Fortnightly Favorites 2022, #25-11

Annual reminder: I’m not objective. These are my personal favorites, and I make no claims that these are “The best” albums of the year.

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25. Sudan Archives – Natural Black Prom Queen
I”ve been a fan of Sudan archives since before she had a full-length album out. Her early EPs and her first album, Athena, in 2019 were marked with prominent violin riffs either plucked or bowed. For me, this was what set her apart and made her music so interesting. The violin work is more subtle on this album, and at times drowned in swirling electronics. It’s still a very good album, but the parts I enjoyed most were when that violin came through more. “Ciara” and “#513” were a couple of my favorite tracks.

24. Courtney Marie Andrews – Loose Future
Courtney Marie Andrews has one of the most beautiful voices in the alt-country/American world right now. This album has a little more upbeat, lighter sound than her last couple records. There are points where the blues/gospel sound that marked 2018’s May Your Kindness Remain and the sparse, melancholy of 2020’s Old Flowers come through in this record as well.

23. Open Mike Eagle – Component System With The Auto Reverse
There aren’t other rappers who sound like Mike Eagle. The way he weaves in melodies to his raps, his wordplay, his often laid-back delivery just take very unique angles. There is something about the way he can lean into the label of “art-rap”, but can also keep his material markedly accessible.

22. Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder – Get On Board!
A pair of legends here, and no one will convince me otherwise. Ry is my alltime favorite guitar player. Some are surprised by this statement, but he has an inarguable sense of how to fit into a song. It just feels right. Taj and Ry played in a group called The Rising Sons when they were teenagers. Their debut was unreleased, and eventually they both found their ways into their solo careers. That debut album eventually saw the light of day in 1990, and this is the first time since that 1966 album that they’ve made an album together. It is an album recalling two bluesmen that Ry and Taj saw as legends when they were young, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. It’s a work of reinvention, but with love. They have a love and respect for the material that you can really hear throughout.

21. Sault – Today & Tomorrow
Sault overwhelmed fans in November by dropping 5 new albums with no prior announcements. I haven’t really fully engaged with all of them to be honest, but (spoiler) you’ll be seeing more of them in my list this year. This album is very different than what Sault have released in the past, and sounds like a whole different project overall. It has a lo-fi indie blues-rock sound so starkly different from the gospel R&B-tinged indie that they’ve established for themselves. The unexpected change for this particular album of their 5 releases landed well with me.

20. Santigold – Spirituals
Santigold cannot be pigeon-holed, and Spirituals is just the latest in the mountain of evidence to this point. Reggae, Dancehall, Punk, Soul, R&B, Electronica… she can take it all and make it her own. Similar statements could be said of subject matter, as she is willing to approach a wide-array of topics and issues in her writing.

19. Ibibio Sound Machine – Electricity
This new album did not quite strike the balance of energy that made me love 2019’s Doko Mein, but it is still a very good album with some songs that I really enjoyed. While Doko Mein relied on funk grooves and joyful energy, Electricity finds it’s home in synth-laden electronica and emphasizes Eno Williams vocals.

18. Built to Spill – When the Wind Forgets Your Name
29 years since they’re debut album, Built to Spill are still making engaging and relevant rock music. Doug Martsch and company re-emerging 7 years after the last record, Untethered Moon. And I’m really glad that Built to Spill are back and had at least this one left in the tank, as I think it’s a great indie rock album.

17. Ibeyi – Spell 31
I was immediately struck by the music of twin-sister duo, Ibeyi. Their debut album, Ash, was my #2 album in 2017. I was excited to learn they were finally giving us their follow up, and I have enjoyed this album. This one is really strong straight through the whole record, but some high points for me are “Made of Gold” and “Rise Above”.

16. The Smile – A Light For Attracting Attention
I don’t know how this project came about, but I like it. Sons of Kemet drummer, Tom Skinner, joins Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead for this unexpected record. I really enjoyed Greenwood’s guitar work on this, and how well it meshes with Skinner’s jazz rhythms. Then the swirling synths surrounding it all and Yorke’s instantly recogizable vocal cutting through clear.

15. Los Bitchos – Let the Festivities Begin!
Members hailing from Uruguay, Sweden, UK and Australia, Los Bitchos seems immediately like an implausible project. Now take in addition that they meld surf rock, samba, turkish pop, and a couple dozen other genres together to create this fascinating instrumental record, and it’s enough to blow my mind. Please tell me I’m not the only one hearing that Oingo Boingo riff on “Tropico”… was that intentional theft or sub-conscious, I wonder?

14. Sault – Earth
This is the most spiritual-themed Sault record to date, leaning hard into certain gospel elements in their sound and delving into more religious language than I expected. It comes through as genuine and earnest without being preachy or over-zealous. It’s a very reflective record.

13. Poppy Ajudha – THE POWER IN US
I first heard Poppy Ajudha a few months back on the radio, and the song was “No!” Upon listening to the album, I found this melodic punk tune had been the tip of the iceberg in terms of her sound. She expertly tied together genres in this album and covered so much ground while still maintaining a cohesive album.

12. Cave Clove – The Muscle and The Meaning
Cave Clove was a good discovery I saw as an opening act a few years back. I have followed them closely ever since, and I’m always eager to hear what they’ve got next. A little bit Soulful modern rock tinged with psych-rock riffs, I really think this is their most complete and cohesive record yet.

11. Florence + the Machine – Dance Fever
The one and only Florence Welch back again. That soaring, powerful voice, and those big orchestrations swirling around. It’s exactly what you might expect from Florence + the Machine by now, but still no less welcome. Always look forward to a new Florence record.

Sault – Run
Poppy Ajudha – No!
Ibibio Sound Machine – All That You Want
Santigold – Witness
Sudan Archives – Ciara
Ibeyi, Pa Salieu – Made of Gold
Florence + the Machine – Heaven is Here
The Smile – The Smoke
Los Bitchos – Las Panteras
Built to Spill – Gonna Lose
Cave Clove – New Secret
Open Mike Eagle – 79th and Stony Island
Sault – Valley of the Ocean
Courtney Marie Andrews – You Do What You Want
Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder – What a Beautiful City
Sudan Archives – #513
Ibibio Sound Machine – 17 18 19
Ibeyi, BERWYN – Rise Above
Poppy Ajudha – PLAYGOD
Santigold – Fall First
Los Bitchos – Tropico
Courtney Marie Andrews – Let Her Go
Florence + the Machine – King
Cave Clove – On Witches Brew
Built to Spill – Never Alright
Sault – Stronger
Open Mike Eagle – I’ll Fight You
The Smile – You Will Never Work In Television Again
Sault – The Jungle 
Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder – I Shall Not Be Moved


The Fortnightly Playlist, November 6th, 2022

Not writing a whole lot for this edition. Really been enjoying this music though. Alewya, Marlowe, Hope Tala, LABRYS, Ya Tseen, and Lydia Ramsey are among my personal favorites this edition.

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Alewya – Let Go
Hope Tala – Is It Enough
iLe, Trueno – Ningun Lugar
Marlowe – The Fall
NxWorries, Knxwledge, Anderson.Paak, H.E.R. – Where I Go
Blood Orange – Something You Know
Emily Hopkins – Sun Light + Dark Star
LABRYS – Gimme Something
Cuffed Up – 10 For 10
Young Fathers – I Saw
Algiers, Zack De La Rocha – Irreversible Damage
Andrew Bird, Phoebe Bridgers – I Felt a Funeral In My Brain
Lydia Ramsey – Come Home With Me
The Tallest Man On Earth – Tears Are In Your Eyes
Ya Tseen, Samantha Crain – Look At What the Light Did Now (Feist cover)
Idles, Florence+the Machine – Heaven Is Here (Idles Remix)
Royksopp, Goldfrapp – The Night
Loyle Carner – Hate
Goat – Soon You Die
Coco Peila, Taj Mahal – Above That (Black Joy)
Louis Cole – Dead Inside Shuffle

The Fortnightly Playlist, October 23rd, 2022

I sometimes take great joy in getting the perfect transition from one song to another completely unexpected song. I wonder if anyone has ever put Taylor Swift and Open Mike Eagle one after the other in a playlist before… I do think that this is sort of unique about my playlists as I’m willing to include so many different styles, and it’s a point of pride for me getting it to work.

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Obviously, the new Taylor Swift album is taking all the buzz at present, and it deserves a lot of attention. The thing is that it doesn’t exactly take much to find a million reviews of Taylor Swift’s new album. I don’t really tend toward the pop superstars. Courtney Marie Andrews also has a new album out, and, if I had to choose one or the other then… Let’s talk about Courtney Marie Andrews’ new album, Loose Future. She’s got a voice that I just can’t get past. I first heard Courtney sometime in between May Your Kindness Remain and Old Flowers. The latter made my year-end favorites list in 2020. This new album does well to build on her sound while still allowing her genuine songwriting to shine.

I’ve also been giving a lot of listens to the new Poppy Ajudha album, THE POWER IN US. There is a lot in this one, and it’s impressive drawing together the different styles that she does into a cohesive sound. Particularly, I first heard “No!” which had a punkiness running through it. Then when I first gave the entire album, I was struck right from the start by “Playgod” which almost has a Solange-meets-Nine Inch Nails thing going for it with these powerful, soulful vocals building to hard, industrial peaks. I love this kind of ambition, and I’ve really been enjoying this one.

Other favorites this edition are Jamila Woods, Marlowe, Sampa The Great, and Ibeyi.

Simple Minds – Vision Thing
Black Belt Eagle Scout – Don’t Give Up
Death Cab For Cutie – Foxglove Through the Clearcut
Taylor Swift – Midnight Rain
Open Mike Eagle – 79th and Stony Island
Marlowe – Light Trip
Sampa The Great – Bona
Orchestra Gold – Keleya
Arctic Monkeys – I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Hate Dancin’
Black Country, New Road – Good Will Hunting
The Beths – Head In The Clouds
Porridge Radio – End of Last Year
Wild Pink – The Grass Widow in the Glass Window
Courtney Marie Andrews – You Do What You Want
Jamila Woods – Boundaries
Ibeyi – juice of Mandarins
Poppy Ajudha – FALL TOGETHER
Nilufer Yanya – Rid of Me

The Fortnightly Playlist, September 25th, 2022

A bit of local, a bit of global, a bit of everything in between. A lot of different parts of the world represented in this list, and a range from popstar to complete unknown here as well.

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Let’s talk Sampa The Great. When COVID struck her family, she returned home to Zambia from Australia (where she had been based for several years). Then, with the Australian borders closed, she was unable to get back into Australia. After trying at first various ways to get back in to Australia, she accepted it was better to work in Zambia. In one interview on KEXP, when asked what listeners should expect from her new album, As Above, So Below, she has responded immediately with the word “Range”. It’s true. This is a Hip-hop album that covers some serious ground. There is psychedelic guitars woven in, myriad percussion sounds and styles, guests like Angelique Kidjo, Kojey Radical, and Witch bringing in their own sounds to the mix. Thinking of favorite albums of the year, this one is a contender for sure.

So, why is this Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros track here? Well, because a new collection has been released compiling Joe Strummer’s years with the Mescaleros. It includes all three Mescaleros albums as well as unreleased tracks, demo versions and outtakes. I love this project a lot. It was a band that truly put no bounderies on where they would go stylistically, and it was Joe Strummer doing exactly as he wanted without the pressures that had come with the mass popularity he’d had with the Clash. I decided to include a classic track in this edition.

So much good music here! I hope you enjoy it. Some other favorites of mine are Chris Carroll, Charles Stepney, The Beths, and Wild Pink. (Sorry, the Ana Tijoux track was not available on Spotify, so that one is Apple only. Do check her out though. She is very cool).

The Beths – Expert in a Dying Field
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Global a Go-Go
Gogol Bordello – The Era of the End of Eras
Ana Tijoux, Macha, Aerstame, RodStarz de Rebeldiaz, Geoenezetao – Bolero
NATYASH, Sara Hebe – Mentiroso
Chris Carroll – Sensitive
Kelela – Washed Away
Sudan Archives – Flue
Sampa The Great, Witch – Can I Live?
Ayron Jones – Filthy
Ransom, Mayor – Ignorance
Real Bad Man, Pink Siifu, Ahwlee – View of Paris
Open Mike Eagle, Armand Hammer – Burner Account
Hudson Mohawke – Redeem
Charles Stepney – Gotta Dig It to Dig It
Poppy Ajudha – NO!
Cold Cave – Godstar
Starcrawler – Stranded
Death Cab For Cutie – Here To Forever
Wild Pink, Julien Baker – Hold My Hand
Tim Bruce Johnson – Stupid Now
Kae Tempest, Lianne La Havas – No Prizes
Weyes Blood – It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody
The Mountain Goats – Make You Suffer

The Fortnightly Playlist, September 11th, 2022

Hi there, I baked a fresh batch of music for a playlist. I encourage you to sample it to see if there’s anything you like.

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Alright, so I have been loving this new Cheekface album, Too Much To Ask. At times bitingly clever, and at times just leaning hard into silliness. It’s such a fun record. I first heard “Pledge Drive” on the radio, and it has been no turning back. There’s humor and wit at every turn, and they have the ability to deliver a message without taking themselves overly serious.

Sudan Archives sound is developing and changing, and I’m trying to figure out for myself how much I like this new record, Natural Brown Prom Queen. It’s good, but for me personally I was drawn in by the heavier use of violin that marked her earlier work. I need more time with this album, but I do recommend it. Right now this track that I’ve included in this edition, “#513”, is my favorite on the album.

Other favorites this edition include Santigold, Editors, Broken Bells, Built to Spill, and Valerie June. Enjoy!

Esper Star – Boys of Summer
Santigold – Witness
Sudan Archives – #513
Enumclaw – Park Lodge
Built To Spill – Gonna Lose
Beverly Crusher – Vacuum
Cheekface – Noodles
High Vis – Fever Dream
The Sun//ARAM – 7/4
Broken Bells – We’re Not In Orbit Yet…
Danger Mouse, Black Thought – Cheat Codes
Cheekface – We Need A Bigger Dumpster
Steve Lacy – Bad Habit
Dehd – Bad Love
Neesha Blanchett – Faceless Man
Valerie June – Pink Moon (Nick Drake cover)
Tsatsamis – Grass Stains
Jessie Ware – Free Yourself (Paul Woolford Remix)
Editors – Kiss

The Fortnightly Playlist, August 28th, 2022

Another busy summer is coming to a close, and I’ve got some more music for you here. Allison Russell, U.S. Girls, Young Fathers, Lice, Metric, Santigold and more.

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I slept a bit on this new Kevin Devine album, Nothing’s Real, So Nothing’s Wrong, but I’m really enjoying this one. Kevin Devine has been plying his trade as a singer-songwriter for about 22 yrs now, and had a part in a couple different projects that have been featured on the Fortnightly before. Devine first came on the scene of the early 00’s emo group, Miracle of 86. His songwriting has developed into some of the most thoughtful and underrated in my opinion. This album is beautifully composed, and it flows very well start to finish.

I love this beautiful new song from Allison Russell that features Brandi Carlile. Their harmonies are so perfect, the message can never be said too much. If this piques your interest, then I highly recommend you also take a listen of Russell’s album from last year, Outside Child.

Other favorites in this edition are Young Fathers, US Girls, and Lice. Enjoy!

Hot Chip – Freakout/Release

Young Fathers – Geronimo
US Girls – So Typically Now
Odesza – Behind the Sun
Pour Lee – Le Crunge
Metric – All Comes Crashing
Enumclaw – Cowboy Bebop
Silversun Pickups – Sticks and Stones
Hot Chip – Eleanor
Automatic – On the Edge
FKA Twigs, Daniel Caesar – Careless
Santigold – Shake
Soccer Mommy – Shotgun
Kokoroko – Age of Ascent
Allison Russell, Brandi Carlile – You’re Not Alone
Kevin Devine – Albatross
The Mountain Goats – Bones Don’t Rust
Tinariwen – Arawan (Deena Abdelwahed Remix)
Danger Mouse, Black Thought, A$AP Rocky, Run the Jewels – Strangers
Lice – Catfish

The Fortnightly Playlist, August 14th, 2022

Hey, busy day… busy week… Here’s new music.

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Ty Segall – Cement
Enumclaw – 2002
Lil Silva, Sampha – Backwards
Danger Mouse, Black Thought, Raekwon, Kid Sister – The Darkest Part
Rod Wave – Forever
Ari Lennox – Pressure
Santigold – High Priestess
Beyonce, Grace Jones, Tems – MOVE
!!! – Man on the Moon
Hype – The Power of You
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Burning
Automatic – Skyscraper
Cheekface – I Feel So Weird!
Open Mike Eagle – I’ll Fight You
Isley Brothers, Beyonce – Make Me Say It Again, Girl
Valerie June – Godspeed (Frank Ocean cover)
Pamela Laws – Till The Morning
Calder Allen – Bend of the River
Plains – Problem With It
Andrew Bird – Faithless Ghost
Odesza, Olafur Arnalds – Light of Day

The Fortnightly Playlist, July 31st, 2022

Getting through July somehow… sort of like the car in Blues Brothers falling apart when it has finally made it to the finish line. Anyway, here’s some music.

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Okay, so Beyoncé… I mean come on. Look, at this point Beyonce could release poop on a cracker, and it would sell, but thankfully she’s got in mind to give us great music that will last. I recommend a straight-through listen of the whole album, of course. Personally, the closing track is among the standouts. I loved the Donna Summer nod, and it’s so artfully woven in as well. If you didn’t catch it, then no worries. Just give a listen to Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” right along side Beyoncé’s “SUMMER RENAISSANCE”, and you’ll hear it pretty easily.

There’s really a lot I could write about in this edition. I want to draw attention to Valerie June, though. Last year, she released one of my favorite albums, The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers. Now she is releasing an excellent covers album on August 26th. I’m excited to hear the rest of this one, but for now this Mazzy Star cover will do nicely.

Other favorites this edition are Black Thought & Danger Mouse, The Mountain Goats, Ty Segall, Sampa The Great, and Sudan Archives.

Sampa The Great – As Above So Below

Sampa The Great, Denzel Curry, Powers Pleasant – Lane
Danger Mouse, Black Thought, Michael Kiwanuka – Aquamarine
Neneh Cherry, Sudan Archives – Heart
Gregory Porter, Pandrezz, Epektase – Everything You Touch Is Gold
Kae Tempest, Lianne La Havas – No Prizes
Kiwi Jr – The Extra Sees the Film
Pixies – There’s a Moon On
The Mountain Goats – Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome
Dawes – Comes In Waves
The Lone Bellow – Gold
Jenny Mitchell – Make Peace With Time
Valerie June – Fade Into You (Mazzy Star cover)
John Moreland – Generational Dust
caroline – Dark Blue
New Age Healers – Setting Sun
Ty Segall – Hello, Hi
TV Priest – Unravelling
Gorillaz, Thundercat – Cracker Island
Neneh Cherry, Robyn, Mapei – Buffalo Stance
Lupe Fiasco – Ms. Mural
Lila Iké – Wanted
Sudan Archives – Selfish Soul
Sampa The Great, Chef 187, Tio Nason, Mwanje – Never Forget
Thanks Joey, Narcy, $HAM$ – Data Rights
Macklemore, Tones And I – CHANT
Jack White – All Along The Way

The Fortnightly Playlist, July 17th, 2022

Another 2 weeks has passed, and here’s another playlist filled with all the chaos you’ve come to expect from me. Several albums have been carried over from last edition, because there’s so much good stuff on them to share. Also, I’ve got some great collaborations and covers in this edition.

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So my favorite album of last year was Thirstier by Torres, and she’s released a couple new covers here that I enjoyed a lot this week. Now, covers are a funny business because there are so many different routes to take. Sometimes a cover says a lot about an artists significant influences, and sometimes it can be a surprising and unexpected venture. Torres has both here from what I can tell. Covering Nirvana’s “All Apologies” seems to make sense for her, but I was a bit surprised by the Keith Urban cover and I’m not at all complaining. It sounds great.

Let’s talk Residente. Oh boy, this one is… a lot. So the new single “This is Not America” references Childish Gambino’s “This is America from 2018. Well, where to start. If, like me, your Spanish is limited, then this isn’t real easy to follow at first. I recommend watching the video which also references Childish Gambino’s video. There’s a poignant reminder that there is a much bigger, wider story going on than we often think of in our USA-centric culture. Often, the US does not behave in line with the story we tell of ourselves, and South and Central America knows the results of our actions all too well. The video has some graphic scenes, so at your disgression:

I have reached the end of my family leave, and I return to work tomorrow. I have spent the last 12 weeks at home with our baby, Hazel. I am so thankful for the time I’ve had at home, and it has been very difficult as it has drawn to a close. Hazel has started recently to respond more to music. Her favorites are Caspar Babypants, Raffi, Owl City, and Bob Marley & The Wailers. Yesterday as it drew close to nap time, she was getting fussy. I turned on Bob Marley, and she calmed right down and was all smiles. Because of that, I decided to add a couple Bob Marley & The Wailers tunes at the end of this edition.

Other favorites this edition are Mavis Staples & Levon Helm, Making Movies, Fantastic Negrito, Los Bitchos, and Rapsody.

Fantastic Negrito – Venomous Dogma
Santigold – Nothing
Los Bitchos – The Link Is About To Die
Making Movies – Nos Entenderan
Residente, Ibeyi – This Is Not America
Rapsody, Faouzia – Dust To Diamonds
Florence + The Machine – Back In Town
Torres – Making Memories of Us (Keith Urban cover)
Mavis Staples, Levon Helm – Wide River To Cross
Amadou & Mariam, Blind Boys of Alabama – Bamako to Birmingham
Adia Victoria – In The Pines
Torres – All Apologies (Nirvana cover)
Shearwater – There Goes The Sun
Soccer Mommy – Don’t Ask Me
High Vis – Blending
Yann Tiersen – 1 18. 13 1 14 5 18. 11 15 26 8
Hot Chip – Eleanor
Karinyo – Medication
Joe Purdy – Reason or Rhyme
Fantastic Cat – Fiona
Neil Young – From Hank to Hendrix (Live)
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Buffalo Soldier
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Three Little Birds