Another year comes to an end and so it falls upon us, as with all blogs, newspapers, magazines and random blokes down the pub, to let you know our favourite albums, singles, gigs, music videos, films, TV, books and art exhibitions of the past 12 months. We’ve always been somewhat averse to calling this a best of, because to be honest the whole concept of being ‘best’ at music or any artform seems contrary to the very essence of artistic expression, so instead please read on for a few of our favourite things of 2022, published at the start of 2022 just in case an absolute banger were to be released in late December.
There has been some truly astonishing music released this year, and with everything that’s been going on over the past twelve months, we’ve needed it to lift our spirits, channel our rage and give us space for a good cry. Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed your favourites.
With the Joyzine family expanding ever further, we’ve split this article into two parts for easier digestion – below you will hear the thoughts of the writing team, check back in a few days for our editors’ picks.
Album: Caleb Landry Jones – Gadzooks Volume 2
Following on from last year’s Volume 1 and completing a trio of highly accomplished and strange albums, starting with 2020’s Mother Stone album, they weave psychedelic patterns of intense shades populated with grotesque characters telling half remembered stories of nonsense and scary childhood nightmares, like Syd Barrett doing Mervyn Peake. Despite the latest album being slightly more “commercial” there is still no let up in the sick and twisted sounds that both soothe the mind and fuck it right up at one and the same time.
Single: Cardiacs – Vermin Mangle
Released for Christmas last year, a rare finished piece from the last, so far unreleased, album, and it shows a remarkable mind at work. It is almost unbearably beautiful and aw(e)ful. It’s a Tom Waits sea shanty fever dream, with oompah brass band stepping out of time over a patchwork quilt of crowded cobbled streets riddled with TB, overlaid with a strange ethereal aurora borealis dream.
Music Video: Caleb Landry Jones – Touchdown Yolk
I don’t really do videos so here’s one of Caleb Landry Jones from the new album, sounding not unlike a heavier version of Macca’s “Bip Bop” from the Wild Life album.
Gig: The Dears – Deaf Institute, Manchester
This tour was postponed so many times over the covid period that it seemed as if it would never happen, but finally they arrived on these shores and it was so worth it. The set included some of the best of their work, and some of the finest songs ever written in the post-millenium period, all delivered with such panache, while Murray Lightburn’s rich high baritone never wavered in intensity. My eyes watered
Film: Moonage Daydream
I don’t make too many visits to the cinema but boy I’m glad I went for this one. It was loud, breathtaking and extensive, and the clips used were edited so cleverly, like a rich tapestry. Joyous
Book: The Childermass by Wyndham Lewis
I don’t tend to read books until they’ve been out a while, mainly because I’m tight and prefer to get them from a charity shop once they’ve been “cast off”, so this year I found a copy of Wyndham Lewis’s The Childermass from 1928. I’ve always been fascinated by the man and his work, and this was such a strange read, concerning itself with an imagined purgatory, which he writes as a nightmare vision of England and the English. It was written as part of a trilogy (“The Human Age”), which he didn’t actually finish until the early 50’s. The first part has two characters that meet in the afterlife, who were once at public school together, wandering through a vaguely familiar but unsettling landscape before arriving at a large gathering presided over by The Bailiff, who spouts on at great length about the afterlife, to shouts and jeers from the crowd, mainly from the radical atheists. It is both Samuel Beckett and James Joyce, or should I say it influenced both.
TV: The Sandman (Netflix)
I haven’t read the Neil Gaiman comic book on which this show is based, although I have read some of his work, and loved American Gods, and of course Good Omens, so I was very much looking forward to seeing this. The central character of Morpheus does tend to be a little wooden (although I think he was going for moody) which can get a little tiresome, but he was surrounded by such a good cast of characters that it didn’t seem to matter. Jenna Coleman makes an appearance as Johanna Constantine, and Gwendoline Christie plays a very remarkable beautiful yet deadly Lucifer, but the all out star performer has to be the ever wonderful David Thewlis, who presides over possibly one of the most chilling and atmospheric scenes on TV, as the inhabitants of a typical American diner play out a microcosm of what would happen to society if they skipped the pretence of lying, with Thewlis’s character of Doctor Destiny silently granting their wishes and stepping back to observe their downfalls.
I only experienced High Vis live during the tail-end of summer 2021 – a friend had recommended them to me ages before knowing they’d totally be my thing and how right he was (thanks, Kiffy!). The follow-up to their 2019 debut, No Sense No Feeling, is a more lyrically mature and thoughtful record that draws on expansive musical influences without forgetting the gnarly edge that makes them stand up like a nail. Blending also saw them reaching a wider audience with mainstream press outlets sitting up and paying attention, such as The Guardian and Face magazine. They have a UK tour booked for February 2023 and a number of the dates have already sold out, so don’t hang around, go check ‘em out!
Conversely, Ghost Car are a band I’ve been going to see live for years, so I was really excited about them finally releasing their debut album, Truly Trash. This one’s been a long time coming and I was expecting that every track on the album would be familiar but there are a number of exciting new tracks thrown in too. So if you dig girl gang vocals, shredding guitars wrestling with haunted house keys, peppy bass rumblings, hopped up drums and theramin, then Ghost Car are the band you need in your life!
Single: Queen Kwong – Sad Man
A wonderfully minimalistic ode to “the fuckboys, the narcissists, the band dudes who think they’re all that”, explained Carré Callaway (aka Queen Kwong) on the single’s release. The opening line, “I’m too old for this shit”, could quite easily be the throwaway parting line when walking out the door for the last time on that shitty relationship or unfulfilling, dead-end job you hate. I can’t help but empathise as Carré wails, “I don’t wanna give a fuck about anything I give a fuck about right now”. A cathartic, scathing and ridiculously cool track and the video features Jackass’ Johnny Knoxville.
Music Video: Rosy Finch – Purgatorio
Rosy Finch are a fabulous riot grrrl-inspired, sludgy rock three-piece from Spain that a friend recommended during lockdown of 2020. They had just released their second album at the time, the glorious Scarlet on which each track is named after a shade of red. The band released their Seconda Morte EP in November which is inspired by Dante Alighieri’s poem, The Divine Comedy, with each song in turn representing Dante’s walk through hell, purgatory and paradise. ‘Purgatorio’ is the big video to promote the EP and it’s frankly amazing with epic cinematography and beautiful lighting. It’s the type of high quality clip that very few bands on an independent label, such as Lay Bare Recordings (in collaboration with Discos Macarras and LaRubia Producciones), have the vision and ka-ching to make in an age where music television doesn’t really exist. There are some shots of band founder/singer/guitarist, Mireia Porto, that evoke classic images of early-’90s Courtney Love while the song itself is sophisticated yet retains a menacingly raw feel. Fingers crossed Rosy Finch manage to tour the UK for the first time in 2023!
Gig: Symposium @ Islington Assembly Hall (18/11/2022)
I have fond memories of how lively and raucous Symposium were back in the late ’90s so was excited about this reunion show – but slightly apprehensive too. What if they just weren’t that good in the cold light of 2022 and tarnished my memories, or worse, they all hated each other and this was merely a money-grubbing exercise? Of course, I needn’t have worried as the five band members still possess tremendous onstage rapport with each other and their audience. Singer, Ross was as energetic as he’d been all those years ago and dived into the crowd during the opening song! Twenty years is a long time in rock ‘n’ roll but somehow Symposium appear to have found a way to hold back the hands of time. Great venue with pleasant staff too – an all round memorable night for all the right reasons. (Read Mandy’s review of the gig here)
Album: Nova Twins – Supernova
A revelation! Such an awesome original band.
Single: The Subways– Black Wax
Just an awesome track!
Music Video: Deux Furieuses – Know The Score
Perfect video for this song speaking against violence to women.
TV: The Sandman
An amazing adaption of Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel.
Album: Black Midi – Hellfire
When a songwriter uses recurring characters in an album there are usually literary aspirations beginning to grow out from the limited sonic space of the thirty to forty minute album. It’s frontman Georgide’s Greep’s protagonist Tristan Bongo – a disgraced soldier, having a bad time looking for a good time on shore leave – that gestures to authorial ambitions. And what a lot of fun it is to follow him amongst a sea of lost souls in a cosmic mix of Tom Waits underside observations and Frank Zappa staccato, time shifting jazz rock.
Single: Wesley Gonzalez – Protein and Perfume
Haunting between the harpsichord and the discordant guitar is Wesley Gonzalez. Asking do you ever feel like you’ve lost your way man? This is Gonzalez’s most sombre number to date, a searchlight of a song in the dense moss of wrong answers. Only Gonzalez’s use of electronic sounds have indicated a man with at least one foot comfortably in the modern world. On this record though he is more ghostly than ever with a sound that predated the piano.
Music Video: Scud FM – One Thing
I’ll be honest I don’t love the recorded version of this song. Played live it grows out of its own form and is harder to trace as electronic beats and lethargic trumpet go gently into the night. The video is a masterpiece of gallows humour. Front man Warren is wheeled around by his wife Madame Hifi, wearing a pink Soviet hat. He tries to feed a cow some bread. He plays with a model airplane. And he goes to a seafront arcade. Much like a Samuel Beckett play it is about waiting for the inevitable and it laughs into the face of the final annihilation.
Gig: Billy Nomates, Village Underground
Well I’ve written for Joyzine how much I enjoyed this show (review here). The childlike excitement of Nomates was contagious and her arsenal of austere pop is second to none. The Guardian wrote that Nomates would benefit from a live band. Wouldn’t we all, but people with tools are expensive. No doubt the live band is the ultimate. However, if backing tracks means bands become more prolific à la the 1960s then bring it on!
Book: The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka
Very boring I know to pick the winner of the Booker Prize. However, if you want a little bit of literary chit chat to trade this winter I would say: the comparison to George Saunder’s Lincoln In The Bardon is unavoidable. Ghosts telling wartime stories seem to be an effective way to win the Booker nowadays. Chuck in a bit of dark humour and hallucinatory imagery and you’ve got yourself a badge of honour for your book cover. Karunatilaka’s brilliance comes through in characters that are at once bold and flawed.
TV: The Traitors, BBC
Claudia Winkleman in a gothic mansion in the hills of Scotland. A cast of sixteen people, doctors, actors and a magician who will surely never work again, all try and work out who are the traitors. There’s three of them bumping people off in the dead of night, wearing full blown Grim Reaper cloaks. Everyone turns on everyone, Lord of the Flies style shit. Love it. Have I learnt anything watching it? No. Have I become a better person? No. It is by far the most exciting thing that has been on the TV this year though.
Art exhibition: The free one at the Tate Modern
No idea what it was called but it helped my hangover. I’m not one for an exhibition. My partner likes them and she brings me to them and I enjoy the writing next to the paintings. Can’t stand the ceramics bit though.
Album: The Chats – Get Fucked
Incredible punk album from start to finish, just what this year needed.
Single: The Kunts – Fuck the Tories
Sticking it to the man in the best way possible, The Kunts went above and beyond with this Tory banger!
Music Video: The Chats – 6L GTR
An illustrated masterpiece, perfect to dance to with a can of Stella.
Film: Maybe Jurassic Park? It wasn’t great though
Nice watch, family friendly and, at times, hilarious. I reckon it would have been Avatar but I haven’t seen it yet.
TV: Gordon, Gino and Fred (haha)
This series is so good, so funny, and seems to be endlessly on somehow? The three musketeers of the culinary world act like total lads.
Album: Ghost Car ‘Truly Trash’
Truly the album of the year, Ghost Car’s long-awaited debut full-length, ‘Truly Trash’, doesn’t disappoint. If punk, new wave, grunge and/or riot grrrl is your thing, BUY THIS ALBUM and fall in love with your new favourite band! I love it so much I reviewed it for Joyzine! Be sure to catch the band on their February tour before they go stellar. Ghost Car forever!
Honourable mentions: Blood Red Shoes ‘Ghosts On Tape’, The Mysterines ‘Reeling’, Queen Kwong ‘Couples Only’, Rolo Tomassi ‘Where Myth Becomes Memory’, Pure Reason Revolution ‘Above Cirrus’, Helms Alee ‘Keep This Be The Way’, Frayle ‘Skin & Sorrow’, Brutus ‘Unison Life’ and False Heads ‘Sick Moon’.
Single: Ghost Car “Selfish, Spoiled”
My favourite of the brand new songs written especially for the album, ‘Truly Trash’, “Selfish, Spoiled” is a perfect four-minute distillation of the Ghost Car experience. Listen to this or watch the video and imagine being caught in a mosh at their next gig! Then buy a ticket to see them!
Music Video: Rosy Finch – Purgatorio
The digital single released from Rosy Finch’s ‘Seconda Morte’ EP, the follow-up to 2020’s ‘Scarlet’, “Purgatorio” harks back more to the band’s earlier shoegaze-meets-grunge-meets-musical perfection style. The video, set in the Spanish desert, looks incredible and is a frankly astonishing production for a band on a little indie label, the Netherlands’ Lay Bare Recordings.
Gig: Miranda Sex Garden – The 100 Club, London (28.07.2022)
Goth/avant-garde/art rock collective, Miranda Sex Garden’s reunion gig was as unexpected as it was deliriously wonderful. Having not played together since 2000 and with guitarist Ben Golomstock having departed this mortal coil in 2018, MSG were not a band I ever expected to experience live again. Despite only being able to see two-thirds of the group due to the venue’s world-famous restricted views, the night will live long in the memory, due not just to the impeccable musicianship on display but also to the palpable feeling of love being directed stagewards from the audience-cum-congregation.
Other ridiculously enjoyable gigs of the year: Howling Bells – 229 The Venue, London (22.01.2022), Laura-Mary Carter – Banquet Records, Kingston upon Thames (18.03.2022), EMF – Esquires, Bedford (10.04.2022), Dream Wife – Electric Ballroom, London (21.05.2022), Rachel Stamp – The Garage, London (26.05.2022), Eera – The George Tavern, London (02.06.2022), Symposium – Islington Assembly Hall, London (17.11.2022), Ghost Car – The Lexington, London (24.11.2022) and The Kunts – The Dublin Castle, London (15.12.2022).
TV: ‘Doctor Who’
I’ve got a little out of the habit of keeping up with new ‘Doctor Who’ episodes over the last couple of years. Not due to any of the rabid nonsense spouted by the vociferous online minority – there are just a lot of great gigs to go to which, almost always, take preference over TV in my life! Thankfully, I did tune in for Jodie Whittaker’s regeneration episode, ‘The Power of the Doctor’, as it turned out to be an absolute corker with surprises aplenty which I’d have been gutted to have found out about having not actually watched it.
Album: Alex G – God Save The Animals
Give your ears a warm bath. Let them rest in the sonic wizardry, exceptional songwriting and touching lyrics of a man who, on his ninth album, is still managing to make me smile… (Read Alex’s review of the album here)
Alex G – Runner
…and not only smile, but at least twice this year full on tear up with a song about a dog(? – or possible dog backwards). It’s a perfect piece of writing and deserves this spot without question.
Gig: LCD Soundsystem – Brixton Academy
Dancing with my brother Max a week or so before getting married. Sinking pints with my Aussie Pal Broden and his wife. Watching one of the all time greats make the whole of Brixton Academy bounce. Dance Yrself Clean indeed.
Film: Banshees of Inisherin
It’s hard to write a couple sentences without giving it away – and this is one I went into blind. Stellar performance to a genuinely haunting script.
Book: Lessons by Ian McEwan
A whole man’s life story that covers all of the important events of the last eighty or so years. You’re right there beside Roland at each turn.
TV: White Lotus (S2)
How do you follow up one of the greatest seasons of telly? With even more grim depictions of the very wealthy, all horned up on Sicily and morally empty. A recipe for disaster and more – plus it looks bloody gorgeous.
Album: Gwenno – Tresor
A beautiful, strange, elemental album that does what all the best albums do and creates its own very specific world. I love how even without necessarily being able to understand the lyrics (I’m embarrassingly monolingual at best), it communicates mood and feeling perfectly.
Single: Sam Smith ft. Kim Petras – Unholy
Sorry, I know it’s not very Joyzine, BUT – but but but – It bangs. It’s one of those records that every time you hear on the radio you pity the poor song that has to follow it up. Runner up: Steven Weston’s fabulous The Solent, a gorgeous piece of hypnotic, psychedelic house.
Music Video: Cate Le Bon – Remembering Me
One of those clips that works perfectly with the song. Pleasingly off-kilter pop with a pleasingly off-kilter video.
Book: Hip Hop Family Tree series by Ed Piskor
It’s older than this year, but this year I finally read – and devoured – Ed Piskor’s Hip-Hop Family Tree series. Four beautifully-illustrated graphic novels that tell the history of hip-hop from the 1970s – 1985. Meticulously researched, dense with information, yet incredibly readable. Like all the best music books, I ended up with a massive playlist of tracks built up as a consequence of these books, both old favourites and new to me.
TV: The Sandman
After decades of unfulfilled movie rumours, it arrives on TV and it’s exceptional. Perfect casting, faithful to the spirit – and indeed the dialogue – of the comics, and I still can’t believe I got to watch a version of Dream Of A Thousand Cats. Episode 6, The Sound Of Her Wings, is the single finest hour of TV I watched this year. Glorious.
Art exhibition: Cabaret Mechanical Theatre’s Automata
This has been touring this year and I caught it at the Amelia Scott in Tunbridge Wells. One of those things I chanced upon that blew my mind, it features some amazingly crafted contemporary automata as well as the opportunity to make some yourself.
How do you rate our picks and what did we miss? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.