I’m not listening to music as intensely as some previous years, and I’m not really interested in writing long essays about albums much anymore, but I still thought I’d drop in and share some favorites from 2022 so far. I’ve somewhat arbitrarily chopped it into different segments of my taste pie chart so I’m not randomly dropping a ton of different artists at once, which would maybe be overwhelming for anyone who is still checking this out for some reason. Let’s start in one of my main wheelhouses: the general noisy/dreamy/psychedelic umbrella.
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Emotional Eternal
This is Melody Prochet’s third album, following the standard dream pop of her 2012 self-titled debut and 2018’s delightfully bonkers Bon Voyage, which I felt was one of the best psychedelic albums of the last decade. Emotional Eternal nestles somewhere in between these two extremes; it’s more coherent like the debut while maintaining some of the whimsical charm and experimentation of Bon Voyage. She couldn’t really out-crazy that album, so I like this landing point for Emotional Eternal and its mix of heart, quirks, and prettiness.
Mo Dotti – Guided Imagery
This L.A. band got on my radar with 2020’s Blurring EP; Guided Imagery is a solid step forward that sees them focusing more on the poppier side of shoegaze. “Loser Smile” is a stand-out jam single with the crunchy guitars and heavenly harmonies, and their cover of the Stephin Merritt/Mary Timony song “All Dressed Up in Dreams” is a jangly gem that adds some polish and more dreaminess to the source material.
Widowspeak – The Jacket
Widowspeak has been a staple of the blog, and I’ve gone on laboriously about how I think they’re great and it feels like other outlets just shrug at their albums now or ignore them entirely. The Jacket is pretty much what I expect from them now: it’s thoughtful, sounds great, and is comforting and familiar without feeling like the band is just running in place. This kind of subtle evolution/refinement doesn’t seem to play well when it comes to hyping up a band, but I feel like a lot of people would love this album if they gave it a shot.
Dummy – Mono Retriever
If you are at all pre-disposed to the kind of music in this post, Dummy’s first full-length Mandatory Enjoyment was either one of your favorite albums of the year or you didn’t hear about it. I cannot fathom any fan of Stereolab, My Bloody Valentine, and all the usual suspects not being in love with this band. Over this little two-song single, the band shows their whole range of influences and their ability to filter them into a style that is familiar while still being original. “Mono Retriever” is the more upbeat krautrock pop piece and “Pepsi Vacuum” shows their meditative, dreamy side before closing out with some beautiful noise blasts.
Papercuts – Past Life Regression
This is the first album I’ve heard from Jason Quever, who has been around for quite a few years now. Even without reading a Bandcamp bio, it’s evident from the refined, confident style of Past Life Regression. This is super smooth, sharply written jangle pop that is reminiscent of 60s bands like The Byrds while incorporating bits from 90s and current shoegaze groups. Pretty much every flavor of jangly/dreamy/noisy pop is present across this album, and it’s all executed to near perfection.
Healees – Healees
This international group based in France is working in about the same space as Papercuts, with the loud jangly guitars along with solid songwriting. The lead track, “Any Day,” is a shimmering slice of guitar pop, and the rest of this 25-minute release mostly follows its lead, focusing on melancholy hooks and soaring harmonies.