The Joy of Year-End Lists
glamglare newsletter #26: What is your album of the year?
What is your favorite album of the year? Or – in case you no longer listen to albums - what’s your favorite song? While you are at it, why not come up with your favorite top ten or top twenty?
Every year, the holiday season starts with lists of the “best” music of the year. "Best” is put in quotes because the lists are, of course, highly subjective. Take record store chain Rough Trade’s “Albums of the Year,” for example. The Smile at number one? That is a totally safe bet – you can’t go wrong with Thom Yorke, can you? And no Warpaint in the top hundred? That is a huge oversight in our book. At least Rough Trade has an independent angle with their list. Other lists will tell you that the commercially most successful artists, like Harry Styles or Taylor Swift, have coincidentally also released the best albums. This brings us back to the definition and true meaning of “best.”
Complaining and lamenting is part of the joy of digging into year-end lists, so Elke and I are working on our own list to publish for your critical examination. It will be the first time that we will have a collective list of our 20 favorite albums of the year. We will not rank them, though, because that would require too much consensus, and we don’t want to spoil our holidays with extended haggling. In the end, given the many album releases, it also doesn’t matter whether an album is our number 1 or 20.
In early December, watch out for the glamglare 20 favorite albums of 2022. If you want to take a guess, you will most certainly find them among those 2022 releases here.
Song Pick Of The Day
Natalia Salter – Million and One
English-Peruvian singer/songwriter and poet Natalia Salter divides her time between London, UK, and Valencia, Spain, and creates beautiful music in between. Her new single “Million and One” delights with an irresistibly catchy melody and lyrics that are as much a call to self-love as they are a powerful mantra. This is the perfect piece for everyone who’s looking for a gorgeous song and meaningful lyrics. Natalia says about “Million and One:”
This song is about how I’ve come to accept and embrace my mistakes and decided to choose to love myself in spite of them. Million And One is a song for the sensitive souls, who are not afraid to be vulnerable. It’s for the people who live in the grey and understand that people and this world are not black and white.
“Million and One” is one of the songs on Natalia Salter’s upcoming 7-track EP, due out early next year, and we can’t wait to hear the entire record. For now, enjoy “Million and One,” our Song Pick of the Day:
Girl As Wave – Fast Forward
The new Girl As Wave track “Fast Forward” comes with a nod to gritty 80s, Emulator II-heavy synth-pop, and what is not to love about that. Behind Girl As Wave is singer Marci Elizabeth who has been collaborating with acclaimed producer Jimmy Deer for several years.
She says about the song:
“The song is about knowing a relationship is nearing the end and recognizing the futility in trying to save it. Recognizing that sometimes those attempts to delay the inevitable can be even more heartbreaking than the end itself.”
Listen to “Fast Forward,” our Song Pick of the Day, below:
Cherry Angel – Caffeinated
Los Angeles-based artist Cherry Angel delights with the utterly charming debut single “Caffeinated.” The song is much brighter and sparkling than the beloved dark liquid, yet the instant gratification, the little kick, is just the same. Behind the moniker Cherry Angel is songwriter and singer Alycia Lancey, an “emotional 90s kid with a brain that never stops firing,” and with this being the first taste of the young artist, we’re curious what else she’ll be whipping up. “Caffeinated” is an enchanting bedroom pop song, complete with alluringly soft vocals and rounded out with a vibrant video – up for a winsome start!
Listen to “Caffeinated,” our Song Pick of the Day, and check out the video, directed by Jade Sadler, too:
Eden Rain – Oh God
“Oh god, maybe I should take more drugs” – that line certainly catches your attention in Eden Rain‘s new song. It is an example of the crazy thoughts that sometimes go through one’s mind. But put over a driving beat into an upbeat pop song, it all is put into perspective. Yes, sometimes everything is too much, but in the end, we’ll deal with it.
Eden Rain says:
“At the very best of times, the thoughts in my brain are random, chaotic and spontaneous. I am, by my own definition, pretty unhinged . Therefore when I found a doodle in my notebook during my session with [producer] Josef that said ‘Oh god maybe i should take more drugs’. I thought.. maybe i should write a song about that. The song is sort of about navigating life and relationships as a chronic overthinker/ anxious girly who is easily overwhelmed. I think the lyrics kind of reflect the darting random thoughts that I have a lot”
Listen to “Oh God,” our Song Pick of the Day, on your favorite streaming service or watch the video below:
Morgan Harper-Jones – Swimming Upstream
British singer/songwriter Morgan Harper-Jones takes my heart by storm with her new, utterly gorgeous single “Swimming Upstream.” I still have the quietly beautiful “Lie to Me” in my ears, the song that introduced me to her music. (The ‘lying’ is of course, not meant literally because only a few things are worse than a dishonest person!) Lyrically, “Swimming Upstream” is mostly fictional, and the idea came to Morgan when she was homebound due to an injury that took about 10 months to heal. As most of us experienced throughout the pandemic, being stuck inside sucks, even more so when you’re young and full of potential dates and places to go. But as an artist, Morgan knew exactly what to do with that experience when she met someone with a life-altering injury. This led Morgan to explore the life paths of people with life-impacting sufferings and how they were ultimately grateful for it. Morgan explains:
I’m not saying that bad things happen for a reason, I don’t think that’s very empathetic or even true. For me the frustration of what I was missing was hurting me more than the injury itself and opening up the idea that this could give me opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise made things calmer and smoother for me. It’s probably the first time I started to actively look for and appreciate what is, rather than obsessing over and struggling against what isn’t.
Recorded in Brighton, “Swimming Upstream” is one of the brilliant outcomes of ongoing sessions with producer Iain Archer (James Bay, Snow Patrol, Lisa Hannigan) and serves as a taste of what’s to come from Morgan in 2023. Exciting!
Listen to “Swimming Upstream,” our Song Pick of the Day:
Tanukichan – Don’t Give Up
After Black Belt Eagle Scout a month ago, Oakland, CA musician Hannah van Loon aka Tanukichan has another shoegaze-y life encouragement for you. “Don’t Give Up” is a hard-hitting 1:51 song about pulling yourself out of a mental swamp in a tough but effective way. Hannah recalls:
This song is about feeling I haven’t done anything with my life, but also knowing that I’ve accomplished a lot and it’s only getting better. I started writing the lyrics when I was on tour opening for the Drums after my first album came out. We were playing sold out shows in front of hundreds of people, but I knew it could change in an instant. I felt like I hit rock bottom emotionally, I wasn’t ready for the road and it killed me. I felt so disconnected from the band even though they were my backbone and were making it happen. The only thing that really helps me at that point is feeling like I can just let everything go, and we all die. Just accepting the fact that I can’t control anything and that in the end it doesn’t matter. We will all disappear.
I wrote the chorus years later when I was finishing a bunch of the songs. I didn’t want it to be depressing, even though that’s where it came from. It came from giving up but I wanted to keep going. I wanted it to mean something moving on from the negative and I came up with a ridiculously positive chorus. Don’t give up now you know there’s another day, just know you’re going to get to a better place, a better place meaning a better place in life, or “heaven,” just nothingness where all your worries are gone.
“Don’t Give Up” is on Tanukichan’s upcoming album “Gizmo,” out on March 3, 2023, via Company Records. Listen to our Song Pick of the Day below:
Badlands – I Want Blood
Badlands is the artist name of Swedish producer, composer, and sound designer Catharina Jaunviksna, who just released her third album, the magnificent Call to Love. The last track and single from the album, “I Want Blood,” is a masterpiece – period. I don’t use such a label lightheartedly, but the song’s flow and production are exceptionally exquisite. With its carefully orchestrated strings juxtaposed with drum machines and other electronics, “I Want Blood” feels like an impressionist painting, where hundreds of little color dots come together as an image. Call to Love is created, recorded, mixed, played, and produced by Catharina Jaunviksna herself, with the exception of the rich and atmospheric “Don’t Walk,” which features Felisia Westberg on cello, double bass, and backing vocals. Asked about “I Want Blood,” Catharina says:
This track sums up what the record is all about. Like, you have to kill yourself a little in order to get what you want. One can not keep her entire self and sanity, and at the same time win love over. It’s an exchange. Love in exchange for control; love in exchange for your life as you know it.
Listen to “I Want Blood,” our Song Pick of the Day, and then continue with all that Call to Love has to offer:
On Our Turntable
Theatre by Irish musician Anna Mieke and Call To Love by Swedish composer could not be more different: the former is based on the mastery of acoustic instruments while the latter strikes with electronic wizardry. But both weave intricate soundscapes that make you want to listen again and again. Elizabeth M Drummond, with her stellar debut EP Congratulations, lays somewhere in between, and every single one of the six songs could have been a Song Pick of the Day.