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It's Xmas time, there's no need to be afraid...my Xmas CD 2022

It's 15 years since my first Xmas CD, 21 songs I put together on a CD and sent out to a few friends. Subsequently, a few more people asked for a copy, including friends of friends - this was before Spotify dominated music and gave people access to any tunes they desired.


Mixtapes have played a part in my life since I was 15, making tapes for new friends I wanted to get to know, or indeed female friends I wanted to "woo", for want of a better phrase. Don't worry though, if you got an Xmas CD, this was almost certainly a platonic gesture, with one or two exceptions, pre-Mrs JO'B. In fact Mrs JO'B was very much a recipient of the Xmas CD, with less pure motives than festive best wishes. She liked it a lot. Result.


As documented elsewhere on this blog, there's no Xmas music - work one Xmas in the toy department of a store and I assure you, you'll never listen to Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime without going postal. There are, however, clear rules:

1. Tracks must be released that year

or

2. Tracks must be discovered that year

or

3. Tracks must have some personal or cultural significance.

All of the CDs are now playlists on Spotify (you can find all 15 to date here) - if you find you have a spare 24 hours to fill, there are worse ways to spend the time...

Cost, time and the fact hardly anyone plays them, means I no longer make the physical CD, which is a shame, because the ones I got professionally made from 2014 did look beautiful, even if I do say so myself. But I still make the playlist version, as it's a great chance to look back at the year, to listen to new music discovered and old bands still banging out tunes.


So, here's this year's CD - it's a double, if it were a physical thing, 44 great songs that sum up 2022. As ever, some difficult decisions were made on what not to include, though frankly, I am probably the only person who would consider them "difficult", the rest of you are normal!


Finally, the picture I have included is of three strangers in front of us at a gig in Leeds - Blondie, supported by Johnny Marr. It was a great night, but a highlight was watching them lose their shit to Johnny. They were cool and funny and very kindly agreed I could use this picture.


Enjoy the playlist and all the best for Xmas 2022!

1. Burning - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Taken from Cool It Down, their first album in 9 years, Burning is a belting track, recalling an accidental fire when Karen O lived in the East Village at 19. It destroyed material goods, but left the things that really mattered (lyric books, photos, sketches). It's a slow build starter for this year's list.


2. Oblique Fantasy - Jane Weaver

Probably my favourite song of the year, a one-off single and collaboration with Speedy Wunderground, it's a hypnotic slice of Krautrock, electronic psychedelia. Love her so much.

3. in the wake of your leave - Gang Of Youths

From my favourite album of the year, reviewed here.

4. First You Jump - Simple Minds

45 years into their career and still making cracking tunes. This is taken from their 19th studio album, and sounds fresh and insanely catchy.

5. In My Arms - Big Joanie

Having played my favourite Library-based gig this year (Big Joanie, Central Library, Coventry, 22 October 2022), Big Joanie are one to watch and this is a great slice of indie rock, that pelts along at pace, with fab harmonies and top drums. Seeing them at The Garage in London in January.


6. Human Crime - Pixies

A non-album single that seemed to be everywhere back in April - shame it wasn't on the latest album, Doggeral, but it's a cracking song that would fit well on Bossanova. I'm seeing them at Brixton in March.


7. God's Gonna Cut You Down - John Grant

BBC drama Inside Man with David Tennant was a TV highlight this year and its theme tune was this cover of the American folk song God’s Gonna Cut You Down, produced by David Arnold and performed by ex-Czar John Grant. Better than Johnny Cash's version?

8. Time That We Call Time - Tim Burgess

Tim's fifth solo album (Typical Music) is a double, a messy, sprawling but fun collection and this track features the great Pearl Charles on backing vocals (we were due to see her in February but she cancelled, hope we get another chance in 2023).

9. Stevie - Warpaint

I went to see Warpaint back in 2016, initially agreeing to go with Mrs JO'B before we were dating, as part of a 14 month "wooing campaign". I didn't really like them, was just hanging around with her. But they have really grown on me, and their latest album, Radiate Like This, is their best effort. This is a lovely, chilled tune.


10. Who By Fire - PJ Harvey

Another cover version as TV theme, PJ Harvey's take on Leonard Cohen for Sharon Horgan's latest cracking show, Bad Sisters. Its lyrics perfectly fit the show's murderous intentions...

11. Ciao Bella - Bessie Turner

We saw Bessie back in March (Bessie Turner, The Moth Club, London, 5th March 2022), and this track is from her latest EP, arrabbiata.


12. Shitshow - Ailbhe Reddy

The best act I saw at The Great Escape (Brighton Rock - The Great Escape 2022), especially this, a tale of a distressing one night stand ("Tell me how did I get here? Some endless, pitiful affair, drag my body upstairs and look in the bathroom mirror...oh, I don't recognise myself"). It's great and her sophomore album is out 17th March next year. Seeing her in April.

13. Feel It Comin' - Lady Blackbird

Another Casbah Records recommendation, the album is subdued and soulful-jazz, but this is a dancey belter.


14. Protect My Energy - Little Simz

Although this came out in 2021, we didn't get round to buying the album until this year. I love this bit of weird electro pop. The whole album is full of quirky, unexpected interludes. Love it.

15. Softly - Arlo Parks

Arlo at her danciest, she needs a few more of these to broaden her repertoire - a good sign for the future, if she can knock out a few more like this.


16. It's Over, If We Run Out Of Love - David Holmes, with Raven Violet

Our friend Simon H normally messages me regularly to share pictures of men in bad shoes, but this time he messaged me to say I would love this. He was right. He is usually right about the bad shoes as well...

17. The Way It Shatters - Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

RBCF continue to defy their terrible name, and belt out Go-Betweens-styled rockers. This is a cracking tune.


18. Your Name Escapes Me - Kelley Stoltz

19 albums in as many years, Stoltz is prolific and vastly under-recognised. He's toured as rhythm guitarist with his favourite band, the Bunnymen, as well as covering the whole of their debut album Crocodiles (as Crock-o-dials). We saw him at The Lexington this year, and he played a stupendous gig to a half filled venue. But he carries on making inventive and edgy garage pop. This is like an electro-Bond theme, love it.

19. Zuckerpunch - The Snuts

They topped the charts with their debut, and seem to constantly tour on their own or supporting someone or other (yet, I have utterly failed to see them live - something I will correct in 2023). This critique of social media is sharp as a knife and catchy as an STD. I've also failed to buy this album (Burn The Empire), which I will also address in 2023!


20. Mariella - Khruangbin and Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges' early music was proper old school soul, but his recent stuff has taken a more modern R'n'B feel, which I find less appealing, But the two eps he has recorded with weird soul psychedelists Khruangbin have been a great return to form. Mariella is a great, spacey ballad...

21. Shadow Play - Warhaus

Balthazar are a fantastic funky, indie band from Belgium (Balthazar, Electric Ballroom, Camden, 8th November 2021 and Balthazar - Sand) and I love them - seeing them in June next year in Antwerp. This song is by spinoff band Warhaus, led by Maarten Devoldere, who's on his third album as Warhaus, ploughing a similar vein. Imagine Leonard Cohen but you could dance to him...told you their sound was weird. Seeing Warhaus in April at Lafayette, where London's Belgian community will be out in force!


22. Gino And Rico - Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band

Ex-Shack, ex-Pale Fountain, ex-Strand, ex-backing musician for Love's Arthur Lee, ex-heroin addict, ex-alcoholic - the man is impressive, both for his musical career, but also his personal resilience. His music is amazing, he is hailed by Noel Gallagher as a genius and the Oasis leader is not wrong. Resolutely singing in his Scouse accent, making trippy, folky, Byrdsy, romantic, dreamy music. His album, Dear Scott, is the best thing I have heard all year. Here's a quick intro to Mr Head...

23. Miles and Miles - The Heavy Heavy

The Heavy Heavy describe themselves as "a 5 piece retro inspired rock band, making the music the sixties forgot - with bombastic soul and peaceful goals". I would just say "Fleetwood Mac does Creedence". This is cracking, a great recommendation by the ever reliable Casbah Records in Greenwich. Their EP Life And Life Only is stonking...

24. Don't Say It's Over - Gaz Coombes

Ex-Supergrasser turned Bowie-esque soloist (see Raging Bull – a look back at Gaz Coombes’ Matador and You Wear It Well - life after Britpop - Gaz Coombes and Tim Burgess live in London, November 2022), this is a great taster for 2023's new album.


25. Watching Strangers Smile - Parquet Courts

One off single by garage punks, this is an earworm that will plague you...


26. Be The Hook - Pavement

Slacker rock at its finest...

27. The Girls Are Fighting - Bloc Party

Bombastic, glamrock indie stomper...chanting backing vocals, caterwauling "heys", it's catchy as hell after a couple of albums too focused on electric beats for my tastes.


28. Jackie Down The Line - Fontaines DC

Just extraordinary, this is dark as hell, thought provoking, captivating...I didn't get them at first, but this year's Skinty Fia album is a triumph...

29. Amateur Hour - Eels

Eels bypassed me when they came out, but this, their 14th album, is just superb. Extreme Witchcraft is splendid, his first with PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish since 2001's Souljacker. 12 songs, 38 minutes, no fat, all hits. Amateur Hour is one of my favourite songs this year.

30. Lightning People - Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr is a genius, and to me sounds like his old band The The here, on this track taken from his ambitious if a bit repetitive 4th solo album, the double Fever Dreams Pts 1-4 (reviewed here - Fever Dreams Pts 1 - 4 - Johnny Marr).


31. The Tipping Point - Tears For Fears

After a weird gig in 2019 where they seemed to avoid talking to each other, looking at each other or acknowledging each other being on stage, Roland and Curt have come back with a very fine album. This title track is a standout, but the whole album is full of tunes that stand well alongside their 80s highlights.


32. The Hardest Cut - Spoon

I love Spoon. That is all.

33. 2am - Foals

Their last two albums were dark, sprawling, difficult, but this year's Life Is Yours is 42 minutes of poptastic indie. 2am is as catchy as anything released this year, joyous stadium pop.

34. The Drop - Sports Team

Second album Gulp! continues their debut's shouty rock, but the vocals are stronger, the tunes bigger, the hooks catchier...a great sophomore effort...check out my live review from last year Sports Team / Wet Leg, Brixton Academy, 25th November 2021.


35. Wet Dream - Wet Leg

Not just a one hit wonder, Wet Dream shows there is more to Wet Leg than quirky tunes about furniture and worrying mothers...

36. Divebomb - The Go! Team

The Go! Team combine indie rock and garage rock with a mixture of funk and Bollywood soundtracks, double Dutch chants, old school hip hop and distorted guitars. Divebomb is another explosive, shouting slice of pop fun. We are seeing them in 2023!

37. Lay Of The Land - Trashcan Sinatras

The Trashcan Sinatras keep ploughing along, with occasional missives reminding you they still exist and are still capable of delivering beautiful pop vignettes.

38. Bell Toll - C Duncan

Arch, arty, layered, unpredictable, chilled pop.


39. We All Came From The Sea - The Wedding Present

Repeating their 1992 "single a month" idea, they again issued 12 singles in 2022. Back then 30 years ago, acquiring the singles was a nightmare as they sold out before you could get to the record shop (especially if you lived down in Devon).


In 2022, you can subscribe and collect the lot, and every month a little 7-inch bundle of joy has landed through my letterbox. This is the standout, though most have been excellent.

40. Words And Guitar - Sleater-Kinney, with Courtney Barnett

Re-recording their debut album with guests on each song is a novel idea, but having Courtney front Sleater-Kinney is such a perfect match, you sort of hope they'll do more.

41. Dice Are Rolling - The House Of Love

After a great gig (The House Of Love and Pete Astor, The Garage, London, 25th September 2022), The House Of Love delivered a superb new album, their first in 9 years. A State Of Grace, only their seventh proper album in some 35 years, is released this week, on 10-inch double vinyl. This album is a bluesier, dirtier House Of Love, with a dash of country as well as their usual guitar jangle, and Dice Are Rolling was my standout track.


42. She Still Leads Me On - Suede

Roaring back with a new, post-punk sound, this is Suede on fire (reviewed live here - I Heard A Rumour....Suede aka Crushed Kid live at The MOTH Club - 5th September 2022).

43. Time On Earth - Pete Astor

The former Weather Prophet is still producing fabulous catchy indie pop. This is up there with his best songs; the album is introspective yet uplifting and joyous. Reviewed live here - The House Of Love and Pete Astor, The Garage, London, 25th September 2022.

44. Perfect Circle - Dubstar

I love a cover version, so this year ends with late 90s electro popsters, covering REM's classic from their debut album Murmur. Impossible to top the original, but this is a great version.

Stay safe and merry xmas, x

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