27 Can't-Miss Albums to Discover in June 2022
Before the month is over, be sure to check out albums by Anyway Gang, Magi Merlin, B.A. Johnston and more
Published Jun 16, 2022We're rapidly approaching the midway point of the year (we can't believe it either), which we celebrated with our recent list of the best albums of 2022 so far. But so many of those records have been out for months, with ample time to process and canonize. Here, we've collected some of our favourite releases from the past few weeks that you may have missed but definitely shouldn't — perhaps you'll see some of these on our lists of the year's best music in December. When you're done with this list, check out our latest album reviews for more new music worth paying attention to.
Aaron Read is perhaps best known as a comic with Vancouver improv troupe the Sunday Service, but he's also a visual artist (he drew Apollo Ghosts' Pink Tiger album cover) and a musician who used to tour as a member of How to Dress Well. On his gorgeously weird new EP as ACR, he doesn't make jokes, exactly — but it's still quite funny how he stuffs the Talking Heads-style boogie "Job Heaven" with wonky synth sounds, or affects a southern drawl when observing, "And when a dog eats a worm / I'll bet it tastes like candy" on the acoustic ballad "Swim Coach."
Dave Monks (Tokyo Police Club), Chris Murphy (Sloan), Sam Roberts (Sam Roberts Band) and Menno Versteeg (Hollerado) bring back their Canadian rock supergroup Anyway Gang for another album of low-stakes pop-rock fun. Picking right up where they left off on their 2019 self-titled debut — and perhaps adding just a bit of polish and country-rock refinement — the musicians sound unified while still preserving their individual identities: Roberts's yearning melodies, Versteeg's quirky swagger, Monks's upbeat energy and Murphy's classic craftsmanship.
Boldy James & Real Bad Man
(Real Bad Man)
Following their 2020 team-up Real Bad Boldy, Boldy James & Real Bad Man live up to lofty sequel standards on Killing Nothing. Once again, in-demand Detroit rapper James delivers snapshots of street life from a sharp pen in solemn monotony, while the L.A. production and clothing collective back his words with looping beats that feel cinematic in spite of their simplicity.
Bruno Capinan rewrites their past on Tara Rara. The Toronto-based singer-songwriter's reflections on the bullying and discrimination they endured growing up in Brazil are juxtaposed by the jubilant bossa nova and samba sounds and rhythms that served as a form of spiritual liberation. Expanding on the album title's meaning of "rare desire," Tara Rara is brimming with yearning (via Capinan's smoky, seductive vocals) and celebration (heard in the many layers of upbeat instrumentation), using memory and nostalgia as the catalyst for imagining a better future and knowing you deserve it.
Interstellar Black Space
On his sophomore solo album, Coleman — whose mission log includes work with some of modern jazz's best and brightest — boldly blasts off into the farthest, funkiest reaches of his musical universe. Interstellar Black Space charts a rhapsodic, exploratory path through the galaxy of Black expression first mapped by forebears like Herbie Hancock and Parliament-Funkadelic.
(Delmore Recording Society)
Karen Dalton's voice sounds as ancient as the Appalachians; the crags, peaks and valleys of her instrument unlike any other in the canon of Greenwich Village folk singers. Her two official records — the timeless It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best and In My Own Time — present Dalton at her most polished, even in their rough-hewn majesty. Shuckin' Sugar, then, is Dalton at her most raw and wild. These unearthed live recordings from the early '60s, many of them duets with her then-husband Richard Tucker, are threaded with tape hiss, floorboard creaks and gentle chatter — and they feel as alive as the trees.
Nervous at Night
"You said it was whiny / Every time I put on music," Charlie Hickey laments on "Thirteen." It's an offhanded critique that remains prescient, but clearly hasn't stopped the California singer-songwriter from developing his earnest, caterwauling brand of gleaming, folk-indebted tunes into a compelling Bildungsroman on his debut LP. Producer Marshall Vore (the live drummer of Saddest Factory head Phoebe Bridgers) glazes Hickey's emo edges with a waterlogged spaciousness, blurring even his most claustrophobic rhymes in a chlorine haze.
(Flesh and Bones)
Chicago five-piece Gentle Heat march their way through the haziness of shoegaze and dream pop on fourth album Sheer, carving a space in the scene that is uniquely their own. The fuzziness and reverb on "A Reprieve" arrives like a tidal wave, with vocals from David Algrim and newcomer Sarah Clausen adding to the perfectly crafted soundscape.
Werewolves of London, Ontario
There may be no Chinese restaurants, howling or even werewolves, but B.A. Johnston's latest album is every bit as humorous as the Warren Zevon tune from which it takes its name. It finds Southern Ontario's silliest troubadour making another affable batch of folk punk and MIDI pop tracks that magnify the stray thoughts of dirtbag life to gut-busting proportions. It's business as usual for Johnston, but moments like the synth sax solo on "Only 2 Things I Wanna Do (Doritos N U)" beg the question of how great it would be if he went all-out in the studio with a massive band. Crowdfunding campaign, anyone?
Birthdays in July
The War on Drugs are cited as the obvious influence behind the blisteringly atmospheric guitar on "Love Vibes," the debut single from Toronto-born Jessie Leith Munro (a.k.a. Leith). Balanced out by swathes of wispy reverb, she tempers both impulses on the rest of her existential EP — from feeling futile on sputtering electropop bop "Satellite," to wondering if she's doing it all just to "write a good metaphor" on sweeping lone-ranger anthem "cowboys don't have friends."
The Linden Trees Are Still in Blossom
Apologies to everyone who panic-bought Jens Lekman's 2007 breakthrough Night Falls over Kortedala when he pulled it from streaming services in April — weeks later, the baroque pop touchstone was reborn as The Linden Trees Are Still in Blossom, a full-album rework (to address the sample clearance issues that necessitated its initial removal) with six bonus tracks. Changes to the classic songs are surface-level and the new additions hardly compare, but it's all worth it if only for the title track, a surprise sequel to Lekman's signature tune "A Postcard to Nina." Following up on the now-iconic story of Lekman's night as his lesbian friend's beard, a series of heartbreaking reveals exposes the timelessness and vitality of the original, while proving that Lekman's ability to wring tears out of the most mundane anecdotes remains unmatched — not that it was ever in doubt.
The long-awaited debut from modern R&B's quietest MVP, Hypnos sounds like both the future and the past, transmuting classic R&B and pop into shimmery alien forms. The production is lush without being overbearing and restrained without being faceless; a restless collection of constantly-evolving, slow-burn perfection. The real star, however, is the Chicago native's feather-light, endlessly malleable voice — led by her masterful vocals, these gentle, sinewy songs sound larger than life.
Under the production power of Cadence Weapon, Secret Verses brings to light the charming vocals of former Vesuvio Solo co-leader Cam Maclean, on full display with his second LP. The opening half nods heavily to '80s new wave, with tracks like the playful "Shy Companion" and psych-pop groover "Life Is Not" driven by lighthearted guitar riffs. After the meditative instrumental guitar "Interlude" at the halfway point, Secret Verses takes an introspective turn, ending on a calm, easy and hopeful note that shows the range of Maclean's artistic vision.
Like bees to honey, Australia's Mallrat (a.k.a. Grace Shaw) remains faithful to the sweet, melodic textures that lie between the cloudiness of dream pop and indie pop's spry spunk on her long-awaited debut album. On "Your Love," she declares, "I don't care if I'm wrong / I'm a writer," and if that doesn't cure your imposter syndrome, I don't know what will.
Montreal's Magi Merlin struts her way through seven tracks on the lightning-quick Gone Girl EP, declaring herself "president of the world" and offering, "Gone girls, come here / Come hang out with me at the top." She's still early in her career and hasn't yet released a debut album, but the electropop hooks of "Pissed Black Girl" and the rap braggadocio of "Free Grillz" prove that her confidence is well-earned.
What can't Maryze do? The Montreal-based musician dabbles in synthpop, R&B, hyperpop, Celtic folk and so much more throughout the 10 tracks of her debut album. And yet, it never comes off as scattered or disjointed, with Maryze's ethereal vocals serving as the through-line of every number. Whether eviscerating an ex via the music he used to lambaste her for loving on "Emo" or conjuring a horrorcore seance with Backxwash on "Squelettes," Maryze bends her versatile voice to each song's needs, all while sharpening her own sound.
Nervous Birds! Too
(Snappy Little Numbers)
With great garage rock tunes and an incredibly short attention span, Night Court pack hooks into micro pop anthems in a way that recalls Tony Molina and Guided by Voices, racing through 12 fuzzy songs in just 17 minutes. Nervous Birds! Too is the follow-up to 2021's Nervous Birds! One, suggesting that these three Vancouverites have a near-endless supply of cheeky, lo-fi, bite-sized punk bops.
(Artium / Atlantic)
Whether singing solo or harmonizing with herself, Ogi is proven to be an artist one shouldn't miss hearing out on confident debut Monologues. Produced by No I.D., the six-track set is marked by the Nigerian-American singer's captivating musical ear and breezy vocal range in songs of pride and pettiness, loving and letting go.
To celebrate the one-year anniversary of synthpop odyssey Silicone Villeray, Montreal's Robert Robert tacked an EP's worth of remixes, demos and live versions atop a slightly reordered version of the original album. It's a confusing approach to what is effectively a deluxe edition, but it fits the album's brand of creatively and disarmingly exploring technology-induced alienation and escapism. Existing fans will appreciate the fresh takes on the originals (such as the stripped-down "version pas digitale" version of album hit "Digital") while new fans will enjoy getting lost in an album-and-a-half of thoughtful, hooky grooves.
Say Sue Me
The Last Thing Left
Despite the whiplash from the immediate success of their 2019 North American tour, Say Sue Me remain as sweet as their sound, as Sumi Choi's dreamy and nostalgia-dripped vocals dominate their fourth album. If you wanted to remember what it felt like to be a starry-eyed young'un, The Last Thing Left would be the record to do it.
You of Now Pt. 1
Approved by British guitar phenom Nilüfer Yanya and possessed of a smouldering voice and lilting melodic sensibility, London's Léa Sen crafts deep-blue missives between the worlds of chilly R&B, sparse art rock and gentle folk. You of Now Pt. 1 is a bruised, nocturnal collection — flowing from the tender, finger-picked folk of "I Like Dis" to the full-band swirl of "Hyasynth." Where she'll go next is anyone's guess.
Shabaka Hutchings's debut EP stands in meditative contrast to his work with the recently retired Sons of Kemet, showing a quieter side of the bandleader's artistry. Over the half-hour listen, rhythm and melody float and sink in musical depth stirred up with layers of Japanese shakuhachi flutes, twinkling chimes and complementary African instruments like the kora and mbira, working together to foster reflection and renewal.
No Longer in the Suburbs
Following his 2021 JUNO-nominated debut album Proverb, Dylan Sinclair moved out of his parents' home in Thornhill, ON, and into the nearby big city of Toronto. Follow-up EP No Longer in the Suburbs is an exploration of this independence in the wake of his newfound fame. Interlacing recognizable sound bites from the city with slow, dreamy R&B melodies, Sinclair takes us through the journey of finding himself while in a committed relationship; a new level of vulnerability that complementing his signature smooth vocals. In a confessional style, Sinclair lays out his devotion using sweet, sentimental ballads that showcase self-awareness in light tones.
Montreal quartet TOPS released their last glimmering vintage pop LP, 2020's I Feel Alive, right after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold — a predicament that imaginably inspired the title for its follow-up. Empty Seats is a tight five tracks led by a likely thesis in the opalescent yearning of "Party Again," which sees vocalist Jane Penny end a pause in the otherwise incessant glossy synth fanfare by starkly admitting, "I just can't live without hope."
Having added multi-instrumentalist Mitchell Schaumberg to the mix, Vancouver's the Katherines (Kate Kurdyak, Lauren Kurdyak and Kaitlyn Hansen-Boucher) reform with crystal vision on their debut as Vox Rea. The project's comprehensive aesthetic is very Through the Looking-Glass (quite literally on early single "Dose Me Up"); the kind of brooding, cinematic lushness that might start crackling out of an antique radio or relinquish a forest nymph from several lifetimes trapped inside a haunted jewelry box.
do you feel it too?
(all my thoughts)
Seb Wildblood's second LP arrives after the DJ, producer and label head's move from London to Los Angeles; a relocation to brighter settings that leaks through these 10 tracks. do you feel it too? is the most vibrant the artist has sounded, sequenced to keep the energy high from sunrise to sunset. There's also some CanCon of note, as Montreal's Ouri stops in to lend a lithe vocal to "Keep On."
While she dipped her toes into synthpop with 2021's To Bloom, Toronto's Erez Zobary feels firmly planted in her timeless soul sound on follow-up EP Starlight. Embracing a cohesive, maximalist approach with a bright-eyed horn section and rhythmic emphasis permeating all the way through, she seems more in control of her own remarkable instrument than ever — even on vocal melodies that show off less range, like grooving standout "Hungover."