Happy holidays from Team Sisson, and congratulations on receiving Chris Schuck's 21st Annual Surprise Birthday Bash for Jesus. As always, we've picked and exquisitely sequenced tracks from 21 of our favorite albums of 2022 for your listening pleasure. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
1. Sasami - "Feminine Water Turmoil"
Before we get into Sasami, please let me point out the 2022 Birthday Bash is the most jam packed Bash of all time (I think)! As you have most certainly forgotten, if you ever knew to begin with, the maximum capacity of any Compact Disc is 80 minutes. The 2022 Birthday Bash checks in a 1:19:58. We left only two seconds to spare this year! You don't care? Oh right, neither do I. Anyway, late summer/early fall I listened to Squeeze in its entirety while on a long walk. Obviously I liked it a lot. Serious Chelsea Wolf vibes....delicate vocals over heavy music. If you listen to music from the same sources as me there's a change you've heard "The Greatest," but I was most drawn to the closing track "Not A Love Song." What I liked most about that song though was the string intro which turned out to be a separate track. It also turned out to be a killer intro to the 21st Birthday Bash. 21 years. Can you believe it? Do you care? Oh right, neither do I. Can I point out, the video for "Sorry Entertainer" features Patti Harrison who absolutely kills me on I Think You Should Leave (Tables anyone?). I know, that show is a little old, but we didn't get Netflix until this year. I want my Corncob TV!
Album: Uncanny Valley
I was driving home one day this summer and Sirius XMU was doing their live broadcast of Lollapalooza. I was unfamiliar with the band that was onstage, but what I heard was what sounded at the time like one of the best songs I'd heard in a long time. I tried to Shazaam it but since it was live nothing came up. I was able to deduce the band was COIN so when I got home I listened to a ton of COIN to try and figure out what that song was. I never did, but in doing so I became a huge fan of Uncanny Valley. These guys met while attending the musically prestigious Belmont University in Nashville and have been making music together since 2012. The infectious "Brad Pitt" has been in very high rotation at Team Sisson HQ but we decided "Watering a Dead Flower" fit in better with the overall motif of the 2022 Bash.
Album: Some Of Us Are Brave
Guys, Danielle Ponder spent over ten years as a public defender in Rochester, NY before finding mainstream success with Some Of Us Are Brave. Pretty impressive and interesting path to what I can only assume was her ultimate goal; top five placement on the Birthday Bash. Congrats Danielle! The album title and title track are a reference to a book she read in law school, "All The Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave." Every morning I turn on 90.9 The Bridge for the boys while they eat breakfast, and Danielle Ponder is the runaway winner for artist I hear that makes me say "hey boys, listen to this." She's just fantastic. Now you know. If you were unsure check out this "Creep" cover!
Also check out: "Only The Lonely"
4. Big Thief - "Little Things"
Album: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
I've been a big Big Thief fan since I first listened to their debut Capacity while deliriously tired on an overnight bus trip through Kansas & Colorado back in 2017. I'm not their only fan though as Dragon has been featured heavily on the various year end lists. In fact, according to Metacritic, Dragon was the third most mentioned album on critic year end lists, following only Beyoncé & Rosalia. BPM & Paste had it in their #1 spot and I think if I were to rank these I'd probably have it there too. This was one of the albums I struggled most with deciding which track to include.
5. Just Mustard - "Seed"
Album: Heart Under
Big thanks to Sonic Spectrum hosted by Robert Moore for introducing us to Just Mustard this summer. Turns out a lot of people discovered them as well. I've seen Just Mustard popping up on several other best of 2022 lists. If you're somehow reading this but haven't yet heard "Seed," here's what Paste had to say about it. "As Heart Under standout “Seed” progresses towards its explosive denouement, a sea of guitars shrouded in phaser and tremolo effects builds a sense of simultaneous rest and unrest that hints at some big-time pressure relief at the song’s end. Ball’s voice likewise maintains an eerie sense of equilibrium even as she starts enunciating her words more urgently and loudly. A quieter stretch gives way to her absolutely wailing atop guitars that shriek and whine like horses let loose in a steel factory, and the fact that this was obviously right around the corner makes it no less powerful. It reminds me of how, no matter how much your anxiety compels you to prepare for some terrible theoretical event, that moment will still feel just as awful as if you hadn’t prepared at all."
Also check out: "Blue Chalk"
6. Nilüfer Yanya - "midnight sun"
Nilüfer Yanya is a British singer-songwriter who's been making music since 2014, and found quite a bit of success this year with PAINLESS. "midnight sun" was one of our most listened to tracks all year
7. Paolo Nutini - "Through the Echoes"
Album: Last Night In The Bittersweet
I listened to the entirety of Last Night In The Bittersweet on an early morning riverfront walk in Chattanooga this summer. That morning I also listened to Steve Lacy's Gemini Rights which has earned way more critical love on the year end lists, but didn't hook me nearly as hard as Last Night. Every year I try to predict which Bash track will be the earworm for most of you and this year there's no doubt you'll be shouting "over and over" in the shower after you hear it like I have for the past six months.
Also check out:
Album: The Florist
I really can't tell you how "Pool Party" ended up on my list and it was a bit of a late bloomer for me, but better late than never.
9. Spoon - "On The Radio"
Album: Lucifer On The Sofa
Spoon have been together for >25 years and somehow still seem pretty hip. It helps that they're still putting out great music and obviously since we're talking about it, Lucifer On The Sofa is no exception. From the Guardian review; "Maybe the hardest trick in rock music is to do what John Peel credited as the singular ability of the Fall – to sound always different, but always the same. Plenty of groups have flourished by always being the same; plenty more artists see it as their duty to make sure each album sounds utterly unlike the one before. But to sustain a career without ever completely repeating yourself, yet never leave anyone wondering what the heck you’ve done to the group they loved, is something few manage to pull off. Ten albums and nearly 30 years into their career, Spoon still sound like Spoon: fresh, timeless and wholly in control of their work." I've been a fan since I was first introduced to "The Way We Get By" on a CMJ sampler. God I miss those things. I mean I still have every one of them I ever received, but I wish the sampler CD was still a thing. Oh, and please do me a favor and get off my lawn. I think this is either the fifth or sixth time Spoon have been featured on the Bash so I hope you're not tired of hearing them, but I know that you're not. Back when we did the Birthday Bash Trivia Contest probably the best swag we ever gave away was a Spoon prayer candle. Who got that? Zentz? Jananas? Anyway, you get it. We've liked Spoon for a long time. We still like them. Yada yada yada.
10. Loyle Carner - "Hate"
Loyle Carner's "NO CD" was one of the last cuts from the 2017 Bash so we were excited to learn about hugo on All Songs Considered this fall. Aside from being one of the UK's best rappers, he apparently is involved with a cooking school for kids with ADHD called CHILI CON CARNER. I can't make this stuff up.
Also check out: "Nobody Knows (Ladas Road)"
11. Wet Leg - "Angelica"
Album: Wet Leg
If you haven't heard Isle of Wright's favorite daughters Wet Leg by now you might want to re-evaluate some things. In fact, I have to assume you've already heard "Chaise Lounge,' and "Wet Dream" which were released as singles in 2021 before the self-titled album was released this year. If you like lyrics chock full of innuendo sung over irresistible indie pop Wet Leg is for you. Like a few other Bash artists Wet Leg have been dominating year end lists. Here's their Tiny Home Concert.
Album: All the Rage
This always happens. Every year we say we're going to make a Bash with no repeat artists. Then the year ends and of course we liked a lot of the bands that we already liked going in to the year. Actually I think we did pretty good this year with only five repeats. As far at the French Tips, I'm willing to be we're the only entity that had them on both our best of 2019 AND 2022 lists. We have to be their biggest fans outside their home turf of Boise, ID. I get Sleater-Kinney vibes when I listen to them. In case you need more motivation, the bio on their website says All the Rage "is a multicourse meal with pulsing dance beats, heavy guitar riffage and the nimble interweaving vocals of the three musicians." Sounds pretty good right? That's what we've been trying to tell you!
Also check out: "Rearview"
13. Fontaines D.C. - "I Love You"
Album: Skinty Fia
The UK has been absolutely killing it with their post-punk, prog rock, jazz rock (is that a thing?) scenes. This year's Bash could have easily featured 50% or more bands from across the pond, and nearly was as Yard Act & Black Country, New Road were last minute cuts. I promise I'm not only reading Quietus for music discovery but it wouldn't be a bad idea either. This will be the third year since 2019 we have included Fontaines D.C. on our list. This whole album rips.
14. Pluralone - "Offend"
Album: This is the Show
Pluralone was a nice discovery for us this year, although this is the third Pluralone album since 2019, and that's if you don't count the soundtrack album to the FX series Under the Banner of Heaven. Turns out, Pluralone is a side project of Josh Klinghoffer who seems to have his hand in a lot of pies. He actually played guitar in the Red Hot Chili Peppers for ten years, but left in 2019 when John Frusciante re-joined the band. He's also worked in the studio and toured with Gnarls Barkley and is now a touring member of Pearl Jam. Not exactly a lightweight. Also, apparently guitar players hate him. Well at least this one guy. Good thing I'm not a guitar player though because I really like This is the Show. Hope you do too. Also, for those of you who have both great taste in music and are fans of Comedy Bang Bang, by now you hhave surely identified the word pluralone as a clumsy portmanteau!
15.Robocobra Quartet - "Wellness"
Album: Living Isn't Easy
I've been a Robocobra Quartet since I first heard them last year on KEXP. I mean, how could a band with a name that cool do anything but wreck shop? Luckily my assumption is true with these guys. Like 2021 Birthday Bash band Squid, the lead singer of Robocobra Quartet is also the drummer. Here's their Glastonbury set. Really hoping these guys tour around here someday.
16. black midi - "Welcome to Hell"
From the Pitchfork review; "The preposterously talented English band’s third record is pitched between clinical precision and crazed abandon." What a great and accurate description. I actually think black midi might be the best band in the world right now. Even if you don't like what you hear, you have to admit their sound is anything but boring. You may recall we closed the 2019 Bash with "953" from their debut Schlagenheim. If they keep it up I expect you'll see them on our year end list again. Private Tristan Bongo, hereby discharged!
Album: Know My Name
The process for how we come up with the stellar playlist you're currently jamming to has evolved over the years. As has been well established, my original inspiration was Jason Cafer's Best of 20__ lists which were loaded to the listening stations at Streetside Records. Oh man, I'm now realizing I need to explain both record stores and listening stations to the youngsters in our midst. Let's put a pin in that for now though. So anyway, this all used to be pretty simple. I'd go through the CDs I bought that year and pick out the best tracks. Soon after that iteration Napster & Kazaa became vital tools, but even then I was still using the record store to determine what deserved listening. These days, I use various podcasts, internet stations and subreddits to discover new and interesting music. So basically anything I hear throughout the year that sinks its teeth into me gets saved onto a Best of 20__ playlist that I listen to throughout the year. That brings us up to this year where I found myself loving the song "Know My Name" by some random band called The Daisy Cull that somehow ended up on my best of 2022 playlist. Now imagine my surprise when in putting this project together I discovered The Daisy Cull is not only a killer Americana band not afraid of featuring horns, but hail from just up the road in Raytown, MO (Not Raymore Laycock!).
Also check out: "No Wake Zone"
18. Andy Shauf - "Satan"
You know, one of the things people like me feared would happen as the music experience shifted from physical to digital formats was the end of the album. I mean really, if no one is going to purchase your collection of 10-15 new songs, why bother? Why not just release your work a song at a time? To my surprise, for whatever reason, albums are largely still a thing. That brings us to the Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf. He released two songs, "Satan" and "Jacob Rose" way back in February. I have absolutely worn "Satan" out and have been waiting all year for and album that never came. Now I sit here on Dec 21st and see he in fact will be releasing an album next February. No idea if "Satan" will be on it or not. Either way you can bet I'll be listening, and until then you can enjoy what has been one of my favorite songs of the year.
19. Nas - "Michael & Quincy"
Album: King's Disease III
Generally regarded as one of the best rappers of all time, Nas returned to our lives late this year when we heard a track from King's Disease III. Apparently he never left, we just lost track of him. I have specific sense memories of blasting "Nas Is Like" out of my GMC Sonoma on the way to work the graveyard shift at Wal-Mart 20 years ago. As the album title indicates, this is the third album in a series following I & II, all produced by Hit-Boy who we know best for producing Kendrick's "Backseat Freestyle" Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. Something you might notice is there isn't a single guest spot on the whole album, which is pretty rare these days. The good thing is Nas still has it. Glad we found him again. Have a listen.
20. The Backseat Lovers - "Growing/Dying"
Album: Waiting to Spill
This one may be the last one in. The Bridge has been playing "Growing/Dying" a lot and every time it starts I think, "Ooh, this sounds interesting. I wonder who this....oh, right." I was unfamiliar with these Provo, UT boys until this year, but it appears a song called "Kirby Girl" from their 2019 album When We Were Friends has as of this moment 195,703,347 plays on Spotify. For the less mathematically inclined among you, that's 195 MILLION plays. You can add one more to that tally as I'm currently listening, enjoying, but not quite understanding how it became such a hit. Good for them though. For context "Growing/Dying" currently has 4.5 million plays. Anyway, I hope you check these guys out. Looks like they have a ton of tour dates next year, but nothing in the Midwest. If you find yourself in Footscray, Victoria (Australia) on February 7th though you'll be in luck!
Also check out: "Close Your Eyes"
21. Nick Hakim - "Happen"
Aaaaand we bring the 21st Birthday Bash for Jesus to a close with the beautiful and slow moving "Happen." According to his Spotify bio, "Nick Hakim is a singer, songwriter and producer who has demonstrated that his talent can't be contained within the restrictions of categorization." I'm pretty sure All Songs Considered is where I first heard this guy who I can't categorize. When that happened (get it? "Happen"?) I immediately stopped the podcast, listened to Cometa twice and was soothed and grooved all afternoon. Check out his La Blogotheque Take Away Show.
Here are some other albums that were in contention and deserving of recognition this year.
Yard Act - The Overload
Fly Anakin - Frank
Coast Contra - Apt. 505
Danger Mouse, Black Though - No Gold Teeth
Wilco - Cruel Country
Sudan Archives - Natural Brown Prom Queen
Murder By Death - Spell/Bound
Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There
Drive-By Truckers - Welcome 2 Club XIII
Typhoon - Underground Complex No. 1
Ibibio Sound Machine - Electricity
Devin Townsend - Lightwork
Viagra Boys - Cave World
Logic - Vinyl Days
Superorganism - World Wide Pop
Once again, happy holidays from Team Sisson! Have a great 2023!