2022 First Quarter Music Review
It's hard to believe the first quarter of the year is finished, but we're here to report on our favorite things so far.
Most of the time on this site, I’m jumping in a time machine and talking about something formative from my youth. I’d like to take this week to talk about some of the best music I’ve heard so far this year now that the first quarter is over. So, let’s talk about some cool new stuff.
In no particular order…
Things are Great by Band of Horses
Band of Horses has been a favorite of mine for a while now. Their first two records, Everything All the Time, and Cease to Begin are albums I go back to over and over again. Songs like “The Funeral,” and “No One’s Gonna Love You,” along with my very favorite, “Ode to the LRC” have been staples for me for a long time now. I saw BoH play a set at the first Innings Festival I went to four years ago in Tempe Arizona, and it was just awesome. That said, their material of late was good, but didn’t seem up to par with their first two records. My expectations were a bit tempered when Things are Great was announced. However, they delivered an excellent record.
The album opener, “Warning Signs” is a total throwback to what made the band great in their first two. The song hits an urgent peak after the three-minute mark which recalls some of the more anthemic material that made them famous.
That’s easily my favorite, but there are so many good tunes on this one. “In the Hard Times” is great, if not sad. “Crutch” is the closest thing to a single. “In Need of Repair” is another great one. “You Are Nice to Me” sticks out as one that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the material, but it’s infectious even if it feels like a non-sequitur. Lastly, the band finishes with a nasty shot at a town called “Coalinga.” The pleasant sound belies the lyrics.
You're welcome back anytime
To the foul ass smelling hellhole called Coalinga
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New Preoccupations by Caracara
I’d never heard of Caracara until just a few weeks ago, but one listen to their album New Preoccupations and I knew it was going to be one of the most enduring albums I listen to all year. The review at Pitchfork confuses me because it draws all sorts of comparisons to Matchbox Twenty and The Wallflowers. I really don’t hear that at all, personally, though it’s not offensive to me by any means. This sounds like late 90s to 2000s emo to my ears. I hear Sunday’s Best, Rainer Maria, Hey Mercedes, The Jealous Sound, Christie Front Drive, and sure, maybe a bit of Dishwalla, Collective Soul, and Tonic too. Whatever the hell I’m hearing most, I love it like crazy.
Check out “Hyacinth” before I tell you about my very favorite song on the album.
I’m going to share two more songs with you before I move on to the next band. First, this song doesn’t necessarily fit in with the rest, but I love it. The production on the vocals sound raw like they used the natural echo of the room they recorded it in. The vocal harmonies are beautiful. This is the type of song that I’m always drawn to. I have no idea what it’s even about, but it’s totally my vibe.
Lastly, the sign of a great album is a great closer. This one has it in spades with “Monoculture.” The vocals are so clean as the song begins, it’s almost a shock to hear. You can hear every little syllable and every pronunciation of the “st” in “rust.” Then the band kicks and the production changes a bit as the song builds. It drops out one more time before the band brings it home with a bombastic arena-rock finish. Put it in your headphones and turn it up loud.
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Hygiene by Drug Church
This one screams 90s stylistically. It’s a straight-ahead hard rocker without much hint of metal. If these guys had come out in the 90s they could have toured with Sponge. I’m not sure who would have headlined though, but I think it might have been Drug Church. That’s how much I like this album.
I don’t want you to think I’m giving it short shrift either, but I can’t pick apart the tracklisting all that well. I lose myself in this album. My family traveled recently and I just kept listening to it whether I was on a plane, running in the morning, or rocking out while cooking dinner. I love it all, but it just keeps going and I keep nodding my head and I have zero incentive to turn it off or change to another record.
If I have to share one, I’m going to share the second track. It’s a romper called “Super Saturated” and it’s riffy, loud, and secretly melodic. My only regret is that while I was traveling listening to this album I missed their appearance at Mahall’s in Lakewood Ohio. I would have loved to see them play these tunes live. Hopefully they come back through soon.
Sore Thumb by Oso Oso
I’ve heard of Oso Oso before and probably checked out their stuff before, but none of it really stuck with me until this latest album Sore Thumb. I really love this record. It’s a weird one because the band had to finish it without their guitarist Tavish Maloney who passed away in March 2021 at the age of 24 after working through some of the demos with singer/guitarist Jade Lilitri. It’s an impossibly sad story, and the album sounds far from miserable, but holy hell is it good. To me it recalls Pavement, and maybe some of the lighter parts of Death Cab. I hate to paint them into a corner. Just check it out for yourself.
Don’t Think About Death by Chalk Hands
This band feels like a giant band to me, but I watched their Instagram feed during their album release party, and they played a place in the UK that looked like it was the size of a small coffee shop. As I listen to this record and think of them like they could have toured with Thursday and played the Agora in the earlier part of the 2000s, it’s hard for me to imagine just how such a small band can produce such a big, awesome record.
I don’t know how much my readership here will like this. Its screamo and the vocals are guttural and raw as they sing-scream their way through eight awesome songs. Your mileage will vary, but for me, this is an incredible record.
One of my favorite songs on it is “February’s New Friend.”
P.S. Honorable Mention
Diaspora Problems by Soul Glo
Have you ever listened to a record and recognized its quality and think it’s probably important, but it’s not totally your thing? That’s Diaspora Problems by Soul Glo. I don’t go this far into punk normally. Last year Turnstile pulled me into punk further than I normally would go. This year it’s Soul Glo, but it’s just too far out of my lane. If this was a big publication, I’d be looking for someone with more expertise to discuss it and speculate on its importance now and moving forward.
You can find a review if you want, but I recommend the interview that Pierce Jordan did with Brooklyn Vegan, published on March 22.