Concert Highlights of 2022

Is it too late to still be looking back on 2022 on January 12? I rung in the new year with my second case of Shingles, so I’m going to just go ahead with this listing of my favorite concerts of 2022!

5. Metric and Secret Machines at the House of Blues in Boston on October 25. I know my ears and soul were deprived most egregiously during Covid, but I’ve seen Metric several times since 2005 and I think they’ve never sounded better. Opener Secret Machines were a shoegaze/space rock treat! I hadn’t seen them in ages.

Pet Shop Boys at the Leader Bank Pavilion on September 19/Photo by Amy Lordan

4. Pet Shop Boys, New Order, and Paul Oakenfold at the Leader Bank Pavilion on September 19. This show was originally scheduled for 2020, then 2021, then (third time’s the charm!) 2022. This was an outrageously good performance by the always amazing Pet Shop Boys. We did get a little wet while we sheltered in place under the tent during a strong thunderstorm after the legendary New Order. And when I say “we,” I mean my husband and … my brother! My brother rarely goes to shows anymore, but he’s the best big brother ever because he took me to see New Order in 1993. That was when Peter Hook was still on bass, and quite honestly, best part of New Order live. Don’t get me wrong: I looooove New Order, but they’ve never been the best live band and they end up paling in comparison to the theatrical PSB.

The National at Roadrunner on September 22/Photo by Amy Lordan

3. The National at Roadrunner on September 22. I have a huge crush on The National. Singer Matt Berninger’s melancholy and wit suits me perfectly. My first time seeing The National was at Mass MoCA with my bookseller dream girl Lisa (AKA Tigger Girl). I’m guessing that show will always hold a special place in my heart. But this was my first show at the new Roadrunner and I was impressed. The venue is pretty decent from a disabled person’s point of view. I did have issues getting into the bathroom after the show because the line went down the stairs and I needed to use the ramp. Miracle of Boston/The National fans/gender neutral bathrooms: people at the top of the stairs let me in line! Of course I still had to wait for someone without visible impairments use the handicapped stall while I braced myself with my rollator (Hey! Maybe they have invisible disabilities. I do!). The ADA section is down front, stage right. I couldn’t see the excellent brass section from our angle, but the view of the rest of the band was incomparable. Heads up: email Roadrunner to request ADA seating in advance.

2. Itzy at MGM Music Hall in Boston on November 10. This was so close to being my number one show of 2022! See that “YouTube Story” above that I made? It has over 120K views and 19.2K likes on Instagram. Itzy is so fun and popular! Right, Midzi? (That’s what Itzy fans are called). I loved this night of K-Pop confection because it was my nephew’s first concert! I’m such a cool aunt. We even went to El Jefe’s for tacos after.

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis at the Wang Theatre at the Boch Center on March 22/Photo by Amy Lordan

1. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis at the Wang Theatre at the Boch Center on March 22. This was my return show. I hadn’t been to a concert since Local H and Soul Asylum in February of 2020. Nick Cave is one of my top five favorite artists and possibly my most beloved lyricist (I do still have a soft spot for that Morrissey fella, plus Jarvis Cocker, Stephin Merritt, Emma Anderson/Miki Berenyi of Lush, Robert Smith, … wait this is getting too long!) Anyhow, I wept and tried to not steam up my glasses with my N95 mask while Cave and Ellis broke my heart wide open. Here’s the thing: being disabled can suck, but music is transcendant.

I only went to eleven shows total last year. I missed Blood Red Shoes, The Darkness, and Suede/Manic Street Preachers because I was too sick to leave the house. I won’t be going to another show until after flu season because I’m immunocompromised. At every show I attended, I wore an N95 mask. I use various mobility aides because of the degenerative illness that I have (Ehlers Danlos syndrome. I’ve been vaccinated five times against Covid. I got my flu shot as I do every year. I’m due for my pneumonia vaccine in the fall. Because my immune system is so crappy, I have to really measure how important a concert is. When I recently got bronchial RSV with asthma flare, I was out of work for four weeks. I love to live vicariously through others’ concert photos (I’m looking at you jtourtellot, djangiec, eep_97, and Matt Lambert! Keep up the good work!)

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Best of 2022 in Music

Chrystabell at Joe’s Pub in NYC in 2017/Photo by Amy Lordan

ChrystabellMidnight Star The chanteuse has taken her trademark ethereal sound and mixed it with sci-fi disco. Includes a spacey interpretation of The Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way.”

Taylor Swift Midnights (3am Edition) I was obsessed with Swift’s Folklore and Evermore, which makes sense because it was co-produced by Aaron Dessner of The National and I loooooove The National. Now I guess I’m a Swifty despite the absence of Dessner from Midnights.

Harry StylesHarry’s House The third album from Styles isn’t quite the opus that Fine Line was, but it’s still a bop.

MitskiLaurel Hell This album is a downer and I adore it. It is perfect alongside any Lisa Germano album or Elena Tonra’s (Daughter) Ex:Re solo project.

Curve – Astoria London 1991 – Bootleg Series Vol 16 This live recording of Curve, released on Bandcamp, is a must for diehard fans of the electronic rock band.

CannonsFever Dream Recommended for fans of Canadian duo Electric Youth. Upbeat synthwave to brighten your day.

Jack WhiteFear of the Dawn The first of two albums that White released this year is a rocking good time.

Panda Riot – Extra Cosmic Shimmery shoegaze and my new crush.

Wet LegWet Leg Everyone loves Wet Leg and with good reason. The English duo have put out a dazzling indie rock debut.

††† – PERMANENT.RADIANT Chino Moreno of Deftones’ goth side project with Far’s Shaun Lopez hums with a dark delirium on this EP.

Conan Gray Superache This is my guilty pleasure pick. It’s full-on pop for teenagers and I love it. Now I just wish he’d come back to Boston so I can take my nephew to see him.

Chorusgirl – Colapso Calypso Lo-fi meets Kraut pop.

Johnny Marr and the author/Photo by Kate Hutchinson

Johnny MarrFever Dream, Pts. 1-4 This half of the severed alliance has graced our ears with sonic gems.

Butch WalkerButch Walker as… Glenn With Glenn, Butch Walker visits AM ‘70s soft rock with aplomb.

DubstarTwo On their fifth album, Dubstar delivers a solid synth-dream-pop confection.

Blood Red ShoesGhosts On Tape It’s like Nine Inch Nails and Metric had a baby and named it Blood Red Shoes. The English duo have made a brilliant album of brooding, synth-laden, alt-rock.

SuedeAutofiction One of my saddest days of 2022 was when I missed seeing Suede and the Manic Street Preachers because I had viral bronchitis. I. Was. So. Sad. At least I have my memories of the two times I had already seen Suede, plus this new rocking, glorious album.

James Shaw and Emily Haines of Metric at the House of Blues Boston in 2022/Photo by Amy Lordan

MetricFormentera The epic “Doomscroller” opens Formentera with a bleak ferocity. The whole album is solid and when they toured in support of it this past fall, they never sounded better.

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis performing in Boston in 2022/Photo by Amy Lordan

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Blonde (film score) Another gorgeous and haunting score from the legendary Bad Seeds duo.

White LiesAs I Try Not to Fall Apart The first time I saw White Lies was at the Lansdowne Pub in Boston. They were touring in support of their first album, To Lose My Life… circa 2009 and their tour manager, Gigs, was a friend who asked me to check them out. I’m so glad he did. They’re like Interpol, if Interpol were British. On this, their sixth album, they’ve created more moody yet soaring sonic tunes.

PlaceboNever Let Me Go “It’s all good when I feel nothing” sings Brian Molko on the opening track “Forever Chemicals.” As someone with a degenerative illness, I feel that line. On this, their eighth album, Placebo have produced another gorgeous collection of alt-rock anthems.

Top Albums of 2021

17. Liz Phair – Soberish

16. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

15. Juliana HatfieldBlood

14. AFI – Bodies

13. Crowded House – Dreamers Are Waiting

12. Morcheeba – Blackest Blue

11. Saint Vincent – Daddy’s Home

10. Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

9. Olivia RodrigoSour

8. Garbage – No Gods No Masters

7. Dark Tropics – Ink

6. Piroshka – Love Drips & Gathers

5. Antonioni – Antonioni This self-titled album of shimmery indie rock helped me get through a recent hospital stay.

4. The Darkness – Motorheart You can find those riffs you’ve been missing over here.

3. Lana Del ReyChemtrails Over the Country Club (Note: I haven’t gotten her Blue Bannisters yet)

2. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Carnage I sure do hope we can get this pandemic under control so I can see this brilliant duo next year.

1. Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend I am obsessed with this album. There’s not a bad track on it. Check out their new, mesmerizing performance of “Delicious Things” on YouTube.

Best Release by a Lordan: Jeremy Lordan – Songs of Jeremy Lordan. I really dig my Jeremy’s music and I’m not just saying that because he’s my cousin. Take a wander over to Bandcamp and check it out!

Best Re-issue/Re-package/Re-evaluate the Songs:

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – B-Sides & Rarities, Part II

Garbage – Beautful Garbage 20th Anniversary Edition

Taylor Swift – Evermore (Deluxe Edition)

Belly – The Bees

Best Metal Albums

Fate DeStroyed – Within These Walls

Converge & Chelsea Wolfe – Blood Moon

Best Movie Musical Soundtrack

The Sparks – Annette

Best Movie Score

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – La Panthére Des Neiges

Best EPs/Singles

Discothèque – Discothèque 2.0 EP

Dubstar – Tectonic Plates (single)

Favorite Albums of 2020

Other than hugging my mom, what I missed the most this year has been concerts. When I saw Soul Asylum and Local H in February, I had no idea that it would be my last show of 2020. When I worked in the music industry, some weeks I’d be at shows every night. One night, when I worked at Ryko Distribution, I saw three separate concerts (at three different venues) on one night. I saw more shows on that one night than I have in all of 2020.

The upside of all of this quarantining at home, aside from reading way more than usual, has been the bonus music exploration time. KEXP, WERS, Hot Press, Bandcamp, and Vanyaland were some of my favorite sources for new tunes. When I wasn’t reading, you could find me playing Animal Crossing while blasting music.

As someone who’s immunocompromised and spent three months quarantining when she was 12, escaping through music has been a big part of my life. I wouldn’t have been able to make it through this year without these albums (and many, many others). Without further ado, here’s my top ten favorite albums of 2020!

Top Ten Favorite Albums

Matt Berninger’s Serpentine Prison | Photo by Amy Lordan

10. Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison The frontman of The National released his first solo effort and it’s quite excellent. It picks up where The National’s Trouble Will Find Me left off.

9. Butch Walker – American Love Story This is Walker’s musical! Maybe someday it’ll be on the stage. For now, you can enjoy its many power pop ear worms like “Fuck It (I Don’t Like Love)” and “Everything White.” And if songs like Walker’s “Joan” are among your favorites, then your heart will break for the “Sunset Grill”-sounding “Out In the Open.”

Nine Inch Nails performing in Mansfield, MA in 2009 | Photo by Amy Lordan

8. Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts V: Together Atmospheric, ambient, and haunting. This release, along with Ghosts VI, is available for free on the Nine Inch Nails website. Go grab them both. As the description on the website says, “TWO DIFFERENT RECORDS FOR TWO DIFFERENT MINDSETS. DOWNLOAD NOW FOR FREE. STAY SAFE!” This year, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails also released scores for the films Soul and Mank. That Emmy, Oscar, and Grammy award winner Reznor knows how to stay busy. Maybe Reznor should collaborate with Butch Walker on a musical so that he can get his Tony?

7. Run the Jewels – RTJ4 Remember that feeling in college you’d get when you listened to Consolidated? That’s the buzz I get from this politically-charged album. I get goosebumps every single time I listen to “Walking in the Snow” and I hear the lyrics, “Until my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, ‘I can’t breathe.'”

6. Phantogram – Ceremony This was my go-to album when I needed a pick-me-up. Songs like “Dear God” and “Into Happiness” capture how I miss my friend with lyrics like “Take me out of this world I’m living in | Tell, tell my friends ’cause I know I’mma see again” and “Wish you could be here | No more loneliness | You’d make it perfect.” Also, it has a good beat and I can dance to it.

5. Pillow Queens – In Waiting This is the Irish quartet that’s missing from your collection. Wistful. Melodic. Shimmering. Kinda sounds like Teagan and Sara gone shoegaze and power pop. From 2:51 of “Holy Show” to its end is truly glorious.

4. Hinds – The Prettiest Curse Ah! Sweet power pop meets lo-fi garage rock. The Spanish quartet’s third album is a gem. They straddle the lines of pop and rock perfectly, and they even throw in a dash of synth-pop. It’s like Apples In Stereo, Fuzzy, and CSS had a baby and that baby is Hinds.

Deftones at the House of Blues in Boston in 2013 | Photo by Amy Lordan

3. Deftones – Ohms Hands down my favorite Deftones album since White Pony. Some tracks are kinda thrash metal (“Urantia”) while others (“The Link Is Dead”) meander into Angelo Badalamenti territory.

Nick Cave performing with Grinderman at the House of Blues in Boston in 2010 | Photo by Amy Lordan

2. Nick Cave – Idiot Prayer This is my kitten’s favorite album of 2020. She has a penchant for Nick Cave (and also Harry Styles). Everytime we play Nick Cave, she has to jump up to the speakers and be as close as possible to them. I think she gets that from me. Whenever I’ve seen Nick Cave live, whether it’s with Grinderman or the Bad Seeds, I always want to be close to him. I think that Cave is the most brilliant lyricist of his generation. With Idiot Prayer, Cave’s lyrics seem even more poignant in this stripped down, solo live performance. Idiot Prayer was recorded at Alexandra Palace in London and was streamed globally to ticket holders online on July 23, 2020.

1. Hum – Inlet I am obsessed with this moody, brooding, sonic masterpiece. When I found myself in the emergency department because of an intractable migraine, this was one of the albums that soothed me. It’s so easy to get lost in Inlet. I was particularly drawn to “In the Den” with the lyric “Find me here on the ground and in need of you” and wishing that my partner could be by my side. But that’s life during a pandemic.

Honorable Mention

  • Grimes – Miss Anthropocene
  • Pet Shop Boys – Hot Spot
  • Morrissey – I Am Not a Dog On a Chain (Yes. I’m just as confused as you that this isn’t in my top albums. It starts out strong and then just peters out.)
  • Bohren & Der Club of Gore – Patchouli Blue
  • The Rentals – Q36
  • Lanterns On the Lake – Spook the Herd
  • Throwing Muses – Sun Racket
  • Yumi Zouma – Truth or Consequences
  • Greg Dulli – Random Desire
  • Jarv … Is – Beyond the Pale
  • Doves – The Universal Want
  • Songhoy Blues – Optimisme
  • Taylor Swift – evermore (Yes. I’m just as confused as you that this is in my honorable mention section. It might even bump out one of my top ten albums! Why? Because this is basically an album by The National with Taylor Swift. Aaron Dessner of The National co-produced both of Swift’s 2020 album releases. In the past, I’ve tried to get into Taylor Swift, but had no luck. This time, I was like, “She does a song with The National? I gotta hear it.” So I did. I listened to “Coney Island” and then I listened to the whole album. And then I listened to the whole album again. And I’m in love. Particularly with “Champagne Problems.”

For more of my favorite tracks from 2020, including new singles by Dubstar, New Order, and Parlour Bells, check out my Spotify playlist.

Tripp Review: The Go-Go’s

The Go-Go’s at the Boston House of Blues in 2016. Photo by Amy Lordan

By Jon Tripp

Not a ton of surprises for anyone who saw the Behind The Music, but a bunch of sweet archival footage from the band’s early days make this worthwhile. Cameos by members of Madness and The Specials were appreciated, but it would’ve been sweet to see Pat Smear show up to discuss Belinda’s brief tenure in The Germs.

Thank Goodness It’s Bandcamp Friday

What I miss the most from the Before Times is concerts. That was when we’d leave our homes and get to watch musical artists perform in front of us. IRL.

As a disabled person with a failing body, music transports me in a way that is magical and healing. And nothing beats hearing music in the flesh. Sometimes, I’d even push through all my pain and dance to my most favorite songs.

Local H on February 17, 2020 at The Paradise Rock Club in Boston. My last show.

One of the aspects of this New Normal that I find worrisome is the financial stability of musicians. Revenue from touring can be a huge part of their income. Musicians are now entering their sixth month without that income and there’s no real end in sight.

But don’t despair! There’s a way that you can help. On the first Friday of each month, Bandcamp has waived their revenue fees so that more money goes directly to artists. You can buy some tunes and help out your favorite bands at the same time.

Bandcamp started this endeavor in March and recently announced that they will be having “Bandcamp Fridays” on the first Friday of each month for the rest of 2020. If you’re not familiar with Bandcamp, it’s a website where you can buy digital music, physical music, and other merchandise. You can also stream music before, so you can check out the goods before you spend money. Typically, 80-85% of your money goes directly to the artist, but on Bandcamp Fridays, they get even more of your money.

Here are some of my picks for your Bandcamp Friday purchases:

  • Gillian Welch & David Rawlings – All the Good Times Welch and Rawlings are two of the artists I’m most proud of having worked with. They are fucking brilliant and if you haven’t seen them live, you should make seeing them a post-pandemic must.
  • The Rentals – Q36
  • Various Artists – Saving for a Custom Van Loads of your favorite musicians pay tribute to the late Adam Schlesinger in this compilation. Kay Hanley, Tanya Donelly, Gail Greenwood, Nada Surf, Motion City Soundtrack, Ted Leo, and more recorded covers to benefit MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund, which is dedicated to helping music industry and community members affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schlesinger passed away from complications from COVID-19 on April 1.
  • Sonic45 – Pills I’m always a fan of songs that remind me to take my meds.
  • Dama Scout – Milky Milk
  • Diet Cig – Do You Wonder About Me You looking for some female-fronted power pop? Get your fix with Diet Cig!
  • American Hi-Fi – Anywhere Else But Here A fun EP of covers by the lads. Buy it on its August 7 release date.
  • Dumb Numbers – Dumb Numbers II
  • Libido Reign – Libido Lane/Standing In Your Reign Shout out to my neighbor, Dan, for making this fun recording as a tribute to his uncle’s band.

Favorite Music of 2019

In no particular order, I present my favorite albums of 2019! For a mix of my favorite tracks, check out my playlist over at Spotify.

  • SPC ECO – Fifteen Dean Garcia of Curve’s current electro/gloom pop outfit. Spooky, ethereal stuff.
  • Melanie SandfordWonderland If you’re nostalgic for the heyday of ’90s Boston girl power, this album is for you.
  • Ladytron – Ladytron It took me a while to enjoy this album after the clusterfuck that was PledgeMusic. I lost money. Ladytron lost money. Ken Andrews lost money. Once I got past that sting, I found myself reveling in another synth-pop masterpiece from these Liverpudlians.
  • Wallows – Nothing Happens Sunny alt-rock from California. The best band with actors in it since Phantom Planet.

  • Piroshka – Brickbat Piroshka is a ’90s dream come true: Miki Berenyi (Lush), Justin Welch (Elastica), KJ McKillop (Moose), and Mick Conroy (Modern English) make up this supergroup.

  • Billie Eilish – When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? I’m dumbfounded by how much I love this album. My musical taste doesn’t usually stray so far into the mainstream. She’s worth all of the hype.
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen Another glorious, haunting release from The Bad Seeds.
  • Ex:Re – Ex:Re Ex:Re (pronounced ex-ray) is Elena Tonra of Daughter. I cannot express how much I love this album. It reaches every part of my being in a way I haven’t felt since Lisa Germano’s Happiness. This was the album I played the most this past year.

  • Sleater-Kinney – The Center Won’t Hold It received mixed reviews, but I dug this album. The Center Won’t Hold feels like the trio was into Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile when they created it. Conversely, Ex Hex’s It’s Real was the best Sleater-Kinney album of the year that wasn’t by Sleater-Kinney.
  • Letters to Cleo – OK Christmas A truly excellent EP of Christmas tunes! (Disclaimer: I moonlight as their hometown merch girl.)

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    Greg Hawkes of The Cars, Diane Dupuis, Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz, and Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo in November 2019. Photo by Amy Lordan
  • Harry Styles – Fine Line Go listen to “She” and tell me that you don’t like it.
  • Morrissey – California Son I feel so much conflict in my soul over Morrissey! Up until 2019, he’d been my church; my untouchable favorite! But then he wore that For Britain badge on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and he crushed my spirit. I’d love to chalk it up to Moz being contrary and “Morrissey being Morrissey,” but I just don’t know if I can. Can one separate an artist from the artist’s politics in order to still love their music? California Son, a slightly uneven covers album, didn’t help settle this quandary.
  • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Watchmen (Music from the HBO Series) Ah, sweet score work from this Oscar-winning duo. Thanks for making me forget about my Morrissey heartbreak. Initially, I felt weird about watching Watchmen because I interviewed Alan Moore in 2016 and he was an absolute delight. But once I heard these two were on board, I was all in.
  • The Darkness – Easter Is Cancelled Riffs! Glorious riffs!

  • White Lies – Five Interpol, if they were British. There’s no hiding that White Lies was heavily influenced by Joy Division, but I am still a sucker for their brooding yet poppy tunes.
  • The Chemical Brothers – No Geography My dance party album of the year.
  • Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow Both Barack Obama and I approve.

Tripp Review: Make Mine Music

By Jon Tripp

Not much to see here, folks. Basically a collection of Silly Symphonies with delusions of Fantasia‘s grandeur. The highlight is probably the segment “All The Cats Join In”, a jazz-era romp that looks like it features the Archie gang and contains some surprisingly ribald humor for a Disney production… It almost feel like a “this is your kid on jazz!” PSA for parents.

Side note: steer clear of the Disney Gold Collection DVD, which is not only abridged (missing “The Martins and The Coys” segment) but also features an embarrassingly bad transfer and is artificially transferred into widescreen, cropping the top and bottom of the frame. All around, an underwhelming viewing experience.