Well hello, there.
It’s been a year. I can’t even begin to start to tabulate all the awful things that happened in the world in 2022. Everything’s a mess; it’s all falling apart. It’s even reached Canada, because not even this presumably safe, big but small country is impervious to the stench, the disease of pure evil. From the illegal occupation of Ottawa to the unconstitutional and fascist “Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act”, it feels as though the idea of “the greater good” is fighting a losing battle against angry populism. It’s weighed on me a great deal, to the point where it takes an incredible effort just to feel happy, even though in reality things continue to be pretty darn good for me. Considering.
But the best of us still try to do good, to be good, to not let the bleakness prevail. We we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into something, something…dark side. As we hoped, Stacey and I finally got to go on the two big trips we had planned (and mostly paid for) after a two and a half year delay, easily the best thing about our 2022. We both fulfilled our bucket list dream of seeing Rammstein in concert, and their show in Montreal back in late August was perfect, fiery, transcendent. We were rained on (h e a v i l y) for three soggy hours and I was crushed into an entrance gate, but we survived, the weather cleared up, and we had an immaculate view of the craziest, loudest, most enjoyable outdoor concert I have ever witnessed.
Because our airline credits were about to expire, we had no choice to schedule our looooong-awaited trip to Paris for one month after Montreal, so we were quite the jetsetters for a while there. But we had a fabulous time in my favourite city, and my beautiful wife finally got a chance to spend a week in Europe and enjoy loads of beautiful sights.
What I was not prepared for, though, was the profound depression that hit once we got back home. Usually I’m happy to be back in my city, but things have gone so sour here in Western Canada that all I could think of was, what are we doing living here? My wife got a dream job working remotely for a department based in Gatineau, I am so unhappy at my own work, so why the heck would I want to waste my time living in a place that’s so culturally, politically, and philosophically backwards? Oh right. Rent’s cheaper.
So I continue to find the small good things while living in a place I disdain more with each passing year. I love my wife and puppy. I love my little neighbourhood. I love the arts. And I still love music as much as I did when I was a 13 year-old nerd. Music was a chance to escape the severe bullying I endured in my teens, and now, at 52, it’s a different kind of escape. Something less visceral. More comfort than catharsis. Today I sat on the bus at six in the morning, bundled from head to toe to stay warm in the minus 30 degree weather, listening to a crazy good Mylene Farmer compilation (Drag Race France got me into her music) eyes closed, the dreamy dance pop temporarily washing away my deep hatred of the frigidity here. Music, new and old, aggressive and mellow, obscure and mainstream, is what still gets me through the day. I’d be lost without it.
I’ll admit that it’s getting more difficult to find new music that scratches whatever weird itch I have on any given day, and I keep reverting to the ’70s and ’80s for easy satiety, but make no mistake, my 2022 new music list is still loaded with titles, and I have a very, very good top ten for you folks. As per the last few years, I’ll be forgoing the numerical countdown in favour of a looser approach, writing about new stuff and reissues in no particular order. Although I suppose the closer we get to December 24, the more important titles (to me personally) will start to surface. My album of the year is a surprise but not a surprise, and my big climactic final post on the 24th will be a doozy.
Not too many people read this annual blog extravaganza, but I do appreciate the small audience I do have. And if you stumbled here from google or whatever social media isn’t collapsing right now (sorry, I don’t know if I’ll ever go on Mastodon), welcome, and I hope you enjoy the self-indulgent writing, and especially the good tunes I’m blathering on about.
Cool stuff is on the horizon for 2023 for me on a professional level, including a couple of biggies that I am not at liberty to divulge at the moment. I’ll just say that if you work hard enough, the rewards will come. And no matter how sad, how desperate things get, at least there’s music to calm, to invigorate, to inspire.
Have a lovely end of the year, my friends. Be good to each other, and don’t let hatred win.
In case you’re curious, here are my top ten albums of 2021:
1. Willie Dunn, Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies
2. Iron Maiden, Senjutsu
3. Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Way Down in the Rust Bucket
4. Chvrches, Screen Violence
5. Helloween, Helloween
6. Colleen Green, Cool
7. Danko Jones, Power Trio
8. Cannibal Corpse, Violence Unimagined
9. Perturbator, Lustful Sacraments
10. Lana Del Rey, Chemtrails Over the Country Club / Blue Banisters
Past albums of the year (uh, please bear in mind I was sixteen when I started this):
1986: Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time
1987: Def Leppard – Hysteria
1988: Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime
1989: Voivod – Nothingface
1990: Megadeth – Rust In Peace, Led Zeppelin Box Set (tie)
1991: Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger
1992: R.E.M. – Automatic For The People
1993: Nirvana – In Utero
1994: Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
1995: Elastica – Elastica
1996: Pulp – Different Class
1997: Bob Dylan – Time Out Of Mind
1998: Monster Magnet – Powertrip
1999: Metallica – S & M
2000: Yo La Tengo – …And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
2001: Bob Dylan – Love And Theft, The Langley Schools Music Project – Innocence & Despair (tie)
2002: The Streets – Original Pirate Material
2003: Manitoba – Up in Flames
2004: Arcade Fire – Funeral
2005: Opeth – Ghost Reveries
2006: Mastodon – Blood Mountain
2007: Alcest – Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde
2008: Fucked Up – The Chemistry of Common Life
2009: Fever Ray – Fever Ray
2010: Best Coast – Crazy For You
2011: Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
2012: Rush – Clockwork Angels
2013: Paramore – Paramore
2014: fka twigs – LP1
2015: Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls
2016: Kaytranada – 99.9%
2017: Zola Jesus – Okovi
2018: Ghost – Prequelle
2019: Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!
2020: Róisín Murphy – Róisín Machine
2021: Willie Dunn – Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies