Pickled Priest Mixtape: Our Favorite Songs of Q3 2022

Due to overwhelming time demands this month, I deliver only one tape this quarter. The rest will be saved for our year-end blowout, miraculously planned for about 60 days from now. The songs unfold in conceptual order and imply no ranking or preference. It's a real mixtape. But it isn't.



SIDE A


1 "Expert in a Dying Field" | The Beths

Why We Like It:

While I was secretly hoping this was going to be an attack on rock critics who refuse to believe their favorite music isn't cool anymore, it's actually just another love song. The twist here is that by the time we start to understand love, it's already too late and nobody wants to listen to our advice anyway. A bummer, yes, but at least it's set to a nifty power-pop melody .


2 "Catch a Colt" | The Afghan Whigs

Why We Like It:

There has been loads of nostalgia for the 1990s spewing from the internet lately. Even Pitchfork released yet another revision to their master list of the decade's best albums and songs and you better believe it's pretentious as shit, complete with Mariah Carey, not Nirvana, sitting atop their song list. Time to stick a pitchfork in the site—it's done. Even worse, no Afghan Whigs this time; presumably they couldn't decide what to do with Greg Dulli's night prowler sexuality despite the fact that the Whigs made three phenomenal albums in the decade (Congregation, Gentlemen, and 1965). The boys get the last laugh, however, by releasing another great rock album over twenty years after the 90s burned out and faded away. "Catch a Colt" lives up to its title by galloping into 2022 sounding as fresh and vital as the band has ever been.



3 "Understood" | Built to Spill

Why We Like It:

Trot out any revered band you want from the 1990s (and don't even attempt to sell me Pearl Jam) and I guarantee you they haven't had a longer shelf life around the Pickled Priest offices than the collected works of Built to Spill. Since their debut in 1993 to this year's The Wind Forgets Your Name, the band has not released one album we haven't liked. "Understood" features Doug Martsch in top form, delivering that alt-rock sound we crave. This is the real BTS. Accept no substitutes.


4 "Hearts Underground" | Tallies

Why We Like It:

If there's not going to be a new Lush record in our immediate future, then this Toronto power trio (no, not Rush) fills the void nicely, thanks to lead singer Sarah Cogan's perfect dream pop croon that has just a trace level of coarse texture in just the right spots. No wonder Tallies landed on Simon Raymonde's (Cocteau Twins) label, Bella Union. It's a match made in heaven!



5 "Rollercoaster Ride" | Dazy

Why We Like It:

All power-pop bands are allowed one "rollercoaster" song and Richmond, Virginia's Dazy (actually a one-man-band helmed by James Goodson) has chosen to take a stab at pop songwriting's laziest metaphor (just ahead of the "mirrorball" song) on his debut album, Outofbody, which doesn't get released until late-October. Normally I wait for the full album to drop, but my curiosity got the better of me this time, so here it is in all its twisting, turning glory.



6 "Just Like That" | Ha Ha Tonka

Why We Like It:

"I said that I don't want to see / But I'm beginning to believe / That I've got more past now than future."


Ha Ha Tonka lead singer Brian Roberts sang that line back in 2013 during "Rewrite Our Lives," and it hit almost too close to home at the time. Great song, yes, harsh truth, for sure. Almost a decade later, we're back on the same theme with "Just Like That," presumably from an unannounced yet forthcoming record. While I didn't need to be reminded once again that time flies, somehow Ha Ha Tonka, a band that seems more like a group of close friends at this point, make the inevitable reality of aging sound almost like a badge of honor, earned for a lifetime of service. There aren't many bands that can make you feel joyous about becoming irrelevant.



7 "Anything Was Better" | The Interrupters

Why We Like It:

I was skeptical, I'll admit. I don't warm easily to ska-punk, but the California-based Interrupters seem to be the genuine article, deserving of their cult following. You've gotta be in the right mood for this kind of stuff, but when the time is just right, it positively jumps from worthy speakers. Much of the credit goes to an ace lead singer, Amy Interrupter (née Amy Allen), who I encourage to drop the stupid pseudonym. She's got a credible, streetwise delivery that recalls classic SoCal pop-punk from the early-80s and she's friends with the guys from Rancid (who do a cameo on one track). That should give you an idea what you're in for. She also has a stuffed-up nose snarl akin to a female Billie Joe Armstrong and has enough reverence for the style to invite Rhoda Dakar of Brit ska band the Bodysnatchers in for a cameo. She's also had a rough go in life as "Anything Was Better" elucidates. It sounds like nothing short of a lost Social Distortion classic.



8 "Typecast" | Lifeguard

Why We Like It:

This song gives us faith that noise, glorious noise, is making a comeback. At least in Chicago it is, courtesy of these three high schoolers who are likely getting their asses picked-on by some bully at this very moment. The "geeks" always get the last laugh, however, and here it's in the form of a 16-minute EP titled Crowd Can Talk that churns out guitar shrapnel like a combine running over a bike rack.


(Entire album stream above, but "Typecast" comes in around the 9:30 mark)



9 "Go Dancing" | Rae Morris (ft. Fryars)

Why We Like It:

We love our lil' Rae because she's a bit of a dreamer and a lot of an oddball. It makes her slightly off-kilter take on modern pop both endearing and fresh despite a little Auto-Tune here and there. "Go Dancing" is a duet with Benjamin Garrett (aka Fryars) that features a couple debating the merits of staying home or going out for a big night out. One thing that seems sure is Rae is going to be dancing with character somewhere, with someone, by the end of the night.



10 "Virgo's Groove" | Beyoncé

Why We Like It:

No less than ten songwriters and three producers teamed up on this one, and amazingly, it's one of the more stripped-down efforts on Renaissance, Beyoncé's over-everything monstrosity. ("Alien Superstar," by comparison, had 8 lyricists, 18 music credits, and 8 producers!) I have to admit, I find the whole production to be a bit much in one sitting. One big exception is "Virgo's Groove," which is a total astro-blast that heralds the arrival of Earth's new Queen Mother. Or is that role below her at this point?



11 "Code" | The Comet is Coming

Why We Like It:

I'm not too worried that Shabaka Hutchings has announced the end of Sons of Kemet, one of my favorite bands of the last ten years. I never expected they would last forever. Especially considering the guy just doesn't stay in one place for very long, juggling more special projects and appearances than Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest combined. The guy gets bizzy, in other words. The only question is how soon will he shut down The Comet is Coming, his electro-jazz freakout experiment? Even that doesn't matter. He'll replace it with something equally good, most likely, and as long as his undulating skronk is in the house, that's all I'm concerned with. And on "Code" he wails like a madman, creating a futuristic world with no limits that's a thrill to witness.



12 "The Darkest Part" | Danger Mouse & Black Thought (ft. Raekwon and Kid Sister)

Why We Like It:

"The deeper the breath, the louder the scream." Great line from, in my opinion, the best rap album of 2022 so far. Danger Mouse lays down his usual inventive grooves and Black Thought (with mandatory guest features) spits a series of densely-woven ideas that penetrate your mind and haunt you after they're gone. He says it best on "The Darkest Part," just one of many new classics he's contributed on Cheat Codes:


I guess technically, I'm on another echelon

It just gets to me the way they lay the pressure on

It ain't a easy odyssey for you to follow me

We do kinesiology with no apologies



13 "Why" | Chat Pile

Why We Like It:

Oklahoma's Chat Pile (name taken from poisonous mountains of zinc and lead mining refuse commonly found in the state) aren't for everyone, so I've parked this track at the dark end of side two in case you want to FF over to side two at this point. Suit yourself. But the visceral disgust with America being spewed here by lead-hyena Raygun Busch (Cap'n Ron on drums!) is hard to ignore and impossible to refute. "Why do people have to live outside!!!" is screamed over an over with understandable rage. There's a similar bitter pill throughout this album that all of us either have to swallow and accept or choose to do something about and Chat Pile intend to do their part to make it hard to turn away. So let's do something about the problem before Chat Pile rips our heads off and shits down our collective throats.



SIDE B


14 "Fight On!" | The Harlem Gospel Travelers

Why We Like It:

Just because you've placed your soul in the hands of a higher power does not mean you've got to let yourself be marginalized by society. This is uplifting gospel-soul music with a social purpose that would make the Staple Singers proud.



15 "Pray for Me I Don't Fit In" | Melt Yourself Down

Why We Like It:

This London collective melted some shit down to make their new record, Pray For Me I Don't Fit In, that's for sure. The title track seems includes a little of everything and acts as a de facto menu of the band's influences. I'm not sure the track ever finds its own identity but it's fun watching it try. The title says it all. Am I jazz? Am I Afrobeat? Funk? Latin-jazz? Rock? Puerto Rican dancehall? Melt Yourself Down gain their power by never saying no to anything. The result is a thrilling, unpredictable whirlwind of a record.



16 "Welcome to Hell" | Black Midi

Why We Like It:

Mainly because we like to see bands completely go off the rails. We like a song that's so unexplainable that merely endorsing it will call my critical credibility into question for the vast majority of unsuspecting listeners. And I'm not sure how I would prepare someone for this if you could. Maybe a weekend alone with Sun Ra, Frank Zappa, and Primus? When is the last time the U.S. produced a band anywhere close to Black Midi? Answer: not in this century at least.



17 "Greasin' Up Jesus" | Warmduscher

Why We Like It:

The name is German for "warm showerer," but it's actually meant as a putdown if I understand it right, the connotation being the person in question is kind of a pussy. Call me a pussy if those are your conditions, but this London band is nothing of the sort. They're just a ribald group of demented weirdos* who thrive on a madcap presentation that sometimes succeeds and sometimes goes up in flames. I was drawn to this long groove by the title, but I must say this is a seductive little wide-wale corduroy groove that would be the perfect soundtrack for oiling up the son of god's six-pack abs.


*Band member names include: Clams Baker Jr., Mr. Salt Fingers Lovecraft, Quicksand, and The Witherer aka Little Whiskers.



18 "I've Been Drunk in Every Pub in Brisbane" | The Chats

Why We Like It:

The Chats hail from Australia, a place we love despite the fact we've never been there nor have any ties to it beyond a lifelong Olivia Newton-John (RIP) fixation. Our affection for it is mainly because it's the only continent that seems to realize that rock & roll isn't dead yet. Which brings us to the Chats, a band of good old-fashioned fuck-ups who favor getting pissed (the band's website is www.thechatslovebeer.com) and cranking out fast and reckless punk singles just like their West London contemporaries Chubby and the Gang. There's no going wrong with just about any song on their new album, but this one sounds like it could be the band's 90-second operating model or elevator speech, so it's as good an introduction to their frenetic brand of rock & roll as any.



19 "Baby Criminal" | Viagra Boys

Why We Like It:

I was settling in for a little lighthearted TV the other day with the new Dahmer miniseries on Netflix and one moment from the first episode really got to me. It's when the police sit down for the first time with Jeffrey's father to go over the reasons his son has been arrested. I don't know how anyone could remain upright during such a moment—I would've collapsed long before they brought up cannibalism, that I assure you. Well, the Viagra Boys are back with their own harrowing tale of a baby grown up wrong, presumably due to wires being crossed at birth or somewhere along the way. Their story is a little more palatable, and presumably fictional, especially coming from a rock band with a lead singer who sounds like a cross between Screamin' Jay Hawkins and legendary baseball announcer, Harry Caray.



20 "Stealing Dark from the Night Sky" | Arlo McKinley

Why We Like It:

The reason it took Arlo McKinley until his 40s to emerge can be found in plain sight, right there in his lyrics. You can't write songs like his unless you've lived through some dark nights of the soul. Taylor Swift may have a new album featuring songs about thirteen sleepless nights during her life, but you get the impression here that McKinley might've had that many in the average fortnight during his life. His songwriting never sounds manufactured, instead it carries with it the authenticity of someone who has been through the ringer more than a few times and lived to tell the tale. I can't think of a better analogy for it that "Stealing Dark From the Night Sky" from his new album, The Mess We're In. But if everything is so bleak, how can the song so beautiful? Perhaps his past makes him cherish everything a little bit more now. That in a nutshell may be the secret to his success.


Note: I rarely say this, but if you're going to watch one video today, this should be it.



21 "Re-Amathambo" | Nduduzo Makhathini

Why We Like It:

Because if any new label is going to start up this year, you can't get much more promising than Blue Note Africa. The only question is why did it take so long? If their first release is any indication of what to expect, we're in for some incredible music. Makhathini is an accomplished and revered South African pianist and his album, In the Spirit of Ntu, seems a natural choice to kick off the legendary jazz label's new venture. The album combines incredible music that brings with it a deep understanding of African culture and the social struggles they've endured throughout history. It makes sense then that this is not a traditional sounding jazz album, in fact Makhathini himself has referred to it as more of a musical "prayer." Although one track is highlighted here, this is a true album, meant to be experienced in its entirety with full, focused attention. The spiritual reward will be worth your time.


22 "Um Choro" | Juçara Marçal

Why We Like It:

Brazil's wildly eclectic sound artist Juçara Marçal made our #12 album of 2021 with Delta Estácio Blues and now we've been blessed unexpectedly with a new EP (Epdeb) from those same lucrative sessions. Sometimes such "leftovers" EPs can disappoint, but Marçal's on such a creative roll lately, there's no such worry here. On "Um Choro," we find Marçal walking down a Brazilian street on a Saturday night, intoxicating rhythms floating in and out of earshot as she passes each open doorway.



23 "Anx" | Belief

Why We Like It:

Warpaint drummer extraordinaire Stella Mozgawa adds to an already strong year by teaming up with hip-hop producer Boom Bip (Bryan Hollon) on this slick old-school techno record. The twist is that Mozgawa plays along Bip's beats live, weaving in between the blips and beeps, adding some real humanity to some already pretty cool nob-twiddling. She's the star of the show for me whenever, and for whoever, she plays and it's no different here.



24 "Doomscroller" | Metric

Why We Like It:

To fit a 10+ minute track on one of our quarterly mixtapes is an accomplishment, but there is just no denying the haunting power of Metric's epic "Doomscroller," a song that captures the sensation of sliding hopelessly down the dark vortex known as doomscrolling, a compulsion to focus on negative or tragic news on social media. The first half of the song chronicles the mentally damaging process of staring at a tiny screen for hours on end immersed in the sadness and tragedies of others. The accompanying music is both riveting and disturbing, contrasted perfectly by the gentle, dreamy voice of Emily Haines. She anchors the track in beauty no matter how menacing it gets. Thankfully, the feeling doesn't last for the entire ten minutes and there's hope to be found in the song's waning moments.


25 "I Won't Be Afraid" | Willi Carlisle

Why We Like It:

If you don't listen too closely, you might assume Willi Carlisle's splendid record, Peculiar, Missouri, to be a reissue of a long-lost folk gem from the late-50s or early 60s. His songs show reverence for the old folk masters but, upon repeated inspection, contain enough modern references to pin them to a more current time and place. They also reveal a man coming to terms with himself—a gay folk troubadour with an old soul wondering if and how he fits in to this world. "I Won't Be Afraid" is a stirring anthem that finds him finally realizing he's got to rise above his fears and be who he is once and for all. I can see the song helping others in similar circumstances. It's one of those end-of-the-festival moments where all the artists lock arms in unity for one final song until they meet again. It would be a magical moment.



26 "Gardiner's Island" | Marina Allen

Why We Like It:

We end with another timeless sounding folk song, this time from L.A. songwriter Marina Allen, who might've missed her exit on the space-time continuum, emerging in 2022 when she planned on dropping into Laurel Canyon in the early 70s right next door to David Crosby, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young. Her poetic, beguiling songs seem to retain an air of mystery despite their surface simplicity, never revealing a complete picture. The refrain of "Gardiner's Island," features Allen repeating the question "What am I looking at? / What am I looking at?" as if she's not quite sure what to make of her songs either.

_______________________


Well, Q3 is over and we're heading soon into "List Season." Get your rifle lubed up. The thought of putting 2022 into context is daunting, but the Pickled Priest is here to do just that. See you soon.


The Priest