Discover more from warm cups of tea
october–december 2022 + the yr in music
Here we are: The letter delivered, the year decembered, the river swum. It’s surely been a time! Most importantly, an insane three months for reading and watching and listening to things. The show never stops.
Year End Music Awards
Here is my alphabatized albums of the year list:
Big Time, Angel Olsen — my sleepy elevator music lying in bed pick of the year, in the nicest possible way. I mean it I lie in bed so much. Truly lovely breadth + depth of sound + emotion. And Angel Olsen’s vocals are just lovely. Favourites: Right Now, All the Good Times, Go Home.
Crash (Deluxe), Charli XCX — Now that’s what I call pop music. None of the beeps and boops we have been getting from Charli which were fine but like that’s not a song. Crash flows so well as a full album, I just wish the songs weren’t so damn short. Favourites: Sorry If I Hurt You, Crash, Every Rule.
Dance Fever, Florence + the Machine — for an album that ranks pretty solidly in the middle of Florence’s discography, Dance Fever had a grip on me. I think it’s the layers of the mythos being spun/unspun, making for possibly the best pandemic-introspection album I’ve heard yet. Favourites: King, Free, Morning Elvis.
Flood, Stella Donnelly — I love Stella in a seen-her-many-times, use-a-signed-tote-bag-from-her-debut-album-launch way and Flood is this infinitely tender and insightful second album that builds on Stella’s lovely conversational style of writing. Favourites: Flood, Lungs, Morning Silence.
How to Grow a Sunflower Underwater, Alex the Astronaut — I also love Alex and her knack for very earnest songwriting . . . this album drifts through heartbreak and longing and experiences with gender and autism and the result is so tender and heartwarming, made all the more so for its heavier ‘confessional’ moments. So many great sounds, bonus for including traffic light sounds on ‘Haircut’. Favourites: Haircut, Octopus, Ride My Bike.
Preacher’s Daughter, Ethel Cain — 2022’s It Girl of indie white girl music . . . this project took a while to warm up to; ‘Sun Bleached Flies’ is the track that finally swayed me and then ‘Crush’ which isn’t even on this album helped win me over to Cain’s hazy, gothic-lana style. Favourites: Sun Bleached Flies, Family Tree (Intro), Thoroughfare.
Surrender, Maggie Rogers — a very Loud album and honestly I love it, I love the stimulation of the brash, clangy sounds and I love the emotion injected into every beat and line. I don’t love the vocal production on some of the slower songs but we can’t have everything. Favourites: Overdrive, Shatter, Begging For Rain.
There Could Be Wreckage Here, Linying — held me all the way back in January and never let go. Tender & comforting & brilliant. I <3 Linying. Favourites: This Time, Tomorrow, Daylight Blows Into One Door, Lovers Stay Right For Each Other.
2007, Miya Folick — really just midtempo soft pop grappling with being alive right now (wake up, hand on my forehead / can’t believe this is the way I live) and something about it all just works. It’s a six-song EP where each song feels like it should be there, adding to a well-rounded collection. Favourites: 2007, Oh God.
I considered: Stayc’s YOUNG-LUV.COM based on the strength of ‘Young Luv’ alone; Chanhyuk’s ERROR (it’s on me for not listening to it more); Tove Lo’s Dirt Femme; Rina Sawayama’s Hold the Girl; Hatchie’s Giving the World Away; The Big Moon’s Here is Everything (an album I described to Jordan as ‘if middle kids were british’); Julia Jacklin’s PRE-PLEASURE. And obviously RENAISSANCE was a hit.
Here is the ever-important kpop song ranking, copypasted direct from notes app:
after like - ive
flash - rocket punch
gingamingayo - billlie
anti-fragile - le sserafim
panorama - chanhyuk
pop - nayeon
super yuppers! - wjsn chocome
love in space - cherry bullet
talk that talk - twice
ditto - newjeans
feel my rhythm - red velvet
love shhh - jo yuri
love dive - ive
beautiful monster - stayc
dm - fromis_9
satellite - suzy
up! - kep1er
plus n minus - yein
sparkling - chungha
glitch - kwon eunbi
no notes, you get it or you don’t
And a (vaguely ordered) soty playlist:
So much other music that defined my year — songs and albums and live shows that I began to list and then stopped, realising I would rather press these moments into my memory for now and let them run and blend together as we head onwards.
Here are my most listened to songs from the last three months!
Labyrinth, Taylor Swift
Goodbye My Danish Sweetheart, Mitski (this happened to my friend Faith Lehane)
You’re on Your Own, Kid, Taylor Swift
my tears ricochet, Taylor Swift
Question…?, Taylor Swift
cowboy like me, Taylor Swift
Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve, Taylor Swift
Maroon, Taylor Swift
Bigger Than the Whole Sky, Taylor Swift
Poison & Wine, The Civil Wars
I Still Love You Sometimes, Audition Tape
Kiss With a Fist, Florence + the Machine
Smoke Signals, Phoebe Bridgers
this is me trying, Taylor Swift
Bloodshot, Julien Baker
Hot & Heavy, Lucy Dacus
Glitch, Taylor Swift
Snow on the Beach, Taylor Swift ft. Lana del Rey
Anti-Hero, Taylor Swift
The Great War, Taylor Swift
Guy who was like ‘midnights was ok’ and then apparently listened to mostly Midnights for the next three months. Obviously last.fm says that my most listened to artist was Taylor and it’s not close. Here’s that list.
Florence + the Machine
Carly Rae Jepsen
Tegan and Sara
I hit my very reasonable target of 50 books for the year so I’m happy enough with that. Here’s what I’ve read recently:
The Past by Wendy Xu. Poetry collection that is alright but didn’t make the deepest impression . . . for some reason oblique is the term that comes to mind. A lot of like, imagined encounters with the homeland and probably some real ones too distilled into abstractions.
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. Taz Muir you are INSANE.
There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura, translated by Polly Barton. A strange little book about corporate burnout + capitalism + female friendship, very neatly woven. There’s these implied magical realism elements that I kept expecting to be explained but I guess it adds to the overall oddity?
After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz. I lost patience with this book about a quarter of the way through and it took a lot to stick it out. I think that there are versions of this concept that turn out much better than this book; as it is, the vignette style truly did not work well enough to be sustained over 300-ish pages.
Norma Jean Baker of Troy by Anne Carson (adapted from Euripides). Okay this book is pretty inextricable from the night that I bought it, which involved first a bizarre altercation at a bookstore specialising in paperbacks where we were accused of ‘just socialising’ and then me leaving my (battery flat) phone on the tram and scrambling to contact the PTV people at midnight. I did get my phone back on the Monday. The play itself is absurdist fun.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. A reread because the new Taylor album made me think about this book. Not quite the height of literature but always a decently entertaining time, plus my spotify playlist has a thousand likes and I’m not one to discredit meaningless internet attention.
Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel. I adored this, perhaps more than expected? I don’t know what I did expect but Last Night in Montreal left me breathless and I’m still looking to track down a copy to own without having to buy it online.
Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour. Very sweet. Not my favourite LaCour book — didn’t really connect with the characters at any point and some events felt pretty forced — but still a nice raed, and I did enjoy the yerba buena motif. I love books that bring a city to life even if that city happens to be Los Angeles.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Here we come to one of the greatest books I have ever read. The whole trilogy is on another level, and it just so happens that it has a conclusion that helps pull it off. It’s not perfect but it’s near enough. Me voice ‘no book has ever done war + grief + trauma + love as healing + trilogy conclusion like mockingjay did’ <3 More than ten years and it still holds up!
Dancing Barefoot by Alice Boyle. This was cute! I had a nice time. That’s about it.
Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min. Late entry as one of my favourite books of the year . . . I don’t remember which bit of copy described it as being about ‘music, anime, and boy best friends’ but I can’t sell it any better than that. The (as in singular) gay ya book for our Asian diaspora maybe the internet raised us type generation.
Natchathiram Nagargiradhu (2022). I watched exactly one (1) movie, this one with Mari. It’s on Netflix, where they’ve translated the title as A Star Shoots Across the Sky. Would recommend.
Interview with the Vampire (2022-?). Like a vampire Succession. First episode is a little slow and then the show evolves into genuinely spectacular bit of storytelling. The way they (re)framed the original text to make you question every part of the narrative especially once Claudia is introduced!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). I’m obsessed. This show has rewired my brain I’m going to be talking about it for the forseeable future. Everything reminds me of her (btvs and its little characters). It’s not perfect but there’s a lot of heart and I think a lot of that comes from Buffy and SMG. Buffy Summers you are everything <3 In truth I do love the entire main cast it’s like these are my friends and they are trying their best and fighting the forces of darkness even when the darkness is themselves.
Angel the Show (1999-2004). Show that should be good and is inexplicably not good. Show about accidental found family in the big city where characters regularly wind up in a demon karaoke bar but all goes downhill after season 3 and also I didn’t care for most of the overarching plotlines even before that except the Darla arc. Basically I think I enjoy the concept of this show much more than the actual thing. I don’t really understand why you would give the best character there (my girl Cordelia Chase) amnesia and then make her possessed by a manipulatve evil being and then put her into a coma util she dies but then again I don’t hate women.
Love Simon (2018). Jordan and I rewatched this for Christmas (it’s a Christmas movie because Christmas happens in it). I hadn’t seen this since 2018 when I watched it twice, and it’s still a wonderfully tender emotional rollercoaster. Love Simon ran so that Heartstopper could walk. When ‘Wild Heart’ by Bleachers comes in for the final sequence of the movie and we see Simon order five coffees instead of four or just one and then he drives his friends and boyfriend off into the mountains . . . I will find any way to your wild heart!
WE HAVE NOT TOUCHED THE STARS, NOR ARE WE FORGIVEN.
THE HARDEST THING IN THIS WORLD IS TO LIVE IN IT.
I'T’S NOT JUST ME, IT’S EVERYBODY.
HEY NOW WE’LL BE OKAY.
THERE’D BE NO DISTANCE THAT COULD HOLD US BACK.
Let me know what your favourite reads / listens / watches have been!
Hoping everyone has a safe and happy 2023; see you on the flip side :D <3