All of the music we curate for LEM is the best! So, we bring you The Best Of The Best 2022.
Best Debut Album
Maram & Con – marCo
Many debut albums came to our attention this year, it was MarCo that stopped us in our tracks. This collection of splendid songs from Maram Arifi and Conor Sisk has a wide-eyed innocence, yet they also display a smart knowledge of what makes a good pop song. Our conversation with this lovely Port Townsend couple will win you over.
Best Album By A Singer-Songwriter-Poet Who Patiently Waits For The Rest Of The World To Catch Up
Barzin – Voyeurs In The Dark
The softly-spoken Barzin out of Toronto has been a big favorite of ours for a number of years. His exquisitely-produced latest album, Voyeurs In The Dark showcases this artist’s ability to write gorgeous love songs with a distinctive tonality. A unique talent.
Best Album By An Artist We So Desperately Miss
Cathal Coughlan – a hAon
a hAon is the second album from Cathals’ exceptional collaboration with Garrett Jacknife Lee as Telefis. We were extraordinarily fortunate to have become friends with the famed Irish musician via Zoom conversations. It was always an absolute treat to see and hear Cathal share his opinions. Our last conversation with Cathal Coughlan was on the release of a hAon shortly before his untimely passing. A talent like no other. Rest in Peace, dear Cathal.
Best Album By An Artist Who Deserves Your Attention & Thunderous Applause
Tess Parks – And Those Who Were Seen Dancing
Her unique voice and masterful skill at songwriting have given us a number of opportunities to savor Tess Parks’ recordings. And Those Who Were Seen Dancing is clearly her consummate work, so far. Are we about to witness a new era in Tess Park’s musical journey? Our conversation with Tess this year surely indicates she has the positivity to push forward. Go see her live if you have the opportunity and clap loudly.
Best Poignant Song On An Album Of Poignant Songs
Elizabeth Crompton – I Keep Getting Better – Problems Of Other Minds
Where did this gem come from? We know Elizabeth Crompton hails from Manchester, but more than that we have yet to discover, apart from how this album took us by surprise. Yes, I have a penchant for sad songs about broken hearts and desperate love. Call it the blues, call it a perturbing tug at your emotions. It’s all here in I Keep Getting Better with Elizabeth’s haunting voice and graceful production.
Best Bass Player Who Made An Album We Cannot Stop Playing
Pictoria Vark – The Parts I Dread
Even if we hadn’t chatted with this exceptional talent from Iowa City, we were convinced Pictoria was an artist to keep a watchful eye on. We follow Pictoria on Twitter (and you should too), her pronouncements often verge on words of the forlorn, then at other times she can be scathingly funny – not unlike her excellent songs.
Best Artist To Brighten Your Day
Joshua Idehen – Don’t You Give Up On Me
Since we first became enamored with Mr. Idehen a few years back when Hugh was his then tour de force, we have continued to marvel at his seemingly non-stop output, whether it be collaborations, remixes, new configurations, and forays into spoken word, Josh never fails to brighten up any genre he visits. It’s a natural talent we are lucky he shares so generously.
Best Hardest-Working Label Boss, Marathon Runner, School Teacher, and One-Man Band
Alex Donat – Blackjack Illuminist Records
Here is a man who pays such careful attention to every exquisite detail of his vast catalog – many feature hand-crafted packaging. A task that would defeat most mortals yet Mr. Donat happily soldiers on, most notably with his Vlimmer and Fir Cone Children projects. Someone somewhere may be plotting to harness his energy.
Best Last Minute Discovery
Pearla – Oh, Glistening Onion, The Nighttime Is Coming
This one arrived as December nudged November out of the way. And, what a treat it is. Nicole Rodriguez out of Brooklyn performs under the moniker of Pearla and combines old-timey codas with imaginative modern inspirations. She has a deft hand with words, including the title of her album.
Best Shoegaze Label With Consistently Cool Releases
Shore Dive Records
Operated by studious Frenchman, Nicholas Pierre Wardle based out of Brighton who may consider Shore Dive much more than a Shoegaze collective. But, any good dictionary will mention Shore Dive under the description for Shoegaze. It’s what Nico does best in selecting other artists’ releases and of course, his own ventures. An important catalog with the tagline, “We hope to surprise you.”
Best Foreign Language Cut To Sing Along To Without Knowing The Words
Srirajah Sound System – Si Phan Don Lovers Rock Feat.Molam Inteng Keawbuala
Hypnotizing Dub Reggae from Thailand. On first listen you will be sure you heard this before, then you’ll find yourself singing along with Laotian singer, Molam Inteng Keawbuala. Technically this one was released as a 7” in November 2021, No matter, it’s so good!
Best Tribute Album
Chris Connelly – Eulogy To Christa
The Scottish-born, Chicago-based artist takes on the challenge of paying tribute to, as Chris says, “The music and mystic of Nico”. With his usual aplomb for rattling the scaffolding of icons, Connelly takes on the visage of the long-exalted, yet misunderstood chanteuse. Originally planned as an album of Nico covers, Chris decided to write a parallel album of his own compositions. It is, “An idea that is as rare and precious as Nico herself”.
Best Album Of Deeply Personal Songs
Olivia Barton – This Is A Good Sign
Everything is perfect here, from Olivia’s voice to the unassuming instrumentation. And, the question is “How much did she cry recording this album?” We did when listening. In Erotic, Olivia recounts her nauseating experience in explicit detail with valid detachment. The cover photo is perfect too. Is she escaping the torment of her memories?
Best Honest Album Even If The Artist Says It Is
Ollie Cook – The Boy With Pearls For Eyes
We believe Mr. Cook when he says, “This is my second full-length project. My most honest to date. My most cared for.” We love the double-tracking on his voice, the organ, the over-dubbed guitars – the whole production. Bell Tower Blue is superb.
- Maram & Con – Recherché
- Barzin – To Be Missed In The End
- Cathay Coughlan- The Symphonies Of Danny La Rue
- Tess Parks – Do You Pray
- Elizabeth Crompton – I Keep Getting Better
- Pictoria Vark – Out
- Josh Idehen – Don’t You Give Up On Me
- Vlimmer – Menschenleere
- Pearla – With
- Beatastic – Cool In A Coma
- Srirajah Sound System – Si Phan Don Lovers Rock (Ft. Molam Inteng Keawbuala)
- Chris Connelly – Ripcord, Ripcord
- Olivia Barton – This Is A Good Sign
- Ollie Cook – The Boy With Pearls For Eyes