You're Missing Out If You Haven't Listened to These 10 Good Ass Songs From the First Half of the Year
Checking in with some great tracks that haven't been featured on Check This Out!
If you haven’t dropped in on the Good Ass Songs 2022 playlist in a grip… what are you waiting for? I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time getting things up to speed, and at the beginning of May, we’re already at 165 songs and over eleven hours of great songs from this year.
I want to shine some light on some tracks that haven’t been highlighted in my regular reviews, whether they be one-off singles, early looks at upcoming records, or songs from albums that the rest of the material didn’t sit right with me but dammit, that’s a catchy song!
Happy Mothers Day, and enjoy your spring weekend!
St. Lucia - “Another Lifetime”
While many acts have moved on to apeing the 90s, a decade ago, the sounds of the 80s dominated indie music. Scattered across New York City was a synth-pop scene that combined hooks from The Yuppie Decade with the advances in music technology over the past thirty years. One of the hottest debuts came from Brooklyn’s St. Lucia, led by Jean-Philip Grobler. When the Night was an hour’s length of new wave perfection, and now Grobler is back with a new EP, Utopia I. Now joined by wife Patti Beranek, this new song recaptures that magic.
Sean Thompson’s Weird Ears - “Saturday Drive”
A fine country stomper from Sean Thompson’s upcoming Curation Records debut that is even more touching now that the star of the video - Thompson’s dog Levon - passed away this week. R.I.P. puppy.
Circles Around the Sun featuring Mikaela Davis - “Language”
If you’re a longtime reader of Check This Out!, you’ll have no doubt read about Circles Around the Sun. Between naming their self-titled record my album of the year in 2020 and reviewing last year’s Highway Butterfly set, which paid a touching tribute to founder Neal Casal, Circles Around the Sun are always in heavy rotation. “Language” is the first single from their upcoming record and the first to feature John Lee Shannon, who is replacing Casal on guitar. Not only is it a welcomed opportunity to hear the new ways Shannon lends a different sound to the group, but bringing along harpist Mikaela Davis makes for a mind-bending collaboration as she adds psychedelic flourishes to Circles’ mind ride.
Caroline Loveglow - “Zenosyne”
It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned the label 100% Electronica, but they’re branching further from their vaporwave beginnings with each new release, and Caroline Loveglow’s alt-dream pop debut, Strawberry, is a lovely example of the label growing up while still staying true to their roots. Full of what would be chart-topping singles in a just world, Strawberry is one you’ll hear more about in the mid-year roundup.
Donny Benét - “Le Piano”
Australia’s Donny Benét is back with his signature mix of post-disco and mallcore on the Le Piano EP, and there’s no better place to start than this far-out title track.
Vitesse X & George Clanton - “Us Ephemeral" (George Clanton Remix)
Speaking of remarkable debuts on 100% Electronica, Vitesse X brings a unique blend of ethereal drum and bass and dream pop to the roster. While the eponymous album is unlike anything else you’ve heard this year and grooves in all of the right ways, I also love this remix by label cofounder and mastermind George Clanton, which drifts more into his familiar vaporwave territory.
Brandon Coleman - “Blast Off”
Brandon Coleman asked himself what he would want to listen to in space for his upcoming second album, and the lead single “Blast Off” is the cosmic funk result. Known as Kamasi Washington’s keyboardist and affectionately referred to as Professor Boogie, Coleman’s debut record, Resistance, was a favorite of mine in 2018. He fits in perfectly on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder Records, and if roster mate Thundercat’s intergalactic R&B is your kinda thing, don’t miss out on this one. My only complaint is that this song is two minutes long, and I want more - I can’t wait to hear the rest of Interstellar Black Space later this month!
Soul Supreme - “Award Tour”
Any classic hiphophead knows A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders is required listening, and here the Amsterdam-based DJ and producer Soul Supreme reinterprets the vintage song of the same name. Soul Supreme converts Q-Tip and Phife Dog’s verses into keyboard hooks, and the Jerry-esque guitar refrain and horn section make this reinterpretation a sunny tastemaker.
Raavi & the Houseplants - “Lazy Susan”
A week from today, Raavi & the Houseplants are releasing their It Grows on Trees EP and I’ve had this shimmering indie earworm on repeat for the past month.
Superchunk - “Endless Summer”
These punk vets from North Carolina are back with their first record in four years, this time taking a largely acoustic detour. Wild Loneliness is full of great guest spots, including Sharon Van Etten and Mike Mills of R.E.M, an album that deserves a full review in the mid-year roundup. As a known proponent of summers, I can still relate to this hooky number filled with climate change dread as only Superchunk can do.
Love any of these songs? Let me know!