Outsideleft couldn't let the 2022 slip away without acknowledging some of the songs favoured by our writers over the past twelve months!
It's not a 'best of...' These are just some tracks that shook or grabbed or surprised or rocked our worlds. These are our passions, and they may be yours too.
Tim Sparks, Ancient Champion, Katherine Pargeter, Erin and Jay pick some favourite focus tracks, sorry, singles of 2022:
Tim Sparks favorite singles
PASSIVE FIX - The Fix (Independent)
Saw these guys at a local music show...the fact that they got our attention as a live band says something I think, this track "The Fix" has a pretty dark undertone but some great lyrics and sounds complimented by a really cool production. The song stomps along to a solid drum track before slipping into a nice melodic chorus, but don't be fooled...guitars are coming your way! The double track vocal adds to the vibe, even more so with the cans on, then a suitably raging outdo! I believe they are gigging soon, check them out.
SUGAR LAKES - Meteorites ()
I found Sugar Lakes through their producer Adam Fiasco, so Im checking out their single Meteorites written Damian Caruthers and I have to say this is awesome, from the opening acoustic chords and the vocal of Faye Moss...well....this girl has some talent , she absolutely nails this one.
The whole track, backing vocals, instrumentation, arrangement, I can't fault it at all, Adams done a superb job here, Im sure this collaboration will go far.
Theres not too many song these days that I wish were a bit longer, but this could handle another few minutes no problem.
Ancient Champion's faves
NADINE KHOURI - Keep on Pushing These Walls (Talitres)
OMG! This is like the record I have been searching for forever. Nadine's voice is religious. One listen and you'll be a worshipper. There's something so perfect for laconic optimists in Keep on Pushing These Walls. And the music, oh so many miles away from the voice, and then here comes the guitar all subtle and then all outrageously bendy and tearing at your speakers. Quietly still. Redolent, a little, of Natalie Bergman's great record stylings. Nadine Khouri is a giantess of graceful understated beauty for sure. This record, damn! At least we can still have nice things.
LIV.E - Wild Animals (In Real Life)
Love Liv.e, she makes feminist politics set to music seems dangerous still. Who gets to say who is objectifying who? Meanwhile though, maybe you can just buy these kinds of backing tracks off the peg. From the factory. But you know like you can buy Continental Tires or generic ones and the latter lead you off mountain roads? Liv.e obviously spent a little more at the Lo-fi beats factory. The bass drum is authentically, beautifully, cardboard boxy. The bone idle piano I'll remember all day long. I don't really like dogs but c'mon, all the fetishistic claws, the dog-ear-hat - especially the dog-ear-hat cosplay, it's so irresistible. I want one. To replace my trusty crown. Wild Animals got me thinking about my crumbling persona and how this could soundtrack that afternoon with Luna Dupree when we shopped for boxing gear, rented a room from noon opposite a big box diy store and after filling ourselves with disgust at the people going in for paint and planks in their free time, I laced up Luna's boxing gloves and took a beating. Hours after Luna left, she called hotel security. A lot later my kidney problems abated. "I've got my nose up in the air-Most of these dogs don't deserve a meal-They always wanna bite when they see me." Lovely tripartite. It's the voice, Liv.e; it's the sound of a woman not taking any old dog's shit. And making a great, great pop records while she's about it.
Katherine Pargeter's favourite single:
Gabriels - 'Angels and Queens' (Atlas Artists)
Elton John wasn't exaggerating (why would he?), when he announced that ‘Love and Hate in a Different Time’ - the lead track from Gabriels' debut EP (2020) was “one of the most seminal records of the last ten years”. As calling cards go - it was all there - Jacob Lusk's raised-on-gospel voice, a soul singer that drew from something deep, deep inside. But it was the divine synergy with his new bandmates: classically trained composer called Ari Balouzian (from California) and video director Ryan Hope (from Sunderland), that made it so special. Then there was the video which ended with a clip of Lusk singing 'Strange Fruit' at a Black Live Matter rally. My new favourite band had dramatically arrived.
The first single and title track from the album is a plea to be loved, those idealised views from the outside, that reality of the inside. It's all of those contradictions. And Lusk's voice is tender, aching, and passionate. So utterly believable.
Then there are the harmonies that could easily belong to a long-lost Earth Wind and Fire song. What make's Gabriels feel so exciting is how that fusion of ideas works so well: Lusk's voice and the elegant string arrangements could recreate a bygone era, but it's that R&B and contemporary hip-hop feel (aided by Beyonce and Kendrick cohort Sounwave). Its unpredictability is just part of its breathtaking charm
And then there's the video, such elegant choreography, so sassy, and as for that hat Jacob... it's so swaggeringly cool!
Erin's favourite single:
Paramore - 'This is Why' (Atlantic Recordings Group LLC).
Paramore shouldn’t still exist, right? After bursting onto the rock music scene in 2005 with their debut album, the band has been a tale of two halves. They’ve had immense critical and commercial success and yet this had not come without a cost. At many points, the band has lost members, had immense fallings out and essentially retired the band following the release of their amazing album ‘After Laughter’(2017). It seemed that with Hayley Williams pursuing her solo work and almost all band members deciding to step away from the band, Paramore was over. They stopped before they burnt out.
Which is what makes the release of ‘This is Why’ so fascinating. The song is this powerhouse that manages to build around all the strengths of the band’s members. Taylor York, who’s one of the longest-standing members of the band (genuinely Wikipedia have made a timeline to keep track of all the members who have entered and left the band) has this electric guitar riff that feels as though it was ripped straight from the mid-2000s and has an insane energy that propels the song into the stratosphere. The guitar is accompanied by the rhythm section of Farro whose beautiful bass and drums work to drive the song forward and give it a great presence, even in the quiet, stripped-down sections of the song.
It goes without saying that Hayley Williams is bringing her best on the track. Even when firmly rooted in the emo/rock scene of the early 2000s the powerful vocals of Hayley Williams were a notable draw towards Paramore. Even after all this time she still has this uncanny ability to bring such raw life and power to the song- something perfect for the simultaneous grit and exuberance that runs through the song.
A lot of artists returned to music in 2022 after long times away cultivating their art into a new form and whilst some faded with the passage of time and returned with more lacklustre releases, Paramore have placed themselves above those expectations. It's time to pay attention to them again.
Jay's favourite single:
Gilla Band - 'Post Ryan' (Rough Trade Records Ltd)
'...But I couldn't sing for shit, so I shout about crisps...'.
...when you first listen to the Irish quartet's third album ('Most Normal'), there's a tendency to laugh at the self-deprecating humour. And then, the song comes to an ab abrupt halt and Dara Kiely (Gilla Band's vocalist) repeatedly shouts about his '...inevitable depression when I do nothing'. You realise that there is a shadow over his witticisms, the mental health issues that led the band to place themselves on an indefinite hiatus five years ago.
'Post Ryan' feels like a stream-of-consciousness address, spilling out all of Kieley's self-abasement ('I hid behind the surreal, I'm a bit too much'), made all the more nightmarish by the distorted noise rock, fuzzy feedback and relentless drums. Then there are moments that feel like Snapped Ankles trying to cover LCD Soundsystem - they know how to craft energised pop songs, but it's the absurdist twist, the way they chose to present those songs that make them so realistic. 'Post Ryan' is a profound climax to the 'Most Normal' album and their most vital single.
Jay Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jay's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.
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