Hey hey folks. We’re in the countdown now. Not only are we five days away from baby Jesus, three wise men, and all that jazz, but we’ve gotten to the top 20 favorite albums of the year. Whose favorite albums? Well mine, of course. Who am I? Well I’m your friendly neighborhood hermit who enjoys carry-out over eating at the restaurant. I’m the guy that prefers haunting record shop shelves in silence, deep in concentration on whether I own this third reissue of Reign In Blood or not. I’m also the guy that loves a good pint while watching horror flicks on Shudder Friday evenings after cleaning the house.
That’s who I am.
I’m also a music-obsessive whose only reason for starting this page you’ve landed on was to share my love of music with other music-loving weirdos, by simply talking ad nauseum about records. In those eleven years this page has evolved into something far more personal to me, but music is always going to be at the top. It’s been my true love since the age of 5 when I got in trouble in Mrs. Delp’s kindergarten class because I was loudly humming Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog”, which I thought was just in my head. Or being 7 and spinning my mom and dad’s copies of KISS’ Dressed To Kill and Destroyer on a red, white, and blue Fisher Price record player in my bedroom. I’ve been obsessed since an early age and it hasn’t changed.
So let’s get going. My favorite albums of 2022 continues. Here’s numbers 20-11.
20. Spoon : Lucifer On The Sofa
Spoon have had a gradual shift in sound, starting with Girls Can Tell onward. They still retained that jagged, post-punk spirit but added ornate pop elements on albums like Kill The Moonlight, Gimme Fiction, and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Through the 2010s Britt and company have streamlined Spoon into more of a super-produced, dance-heavy vibe, especially with 2017s Hot Thoughts. For me, there was something missing on the last couple albums, though They Want My Soul had a couple killer tracks.
On this year’s Lucifer On The Sofa the band went back to a no-frills, rock and roll sound and it was a welcome return. Britt Daniel sounds amazing, and his staccato guitar stabs are as prevalent as ever, while Jim Eno remains one of the most underrated, subtle drummers working. Lucifer On The Sofa is a band taking stock and remembering what it’s like to just get loud, lock into a groove, and go for it.
19. Pye Corner Audio : Entangled Routes
Once again Martin Jenkins, aka Pye Corner Audio, gives us a slinky, vibe-heavy electronic record that is just as good for zoning out to as it is for plotting your existence in the end times apocalypse. Entangled Routes is the final album in PCA’s trilogy of dystopian techno soundtracks starting with Stasis, then moving into Hollow Earth. With Entangled Routes the low key vibes take us through the vision Jenkins started years ago. It’s an album that I played continuously in the winter months, and will probably do again this winter. Because, why not?
18. Charles Stepney : Step On Step
One of the great musical surprises of 2022 was this album 40+ years in the making. Chicago musician/producer Charles Stepney was a record producer/songwriter who worked with artists like The Dells, Ramsey Lewis, and Earth, Wind, and Fire in the 60s and 70s. And when he wasn’t working in the studio with major artists he was in his southside Chicago basement studio recording tracks that he would either share with bands or would go towards his solo debut release. Sadly Stepney died of a heart attack at the age of 45, never getting the chance to release an album under his own name.
After years of collecting and putting together tapes of his work(a job his daughters did which resulted in a CD release a decade ago), Chicago record label International Anthem put out Step On Step, a stunning, soulful, and often times touching record of Charles Stepney’s unreleased demos. The songs are all created on vintage synths and early drum machines and recorded to tape, and are intimate and engaging. Stepney’s grown daugthers tell stories about their dad throughout the album, which only adds to the emotional weight of the record.
17. Marine Eyes : Chamomile
A gorgeous, ethereal ambient/new age album, Marine Eyes Chamomile grabbed me immediately and I was floored by it’s sonic heft, textures, and overall healing musical presence. Cynthia Bernard, aka Marine Eyes, uses synth textures and voice to build worlds in her songs, and Chamomile was an absolute highlight for me this year. Yet another release from Past Inside The Present, this album is proof of a new age music renaissance.
16. John Coltrane : Live At The Village Vanguard
This reissue of John Coltrane’s stunning Live At The Village Vanguard was a highlight for me this year. A show that brought much controversy in the jazz community for its not “jazz by numbers” feel and for the presence of the great Eric Dolphy that only added to the uncompromising sound Coltrane was creating. This was also the debut of Coltrane’s most significant band, which included McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and the great Elvin Jones. A landmark album and a landmark in the history of jazz.
15. The Soft Moon : Exister
Luis Vasquez’ The Soft Moon project continues to evolve and get more personal and deep. With Exister the songs feel tighter and more pop-oriented. Vasquez’ 2021 release A Body Of Errors was released under his own name and was a mostly instrumental album, yet felt as personal as a singer/songwriter album. Exister continues that feel, but with more emphasis on melody and subtle restraint. It’s a darkwave/post-punk/industrial hybrid that must be heard if you’re a fan of any of those genres. It was played on repeat all the way to Cleveland on our way to see NIN in September. It was the perfect primer for a night with Mr. Reznor.
14. Polybius by Sinneslochen Inc
What’s more sinister than the idea of a secret government experiment involving an arcade game, a small Oregon town, and unsuspecting teens dropping quarters into an addictive mind control scenario. Then just like that the game up and disappears in the middle of the night leaving confused kids having strange dreams and unexplained headaches. Polybius is the restored tape sounds of this mysterious game, brought back to sonic life by producer Deadly Avenger. Early 80s electro, 8-bit vibes, and even touches of Kraftwerk run throughout this mysterious LP of haunted circuital noise. Listen, if you dare.
13. Paul Riedl : Ambient Mixtape Vol 4 and Vol 5(The Water Tape)
Paul Riedl released two amazing ambient/new age albums this year with the equally amazing record label SFI Recordings. Ambient Mixtape Vol 4 and Vol 5(The Water Tape) are deep dives into sensory deprivation of the highest order. Modular synthesis for cosmic meditation and becoming one with nature. The organic and synthetic come together beautifully on these two albums, so much so that I feel both need to be played in conjunction with one another. Once you melt your psyche in space, you can land on terra firma and become one with nature. These are heady, deep dive albums that will do wonders for a burnt out psyche and a fractured soul.
12. Camp Of Wolves : Dragoon
David Salisbury’s music project Camp Of Wolves is a mysterious one, and one I find myself revisiting often. He makes electronic music that feels sad and haunted while being quite beautiful at the same time. His album Dragoon, released on Waxing Crescent Records, is his most personal. It’s inspired by his great-grandfather’s life before, during, and after his time in WWI. The album feels orchestral and cinematic, leaving the more intimate electronic vibes of early albums behind. This album was created with historical relevance and emotional resonance, all the while giving us a sonic glimpse of what it may have been like for a young man in such monumental and tragic times.
11. zake, Marc Ertel, James Bernard : Hearkeneth
Another stunning piece of ambient vibes courtesy of zake, Marc Ertel, and James Bernard. Hearkeneth is a musical interpretation of a poem written by zake, and these three capture the tone of desire and inescapable beauty perfectly. Slow-moving sonic structures that roll like clouds in the sky, this is yet another stunning work from ambient music’s finest builders of sound.
Okay, so there’s 20-11. If there’s something new to you here, then give it a listen. That’s why I do this, to share and spread the word. I’ll be back with my top ten in a day or so. Might be something in-between this and that, so check back Thursday and find out.
6 thoughts on “Complex Distractions Presents : Favorite Albums Of 2022 Part III(20-11)”
The streak is broken, I have heard the Coltrane. The rest… not yet!
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Seeing other people’s lists reminds me of the impossibility of keeping up with all the music that comes out in a year… There are releases in your list that I’m sure I’ll enjoy, or I was sorry of aware of but never got around to… Just so much music!
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Oh I know. There’s lots of albums I wish I could’ve gotten to(Soccer Mommy, Alvvays, Angel Olsen to name a couple.) I guess those will be 2023 discoveries.
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The Spoon record is really good. The Kiss albums are better though even through they’re 40 years old.
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Just can’t beat Dressed To Kill.
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It’s like rock and roll DNA
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