Suggested Listening ’22: Emily Votaw

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It’s that time of year again! WOUB Culture has reached out to a variety of folks involved in various capacities with the music and arts throughout WOUB’s diverse coverage region to inquire: “what have you been listening to this year, my friend?” Find their answers on WOUB Culture all throughout the month of December. 

An image of Emily Votaw wearing a wide brimmed straw hat and posing in front of a pelican standee.
Emily Votaw is WOUB’s Arts and Culture Reporter. When she isn’t reporting on arts and culture, she’s a frustrated novelist, aspiring painter, and maker of fancy-dress costumes for plus-sized dogs. She also is DJ Grumpy Grandma some Saturdays on WOUB AM’s Radio Free Athens. Follow @djgrumpygrandma on Instagram for information on upcoming shows.

My regional favorites of 2022:

“SOLAR shadows” (2022) – Shadow in the Moon

This smart and witchy duo enchanted me a quite a while ago! I’ve been a fan of Jessica Bouiffoux and Kurt McGinnis since I had them in the studio back in 2019 to perform. They stole my heart with their sound, which feels inspired by a combination of “Hunky Dory” era David Bowie, Sandy Denny-era Fairport Convention, and a dash of Kate Bush. The duo has a number of releases under their belt, but their 2022 effort has proven to be my favorite (so far).

“Oyo” (2022) – Oyo

When we had Oyo in the studio for a 2019 Radio A Session, I expected it would be a rootsy, old fashioned good time. And it was — but the group proved to have the emotional intensity of a punk rock band, regardless of the fact they use a lot of old-timey instruments. This brought to mind The Violent Femmes and “A.M.” era Wilco. 2022 finally saw the release of the band’s self-titled debut, and you can read my review of it here:

“a good thing” (2021) – no stars

One of my favorite musical motifs (maybe ever?) is Hal Blaine’s drumming on The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” and no stars’ moss rock take on this classic rhythm in this single made it a mainstay in my music rotation all year. Also check out no stars’ Sycamore Session, filmed at the 2022 Nelsonville Music Festival.

“Let It Be Gone” (2022) – Lung

First off, Cincinnati-based duo Daisy Caplan and Kate Wakefield are two of the biggest sweetie pies this music journalist has ever met. “Let It Be Gone” showcases the duo’s ability to execute highly infectious art-punk – a feat in and of itself! Check out my interview with the band in advance of their 2022 Nelsonville Music festival performance right here:

“Cottonwood” – Megan Bee

Megan Bee is one of the finest songwriters you’re going to find in Southeast Ohio. There, I said it! As a writer (not of songs) I am constantly in awe of the kind of songwriters who can elicit real emotion from a listener with just a simple turn of phrase, and this is something Bee is a master of. Read my review of “Cottonwood” here:

My 2022 favorites that are not regional:

“Tadpoles” – Bonzo Dog Band/“Keynsham” – Bonzo Dog Band

I never saw it coming, and that was half the fun: The Bonzos knocked the Beatles out of the number one spot in my personal canon — a place they’d held for literally two decades. I feel this is proof anything can happen. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been hyper-fixated on The Bonzos for about a year now. Imagine the Mothers of Invention but with no faith in humanity and only one of the band members (Neil Innes) is a “real musician.” Also very British. Also — importantly — sillier! What got me hooked on this “comedy rock” group? Well, I heard “Shirts” (a track recorded more than 50 years ago) and laughed harder and more genuinely than I had for a long time. And I laugh when I’m nervous, so that really means something! I am in the top 0.005% of Bonzo Dog Band listeners on Spotify, which by my estimation puts me somewhere in the top 125 listeners (or so). I didn’t realize there were so many of us!

“Dancing for Mental Health” – Will Powers

This is a “comedy” album of affirmations by self-help guru “Will Powers” (who is actually photographer Lynn Goldsmith with her voice pitched down). But! For one thing, some of the advice is good! (“Make it habit, make it happen” has been my 2022 motto) And for another thing, Todd Rundgren, Steve Winwood (of Traffic), Sting, Nile Rodgers (of Chic), Carly Simon, and Tom Bailey (Thompson Twins) are on here!

“Fearless” – Family

Okay I admit it! Some “progressive rock” is really good!! 2022 was a year of expanding my musical palate, what can I say?

“10cc” – 10cc

Sheesh is this ever an infectious record! For lovers of smarty-pants powerpop. A word to the wise: you can get a copy on Discogs for very, very cheap.