I’m never really been one for pulling together any ‘best of year’ lists, mainly for the fact that I’ve long been in the habit of not buying new music from September onwards so that I can offer up lists to folk who are looking to give me Xmas presents. 

2022 has been different, primarily for the fact that myself and Rachel have decided to really cut back on such extravagance and instead to go a few larger sized combined gifts in the shape of a few city breaks overseas next year.  We’ve also told extended family members and friends not to bother with Xmas presents for us this year…for too many folk, especially those with kids, every penny/pound is precious with the ridiculous increase in the cost of living these days.

All of which means I’m able to offer up a list of my favourite purchases this year.  Apart from the first mentioned, they are not in any particular order.


Happy EndingHiFi Sean and David McAlmont (Last Night From Glasgow)

It feels strange to be mentioning this double album as it won’t get a general release until February 2023, but it was provided to patrons of Last Night From Glasgow (LNFG) back in September as part of the bundle of records that came with the 2022 subscription, and indeed I’ll hang off from saying too much until it is available in the shops.

Thirteen glorious pieces of music spread across a double album (my version is on clear vinyl), I was lucky enough to be at LNFG’s headquarters when the test pressing had just arrived and so was treated to an early listen of Side A which opens with the title track.  It blew me away and got me very impatient for the arrival of the album.  My understanding is that the plan had been to have it on general release in September 2022, but capacity issues at the pressing plant meant it had to be done in various batches, and the decision was taken to push the release back to next year.  However, enough copies had been pressed to enable the LNFG patrons to be given their copy as scheduled.

David McAlmont‘s voice has always been something to treasure, but there’s something truly special about the way it matches up with Sean Dickson‘s electronic and production wizardry. Much of the album was recorded, over an extended period, in David’s home which is on the 18th Floor of a high-rise building in east London, while the added strings were conducted and recorded in Bangalore, India, which should give you a sense of how lush and exotic it all sounds. 

The duo have been trailing the release with the release of videos over on Sean’s YouTube channel – click here. Here’s one of the videos –


You Had A Kind FaceButcher Boy (Needle Mythology)

The fact I’ve placed this release below the HiFi Sean/David McAlmont album should speak volumes.

I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a total groupie when it comes to Butcher Boy, and the long-awaited release of a ‘best of’, courtesy of Pete Paphides‘ wonderful Needle Mythology label (on which Robert Forster has also had two long out-of-print albums issued on vinyl) did not disappoint.  Beautifully designed and packaged, complete with liner notes from award-winning novelist John Niven, the album offers up twelve of the very best from one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets, while a bonus 7″ single delivered three band new songs, the first new material in five years. 

I wrote extensively about You Had A Kind Face back in April.  Click here if you fancy a read,

mp3: Butcher Boy – I Know Who You Could Be


The OverloadYard Act (ZEN F.C/Island Records)

 I can’t recall when I first encountered Yard Act.  I don’t listen much to the radio these days, so it was unlikely to have been there.  I also don’t watch too much in the way of TV, but I do use YouTube when I’m a bit bored, and I’ve a feeling that, having watched a few favourite new videos, Yard Act were a recommended watch that I clicked on, but the song did sound familiar, so I might have heard them firstly on BBC Radio 6.

It would have been for the single The Overload, an infectiously catchy effort that came out in late 2021, complete with tongue-in-cheek and memorable promo.  A few clicks here and there led me to come across a few earlier singles, and I was more than intrigued. 

The debut album, also called The Overload, came out last January and I picked up a copy, on green vinyl, in a well-known Glasgow independent record store within a few days.  It’s remained on heavy rotation ever since, to the extent that Rachel is now fully familiar with the band and will join me in going along to see them play Glasgow Barrowlands in a few months time – their previous visits to the city have coincided with me being elsewhere!

One reviewer has said that Yard Act consist of ‘sharp guitars, even sharper lyrics, plenty of fun and lots of attitude’, which is about as perfect a summary as can be offered.  They are my favourite discovery of 2022.

mp3: Yard Act – 100% Endurance


Super ChamponOtoboke Beaver (Damnably)

The onset of the pandemic was cruel to many singers and bands, none more so than Japan’s Otoboke Beaver whose members had just taken the decision to quit their full-time jobs and have a serious go at making a living from their music, ten years after first forming.

Plans for tours in the USA and Europe had to be shelved, as indeed their intention to record a new album.  The timings were initially pushed backed, and while the new album did eventually hit the shops in last Summer, the UK gigs were again pulled as COVID restrictions made travelling and touring complicated and tricky.  I hope, somehow, they can be re-scheduled for 2023.

In the meantime, Super Champon did not disappoint.  It’s the usual highly energetic and breathless mix of superfast post-punk music, with none of the songs coming close to overstaying their welcome.  Indeed, it is something of a shock to the system that the whole album is over in just a little over 21 minutes….especially when you consider you’ve actually listened to eighteen tracks!

Oh, and there are nine songs on each side of the album. Side A is something of a marathon with a running time of 14:25…..while Side B is seemingly over faster than a Usain Bolt 100m race with its nine tracks extending to all of 7:18…..with two songs taking up more than four of those minutes.

Here’s a track from Side A:-

mp3: Otoboke Beaver – Nabe Party with pocket brothers

While here’s the full 18 seconds of the fourth track on Side B. It took me longer to type out the song’s title than it did to listen to it:-

mp3: Otoboke Beaver – You’re No Hero Shut Up F*ck You Man-Whore


Mr Morale & The Big SteppersKendrick Lamar (Top Dawg Entertainment)

As with the Otoboke Beaver album, this one also has eighteen songs, but with the running time stretching to 73 minutes, it needs four sides of vinyl to accommodate them.

Kendrick Lamar’s first new album in half-a-decade is not an easy listen, certainly in comparison to Good Kid M.A.A.D City (2012), To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) and Damn (2017), whose songs cemented his place as the most eminent and best hip-hop artist currently on the planet.  It’s an album from which the rewards really come from repeated listens, which I was more than happy to do as I had picked up tickets for a live performance in Glasgow at the beginning of December 2022, a show for which I would write this review for SWC’s blog, No Badger Required.

Mr Morale & The Big Steppers was a long time in the making, and it comes from a period of well-documented turbulence in America, particularly for black people.  Kendrick Lamar doesn’t shirk from addressing many of these big issues, but it’s an album in which he makes reference to his own life, reflecting, often in a downbeat manner, on his upbringing, his family, his fame and success, and his unwillingness or inability to be the spokesman for his generation or community.  It’s an album in which a lot of anger and bitterness comes through, partly at the state of the world right now, but also as much at himself for his failings as a person.

As you can imagine, it proved to be a complex album to make sense of, certainly over the first few listens, but with time and my own willingness to not seek to compare it with the aerlier albums, I came to the realisation that it is a masterpiece, albeit not without imperfections.

mp3: Kendrick Lamar – N95
mp3: Kenrick Lamar – Crown

That’s the five albums I most want to highlight.

Honourable mentions also to:-

Album ClubAlbum Club (Last Night From Glasgow)
A Brighter Beat (15th Anniversary Edition)Malcolm Middleton (Full Time Hobby)
Broken EquipmentBodega (What’s Your Rapture)
Everything Was ForeverSea Power (Golden Chariot Records)
Fear FearWorking Men’s Club (Heavenly)
Summer Lightning The Bathers (Last Night From Glasgow)
The Last Thing LeftSay Sue Me (Damnably)
The Voltarol Years Half Man Half Biscuit (R.M. Qaultrough Records)
Under The BridgeVarious (Skelp Wax Records)
Wet LegWet Leg (Domino)





Yard Act, from Leeds, are another new band that I’ve got all excited about in 2022.

James Smith (vocals), Ryan Needham (bass), Sam Shjipstone (guitar) and Jay Russell (drums) haven’t quite come from nowhere as they’ve all been in other bands previously.  But there’s something genuinely superb about their new collective which has made their debut album, The Overload, released back in January, as one of my most played records in the first half of 2022.

Most critics focus on Smith’s lyrics and delivery, which are full of humour and storytelling, often delivered in a spoken-style, covering a wide range of social and political issues from a left-wing perspective, but the band are incredibly tight and talented, which no doubt stems, at least in part, from the fact they aren’t new kids on the block.

There were a number of self-released EPs released in 2020 and 2021, the vinyl versions of which now go for eye-watering sums on the second-hand market.  Indeed, the band remain something of a DIY outfit as the debut album came out on their own ZEN F.C. imprint, but via a partnership with Island Records.

Most of the tracks have had some sort of release as a single, in digital form, with a number of wonderfully surreal promo videos featuring a cast of characters who pop up time and time again.   The final single, 100% Endurance, is the song which closes that album and its video features a wonderful turn from the actor David Thewliss.  YouTube can be your friend for all said videos.

The longest track on the album, however, was never released as a single.  I think it makes for a wonderful short story.

He was the most handsome in a class of twenty-two
And he knew it early on so his confidence kept growing
By thirteen he had been with every girl deemed worth it
To be with in the village, two years either side of his birthday
He played football, boy, could he play
He played every single day and he still does
A scout from Crewe Alexandra came to watch him once
And they said that they were gonna be in touch

He was the captain of the team without ever asking to be
And without ever being told, that counts for a lot, still, believe it or not
Lo and behold, everyone fell in line behind the hair on his legs and hair on his lip
He was the-

He could smoke ten a day and still run faster
Than that whippet that could lap the racetrack rabbit
He could dabble in the snow, rubbing shoulders with the rabble
And still never ever touch upon a habit
At age sixteen, he made his choice to stay
And got a job selling houses in the village
Which by now had become such a desirable place to settle down
It was classed not as a village, but instead as a small town
(On the sunny, sunny side of the borough)
(You get two brown bins)

Fortunately, despite the influx of newcomers including, for the first time
A genuine authentic Italian restaurant run by a family of fantastic old school Neapolitans
He was still the best at football, and a most handsome man
Taking solace in that fact as his little world continued to expand

By the time he was twenty, he’d now been with all the girls deemed worth it in the village
Five years either side of his birthday
But it was time to settle down and no kiss had ever felt so electric
As the first he’d ever felt all those years ago
Though she had never strayed far, hemmed in by his shadow
The torches lining the path of her own dreams had been growing dimmer by the day and so
Faster than a dying star, she cashed in her chips and checked out
Settled for him and subsequently threw all her own ambitions away

A promotion followed, a mortgage, a marriage
A dog and children, a loft conversion
A dead dog, and a second home on the Costa del Sol
In the hopes of stoking the coals of two long-lost souls
Which comes first, counselling or keys in the bowl?
Put his own mother in a home
Got made redundant twice, never once was he on the dole

Light head, black spots on his vision, room spinning
Clutching the curtain waving from the window, they thought he was grinning
He was grimacing, begging them to notice him, twitching, notice no one is helping him
The grandkids waving through the rear windshield
As the big electric gate draws a line in between them
A fine, fine line between benign and malignant
So get yourself checked, book yourself an appointment
So get yourself checked, book yourself an appointment
So get yourself checked, book yourself an appointment
So get yourself checked, book yourself

The whole village and most of the town came out to mourn his end
A full house, he would’ve been so proud knowing that no one said a bad word about him aloud
He wasn’t perfect, but he was my friend
He wasn’t perfect, but he was one of us
He was one of us

A plaque bears his full name on a bench by the water’s edge
The dates he came and went
And a quote about life and death from a song he’d never heard
‘Cause he wasn’t too fond of long songs with lots of words
If I were him, I’d have never left the village either
But I did, and I know full well
That there are more handsome men and better footballers out there in Greater Manchester
They would’ve cut him down to size if they could’ve, but what good would that do?
He bloomed and he grew and grew, and still he was doomed
Same as me, same as you
Same as everyone I ever knew
You, sometimes still, I think about you
Out there, somewhere, floating in the ether
Born dyed in the wool, never knowing of a belly half full
So many of us just crabs in a barrel
With no feasible means to escape the inevitable cull
There are those that grow thick skins quick for the sake of their sins
And the savvy folk that just keep their mouths shut and take it all on the chin
We collide with each other, we submit, and we bare our teeth
Catch fish using giant metal ships and scream with laughter
At 4AM staggering home down moonlit country lanes
We cry because children are dying across the sea and there is nothing we can do about it
Whilst we benefit from the bombs dropped which we had no part in building
We are sorry, truly we are sorry, we are just trying to get by too

mp3: Yard Act – Tall Poppies