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Favorite Edition 2022: Year Final

[Utada Hikaru - Bad MODE]

I’ve sometimes struggled to find 10 albums to put on my year-end favorite list. This year, I’ve had to expand the list. The last time I encountered a release year this packed with contenders was 2002.

Utada Hikaru, Bad MODE

Most of this album was released as singles, and to be honest, I wasn’t entirely convinced they would coalesce into a whole. Then Utada brought in the remaining pieces, and it all made sense. My attention span has gotten a lot shorter since thrift shops became my main source of music discovery, and I don’t listen to albums as deeply as I did. But I paid Bad MODE a lot of attention.

Beyoncé, RENAISSANCE

Solange is still my favorite Knowles sister, but with RENAISSANCE, I’ve finally come around to Bey herself. This album is queer af, and I’m all for that.

The Linda Lindas, Growing Up

The Linda Lindas are the band I wish the Donnas could have been.

Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale and the Right Steppers

I hate to reduce the worth of an album down to a few tracks, but it’s tough to ignore the weight of “We Cry Together” and “Auntie Diaries”. The former is uncomfortably raw, while the latter is refreshingly empathetic, given hip-hop’s historic casualness with homophobia and transphobia. The rest of the album is great, but those two moments actually make it difficult to recognize there is a rest of the album.

Perfume, PLASMA

PLASMA is something of a reset. 2018’s Future Pop was OK, but the singles preceding that album’s release fell flat. Not so with the singles on PLASMA. While I had trouble picturing Bad MODE as a complete album, I could sense immediately that PLASMA would be a keeper.

Ty Herndon, Jacob

Ty Herndon had a relapse that nearly cost him his life, but his recovery resulted in an album compelling for its honesty and vulnerability. He suffered to create great art, and let’s hope he never has to go through that again.

TwoSet Violin, Fantasia

I don’t look to TwoSet Violin to champion modern composition, but Jordan He’s score to the duo’s ambitious short film suits their common era sensibilities.

Omar Apollo, Ivory

(Don’t compare him to Frank Ocean. Don’t compare him to Frank Ocean. Don’t … aw, screw it.) Omar Apollo is what would have happened if Frank Ocean spent his formative years being a Death Cab for Cutie stan. That sounds like a dig, but I happen to like both Frank Ocean and Death Cab for Cutie.

Charlie Puth, CHARLIE

I haven’t run into a better modern day word painter than Charlie Puth. “Charlie Be Quiet!” is a master class on using pop production to reinforce lyrics.

Robin Holcomb, One Way or Another, Vol. 1

This album brings together songs from Holcomb’s catalog along side a smattering of new material and covers, all sparsely captured. Emmylou Harris sang some tight harmonies with the Nash Ramblers on “Hard Times Come Again No More”. Holcomb’s version speaks an entirely different harmonic language.

Other favorites:

  • Midnight Oil, RESIST: The message on the band’s final album hasn’t changed since their start and somehow feels more urgent than ever.
  • Tears for Fears, The Tipping Point: Everything you like about classic Tears for Fears, updated to sound very much 2022.
  • Björk, Fossora: My favorite Björk albums reign in her avant-garde tendencies just enough to let the pop hooks shine through. Fossora is not easy listening, but it’s engaging.
  • Freedy Johnston, Back on the Road to You: During his Elektra years, I preferred Johnston’s quieter albums over his louder ones, and on this new outing, he’s got the right balance between the two.

More year-end favorites can be found in the Purchase log picks for the fourth quarter.

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Purchase log, 2022-09-20

[Omar Apollo - Ivory]

I catalog my music purchases on Collectorz and Discogs, but they don’t give me a sense of change over time. So I’m noting them here weekly as well.

New releases

CD
  • Freedy Johnston, Right Back on the Road to You
  • Omar Apollo, Ivory
Vinyl
  • Santigold, Spirituals

Catalog

CD
  • Brooklyn Rider, Passport
  • Danish String Quartet, Prism II
  • easy life, Life’s a Beach
  • Kyuss, Blues for the Red Sun
  • Sergei Prokofiev, Works for Piano, Vol. V (Frederic Chiu)

Reissues

Vinyl
  • … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, IX

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