Roger’s year in music, 2022

0
742

It never hurts to repeat fundamental truths.

Music does something to me, and I’ve never been able to explain exactly why. It just happens. Sometimes when I walk into a supermarket and hear a song on the sound system, my attention disappears into space. I stop dead and forget the shopping list. My wife becomes understandably exasperated.

I can’t not listen. In similar fashion, I can’t not read words wherever I see them.

My earliest childhood memories have melodic accompaniment. When very young, I’d go to sleep to the cracklings of an ancient AM radio, and perhaps that’s why absolutely nothing about being five years old remains intact in my memory except for hearing “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

The grooves on a LP collection of children’s music subsequently were worn and frayed. I recall two cuts in particular: An American folk song called “One More Day,” and Mozart’s “Turkish Rondo.”

The anecdotes are both endless and tedious, but the point is this: Music plays inside my noggin at all times, and has done so for as long as I can remember. It is central to my being. And yet, for all the ways that music is the soundtrack of my life, I possess no musical skills.

None.

Instruments are a mystery to me, and my voice, once capable of decently carrying a tune for the legendary FCHS choral director Mick Neely, has digressed through decades of misuse and abuse to the point of shower stall braying when alone, safely away from the ears of humans, if not our terrified cats. I listen, drum fingers, hum, whistle, and participate as best I can.

It’s enough.

My conclusion? If there is a music gene, I possess a variant of it. Music has spoken to me from the beginning. Had my formative years been spent with musicians as role models as opposed to athletes, perhaps it all would have turned out differently. As it stands, I’ve no complaints.

The innate pleasure to be derived from listening to music is more of an essential heartbeat than an optional amusement, and I can’t imagine life otherwise. If the music in my head ever stops playing, it will be the unmistakable sign of imminent death — and as all atheists know, death is a symphony without encores.

As such, my mission each year is to find new musical releases of the sort that Roger likes. It’s as simple as that.

These might be rock, pop, world music, classical or jazz, although I’ll readily concede that rock and pop again constituted the bulk of my findings in 2022. Granted, I streamed quite a few new classical albums, but not as much new world music or jazz. So it varies from year to year, although a steady diet of Billie Holiday, Bix Beiderbecke, Bessie Smith, Bunny Berigan and Duke Ellington always occurs.

Also, as a necessary caveat, you’ll see a notable absence of hip hop, rap, “today’s auto-tuned pop songs for truncated attention spans,” and country/western music in my customary musical vicinity. These genres don’t thrill me very much. They don’t flip the switch, but be aware that my lack of interest in them is strictly personal. I refrain from making sociological pronouncements about these genres. All music is good; some is better than others, at least for me.

The idea, then, is to constantly reprogram my brain with new music. It takes effort and a modicum of forethought. It’s far too easy to dive into the “classic” back catalogue and relive (but why?) the days of my youth.

When you’re a kid and have only a handful of albums, you listen to them hundreds of times and they’re imprinted forever; at least that’s the way it worked for me. Consequently, these days I ration my oldies, saving them for special occasions only.

Stay fresh and renew.

Here’s a list of six of bands or performers that I enjoyed in 2022, sharing the distinction of being entirely unknown to me on 31 December 2021.

  • Yard Act
  • The Smile
  • Sam Fender
  • Generation Radio
  • Slang
  • Sloan (I know, they’ve been around forever)

However my musical year of 2022 had to do with more than just new album releases. Music meets you where you are.

In May, four of us drove up to Columbus, Ohio to see a performance of Sleaford Mods in an impossibly tiny venue, and the show was amazing. Then in November my friend Jeff and I spent two days in Chicago, a journey that included Manic Street Preachers and Suede on an exceedingly rare (a) double billing, and (b) American tour date, double billing or otherwise.

While in Lisbon in April I visited the Fado Museum, and in September in Athens, heard Rebetika. The Ogle Center at IU Southeast was yet again the scene of Louisville Orchestra concerts, which always enrich me. Louisville, you won’t always have Teddy Abrams. Appreciate him now, while there is time.

Musicians who died in 2022 included those who transcended their musical genres and became cultural figures (Loretta Lynn, Jerry Lee Lewis, Olivia Newton John), as well as many invaluable contributors working (as it were) on the shop floor, too seldom noted.

The passing of artists always saddens me in a way that captains of industry or politicians do not, full stop. This said, the deaths of Christine McVie and Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) made a deep impression on me.

While others in Fleetwood Mac generated headlines, McVie was the unsung musical glue, and she could play and sing it all. The same might be said of Hawkins, who seems to have been loved by every performer in the wider musical world.

The London tribute concert to Hawkins was streamed live, and I logged on near the beginning when Liam Gallagher was playing, without the slightest intention of staying seated for more than a few minutes.

Five hours later, there I remained, having cried more than once, utterly enthralled with the contemporary novelty of a big ticket stadium rock show (like Live Aid) or tribute (think Freddie Mercury’s), and realizing THIS is something we’re unlikely to see again. It moved me deeply, to say the least.

At year’s end I indulged in a musical experiment vaguely similar to that recounted in Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary “Super Size Me.” Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s food for thirty days, while I listened to each U2 album of original material (the most recent came in 2017), one album per day, ending on New Year’s Eve.

Given the way music plays in my head during every waking moment as well as many sleeping ones, and noting the way I’m sometimes debilitated by ear worms after listening to music I know well, I wasn’t sure what would happen, but my head didn’t explode.

U2’s more experimental albums of the band’s “middle” period resonated best and lasted longest: Achtung Baby, Zooropa and Pop, although I already knew these were my favorites. Interestingly, my brain processed the overload by activating a hitherto little experienced random play setting, with a jumble of snippets from all the band’s eras, although few of which played in their entirety or recurred more often than a handful of times.

Speaking of ear worms, and seeing as albums (my preferred medium) are composed of individual songs, here are the songs that will help me remember 2022, arranged alphabetically (an * indicates the top five).

15 Songs in 2022 That Stuck

“About You,” by The 1975*
“Borderline,” by Manic Street Preachers (covering Madonna)
“Endless Summer,” by Superchunk
“Everything’s Electric,” by Liam Gallagher*
“How Will I Know?” by The Amazons
“Life’s A Bitch (But I Like It So Much), by The Mysterines
“Long, Long, Long Time,” by Tears for Fears*
“Personality Disorder,” by Suede
“Seventeen Going Under,” by Sam Fender*
“SOS Emergency,” by Def Leppard
“Soundtrack,” by Fastball
“Stand By Me,” by Sunflower Beam
“Why Are You Calling Me Now?” by Generation Radio*
“Wilder,” by Slang
“You Will Never Work in Television Again,” by The Smile

The list of my 25 favorite albums of 2021 begins with an honorable mention. Since 2020 the British band Wild Front has been known to me from streaming alone; most recently there has been Drowning in the Light (2021) and Wild Front (2022 EP). If this group would put all their recent songs on one CD, although on second thought it might require two, I’d be in front of the line to purchase.

Just saying.

25 – 16 (alphabetical order)

The Afghan Whigs … How Do You Burn?
The Amazons … How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?
The Chats … Get Fucked
Dry Cleaning … Stumpwork
Foals … Life Is Yours
Sammy Hagar & The Circle … Crazy Times
Muse … Will of the People
Simple Minds … Direction of the Heart
White Lies … As I Try Not to Fall Apart
Yard Act … The Overload

15 – 11

The Smile … A Light for Attracting Attention
Sea Power … Everything Was Forever
Sam Fender … Seventeen Going Under (released in 2021)
Fontaines DC … Skinty Fia
The Mysterines … Reeling

10 – 6

Fastball … The Deep End
Titus Andronicus … The Will to Live
Sunflower Beam … Headful of Sugar
Johnny Marr … Fever Dreams Pts. 1 – 4
Liam Gallagher … C’mon You Know

5 – 1

5 Generation Radio … Generation Radio
4 The 1975 … Being Funny in a Foreign Language
3 Def Leppard … Diamond Star Halos
2 Tears for Fears … The Tipping Point
1 Suede … Autofiction

I’ve said before that the exact order is subject to change, and yet Suede’s album likely will remain on top. Seeing the band live was icing on the proverbial cake. Overall it was a solid year, and now another 12 musical months are underway. Life is good…very good.

APPENDIX: 2022 Complete Album List, Twice Listened, Alphabetical

The 1975 … Being Funny in a Foreign Language

A Place to Bury Strangers … See Through You
The Afghan Whigs … How Do You Burn?
Alvvays … Blue Rev
The Amazons … How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?
Arcade Fire … WE
Arctic Monkeys … The Car

Bastille … Give Me the Future
Been Stellar … Been Stellar
Beach Bunny … Emotional Creature
Black Midi … Hellfire
Blossoms … Ribbon Around the Bomb

The Chats … Get Fucked
Chicago … Born for This Moment
Cloakroom … Dissolution Wave
CVC … Real to Reel (EP)
Elvis Costello & the Imposters … The Boy Named If

Def Leppard … Diamond Star Halos
Dry Cleaning … Stumpwork

Fastball … The Deep End
Sam Fender … Seventeen Going Under (2021)
Florence + The Machine … Dance Fever
Foals … Life Is Yours
Fontaines DC … Skinty Fia

Liam Gallagher … C’mon You Know
Liam Gallagher … Down by the River Thames
Gang of Youths … angel in realtime.
Generation Radio … Generation Radio
Greyhaven … This Bright and Beautiful World

Sammy Hagar & The Circle … Crazy Times
Horsegirl … Versions of Modern Performance

Interpol … The Other Side of Make-Believe

Journey … Freedom

Kasabian … The Alchemist’s Euphoria
Kate Le Bon … Pompeii

Manic Street Preachers … Sleep Next to Plastic
Johnny Marr … Fever Dreams Pts. 1 – 4
John Mellencamp … Strictly a One-Eyed Jack
Metric … Formentera
Muse … Will of the People
The Mysterines … Reeling

Ocean Alley … Low Altitude Living

Pale Waves … Unwanted
Phoenix … Alpha Zulu

Red Hot Chili Peppers … Unlimited Love
Red Hot Chili Peppers … Return of the Dream Canteen
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever … Endless Rooms
The Rolling Stones … Live at the El Mocambo 1977
The Rolling Stones … Licked Live in NYC (2003)
Romero … Turn It On!

Sea Power … Everything Was Forever
Simple Minds … Direction of the Heart
Slang … Cockroach in a Ghost Town
Sloan … Steady
The Smile … A Light for Attracting Attention
Spacey Jane … Here Comes Everybody
Sprints … A Modern Job
Suede … Autofiction
Sunflower Bean … Headful of Sugar
Superchunk … Wild Loneliness

Tears for Fears … The Tipping Point
Titus Andronicus … The Will to Live
Twin Atlantic … Transparency

Urge Overkill … Oui

White Lies … As I Try Not to Fall Apart
Wild Front … Drowning in the Light (2021); Wild Front (2022 EP)
The Wombats … Fix Yourself, Not the World

Yard Act … The Overload
Yeah Yeah Yeahs … Cool It Down
Neil Young & Promise of the Real … Noise and Flowers (Live; 2019)

ZZ Top … Raw (‘That Little Ol’ Band from Texas’ Original Soundtrack)