Sunday, 4 December 2022

22 in '22 (part 1)

2022: the year of continual crises. A megalomaniacal leader starts a war with its peaceful neighbour and threatens nuclear destruction of the world. Fuel shortages caused by said war and the world's insistance on sticking with fossil fuels that serve only to make a handful of people extraordinarily wealthy. The rising cost of living in the UK, which is making just feeding their family unaffordable for many, caused by both the above, increased taxes, Brexit and a terrible government. And said government making the UK a laughing stock whilst clinging to power, despite being more divided than any ruling party should ever be, and a staunch refusal to do the right thing and call a General Election to allow someone else to take over and attempt to sort out the whole sorry mess they've caused after 12 years of total neglect and contempt for the people they purport to serve.

Jeez, it's worse than when Bowie died! The one small glimmer of hope is the comfort I've found in music this year (well, that and my daughter's wedding, which was fairly significant...). As I said in last week's little prelude, it's actually been an OK year for good music. MrsRobster and I even went to gigs after a two year absence. So today I'm going to start my annual rundown of my favourite 22 albums of 2022 (hence the post title). This is possibly my top 5, although to be honest there's a sixth one that really ought to feature here as well, but you can't have 6 records in a top 5, so that one will feature next week.

So shake off all those heavy burdens and negative vibes and take a few moments to enjoy some rare positive energy.

BODEGA - 'Broken Equipment'
Kicking off with my (and MrsRobster's) favourite album of the year. I'm amazed on two counts really - how Bodega had escaped my attention until 2022, and that I haven't featured them here at all until today! My bad, shame on me. This album brought us huge joy this year, and we shared the love by telling friends about it. A guy MrsRobster works with on the night shift was incredibly grateful to her for the introduction, proving that something so simple as music can brighten up a life. Bodega hail from New York City. Of course they do. Where else could they possibly come from? It's a place liberally sprinkled throughout this record. There's some Talking Heads in there, some LCD Soundsystem, some New York Dolls... It's just a really, really good record and fully deserving of this prestigious placing at the top of my yearly list. Here's just one of its many great songs.

YARD ACT - 'The Overload'
Hype. Guaranteed to bring out the cynic in me, and it's why I entered into Yard Act's world with a fair degree of trepidation. But, I soon discovered it was a very rare instance of the hype being justified. Heck, even Elton John teamed up with them! Yard Act's debut album is not just another shouty post-punk record, it's a statement of the socio-political state of the world, in particular the UK. Some brilliant lyrics, occasionally touching, often funny, but pretty much on point throughout. They are also a phenomenonally good live act, as MrsRobster and I witnessed last weekend. This track pretty much encapsulates not-so-Great Britain circa 2022. Warning: don't listen to this if you are offended by certain words or vote Tory.

FONTAINES D.C. - 'Skinty Fia'
Talking of hype - Fontaines D.C. could do no wrong when their debut album topped my 2019 list. Its follow-up, sadly, failed to live up to my high expectations. Looking back though, it was clear they were in transition, shedding their first skin and becoming something more mature and accomplished. 'Skinty Fia' is the sound of that transformation having been completed and what we get is a third album which has so much depth and richness in both its music, vocals and lyrics. Opening track In ár gCroíthe go deo (trans: Forever in our hearts) is absolutely spine-tingling, and it sets the tone for the rest of the record. Fontaines D.C. have been reborn.

PIXIES - 'Doggerel'
Interesting parallels between Fontaines D.C. and Pixies. Both released disappointing albums last time round, but appear to have found their mojos in 2022. Also, Fontaines' debut album was called 'Dogrel', while Pixies have opted for the correct spelling for this one. 'Doggerel' is certainly Pixies' best record since their comeback album 'Indie Cindy' back in 2014; a good, consistent batch of songs with a nice dose of trademark Black Francis screaming. It sounds best, as all Pixies albums should, when played LOUD! It broke my heart to actually diss a Pixies album in 2019, so I'm really glad they appear to be back on form.

CROWS - 'Beware Believers'
Crows' long-awaited debut album was one of my most-played albums in the car in 2019. Its follow-up has blared out of my Hyundai's speakers rather a lot this year too. It doesn't depart much in style from its predecessor - I'd describe it as agressively melodic punk with scuzzy psychedelic guitars. Some great songs too. Admittedly I don't know much about Crows besides their music, but to be honest that doesn't matter.

A lot of loud, shouty stuff this week, and strangely for me nothing female-led. Have no fear, I have a very different pot of musical stew to serve up next week...


  1. I've really enjoyed everything I've heard by Yard Act, although I'm still to catch up with the whole album. I was already irritated that I missed out on seeing them when they played locally, now even more so following your glowing report.

  2. I've taken my time getting here (blame holidays and crap, distracting weather since I've returned). With you on Bodega....hope you've gone out and picked up the excellent debut album from a couple of years back. And they area also an excellent live act.

    Yard Act......with you all the way.

    Interesting thoughts from you on Pixies and Fontaines DC. Didn't bother with either of them at all this year. Might give things a re-assessment early next year if time allows, but having taken hold of a large shipment of late 2002/early 2023 releases from Last Night From Glasgow just yesterday (as well as getting digital copies of a couple of acts from your fav singles list), I already have a large backlog to sort through.