My favourite left-field pop tunes from 2022, from Canada, Australia and beyond (first part here). Enjoy, and best wishes for 2023.
30. Jane Inc., 2120
What better way to kick off a top-30 list than with this propulsive banger from Toronto’s Jane Inc?
29. Gloin, Shoot to Kill
Noise rock from Toronto. And you can dance to it. Shades of Girls against Boys?
28. RABBIT, Sunday Best
First of a few delightful power pop tunes that really did it for me this year, this one from Tasmania’s RABBIT. Also one of a couple of tunes on the list from bands on Hobart label Rough Skies Records.
27. Le Pie, Modern Day Mindfulness
Speaking of power pop, Australia’s doing it right. Exhibit B courtesy of Sydney’s Le Pie. More, please!
26. Delivery, Best Western
I could’ve picked any number of songs from this Melbourne band’s fantastic debut album. This one’s a post-punk standout. Highly recommended. And as we’ll see, Best Westerns seem to be a bit of obsession among Australia’s indie rock-inclined bands?
25. U.S. Girls, So Typically Now
It’s US Girls. It’s great. Because of course it is.
24. Laura Jean, Teenager Again
I’m late to the Laura Jean bandwagon, but, yeah, she can create atmosphere and tell a story like nobody’s business.
23. CLAMM, Bit Much
Reclaiming “hardcore” from the fascist Silicon Valley set.
22. Best Bets, Olympic Sprinter
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more charming song in 2022 than this power pop number from these New Zealand fellows.
21. Soft Cell & Pet Shop Boys, Purple Zone
It’s a Soft Cell song! It’s a Pet Shop Boys tune! It’s on the list.
20. Gorillaz, Cracker Island (feat. Thundercat)
The best, and most Gorillaz, song since 2017’s Humanz.
19. Lisa LeBlanc, Pourquoi faire aujourd’hui
Two words: Chiac disco. Also the title of Lisa LeBlanc’s excellent new album and proof that LeBlanc practices truth in advertising. So, so good.
18. BIG KILL, Fat Lip feat. DEBBY FRIDAY
Delightfully creepy. Ween-ish.
17. Sahara Beck, Stillness
Song #2 from Sahara Beck on this list. Understated menace. (The song, not the singer.)
16. Asyncdrone, It’s Still Working
Technically a late 2021 release, but it’s awesome, so it’s on the list. Think indie Depeche Mode.
15. Toby Romeo & Sahara Beck, Devils Cup
Song #3 on this list from Sahara Beck, who’s putting together an impressive and varied discography. A shiny bit of Europop to brighten your December days. Strong Eurovision vibes in the best possible way.
14. Slag Queens, Best Western
Indie punk songs about Best Westerns has to be 2022’s weirdest music microtrend. 90s Riot Grrl snarl here, and another exciting Rough Skies Records release out of Hobart.
13. CAIRO! & Kuma the Third, Last Laugh!
Shoutout to Tripe J Unearthed for turning me on to what’s probably my favourite 2022 hiphop track. Enjoy!
12. Tess Parks, Brexit At Tiffany’s
Come for the clever song title, stay for the languid stream of consciousness Beat Poetry-esque lyrics.
11. Quivers, I Just Wanted To See You So Bad (Lucinda Williams Cover)
10. Annie Hamilton, exist
2022 saw the release of Annie Hamilton’s debut album. Exist is a standout track, all dreamy anxiety and hope.
9. Alvvays, Easy On Your Own?
Pretty much my Platonic ideal of a band and song: melodic dissonance.
8. Hatchie, Lights On
Shoegazey ode to the giddiness of new love.
7. fanclubwallet,Gr8 Timing!
My first live band after the world ended in March 2020 (opening for Chvrches in Lewistown in June 2022). This song, an inventive, dance-y piece of indie pop, was a big reason why I was so excited to see them. Great debut album, too.
6. The Beths, Silence Is Golden
Wall of sound plea for peace and quiet. The kind of song that makes you want to explode out of your skin in sheer joy.
5. Metric, Doomscroller
Big, big statement tune from Canada’s synthpop mainstays. After 20 years of consistently excellent output, Metric and Emily Haines have to be in the conversation for GOAT, Canadian band and songwriter edition.
4. Softcult, Gaslight
Dreamy. Unsettling. Perfect.
3. Spoon, Wild
Hadn’t listened to Spoon in years before I saw them open for Metric in Toronto last summer, so I didn’t know any of their new songs. Wild immediately stood out: instantly memorable, instant classic.
2. Anne Cessna & Essendon Airport, Agua Por Favor
I love love love this song. It had me jumping out of my skin. Maybe it’s the Anne Cessna’s almost spoken-word celebration of the joys of travelling, three years since I’ve been anywhere, that did it. Or Essendon Airport’s joyous electronic-tinged backing melody. Probably both. A sheer delight.
1. NOBRO, Better Each Day
The third post-March 2020 band I saw in 2022, in Montebello Park, opening for Alexisonfire in July. Punk rock at its most soul-affirming. Just exploding with life and joy.