2022 – The Writer Sums Up

An explanation first I think. This is not my albums of the year, I didn’t do an albums of the year list for 2022. It’s not that there weren’t excellent albums released, just that at the end of the year I wasn’t writing very much at all. So this is a summary of last years records that I started to review and lost track of. It’s a mish mash of styles and sounds and if I missed anything I was going to write up this last twelve months it may well be mentioned here. I have seen some great bands and reviewed most of them. The notable exceptions being Idles who I went into the pit for about ten songs and then had to sit at the back trying to breath again. I’m neither lithe nor fit so it was maybe unwise to start with. It’s hard to write while bouncing. Anyway, I digress. Here’s what I missed.

I started the year listening to the Cruel Nature catalogue, a tape label from Newcastle Upon Tyne who put out such a myriad mix of music that it’s hard to keep up, I’d highly recommend getting their emails from subscribing on their Bandcamp page. Best releases for me are the Score cassettes but their catalogue goes from brilliantly light and beautiful to noise, static and broken minds. It deserves your attention and I haven’t bought as many cassettes in years, mainly from this lot much to the scorn of the photographer. But when did I ever listen to him.

Blood On The Cats is a psychobilly compilation album from way way back with a highly offensive sleeve. As I’ve drifted into my fifties I find myself more drawn to rock’n’roll and rockabilly. That is really all this is, rock’n’roll with skulls, graveyards and a huge portion of humour. Just look at the sleeve for God’s sake. A deranged double bassist with an appropriately massive quiff surrounded by dead blood splattered cats. There may have been complaints about the sleeve, I can’t remember, but I remember thinking it was funny. Take any one of the songs on this mammoth double CD collection and you are immediately thrown into a melee of chicken dancing glorious violent fun. Any of them. Because that’s what this is. A huge slice of teenage unbridled fun. Look at the band names, look at the song titles, play a game of bingo where you have to take a swig of whiskey every time the words skull, graveyard, stomp or rockin’ are screamed, sung or groaned. It won’t take long to reach drunken unconsciousness. It’s just ace.

Neonnone are doom-jazz, that’s what they were pitched as in the email I got. This record made me feel like sitting on a bus through night time Miami, taking in the dirty rotten palms and the low life scattered across the landscape. That’s what this sound is about, it’s a long smooth ride. Going from what feels like a jazz sliding space walk to finish with a piece of Lynchean Twin Peaks beauty.

The Others (Lustmord deconstructed) is a heavy listen. Lustmord tracks reimagined by giants of the experimantal and noise scenes this album is dark, immense and a soundtrack to a land of nightmares. Best listened to in the dark.

On the other hand the joyous racket made by Sniffany and the Nits on their debut is glorious, life affirming and a brilliant little album.

The On Man album defied all words I tried to throw at it. All I know is that it is an excellent soulful electronic album that I played relentlessly so I liked it. I’ve a page full of notes and failed first paragraphs for a review if anyone needs further reading on it? I just recommend listening then trying yourself.

Now we come to my favourite reissue of the year Dead Kennedys with their debut remixed for a meatier chunkier sound. I love this album, it’s not an exaggeration to say that this changed my life. I was a teenage metalhead, in the days when being a metalhead was Saxon and Motorhead. Then I heard California Uber Alles on the radio and couldn’t believe the power of it. That led to me buying the album – not understanding it and growing to love it. It’s a slice of US hardcore that never ages and never loses it’s bite. Utterly essential.

Funny that the next thing on my list to recap is the Chat Pile album God’s Country, on the hottest day of the year I was immersed in the emotional battleground of this album. A hard core spectacular that brings every emotion you can think of to the table and makes you listen by pummelling your head until you give up and accept it’s ace.

Fighting Boredom saw the Bobby Lees in Birmingham earlier this year and loved them, got sent the album and liked it so much I bought it. There’s a moment in Hollywood Junkyard where there’s a desperate plea and horror as the subject clings to her idea of stardom and how far down into the muck people will go to achieve their aims. It’s frightening and emotionally rending like nails down a blackboard. The album cover lets you know just how grimy and dirt encrusted this record is. It’s deceptive too, it launches you into a whirling stew of swampy blues tinged punk rockabilly and then flips you over into slow draining disintegration. There’s moments of pure funky punky groove filled frantic mania and then a disorientating piano led ode from another singer out on the edge. That’s what this is I think, more than anything else, a message from the edge. There’s no better place to dance to the moments of massive rockabilly and punk than the overdrive and mania you find out there on the edge. There, you see, told you I liked it.

On the other side of the musical spectrum, A New International released a new double album of dramatic torch songs aching to be watched played and sung in an ancient velvet draped theatre to a haunted lost audience. Beautiful.

Jade Imagine gave us a delicate and ethereal record that has an easy languid flow and is so effortless that it almost sounds lazy. 

The Pretty Reckless released an album of different takes on their usual noisy output and I enjoyed the emotional clout of the slower and gentler tunes. Not something I expected from them but a welcome listen.

This little Island was built on fairy tales, yarns and legends. Creatures and monsters, ghosts and old Gods. Walls around places that are better left alone, rivers and seas not just visited by fish. Storm the Palace’s new album is steeped in those stories and draw you in to listen, glance twice at those places where the shadows grow and the leaves rustle when there’s no wind.It’s a warm lovingly made and crafted piece of music, it’s whimsical, harsh, beautiful and makes you yearn for sunshine through leaves, rain falling on muddy paths and mist rising outside your windows. 

The Shadow’s Gone Out is an EP solid dark and powerful. With massive sounds, static undertows making a mesmerising and huge record. 

Sister Wives starts with a drone, bass guitar and then segues into a dark, stormy tune, like clouds breaking over a rocky peak. The vocals are a harmony of Welsh which sounds ancient and very strong. Like magic being born. It’s powerful and sucks you inside very quickly. The difference between the Welsh and English singing make this a brilliant record, folk and indie influences make the sound something special.

SKin GRAFT records presents … Sounds to Make You Shudder is, I believe the only Halloween record you will ever need. It takes in every kind of weirdness and loathing you can imagine, David Yow is as unsettling as ever and then it’s just a crazed, LSD fuelled wander through a haunted house ranging from jazzcore, moaning, deranged thrash punk and everything in-between, listen at your peril.

The penultimate record I’m going to talk about is a local release from Below The Stones. Stuttering guitars and bass, hard but swinging drums and a vocalist somewhere between the gravel hard reaches of punk and the bombast of metal Below the Stones certainly grab your attention. There’s three songs on this EP released earlier in they year. 

I’m going to mention one more release and then I’m gone, moving into 2023. That is the new record by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I liked a few of their songs but the new album… well. I wrote some notes so I thought I’d share exactly what I felt. People say I’m too kind to the music I review but to honest, I have limited time to spend writing so why would I waste time listening and dissecting stuff I don’t like… it only leads to words like this….From the opening funky groovy vibe and the vocals nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah, I think I got all the nahs, until the end of the record with it’s eighties electronic beats and sounds, this has seventeen. Yes, seventeen, tracks of the most uninspired, lazy attempts of music I’ve listened to in many a day. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers have been transferred from edgy funky punks to Classic Rock statesmen and it’s wearing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this album. The bass lines are exemplary as ever from Flea. But there’s nothing new here. Nothing different, nothing at all to care about. I’m not sure that the singers seventies inspired comedy moustache can carry seventeen songs, being the only thing remotely interesting about the Chillis nowadays. Like woodchip wallpaper, a decent idea, it does the job but at the end of the day, dull.

So on that negative, dull note Fighting Boredom is moving into 2023. See you all then.

Adrian Bloxham

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