Continuing the amodelofcontrol.com review of 2022, which this week turns attention to the best tracks of the year. Next week will be the wrap of the best albums of 2022.
/2020 /seeming /End Studies
/2019 /SCALPING /Ruptured
/2018 /IDLES /Television
/2017 /Zola Jesus /Siphon
/2016 /School of Seven Bells /Signals
/2015 /CHVRCHES /Playing Dead
/2014 /seeming /The Burial
/2013 /Seabound /Nothing But Love
/2011 /Frank Turner /One Foot Before The Other
/2010 /In Strict Confidence /Silver Bullets
/2009 /Yeah Yeah Yeahs /Zero
/2008 /Mind.in.a.box /What Used To Be (Short Storm)
/2007 /Prometheus Burning /Battery Drain
/2006: No tracks of the year list
/2005 /Grendel /Soilbleed / /Rotersand /Exterminate Annihilate Destroy
/2004: No tracks of the year list
The tracks of the year post is often the hardest to collate and write. It is perhaps because I have so much choice – even from just the /Tracks of the Month posts in my /Tuesday Ten series this year, I had 147 tracks to choose from (needless to say, it’s not unusual for me to be writing about more than ten tracks each month!), and it’s also not unusual for a few more to pop into consideration in one way or another. For example, the release list file that I keep recorded 323 relevant releases to consider. In other words, there’s been a whole lot of new music this year once again.
Music is such a part of my life that I’m generally listening to music when I’m on my own. Even just going by my Last.fm stats, I’ve listened to 12,650 songs during the “qualifying” period for this list (see below). Working from home, for the most part, helps – music has long soundtracked my working day when I’m not on calls – and I like to try and vary and expand what I’m listening to. I’ve also continued DJing (in livestream form, for the most part, but I did DJ in person for the first time in a while this year as well), and I’ve perhaps got that to a manageable, regular level now, and as always, this list will be far more than just industrial music.
A note on “eligibility” for this list. If the song was released between 01-Dec 2021 and 30-Nov 2022 and/or featured on an album of new material in that same timeframe, it counts.
I run /amodelofcontrol.com as what might be called a “labour of love”. I’ve written about music for twenty-four years, seventeen of those years under this website banner, and I continue to want to celebrate all that is great about this corner of the musical realm. So this site continues to exist – with no external funding and no paid-for advertising – and I will continue to do so as long as I want to do it, and as long as people want to read it.
So thanks for reading, contributing, offering comments, or being one of those people that makes the music I want to write about. Look forward to more from me about the music I listen to in 2023.
My Spotify playlist was built initially by using my friend Dylan Beattie’s excellent utility.
/The Humdrum Express
/The Gig Chatterer
One of a number of artists I’ve featured in these lists over the years thanks to hearing them on BBC 6 Music, this is another of that very British indie sub-genre, the witheringly sharp, observational indie singer. The artist that is the Humdrum Express comes from the midlands town of Kidderminster, but you really don’t need to be from anywhere in particular to understand or relate to this great song. This slight song takes the position of that arrogant shit that seems to attend every gig, who likes the sound of their own voice and appears not to care about those who want to hear the bands people have paid to see. The wonder, frankly, is that it’s taken someone so long to write a song about them. The sad thing is, the target of this song won’t get the message at a gig, as they’ll still be too busy talking.
Joe Crudgington’s project DROWND owes a few things to a number of influences, but it’s undeniable that his tracks can be very impressive indeed. Particularly Filth from [AN]AESTHETIC, which rips out of the traps from the first second. A bruising mix of punk energy, hardcore-style breakdowns and rampaging industrial rock, Crudgington’s sneering vocals work well with the complex mix and result in a catchy, hugely enjoyable track that I really must feature in a DJ set sometime.
/The Buried Storm
It has been some time since the first Darkher album back in 2016, so a new release this year was very welcome. Jayn Maiven has continued the bleak, windswept folky doom of before, but the new material is perhaps even more expansive than before – then, I guess, it’s not as if we’ve not had enough awfulness in the world to write about in recent years. Lowly Weep is a long piece, that takes time to build up the necessary, fog-laden atmosphere, before the guitars crash in like thunder across the moors.
Curse Mackey has been around for a while, contributing to both Pigface and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult in recent years, as well as his own solo work. I perhaps have slept a bit on his solo work, and I have definitely been missing out. Single Lacerations from the recent album is the pick of the bunch – a hulking groove dominates the track, and the multi-tracked vocals at point add extra heft to a track that seems destined for more open-minded industrial dancefloors.
/Impossible (feat. Alison Goldfrapp)
Röyksopp had apparently sworn off releasing albums, and despite their press releases, Profound Mysteries looked and sounded an awful lot like one. The best moment from it brought the vocals of Alison Goldfrapp along for the ride – long an expert collaborator with other artists, thanks to her extraordinary vocal range, and she uses that range to full effect here as she weaves up to almost impossible, operatic high notes, and as a result helps drive forward what is otherwise Röyksopp doing what they’ve always done brilliantly – propulsive, groovy electronic music that somehow sounds like no-one else, despite using a similar electronic palette to many of their peers.
/The Cassandra Complex
/Hotline To Elvis
The first new CX album in some time didn’t perhaps spark my enthusiasm as much as I’d hoped it might. But it did still have some great moments, and the best of them for me was the excellent opener Hotline to Elvis, where Rodney Orpheus pokes fun at the enduring cult of The King, but also pays an apparently sincere tribute in his vocal delivery. It roars into life, though, with that excellent, memorable telephone number that was used to plug books about him being still alive in the eighties. Which really existed in advert form, too.
/Vibes In The Place
/Westgate Under Fire
The first new material from Dub War in twenty-five years was a bit of a surprise this year, even if, for the most part, it didn’t perhaps live up to what I remembered from the nineties (Benji’s perhaps more accessible work in Skindred since has filled that niche). One track that really was fantastic, though, was the bouncing, metal-ragga fun of Vibes In The Place, which is anthemic, moshpit/metal dancefloor-friendly and yet another example of how Benji Webbe gets everyone onside with just one simple chorus.
I’d be lying if I said I had a problem with bands harking back to the past – after all, these days I run a regular livestream that dips into 90s Alternative – and this Toronto band are a really interesting example of it. Members of the band were once in the unusual Acid Test (who took in both baggy and grunge, which can’t have been far off unique), but as part of this new band, it’s full-on 90s alt-rock – and it’s absolutely great. Big hooks, guitars that fuzz and chug, and a general feeling that this could have come out in 1992 (especially that stumbling breakdown). As I said, that works for me!
I had wondered what had happened to Jeff Danos of Testube – when Backwater was released in the spring, it turned out that he and his wife had spent much of the past decade living “off-grid” in the Ozarks, which needless to say isn’t great for creating electronic music. He’s clearly been beavering away, though, as the album that this came from was a sprawling, lengthy release. The title track crashes Testube back to your attention nicely, though, a surgically precise electro-industrial track that has IDM and experimental influences all over the place (something of a trademark of what Danos has long done), but never lets the experimentation take over what is an impressively hard-hitting track.
Loop returned this year with their first new album in thirty-one years, after having reformed a while back with a new line-up (centred, as ever, around Robert Hampson) – I saw one of those earlier reformation shows, and have frankly never feared for my hearing at a gig like I did that night. The excellent single Halo relies on the classic Loop tropes – a steady rhythm and a mass of guitars that squall and swirl at considerable volume. Their legacy is neatly intact.
Shannon Hemmett’s solo project has quickly – and rightly – gained it’s own identity away from ACTORS this year, and part of that was thanks to quite brilliant songs like Runaway. The neon-drenched eighties-synthpop sound is still the core of what Hemmett is going for here, but her quiet confidence with songwriting and epic hooks elevates the song way beyond any accusation that it’s a pastiche of what has come before. Having also delivered live this year, the future for LEATHERS looks very shiny indeed.
/No One Asked You
/This Is My Battle Cry
It’s so long ago now that it’s easy to forget that Jennifer Parkin was once in Epsilon Minus. Going solo very much suited her, though, and her Ayria project has brought us a good number of dancefloor bangers amid her more thoughtful, slower songs over the years, and No One Asked You is the best of the latest batch from This Is My Battle Cry. A bouncy, synthpop track that refuses to pull punches, it appears to be something of an internal monologue as Parkin deals with the dissenting, negative voice in her head, and tells it in no uncertain terms to fuck off.
Dread Risks, have for a while now, trod a fine line between their goth and aggrotech influences, and on their latest release, the thumping Machine Identity saw them rush full-force into aggrotech without sounding like petulant, women-hating dicks, instead – amid the futuristic, aggressive industrial sounds on show – looking anew at the age-old industrial trope of man-into-machine, with perhaps a hint of virtual reality to aid the loss of someone, and a general sense of loss and disempowerment. The really striking bit, is the surprisingly lovely melodic breakdown that closes out the song, an entirely unexpected moment that genuinely transforms a good song into a great one.
/The Foreign Resort
The quite marvellous Danish post-punk band The Foreign Resort made their first post-COVID return this year, with a first new single from an album apparently coming in 2023. Like their previous work, this leans into the gloomier, Cure-influenced end of post-punk, not that it is a bad thing – it is a corner of the genre not always touched upon these days. Mikkel Borbjerg Jakobsen’s plaintive vocals mesh well with the dense guitars and synths that pierce the gloom, while the rhythm section add a metronomic power. More in 2023, please!
German electro-industrial band RROYCE made a lot of friends at Infest when they played, and their releases continue to impress. The scorching single from their latest album, though, was perhaps a little more aggressive and upfront than most of their other songs, and you know what? It was all the better for it. Casi Kriegler’s vocals have that bit more of an edge (helped by a monster of a chorus), and the momentum of this dancefloor stomper is like a runaway truck. Add in a hilarious, puppet-involving video, and this is an outstanding example of club-bound industrial in 2022.
/What They Call Us
Karin Dreijer’s work as Fever Ray has very much taken it’s own identity away from their work in the now-disbanded The Knife, but followed a similar trajectory, switching between pitch-darkness and euphoric light. The first single from the upcoming third Fever Ray album has a jagged, defiant edge as Dreijer drenches their voice in their trademark pitch-shifting, appearing to explore gender identity and how they present themselves – and crucially, how they are seen by others. The song has an unsettling drum pattern that feels deliberately muzzled in the mix, and the uneasiness of the song is only made more overt by the nightmarish office party that takes place within the video. Fever Ray often feels like a wise voice amid the carnage of life at the moment, and I can’t wait to hear what else is in store.
/Bob Vylan Presents The Price Of Life
Easily the standout track of their (very good) album this year, rising punk/grime (grunk? Pime? Think I prefer grunk) duo Bob Vylan’s single GDP is a devastating reality check. As they note, in a capitalist society where cash is king, why does anyone act surprised when those that don’t have it move to less legal means to obtain it? But also, the chorus hook is important, as economists talking about calculated measures like GDP really do mean fuck all to most – the GDP can be as high as you like if you’ve got nothing to live on. As we’re finding out, and fast, a Government totally out of touch is impossible to relate to, and Bob Vylan explain this in simple, brutally effective terms.
/The Way of All Flesh
/Shotguns & Razorwire
It has been a very long time since TWOAF last released new music – seventeen years, in fact, since album Esprit d’Escalier – and in the meantime, they’d lost one singer called Dave, and gained a new singer called Dave, and only in the past few years had they begun gigging again. This track led off that new EP this year, and aside from the near-industrial electronics bubble away underneath, this is excellent, powerful Gothic Rock. New Dave has a soaring, rich voice that is used to great effect as the track peaks, while the dual guitars and bass provide a sharp, savage roar to the track. I would hope we won’t be waiting another seventeen years for the next release.
/Eva Under Fire
/Love, Drugs & Misery
I’ve not been able to get this song out of my head for weeks – thanks to regular appearances on Rockfit sessions – so into the list this goes. It’s plainly and simply catchy alt-rock, with tinges of electronics offering something of a power-up, but all of the full-on instrumental part of this song is simply there to showcase vocalist Eva Marie as an emerging star. She tears through the vocals like a woman possessed, and that chorus is a monster of an earworm. Ready, aim, fire!
/Dirty Rat (feat. Sleaford Mods)
I have never been a particular fan of Sleaford Mods, but here, Jason Williamson joins forces with Orbital for a vicious political tirade, which Orbital match brilliantly with a brooding bassline and aggressive rhythms. In a year of political chaos in the UK – with three Prime Ministers in a matter of months, and a Tory party more bothered about settling scores rather than actually governing and doing anything to better the lives of the people they were supposedly voted in by – Williamson’s line “You voted for em, look at ya!” resonates oh so clearly. Perhaps, finally, we’re nearing a point where change might actually come, and this track is a brilliant soundtrack to that hope.
/The Burying Kind
A very different release from the polyglot Dan Milligan (mostly known by me for The Joy Thieves, but he appears to be involved in a ton of other projects too!) and Scott-David Allen: which leans into yearning, elegant dream-pop. Allen’s voice has the kind of raspy, melancholic quality that takes me back to a number of bands I loved in the nineties, and on Coming Through, there is a cool melodicism that suits the dreamy, floating-on-air instrumentation that immediately marked it as a stand-out track.
After a few years of concentrating on Deftones, lockdown and the aftermath appears to have inspired Chino Moreno to return to his ††† [Crosses] project, with longtime friends Shaun Lopez (Far, guitarist), and bassist Chuck Doom. If you’re familiar with what’s come before under this name, you won’t be especially surprised with the sound, but somehow they keep making it interesting. Ghostly synths intertwine with programmed drums and treated fuzzy guitars for a song that occasionally erupts like a volcano, but as is often the way, it’s Chino’s voice that’s the star of the show. Metaphors that appear to suggest swimming, drowning and sex all at the same time occupy Chino’s vocals, and the chorus is an anthemic wonder. Side-projects are so often little more than a curio, here it genuinely appears to exist to provide an outlet for songs that are truly great, but would never work under the parent band’s title.
/The Place To Be
LA rap-metal veterans downset. returned with their first new album in nearly a decade this year, and sadly it appears it didn’t do too well. Which is a shame, as the lead single in particular was a belter, a visibly older Rey Oropeza fronting and delivering the music he loves – socially aware rap-metal that isn’t interesting in perpetuating gang-culture, but instead agitating for change. The steady groove is assisted by metallic-hardcore guitars, and Oropeza’s distinctive vocal delivery – and even a nod back to the band’s breakthrough single Anger!. The first band I ever reviewed (and I had that review published) aged just eighteen, in 1996, will always have a place in my heart, and it’s even cooler to still be able to include them here.
/the burning of us all
/for you who are the wronged
Kathryn Joseph’s bewitching compositions continue to fascinate, and like before, her delicate and sparse compositions perversely make it feel like she is singing directly to you – or more to the point those that have experienced what she is singing about. This song is deceptively beautiful, but once you pay attention to the lyrics the shadows come. Just a keyboard accompanies Joseph’s extraordinary voice here, as she hints at terrible abuse in the past and the raging fire of injustice that she clearly wants to right, somehow.
A quite lovely surprise this autumn was the news that Nick Holmes and Greg Mackintosh of Paradise Lost had completed an album of electronic rock, broadly in the vein of the much-discussed PL album Host. The album isn’t out until early 2023, but the lead single well deserves a place here. Perhaps even more electronic than most of that album – the beats are clearly programmed, and the guitars very much take a back seat, but with Holmes reverting to his rich singing voice, there’s an exceptional, melancholic feel to this song that makes the wait until the late February release of IX feel an eternity away.
/Black Rider (Ft. Chris Vogler)
/Black Rider EP
This artist calls their style “TechnoMetal” – as my friend Eric Gottesman who put me onto this suggested, they are also likely familiar with the work of Cubanate. Basically thundering industrial techno with guitars (sampled or played, I’ve no idea), the entire EP absolutely slaps, but reaches an impressive peak on the closing title track, as the searing force of the beats are accompanied by guitar work that might have come direct from the hand of Dino Cazares and Fear Factory. What can’t there be clubs playing this kind of thing all night? I might not go clubbing much anymore, but I’d be sure as hell making exceptions for a club like that.
/Then Comes Silence
/Rise To The Bait
Then Comes Silence were part of my lockdown listening, thanks to their excellent album Machine, and this year they did it all over again. They have an impressive knack with propulsive, gothic rock that sounds current as well as nodding to their influences, but their strongest card to play is their habit of writing gigantic choruses that are full of hooks, and this song, the opener to album Hunger, is yet another such weapon in their arsenal. Like so many of their songs, too, the best moment is when Alex Svenson-Metés charges and changes up into the chorus, as he pushes his voice to the limits. One of the most thrilling goth bands around right now? Damned straight.
/Progress (or the lack thereof)
/The Day Before Yesterday
These Leeds post-punks are veterans of the scene, even if KLAMMER is a newer project, and their knowledge and immersion in the style over the years is obvious from the quality of their songs. The jagged edges of the lead single from the album, though, are a cut above everything else the band has done so far. Chiming guitars add colour over a thunderous low end, while Poss’s vocals sneer at – presumably political – promises of advancement and better days to come. So far so gloomy, you think, but then it kicks up a gear into a soaring chorus that takes the frustration of the rest of the song and adds bitter, Yorkshire sarcasm. Ironically enough, this absolutely is progress from KLAMMER, a sign perhaps of even better to come from them.
After something of a period of silence following their second album and lockdown, this northern synthpop duo returned with the first new signs of life around Hallowe’en (and another single was released just this past weekend, too). Spellbound continues their investigations into monochrome, dark synthpop, and appears to suggest something of a horror theme to their upcoming EP. A stately, brooding song that has the drama and gravitas that this band are so adept at, but like always, never forget a great chorus at the heart of it. Can this band do no wrong?
/As The Moon Rests
A.A. Williams seems to be one artist where lockdown did her work the world of good. Forever Blue was a good album, but her various covers during lockdown – and the vastly increased profile it seemed to provide – seems to have have given Williams confidence to take her songs further, and Evaporate is proof of that. More expansive, bolder and a more immediate song, it rolls and bursts into live like a roiling sea, and is the perfect showcase for a fascinating artist who seems to be getting better and better with every release.
Skunk Anansie released the first of two standalone singles in 2022 at the beginning of the year, that pulled no punches, not to mention reminding exactly where the band stand. A rampaging, metal attack that sees Skin pretty much sing themselves raw as they tear into the politics of greed of our current age, it initially seems the opening metal fury might subside in the verses, but wait until the breakdown, as the band ratchet up the brutality to jaw-dropping extremes. Quite a number of years ago, Skin reminded us that “Yes It’s Fucking Political”. It’s great to hear that the band have stuck to their guns in every possible way.
/I LIKE TRAINS
When this track was released in mid-September, as a comment on the end of the Boris Johnson era as Prime Minister – one of corruption, favours and a complete inability to do the right thing – even this most cynical of bands could not have possibly predicted the disastrous reign to follow. Either way, this apparently standalone track – something of a bookend to the exceptional, searing rage of KOMPROMAT – is a track of precise, direct post-punk that lives under a cloud of anger, as David Martin repeats specific phrases, in the same way that Johnson would roll out the same, tired attack lines, even when it became obvious that he didn’t believe the bullshit he was spouting. I LIKE TRAINS began as remarkable chroniclers of the past, in more recent times they’ve moved to chronicling the present, with spectacular results.
Just Mustard unleashed their second album this year, and the first single from it was this glowering beast of a track. Everything about Still seems to threaten: the ominous, heavy bassline, the treated guitars that sound like warning sirens, the drums a march to war. Then there are Katie Ball’s deceptively sweet vocals, which when you read the lyrics are a combination of love and hate. Which pretty much sums up the band nicely.
/State of Slow Decay
In Flames, back around twenty years ago (!), were at the vanguard of the Gothenburg scene, a collective of bands who were all making what became termed melodic death metal. As is often the way, most of the bands diverged over time, evolving their sound in different ways, but it’s probably fair to say that of all of the bands, In Flames went in a way that many older fans just didn’t click with. So colour me surprised this summer when In Flames released this absolutely marvellous song, which sounded like it had come straight from 2002. A breakneck tempo and intricate riffage keeps the headbangers happy, but then it drops away into a glorious, singalong chorus, and Anders Fridén sounds like he’s loving doing it all over again. Sure, it’s a nod to the past, but who cares when it’s this fucking good?
As I said at the time when I first wrote about this on /Tuesday Ten /476, this utterly fabulous song has something of Mazzy Star about it – languid rhythms, chiming guitars and gorgeous melodies, but Dickinson has a distinctive voice that sets her work apart and gives it its own identity. At points her voice becomes tremulous, as if she’s shaking out all of the frustration that she can, and then in the chorus, she multitracks her voice to devastating effect. This song became a regular on my /TheKindaMzkYouLike livestreams this year, because I can’t get enough of it.
/Nothing You Do Matters
There has been major change with Ganser recently, as Nadia Garofalo announced she was leaving the band, which at least for now means they become a trio of Alicia, Brian and Charlie. Thus it appears that People Watching, the lead track from a recent short EP produced by Angus Andrew of LIARS, will be the last track featuring her distinctive drawl, where Nadia always sounds rather disappointed with everyone listening (and it’s part of the charm of her delivery). This song has the tense, nervous tightness that has characterised recent Ganser material, and there is a feel of even more detachment than before as the world has begun to reconnect. I am fascinated to see where Ganser go next in a new era.
/Decimation (Dis Nation)
The striking new album from dälek was led by this extraordinary, furious track. Apparently the album was rethought during COVID, as they rearranged and rewrote to make it hit harder, and it certainly does that. Decimation (Dis Nation) sees MC dälek on bristling form, as he excoriates White America’s treatment of Black America, through obsession with origin, mysticism over knowledge, the enormous prison population of young black men, censorship and religion; as he notes, “All you had to DO was listen“, but no-one is, still. Musically this is a thrill, too: woozy layered synths swirl around loping beats and samples like the smoke of a protest march.
Lockdown clearly provided one benefit to Rammstein – they were able to get back into the studio, and released a second album within three years that turned out to be very good indeed. Pick of the album, though, was this stomping monster of a track (as one review elsewhere noted, too, by this point you can tell where the cues for fire and explosions are in their songs, but that’s no problem), which tears into the boomer fear of the unknown and of change (and the German colloquialism for the bogeyman). A muscular, industrial-metal spine to the track provides a base for Till Lindemann to push his voice to the absolute limits, while another spectacular, satirical video helps give context to non-German speakers. How do they do it?
The sublime, downbeat highlight of the latest Principe Valiente album was this glorious song, that leans deep into the gloomiest goth of old, bringing to mind both Disintegration-era The Cure, but also the mighty Lycia at their darkest. It feels like a song of the sweetest despair, and of resignation and failure, but is so swooningly lush that I can’t help but give in to it’s beauty every single time.
/Sound The Alarm
/This Is Glitch Mode
Just the one new song from Cyanotic this year, but Sound the Alarm (from the This Is Glitch Mode comp released just in time for Cold Waves X) was an excellent addition to the Cyanotic canon. A mid-paced stomper that is all stabbing synth hooks and gut-punching drums at the base of the usual, dense and complex mix, it was the closing song at their Cold Waves set and an instant highlight. Nowadays veterans of the youthful rebirth of US industrial this century, Sean Payne and his cohorts continue to blaze a red-hot trail.
/Where We Sleep
Sadly life got in the way of being able to see either of Beth Rettig’s first live shows as Where We Sleep (I’ll resolve that in 2023), but I was able to enjoy the latest new songs, following the excellent album in 2021. Broken Bones – which came accompanied with a remarkable, clever video that turned Rettig into an army of Greek goddesses – continues her exploration of thoughtful, shoegaze-influenced rock. Anchored by precise synths and a brooding bassline, Rettig’s vocals are the star of the show here as restraint is everything until the last minute.
/I Don’t Think I Turned Out Right
/Sleeping Through Summer
A highlight of his live sets since well before lockdown, frankly, and on record, it confirms a position as the best track dexy has yet written. A classic alt-rock setpiece, really, with a dose of self-loathing, gigantic hooks, a bluesy edge to the catchy rock sound – not to mention a fun video recorded at a North London venue that has become an indie-scene staple. dexy certainly knows his influences well, but he’s also proving here – and on other songs too – that he’s got more than enough of his own ideas to succeed.
It has, I must admit, been some time since I last listened to Editors, but the formal addition of Benjamin John Power (Blanck Mass, Fuck Buttons) to their line-up piqued my interest for this album. One thing it did result in was an exceptionally long album (over fifty minutes for nine songs is unusual these days), but it has also notably changed their sound. There is a much greater reliance on electronics than ever before, but also a rich depth to the songs and an energy that fizzed right through them – but one song towered over the rest. Closer Strange Intimacy is a techno/post-punk monster, dominated by an urgent beat and dramatic piano chords, not to mention a soaring, gigantic chorus, a hulking great breakdown and the general sense that this is the best Editors will ever sound.
Kalle Lindberg returned with his solo project this year, and that return was heralded by this slamming, 2:42 track. Industrial Action does *exactly* what it says on the tin, with pummelling body beats accompanied by marauding synth hooks and layer-upon-layer of synths that build to a monstrous, exhilarating climax. Lindberg has long used this project to unleash his dancefloor destroying aspirations (Cardinal Noire were always a little more unsettling and cerebral, perhaps), and as a statement of intent, this is quite something.
/Witch of the Vale
/Love of a Father
This remarkable Scottish duo have been making waves for a few years now, both thanks to their unique-sounding songs and also their spellbinding live shows, so good that – for once – crowds shut the fuck up when they play. They look set to continue doing so on the strength of this first song from their second album (release or name as yet unconfirmed), which takes in thrilling, thundering tribal rhythms and chants alongside Erin’s fragile, elegant vocals to produce yet another astonishing song. The most fascinating, interesting artist in the sphere of industrial music right now.
I can’t have been the only one beginning to wonder if we’d ever hear anything more from Zola Jesus. Lockdown and writer’s block seemed to paralyse her music creation for so long, and for the first time she recruited outside assistance in the form of Sunn O))) collaborator Randall Dunn – and the results confirm it was worth it. Opening track and lead single Lost makes great use of Nika Roza Danilova’s astonishing vocal range, as well as reverb and a sonic depth that genuinely makes it sound as if it was recorded in a deep cave. As well, it’s a song about what she – and the rest of us – have lost in recent years. COVID has robbed many of opportunity, it has robbed some of us of family and friends, and here, this is used as a marker for a new start, a light in the darkness. All of Danilova’s greatest music has come from that burning sense of hope and change, and she’s done it again.
/Where Were You, Pt.1 & 2
/Where Were You / Soul EP
The latest single from Alex Reed’s project Seeming was, once again, an extraordinary work of dizzying depth. A song in two parts, and is described by Reed as:
a song about the way now becomes then, the people we lose in the process, and the compromises made
The song uses, in part, a rhythm pattern sampled by found-object industrialists Savage Aural Hotbed, while Reed constructs a narrative that begins with the problematic politics of the Futurists – who advocated technology, speed and violence to cleanse the past and begin anew, but within years of their manifesto, as Reed notes, they’d either become co-opted by the fascists or killed in the First World War.
But, as we prepare to leave the wreckage of 2022 behind, where are we now, Reed asks. The message to me appears to be one of compromise, and the unsaid notion that perfect is the enemy of good. We want to be better, we want our leaders to be better, we want our future to be better (and safer, and sustainable). But what will have to compromise on to achieve our aims, as we won’t be able to do everything?
A quite remarkable song that has had me thinking ever since I first heard it, and I’m still considering some of the questions now. Alex Reed remains an intriguing artist, one of the few in our wider “scene” to be writing fantastic, enthralling songs that also happen to have unrivalled depth and meaning.
Teased by a series of outstanding singles over the past year, Two turned out to have an embarrassment of riches from start to finish, and opened with the extraordinary Token. Like so many Dubstar songs, it appears to be about the unequal power and darker side of relationships, and Sarah Blackwood delivers an impassioned, fiery vocal performance that feels like a fightback against everything she’s endured, and the kiss-off sees her taking hold of her own future, without the interference of another. Musically the song is punchy, rolling synthpop that has bite and suits Sarah’s vocal so perfectly, and you know what? Synthpop in 2022 doesn’t get any better than this exquisite song.
Dutch band De Staat – who’ve gone viral in recent years with some spectacular videos (attached to great songs, it must be said) – have gone down a different route this year, rather than release another album. Instead, they are releasing songs under three colour “brands” (in short, red for rock, yellow for funk, and blue for introspection), and the results have been startling. Pick of the songs has been the first “yellow” song, Numbers Up. A thumping, anthemic funk workout – all taut snares, humming slap bass and an ass-shaking rhythm (not to mention a fabulous, catchy chorus) – it reminds that De Staat long since left the idea of being a regular rock band far behind, and they are all the better for it. Also worth seeing is the video, where there is a distinct seventies (and yellow/sepia) feel to it…
/Someday I Will Bask In The Sun
I have a specific rule when it comes to these end of year lists – no more than one song per artist. SRSQ very nearly had me break it this year, but frankly that would have meant two of her songs sharing number one. Thus, by a whisker, Used To Love misses out to this. The closing track on the album unexpectedly uses a drum ‘n’ bass rhythm to race ahead, and sounding like nothing else she has ever done. But, too, it sounds more content than ever, as if she has set her goals and will achieve them – stepping out of the darkness into the blinding light, a spectacular victory lap that SRSQ has undoubtedly earned. It feels like a metaphor, too, for what hasn’t been a great year. We can, we should, we will make things better for ourselves and others. Kennedy Ashlyn is just cheering us along as we do.