AADL 2022 Staff Picks: Audio


AADL's staff picks for audio

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➥ AADL 2022 Staff Picks: Pulp Life


Music, podcasts, CDs, records, and more:



The Wire at 20 (2022) podcast
The 20th anniversary of The Wire brought about this six-episode podcast where host Method Man, who portrayed Melvin “Cheese” Wagstaff, spends the episodes chatting with actors, writers, and directors about the show. The Wire is one of my favorite shows of all time, and I was HERE for this wonderful podcast. {Apple Podcasts}



Charley Crockett
That's Charley with a “y” and Crockett with two “t’s” like Davy Crockett. We stumbled upon a Charley Crockett show at El Club a while back and have since seen the man from San Benito, Texas three times. He's super prolific, and we like him so. {Spotify}

Eurovision Contestants:
Daði Freyr
Måneskin {Spotify}
Kalush {Spotify}
Somehow in the last few months of 2022, we’ve attended two concerts featuring Eurovision contestants—Daði Freyr from Iceland and Måneskin from Italy. They couldn’t be more different, and each concert experience was perfect. Can't wait for Kalush to come to Michigan in the future! 



Hello From the Hallowoods podcast
by William A. Wellman

{Apple Podcasts}



Rise Against
"Nowhere Generation"

Punk rock isn't dead, and this song speaks to the angsty teen still hanging out in my head. {YouTube} {Bandcamp} {Spotify}

“You Are Stronger”

Made for the video game Persona 5 Strikers, but is worth a listen by itself. Motivating lyrics and a great tune. {YouTube}{Spotify}




This album was just released, but I have been listening to it from start to finish—no skips, on repeat. An avid art enthusiast, RM described this album as a collection of work he curated, and it shows. This album has healing properties. (Plus, the first track features Erykah Badu; I mean, COME ON!) {Spotify}

Eric Nam
There and Back Again (2022)
Before We Begin (2019)
My friend described Eric Nam’s music as “dream-pop,” which I absolutely love, and I think it fits perfectly. Both albums provide bops and ballads and are my go-tos when I want something to sing along to or dance to. {Spotify} {Spotify}


We love an R&B moment. “Cry For Love” is hands down the best track on the album. {Spotify}

Disharmony: Break Out

Bangers, front to back. {Spotify}


Seventeen has quickly become one of my favorite groups, and this was their gateway album for me. {Spotify}


Normal Gossip podcast

This podcast is a pure guilty pleasure, and I love it. Each episode features one salacious gossip story, carefully anonymized so that you can truly indulge in listening to the wild exploits of other people with literally zero guilt. Host Kelsey McKinney does an excellent job of relaying each bit of gossip and filling you in on all the important details so that listening to this podcast feels like listening to a close friend dish on some juicy family or workplace drama. {Apple Podcasts}

Rude Tales of Magic podcast

Actual play D&D shows never seem to really connect with me, but this one has only grown on me the more I listen (like an unsightly growth on your back). The talented cast is excellent. Led by Dungeon Master Branson Reese, the show really leans into the silly side of fantasy. Of course, the show wouldn't work without a lot of heart behind the whole thing, but I can't help but be charmed by its unabashed humor and chaotic energy. The show's producer, Taylor Moore, deserves a special shout-out for the incredible use of classical music to score the show. {Website}



Aural Vampire


The Magnetic Fields
69 Love Songs

{AADL} {Spotify} {Bandcamp}

Knifepoint Horror podcast
Presented by Soren Narnia.



Things Fell Apart podcast

I finally found a podcast that I wanted to binge-listen to. With his amazingly calm voice, Jon Ronson offers insights into the culture wars with fascinating and humane interviews. Michigan is featured prominently in a couple of episodes. {Apple Podcasts}



Born Pink

Ah yes, it’s time for my annual Blackpink wrap-up. This year I remained in Blackpink’s top 1 percent of Spotify listeners, surprising no one yet again. Blackpink finally staged an official comeback at the tail end of this year, and it was even better than expected. They began their comeback with the “Light Up the Pink” campaign, which bathed famous landmarks from around the world in pink light. 

Their second studio album Born Pink dropped, and I LOVE IT! It’s the first album by a female Korean act to reach number one on the Billboard 200, as well as the first album by a female group to do so since 2008. Their sound this time around draws mostly from pop, hip-hop, rock, and EDM, but they also experiment with disco, bubblegum pop, pop-rock, and stadium rock as they discuss themes of love, self-confidence, self-encouragement, dealing with fame and detractors, and more. 

Stand-outs include “Shut Down,” “Typa Girl,” “Hard to Love,” and “Tally,” but with only eight tracks this is a no-skip album. This time around both Jisoo and Rose have writing credits on the fourth track, “Yeah Yeah Yeah.” Blackpink released two songs as singles complete with music videos: “Pink Venom,” which became the most-viewed video by a female artist in a single day on YouTube with 90.4 million views in 24 hours, and “Shut Down.” 

Pink Venom features elements of traditional Korean instruments, such as the geomungo, mixed with EDM and pop-rap while “Shut Down” blends a sample of Paganini’s “La Campanella” with hip-hop and trap hooks, strings, and bass. Blackpink was the first female K-pop group in history to perform at the Video Music Awards (VMA) where they picked up a VMA for Best Metaverse Performance. Lisa also made history as the first solo K-pop star to win a VMA, taking home the award for Best K-pop for her debut solo single “Lalisa.” They also released a weird PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) music video for their song “Ready for Love” off the new album, which is not my favorite song or music video of theirs, but it’s interesting in its own way. 

Since the release of their album, Blackpink has embarked on the largest world tour in the history of a K-pop girl group. They just finished their North American tour (I saw them in Hamilton, Ontario, and yes, it was incredible!!), and now they’re onto the European leg of their tour before they visit locations across Asia and Oceania early next year. They also dropped Roll #1 of their new YouTube show “Born Pink Memories,” chronicling the behind-the-scenes activities of their ongoing world tour and the release of their new album. 

For more information about Blackpink themselves check out my unhinged reviews in the AADL Pulp Staff Picks from 20212020, and 2019.

What Scares Us podcast

This year AADL debuted a new horror movie review podcast hosted by three of my friends/co-workers, Amanda, Matt, and Christopher, and me. What Scares Us is a podcast where four friends share the horror movies that freak us out. The episodes are fun to make and fun to listen to. Join us! {Spotify}{Apple Podcasts}



My Therapist’s A Witch podcast

{Apple Podcasts}

Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast 



Cashmere Washington
Almost Country Old Men, Electro Country for They/Them

San Francisco indie rocker Cashmere Washington’s “love letter-style” EP Almost Country for Old Men, Electro Country for They/Them channels rom-coms, K-dramas, and Coen Brothers movies, especially 2007’s No Country for Old Men. The Eastern Michigan University graduate’s (aka Thomas Dunn’s) second studio release features six earnest tracks, including the Ypsilanti tribute “Life Is” and the “cigarette-band” anthem “Charlie Brown,” and reflects a fusion of indie-rock and alt-country influences from the late J Dilla. {Bandcamp}{Spotify}


Ann Arbor indie rocker Ceolsige’s (pronounced see-ole-sidge) self-titled debut EP includes four honest tracks that question life, love, and society. Kelsey Detering’s introspective lyrics, vigorous instrumentation, and arena-sized arrangements invite listeners to get inside her head. The take-charge opener “Come on Over” squashes self-doubt and encourages connecting with the right person. Read our past interview. {Bandcamp}{Spotify}

Linen Ray
On the Mend

Nashville folk-rock and husband-and-wife duo Linen Ray releases deeply buried tensions and inner struggles on their latest album, On the Mend. Former Ypsilanti residents Gabriel Craft and Rebekah Craft weather personal stress and pandemic challenges across 12 tracks filled with lush harmonies, ‘70s Laurel Canyon-like melodies, and rich folky soundscapes. The gospel-tinged single “Love Ain’t Easy” honors long-term relationships while the friendship country-rocker “You Make Me Feel” includes uplifting rhythms akin to Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. {Spotify}

Crossword Smiles
Pressed & Ironed

Grand Blanc-Dexter indie-pop duo Crossword Smiles strikes an optimal balance between classic pop-rock song structures and experimental college-rock textures on Pressed & Ironed. For their debut album, Tom Curless and Chip Saam fashion 10 artful and melodic tracks, including “Parallel Lines” and “Walk Softly,” that remove the wrinkles of the past and provide a smooth outlook for the future. Read our past interview. {Bandcamp} {Spotify}

Chickenwire Canöe
Joey Wendt

Chickenwire Canöe’s rock-opera concept album Joey Wendt tells the tale of a budding conspiracy theorist during the pandemic. Dexter’s Mike Gentry, Brian Delaney, Tim Delaney, and Tony Mitchell chronicle Joey’s story through perceptive lyrics, ‘70s-style classic-rock instrumentation, and various special effects. The energetic opener “Are You Having a Good Time?” echoes Joey’s pandemic denial while the pensive instrumental “Greyhound” emulates his growing apprehension about joining the January 6 march in Washington, D.C. Read our recent interview. {Bandcamp} {Spotify}



Normal Gossip podcast

What’s your relationship like with gossip? This is the question posed by the host each episode to her guest before they dive into a real juicy tale of gossip sent in from listeners. This podcast is single-handedly keeping me going.



Adrianne Lenker
Songs and Instrumentals

Adrianne Lenker is the lead singer for Big Thief. In 2020, she released this pair of sister albums. Each album is a collection of songs and instrumentals she recorded while going through a breakup during the pandemic. She is one of my favorite musicians, and her solo work highlights her free spirit and talent. The recordings on the albums are somewhere between lo-fi and folk, and if you like it, I recommend watching some of her live sessions for the acoustic versions as well. {Bandcamp} {Bandcamp}

Big Thief
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You is a soft wilderness. A double LP, the album’s lengthy tracklist meanders everywhere from indie to rock, with an undercurrent of country and folk roots. With the combined imaginations of band members Adrianne Lenker, Buck Meek, Max Oleartchik, and James Krivchenia behind it, it is no surprise that DNWMIBIY came together as a beautiful, boundless, and chart-topping release in 2022. P.S.: Icicles are one of the instruments played on the title track! {AADL} {Bandcamp}

Bright Eyes
Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was

Bright Eyes' first release in a decade. You can hear the influence of Conor Oberst’s solo work on the album; however, the trademark indie-rock riffs and theatrical production leave no doubt that this is Bright Eyes. Conor dedicated the album to his brother who died in 2016, and this theme of loss, as well as separation, recovery, and growth, come up throughout the album. Earlier this year, I went to see Bright Eyes while they were touring with Alex G, who just dropped a new album this year that's also worth a listen. {AADL} {Bandcamp}


Dance album perfect for taking the edge off. {Bandcamp}



Lil Nas X
Last year I said, “From the music videos, the new album, the characters, to the Maury appearance, everything he does is perfection.” This sentiment holds true for me. I even got the chance to see him perform on his first-ever tour when he opened in Detroit at the Fox Theatre. {Website} {Streaming}



Janus Descending podcast

This found footage space horror podcast had me on the edge of my seat until it ripped my heart out at the end. The story is told from the perspectives of two scientists on a documentation expedition to a distant planet, but their logs have been corrupted ... so you get to hear their tale alternating from the beginning and the end. The writing and soundscaping work in perfect concert to bring this nail-biting, gut-wrenching story to life. {No Such Thing Productions}

The Ballad of Anne and Mary podcast

This audio drama musical tells the swashbuckling adventure of the fictionalized lives of pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read. There is love, sword sparing, epic naval battles, and a fantastic score. This was clearly a passion project, and the dedication and creativity shine through in the loveable characters and immersive world. I'm a sucker for pirate stories—pirate musical love stories? Even better. {Long Cat Media}



Phoebe Reads a Mystery podcast

There's nothing quite like going into a podcast expecting one thing and getting something entirely different, and that was my experience with Phoebe Reads a Mystery. Hosted by Phoebe Judge, co-creator and host of the (very) popular podcast Criminal, the concept is as simple as it gets: “Phoebe reads a chapter a day from a mystery novel.” This isn’t entirely true, as the novels covered aren't all mysteries; what they have in common is that they’re all in the public domain. Phoebe has a wonderful, soothing voice, which is actually the reason I picked up the podcast in the first place: I thought it would help me get to sleep.

What ended up happening instead is that I stayed up well past 2 am listening, completely wrapped up in The Mysterious Affair at Styles. If you've started classic mystery, horror, or gothic novels but couldn't get into them, I'd highly recommend giving them a go with this podcast. Besides the few Agatha Christie’s, there are plenty of Sherlock Holmes stories, horror classics like Dracula and Frankenstein, and more standard fare such as The Scarlet Letter, The Age of Innocence, and Sense and Sensibility. My personal recommendation would be The Turn of the Screw, which I must have tried and failed to read 15 times in my life before finally getting swept up in Phoebe's rendition and carried to the end. {Spotify} {Apple Podcasts}



Thee Sacred Souls
Thee Sacred Souls 

Every single song they release is an absolute bop. Literally so good. Everyone should listen. {AADL} {Website}{Bandcamp} {Streaming}

Little Simz
Sometimes I May Be Introvert 

Quite honestly, I have no idea how I missed this one when it was released at the end of 2021. Beyond good. {AADL} {Streaming}

I saw her live in a little backyard show in Ann Arbor this past summer, and it blew my mind. She is so talented, and I have been obsessed since. {Apple Music} {Spotify}




Brutal and vulnerable all at once, Zambian-Canadian rapper and producer Backxwash delivers a fusion of dark, abyssal industrial sounds and black metal in this album. Between Ashanti Mutinta’s evocative production and intense lyrics, there’s a feeling of total revulsion, desperation, and anger that courses through each track. It’s a cathartic experience. If you're in the market for horror-core industrial artists, Backxwash is someone to keep on your radar. {Bandcamp}



LJ Mercer
“Home in a Life”


Leith Ross
“We’ll Never Have Sex”




Nikki Lane
Denim & Diamonds

{AADL} {Spotify}



Too Much to Ask
Don't Ask EP

After Cheekface emerged on the scene last year, they have just continued to do their very funny, bleak, engaging thing. Their new album Too Much To Ask and B-Sides EP Don't Ask continue to develop their catchy hook chops with singable and slightly upsetting lines like, “Look Mom, I'm trying, I watered all the plants,” and the anthemic “A big cup of noodles, A GIANT CUP OF NOODLES.” They're coming to Detroit for their first Michigan show in April! {Bandcamp

Louis Cole
Quality Over Opinion

Louis Cole is an unbelievably talented drummer, singer, and jazz-funk-dance-flavored songsmith. He also is a, er, very unique dancer. I first got into his high-energy homemade "live sesh" videos that were YouTube darlings, and as he's grown as an artist. Each release is just better and better and weirder and weirder. You can see him lipsync to his entire new album while staring into a handheld camera in the mirror in his bathroom in a single, hour-plus take. {YouTube}



Normal Gossip podcast

This podcast is a delicious treat I save specifically for when I’m doing things I don’t particularly love, like grocery shopping or running. Host Kelsey McKinney shares an anonymized juicy story with a guest, stopping frequently to ask questions like, “What would you do in this situation?” and “Who do you think is the villain of this story?” I have devoured every episode, but if you’re looking for particularly good ones to start with, I especially loved Season 1, Episode 8: Spot the Scammer, and Season 3, Episode 4: Christmas is Cancelled {Website} {Spotify}

Lolita Podcast  
Podcaster Jamie Loftus takes a deep dive into exploring the complicated story and legacy of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. This podcast is emotion-loaded and thought-provoking, as might be expected from something that deals with child sexual abuse and the sometimes glorification of it, but you’re in safe hands with Loftus. (Heads-up: You’ll have to slog through a LOT of iHeart Radio commercials, and you’ll never appreciate the skip-30-seconds button this much!) Looking for something somewhat lighter? Check out Loftus’s podcasts The Aack Cast (a deep, well-rounded look at the cartoon Cathy) and My Year at Mensa. {Website} {Spotify}



black midi

black midi consistently hits it out of the park, but this album feels like the ultimate culmination of their oft-experimental style. This is definitely my favorite album of the year, and I’m excited to see what they come up with next. {Spotify}

The Garden
Horsesh*t on Route 66

Even though my favorite band did not release my favorite album this year (That honor goes to black midi.), I loved this release all the same. There’s a lot of fun sampling mixed in with some very solid punk chaos. It’s short, loud, and to the point. {Spotify}

Broken Hearts Club

I am a very firm believer that Syd can do no wrong, and she has once again proven me right. I have been patiently waiting for this album (Not as long as I’ve been waiting for Sky Ferreira, but still.) and I wasn’t disappointed. The production on this album is amazing, and Syd manages to make an album that is insanely wistful and dreamy in spite of the heartbreak. {Spotify}

FKA Twigs

Another one of my favorite releases of the year, I always love what Twigs puts out. This mixtape was fun in a way only Twigs is while being simultaneously somber. I also love to see Twigs and Shygirl link up, “Papi Bones” is definitely the stand-out on the mixtape. {AADL}{Spotify}

Black County, New Road
Ants From Up There

So much to say about this album, but nothing I say can be better than just listening to the entire thing. I think this is a fantastic sophomoric effort and a very proper send-off for their former lead singer, Isaac Wood. {AADL} {Spotify}

Alex G
God Save the Animals

While I love Alex G and his generally downtrodden songs, I found this newer and more hopeful album really captured me. {Spotify}


It’s Beyoncé! There’s house music! Come on. {AADL}{Spotify}


I can’t sell Björk to you. You either like Björk, or you don’t, and I happen to like her a lot. This is an amazing album for Björk to enter into the 2020s with, and it’s a wonderful ode to her mother. {AADL}{Spotify}

Steve Lacy
Gemini Rights

It’s Steve Lacy! He’s great! We all heard “Bad Habit,” so now let’s all listen to the entire album. {Spotify}

Aphex Twin

I couldn’t go back and re-read one of my favorite books from 2014—Rookie Yearbook 1
by Tavi Gevinson—without also revisiting one of my favorite albums from 2014, too. {AADL} {Spotify}

The End, So Far

I cannot deny the fact that I am a nu-metal fan. I love Slipknot, and this album was extremely cohesive. While there’s still that trademark heaviness (it’s metal!), it’s very interesting to see them explore a new sound. {AADL} {Spotify}

Lealani & Snakefoot
Lealani Snakefoot

Lealani is an immensely unique artist who knows how to have fun. I’ve seen some compare this album to an early Björk offering, and while I understand the comparison, I think Lealani & Snakefoot can stand on their own. {Bandcamp} {Spotify}

Breath From Another

In a perfect world, Esthero would’ve been on her 12th album released by now, but she’s not, and we’re all worse off for it. I’d really recommend this album to anyone who enjoys Portishead. {AADL} {Spotify}

Vince Staples
Ramona Park Broke My Heart

I love Vince Staples and everything that he does, so again, I am very biased. However, I do think RPBMH may be one of his best albums yet. It’s very morose, which isn’t surprising given the subject matter, and comparatively stripped-down, but it hits just as hard as his other work. {AADL} {Spotify}

Death Grips
The Powers That B

Earlier this year, I tried to listen to this album again in my car and blew out my speakers. But it’s just as good as I remember it, so that’s a plus! {AADL} {Spotify}

People in the Sun  

There’s a possibility that this album also helped blow out my car speakers, but it’s also as good as I remember. {Spotify}

Sky Ferreira
“Don’t Forget”

So, this isn’t an album at all. It’s just a single; however, I’ve been waiting for this (and her second album) since 2014, so it gets a spot on my list. {YouTube} {Spotify}




Lizzo knocked it out of the park again with another great album. Special is her latest album, and it has bangers such as “About Damn Time.” That song blew up on TikTok complete with a dance trend. Lizzo has been more and more in the public eye lately, with her playing the crystal flute from the Library of Congress to her getting a reality show on Amazon Prime, Watch Out For The Big Grrrls.

“Grrrls” is actually one of the songs on this album, which takes samples and the general melody from the 1986 track “Girls” by The Beastie Boys. But while the old Beastie Boys track was rather sexist and talked about wanting girls to act as maids essentially, Lizzo’s “Grrrls” is a song about going out and having fun with her friends, for the most part (with a moment to reference Lorena Bobbitt thrown in). It should go without saying; however, several of these songs are not appropriate for kiddos due to suggestive lyrics. {AADL}{AADL}


I want to acknowledge Lizzo’s single “Special” separate from the album of the same name. Like I said above, this album has a lot of great songs you can dance to on it. But the song “Special,” which is still getting a lot of play on the radio, has such an important message. The lyrics are about feminism, diversity, and telling the people listening that they are special, no matter what people tell them. 

Lizzo has had a lot of insults thrown at her online and on television, whether for her race, body shape, or being a sex-positive woman. She had the internet frothing at the mouth recently for playing the aforementioned crystal flute, despite having played the flute since childhood and being a classically trained flutist. But her credentials mean little to people who take one look at her dancing on stage and deem her unworthy, whether for her body or her attitude. “Special” has an important message to people that are regularly put down as not being good enough: “I'm so glad that you're still with us / Broken, but damn, you're still perfect.” {Spotify}



Beach House
Once Twice Melody

{AADL} {Bandcamp}


{AADL} {Spotify}

Nilüfer Yanya

{AADL} {Bandcamp}

Here and Now


Full-On Monet




In no particular order, here’s what I spent the most time listening to in 2022. Just a bunch of heavy metal/loud jangly rock and about a million great riffs.



Through Sheer Will and Black Magic …


Swami John Reis
Ride the Wild Night


It’s Time … to Rise From the Grave


Cave In 
Heavy Pendulum 


The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain


Let the World Burn 


Survival of the Sickest


Meat Wave 
Malign Hex


Earth Infernal


The Dhampir 


Determined to Rot


Municipal Waste
Electrified Brain




Ov Mournful Twilight 






Harry Styles
Harry's House




honey catching season

I was a fan of KiNG MALA’s music before this album came out, but honey catching season has blown me away. I’ve been playing it on repeat since it was released back in October. {Spotify}



Blank Check with Griffin and David podcast

I like movies—who doesn't? But, strangely, I think I like listening to people talk about movies more than I actually like watching them. This podcast scratches that itch and then some. Blank Check is a podcast about filmographies. Directors who have massive success early on in their careers and are given a series of blank checks to make whatever crazy passion projects they want. Sometimes they clear, and sometimes they bounce, baby. Lots of bits, lots of insight from an actor and a critic. {Website}

Story Made podcast

My friend Matt (of the Eudora Welty obsession) started this podcast and the larger Story Made project this year. In short, Story Made is a project exploring how stories make a difference in our lives. {Website}

Penny and Sparrow
Olly Olly

I just love this band. 



The History of English Podcast
with Kevin Stroud

I’ve been listening to this for a while, and I am finally caught up. I feel like I now have a real understanding of why English is the way it is. While I can still blame the Normans for many things, it turns out it’s the Elizabethans that really got creative with spelling! I cannot recommend this podcast enough to anyone interested in language. {Website

Great Lakes Lore podcast

I was recently introduced to this podcast and have only listened to a few episodes, but I am hooked. The two hosts have good chemistry, and I appreciate the way they approach these tales. Having grown up in Michigan, I really enjoy the history of our region. {Website



Maintenance Phase podcast
 Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes

A great podcast with two fun, funny hosts that deals with “the junk science behind health fads, wellness scams, and nonsensical nutrition advice.” They debunk a lot of the myths around weight loss, and weight in general, and talk plainly about the stigma fat people face in society today. It’s extremely informative, and a great resource for people who want to fight weight stigma. Aubrey Gordon also has a book available, What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat, and another on the way. You can find them wherever you listen to podcasts. {Website}


Behind the Bastards podcast
In-depth histories of the world’s worst people. If you've ever wondered how we got where we are, these are the folks who ruined everything. {Website}



Black Sea Dahu
White Creatures

I Am My Mother

Thanks to the AADL staff picks from 2021, I discovered this amazing band from Christopher B.’s music list. Lucky for me, I was able to enjoy both their latest release as well as the 2018 album, White Creatures, from Christopher. These were constant companions on my weekend hikes in the many parks and natural areas in and around Ann Arbor. {Bandcamp} {Bandcamp}

Tears for Fears
The Tipping Point

Tears for Fears will always have a soft spot in my hardened Gen X heart. Their latest album is lush and beautiful and gets better with each listen. {AADL} {Bandcamp}

Nilüfer Yanya
Nilüfer Yanya’s 2019 concept album, Miss Universe, was on my list that year, and I was excited to get into a new album. Her voice is so unique, and Painless did not disappoint. {AADL} {Bandcamp}

Golden Air
Sun’s Signature

Give me anything that Elizabeth Fraser sings, please. 

Kishi Bashi

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II over the past few years, and this album by Kishi Bashi was created as a companion to the film of the same name. It is deeply moving work. {AADL} {Bandcamp} {Website}

First Aid Kit

A late-breaking entry released in late 2022. First Aid Kit has had a couple of albums released since 2014’s Stay Gold, but I’ve not enjoyed any of them as much as Stay Gold until this latest release. The first two tracks in particular are fantastic, and their harmonies are always warm and rich. {SoundCloud}

Other strong contenders for me this year include:

Sharon Van Etten
We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong

{AADL} {Bandcamp}

Lean Year


Florence + The Machine

I had this on repeat nonstop for a good long while, so much so that it was my top song on this year’s Spotify Wrapped. The rest of the album is good, but this particular track elevated above the rest. And the video (filmed in Ukraine in late 2021) rules. It also provides an excellent opportunity to sing at a loud volume while driving. {YouTube} {Spotify}

Poetry Unbound podcast
with Pádraig Ó Tuama

I love poetry, but I don’t always “get it.” This short podcast (episodes maybe around 10-12 minutes each) takes you through an introduction to the featured poet and an initial reading of a poem, followed by an in-depth analysis and a second reading of the poem so that you can listen again with everything you’ve heard and learned. A lovely respite from stressful days. {Website}

Ologies podcast
with Alie Ward

Alie Ward is a dang delight, and her Ologies podcast introduces listeners to the widest range of areas of expertise you can imagine. My favorite episodes are on clouds, crows, and geology. A must-listen every week. She and her podcast crew also often produce shorter versions with all the swearing cut out (for those younger listeners out there). {Website}



Reith Lectures, including links to lecture archives {Website}

Hilary Mantel (2017) lecture {Website}

Margaret MacMillan (2018) lecture {Website}
The BBC’s annual Reith Lectures first aired in December 1948. The late Hilary Mantel’s 2017 series about history and culture could change some critical thinking about historical fiction. The 2018 series from historian Margaret MacMillan provides some food for thought.

Anne Applebaum, “The Twilight of Democracy” (2022) lecture {Website}

Anne Applebaum, The Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism (2020) book {AADL}
University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy hosts and co-hosts many interesting events open to the general public and often streamed online. The 2022 Policy Talks at the Ford School series “Democracy in Crisis” keynote speaker was historian, journalist, and commentator Anne Applebaum.  

Jeb Bush, “American Democracy: The Path Forward” (2022) talk {Website}
Another Policy Talks at the Ford School series is “Conversations Across Differences,” and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was among those engaged in conversations. Amanda Ripley’s work and recent book, High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out, is also mentioned in the talk. {AADL}



Friday Five
I started writing the Friday Five column for Pulp to highlight new (or newly discovered) music produced by Washtenaw County musicians and record labels as a way to keep content flowing on Pulp during the pandemic. I've never had any difficulty finding music for Friday Five—even as venues were closed, many people kept making music while in covid lockdown due to the relative ease of home recording. But what has surprised me, over and over, is how I never have to scrounge for good music. Every week I discover talented musicians making great music in every genre. I don't even have to fake liking what I write about, either; there's merit in every single release I've covered, and more often than not, the whole recording is worthy of your ears, regardless of genre. It's been a really rewarding experience to continually be impressed by the creatives in our community, and I thank them for making this column a breeze—and joy—to research and write. Find out what's happening right here, right now. You won't be disappointed. {Friday Five}



“Make It Right”

Remember the diner scene in Mulholland Dr.? This music video builds a similar tension as the protagonist, played by the musician Sasami Ashworth, stalks (and/or is stalked by) her double. The dissonance between these visuals and the song's overall upbeat, straight-ahead sound encouraged me to slow down and consider the lyrics. {Vimeo}

Viagra Boys
Welfare Jazz
Rootin' tootin' rock ‘n’ roll for dog lovers. From way down under the water to the top of a rainbow, this album goes places. {AADL}

Picture a vacant roller rink with the whirling disco and colored strobe lights bouncing off the polished wood and the distant arcade machines winking through mists of dry ice. “Open skate of one” is the vibe of this album, so glide out onto the floor and do your thing: Tirzah won't judge. {AADL}

Kiese Laymon in Conversation with Tressie McMillan Cottom
Ever since Lynda Barry won one back in 2019, I’ve liked to scan the annual list of prestigious MacArthur award recipients—people working in diverse fields from varied walks of life who are achieving big things. One of this year’s MacArthur fellows is the writer Kiese Laymon. I’m very eager to read his work after listening to this discussion with fellow writer Tressie McMillan Cottom. It’s a wide-ranging, very personal conversation about their craft and about the responsibility an artist has to be discerning about what they feed their brain. {NYT}



Eurovision 2022
Buuuuuuuhhhhh Eurovision this year was so frigging good. It may not have topped ESC 2021 pound for pound, but wow, the tunes that stood out REALLY stood out. I have nowhere near enough room to endorse every single song and artist I'd like to, but there are a few who simply mustn’t not be showcased. {Website}

Eurovision 2022
Monika Liu (Lithuania)
“Sentimentai” and “Falafel”
A complete artist. Inventive, witty, mellifluous, sensual, insouciant, and perhaps someday even married to me. Furthermore, she is one of the only artists of the 40 countries who participated with sole writing credit for her entry. She does it all. Her song “Sentimentai” went mostly over the heads of the jurors and public, but that is to be expected for such a futuristic and “spooky groove” as Monika described it. The performance of hers that really took me, however, is this live performance of her song “Falafel” filmed with a miniscule brass band in a weed-ridden parking lot in the apartment complex where she grew up. Behold it, and never behold anything else ever again. Ugggggghhhhh, she's so great. {YouTube}{YouTube}

Eurovision 2022
Konstrakta (Serbia)
“In Corpore Sano”
“In Corpore Sano” (Latin for “In a healthy body”) by Serbia's Konstrakta speaks for itself. Just watch this performance from Serbia's national selection, and be sure to look up the Serbian/Latin to English translation of the lyrics for full effect. Reached fifth place in the overall competition, thanks to the public vote once again correcting the jury vote. {YouTube}

Eurovision 2022
Mahmood & BLANCO (Italy)
According to whatever unfeeling, digital menace that tracks my musical proclivities throughout my aimless life, “Brividi” by Mahmood & BLANCO is my most-played song of 2022 by far. It is somehow one of my favorite songs ever to sing along to, even if I only understand Italian words like “diamond,” “wine,” and “shivers” (brividi). The melodies are celestial, and they keep topping each other as the song progresses. Elegant and chaotic, Italy needed to submit a strong entry this year, as their subpar offering in 2021 netted them first place, and thus the right to host ESC 2022. “Brividi” is the ultimate follow-up, and arguably should have won Italy the top spot two years in a row. {YouTube}

Eurovision 2022
Citi Zēni (Latvia)
“Eat Your Salad”
Best opening line to any song of all time? {YouTube}

Eurovision 2022
MARO (Portugal)
“Saudade, Saudade” 
A lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely song. {YouTube}

Eurovision 2022
Honorable Mentions

Mia Dimšić (Croatia)
“Guilty Pleasure” 

LPS (Slovenia) 

Circus Mircus (Georgia) 
“Lock Me In”

VILIJA (Lithuania) 

Lolita Zero (Lithuania) 
“Not Your Mother”

The Faux Frenchmen
Jitterbug Waltz
While collecting tracks from the first Bioshock (2K Games, 2007), I discovered (meaning I read some heavily-researched articles by people smarter than me) a well-known discrepancy regarding the soundtrack’s version of “Jitterbug Waltz,” a tune originally composed and recorded by Fats Waller in 1942. Almost everywhere on the internet, including YouTube, has attributed this Bioshock version to Django Reinhardt and his “padnah” Stephane Grappelli. Nowhere in the eternal void of music history is there any evidence of Reinhardt actually recording this number, though Grappelli did commit his own version to tape 40 years later (and it pales). As it turns out, this version is unique to the city of Rapture: it was recorded specifically for the Bioshock soundtrack by the The Faux Frenchman, four gentlemen from Cincinnati, who are still actively performing and putting out records. Their tribute to Reinhardt and Grappelli's style is mesmerizing, and I put this track on repeat when I want to enter the eternal void. {YouTube}

Wild Type Droid
My three favorite bands are The Beatles, Nirvana, and Failure. Two of those bands rarely release records anymore, so when Failure does (after breaking up in 1997 and reuniting to no one’s chagrin in 2014), I listen to it, and it’s like I’m drinking a big glass of cream, but I’m drinking it with my ears, so I’m pouring cream into my ears. I also saw them perform live at The Crofoot in Pontiac this year, and everyone in the audience agreed it was like doing things with cream. {Bandcamp}{YouTube}

“Blood Will have Blood”
As you’ll see from some of my other picks, I'm not a big fan of CERTAIN THINGS. However, the defunct Australian band ART of WOR, who, according to their lyrics, appears to be a praise and worship band, was inspired enough by whatever they believe to put out this absolute crusher in 2012. And like, yeah, ha ha, look at this guy, and look at the fire and blood and wacky keytar, but NONE of that matters, or maybe it does, when the jam you’re screaming out totally slays. The man is an artist, and I don't care where he gets his ideas. I love this song. {YouTube}

More AADL Staff Picks:
➥ 2021
➥ 2020
➥ 2019
➥ 2018
➥ 2017