The Treasures of ’22

by Larry McClain

Here are some of my favorite musical moments from Anno Domini 2022:

Ethel Cain’s 9-minute Americana masterpiece “Thoroughfare” – Simply put, it’s one of the most spellbinding alt-folk performances ever…and that includes Dylan, Tom Waits, Neil Young. Songs that are 6 minutes-plus can create an amazing reverie, e.g., Young’s “Cortez The Killer.” And “Thoroughfare” is a reverie for the ages. The writing, singing and production are flawless.

Matty Healy’s singing – He’s hands-down the best male vocalist in pop these days. I could listen to him sing “Happy Birthday” or “God Save The Queen” even. What a voice!

talker’s bid to be the American Ray Davies – Celeste Tauchar’s EP In Awe of Insignificance was the year’s best, imo. More consistently brilliant than the aforementioned Ethel Cain album. Her melodies, singing and production are so great that it’s easy to overlook the lyrics. But talker is also a wordsmith extraordinaire – almost as if poet Anne Sexton and The Kinks’ Ray Davies had a kid. Good example: “Don’t Want You To Love Me” subtly conveys relationship ambivalence by saying, “And I can’t pretend that I don’t want you to love me”, then omits the first five words to send the exact opposite message. That’s right up there with Ray Davies’ wordplay in “Lola”, which, of course, is an all-time masterpiece.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Spitting Off The Edge Of The World” – It’s perhaps the best Outcast Anthem since Kurt’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” And the song has the fiercest opening line in recent memory: “Cowards, here’s the sun.”

Leni Black’s vulnerability on her debut EP – A billion pop artists have sung about breakups, but on Leni’s “not a robot” you can feel the devastation in every note. And her healing and resilience are just as palpable on “Black Sweatshirt.” An amazing debut!