In our search for the best albums of 2022, I find myself trekking the globe from Australia to the Isle of Wight, England. In between I make my obligatory pilgrimage to Music City and head across to New Orleans to reacquaint myself with a new friend. Enjoy!
Daniel Johns – ‘Future Never’.
When Adele released her latest album 30 she apparently persuaded Spotify to do away with its shuffle button. Her hope was that we would listen to it in order and its entirety. So its always refreshing to hear other musicians say they have designed a new album to be enjoyed as an album rather than leading in with singles. This is former Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns hope on his second solo album FutureNever. When you listen to FutureNever the most obvious sounds are electro pop inspired. Of course the deeper you dive into the record you come to realise this plays out like a musical odyssey of a musician who is hard to pin down. For fans of Silverchair, FutureNever is as far away from the Johns we once knew, though the occasional guitar being shred is still nice to hear. Anyway, it’s good to see Johns in a better place these days. We all worried about him for long periods of time especially when he often disappeared from public view struggling with both anxiety and depression.
Madeleine Kelson – ‘While I Was Away’.
It never gets old discovering a new voice. On my radar this week is Madeleine Kelson, a young Nashville-based singer songwriter with an affinity for country music and Americana. Kelson began your music career with her sister in The Kelson Twins. The experience would later prepare her for a new music career opportunity in Nashville where she recorded her debut album While I Was Away. In fact Kelson’s debut was written and produced by Kelson as her college thesis. As a relative newcomer the closest comparison Kelson has earned about her music are that to Gillian Welch. Importantly Kelson’s honesty as a storyteller, especially through her lyrics and voice show a deep understanding of the spirit of the music she is trying to capture. Maybe it is unsurprising that I have listen to and featured many Nashville musicians here in the past but there is no denying Kelson’s debut is definitely worthy of our attention. Standouts include The Way I Do, Cool Kid and Joker.
Wet Leg – ‘Wet Leg’.
It’s incredible to think that a band like Wet Leg were able to seemingly sellout an entire tour on the strength of their smash hit novelty song Chaise Lounge. Their popularity is of course no accident. The Isle of Wight indie rockers have tapped into something we just can’t resist and that is poking fun at ourselves and situations. With a sprinkle of self-deprecating humour and angst their self-titled debut is the perfect album for all bad dancers everywhere. Wet Leg’s vision of the immediate world around them invites us to indulge in their melodrama. For me, Wet Leg’s wild energy is best exemplified in the way Rhian Teasdale sings and her unpredictability which leaves you hanging on her every word wondering what on earth she will conjure up next. Some cynics argue that these collection of guitar pop songs might wear thin in six months from now but I bet Wet Leg will be at it again next year flipping the bird at their critics with a new kiss-off inspired collection of tracks.
Hurray for the Riff Raff – ‘Life On Earth’.
I first discovered Alynda Segarra – better known as Hurray for the Riff Raff – in 2017. Her rebellious folk concept album The Navigator just missed out on my top ten list of best albums of 2017. This year marks the long awaited return of the ‘Riff Raff’ with Life On Earth. Everything about this new album feels both intimate and relevant in the flux we find ourselves in. It’s fair to say Segarra still remains a spellbinding force as a lyricist. She’s not afraid to expose her vulnerability and insecurities about life, love and the future. There is arguably no better example of this than on Pierced Arrows where Segarra declares “I don’t believe in anything/This whole f**king world is changing”. On Wolves she’s even more critical “It’s not safe at home anymore”. Of course it’s not all about gloom, despair and agony. For instance, the title track is a wonderful affirmation on life with its delicate piano and Segarra’s emotive vocals.
Other than Wet Leg, whose name I had heard before, these are all new artists to me. Based on the songs you highlighted, I think Madeleine Kelson is my initial favorite. That Alynda Segarra tune sounds nice as well.