Pickled Priest Mixtape: Our Favorite Songs of Q2 2022, Pt. 2
The second volume of our Q2 Favorites Mixtapes is here and, as with most mixtapes, each song has a different purpose. Not every one of these songs is built to last forever, but I can guarantee you this—they're giving me joy right now.
01 "Yada Yada" | The Suffers
Let's start off tape #2 with the fuck-packed "Yada Yada" from Houston R&B band, the Suffers. There is a long tradition of anti-record executive dis-tracks throughout music history, but this one has perhaps the best hook of any of them. There's no telling if there's a Seinfeld inspiration behind the song, but the concept of the "Yada Yada"—a quick way to get from Point A to Point B without all the boring details in between—was revitalized by an episode of the show way back in 1997. Smartly, the Suffers cut out the gory details here, realizing that most music fans are well aware of artists getting screwed over by the music industry. Instead, the Suffers' great lead singer, Kam Franklin, simply launches a litany of targeted F-bombs in their general direction—one every seven-seconds to be exact—hell bent on defamation. Mission accomplished.
02 "No Harm" | El Perro
Beware of anyone who says they're going to do you no harm. Usually, that means there's harm coming your way....and soon. El Perro (the dog), are a new band made up of Radio Moscow's Parker Griggs and his mates. On Hair of El Perro, a clever shout out to the 1975 Nazareth album (and song) of the same name (Hair of the Dog), the boys do some good old fashioned 1970's-styled brain frying, brain baking, brain sautéing, brain simmering, and brain boiling. It's all here, not always on every song or in the same order, but rest assured, there's a monster truck coming your way and it's loaded up with heavy riffs, funky grooves, and pummeled drums. If you're greedy and do want them all in one song, the 12-minute "Black Beauty" will satisfy, adding a five-minute drum solo, complete with bongos and cowbell, complimentary in the deal. We didn't have room for that one here, so we went with "No Harm," a ferocious ass-kicker with a propane-fueled vocal to match. Be prepared to get roasted alive...and like it.
03 "Work Until I Die" | S.G. Goodman
Kentucky's S.G. Goodman (first name unknown) just put out a great new album a few days ago titled Teeth Marks, and it's a special record. I haven't had it for long, but most of it has already embedded itself in my mind. It has stuck with me much in the same way as Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels on a Gravel Road did back in 1998. The way Regina Carter's Southern Comfort did in 2014. The way Amanda Shires' To the Sunset did in 2018. I already love the whole thing, but "Work Until I Die" is resonating with me right now after a long work week on the treadmill of life. It rocks convincingly and pleasingly, which is just what Friday night needs this, and every, week. There's no one song that sums up the aesthetic of Teeth Marks definitively. The only way to do that is to let the whole thing have its time and space. And I plan on giving it just that.
04 "Q4" | Father John Misty
I apologize if this tape has started out with some deeply cynical themes—unintentional I assure you. Cynical doesn't mean boring, of course. It never has. Some of the best art ever made has a nasty bite to it. And if you think Father John isn't going to get in on the action, you clearly haven't been paying close attention to his career for the last ten years. I do love having a song titled "Q4" on my Q2 mixtape. It wouldn't be as satisfying if properly filed. "Q4," like "Yada Yada" before it, and even "Work Until I Die" thereafter, deals with the concept of business over art, the grind of working for the man, and further lining the pockets of those already lighting their cigars with rolled-up $100 bills. The lyrics, as with all FJM songs, require close inspection...
Simone writes little of much consequence Unless black box theater's how you pay the rent A new work of some semi-memoir sits Inside the weekend book editors desk And while they have not mentioned it She must watch roses get thrown at less Oh, the indignity
That's about as good a start to a song as I've heard this year. How many times, and in how many situations, has life been unfair to the deserving? Even more so, how often has life been overly fair to the undeserving (who believe they are deserving)? Father John succeeds in pointing out the obvious in his usual clever way here and nobody makes the absurd sound so gorgeous—a talent I didn't know was needed until I discovered his music.
05 "Flyin (like a fast train)" | Kurt Vile
How many musicians have a distinct, instantly identifiable guitar style? Of those, who has an equally unique singing voice? And how many of those have a songwriting style that also stands out from the rest of the pack? Put all three of those elements together here and you have a singular artist, one that is always fascinating to check in with now and again to see what he's up to. His music is like a tap of free-flowing calm and wonder no matter what he's actually singing about. In this case, our stoned friend puts his spin on the classic train song, in a style, to quote Vile himself, "that's moving forward and backwards at the same time." And don't you doubt he can pull it off. "Flyin" sounds like no other train song you've ever heard mainly because it's a Kurt Vile train song. And that's his gift.
06 "Jackie Down the Line" | Fontaines D.C.
I consider their first two records classics, but each is very different from the other. Now we have a third take on the Fontaines D.C. sound and again, it drifts further away from what you might expect. By their fifth album, they'll probably sound like Radiohead. Let's hope not. Personally, I'm getting a little concerned. A recent streamed concert I watched got a little dull after a while, to be honest, with many of the songs striking a similar monotone. Which isn't to say there aren't amazing moments on the record, one being the newly minted Fontaines classic, "Jackie Down the Line."
07 "Anti-glory" | Horsegirl
For a first album, Horsegirl's Versions of Modern Performance is a pretty great start. It may not be as strong as the accolades foisted on it so far would lead you to believe, but it does show a band with great potential. For a band still in its teen years, you could call it remarkable. Lead-off track "Anti-glory" is an indication of what we're dealing with. A band that has taken decades of indie-rock and created something similar but fresh. Do you know all those older alternative bands you now love? Now go back and reassess their first record. There's a good chance it's not as good as this one.
08 "The Spanish Man" | The Silos
One of our favorite bands ever, the Silos have been a going concern, at the whim of founder Walter Salas-Humara, since 1985. If I made a list of the bands I've listened to the most since 1987, they'd be near the top. That's mainly due to the songcraft of Salas-Humara, who writes the songs nobody else does in a style nobody else uses. I can't think of a comparable band because there simply isn't any. His lyrics, by design, reveal only a part of the story. And often, not the parts that will provide resolution or clarity. It's like reading a book and only being allowed to read the first sentence of each paragraph. You might get the general idea of what's happening, but you'll never fully understand the nuances of the story. And I strongly prefer to not fill in the gaps on my own. There's great joy to be gained from remaining on the outside looking in. Every album the Silos have made has several essential songs to add to an ever-expanding playlist of favorites. "The Spanish Man," from the recently released Family, features one of his most pleasingly esoteric choruses, "Growing old and staying young / The Spanish man and his German son / The more you think the less you get done / The Spanish man and his German son." There's limited background provided, no clue as to how the Spanish man gained a German son, but we do get a sense of the challenges they face during their daily interactions. And that's enough to make the song stick with you long after its over. When you return to it later, I guarantee, something new will be revealed.
09 "Only Wanna See U Tonight" | Young Guv
This is not Fucked Up, that's for sure. That adored Canadian punk band couldn't be much further away from Young Guv, the solo project of band member Ben Cook. The band has been kicking out some amazing power-pop for several years now, with two records released in 2022 already. Thankfully, few modern bands do this sound better. It's that classic Byrdsian jangle updated for a new audience and it sounds gloriously convincing most of the time, if a touch derivative at others. "Only Wanna See U Tonight" sounds like a song written long ago, but it's brand new. Perfect for a summer drive.
10 "Caught Low" | Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
I'm not a huge fan of Rolling Blackouts C.F., so why do I keep going back to their trough? I wondered this until recently when I saw them playing live on TV, four guitars spread evenly across the front of the stage, and it hit me. I love the sound of guitars working together, unimpeded by a bunch of bullshit production. It's like going home to a sound I both love and need. "Caught Low" is one such song, in fact, it kind of reminds me of "Venus" by Television in a way ("Didja feel low?"). And any song that can do that is gonna work for me every time.
11 "Over and Over" | Beach House
Most people would love to stay at a beach house for a couple weeks of R&R (rest and relaxation, not rock and roll). But does everyone want a new 85-minute record from Beach House, the band? To be honest, the album's length was the reason I couldn't pull the trigger initially. "What an audacious ask of such an important and busy man like me!" I exclaimed as I settled in on a Friday night by myself, a pile of records stacked on my desk. And then I played "Over and Over," easily one of the band's greatest recorded moments. It took just seven minutes for this song to reacquaint me with the value proposition of the band: that there are grand mysteries remaining in this life that are well worth uncovering. With that in mind, Once Twice Melody is a record I'm taking slowly on purpose. It's one of those that can't be rushed, so I'm expecting a time-release payoff some time in mid-September at my current pace.
12 "As It Was" | Harry Styles
Harry Styles isn't selling out five straight nights at major arenas for nothing. He has universal appeal. Kids like him, adults like him, everybody fucking likes him. I hate him. And I like him. I want to be him, too. There are few consensus artists around these days and he's one of them. Give yourself up, he's got you under his spell. He has a knack for picking just the right songs to mirror his naturally engaging personality and eclectic sense of style. "As It Was" is just a timeless song, rendered effortlessly. So many songs I hear these days do not seem built to last, but this one is. I can see myself listening to it for a long time, which is the highest compliment I can give to a modern pop song.
13 "Aguanileó Oggún (Oggún)" | Sintesis, X Alfonso & Eme Alfonso
"A symphonic interpretation of an Afro-Cuban spiritual tradition that is commonly referred to as Santeria,
which originated in West Africa and is still widely practiced on the island
and among the Afro-Cuban diaspora world wide."
I stole this description from NPR's Felix Contreras since the music contained on this record is beyond me, frankly. Not beyond my enjoyment, of course; it's just an area I don't feel very qualified to write about. My understanding is that each symphonic chant or rhythm on this record is dedicated to a specific deity and all I can add is that is, if I was one of the deities being serenaded, I'd be pretty fucking happy—elated even—with the majestic tributes contained throughout Ancestros Sinfónico. The album, put together by a Cuban family band and a host of guest musicians, clearly has a higher calling than most and the effort expended to get this music perfect is goddamn amazing. Be prepared to be swept up in sound.
14 "Baby, I Had An Abortion" | Petrol Girls
From their great new record, Baby, here are the lyrics, to which I have nothing to add but support.
I'm a god-damn should-be-mother Got a womb so that's my purpose I'm a god-damn incubator But baby I'll see you later
Whose life are you pro? Whose do you want to control? Heaven forbid my rights Heaven forgive what I decide
Shame, shame, shame Point your finger and cry Shame, shame, shame Oh I feel it deep inside
Baby, I had an abortion Baby, I had an abortion Baby, I had an abortion Baby, I had an abortion
And I am not sorry
Oh it's a god damn moral panic Save the sperm because it's sacred Blessed is the fetus But god damn the children in existence
Whose life are you pro? Whose do you want to control You want to come inside Tell me how I'm traumatized
Shame, shame, shame Point your finger and cry oh it's a Shame, shame, shame
That I'm not sorry I'm not sorry
Baby, I had an abortion Baby, I had an abortion Baby, I had an abortion Baby, I had an abortion
Baby, I had Baby, I had Baby, I had Baby, I had Baby, I had Baby, I had Baby, I had
An abortion An abortion An abortion An abortion
15 "Mistakes" | Sharon Van Etten
Sharon Van Etten has said her new record, We've Been Going About This All Wrong, is "designed to be listened to in order, at once, so that a much larger story of hope, loss, longing and resilience can be told." You know what that means don't you? It means we here at Pickled Priest are going to carve out one catchy song from the album and slap it on a mixtape out of context!
16 "Castilleja" | Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway
Molly Tuttle is an institution in bluegrass circles already and she's not even 30 yet. That's how respected she is. She's already got a fat Rolodex of illustrious pals and she isn't afraid to use it, as proven by her latest LP, Crooked Tree, which sports as many features as the typical Migos album. On this record alone, Margo Price, Billy Strings, Gillian Welch, Dan Tyminski, Sierra Hull, and Old Crow Medicine Show make appearances. If I had my way, I'd clear the decks and tell Molly she doesn't need the star-studded cameos. She has enough charm and talent all by her lonesome to carry an album solo—in fact, it would be better that way. Proof? The beautifully atmospheric "Castilleja." It stands out on a record of great songs sung by so-called stars. Whenever I hear it, I get lost. And that's a good quality in a song.
17 "Carriebelle" | Jake Xerxes Fussell
He's quickly becoming a national treasure, he is. "Carriebelle" is another example of a man practicing his craft, which is recording public domain folk songs for a modern audience without losing the integrity of the original material. And nobody does it better. His reverence for the material is unquestionable, and his restrained, delicate approach to performing the songs is captivating.
18 "Sage Motel" | Monophonics
Colemine Records' anchor band, the Monophonics, led by the versatile blue-eyed soul vocalist Kelly Finnegan, have released their most ambitious album to date in Sage Motel. They've committed to a concept here and the entirety of the record unfolds like a day at the cheap motel of the title, complete with guests checking in and out in various states of disrepair and morality. The whole thing is like a sweaty dream on a cheap mattress. The record sounds like a product of the 70s, a perfect setting for the mood they are trying to capture, but the recording is 21st century pristine. Title-track "Sage Motel" is fittingly the centerpiece. Finnegan turns in one of his all-time great vocals on the track, which puts you right there next to a pool much in need of a thorough cleaning. There's no record this year that sustains a mood throughout like this one. If you buy the deluxe bundle direct from Colemine, they'll even send you a Sage Motel matchbook and room key. So check in for a while, hourly rates available.
19 "The Darker It Gets" | Charlie Gabriel
This doesn't fit in with Sub Pop's roster of indie and grunge favorites, but they've been pushing outside of their boundaries for the last few years, so why not? Charlie Gabriel is a member of the beloved Preservation Hall Jazz Band, who have also released music on Sub Pop, and what we have here is his debut album at the ripe old age of, you guessed it, 89. Will Adele also title an album 89 someday? I won't be around to hear it, but we can wish on a star for it to happen. Charlie wrote "The Darker It Gets" for a previous PHJB record, but here he strips it down to trio size, which makes it sound like a jazz club standard from the 20s. It's both beautiful and haunting, as Charlie yearns for a woman to find that dark place inside his heart where his capacity for love is shackled and chained, waiting for emancipation.
20 "Mother I Sober" | Kendrick Lamar Ft. Beth Gibbons
When I go on vacation, sometimes I never unpack my suitcase. Why bother? I'm just going to be going home soon anyway. Kendrick has been unpacking his emotional bags for years and I'm not sure he will ever finish, there's just too much history to reconcile. And even if he could, would he want to go home anyway? It doesn't sound like its an option. I haven't finished digesting his latest collection of square dance calls, Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, but whenever "Mother I Sober" comes on, I take notice. Other parts of the album drift by aimlessly, but the sign of something great is when it snaps you out of whatever you're doing and makes you focus on that moment alone. Nice cameo from Ms. Portishead, too.
21 "Angst" | Rammstein
You're not going to like this one I bet, but there's really no good place to slot Rammstein on a mixtape and I feel compelled to do so, credibility risk be damned. So I'm just going to jam them in here near the end and hope it doesn't fuck up the flow completely. What else can you do with a theatrical industrial metal band who sings all their lyrics in German, the worst language ever created? Despite all this, I am thankful that Rammstein exist. Not knowing what the fuck is happening is one of greatest feelings and the band's over-the-top preposterousness is a welcome diversion in my so-called life. If you want to see what I mean, watch the video included for "Angst." It's inexplicably bizarre, but you won't be able turn away.* Good news, however: behind all the surface distraction a quick translation of the lyrics reveals a song that seems to decry racism, which is admirable (and a major problem in Germany, which won't shock anyone). So set aside all your biases and preconceived notions for this one, folks. If you're like me, you might delight in the sheer absurdity of it all.
For further amusement, check out their "Dicke Titten" ("Big Tits") video, another song from their new record, Zeit (Time), which is like a Russ Meyer film set during Oktoberfest. Clearly this is a band with a devilish sense of humor.
22 "Ruination" | Rob Jungklas
You know you're off the grid when you have a song that's not even on Youtube. No fucking official video, no lyric video, no live video, no nothing, bless his heart. No wonder we've always loved the guy. Memphis local favorite Rob Jungklas, he of "Memphis Thing" fame, has kicked out about a dozen albums in a row made for the sheer love of creating music (and what better reason?). His latest, Rebel Souls, is pretty damn good, too. "Ruination," the album's opening song, is dark poetry with a Biblical bent that, if recorded by Nick Cave, would probably be considered one of his classic songs. I mean, "the body's ruination is the soul's release"? That's some heavy shit. But it's also true, I'm displeased to report.
23 "Colonizer" | Tanya Tagaq
Listener's warning: this "song" is unlike anything else you've heard in a while, if not ever. It's main purpose is to bring an issue out of the darkness. It also reinforces the social power of music. Once you acquire the backstory of Tanya Tagaq's powerful "Colonizer" you might then be able to appreciate that music has many forms and purposes. This is one of them. And it's haunting as fuck. Tanya is an acclaimed and awarded Canadian (Inuit) throat-singer whose music is often created to highlight the atrocities committed against the oppressed people of her home country. Recently, for example, a mass grave was found with 1,400 indigenous children buried in it, likely the result of a mass slaughter long ago that was covered up. She defiantly titled her new record, Tongues, to warn others that they may have taken everything possible from her people over the years, but they cannot take away their collective voice of protest. It's powerful stuff, to say the least. "Colonizer" is a punishing, eerie, and haunting indictment, achieved with a vocal that brings Exorcist-era Linda Blair to mind. Did she cut an album whilst possessed? I joke, but the song has that kind of disturbing impact, and all the while you cannot turn away.
24 "One Man's Prayer" | Regina Spektor
I love a song that seems to be one thing and turns out to be another. Usually. In this case, "One Man's Prayer" seems like the innocent yearning of a man who prays to find a girl to settle down with. But knowing Regina, you're not likely to get a story that ends there. The last two verses take the song from light to dark in an instant, with the man revealing his true motives. I won't ruin it, but rest assured, it's not what it seems.
25 "Los Angeles" | Darden Smith
Darden Smith's new record reminds you of how pure and genuine music can be when it is, first and foremost, the byproduct of inspiration not commerce. So readjust your expectations and calibrate your ears for something unassuming yet profound, born of a solo trip across West Texas with a Polaroid camera and a guitar in tow. Darden Smith has been around awhile. His record with Boo Hewerdine, Evidence from 1989, still ranks among my favorite Americana albums ever. In Texas music circles he's well-known; elsewhere not so much. But those who do know his work cherish it for its simple melodies and understated singing. This time, Darden has pushed that approach to the next level. He's released not only a really pretty and often touching new record, but he's also given us a hardcover book in the deal, one that includes the photographs that inspired the record. In the book, we get short stories. lyrics, and poems written by Darden that are meant to accompany the record. It's a multi-media project driven by the need to capture what his eyes, ears, and senses locked into on his travels around his home state. You can almost feel the dust on your hands from his trip as you listen to the record. It's as if you are riding shotgun with him as the wheels in his mind slowly turn. Western Skies is a record that could drift right on by you in this fast paced world, but if you give it some time, I think you'll appreciate the beauty of some simple songs sung with heart.
26 "Back Seat" | Chastity Brown
Minneapolis pop/soul singer Chastity Brown is a talent who is not getting enough attention. Her last record, Silhouette of Sirens, was a favorite of ours back in 2017, and just as I was starting to wonder if she would return, we get her next excellent record, this year's Sing to the Walls. The title track is a stirring homage to the power of music to break down emotional walls and talk straight to the heart. I like to end with a powerful message sometimes, and for a while that's the direction in which I was headed. Instead, I chose "Back Seat," a song that seems to treat every road as a possible destination. There's a sense of possibility in the song, one that reminds me of sacred ground, Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car." In feel, more than in execution. This time, there are no specific details provided, no specific picture painted, but there is still that feeling of being in a fast car with the wind rushing through your hair, when you feel on top of the world and that anything is still possible.
See you soon with more songs...