Listening in 2022
A lot of old farts around my age (and even some younger than me!) keep bitching about how shitty music is, how Gen Z is ruining music. If the only music you listen to is pop music, then yes. It’s crap. But pop music has always been mostly crap. Pop music is design to be loved by the masses, so of course there will be nothing revolutionary or profound about it.
But there has been some good music to come out this year. Here are some of the things that I’ve kept in rotation that came out this year:
Petrol Girls – Baby. If there is anything as exhilarating as “Baby, I Had an Abortion”, I don’t know what is. Angry feminist post-hardcore from the UK and Austria, this is a perfect soundtrack to the post-Roe dystopia we find ourselves in. Long live the riot grrl!
Chat Pile – God’s Country. Sludgy guitars and heavy lyrics from Oklahoma City. To quote their Bandcamp page: There’s a sick irony to how a country that extols rhetoric of individual freedom, in the same gasp, has no problem commodifying human life as if it were meat to feed the insatiable hunger of capitalism. If this is American nihilism taken to its absolute zenith, then God’s Country… is the aural embodiment of such a concept.
Diamanda Galás – Broken Gargoyles. Fuck. Just fuck. Here Diamanda features words from German poet Georg Heym who wrote about the horrific state of people institutionalized with yellow fever. Their delirium, the treatment they suffered and the isolation in early 20th century Germany just feels appropriate after the last couple of years, huh? This is just two tracks, each clocking around 20 minutes, and they are pure horror.
Rhys Fulber – Collapsing Empires. Is this industrial? Ambient? Trance? Whatever it is is quite mesmerizing, soundscapes that you lose yourself in. It’s definitely not as harsh as everything listed above, and it’s certainly not Front Line Assembly. It is good in its own right and shows how amazing Rhys’s ear is.
As for older things, I’ve been listening to a lot of Nine Inch Nails, particularly The Downward Spiral and The Fragile. But one thing that I couldn’t get enough while I was in Europe a few weeks ago was Hole’s compilation My Body, The Hand Grenade. Not only does it have early songs like “Turpentine”, “Retard Girl” and “Dicknail”, but it also has “Old Age” which always fucking brings me to tears:
Maybe because I’m not sure if Courtney wrote this or Kurt did since Nirvana also has a version of this song. But I prefer Hole’s version.
Also on the comp are several songs from their MTV Unplugged session including their cover of “He Hit Me (It Felt like a Kiss)” written for the Crystals by Carole King. There is something about Courtney’s voice, command and dramatics that make these early Hole songs so captivating still all these years later.