BLASTITUDE BEST OF 2022
by your friend "Year End" Larry Dolman -- with a SPECIAL GUEST YEAR-END ROUNDUP by Shawn David McMillen
It’s been a blissful few years not making a single year-end list (the last ones I made were for 2014, posted months late, and 2015, posted years late), spent listening happily to record after record released in any decade besides the 2020s, let alone the year 2022 (or as I call it “the last 15 minutes”). Until a month ago, that is, when I finally figured out how to listen to my Bandcamp collection on shuffle, realized that I do in fact enjoy some music from 2022, and found myself making a year-end list in my head. So here ya go, on paper… and please stick around for an immediately following special guest year-end round-up by Shawn David McMillen, originally posted a week or so ago on his Instagram account and gathered here for posterity.
LARRY DOLMAN’S BEST OF 2022
-BLUES AMBUSH s/t (PETTY BUNCO)
-BONE STITCHERS I’ve Never Been Anywhere (-WDO- COLLABORATIONS)
-ANNA BUTTERSS Activities (COLORFIELD)
-EQUIPMENT POINTED ANKH Changing Legs (NEWTON’S KIDNEY)
-FLANGER MAGAZINE After the Bend (STUDENTS OF DECAY)
-GRAY/SMITH s/t (COLOPHON)
-KATE ALICE GREER Barbarism (FOURFOUR)
-GREY WINDOWPANE Catskin; “Two Bricks for Every Bag” EP; “Dir’y Mixes for Dir’y Money” (“Two Bricks for Every Bag” EP Remixes); “The Parrot” (GWPEOPLESFRONT)
-HORSEGIRL Versions of Modern Performance (MATADOR)
-IDOL KO SI Volumes 1-5 (IDOL KO SI)
-DR. PETE LARSON live on The Local Music Show (WCBN, Ann Arbor, 7/20/22)
-KALI MALONE Living Torch (PORTRAITS GRM)
-JAMES MARLON MAGAS Confusion is my Name LP (MIDWICH)
-MEDICINE SINGERS s/t LP (STONE TAPES/JOYFUL NOISE)
-MOLIO HOLI Harmless Joking Edits 12” (SOLEIL LUNATIQUE)
-MORE KLEMENTINES Who Remembers Light LP (TWIN LAKES/FEEDING TUBE)
-MORE KLEMENTINES sk8 @ yr own rsk (TWIN LAKES)
-MUAVE Imaginary CS (ALREADY DEAD)
-ONYON s/t CS (U-BAC/FLENNEN/TROUBLE IN MIND)
-JEFF PARKER Mondays at the Enfield Tennis Academy 2LP (AGUIRRE/EREMITE)
-RRR BAND s/t (aka Rock For Birds) CS (PETTY BUNCO)
-STAUBITZ & WATERHOUSE Common Metals CD (MUSIC IS THE WORST)
-WATER DAMAGE Repeater LP (12XU)
-WATER DAMAGE But the Rat was Very Smart CS (SOPHOMORE LOUNGE)
-TUCKER ZIMMERMAN & JOSHUA BURKETT Tunnel Visions LP (IDEA/MYSTRA)
SPECIAL GUEST YEAR-END TOP 10+
by Shawn David McMillen
(Originally published on Instagram at @pheezersdm, mostly on 12/23/2022, reprinted here by the author’s permission so that this page can contain some actual music writing and not just music listing. And yeah, I got Idol Ko Si from here. — LD)
All five volumes of an entire universe of approaches and styles mastered and then fodder for a existential psych noir library black humor sound-work surf song drug music. 5 volumes of it.
Hmmm.. I’ll start by saying this is a masterpiece. In that it is exactly what it wants to be I think and can’t imagine it being any other way. Shit, you’ll see a glow that balloons out at 1:52 min. into the second song, In Sway, if you haven’t already as Spencer sings of the bayou but only after the moon’s done being addressed. It’s all wind blow night song that swells like blood through your legs and back when you remember her saying she still loved you, as you stare out over any night anywhere anytime. Birds, wind, moons, trees, cold, heat, storms, a church. “Somewhere a storm is forming and moving towards you” and the fiddle, clarinet, sax, piano play it in. One of the best records this year.
Sizzled burner-boogie that displays all the hallmarks of a rare condition called “triple exhaust-pipe black-out syndrome,” one of its main symptoms being a tongue-out cross-eyed rage-run for a never-reached hallucinated horizon line usually involving three dudes jamming on bass, drums and guitar.
One of the best kept secrets or seems like it. Here giving us perfectly rendered pastel psych in wonderful ambient songletts. Guitars, pianos, flute, synth it’s also just beautiful relaxing music I’m a fan.
The hype is true. Best rock and roll record in a long time. Seek it out… I’m sure it’s reviewed elsewhere.. It knocked me off my feet.. wow
Dave Shuford’s hermetic journey into the Greek underworld continues and now goes even further into those dark places of wisdom. Where a pre-Socratic mushroom and wine trance is soundtracked with Mediterranean strings, percussion and synths..
Along with best cover you also get the former Harry Pussy guitar player’s sparklingly free rust-psych menace of his band Dance Satan Dance and whoever is on the 16 min version of Icky Bits. A Feehan-led vehicle for dismantling a noirish surf riff by strangling his guitar while doing whippets using a pair of players and hernia balloon. Others include the slither slather of Lunatics Beheaded’s strummy messy charm matched in Le Crash’s thumbled theme and back into the 25 min journey of Icky Bits ragged walk through a pressurized noise-fed junk-jam.. ending in Douche Nozzle of course.
This is a masterpiece done in their usual humble fashion. Fantastic psychedelic folk rock played by heroes at the top of their game. Strummed and sung, hilarious and beatifically sad at times lightly raw Philadelphia-bred skiffle with enough charm and love to fix all the empty cocaine damaged hearts in the entire north east… or a couple at least. It did mine.
This one’s easy. Absolutely fantastic rock and roll played by dudes that surprised us by deciding to do what they love. The singing is so good. The solos are on point. Better than the Farm Band because there’s no weak tracks. Its’s even better than their first one in the way that the production has everything snaking into each other more. This is not retro it’s style and one with a recognition of a working, very American architecture of song form that is far from losing any of its utility as long as dudes like this are translating the blueprint.
Mr. Gray and Mr. Smith quietly released a record of songs played and sang with guitars and drums. First side is instrumental but somehow manages to make you think there was singing after the side is finished. I could tell you that someone coud do a ED talk on what these guys DON’T do on this record that every other mother fucker makes the mistake of doing and then give one twice as long on what they DO do that’s absolutely perfect. From the descending lines of acoustic gtr pinging some empty vista vibe with drums recorded and played just to trick you into not complaining about the bass player’s absence, all of it works. I mean I’d forgotten he was ever born. I suppose you could say it’s country or folk and it probably is but the few of us that nose around with a flashlight and end up deep in the Woods of the Forgotten Songwriter will see a playing out of things learned and intuited there that truly can be found in very few places and played so wonderfully by almost no one. Fantastically rendered urban-pastoria that almost snuck by us. Comparisons cheapen but the guys in Souled American would love this album I think.
The Nervous Kats - s/t
Y’all jammed this one yet? Numero did a digital release years ago. I have no idea if there’s vinyl. Perfectly anonymous reverby vibrato surf lounge exotica garage band from 1962?! It’s streaming in the usual places. It’s so good guys.
Virgil Shaw - At the Time I Didn’t Care
It’s from 2021 but I listened to this a lot in 2022. Try it you just might dig it. Every song is strong. Can’t say that very often. But watch out cause it’s (whispers in your ear) “really good modern country music” (and then lightly smooches the lobe). “Through the piss and the rain/Through the shit and the stains/Through the darkness/That has no name/Through the switchbacks of the canyons/Thrown out of the night/Well I was puked-out/I’m the morning light . . . You got me stranded here/on this dead-end love.” Yup.
Harvey Mandel - Who’s Calling
I have hesitated on posting this because I don’t know if people who buy weed legally have what it takes to jam this one. I also know next to nothing about Ryan Jewell but this is fucking killer and every moment of it is taking place in the universe created by Pound for Pound and Veterans of Disorder. It just 100% is. Production is fat, bass is pillowy and grooved effectively and the drums and percussion are fucking great. Harvey’s guitar playing is unlike anyone’s I can think of and full of neon streaks that smear across actual space. This record and the last one are total originals that truly deserve your attention. Funkadelic, Royal Trux, and to be honest library music of many stripes (creative, professionally anonymous, theme-based genre plunges?) is where I see this filed next to. So get higher and try to prove me wrong and if you don’t succeed, well, you win. Harvey was in Canned Heat and did killer solo records and wrote a couple songs that ended up on the Stones’ Black and Blue LP, I think.
Smoka Rocha - One Reason
The trophy for king of 2022 goes to one dude only: Smoka Rocha. In a previous post I mentioned 3 artists in relation to his music. Nicodemus, Circuit Rider, Royal Trux. I’m not saying he’s influenced or “sounds like” - I’m saying he’s one of them. Equals. If we were to be graced by another of these angels how else would they present themselves in this day and age? This is absolutely killer wild fucked rock made by a wild visionary lifer in Florida with a pure, absurdly gushing fountain of beautifully flawed (personal?) rock infinity. It’s up to you (we’re doomed) to see it. Even though you’d have to be beyond dead to not sense what is so oddly wonderful and terribly consistent in this glistening improvised street rock gutter utopia. He’s unlocked a working system of bent freedom along with erasing the need for about 56% to 74% of what I used to listen to and now my life is easier.
Fritz Muller - Frei
Fritz Muller was in Kraftwerk for those 2 wild early records and then NEU until 1972. These are his very good super raw unreleased recordings from 1973. The 29 minutes of the first track sounding for all the world like The Stooges and Sister Ray being just fucking pounded through a NEW streamlining that’s completely draped over with the former’s maximalism and does not let up its fucking insane tempo and is just too stupidly good to remain this obscure and then followed by a shy 18 of dunted free-blurt. This is a required listening for those in need of a primal flash of pure rock and roll. Astres D’Or who put this out has a lot of other stuff for those interested in things like this.
No-Neck Blues Band - Niente Piu Canzoni
Not so much a contempo release in the Jesus Jones sense.. You know, like, in the “right here right now” kinda way but since so many of its members are actively fulfilling my Ram Dass-like desire for them to “be here now” I figured it would be more than cool to talk about this new one. I’m guessing but the title might translate somewhere in the ballpark of “no more ballads”? It came out a few weeks ago on Decimus’s house label called Daksina which could refer to the fee paid to someone officiating a ritual, a southern direction, or the right-hand path? The cover, having a drawing of a radiating light green pyramid with a happy blue flower and little swan of the same color sitting at the bottom, all turned upside down makes me think southern. Is Marseille, where this took place, in southern Italy? It is of course where the famous Marseille tarot deck originated and from what little I’ve read had a rich history of occultism with much older families holding dark blood-power pagan mystery cult parties longer than most were allowed due to money, power and location. Never went though. But these guys did and recorded this 40 minutes of laminal free-rock magick using mostly handmade lasers and some kind of Time Machine made out of old congas and an electric bass. I’m guessing for full dimensional flight it takes time so it makes sense the first track is 20 minutes. I’d think at least one laser is patently banishing, another cleansing as things shake and vibrate. Intoning vocals finding resonance within without.. a true group trance in public easier and harder than you think to pull off because not everyone closes their eyes or blinks the same way but here you can see (?) these considerations dealt with using things learned from actionists, spectralism, drug parties and the original version of the German Oak LP. Which is to say the goal might be translated by the listener as a patient pulsing trinkling laser-led unfolding into a well-earned open-mouthed rock abandonment where a big bass line and grainy punches of abstract guitar heave over stoned hand drums and the tranced kept so by unceasing hypno-lasers. By track two the old demons of a lost Italy have found the whippets that No Neck brought as offering in exchange for a map that only the bass can read and 6 min in the band is lost. Before you get worried and wondering why Shuford is missing and why Jason is crawling into his amp with just his foot sticking out of the front remember they know what they’re doing and on track 3 is the return. The whole band flickering with little scrabbled itchy shackles and horizon-drawing harmonic strings and then you can see just over the hill as lava splashes and slowly explodes behind him, our surprising leader, the wise old electric bass, pulsing and gently sliding a repeated note as shakers phase and drip bringing our unsmiling heroes back just in time to beautifully call a UFO filled with signifiers of glowing love and LSD-tears. And very soon we’re bobbing our heads to a fantastic band playing out on a super weird basement-bred euro pulse. Nice. (One admitted mistake in my fevered speculation: the title actually translates to “no more songs.”) (The cover is a soft-tribute but I’m not saying to who…)
Flanger Magazine - After the Bend
I’ve had two flanger pedals and I never recorded with either or used them live. When I hit it it always sounded and felt like “hey, I’m hitting my fuckin’ flanger now Zinghghzghzgh.” I could never make it work. But I didn’t really try very hard. I could’ve but I didn’t… which brings me to After the Bend. I’ve not at all been happy with any review of this record. I mean they have the Flanger Magazine record. Every thing is there for them to make it sound good and what does our music writer do? “Hey I’m hitting my fuckin flanger now ffghghzzzzhhghwwwgh” #basicbitch This record is fabulous. It deserves much more attention and better writing than it’s getting. What’s happening here doesn’t feel like some amalgam of a list of micro genres. Although I do understand that dealing with this southern American minimalist masterstroke and its pulsing smiling playfulness could be a mite hard but I figured by the time you heard the cello? ac gtr, bubbled electro phase drop into two French minutes of sheeted multi-sax you would notice that it put on blue jeans and it’s fiddling broken-hearted release-beauty over its fiddled twin. But even if you didn’t (you didn’t - ed.) your girlfriend probably did and she’s the one pointing out that 5/6ths of the time it’s better and less rigid than most of what these guys get accused of pulling from. What you have here is what people 68 years from now and 156 years before 3 weeks from that will call a beautiful totally listenable American avant-garde minimalist matsterpiece with all the casually bubbled psychedelic ear-geography baked into a wonderfully detailed lack of hollow-effort and mixed with a many years prolonged musical zoning. I dig it. It’s like Whithusser and Westrupp made a record with Ernest Hood and he asked them not to sing. I know I spelled those German dudes’ name wrong but y’all know who I’m talking about and it’s easier for me to write all this shit than to look it up and change it. I like their record with the orange cover and their stretched faces. Used to jam that shit tripping. Muy bueno.
Joshua Burkett - If You Can’t Wander the Waffle Wonder in the Drizzle
When your homie casually busts out heart bursting winners every time and you’re looking around like your neighbors, who already think you’re suspect, are noticing you happy-crying a lil bit. As absurd as these words I’m about to type feel on my super extra-long 3-knuckled fingers I imagine they’ll seem more so once let into your eyeballs. But I know (for a fact) this is his best one yet.
Charles Duvelle And Hisham Mayet – The Photographs Of Charles Duvelle - Disques OCORA And Collection PROPHET
How does stuff like what Hisham did here happen so quietly? Seems to me if all you Milford Graves fans adjusted your gaze by a few degrees you might be able to complete the picture Mr. Graves was asking you to finish. Here’s a question.. if we got what we wanted and needed would we know it? Looking at this set’s mellow reception probably not. Not that there’s anything else like this but do we not remember, just a short time ago, how difficult it would be to hear all this AND have it available at our disposal? But really I’m just speaking to the heads. I have no clue what this all means or how it carries itself outside of the world of the old bent blazer. So from this limited vantage point I can at least say this is a pretty special thing that Hisham has done here bringing Charles Duvelle’s field recordings circa 61-67 of people and music from all over the world together in one place. If you haven’t already, dive deep and play loud. It’s incredible to be honest, so hats off Hisham and thanks. One of the big ones for 2022.
Luie Luie - Creator of “Touchy”
If we normalized putting older reissues in year end lists because of them being literally pregnant with joy I might be drunk enough rn to nominate this one.. “Knuckles to Ribs etc. have a good time.”
You can hear music by Shawn David McMillen on records like Warmer Milks Soft Walks (2008, Animal Disguise), Shawn David McMillen Dead Friends (2010, Tompkins Square), Rubble The Farewell Drugs (2011, Latino Bugger Veil), Shawn David McMillen On the Clock w/JJ & Mitch (2015, 12XU), and the as of yet unreleased Pudding Band (aka The Pudds) The Stinky Bayou Pudding Band’s New Day of Light (2022).