A Year in Music – 2022 – Paul Page (ex-Whipping Boy)
How was music for you in 2022?
If I am honest, I thought it was a disappointing year in terms of new album releases. It might just be me, but I didn’t hear too many records released in 2022 that really wowed me. I would struggle to pull together ten albums from this year that made much of an impression.
Big Thief, Chimers, Nils Frahm, and Willian Basinski all released excellent albums.
The Weyes Blood album “And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow” was by some distance, my favourite record of the year. That is an outstanding album. But overall, it was an underwhelming year for new albums in my opinion.
What was your main musical highlight of 2022?
On a personal level, it was a wonderful surprise to see the Heartworm reissue re-enter the Irish charts at number 4. Chart positions never really meant that much to me before, but given it was over 26 years after the album was originally released, and there were no live dates to support the reissue, it felt like something to be proud of. The love for that album is something that really blows me away, and I know the rest of the band feels the same way.
Have you gone to many gigs this year? How do you feel about them?
Yes, made a conscious effort in 2022 to get out and go to more live shows. It felt good to experience live music again. During the pandemic, I realised how much I missed it.
Saw some really great gigs – Fontaines DC & Pixies at the Iveagh Gardens, Pavement at Vicar St, Arrivalists at Smock Alley, Sigur Ros at the 3 Arena. I really enjoyed Idlewild at the Button Factory in August. I was borderline obsessed with Idlewild in the mid-nineties/early noughties and saw them play a great show at the Ambassador back then. The gig in August was a 20th anniversary show for the release of their classic album ‘The Remote Part’ and it was fantastic. They were just as loud and exciting sounding as I remember from that Ambassador show – it really dropped me right back to a specific time and place in my life. I left the Button Factory absolutely buzzing. So that was probably my favourite show of 2022.
Can you recommend an album, from any year, that doesn’t get the credit it deserves?
So many great albums that fly under the radar, and don’t get the recognition they deserve. I could be here all day listing them! I am going to go with one from an eighties Post Punk band who were definitely underrated at the time. The Sound didn’t get the level of recognition or praise as bands like Joy Division or Echo & the Bunnymen did, but you could make a solid argument that they were just as good as their more celebrated peers. The Sound have become something of a cult band over the years. Fans will probably direct you to ‘From the Lion’s Mouth’ as their best album, but for me, ‘Heads and Hearts’ is a record that is completely underrated, even by those who know their work. It sounds a little more polished and less dark than their earlier albums, but you can hear how much Adrian Borland had grown as a songwriter by the time they recorded this, their 4th album. A brilliant record.
Do you still listen to lots of music? How do you listen to music these days?
I do, yes. I rarely listen to the radio but listen to music while working from home, or on my commute. Predominantly listen to music on streaming platforms for convenience, but have started buying vinyl again in the last two years. Fully expect compact discs to make a return again, when the music industry manages to convince us they are cool again. Boxes of compact discs in the attic waiting for that moment!
What sort of year have you had yourself?
On the positive side, I got to travel a bit, get out more, do some of the things we couldn’t do during the pandemic. It felt like a return to some sort of normality. On the negative side, the Russian invasion of Ukraine & the global climate crisis cast a real shadow over that return to normality – it feels a bit like the planet is lumbering from one major catastrophe to the next. As you get older, it becomes more difficult to remain detached from what is going on in the outside world. There is a sense of helplessness as you watch events like this unfold, and anger at the political systems & structures that have set us on such a very dangerous and destructive path. I have never been less optimistic about the future, and that’s saying something given that I grew up in the eighties.
Any interesting projects in the works?
There are plans to reissue the other two Whipping Boy albums in 2023. It will be nice if it happens, but there is a lot of work involved, a whole lot of effort. The ‘Heartworm’ reissue on the face of it was a big success, but ultimately, the band didn’t see much reward from that. So you have to question whether all the work, all the effort is worth it. Hopefully, it will happen, but there has to be an energy and collective will behind it to make it happen.
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