Several artists help improve a post-lockdown world and reopen festivals and venues across the globe during 2022. From soft aspiring pop tunes to soulful blues and kick-a** rock tracks worthy of open-air venues, countless wonderful bands presented new material in the past year, and here at Latebar we have gorged in it like spoiled kids over presents at Christmas.
Many of said artists spent the lockdown write great songs and create memorable albums of which we have listened to quite a few – all with great pleasure and gratefulness. Here’s what we listened to in 2022.
Keb’ Mo’ – “Good to be…”
The American blues icon Keb’ Mo’ released his 16th studio album in January, and though the Californian turned 71 in October he is as vibrant and present as ever. The album “Good to be…” contains that unique pop-soul-blues-swing we have all come to love over the years. However, this album also holds an abundance of a truly comforting laidbackness, we have all longed for for so long.
In fact, Keb’ Mo’ is the universal medicine for tried souls by and large. Though you probably will find it hard to persuade your local medicine man write it on the prescription, we suggest you take a bit of Keb’ Mo’ every morning. And “Good to be…” is a really ‘good place to start’ if you are new to Keb’ Mo’.
The feel-good vibe is all over this production. Tracks like “Lean On Me“, “So Good To Me“, and “’62 Checy” all captures the feeling of driving cross-state on and endless vacation full of sun and large refreshments, while “The Medicine Man” is the perfect singalong tune around the bonfire.
The album contains several veritable hits too, starting with the album opener “Good To Be (Home Again)” – a sing-along beauty, destined to become one of Mo’s many evergreens. The same goes for his unconditional tribute to women in “Good Strong Woman” – a song also feating Hootie & The Blowfish frontman, Darius Rucker.
We also had the good fortune of experiencing Keb’ Mo’ at the 2022 Tønder Festival in August. Live the LA-born guitarist is possibly even better. However, his album “Good to be…” is still a must-have in your music library.
Keb’ Mo’ – “Good to be…” – released: 21 January 2022
Tears for Fears – “The Tipping Point”
2022 came with an abundance of intellectually stimulating albums about life and hardship it sometimes throws at us. But almost all of them contain an element of hope and solution too. A few albums stick out though. One such magical wonder album is ‘The Tipping Point‘ by British superstars Tears For Fears. We picked up the album and gave it a more thorough review here at Latebar, and if you haven’t at least listened to the album yet, you should.
The Tipping Point contains variety of songs, covering the aspects of life – from losing a loved one (Please Be Happy) to fatherly advice to a daughter coming of age (Break the Man), and to finally facing you inner demons (My Demons). Everything wrapped in that wonderfully familiar, unique, and truly comforting sound of Roland and Curt – the sound that only they can make… together!
‘The Tipping Point’ is the very essence of Tears for Fears, and it might end up being one of the very best albums of the decade.
Tears For Fears – “The Tipping Point” – 25 February 2022
Nicklas Sahl – “God Save the Dream”
Though on his third album, Danish singer-songwriter Nicklas Sahl is still considered a ‘shooting star‘ to most fans and listeners outside Denmark. With his 2022 album “God Save the Dream” he picks up where he left before the Covid pandemic, and continues to produce one more melodic, comforting ,and optimistic pop song after the other.
This guy, still only in his mid-20s, already has several noteworthy hits to his name, and with his recent production there’s even more great crowd-pleasers to add to ‘New Eyes‘, ‘Hero‘, ‘In The Window Frame‘, ‘Unsolvable‘, ‘If I Killed You Tonight‘, ‘Four Walls‘ on festivals across Europe.
The album opener ‘Noise‘ is just one such potential pop hit. ‘Fine On Your Own‘ is another. In a way Nicklas Sahl is becoming to Denmark what George Ezra is to the UK – a guy with a bucket full of no-frills songs able to turn any grey day into warm sunshine, and had there been room here in this blog we would have promoted several more of Sahl’s 12-track production of 2022.
If you are to hear just one song from “God Save The Dream” allow us to recommend ‘Good/Crazy‘. However, we feel sure once you’ve heard that, you want more of this wonderful and genuine artist.
Nicklas Sahl – “God Save the Dream” – 26 August 2022
Def Leppard – “Diamond Star Halos”
Everybody born in Europe in the ’70s or ’80s know the hard-rockin’ Sheffielders in Def Leppard. Gigantic hits, such as “Animal“, “Rocket“, “Women” and the should-be-canonised “Pour Some Sugar on Me” – all from the band’s 1987 album “Hysteria” – has been on continuous heavy-rotation on radio stations around the world since publication.
Now the five remaining Leppards have done it again. In May the band’s twelfth studio album “Diamond Star Halos” was released, and as the two singles “Kick” and “Take What You Want” released in March and April expectations were on the rise. Something truly extraordinary was in the making!
From the kick-ass opener “Take What You Want” to the breath-taking duets “This Guitar” and “Lifeless” – both featuring bluegrass-superstar Alison Krauss – this album outshines most other modern glam-rock productions my miles. In fact, we feel this is the best DL-album since “Hysteria”.
Yes, it is that good!
We had the good fortune to see the boys live a few years
Def Leppard – “Diamond Star Halos” – 27 May 2022
George Ezra – “Gold Rush Kid”
No star shines as bright these years as the absolutely fabulous Brit, George Ezra. We have been onto him since the release of his break-through “Budapest” in 2014, and things accelerated into true fandom here, when he visited Denmark in 2019 to perform at the Jelling Musikfestival.
In June the 29-year-old singer-songwriter released his third studio album, “Gold Rush Kid“. Since the release of the first single “Anyone For You (Tiger Lily)” in January we knew a long-awaited mood-boost was on the way after two long years of moderation and confinement, and we were all re-encouraged as the Ezra’s Caribbean-inspired “Green Green Grass” came out in April. But as we were getting ready for another festival craze, a third single “I Went Hunting” came out on 3 June 2022.
Suddenly, everything became serious, intimate, and very, very mature. Having been diagnosed with ‘Pure O’ – a variation of OCD – the otherwise happy Hertfordshire kid became an adult, writing about coping with the large bumps life sometimes gives us all. To us this song elevated Ezra’s entire works and consolidated his position among a new song-writing elite.
Ezra’s third studio installment contains both the happy summer party (as usual) as well as the more deep and weighty wisdom of a man who has felt the ups and downs of being a global pop star – of being human. Songs like “Don’t Give Up“, “In The Morning” and “The Sun Went Down” will likely not be radio hits, like the more up-beat tracks. But they sure will render their fair share of the airplay among the fans on Spotify and other streaming services. Mix in a bit of Motown vibe from “Manila” and you have one of the most wholesome albums in a very long time.
“Gold Rush Kid” suits him tremendously and the autobiographical title is a near-perfect choice for a production this naked and no-frilled.
George Ezra – “Gold Rush Kid” – released: 10 June 2022
Fleron – “Seeds”
Most people may not be familiar with the names Thomas Fleron and Troels Skjærbæk. Nevertheles, the two extremely experienced Danes produced what is likely the most distinct and interesting album in Denmark in 2022.
The two have known each other for some 30 years, and ever since they met the plan was always to write and compose some songs together. Just once their respective calendars allowed it…
It took three decades and a world pandemic for that to happen. Suddenly, all other plans were suspended and the time was just right. One called up the other on the phone, and Fleron ended up sending Skjærbæk a couple of handful of song drafts, and after a while the latter returned what he thought to be the best possible track options. And here we are!
With a healthy mix of Britpop and Danish rock tradition the duo pays homage to bands like The Beatles, Elvis Costello, Supergrass and Manic Street Preachers throughout their 10-track debut, and it only takes a few strokes of “Tuesday I’m With Ruby” before you’re dancing in front of the main stage at your local festival.
All four outfits to have formed their own path in music. Combined, however, “Seeds” is meant as a tribute to the next generation of young kids today.
If you are not already familiar with ‘Fleron‘ we strongly urge you to give their sublime debut production the good half hour it takes to complete. We won’t regret it.
Fleron – “Seeds” – released: 2 September 2022 (vinyl: 21 October 2022)
Alter Bridge – “Pawns & Kings”
The seventh studio album from American power quartet Alter Bridge came out in mid-October, and though it doesn’t quite equal it’s predecessor “Walk The Sky“, that became ‘Album of the Year 2019’ on on Latebar, the 2022 production “Pawns & Kings” too is a world-class sensation, that been on replay countless days at the Latebar office since.
The album feels a bit harder and a little less melodic than some of the previous releases from Myles, Mark, Scott, and Brian. Songs like ‘This Is War‘, ‘Holiday‘, and ‘Fable of the Silent Son‘ are examples of the slightly darker post-covid feel to this album, while tracks like ‘Last Man Standing‘ and title-track ‘Pawns & Kings‘ reawaken the feeling that Alter Bridge remains a contender for the next Bond movie theme.
With Chris Cornell in the great beyond, Myles Kennedy must be the most exuberant, rich and opulent rock singer out there, and there is really no way we can emphasize enough: Alter Bridge is one of the absolutely most significant and defining contemporary rock outfits in the World right now. Period!
Alter Bridge – “Pawns & Kings” – released: 14 October 2022
A-ha – “True North”
There has always been a very solid and dedicated fan base in Denmark for the Norwegian trio A-ha. The people of the two countries consider themselves brothers and sisters, and taking away the occasional sporting rivalry in mostly handball and football, the two nations have historically been really close.
In a way, this is what the band’s eleventh studio album, called “True North“, is all about. Having each others’ backs through thick and thin. The album opener “I’m in” is, according to band member Magne Furuholmen, a reminder to us all to stick with your decisions, keep your focus, and to keep your commitment to your friends and loved ones – “Don’t give up on people, even though they might disappoint you at times, because you might disappoint them too”.
Let’s just be frank. “True North” is perhaps the most surprising pop album to be released in 2022. Forming the score for a film production, having the same name, Morten, Magne and Paul had a full symphonic ensemble available during the recording. This has made some rather grandiose productions, adding something new to the trio’s songwriting. Songs like “Bumblebee” and the title track “True North” certainly benefit from this symphonic surplus – but without it ever taking over.
Over time this installment will likely be acknowledged as one of the band’s absolute masterpieces. From it’s very Scandinavian folklore in “Bluest Of Blue” to the swinging jazzy “Hunter in the Hills” and “Oh My Word” (Latebar’s favorite).
Let’s hope the three Norwegian aces once again hit the road and show up at venues across the world during 2023.
A-ha – “True North” – released: 21 October 2022
Simple Minds – “Direction of the Heart”
Two years after their tour were abruptly paused due to Covid-19, the Scottish legends, Simple Minds, we were finally able to catch up with front men Jim and Charlie live. The postponement meant, that the 2022 set list included a couple of brand new songs from the band’s 2022 album “Direction of the Heart“. Delivering two of their best live performances ever seen in Denmark, the veterans underlined what was confirmed by the album release in October – Simple Minds are still ‘Alive and Kicking‘.
With the absolutely coolest possible line-up, counting three remarkable women, Berenice Scott (keys, vocal), Sarah Brown (vocal), and Cherisse Osei (drums), the Simple Minds seems to have distilled and revitalized the very essence of what some 40 years ago made the band world famous.
There are audible scents of “Don’t You” (1985) in the song “Human Traffic“, bits of “She’s a River” (1995) in “Who Killed Truth?” and a faint choir-and-keys-like connection between “Belfast Child” (1989) and “Solstice Kiss” (feat. Sarah Brown). But, every song on the 2022-album is its own and stands out as brand new works of art, and all with a remarkably relevance and applicability to the world of today.
This album is probably one of the most played at the Latebar office during 2022.
Simple Minds – “Vision Thing” – released: 21 October 2022
Cardinal Black – “January Came Close”
It has been more than a decade since Welsh-born Tom Hollister, Chris Buck, and Adam Roberts formed what became “Cardinal Black“. Right from the outset they made an impact, receiving accolade from several established artists, among them legendary Steve Winwood who ended up inviting them to come record at Wincraft Studios. Huge success quickly followed, but after a stint in the USA, the trio decided to hit the brakes. Things were acceleration too fast.
The childhood friends returned to Great Britain where they each did their own thing – staying friends though and occasionally jamming and playing together.
Hollister went into music management while drummer Roberts follow a career as a treasured session musician. Guitarist Chris Buck kept on experimenting and steadily grew quite a name for himself within the business, culminating in 2019 where he was named ‘Best New Guitarist in the World’ by the readers of the magazin “Total Guitar“.
It was about that time the trio decided to try again. Scores of more or less half-baked sketches were tried and developed. And with the arrival of bassist Sam Williams the line-up were just right.
On 7 May 2021 the now quartet finally released their first single. And “Tell Me How It Feels” became an
almost instant hit, pushing off Oasis legend, Noel Gallagher, of the no. #1 spot of the Spotify top-100 chart… withing the first 24 hours.
With a moody, instense yet strangely hopeful and encouraging mix of mostly power ballads Cardinal Black created wholesome album “January Came Close“, which likely will stand as a masterpiece of hopefully many more albums to come. Songs like ‘Terra Firma‘, ‘Rise Up‘ and the incredibly beautiful ‘Half Way‘ are bound to stay with you for a long time, once you allow them under your skin. The same goes for the album’s only truly up-beat track, ‘Where Do You Go‘, that surely will spoil crowds on festivals everywhere in the future.
Cardinal Black – “January Came Close” – released: 28 October 2022
The Lone Bellow – “Love Songs for Losers”
The New York-based trio took everybody by storm in the beginning of November when they released its fifth studio album. ‘Love Songs for Losers‘ generally received good reviews, and at Latebar we sure have spent quite a few hours listening to the album since.
This release carries what seems to be a tribute to loved ones and to the all-too-short life we are given, and at first it might sound quite simple and almost naïve to some ears. But it is in fact anything but.
Ever since the three made the crowd at the 2016 ‘Jelling Musikfestival‘ swoon with songs like ‘Marietta‘, ‘Cold As It Is‘ and the dazzling ‘Telluride‘, we have followed the band closely and cheered as they kept adding to their utterly divine sound. From being solely country/western, Zack, Kanene, and Brian have managed to sneak more rock’n’roll and even pop onto their productions without compromising their persistent swing and overwhelming vocal work. And it works… brilliantly!
The Lone Bellow – “Love Songs for Losers” – released: 4 November 2022
Of course, several other great albums came out in 2022. Here’s a list of other albums to have spread joy at the Latebar office during the year:
7 January – The Weeknd – “Dawn FM”
28 January – Brimheim – “Can’t Hate Myself Into a Different Shape
25 February – Eee Gee – “Winning”
3 March – Band of Horses – “Things Are Great”
11 March – Bryan Adams – “So Happy It Hurts”
11 March – Men Without Hats – “Again (part 2)”
18 March – Cypress Hill – “Back in Black”
18 March – Sonic Youth – “In/Out/In”
1 April – Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Unlimited Love”
8 April – Joe Satriani – “The Elephants of Mars” (‘Sahara’ single 19 Jan 2022)
21 October – Meghan Trainor – “Takin’ It Back”
21 October – Jean-Michel Jarre – “Oxymore”
11 November – Bruce Springsteen – “Only the Strong Survives”
25 November – David Bowie – “Divine Symmetry”
Latebar’s ‘Album of the Year 2022’
However, we have to appoint one production ‘Album of the Year 2022‘, and It’s been really tough. This is good though as it displays the diversity and quality there is (not just in music) if one just takes the time to listen. We’ve been gifted with an number of great albums this past year, and art in general has been the common denominator to unite a world engulfed in war, inflation and crises put on top mental stress levels in especially the next generation of youth following the world pandemic.
In that light, there really is only one album to consider. No other band has managed to address it all in one production, and no other ensemble has spent more time combined examining what long term stress and conflict can have on the fragile human mind. It’s actually be a mission to them through more than four decades.
We are both happy and incredibly humble to grand our small but grateful accolade to:
Tears for Fears – “The Tipping Point” – Written by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith.