It’s the most wonderful time of the year — actually posted on the last day of the year!
- River Fools & Mountain Saints — Ian Noe
Album of the year in the biggest landslide victory since I’ve been doing this, plus only the second artist to claim my top slot twice (see also: Alabama Shakes in 2012 & 15). Ian Noe defies the sophomore slump with another stellar record, a little more electric and a little more John Prine influenced than before. The whole thing is great; the final track gives me chills.
- Home, Before and After — Regina Spektor
Her best album since Far in my opinion, full of the whimsically charming piano gems Regina does so well.
- Chicamacomico — American Aquarium
More sad songs to make you happy from the mind of BJ Barham, closing with a rocker about the power of song that feels like a certified twanger of a long lost country hit single.
- 1st Congregational Church of Eternal Love (and Free Hugs) — Kula Shaker
Confession: I didn’t know there was a new Kula Shaker record until early December, but man am I glad they’re back in a big way. K level quality vibes here, though the between song skits were probably a better idea in theory than practice.
- Cruel Country — Wilco
My favorite end-to-end Wilco album since Sky Blue Sky, reflecting the country tinged Americana leanings I’ve adopted since moving to Texas–somewhat ironically foreshadowed by older Wilco records.
- May You Live In Interesting Times — David Ford
One of two new David Ford albums released in 2022 (plus an EP as part of a duo), this one is unapologetically a pandemic record about the pandemic. Interesting times indeed.
- The Lindon Trees are Still in Blossom / The Cherry Trees Are Still in Blossom — Jens Lekman
An equally strange and brilliant reissue strategy, Jens mysteriously announced his classic Night Falls Over Kortedala was going out of print, following the previous fate of his singles collection Oh You’re So Silent Jens due to unlicensed samples. The solution? Reissue both without the samples–re-recorded where necessary–with era appropriate bonus tracks. The result is a remarkable scavenger hunt search for changes, two terrific versions of the classic “Black Cab,” and two brand new sequel songs checking in on old friends Julie & Nina. (Bonus: A studio version of live EP rarity “Our Last Swim in the Ocean.”) Re-record your catalog for rights purposes is becoming an increasingly necessary stunt for musicians to pull royalty-wise, but I’m hard pressed to think of another example where the final product transcends the original.
- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (The Unified Theory of Everything) — Wilco
With heavily bootlegged demos floating around, I’m surprised how much net new material was available here to celebrate the record that belatedly introduced me to Wilco. Highlights include an old version of “Hummingbird” with drum machine beats and a Frampton-esque talking guitar take on “Pot Kettle Black.”
- I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning (A Companion) — Bright Eyes
Part of an ongoing anniversary EP series of re-recorded songs + an era appropriate cover, the neat trick here is re-doing the folky songs from this album in the electronic-tinged style of Digital Ash in a Digital Urn (and vice versa).
- “Won One” — Chris Evjy
A long lost cover of the Local Boy one hit wonder my former roommate found in his digitized archives. Since I hadn’t heard this song (outside of in my own head) for nearly 30 years I’m counting it as a reissue. Watch this spot in 2024 for another Local Boy sighting. (I’m from the future…)
- “Road May Flood / It’s a Heartache” — Ian Noe
- “Our Last Swim in the Ocean” — Jens Lekman
- “Spud Infinity” — Big Thief
- “The First Year” — American Aquarium
- “Be the Hook” — Pavement
- “Cheers to Falling Away” — Hunter James
- “Pants is Overrated” — Lyle Lovett
- “Fare Thee Well Miss Carousel” — Bright Eyes
- “Pink Rabbits” — The Tallest Man on Earth
Lighter than usual as we ease out of pandemic life. I’m trying to better pick my spots vs. go to every show that catches my interest — and often seemingly end up being the only masked person in attendance. Better safe than sorry after my Beck incident.
- Pavement at the Moody Theater – 10/11/22
See you again in another decade?
- American Aquarium at the Paramount Theater – 12/8/22
Great show overall, made better by the fact I almost missed it flying back from a work meeting in Denver. Parked across the street from the venue about a minute before the opener took the stage.
- Sweet Spirit at Radio Coffee & Beer – 6/12/22
Similar to the above, Sweet Spirit was announced as the surprise band at Radio’s birthday party early one evening and I practically ran there to see them.
- Wild Child at the 04 Center – 12/10/22
Duo singalong show that ended up joining forces between Wild Child & Sir Woman, previewing the new album I hope to talk more about here on next year’s list.