Bill Cummings' Albums of the Year 2022 Part Two

Bill Cummings’ Albums of the Year 2022 Part Two

As we bid farewell to 2022, I present the second part of my albums of 2022, wishing you a happy new year!

The Beths – Expert in a Dying Field

Another clutch of power pop anthems from New Zealander tunesmiths The Beths, this time alongside the undoubted power pop anthems of ‘Silence is Golden’ and ‘The Real Thing’ we spy a wistful side on the buzzing regret of the title track or the melodic strumming of ‘When You Know You Know‘, nevertheless the songwriting and ear worm tunes are as strong as ever, from one of the best current bands around!

HAAi – Baby, We’re Ascending

HAAi is Australian producer Teneil Throssell. This year she produced a marvellous shape-shifting record, who’s mind melting rave trips and ambient qualities captured me. With the rave revival already in full swing, HAAi harks back to the early 90s but retools it for 2022, fusing elements of techno, house, drum n bass, downtempo and anthemic electro into a striking vision.

Minas – All My Love Has Failed Me

All My Love Has Failed Me vividly showcases Cardiff-based Minas’s artistry: raw, brooding and intense these are tales of addiction; growing up on the outside in the Valleys looking in and the utter injustice of life, underpinned by an unstoppable soundtrack blurring the lines between electronica, post-punk and hip-hop. Witty and brutal, he rattles with the personal trauma, mental health issues and the utter frustration at the world that surrounds him and expels it in raw catharsis at every turn. In the process, his work sums up the confusion and brutal inequality festering at the heart of Brexit Britain in 2022 and holds up a mirror. He’s one of the most original voices to emerge from South Wales in quite some time. Reality hits hard; Minas hits harder.

yeule – Glitch Princess

Singapore-born, London-based Nat Ćmiel is yeule. Welcome to the experience of the Glitch Princess: a genreless, non-binary journey through different environments of their thrilling cyborg pop, ethereal, playful and cathartic, its a magical listening experience that constantly beguiles at every turn.

The press release offered for Glitch Princess says “the undiluted excerpt of a downpour of emotions following Ćmiel’s experiences with sobriety – a redirection of chaotic energy into verse and the opportunity to confront their own vices.” .

Electric‘ is a stunning and haunting moment of clarity, the SOPHIE-esque use of postmodern auto tune experimentation, stretches her falsetto and sample laden tapestry into an otherworldly soundscape where nobody can hear you scream, yet it still beats with heart.

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself‘ flutters with the ghost of early 90s guitar pop, intimate and infectious. ‘Too Dead Inside‘ skitters like the ghost in the machine, floating around in the ether looking for a way to hold on. For Fans of Grimes and FKA Twigs, but firmly oscillating through their own stratosphere, If Glitch Princess isn’t sitting its rightful place on the throne in the higher reaches of on the best of the year lists by the end of 2022, then I would be very surprised. 

Body Type – Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising

Body Type‘s debut album, Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising, appears to have been largely overlooked in many end of year lists but their ability to imbue earworm melodies into kick ass groves, post rock/grunge/indie sounds is unmatched this year. The Australian single ‘Sex & Rage’ skitters on a bed of serrated riffing, kick-ass, quick-fire drum fills and the naggingly brilliant vocal dexterity of Sophie McComish consumes the doggerel of desire, angst, and euphoria in a hook-laden plea for exuberance and actual excitement in the face of boredom and stunted digital consumption.

The Brood’ jumps in feet first with frenetic rhythms and swaggering vocals as the band join hands and ask what’s your resistance to letting go? ‘Buoyancy’ is urgent visceral and careers down the highway on a bed of body popping percussion, vocal sparring and fantastic choruses riven with cool as f#ck vocals, are you ready for lift off? Body Type have the kind of artful melodic hooks of the Breeders, but all processed in a withering knowing delivery faintly redolent of early Courtney Barnett. But really they’re just Body Type and they’re bloody great!

Saya Gray – 19 Masters

Saya Gray is a Japanese /Canadian artist whose songs don’t just have striking titles but visions. How do you merge elements of r&b, soul, jazz, pop and prog into one melting pot and make it sound so effortlessly beguiling and ladled with enough mystery and fluctuating emotions, to constantly catch you off guard? Well ask songwriter Saya Gray, whose sublime album is a record of revelatory songwriting given life by a startling unique voice. My favourite track would have to be ‘IF THERE’S NO SEAT IN THE SKY (WILL YOU FORGIVE ME?)’ who’s crunchy beat, cyclical strums, surreal samples, and vocals that sail effortlessly from flights of fancy to steely eye’d yearning. 19 Masters is a masterpiece in 19 parts.

Kendrick Lamar  – Mr Morale and the Big Steppers

Perhaps Kendrick Lamar‘s most personal record yet, sprawling and dense it’s a lot to take in at once but once it unfurls it reveals his unmatched lyrical abilities. Each bar is riven with complex rhymes, and intricate detail. This is a master at work, taking in the pressures of fame and community asking difficult, searching questions, emerging to tell the tale. His performance at Glastonbury this year was a tour de force.

Charlotte Adigery & Boli – Topical Dancer

The duo’s album ‘Topical Dancer’ was released via Deewee, the label owned by Soulwax, who co-wrote and co-produced the album. Deconstructing elements of language and pop clichés, it places itself on a groovy framework of dancefloor ready tunes that skirt the lines of new wave, African rhythms, and disco. This is an ace record.

Real Lies – Lad Ash

Real Lies are duo Kevin Lee Kharas and producer Patrick King and their superlative second album Lad Ash is a study of vivid autobiography that takes you on a journey further and deeper into bittersweet memories. These visceral, lucid stories that shaped life, set to yearning production that both pays homage and evolves through dance music they’ve obsessed over throughout their youth.

Equally euphoric and wistful, the visceral night-walker meditations of Kharas are unleashed on Lad Ash that’s bathed in a soundscape ripe with pulsing beats and heady rave synths it blurs the lines of acts like Orbital and Pet Shop Boys and makes it Real Lies, shot through with fascinating narratives of his past: his first love amongst the tribes, addiction, grief, heartbreak and the still-unsolved disappearance of a teenage best friend. Vital.

Adwaith – Bato Mato

For this, their second record, we join a train ride to outer Russia on the Trans-Siberian Express – the longest railway line in the world – with Welsh trio Adwaith. Their guide Bato Mato, after whom the album is named, points out a frozen-over Lake Baikal whipping past the windows as they head to the cold city of Ulan-Ude. The songs that make up Bato Mato are infected by this sense of movement and disconnection of place, a confusion with the world, travelling further into the darkest depths of Eastern Europe for a festival, a long way from the band’s Carmarthen roots.

Together they have produced a sound rich with fascinating detail, exploring new depths and expanding the textures of Melyn making the intensely personal widescreen, it’s framed in a kind of atmospheric reverb and grit that threads these tracks together, blurring the boundaries between art pop, indie, krautrock and psychedelia. Each intricate detail reveals itself further upon each listen, like all great albums it’s unmistakably Adwaith, and distinctively Bato Mato.

Kathryn Joseph – for you who are the wronged

Four years on from the heartbreak of Kathryn Joseph‘s second album, for you who are the wronged is a devastating study in pain and rich empathy that gives voice to the voiceless, the victim, the abused; it’s unbearably personal yet intensely universal. We have all suffered through life, we all carry trauma with us, some more than others. Standouts include the superlative lead single ‘what is keeping you alive makes me want to kill them for’ , the starkly raw ‘the burning of us all‘, and the enveloping and crushing ‘of all the broken‘.

Absolutely spellbinding suites of sound conjure up the likes of Cat Power and Portishead, hypnotic piano motifs, and subtle percussion house Joseph’s vocal, a voice that bristles with pain and compassion for others, a voice for those who are silenced and those who have been abused. It’s simply superlative and is her best work yet, which is saying something. Incredible.

Hatchie – Giving The World Away

“This album really just feels like the beginning to me, and scratching the surface – and even though it’s my third release as Hatchie, I feel like I’m rebooting from scratch.”

Harriette Pilbeam aka Hatchie talking about her awesome second album Giving The World Away which sees her finding her power, expanding the scope of her 2019 debut Keepsake, painting a widescreen vista of sound, showcasing her knack for melody and deepening the emotional connections in her songs. This is Hatchie pop: at once familiar yet unmistakably her, each couplet beating with a melodic and self-reflective heart.

In this era where chart pop can sometimes be a little insubstantial, can sound a bit tinny and synthetic, with her fantastic second album Giving the World Away, Hatchie offers a majestic and towering contrast, blending her influences and hitting a rich vein of knowing pop music with artistry, brimming with neon hooks, layered intricacy and self-aware, emotional depths, that you can return to again and again.

Stella Donnelly – Flood

Stripping away the artifice of being a musician, taking time to breathe and reassess. On her superlative second album Flood, Stella Donnelly displays a voice of rare clarity that can crystallise her emotions investing her deft songs with previously uncharted depths: exploring her inner child, her place in the world and the boundaries of her and others’ relationships, capturing moments of brevity in songs that reveal themselves over multiples plays. In the process, with Welsh heritage and based in Perth, Australia, Donnelly offers a gentle arm on the shoulder, a guiding light out of the dark, in a time of uncertainty and fear.

As well as being sophisticated and layered, Flood is also a vulnerable and empathetic record. More subdued but no less powerful, there are fewer instant hooks than her debut, but it’s actually better for it. The arrangements have a subtle openness that stretches out like a warm embrace; this is a tapestry, produced by a new perspective of experimentation and thoughtfulness forged with her band. These are living breathing moments you want to return to over and over again. I agreed with a friend recently when we discussed Self Esteem, that it is the music that lasts, that actually connects in this era where there is a deluge of choice and music has become devalued, has something to say, has a personality and heart and Flood is overflowing with both. It’s simply a gorgeous record, drink in every moment, it’s positively a revelation. Astounding.

Johanna Warren – Lessons for Mutants

Working with Iron and Wine and penning six solo albums in recent years, prolific artist Johanna Warren recently told Uncut Magazine as the pandemic hit she was faced with the choice, “up sticks from New York to Wales, to a place she had never been, to be with a person with whom she had spent all of two weeks. ‘Or move back in with my parents, and cry every day’.” Johanna Warren chose the former, packed up her bags and moved her life to a small mid-Wales town living in a homestead surrounded by sheep, foraging for herbs, and home-brewing, she divorced herself from the bustle, of the release and tour treadmill of the past three years.

My album of the year Lessons for Mutants is consumed with this change and metamorphosis, but also the imperfections of being human. It was recorded live to two inch tape capturing the performance of each song, taking you on a lyrical journey and shapeshifting through sounds from the scorched grunge of  ‘Piscean Lover’ that’s about holding onto the life raft as everything crumbles around you ” “It’s alright, we’re not ok/ We burn out not to fade away.” she sings, to the raw delicacy of the piano flecked ‘tooth for a tooth’, its touching atmosphere woven with brutal bars which could have been played in a smoke filled 1940’s club and bears more than a passing resemblance to Cat Power.

Thirst for power, hunger for fame/ Always was a junkie for pain,” sings Johanna Warren on the psych folk strum of ‘I’d Be Orange’. This exploration of masochistic ambition and artistic martyrdom shifts effortlessly from shuffling into an epic chorus line, that captures all the contradictions of the male ego and turns it into a universal moment of self-discovery: hoisted shoulder high on a wave of 60’s harmonies, textures and Warren’s elastic vocal, sitting somewhere between Sharon Van Etten anthem and a love-inspired groove. It’s a superlative piece of songcraft.

Warren posses a voice of rich experience and clarity and songwriting of depth on ‘Oaths’, she delivers an incredible, spine-tingling vocal performance as she cries to the heavens asking for the weight of sins to be lifted off our backs. As this outstanding torch ballad holds you transfixed in its revelry, pianos steeple and forge like the terrain of her home. It’s a stunning song.

Then there’s the spindling arpeggios and percussive shuffles of breakup ballad ‘Hi-Res‘ that scythes somewhere between the pointed lyricism of Big Thief and the bitter kiss-offs of Bob Dylan. Haunting closer ‘Involvus‘ is riven with the tenuousness of human frailty and failure, the piano bars housing Warren’s meditative clarity as she muses on  the ill-fated love story of Orpheus and Eurydice, fleeting, tragic and captivating, its a wonderful wave goodbye.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.