Record Roundup ’22: Chapter One (pictured: Say She She)

Well, it’s another year again. This column features six records I didn’t get around to reviewing in 2022 but wish that I would’ve. There’s a lot more where this came from so expect a couple more installments of "Record Roundup" at least.

Colder Streams — The Sadies (July 22)

My mom died a few months ago. This is for surely way too TMI for a year-end record roundup I realize but f*k it. I discovered this record by the Sadies, a band I’d barely listened to before, just days after it happened and it’s been a lifeline ever since. I mean, no doubt I’d still be into it even if my mom wasn’t dead cuz it’s that good. But being grief-striken took it to another level (RIP Mother).

The Sadies are from Toronto. They released their first album in 1998 and in the intervening years they’ve collaborated with the likes of Neil Young, Neko Case, and Gord Downie (among many others) which makes sense cuz as I’ve belatedly learned they’re the best psych-damaged, surf-inflected garage-rock-alt-country-No-Depression-that-shreds Americana bands to come out of Canada since, well, Neil Young with or without Crazy Horse.

Months before Colder Streams was released the Sadies’ lead singer and guitarist Dallas Good died unexpectedly (he co-founded the Sadies with his brother Travis) a week or so after finding out he had a coronary illness, and it’s flat out eerie how a song like “You Should Be Worried”—the gentlest, most pastoral track on the album whose lyrics in their entirety consists of two lines: “I’m not worried about you / well you should be worried about me”—was so goddamned prescient…

…to the point where I’d first assumed Dallas knew of his terminal condition much sooner given the album’s pervasive, downright apocalyptic at times sense of foreboding both in personal (it hurts me to think about what could have been / and anything that won’t ever be) and societal (in this day and age / rage has become all the rage / we choose to behave / like wolves left to starve in a cage) terms, quoting from “More Alone” but I could as easily quote any of the other song on the album…

…which kind of makes it sound like drudgery but not to worry in reality Colder Streams oozes resiliance and vibrance and stark beauty and ragged glory from every pore of its musical membrane which is why it’s been so important to me. It’s a strangly uplifting record while still being utterly, unapologetically fatalistic. I’m glad it exists. RIP Dallas Good. Five stars.

With apologies to the remaining artists, I can’t keep writing five paragraph reviews or I’ll never get through all these records not to mention the danger of “tl;dr” responses from readers so moving forward I’m self-imposing a strict 2 paragraph limit per record so hey ho let’s go…

And Then I’ll Be Happy — Colatura (April 22)

Speaking of uplifting depression this is a phrase that also fits Colatura’s debut LP to a tee. With lead-singing and songwriting duties split between its three non-skin-pounding members—but with plenty of heavenly harmonies heard throughout—this record is an embarrassment of “beauty is sadness, sadness beauty” riches with apologies to John Keats…

…whether floating atop the Ambien-enhanced fluffy clouds of “King Kalm” (Digo) or digging up the dirt of alienated “Kids Like Us” (Meredith) or being ravished by the tremulous swoon of “Scars” (Jennica) this album puts the mellow back in melancholia just as God and/or GlaxoSmithKline intended and I’d submit it’s not a stretch to call Colartura this generation’s indie rock Carpenters especially given their knack for earworm hooks and “Rainy Days and Monday”-worthy esquisite melancholy.

Prism — Say She She (October 7)

Here’s another record by a trio of singers (Piya Malik, Sabrina Mileo Cunningham, Nya Gazelle Brown) that floats atop a cloud of breathy vocal harmonizing and gossamer-winged arrangements except for considerably more sanguine and with a funk/soul/R&B/orchestral disco foundation that hearkens back to 1970s/‘80s divas such as Chaka Khan (esp her post-Rufus, pre-“I Feel For You” solo work) and short-lived Australian phenom Samantha Sang with emotion takin’ her over.

For a taste of what to expect just give “Pink Roses” a spin with its tasty wah-wah-laden, tastefully fuzzed out guitar and its loose-limbed skittering rhythm section and its Secret Life of Plants style keys with vocals capturing the not-so-secret sweet aroma of pink roses and ya gotta admire any group with the sheer confidence not to include the clutch of killer singles they put out in 2022 on their maiden long-playing voyage, in particular “Forget Me Not” with its shimmying, smooth-as-silk, hustle-ready vamp that woulda shot straight to #1 if this were still 1975 (if only) leaving Van McCoy’s own mid-tempo, flute-featuring, floor-filler stranded at number two…

Drop Out Laurel Canyon (October 31)

On their sophomore EP Laurel Canyon tip their hand early on, on the eponymous opening track with its lyrical mentions of “The Family” and “ceas[ing] to exist” so clearly we’re talkin’ less about the late-‘60s peace ‘n’ luv folkies who inhabited the LA neighborhood that lent this NYC trio its name ane more the post-Manson paranoia that took hold there and elsewhere by the early ‘70s—a mindset reinforced by the song’s serrated guitars and the gnarly harmonies that happen when two guys singing in unison veer in and out of tune with punk rock abandon and is it any suprise this record was recorded by a guy named Steve Albini?

And just in case you were wondering if Laurel Canyon the band could sustain the mood, the next track “Tangiers” opens by quoting the riff from the Kinks’ “Destroyer” (par-a-noia / the des-troy-er) or at least that’s how I hear it which ably lays the foundation for a Burroughs-in-exile, Interzone-dwelling repudation of hippie frippery (we’ll let figure out the last track “Suck and Fuck” for yourself) and having seen these guys play live at Arlenes Grocery a couple or a few months ago they came across something like The Birthday Party (Nick Cave’s career-launching, unhinged, discordant postpunk band) meets The Blues Brothers (dark shades and dark jackets, intense tunes played with a studied cool) which is an impressive flex.

Yodney Dangerfield — Your Old Droog (August 12)

And speaking of impressive flexes, Ukraine-born, Brooklyn-bred rapper Your Old Droog is fast becoming the king of the pop-culture-riffing-concept-album-in-minature noteworthy for grimy, head-bobbing, boom-bap beats and cunning, head-spinning, bailiwick-spanning virtuosic wordplay atop Dilla-indebted dusty productions having released YOD Presents: The Shining (December), The Yodfather (October), and Yodney Dangerfield (August) during the back half of 2022 alone.

The latter smartly plays off the multiple parallels between rap and stand-up—both all about the mastery of timing, wordplay, and off-the-dome improv after all. Not to mention that Rodney Dangerfield’s entire nervous-tic-laden shtick (and a good shtick it was) was him riffing on not getting the respect he deserves and what’s more hip hop than that. Your Old Droog likewiwise brings on a machine-gun flow of setups and punchlines hot ‘n’ heavy on tracks like the Jonwayne-produced, Andy Kaurfman-themed “The Man on the Moon”:

And I’m not some boom-bop apologist / I ain’t no emcee, more like an anthropologist / sociologist / knocks on the block and get studied in colleges / my latest project checks more boxes / than gynocologists

ImposterLibel (November 18)

A project fronted by Gavin Dunaway in various incarnations since 2009, Imposter was inspired by Gavin’s leveling up to a new stage in life (husband, father, supposedly responsible adult) and the imposter complex he sometimes experienced in these new roles which is not uncommon but what’s uncommon is how he can shred/skronk/groove on the elektric geetar though these days his ax-weilding shares equal space with electronic textures that span from abrasive to atmospheric and if you’re into bands like oh let’s say Lower Dens, Moon Duo, and Automatic, or even latter-day Portishead (Third is very nearly 15 years old, holy crap!) or Beak if you prefer, you’ll likely appreciate this new direction…

…and I do appreciate how the squelchy electro-funk of the album-opening “No Shame” actually sounds fairly shameless—or less than trustworthy at the least but slick like a used snake oil salesmen—topped off by David Bowie-esque vocal intonations (Berlin era, totes) and hey imposter syndrome or not I’m totally buying what he’s selling wirh their new Krautrock-inflected-coldwave-meets-electro-funk-meets-goth-rocky-dirges direction (Joy Division cover, check!)…


…and speaking of imposter syndrome I’ll close by noting how this past year I had an actual imposter which is kind of exciting but pretty weird too who posted a job notice on ZipRecruiter claiming to be yours truly (fake picture and all) seeking to hire a new contributor to the Deli and offering up to $60K annual salary (hahahahaha) and while it’s not my fault I apologize to anyone reading this who got suckered…

…and all one had to do to apply was attend a live showcase (I’m being discrete and not naming names since I could get sued for libel) and write a review on spec which all seems like an terribly elaborate scheme just to get a few dupes to pay for a show but hey it’s like they say “don’t hate the hustle, hate the game” and anyways maybe I’m the fake “Jason Lee” living in a parallel universe cuz who says I’m even qualified to do this job and now I see where Gavin is coming from.

Jason Lee, I think