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Sun 13’s Top Local Releases of 2022

We choose 13 of the year’s finest releases from Merseyside.

As always, where new music is concerned Liverpool is doing its own thing.

From a local perspective, our finger isn’t exactly on the pulse, however we try our best to cover what we can and – like previous years – there have been several releases that have been among the year’s finest.

The likes of Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band’s Dear Scott landing Mojo’s album of the year should be a cause for celebration, not only for one of Merseyside’s most revered acts, but for the city as a whole. It’s a rare victory for a city that has experienced few in the new music sphere over the recent years.

As far as live music goes, again, we’ve not really participated in this space. However, slightly from the outsider’s perspective, it’s fantastic to see the likes of Future Yard prospering, as the venue continues to bring in the finest talent from around the U.K. and beyond.

Meanwhile, the likes of Harvest Sun, EVOL and Moonfrog continue to play a vital role in promotion, ensuring that Liverpool remains a viable option for touring musicians.

And of course there is Africa Oyé. Making its heroic return at a time where we are all still coming to grips with a post-lockdown world, it really was a sensational presentation of the festival over two days in Sefton Park. Oyé reminded us of a past world in the present, and how we, as a community, can all come together and find strength in unity.

So with that, again, Liverpool continues to do its own own thing.

Here are our favourite 13 releases from Merseyside this year. Like last year (and the year before that), our Top 50 Albums of the year will follow later in the week. Until then…

Luke Mawdsley Interview: “It’s not just music to me”

Pete Benthem & The Dinner Ladies: What’s On the Inside Has to Come Out
9 x 9 Records

Money and art go together like a horse and cart” sings Pete Benthem on Money and Art. In a world where creativity continues to be strangled by capitalism, I can’t think of anyone better to illuminate such morbid realities than one of the most vital threads in the Merseyside patchwork, Pete Benthem & The Dinner Ladies.

Returning with their finest records yet in What’s On the Inside Has to Come Out, Benthem and his merry band deliver the kind of skronk punk that brims with a new level of social consciousness. It really is tailor-made for these times (“Too busy staying alive”).

There are a plethora of razor-sharp messages throughout What’s On the Inside Has to Come Out and, frankly, we don’t have enough column inches to dissect and celebrate. So with that, just got and listen for yourself.

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COW: When The Darkness Gets You Down
Mai 68 Records

A band producing the kind of sounds indicative of its members boasting solid record collections, COW’s brand of dreamy indie-rock isn’t something mirrored across the north west. This fact alone has helped them carve out good opportunities, playing shows up and down the country and drawing in new followers along the way.

Anyone who has seen COW in the live arena will know that they are a tight unit. A band who doesn’t complicate things, finding their rewards amongst simplicity, COW’s live ethos continues on When The Darkness Gets You Down.

They are a band in it for the right reasons, and should they continue to churn out releases like When The Darkness Gets You Down, then they will continue to steal a few more hearts along the way.

Full review
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Dune Boy: We Can Go There If You Want To?
Self-released

Operating under the moniker of Dune Boy, on his debut full-length We Can Go There If You Want To?, Sebastian Westwood parts with the kind of storytelling that mixes slacker reverence with that open sun roof sway.

“How does it feel to never have to lose” he sings on opening song, Happiness (Is a Place on Earth). With a kind of optimism that seemingly holds no currency, Westwood almost has the world in his hands.

Seamless, unobtrusive and, well… just really nice, We Can Go There If You Want To? is a fine debut LP and arguably one of the best to come out of Liverpool this year. Bill Ryder-Jones fans may have just found their new local hero.

13 Questions
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Exclusive: Mai 68 Records release new single from Baby Brave

Good Grief: Shake Your Faith
Everything Sucks / Happy Happy Birthday To Me

Formed 10 years ago, DIY stalwarts Good Grief are Will Fitzpatrick (vocals/guitar), Paul Abbott (bass/vocals) and alongside drummer, Matiss Dale (who has since left the band and replaced by Gareth Dawson), the Liverpool collective released their long-awaited debut long-player, Shake Your Faith.

From the power-punk melodies of High to Low and effortless gusto of New Town, to the epic penultimate track, Hatches, Shake Your Faith is filled with catchy hooks and thought-provoking word play.

In fact, it’s exactly the kind of record Liverpool needs.

Interview
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Hell On Hearth: Seventy
Self-released

Hell On Hearth is the brainchild of Sean Wars also of Liverpool noise agitators, Bodies on Everest.

Having released 70 albums in the last twelve months (yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you), we thought we’d handpick number 70 (they’ve not been released in order). This is music purely inspired by black pits. And Seventy is quite the place to start.

Slightly less abrasive and sinister in comparison with some of the other Hell On Hearth releases, here we see the kind of dungeon drone that Labradford touched upon during their reign. Punk, you ask? Most certainly, and for those yet to commence this journey, start here. Those familiar? Well, we await the next 70 releases in due course.

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Moongoose: Curtain Calls EP
Self-released

Moongoose seem to be going through something of a purple patch lately,  with their last album At Home With the Readymades being made album of the week over at Louder Than War.

To add to this flurry of excitement, David ‘Yorkie’ Palmer’s band have now released a new EP, Curtain Calls as a companion piece. This is excellent news for fans of Noir-like soundtracks, affecting instrumentals or, more generally, good music.

Curtain Calls continues Moongoose’s progression into darker territory, with all four songs tending towards something approaching, but not quite reaching, melancholia.

Words by Banjo

Full review
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Claire Welles: Package Holiday

Polexia: A Burial, A Resurrection
Outsider Art

The noise/spoken-word duo featured Polexia! mainstay, Johanna Connolly, and noise-maker, Danny Welsby before the latter departed for new pastures. Not one to rest on her laurels, Connolly quickly moved the project forward, drafting in LONESAW’s Jezebel Halewood-Leagas.

With the pair having featured across Merseyside with several live performances, including a support slot for J. Zunz, Polexia! (with a new exclamation mark firmly in tow) return with their follow-up EP, A Burial, A Resurrection.

Three songs deep, A Burial, A Resurrection starts with the title track – a dark wave march mixed with off-kilter pop. Machine follows and lends itself to the earlier origins of the band. Instead of sheer dissonance, however, Connolly’s sing-speak delivery passes off the kind of vibe that feels like a wild night out between Susan Janet Ballion and Justin Broadrick.

Interview
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Puzzle: Halfway Home
Defend Vinyl

With perceptively charming songs that hook you in from the off (Same Time, One Last Lap, Wave Goodbye), it’s the honesty in Puzzle’s songwriting that’s the biggest winner.

With a band like Puzzle, there’s no bullshit or ego. Just good people making good music and on Halfway Home, it shows.

This isn’t music for stadiums, streams or social media followers. It’s just three people getting together and doing what they love. Which is fitting, as Halfway Home is released on Defend Vinyl: the veteran Liverpool record store that has now branched out into a label. It seems like a perfect fit (pardon the pun).

13 Questions
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Tits Up: Greatest Tits
Self-released

Produced in Ormskirk’s Alien Sound Studios, Tits Up’s Greatest Tits is a provocative heart-on-sleeve homage to punk, fill with swift hooks and straight-talking.

Look no further than the EP’s cover. Open-hearted Cramps worship accompanied by Motorhead and Black Sabbath LPs strewn across the bed in sheer fandom.

Whilst a bundle of frenetic energy live, Tits Up don’t lose their intensity on tape, with Greatest Tits being a sharp representation of the band. It’s rarely the case where local acts are concerned, giving impressive accounts onstage only to fall incredibly short within the studio walls. Not Tits Up, who bring us beer-soaked joy right here. It’s a great way to start a new year.

Full review
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Bones Shake: Bleed

S. Ward: The Collegiate
Self-released

Under the S. Ward moniker, Simon Ward first came to our attention during lockdown with his debut EP, Gürtelstraße.

Ward is a born storyteller. Also with a background in fiction, which has seen the artist release several short stories over the years, Ward is not afraid to go down those dark paths. Cloaked in the south gothic drama of Gürtelstraße track, John Grady, The Collegiate sees Ward refining his art, resulting in songs that are not only more immediate, but, at times, more defiant.

The Collegiate is a strong addition to the S. Ward canon, and with two EPs in as many years, the Liverpool experimentalist has emerged as one of the bright new voices across Merseyside.

Interview
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San Lorenz: A Death at Sea
Nuthin Gid Records

Formerly known as SPQR, in October Liverpool favourites San Lorenz released their much-anticipated debut LP, A Death at Sea.

Now a four-piece concern, which includes drummer Lisa Fawcett (LONESAW, Dog Sport), San Lorenz produce something assured with A Death at Sea – a series of slow burning psych pop that forms into something that really feeds into the consciousness. Blurring the lines of many styles and sub-genres, unlike many of their contemporaries, San Lorenz create something that is truly identifiably.

It makes you wonder with a band like San Lorenz. Had they been from London, you get the feeling they would attract much more attention than they have so far. A sad reality, but one that most certainly should be underlined, not only for them, but for many bands outside the realm of the M25. With A Death At Sea San Lorenz are the best example of this.

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The Welcome Addition: Bom Dia Brothers and Sisters
Self-released

The Welcome Addition is the brainchild of Liverpool’s Peter Martin, who arrives with the follow-up to last year’s Shaw Lane Sessions, in Bom Dia Brothers and Sisters.

Recorded in the UK and across South American in Peru, Brazil and Venezuela, Martin creates a tourism of sound like no other from Merseyside. And along for the ride is a plethora of collaborations, including appearances from Good Grief’s Will Fitzpatrick and Paul Abbott.

Bom Dia Brothers and Sisters is most certainly a mixed bag, and Martin pulls out many a trick during these 13 tracks, blending folk and emo with a locality from the places where many of these songs were written. It’s a nice listen, and one far removed in comparison with his Merseyside contemporaries.

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Claire Welles: Othello
Self-released

Artistically, the past 18 months has seen the Liverpool singer make her greatest strides yet, and it all started on the back of last year’s fantastic release, Dazed. Soon after, Welles appeared on Tim BurgessTim’s Twitter Listening Party, which led to a support slot on The Charlatans frontman’s solo tour.

2022 started in similar fashion, with Welles providing support for Jane Weaver on her Flock tour. 33 albums deep, it appears that Welles has finally broken through the fourth wall with album number 34: Othello.

Unfurling her street-level cynicism whilst balancing the heavy (New Ice Age, Polyester, F A D E, Snooker) with humour (At War With the Under 35s, Split the Family In Two), Welles’ thinly barbed dispatches pierce through the walls of sound that have once again been refined at the mixing desk by Stephen Cole.

Othello Track by Track
Dazed interview
Package Holiday review
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Previous Top Local Releases of the Year:

2021
2020

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

5 replies on “Sun 13’s Top Local Releases of 2022”

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