Updated: Jan 1
And so this is Christmas / And what have you done / Another year over / And a new one just begun” sang a hero of mine, John Lennon. Every year I love listening to those lyrics and reflecting upon the year and what we have done as individuals, and what we have done collectively as a society. As a music fan it's always exciting to go back through the albums of the year and make our lists. I have recently compiled my top 10 for Applestump Records yearbook which was an honour to do.
As much as I enjoyed putting together my list, I did struggle as I always do when it comes to putting together a top 10 as there are always so many great releases that move and inspire me and I always feel guilty about leaving albums off the list. 2022 really was a year that saw us spoilt for choose, there have been so many incredible albums released this year. You only have to look through the yearbook that Applestump has put together to see the variety in the lists from those that contributed.
Why this abundance of choice when it comes to albums needs to be celebrated this year more than ever is the fact that it is getting harder and harder for creative people in our society to survive let alone thrive. Streaming has resulted in less physical copies of albums being sold which has inevitably led to a loss of income for so many people involved in writing and recording music. On the one hand it could be argued that streaming has made it easier for artists to get their music heard but the fact this does not translate to physical sales has been to the detriment of so many. Touring has been made so much harder by the cost-of-living crisis that is having an impact on all of us. Bands/artists are finding it so much harder to break even let alone make a profit from touring so yet another income stream lost. It doesn’t seem that long ago that it was being said that bands' main source of income was through touring due to the reduction in physical sales but now with touring getting harder, and many artists saying they can no longer afford to tour, this is such a devastating loss to the world.
Yet despite all this we find ourselves at the end of the year with so much incredible music to enjoy and celebrate what has without a doubt been a great year for new music. Every album in my top 10 has meant so much to me and has been there for me at certain stages of the year when I have needed them the most. The point I want to make is that there are so much more than my top 10 choices that have also made a difference to my life. 2022 finally saw the debut album released from Peaness who with World of Worry gave us an album full of beautiful, melodic pop music played with so much energy and belief that has lit the world up with so much love and joy. Greta Isaac released an EP PAYRI$E which arguable contains some of the greatest pop music you have ever heard. Georgia Ruth returned with her EP Kingfisher, which consisted of five songs which transported me to an alternative world on more than one occasion this year. Georgia Ruth is in my mind one of the world's greatest musicians. I don’t think I would have got through the first stage of COVID lockdowns without her last album Mai. Talking of the worlds greatest musicians, 2022 also saw the release of a new album from Cate Le Bon who with Pompeii gave us yet another album full of inspiration and hypnotic sounds that held my attention since its release in February.
Broken Fires returned in 2022 with their second album Hymns, we waited seven years for this album, and it certainly was well worth the wait. Hymns is an album full of uplifting, anthemic pop songs that just make you feel glad to be alive. Pixy Jones from sadly departed El Goodo gave us a solo album in Bits N Bobs an album that can be enjoyed by everyone, get yourself a copy, get one for your parents, grandparents, great grandparents. Bits N Bobs is an album that unites generations. The Bug Club released their debut album Dream in F# and in so doing gave the world a debut album to love to cherish and enjoy for all eternity.
SZWE released a new album Holy Glory, an album that is full of so many moments that will make you stop dead in your tracks. Songs that will move and inspire you to do something with your life and make you believe that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to even when the odds may be stacked against you. The track Home on this album is without a doubt one of the most emotional tracks of the year, it features the last voice recording that SZWE’s Grandmother left him and through the inclusion of this on the track has ensured that her voice and inspiration will be there for eternity.
This feels like one of those articles that could continue forever, as there really has been so much to enjoy these last twelve months, please stay with me for a little longer whilst I give a nod towards Sea Power, The Lightning Seeds, Wet Leg, Dry Cleaning, Spiritualized, Dry Cleaning, Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, Taylor Swift, Stella Donnelly, Paul Heaten and Jacqui Abbott, Sofie Royer, Loyle Carner, and Tim Burgess you have all made such a big difference to the world.
Taking the time to write this article has left me feeling inspired. The fact that the world and the music industry has changed so much yet, despite the difficulties creative people are faced with, there are still so many out there managing to get their albums out and I know I am not the only one whose life has been improved by them doing just that. There are independent record shops making a difference to communities. Radio shows that every week introduce me to something new, blogs and podcasts put together by people in their own time to share their love of new music and to do what they can to support those artists we love and respect.
The final reflective thought from me is what can we do to help. We don’t buy as much music as we used to, this may be down to being lazy and relying on streaming, it may be down to not having as much disposable income as we once had, not having enough storage space. We don’t go to as many gigs, again this could be down to the increased cost of gigs and different priorities in life and not having the time we once had. Taking all that on board we can still support our creative industries, we might not be able to buy as much as we used to but just buying something from independent record shops like Applestump, Spillers, Diverse will help. If we can’t afford to go to the big gigs, go to our beloved independent venues where you can find a gig most nights for less than £10. I have had some of the best nights out of my life in these venues and we need to ensure they can keep going. If you can’t afford to buy physical copies, get the digital copy from Bandcamp where the money goes directly to the artist. If you can buy some merch, please do so, again from bandcamp to ensure the artists gets as much as they can from each sale.
Use this end of year time to reflect back on the year, remember those albums you have loved, albums that have helped you get through each day. Remember the gigs you have been to, that collective experience that was taken away from us during the COVID lockdowns. Show your appreciation to those independent venues, independent shops and look forward to 2023 where no doubt we will be spoilt with yet more music to enjoy and have our lives improved by those creative geniuses who refuse to give up even when times are getting harder.
Download your free copy of the Applestump Records Review of 2022: