We’re at the end of Favorites Week here at the Rabbit Room. Throughout the last few days, we’ve been detailing some of our favorite finds from the last calendar year in the form of Recommended Reading, Recommended Listening, and Recommended Viewing.
This year, we thought we’d separate things a bit to allow each category to shine on its own, and we polled some of the Rabbit Room staff and contributors for their answers. For today, we have our Recommended Listening lists from 2022.
Read on and let us know your own recommendations in the comments!
Expert in a Dying Field by The Beths. With a twang as compelling as Dolores O’Riordan, Elizabeth Stokes of The Beths has captured my indie rock heart. The New Zealand band reminisces on the shameful failings of past relationships and the passive denial of love gone cold. With the perfect combination of slow jams, punk anthems, and chant-worthy choruses, Expert in a Dying Field has all the components of a perfect album. Favorite Tracks: “Best Left”, “Expert in a Dying Field”, “When You Know You Know”
If you are a fan of The Office you will enjoy Kevin Malone’s podcast titled, An Oral History of The Office. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how the show evolved. Lots of the characters and creators of the show are part of the podcast too. It’s so much fun!
Ali Hutton and Ross Ainslie, Symbiosis I and Symbiosis II. I played with Ali last July and quickly realized he’s a musical powerhouse on guitar and pipes. Ross is equally amazing on pipes. Top-level Scottish-trad instrumental music. Kinnaris Quintet’s Free One and This Too. KQ is a Scottish all-female instrumental group with a variety of influences from trad Celtic to bluegrass and lots of other music. I stood with Andrew and Jamie Peterson watching KQ’s set at Underneath the Stars Festival in Yorkshire last summer and we were amazed by their skill and tunes – such musical joy.
As a mom of a toddler, most of my 2022 music listening has been influenced by a tiny human. Drew and Ellie Holcomb’s “Hey Rivers” was my anthem and JJ Heller provided perfect background music for the year (I fully recommend both 2022 I Dream of You albums, “Joy” and “Christmas,” and singles “Neighbor” and “Wild and Precious Life”). Revisiting a favorite from my own childhood, I listened to the delightful banter of the Slugs and Bugs classic “Tractor Tractor” about 327 times.
I really looked for more places of quiet and ways to add silence to my day. So usually when I would play music—walking the dogs, driving, or cooking— I kept things quiet. However, listening to a CD of the poet Seamus Heaney reading his poetry was my go-to if I did need to listen to something while driving in the car. I love his poetry, and listening to him read his own words makes them come alive for me. This year at Hutchmoot, I really loved Matthew Clark singing and talking about his album Only the Lover Sings (what wonderful words!) as well as Taylor Leonhardt’s Friday evening concert. Her song “Poetry” is just perfect.
I have three 20-something daughters, so it was impossible for me to have not listened to the recent Harry Styles record many, many, many times. And to be honest, there are several “good bops” (as the kids say) on it. By choice, I listened to Tears for Fears’ The Tipping Point and Direction of the Heart by Simple Minds. I didn’t love every tune, but I liked enough of both to feel relieved that my old favorites could still rock—and Simple Minds’ inclusion of a cool cover of “The Walls Came Down” by The Call was too scrumptious for words. But the most important release of the year for me (without question) was geranium lake—a collection of live performances, demos, and unreleased songs that lead up to making the innocence mission’s classic 1995 album, glow. If collections like that don’t float your boat and you are looking for a more polished record, try the aforementioned glow or the innocence mission’s recent see you tomorrow.
Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2022 release The Loneliest Time is a reminder that pop music is awesome, feel good songs are awesome, and Canadians are awesome. The title track “The Loneliest Time” features Rufus Wainwright and gives heartbreak disco vibes with hints of ’80s electronica. This is exactly the album that middle school me would have wanted to play on his yellow Sony Walkman while doing homework stashed in his Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper.
Anaïs Mitchell, “Watershed”. This song gave me words to mourn what I lost during the pandemic and simultaneously celebrate newfound hope.
It’s uneven, over-produced, and sometimes self-indulgent. But for all its faults, Midnights by Taylor Swift is (alongside releases from Bad Bunny and Beyoncé) a record that defined 2022. Maybe I feel extra-invested because I spent so many hours battling Ticketmaster to get concert tickets, but the album is loaded with Swift’s characteristic ability to capture snapshots of everyday life (well, her everyday life) and imbue them with emotion and meaning.
Singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz is definitely not a newcomer to the music scene, but she was a new discovery for me this year. Blue Heron Suite (Sarah Jarosz, 2021) is a deeply considered, beautifully executed musical journey, and its gently-flowing folk melodies have been a friendly, meditative companion to my ears while going about my day.
The Brilliance. I discovered The Brilliance at a retreat at Laity Lodge. The guitar/piano duo, David Gungor and John Arndt, joined by cellist Dave Campbell, create complex textured music layered with rich vocals. Their Advent Collection was on high rotation for me this year.
Zen podcast, The Samples, Kodaline, The Killers, Joseph, Switchfoot, The War on Drugs, Bruce Hornsby & the Range, and I’ve been listening to my new songs as they’re being recorded for the forthcoming project.
Ghosteen, by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. In keeping with Faith, Hope, and Carnage, this record is all about the death of Cave’s son. I’ve never heard an album like it. It’s not something you’re going to want to put on unless you’re ready to really engage with it. I suggest going on a long walk and listening to it in its entirety, knowing that it was written in the studio by a rockstar poet who spent years in and out of rehab, who is now a follower of Jesus, and who is suffering from the grief of losing his son. Don’t listen to try to understand, not at first, but to experience. It’s weird. And it’s beautiful. And somehow there’s a bright hope that overpowers the grief. After you’ve given it one listen, try it again and read the lyrics as they go by. It’s definitely not for everybody, and to be honest I didn’t get it the first time I heard it. About six months later it came up on shuffle and stopped me in my tracks.
Rachel Matar, North Wind Manor’s head of hospitality, turned me onto Anais Mitchell and my mission in life is to do the same favor for you. Her self-titled album (new this year, though she has several previous albums), is a collection of perfect songs that are lyrically mesmerizing and exactly the musical mood I love to fall into most days after work. I can’t say enough good things about the record. And surprise, it turns out she’s also the writer of Hadestown, having written the concept album about a decade ago.