AM Gold 2022

In alphabetical order, 100 albums that made my 2022 a bit more joyful. Nearly all of these have been featured on The AM, so expect a mix of experimental electronics, ambient jazz, shoegaze, dream-pop, and other less easily classified sounds. There’s also the AM Gold 2022 Spotify playlist if you want to listen to a track from (almost) all of them—and while you’re at it, feel free to browse through the past lists here: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and A Decade of AM Gold.

Cancon is labeled for those who are interested in such things.

As with every year, even 100 albums isn’t enough to include everything that resonated with me at some point in the year, and I’m already feeling guilty about some of what’s been left out (god forbid an unknown Canadian community radio broadcaster’s list not be fully comprehensive, right?). Never let anyone tell you there’s no good music out there—there’s more being made every year than anyone could possibly listen to.

ArtistAlbumLinkSounds Like
AkusmiFleeting Futurehttps://akusmi.bandcamp.com/album/fleeting-futurePointillist melodies and side-eyed optimism
Alabaster DeplumeGold: Go Forward in the Courage of Your Lovehttps://intlanthem.bandcamp.com/album/goldSelf-help mantras snuck into slinky jazz arrangements
Andrew WasylykHearing the Water Before Seeing the Fallshttps://andrewwasylyk.bandcamp.com/album/hearing-the-water-before-seeing-the-fallsContemplatives journeys and cinematic arrangements
Asta Hiroki, Tristan de LiegeUntiedhttps://ahxtdl.bandcamp.com/album/untiedFreeflowing left-field electronics that you can dance to
🇨🇦 Badge Epoque EnsembleClouds of Joyhttps://bbadgepoqueensemble2.bandcamp.com/album/clouds-of-joyJoyous harmonies and (Stevie) wonderful jazz-funk grooves
Beach HouseOnce Twice Melodyhttps://beachhouse.bandcamp.com/album/once-twice-melodyOnly the dreamiest of dream-pop
🇨🇦 BlumeWaves of Lovehttps://blumeband.bandcamp.com/album/waves-of-loveA wintry Canadian spin on Spiritualized shoegaze and krautrock
Carcascara2https://auralcanyonmusic.bandcamp.com/album/2Meditative spaces built from deconstructed folk
Carla dal FornoCome Aroundhttps://carladalforno.bandcamp.com/album/come-around-2Dubby, minimal post-punk
Cate le BonPompeiihttps://catelebon.bandcamp.com/album/pompeiiOblique indie-pop from a familiar but foreign dimension
🇨🇦 Charbonneau / AmatoSynth Works Vol. 2https://charbonneau-amato.bandcamp.com/album/synth-works-vol-2Electronic lullabies from machines of loving grace
Clarice JensenEsthesishttps://claricejensen.bandcamp.com/album/esthesisWhat the aurora borealis might sound like if it was a neo-classical composer
🇨🇦 Crystal EyesThe Sweetness Restoredhttps://crystaleyesband.bandcamp.com/album/the-sweetness-restoredBold, swooning, ’60s-inspired dream-pop
🇨🇦 Dana GavanskiWhen It Comeshttps://danagavanskifth.bandcamp.com/album/when-it-comesPop melodies that consistently find unexpected zigs to zag
Die WelttraumforscherLiederbuchhttps://diewelttraumforscher.bandcamp.com/album/liederbuchA cassette found in a dusty corner of an abandoned apartment that you don’t remember entering
Duncan MarquisWires Turned Sideways in Timehttps://duncanmarquiss.bandcamp.com/album/wires-turned-sideways-in-timeA near-perfect intersection of ’70s kosmische, early 2000s post rock, and ambient folk
DungenEn Ar For Mycket och Tusen Aldrig Noghttps://dungen.bandcamp.com/album/en-r-f-r-mycket-och-tusen-aldrig-nogWide-eyed, jubilant psych-pop from Sweden’s masters of the genre
🇨🇦 EcotypeCivil Versionhttps://ecotype.bandcamp.com/album/civil-versionHeadphone music for a broken future
🇨🇦 EsmerineEverything Was Forever Until It Was No Morehttps://esmerine.bandcamp.com/album/everything-was-forever-until-it-was-no-moreExistential ambivalence channeled into hushed post-rock
ExekAdvertise Herehttps://exek.bandcamp.com/album/advertise-hereWry, wiry post-punk with early Eno melodies
FelbmElements of Naturehttps://felbm.bandcamp.com/album/elements-of-natureLibrary jazz for mystical forest dwellers
Field WorksStationshttps://fieldworks.bandcamp.com/album/stationsAvant-garde electronics co-written by the creaks and groans of the Earth itself
🇨🇦 FiverSoundtrack to a More Radiant Spherehttps://fiverforreal.bandcamp.com/album/soundtrack-to-a-more-radiant-sphere-the-joe-wallace-mixtapeScraps of protest songs from a picket line in a long-forgotten dream
Floating World PicturesThe Twenty-Three Viewshttps://floatingworldpictures.bandcamp.com/album/the-twenty-three-viewsInk-washed ambient jazz landscapes, open-ended meditations
ForgivenessNext Time Could Be Your Last Timehttps://musicforforgiveness.bandcamp.com/album/next-time-could-be-your-last-timeSitting on a grassy hill as the mist rolls in (in ambient jazz form)
🇨🇦 Fresh PepperFresh Pepperhttps://freshpepper.bandcamp.com/album/fresh-pepperSmooth-jazz songs about food, seasoned with ancient wisdom
GeoticTo Not Now, Nor To Ever, Despairhttps://geotic.bandcamp.com/album/to-not-now-nor-to-ever-despairSoft sounds and warm hugs
🇨🇦 GhostkeeperMultidimensional Culturehttps://ghostkeeper.bandcamp.com/album/multidimensional-cultureDefiant, idiosyncratic psychedelia built on a foundation of love
Gloria de Oliveira, Dean HurleyOceans of Timehttps://deanhurley.bandcamp.com/album/oceans-of-timeExpansive, ethereal dream-pop adrift on Cocteau currents
Golden BrownLuminoushttps://goldenbrown.bandcamp.com/album/luminousAcoustic guitars spiraling sinuous sonic strands into the cosmos
Green-HouseSolar Editionshttps://green-house.bandcamp.com/album/solar-editionsMuzak in the grand cosmic elevator
Group ListeningClarinet & Piano: Selected Works Volume 2https://grouplistening.bandcamp.com/album/clarinet-piano-selected-works-vol-2Reworking other people’s songs into the purest joy of music-making
GwennoTresorhttps://gwenno.bandcamp.com/album/tresorPop songs for wind-swept cliffsides
Hannah Peel, ParaorchestraThe Unfoldinghttps://hannahpeelmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-unfoldingAn immersive blend of synth and symphony that doubles as an inclusionary statement
Jenny HvalClassic Objectshttps://jennyhval.bandcamp.com/merch/classic-objects-blue-lpArtfully offbeat global pop from one of the best lyricists going
JilkHaunted Bedroomshttps://jilk-cis.bandcamp.com/album/haunted-bedroomsBewitching electroacoustic soundscapes
🇨🇦 Joyful JoyfulJoyful Joyfulhttps://joyfuljoyful.bandcamp.com/album/joyful-joyfulTranscendental folkways, Alan Lomax via Koyaanisqatsi
Justin Hopper & Sharron KrausSwift Wingshttps://sharronkraus.bandcamp.com/album/swift-wingsA spoken-word storybook carried on the wind from the stone circle
Kikagaku MoyoKumoyo Islandhttps://kikagakumoyoggb.bandcamp.com/album/kumoyo-islandTrippy vibes and pop instincts honed into a funky, sitar-soaked swan song
KorbIIIhttps://korbmusic.bandcamp.com/album/korb-iiiA van airbrushed with Philippe Druillet art speeding through an endless desert
Large PlantsThe Carrierhttps://soundcloud.com/largeplants/sets/the-carrier-2Psych-folk shredding from beyond the veil
🇨🇦 Living HourSomeday is Todayhttps://livinghourband.bandcamp.com/album/someday-is-todayHushed dream-pop exploring the expressive possibilities of the mid-tempo
Local TouristOther Ways of Livinghttps://localtouristmusic.bandcamp.com/album/other-ways-of-livingStripped back slow-core with dark folk underpinnings
🇨🇦 Lunar LemurSifting Starshttps://lunarlemur.bandcamp.com/album/sifting-starsBrief but beautiful snippets of interstellar symphonies
Lynn Avery, Cole PuliceTo Live & Die in Space & Timehttps://moonglyph.bandcamp.com/album/to-live-die-in-space-timeJazz for sitting in caves and slowly turning into a crystal
Mabe FrattiSe Ve Desde Aquihttps://tinangelrecords.bandcamp.com/album/se-ve-desde-aquInventive avant-pop that’s sinister and soothing in equal measure
Magic ArmDance Maniahttps://magicarm.bandcamp.com/album/dance-maniaGenre-flitting electronics capped off with one of the year’s best indie jams
Makaya McCravenIn These Timeshttps://intlanthem.bandcamp.com/album/in-these-timesSoulful jazz that goes out on many a limb without ever missing a beat
Maria Chiara ArgiroForest Cityhttps://mariachiaramusic.bandcamp.com/album/forest-cityJazzy art-rock that flirts with the ghost of trip-hop
Marina HerlopPripyathttps://marinaherlop.bandcamp.com/album/pripyatA mystifying, multifaceted assemblage of future-jazz, art-pop, and fragmented vocals
Misha PanfilovThe Sea Will Outlive Us Allhttps://mpsc.bandcamp.com/album/the-sea-will-outlive-us-all-2Pink Floyd stranded on a desert island but trying to enjoy the experience
🇨🇦 MISZCZYKThyrsis of Etnahttps://miszczyk.bandcamp.com/album/thyrsis-of-etnaA tour-de-force of art-pop eclecticism, bound together by sheer force of will
🇨🇦 Moat BellsBones of Thingshttps://moatbells.bandcamp.com/album/bones-of-thingsThe moment your eyes start adjusting to the brightness
Molly LewisMiragehttps://cafemolly.bandcamp.com/album/mirageWhat you’re hoping that dollar-bin exotica record will sound like, but it never does
Monster RallyBotanica Dreamhttps://monsterrally.bandcamp.com/album/botanica-dreamFragments of kitsch and exotica stitched into something unexpectedly poignant
Morgan Szymanski and Tommy PermanMusic for the Moon and Treeshttps://blackfordhill.bandcamp.com/album/music-for-the-moon-and-the-treesA crisp, evocative electroacoustic collaboration between two artists and their environment
Myna CyclesMyna Cycleshttps://neilcowley.bandcamp.com/album/myna-cyclesContemplation and momentum at a point of pure equilibrium
🇨🇦 NetrvnnerMoonwardhttps://netrvnner.bandcamp.com/album/moonwardThe score to the video game adaptation of a float tank experience
OHMABetween All Thingshttps://ohma.bandcamp.com/album/between-all-thingsAmbient jazz playfully pursuing the boundaries of bliss
Orange Crate ArtContemporary Guitar Musichttps://orangecrateartswc.bandcamp.com/album/contemporary-guitar-musicShoegaze-inspired instrumentals rarely maintain this much joy & wonder
Oren AmbarchiShebang (or Ghosted)https://orenambarchi.bandcamp.com/album/shebangTightly bundled and expansive all at once, string theory in musical form
Peel Dream MagazinePadhttps://peeldreammagazine.bandcamp.com/album/padEasy-listening grooves for the space-age bachelor pad
Persica 3Tangerinehttps://persica3.bandcamp.com/album/tangerineThe lighter-than-air feeling of a pleasant memory, distant in time but alive in the mind
Personal BandanaGeleezeithttps://personalbandana.bandcamp.com/album/wf-40-geleezeitWhat ’80s educational videos probably sounded like at Hogwarts
Pneumatic TubesA Letter from TreeTopshttps://soundcloud.com/ghost-box/sets/treetopsOrganic and hypnotic, a nostalgic landscape of rolling hills and dense fog
Pocket PavilionsGondolas Traversing Lofty Peakshttps://pocketpavilions-cis.bandcamp.com/album/gondolas-traversing-lofty-peaksThe naive utopianism of worlds fairs and mid-century design in 24 perfect minutes
🇨🇦 PostnamersSissies & Slutshttps://postnamers.bandcamp.com/album/sissies-slutsStrings warbling and bells chiming, the score to fantasy film watched on a psychic TV
Psychic TemplePlays Planet Caravanhttps://schlarb.bandcamp.com/album/plays-planet-caravanThe psych-jazz expansion of the Sabbath classic you didn’t know you needed
Rachika NayarHeaven Come Crashinghttps://rachika.bandcamp.com/album/heaven-come-crashingDeconstructed shoegaze at its most atmospheric and cinematic
Salamandaashbalkumhttps://8salamanda8.bandcamp.com/album/ashbalkumLeftfield compositions that are living, breathing, shapeshifting and sometimes downright silly
Sam PrekopThe Sparrowhttps://samprekop.bandcamp.com/album/the-sparrowModular synths wrangled into sounds that are spare, soothing and warm
🇨🇦 SanctumsNeon Wraithhttps://sanctums.bandcamp.com/album/neon-wraithEyes closed and dancing while the world burns around us
Sankt OttenSymmetrie und Wahnsinnhttps://sankt-otten.bandcamp.com/album/symmetrie-und-wahnsinn-2Pitch-perfect motorik evoking a hard-won optimism
SeahawksInfinite Echohttps://oceanmoon.bandcamp.com/album/infinite-echo-2The soundtrack at the pan-dimensional health spa at the edge of the Milky Way
SessaEstrela Acesahttps://sessa.bandcamp.com/album/estrela-acesaLovely, mellow Brazillian pop, recalling the glory days of tropicalia
ShabakaAfrikan Culturehttps://open.spotify.com/album/5fFftOUCiSbNfofIj8vXx0Breathy, intimate, and introspective; so sparse listening feels like an intrusion
🇨🇦 Shabason & KrgovichAt Scaramouchehttps://shabasonandkrgovich.bandcamp.com/album/at-scaramoucheA lesson in finding wonder in the smallest moments
Shintaro SakamotoLike a Fablehttps://shintarosakamotoofficial.bandcamp.com/album/like-a-fableA master of uneasy listening fully embracing his love of pop
🇨🇦 Steven LambkeVolcano, Volcanohttps://stevenlambke.bandcamp.com/album/volcano-volcanoEbulliantly off-key vocals running ripshod through impeccable folk-rock arrangements
Svaneborg KardybOver Tagehttps://svaneborgkardyb.bandcamp.com/album/over-tagePost-rock for jazz fans, or vice versa
🇨🇦 Tess RobyIdeas of Spacehttps://tessroby.bandcamp.com/album/ideas-of-spaceA polished opal—smooth, cool, and richly coloured
🇨🇦 Test CardPatternshttps://testcardmusic.bandcamp.com/album/patternsAn excercise in low-key escapism, a sunset walk through idyllic fields
🇨🇦 Thanya Iyerresthttps://thanyaiyer.bandcamp.com/album/restRestorative indie R&B, more rejuvenating than any 15 minuntes should be
The Advisory CircleFull Circlehttps://soundcloud.com/ghost-box/sets/full-circleConfident, reassuring, subtly triumphant
The Hardy TreeCommon Groundshttps://thehardytree.bandcamp.com/album/common-groundsA walk through familiar streets on a crisp autumn day
The Hologram PeopleVillage of the Snake Godhttps://libraryoftheoccult.bandcamp.com/album/village-of-the-snake-godBad trips on good acid
The OriellesTableauhttps://theorielles.bandcamp.com/album/tableauExpansive art-rock, untethered and unafraid
Time WharpSpiro Worldhttps://timewharp.bandcamp.com/album/spiro-worldSwirling cosmic dust on the verge of igniting into a star
tstewartelysianhttps://mkx.lnk.to/tstewartElysianWEA much-needed dose of concentrated optimism and slow-building bliss
🇨🇦 Untrained AnimalsStranded Somewhere on the Planet Fantastichttps://untrainedanimals.bandcamp.com/album/stranded-somewhere-on-the-planet-fantastic-lpAn exercise in creative restlessness, from space rock to breakbeats to “beatless floaters” and acid freakouts
VideodronesAfter the Fallhttps://elparaisorecords.com/product/videodrones-after-the-fall/A divey disco in a Mad Max wasteland
Wax MachineGuardians of Edenhttps://waxmachinebbib.bandcamp.com/album/hermits-groveMPB and tropicalia meanderings, aimless in the best sort of way
WeilsFugue Statehttps://weils.bandcamp.com/album/fugue-stateTranscendent cosmic blues, patient past the point of absurdity
🇨🇦 Where’s the OtherRelaxologyhttps://wherestheother.bandcamp.com/Soothing transmissions from the new age of New Age
WinterWhat Kind of Blue Are You?https://daydreamingwinter.bandcamp.com/album/what-kind-of-blue-are-youThe salty-sweet blend of crunchy distortion and soaring melodies
Yonatan GatAmerican Quartethttps://yonatangat.bandcamp.com/album/american-quartet-2A loving, blasphemous, ultimately invigorating reimagining of a groundbreaking work
🇨🇦 Yoo Doo RightA Murmur, Boundless to the Easthttps://yoodooright.bandcamp.com/album/a-murmur-boundless-to-the-eastCacophanous, cathartic, and above all collosal space rock
🇨🇦 Yves JarvisThe Zughttps://yvesjarvis.bandcamp.com/album/the-zugImpulsive, inquisitive, impressively wide-ranging, and somehow his most controlled album to date
🇨🇦 Zacht AutomaatP is for Progresshttps://zachtautomaat.bandcamp.com/album/p-is-for-progress-2Can and Exile-era Stones jamming on a movie score for an impressionistic anticapitalist documentary
🇨🇦 ZoonA Sterling Murmurationhttps://zoongideewinmusic.bandcamp.com/album/a-sterling-murmuration-epReverb, distortion, bliss

The Hardy Tree – Common Grounds

Serene and subtly haunting, the latest from The Hardy Tree takes a twilight stroll through empty streets and abandoned shops, capturing a portrait of a neighbourhood in the midst of the pandemic. Castle, the force behind the excellent Clay Pipe Records as well as an acclaimed illustrator and musician, would spend her days walking the mostly empty streets and her evenings writing and recording the music that would become Common Grounds. The draft recordings would become the soundtrack to the next walk, which would inspire the next round of composition, an ongoing dialogue of place, sound, and movement.

Ambient-leaning music can sometimes feel academic, lost in its own head. That’s not the case here. The conversational approach to Common Grounds‘ composition has lead to an album that feels embodied, anchored in movement and place. The songs have the leisurely pace of an aimless walk, open-minded and observant. The mellotron and synth textures are comforting but uneasy, expertly capturing the eerie beauty of spaces that are empty by circumstance rather than choice. That ambiguity disappears for album closer “Up on the Hill,” its triumphant strings and swelling drums seemingly a sign of life returning to the world—a grand way to end an album that’s otherwise defined by smaller moments.

Podcast: The AM, Mar. 7, 2022

This week’s episode of The AM (also streaming at CJSW.com):

Atmospheric sounds from Loscil and Earthen Sea, psych-tinged folk from Spencer Cullum and Alabaster DePlume, fuzzed-out guitars from Lorelle Meets the Obscure and Did You Die, and other soul-sating sounds for a Monday morning in March. Plus, Wordfest’s Shelley Youngblut joins in the third hour to talk about ImagineOnAir’s upcoming programming. Enjoy.

(Image by Chel Faust)

Podcast: The AM, Feb. 28, 2022

This week’s episode of The AM (also streaming at CJSW.com): Take a deep breath and submerge yourself in the oblique sounds of The AM, a three-hour respite from a chaotic world. This week is bookended by new music from Bitchin’ Bajas and Orange Crate Art, finding room for vintage soul, modern pop experiments, jangling guitars, desert psych, and other offbeat albums old and new.

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Podcast: The AM, Feb. 21, 2022

This week’s episode of The AM (also streaming at CJSW.com): The holiday Monday made for a groggier-than-usual episode, but fortunately the music holds up even if the hosting is slightly off. After all, it’s hard to go wrong with new tunes from Cate Le Bon, Animal Collective, Exek, Ombiigizi, Congotronics International, Reptalians, and the list goes on…

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Group Listening – Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works, Vol. 2 (PRAH Recordings)

The second full-length from Stephen Black and Paul Jones is another testament to the Welsh duo’s impeccable taste. That’s apparent in eclectic covers assembled here, including takes on two outsider Can-con classics in Syrinx’s “Hollywood Dream Trip” and Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s “Sunset Village,” one from new-age legend Laaraji (“All of a Sudden”), and an offering from unheard-of-outside-Wales New Waver Malcolm Neon, among a half-dozen others.

It’s also obvious in the arrangements, which generally feature the two titular instruments, embellished by occasional flourishes of keyboard, guitar, glockenspiel, and subtle percussion, but always given plenty of room to breathe. It’s clearly a labour of love, the sort of affectionate reinterpretations that can only come from a deep and respectful understanding of the originals.

Reverent and playful in equal measure, Selected Works Volume 2 is a work of beauty in its own right, a collection of thoughtful, inventive instrumentals. Better still, it doubles as an entryway into the catalogues of a diverse assortment of ambient, new age, and otherwise left-of-centre artists, a rich vein of sounds waiting to be unearthed.

Podcast: The AM, Jan. 24, 2022

This week’s episode of The AM (also streaming at CJSW.com): I didn’t notice that the 400th episode of the AM had come and gone, but celebrating number 402 works just as well. I shared the first song ever played on The AM, and there’ll be a Spotify playlist of the first episode’s tracklist available sometime shortly—visit theam.ca for that one. But, we’re always looking forward, and this week’s mix of cosmic synthesizers, melodic art-rock, and psychedelic surf is your recommended way to ease into the last week of January.

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