Saturday 31 December 2022

Favourite Songs of 2022

Having posted my favourite albums of 2022 let's do my favourite 10 tracks of 2022 shall we?

All of these songs were very much 'in the moment'. Maybe in a year from now they'll mean very little to me, being just moments of musical infatuation. Or maybe the relationship with these songs will develop into a longer lasting love. Long term partners, with you forever or dirty passionate one night stands? Both have their merits. Time here is the key to resolving what happens and at the moment it's too early to tell.

So here's the list. No commentary on the songs except to say yes, there are 2 Harry Styles tracks in the top 10. To be honest I didn’t think as much of the album as some critics did, but these two tunes are the dogs b*llocks.

The top 3 could all really be 1st equal, but I’m putting Hazel English first, just because Hamilton has less streams on Spotify than the other two, and if even one of you reading this goes and listens to it after seeing this list, my job is done. That's a double for Hazel English now having previously topped my Albums of 2020 list.

Here is the top 10.

1 Hamilton – Hazel English

2. Ur Mum – Wet Leg

3. Die Together – Amanda Tenfjord

4. Friendly Sex – Caity Baser

5. As It Was – Harry Styles

6. Burning – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

7. Choreograph - Jessica Winter

8. Boy – Kathleen Frances

9. Music for a Sushi Restaurant – Harry Styles

10. Paramaniac – Abby Roberts

Hamilton - Hazel English

Favourite Albums of 2022

It’s the end of the year, so now seems the appropriate time to publish my list of favourite albums of 2022.

I'm not a fan of top 100 lists. To be blunt, if an album is only your 82nd favourite, it’s not really that much of a favourite at all is it? Even if your top 100 is a poll of a larger group of people, 82nd still doesn’t make me want to rush off and listen to it.

Which brings me to my list. 10 favourite albums of 2022. All killer no filler. In my opinion. Obviously. Yours may be and probably will be vastly different. 

Of course the other issue with these lists is knowing how many albums I’ve actually made my selection from and listened to. If these 10 have been selected from 11, it doesn’t really say that much about the tenth does it?

This year I’ve kept a list of every new album released this year that I’ve listened to in its entirety. Yes I know that's pretty geeky, but my memory is terrible; although generally I remember the ones I really like, as I tend to play them lots. There are a handful I didn’t manage to get all the way through as well; no names mentioned, but at least one of them has ended up being number 1 on a handful of critics polls, which demonstrates how varied opinions can be. So for full disclosure, I’ve listened to 78 newly released albums in full (excluding compilations) in 2022. Most of them had multiple listens. Some had just 1. These are my top 10, in order.

1st Rosalia – Motomami

The most inventive, exciting and (in places) bonkers pop album of 2022. There might be some obvious singles, but delve beyond those and you’ll find huge amounts of genre hopping experimentation delivered by an artist who seems to becoming bolder the more successful she gets. The musical version of the best tapas you've ever had. Superb.

2nd CMAT – If My Wife New I’d Be Dead

Witty, clever and full of acoustic country hooks. If My Wife New I’d Be Dead marks the full arrival of a hugely talented singer songwriter. She's dead funny and entertaining live as well, but that's not what this list is about.

3rd Amanda Tenfjord – In Hindsight

The Greek / Norwegian singer capitalised on Die Together, my personal favourite song from Eurovision 2022 with a very intimate and gorgeous collection of songs that might even make the tears well up a little. This is an album for those quiet, alone moments. A headphones album. She tours in 2023.

4th Wet Leg – Wet Leg

Isle of Wight caulkheads serve up the biggest dollop of cool, fun, firm and surprisingly nuanced scuzzy indie. The 2nd choice here that last year featured on my Ones to Watch 2022 list (the other being CMAT).

5th Warrington Runcorn New Town Development Plan – Districts, Roads, Open Spaces

Infrastructure design by way of Vangelis and The Orb, all wrapped up in a spacious electronic ambience – the best of the 3 albums released in this series. 

6th Suki Waterhouse – I Can’t Let Go

Ignore the actress / model tags. Suki Waterhouse made an album that almost out-Lanas Lana Del Rey and then some. Seems to have been missed by all the critics. Shame on them.

7th Kathryn Joseph – For You Who Are the Wronged

The 3rd record from the Scottish singer songwriter is a hushed thing of minimalist beauty. The musical equivalent of a single flickering candle offering a glow of warmth in a dark room. 

8th Just Mustard – Heart Under

The second Irish album in my top 10. A powerful, industrial, art-goth noise of a record that also contains layers of dreamy and ethereal sound. Not an easy listen, but then who said good things came easy? A rewarding record for those who dare.

 9th Suede –  Autofiction

The Suede renaissance that started with Night Thoughts then grew further with The Blue Hour continues to even higher realms with Autofiction, their best since Coming Up from 1996. A classic Suede record. One for the fans, but maybe they’ll grab a few new ones as well. (It also topped the recent #5albums22 poll on Twitter as well).

10th Plastic Mermaids – It’s Comfortable Not To Grow

The second record on this list from an Isle of Wight band, It’s Comfortable Not to Grow mixes some deep sorrows with uplifting tunes with a hint of Grandaddy and The Flaming Lips in the air.

If you really do want a longer list, I've relented a little on my refusal to acknowledge the bottom parts of long lists, and listed my 30 favourites (remember the one at 30th is 30th of of 78, so it's certainly not a 10/10 record, but then sometimes flaws and imperfections are good, right?)  on a Spotify playlist, with 1 track from each. You can find the full playlist by clicking here.

Rosalia - La Fama (Taken from Motomami)

Monday 5 December 2022

Ones to Watch 2023 #10 Nell Mescal


First Featured on Breaking More Waves: 16th July 2022

The 10th and final One to Watch for this year is Nell Mescal.

Nell is also the 5th of the 10 artists that has been featured on the blog in the past.

If you read that blog post (click here to read it and find out more about her) you’ll know that Nell is a singer songwriter from Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland. What you may not know is that she’s duetted with Phoebe Bridgers at Brixton Academy (you’ll see how she managed that and the connection in the previous blog post) and she just finished a tour (yesterday) supporting Phoebe Green.

Like many of the artists on this list, she's still very new in terms of output. She’s released just 2 songs so far. One, Missing You in 2020 and Graduating in 2022. 

Nell is the second artist on this list that has recently signed for Q Prime Management (the other being The Dinner Party) and they join a small but perfectly formed roster in the UK that includes Foals, The Murder Capital and Declan McKenna.

With a beautiful voice and clear songwriting ability it’s clear that even after just those 2 releases Nell is going to be One to Watch in 2023. 

Nell Mescal - Graduating

Ones to Watch 2023 #9 Prima Queen


First Featured on Breaking More Waves: Not applicable

If you follow Breaking More Waves on Twitter (@BMWavesBlog) you might already know that there’s a lot of love in these parts for Prima Queen. They’re one of the bands I’ve seen most in 2022 (4 times) and the band released 2 of my favourite songs of the year.

First there’s the rockier Eclipse, a potent uplifting indie anthem with some of the most honest (possibly too honest for these easily shocked ears) lyrics you’ll hear all year: “You said the sky looked like magic, and we kissed in the half-light. We found the perfect view off trail, it was the first time I had sex outside,” being just one example.

Even better is the partly spoken-word story of Butter Knife, a song about a relative and their passing, which is made even more touching as the memories are of someone who is losing their own memory due to Alzheimer’s. It’s a sad, beautiful, open song and is truly touching. If the relative knew that a song like this was going to be written about them I’m sure they’d be incredibly proud.

Prima Queen is a band fronted by two friends, Louise Macphail from Bristol and Kristin McFadden from Chicago. They've already supported the likes of Wet Leg, The Big Moon, Dream Wife and Billy Nomates. What sets them apart from much of the indie crowd is that they are clearly super talented musicians; their songs are wonderfully composed and played with real skill,  If they continue to release tunes that are anywhere near as good as Eclipse and Butter Knife in 2023, they have to be Ones to Watch.

Prima Queen - Butter Knife

Prima Queen - Eclipse

Ones to Watch 2023 #8 Flowerovlove


First Featured on Breaking More Waves: Not applicable

Joyce Cisse is only 17 years old but performing as Flowerovlove she’s already turning heads.

Having released three songs in 2020, she’s now in to double figures. A few years back this wouldn’t have really classified her as a new artist anymore, but the trajectory for artists now is often longer, slower and harder. 

Her most recent EP A Mosh Pit in The Clouds gives a good idea of what Flowerovlove is about. It’s quirky, charming pop with an edge. It sounds like it was created live rather than through endless rounds of studio over production. It twists and turns and is full of ideas. Songs like I Gotta I Gotta and All The Same have a space to them that allows the songs to be much more direct. There’s a skippy cute lightness to what Flowerovlove does and it’s rather engaging.

Joyce has already been named as one of Vevo DSCVR’s Artists to Watch for 2023, and one of the key artists of Dork’s Hype List 2023 so she’s clearly getting some music industry backing. Now this little non-industry blog is putting her name down as One to Watch 2023 as well.

Flowerovlove - I Gotta I Gotta

Ones to Watch 2023 #7 Scene Queen


First Featured on Breaking More Waves: 14th April 2022

It’s very rare that metal is featured on Breaking More Waves. It’s even more unusual for it to be featured on the annual Ones to Watch list. In fact, this is a first.

But then Scene Queen is no ordinary metal act. She puts the the fun and feminism back into what can be a very male scene. There’s also a big pop sensibility to what she does and perhaps that’s why she’s on this blog.

Imagine Ashnikko if she let her inner rock beast out. Imagine a vastness of pink. Imagine a queer-metal-hyper-sex-agrressive-funny-over-the-top-queen-of-misfits. 

That is Scene Queen. Real name Hannah Collins from the USA.

The story so far includes a bunch of songs like Barbie & Ken, Pink Rover and Pink Panther taking off online and 2 EPs resulting from it (Bimbocore and Bimbocore Vol. 2). There’s been a recent tour of the UK supporting Wargasm. Some headline shows. A slot at The Great Escape festival. Some of the most entertaining lyrics you'll have heard in 2022.

What remains to be learnt is if Hannah sees Scene Queen as a short-term project or something more long-term. If it’s the later and more releases / tours follow in 2023 she’ll be one to watch.

Scene Queen - Barbie & Ken

Ones to Watch 2023 #6 Lovejoy


First Featured on Breaking More Waves: 22nd May 2021

For a relatively new band, the Spotify streaming statistics for Lovejoy are extremely impressive.

In 2022, with just a handful of songs spread over a couple of EPs and single releases (including a cover of Knee Deep at ATP by indie legends Los Campesinos!) they generated 263 million streams on Spotify, with 6.6 million listeners in 180 countries.

It’s not just online though. Lovejoy’s growing army of fans is a real physical thing. When the band took to the stage at their debut sold out gig at London’s Omeara a couple of days ago, all reports say that the place went ballistic. Certainly online clips show utter jubilation. A young screaming audience singing every word of every song with passion and joy in their hearts.

In 2021 I featured Lovejoy on the blog and so nearly put them on the end of year Ones to Watch 2022 list. A year on and this time it feels right. If you want to know who they are, why their chirpy indie tunes that sound totally out of sync with most modern hyper-produced pop is generating such a loyal fanbase and why it has enabled them to easily sell out their spring 2023 tour, read my original post (here) and listen to songs like One Day and Oh Yeah, You Gonna Cry. You'll find yourself bopping like you’re watching Jack Penate play Spit at Stars or Torn on the Platform with a firework up his arse or listening to the The Wombats Let's Dance To Joy Division at your local cider covered indie disco.

If they keep going at the rate they are Lovejoy is going to get a lot bigger yet. Keep an eye on them. They’re Ones to Watch 2023.

Lovejoy - Oh Yeah, You Gonna Cry

Lovejoy - One Day

Ones to Watch 2023 #5 Ellie Dixon


First Featured on Breaking More Waves: Not applicable

Let's face it, pop music can be great, but it can also be very very bad. At it's worst can be like a McDonalds burger: uninspiring beige and formulaic. Satisfying only if you want to play safe with something that you know exactly what it will be like.

Ellie Dixon makes very good pop music. It's easy to imagine if she cooked you a burger it would be full of ingredients you didn't expect, but somehow they work. Maybe she'd slap a bit of peanut butter in there. Or even broccoli. The bun would be coloured pink or blue.

I mention broccoli in particular as she mentions it in the lyrics of her song: "You're not an image or a product or commodity, you aren't worth more because you like to eat brocolli." It's these funny but endearing little lyrical phrases that Ellie has throughout her songs. My favourite? "Working hard is how it is, well excuse me I got bigger fish, got a business meeting with my fridge," she sings on CEO of Watching Television. I'm sure we can all relate at some point in our lives.

Ellie's tunes which she writes, produces and records herself are full of interesting little sounds (she's quite a fan of sampling domestic objects and turning them in to music) and quirky, catchy hooks. If you haven't heard her yet press play on the track Swing below and you'll get it. She'll make life feel better.

Having recently played her own nationwide tour of small venues and supported last year's One to Watch Sam Ryder as well as picking up play on Radio 1 (not to mention decent streaming statistics) hopefully 2023 will find Ellie releasing even more great pop that will make you smile even more. 

Whatever problems you have might be big, but Ellie Dixon's music will make you feel bigger - as big as Godzilla.

Ellie Dixon - Swing

Ones to Watch 2023 #4 The Dinner Party


First Featured on Breaking More Waves: Not applicable

It’s very rare on Breaking More Waves for the annual Ones to Watch list to feature an artist or band that has yet to officially release any material. The only times this has happened before was in 2008 with Marina and the Diamonds who already had a video of a song out, but didn’t officially released it until February 2009 and also in 2009 I picked Clare Maguire as One to Watch before she released her debut single in 2010. Clare ended up on quite a few tip lists as One to Watch (including the BBC Sound of List) at the end of that year (she also went on to make my favourite album of 2016 - Stranger Things Have Happened – a much over looked diamond in my opinion).

Now I'm doing it again. The 4th One to Watch selection for 2023 is The Dinner Party. 

Having caught them at Mutations Festival in Brighton my impressions are that The Dinner Party are an odd band and certainly not one that could ever be described as capturing the zeitgeist, unless we’ve returned in a Tardis to the 70s and glam is in vogue. However, their thoroughly non-modern music is all the better for it. Artists that came to mind when I saw them play included Kate Bush, Sparks, Queen, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and Jethro Tull. Throw in a keytar, a confident front-woman, a song called The Feminine Urge, and references to being guided by their favourite Romantic poets and Gothic novelists to the mix and The Dinner Party are nothing if intriguing.

Having already supported The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park (yes really), played a number of multi-venue festivals and been confirmed as support for The Murder Capital’s tour next February it’s clear that they’ve got some weight behind them.

What we need now is some music to be officially released. Let’s hope 2023 brings it. Keep an eye (and ear) for them. The Dinner Party are Ones to Watch 2023.

The Dinner Party (Live at The Moth Club, London)

Ones to Watch 2023 #3 FLO


First Featured on Breaking More Waves: 25th March 2022

Cast your mind back to March 2022 when Flo released their first single. At the time I wrote: “Their debut single Cardboard Box is out this week and it’s a big smooth and sassy slice of hooky 90’s referencing R&B pop that’s catchier than Covid. They sound like a modern-day equivalent of Destiny’s Child, En Vogue, TLC.”

As we reach the end of 2022 and look forward to 2023 I stand by those words. 

Since Cardboard Box Flo have continued to impress. An appearance on Jools Holland, praise from Missy Elliot and SZA, a debut EP in September, placement on the BBCs annual Sound of List (now called Radio 1's Sound of 2023) and a gig at Outernet in London next March already sold out, Renee, Stella and Jorja are in the ascendency. They’ve already been touted as the future of R&B and on the basis of their releases so far, it’s hard to disagree. Ones to Watch commercially, but also because of good songs and clear talent.

FLO - Cardboard Box

Ones to Watch 2023 #2 Priestgate


First Featured on Breaking More Waves: Not applicable

The 2nd choice on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2023 list is Yorkshire 5-piece Priestgate.

Having so far released 5 songs on streaming services between 2020 and 2022, the main reason for including Priestgate is for the band’s chaotically brilliant live shows that have been wowing punters across the UK - and with a tour lined up for February 2023 expect to see more people enthusing about their gigs. This is a band that fully immerse themselves in their gigs, with a shirt ripping, audience prowling, gothic new wave energy that is part Iggy Pop and part Walt Disco, but always totally brilliant.

There’s a searing energy to Priestgate that they are now beginning to translate into their recorded music as well; recent single Some Things Never Change is their most anthemic to date featuring some of the most elevating, cinematic and exuberant guitar sounds you’ll hear this year. If it’s any indication of where they are heading then not only will their 2023 gigs be must sees, so their recordings will become must listens.

Priestgate - Some Things Never Change


 Priestgate - Now

Ones to Watch 2023 #1 Caity Baser


First Featured on Breaking More Waves: 4th April 2022

It would be very easy right now for this list of 10 artists to just be 10 names that are / have been blowing up on Tik Tok, which after all seems to be the go-to platform right now for discovering new music. However, it won’t be – there are still plenty of other ways of discovering new music if you are prepared to look.

But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be some Tik Tok influence here, particularly with this first artist - our most out and out pop act on the list.

Caity Baser’s Tik Tok success (over 30 million views and counting) is already translating well to other platforms. She’s picked up over 10 million plays on Spotify, received daytime play on Radio 1, played the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading & Leeds Festivals, sold out a show at London’s Islington Academy and her last single X&Y even dented the lower reaches of the UK Top 100 singles for a few weeks,

But forget the stats and listen to the tunes. It’s easy to see why Caity is on an upward trajectory. Songs like the aforementioned X&Y, Friendly Sex, Haters and new single Kiss You are full of witty, sassy, couldn’t-give-a-shi*t-attitude lyrics set against hooky, danceable tunes that position her in the same arena as early Lily Allen and Kate Nash. Having seen her perform live, it's clear that her core audience right now is mainly teenage girls; but they are often a great cultural barometer, often being the first to pick up on things. The rest of us will follow.

If you like no bull pop-music with attitude. Caity Baser is one to watch in 2023. Give her your ears by pressing play below.

Caity Baser - Kiss You

Caity Baser - X&Y