Innocence; Dawn to Dawn - Postcards from the Sun to the Moon; Carly Rae Jepsen - The Loneliest Time; DJ Python - Club Sentimientos Vol. 2
Destroyer - LABYRINTHITIS; The Smile - A Light For Attracting Attention; Gi Gi - Sunchoke; Two shell - Icons; Luna Li - Duality; Huerco S. - Plonk; Special Interest - Endure
Brian Eno - FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE; Alvvays - Blue Rev; Tess Roby - Ideas of Space; kee avil - Crease; tarotplane - Aeonium; Whatever The Weather - Whatever The Weather; God Speed You Black Emperor! - All Lights Fucked On The Hairy Amp Drooling
Marie Davidson — RA.857 Marie Davidson; Beyoncé - Renaissance; EDC Las Vegas 2022 – Grimes; Hudson Mohawke - Cry Sugar; Precipitation - Glass Horizon; Ethel Cain - Preacher’s Daughter; Björk - Fossora
Soccer Mommy - Sometimes, Forever; Lucrecia Dalt - ¡Ay!; Ravyn Lenae - Hypnos; Tomberlin - i don’t know who needs to hear this…; ShyGirl - Nymph; Kaytranada – BEATS (Soundcloud); Alex Zhang Hungtai - I Was a Simple Man (Official Motion Picture Soundtrack)