Bonus Notes: January 2022
2022 sprinted out the gate.
2022 sprinted out the gate musically.
In the first week, we received an instant classic from The Weeknd in Dawn FM—an album that already feels as worn-in as your favorite pair of Nikes, yet we’ve only had it for 26 days. Part of this feeling is surely the nods he gives to Michael Jackson’s collaborations with Quincy Jones in the early ‘80s with dancing, disco-inspired basslines and euphoric synth explorations courtesy of Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never). Dawn FM asks the question, “What does purgatory sound like for a man who has made the unlikely ascent from shadowy, sexual R&B mixtapes to the biggest stage in American music?” With unforgettable songs like “Out of Time,” “Take My Breath,” and “Gasoline,” Abel Tesfaye gives us his answer. He’s balancing the weight of the present darkness and the hope of the light ahead. He’s dozing off to R.E.M. and trying not to lose his faith.
Meanwhile, Tony and Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell returned with her first solo record in a decade, and it’s simply gorgeous (also worth noting her collaborations with Big Red Machine and Bonny Light Horseman from 2020-2021 are excellent). The album’s closing track, “Watershed,” is simply one of the greatest lyrics I’ve heard in a while, and I can’t stop thinking of the line: “The heaven you seek is not separate / From the heart that speaks when your cheeks are wet.”
In their own ways, Buffalo rapper Che Noir and indie rockers Pedro the Lion reflect on this same idea with their new albums (Food For Thought and Havasu, respectively). The former does so by embodying a Jay-Z-like hustle mentality while sharing tales of struggle and strife mixed with thanksgiving and praise. The latter continues frontman David Bazan’s journey of self-discovery and reflection on childhood, mining adolescent memories for the promise of heaven while “Making the Most of It” when it seems far away.
Other wonderful efforts from the effortlessly-good Earl Sweatshirt, Britpop-leaning Loiners Yard Act, pastoral songwriter Jake Xerxes Fussell, and more rounded out this wonderful month of music for me. I could keep writing about it all, but I’d rather just have you listen. So check the playlists below and the favorite albums list under that!
Freshly Minted is the ongoing playlist I’ll be keeping of all my favorite music to come out in 2022 (beginning in Dec 2021), updated weekly(ish). So follow along if you want weekly updates!
Here is the monthly playlist with all the new music I’ve added in the previous month to Freshly Minted, sequenced loosely from HYPE to chill. So feel free to listen in order, or skip around to find your vibe.
Favorite Albums of January
AURORA - The Gods We Can Touch
Cordae - From A Birds Eye View
DJ Python - Club Sentimientos, Vol. 2
Hikaru Utada - BAD MODE
foxtails - fawn
Every February on Twitter, Gary Suarez (@imgarysuarez) hosts MWE, and for the last few years I’ve participated as best as I can. I love this endeavor and I discover something new that I love every year. Last year, it was the ‘60s jazz of John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and Miles Davis amongst other things. In 2020, I moved through Nipsey Hussle’s mixtapes, UK rap essentials, and other greats I’d missed like Gil-Scott Heron’s Pieces of a Man and Joanna Newsom’s Have One On Me.
This year, it’s all about K-pop and J-pop. Check out my list below, and feel free to follow along and join in on Twitter!