Let’s get to the (usually) supreme discipline of my annual reviews, the album charts. As already mentioned in the previous post, this year the albums only played second fiddle in terms of listening intensity, but a whole series of quite nice records were released nonetheless.
As is the old fashioned way, I’ll start with the biggest disappointments of the year. By that I don’t mean all the discs that deflagrated in my auditory canal without leaving any residue (there were a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooâ and well enough hopes, hopes, and expectations, which didn’t come true. First of all there is unfortunately Tocotronic to call. Long-time readers of my blog surely know that every one of their albums in the last 20 years has also appeared in my charts. But with the new work (whose basically sympathetic title “Never Again War” was unfortunately reduced to absurdity in 2022) they really did a belly landing. I find most of the songs dull and boring, they just ripple along and by the end of the tracklist I’m in a really bad mood. What a pity! One of the other disappointments for me is Beach House in particular (total rubbish…), but I was also hoping for more from Just Mustard, Warpaint or Arcade Fire, for example. Those records weren’t necessarily bad, just not good enough for my charts either.
But enough complaining, let’s get to the highlights of the year, i.e. my favorite albums of 2022. A look at the list shows that at the top (as was the case last year) are two pop records, and then some, for example, German-language Krautrock, and a a few old acquaintances like Moi Caprice, Graveyard Club and Metric are also (as almost always) at the start. The two most positive surprises of the year for me were definitely the “comeback” albums by Suede and Placebo – I wouldn’t have believed either band could do such good work, if I’m to be honest.
01. Cats on Trees – Alie
Well, that’s something – a French album at number 1. Although I have a great affinity for the music of our neighboring country, something like that happens quite rarely. But the duo’s new disc is just wonderfully sparkling, upbeat and varied indie pop, which is sometimes reminiscent of Acid House Kings, then comes across a bit more electronic again. So there is definitely a decent series of hits for the (imaginary) indie disco and make for a highly entertaining 46 minutes. The only drawback: unfortunately most of the songs are in English, and I just like listening to the French language. 🙂
Highlights: «Please please please», «She was a girl», «Dad on the moon»
02. Princess Chelsea – Everything is going to be alright
The New Zealander Chelsea Nikkel has been delighting us for many years now with her music, which she dubbed “Disney Core” at the beginning of her career with a wink. But the term isn’t that inappropriate – she has a very sweet voice, which sometimes makes her sound harmless on purpose – then there are pop melodies and sometimes nasty lyrics and one or the other scratchy guitar. On her new album she has now perfected this and strings cool song after cool song, so that the disc is her best work for me. Stylistically, it fits my place 1.
Highlights: «Love Is More», «Everything is going to be alright», «Forever is a charm»
03. Emily Jane White – Alluvion
The American Emily Jane White takes a completely different approach: it’s dark, as you can see from the cover. Like their compatriot Chelsea Wolfe, their music can be described as DoomFolk – abysmal atmosphere, but always carried by the beautiful singing and with melodic finesse. Another great album from her.
Highlights: «Crepuscule», «Hold them alive», «Battle call»
04. Scratch – two
I had never heard of this band from Cologne until a few months ago. I was made aware of their new album through a promo mail – and the rest is history. 🙂 “Krautwave” is what they call their sound, and I think that fits perfectly, as Kraut sounds/motor beats are mixed with a partly wave-like atmosphere. The whole album has a good flow and a hypnotic atmosphere.
Highlights: “Faith”, “Mystery”, “Journey
05. Graveyard Club – Moonflower
As already mentioned in the introduction: old acquaintances with another very good album. The quartet from Minnesota has been releasing fine discs for several years now, on which they pay homage to a pop New Wave aesthetic without sounding overly retro. Their great strength are the catchy melodies, of which they shake quite a few out of their sleeves.
Highlights: «Valens», «Rose wine», «Nowhere»
06. Minimal Schlager – Love, Sex & Dreams
Stylistically not completely dissimilar to number 5 is the duo, who currently lives in Berlin – again elements from Wave are combined with pop, electronics and definitely some airier elements, but always very tastefully and stylishly. Another album that puts you in a good mood when you listen to it.
Highlights: «Submission», «Before», «Rush»
07. Moi Caprice – Nine Lives
I don’t really have to introduce this Danish band here anymore, since they are part of my blog’s permanent inventory and have been able to score with me again and again with new music almost since the beginning (i.e. for more than 15 years). This is also the case with the new work, which, like the few before it, initially sounds unspectacular, but beautiful. Indie pop with (often melancholic) melody, pep and languid vocals. A kind of summer album.
Highlights: «Changing Together», «You Only Live Twice»
08. The Sauna – Into the night
A band from Schliersee in Bavaria also made it into my top 10. The quartet’s new album belongs to a new wave of German acts that have dedicated themselves to post-punk, but unlike their more well-known compatriots from Dienerve, this one is more melodic, not quite as abysmal and edgy, which I, as an old indie popper, really like comes towards. A few Krautrock elements cannot be ignored and round off the overall picture.
Highlights: “Into the night II”, “Everyone is fine”
09. Metric – Formentera
The Canadian band Metric also delivered a good record this year – the highlight was the first single «Doomscroller», which at almost 11 minutes delivers a tour through various styles and offers everything from noisy to contemplative. All in all the album is a bit weaker than its predecessor imho, but that’s whining on a high level :-).
Highlights: «Doomscroller», «What feels like eternity»
10. Placebo – Never Let Me Go
Yes, the guys around Brian Molko have actually pulled themselves together again – after a few albums that were rather boring in my ears and longer breaks, the new work can almost be described as classic placebo material and brings back the early 00s.
Highlights: «Try better next time», «Beautiful James»
11. Pale Blue Eyes – Souvenirs
The British indie pop/twee pop band shows a pleasant (rather atypical for the genre) versatility on their current album and sometimes incorporates guitar pop, sometimes a bit of shoegaze or a pinch of krautrock.
Highlight: «TV Flicker», «Dr Pong»
12. Christin Nichols – I’m Fine
It’s nice to be able to list an artist from near Bielefeld in my charts (I have a Bielefeld past). Christin Nichols was a singer with the punk rock duo Prada Meinhoff and presents a very strong solo disc that shows clear post-punk influences.
Highlights: “Bielefeld”, “Neon”
13. EMF – Go Go Sapiens
Whoa, who would have thought that there would be another new EMF album in 2022? After a break of almost 30 years and a number of (mostly successful) solo albums by singer James Atkin, they are back with a new CD that can be described as a successful comeback. Stylistically it’s a mix of earlier EMF days and the Atkin solo stuff.
Highlights: «Equilibrium», «Stay Classy San Diego»
14. Sharon Van Etten – We’ve been going about this all wrong
The American singer releases very tasteful music with great regularity, which this time knows how to convince me throughout the entire album.
Highlights: «Darkness Fades», «Headspace»
15. Thea & The Wild – Deadheading
The singer Thea Glenton Raknes comes from Norway. As Thea & the Wild, she plays slightly skewed indie music that is a bit difficult to describe. It’s getting a bit dark.
Highlights: «Take Me Back», «Misery Mountain»
16. Sweden – Autofiction
I wouldn’t have expected a successful comeback with Suede either, but the new disc doesn’t contain ballads, but rather very dark, sometimes noisy guitar music, which I certainly don’t hear every day.
Highlights: «Turn Off Your Brain And Yell», «She Still Leads Me On»
17. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cool it Down
The New York indie rock duo have also been around for over a decade – their music hasn’t always grabbed me, but the new CD really is to my liking as an album as a whole.
Highlights: «Wolf», «Burning»
18. Wyldest – Feed The Flowers Nightmares
The British indie folk band is known for their very dark, melancholic, but always melodic sounds, which they also bring back to life on their current album.
Highlights: «Abilene», «Every Time You’ll Be Mine»
19. The Birthday Massacre – Facination
The Canadian “Electro-Goth-Industrial” band has long been a constant in my musical cosmos, and for many years they’ve put out very similar sounding and looking albums that always have great songs on them – like this time.
Highlights: «Dreams of You», «Like Fear, Like Love»
20. Future Conditional – Isotech
From the cover, you can already tell that this side project from Glen Johnson and Cédric Pin of Piano Magic leans toward the cool electronic aesthetic of Kraftwerk, while also infusing indie pop charm with guest vocalists like Bobby Wratten.
Highlights: «Demolitions», «Cold Love»
21. Qntal – IX – Time stands still
22. Beverly Kills – Kaleido
23. Mitski – Laurel Hell
24. Sea Power – Everything Was Forever
25. INVSN – Let The Light Love You
26. Say Sue Me – The Last Thing Left
27. Katharina Nuttall – The Garden
28. The Lightning Seeds – See You In The Stars
29. The Mountain Goats – Bleed Out
30. Death Cab For Cutie – Asphalt Meadows
31. Re:NO – Dreamer
32. CIEL – Not in the sun, nor in the dark (EP)