THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND STARTS HERE...
...with FAVES 2022! I occasionally hear from folks who want to know what music -- from among all of the posts I do here -- I recommend. To some degree, I recommend all of it, unless I expressly write otherwise (e.g., it's not my thing, but it might be yours). With the holiday shopping season upon us, I have tried to make a list of reasonable size. It's an unordered list. I likely will have overlooked something that I really dig. Indeed, the ebbs and flows of life were such that I did not get as much time to really dig into the music as I normally do, so that caveat is even bigger this year. Let's get to it.
THE REPLACEMENTS: Oh sure, if there's a deluxe 'Mats reissue, it's gonna be on my list. But the Let It Bleed edition of Tim is probably the best of these. Granted, Dead Man's Pop improved upon Don't Tell a Soul in a way that was revelatory. But Tim was always a great album -- arguably the band's peak -- marred only by it's production. Ed Stasium does a fantastic remix here (ironic given that he also produced the Ramones, while Tommy Ramone produced Tim), plus a complete(?) record of Alex Chilton's efforts as the earliest producer, early versions of "Can't Hardly Wait," plus a great live set at Chicago's Metro (a show I think I attended). What's not to love? Nothing.
BOYGENIUS: Probably another obvious choice, given that this was the year they played SNL and MSG. But the record lives up to the hype (though I could do without some of the toxic fan behavior that's started to waft around them). While I have put Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker on the Faves list individually and as a band, I find that this is a case where the three really compliment each other. Dunno if they edit each other well, or cause them to edit themselves better, or some combination, but the combo neatly distills things into my aesthetic wheelhouse. And don't sleep on the rest EP, either.
LEMON TWIGS: I have championed this band for a while, though in part because of their potential (I have always been the sort who enjoyed bands the way some enjoy minor-league baseball players; some you get to see make the majors, and some you get to love knowing that their flaws may be too much). And I can't say that Everything Harmony is a major league effort, simply because it's still outside whatever mainstream taste is these days. The PR suggests they want us to think of it as their "Simon & Garfunkel record," but I think they only get their near the end. Most of it is even wimpier -- like the sort of soft-rock selections for K-Tel comps in the 70s. But they do it proudly and well. And most important, the actual songwriting chops here have gone up a notch, with plenty of catchy hooks.
YO LA TENGO has been doing it since I was in college, mostly variations on the Velvet Underground palette, and occasionally with a more ambient streak like the chirping of cicadas or the landing of the spaceship on a warm summer night. And they do it again on This Stupid World, with perhaps "Until It Happens" being the only left turn in the proceedings. It may not rank for me like Painful or I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One, but it's as consistent as an old friend.
THE FEELIES: Of course it you want the other VU-influenced New Jersey combo that's been doing it for decades, they put out a VU tribute LP this year titled Some Kinda Love.
THE NATIONAL: I thought very seriously about leaving First Two Pages of Frankenstein and Laugh Track off my list, as neither strikes me as the band's top tier. But if you pretend they comprise a double-album, you can play the music nerd's double-album game of editing them down to really good single album. And the material is strong enough that you could get into a fun debate wih your nerd friends about which tracks make the cut.
THE CLIENTELE is a band I've been aware of for a long time, but hadn't relly devoted the time to until I Am Not There Anymore. Perhaps I should have earlier, as the first half of this album is not so much chamber pop as chamber post-punk, and they make the fusion of a prominent, often programmed rhythm section work sith the strings in a surprising way. And yet I may prefer the second half of the album, esp. from "Claire's Not Real" onward, even moreas a more trad chamber pop effort recalling Scott Walker and parts of early Bowie.
RATBOYS: In recent years, I have tended to get something from Chicago on the list, and the Chris Walla (DCFC) production of The Window shows off this combo's breadth quite nicely.
TEENAGE FANCLUB: I tend to start out "meh" on their later albums and almost always find myself coming back to them for the sort of comfort you get from an overstuffed couch (though the music is not overstuffed). Nothing Lasts Forever is no exception. They're no longer Bandwagonesque, but then again, neither am I, except for the nostalgia. What they have kept since those early days is a Byrdsian sense of melody and harmony, and though this LP wouldn't fit neatly into the Byrds catalog, it does oddly remind me of The Notorious Byrd Brothers, which is a high compliment.
NATION OF LANGUAGE: Although I have always been more of a guitar rock guy, I have always tried to save a spot for the branch of post-punk that runs from New Order through The xx to Nation of Language. I can't decide whether Strange Disciple is their best album, but it may be their most consistent, with the highest floor, if not the highest ceiling.
THE MURDER CAPITAL: On the other hand, if you prefer the branch of post-punk that is more rooted in Joy Division and runs eventually into Goth, you may want to check out Gigi's Recovery.
MARGO PRICE: I spent a decent chunk of last year listening to Angel Olsen go Country, so it's a nice balance to hear Margo Price lean a bit into rock on Strays, with assists from Sharon Van Etten ("Radio" is the most-streamed track, rightly so) and the Heartbreakers' Mike Campbell. And if you dig that, there's Strays II to boot.
THE NO ONES: If you know me, you know that a post-stroke Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5) and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck with a Norwegian rhythm section is going to be right in my wheelhouse. It's so great to hear that McCaughey's songwriting has remaned just as sharp and whimsical as ever on My Best Evil Friend. Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake and Camper Van Beethoven's Victor Krummenacher help out, but the killer is the Bangles' Debbie Petersen lending her voice to the relentlessly catchy "Phil Ochs Is Dead."
MICKY DOLENZ: Speaking of "if you know me," I am obviously going to jump at The Monkees' most versatile singer returning for Dolenz Sings R.E.M., an EP featuring three obvious choices and "Leaving New York." This is the sort of thing that could fail spectacularly, but thankfully is delightful.
LANA DEL REY: Given that critics had cooled on her a bit in recent years,I guess I am a little surprised to discover that my take -- that Did you know there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd is her best since NFW -- may actually be conventional wisdom, and correct conventional wisdom at that. This is her best fusion of the stuff that makes her LDR with the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter aesthetic she has been chasing since at least NFW. But whereas earlier LDR tended to push raw and explicit material in an almost aggressive manner, this LP finds her leaning back a bit so that it takes on a more confessional tone, occasionally recalling Joni Mtchell herself. It's not perfect; I could do without "Fishtail" and "Peppers" does not belong here.But almost everything else except the Jon Baptiste interlude is just gold.
THE WHO: I started with a reissue, so I'll end with one. Even though the material is already burned into your brain, you will want to fnd some version of Who's Next: Lifehouse (Super Deluxe) for the live material, esp. from the Civic Auditorum in San Francisco, as the recordings are excellent and the band has just sunk its teeth fully into some of its most iconic songs.
A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING has been relegated to AppleTV+, but it has resurfaced elsewhere.
WKRP: "Turkeys Away," in its entirety. And here's the turkey giveaway by itself. There's a WKRP purist backstory for this episode as well.
THANKSGIVING: George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation (1789). It was controversial at the time.