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Sunday 20 February 2022

Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2022 Hot List. This week we will be having a look at the most exciting new music due for release in the coming year.

best anticipated new music 2022 albums hot list
Music is always the most difficult list to compile. Every year the volume of new content seems to increase, doubly so over the pandemic years. On top of which, the advent of digital self-publishing through services like Spotify has made it more difficult to keep tabs on all the promising new talent in the industry, and resulted in release schedules that are less formalised and harder to predict.

But an abundance of options can hardly be a bad thing and while many exciting artists were axed in the process of whittling down to this short list, those that remain are very promising indeed, encompassing a healthy mix of old returning favourites and newcomers.

So without further ado, here is our list of the top albums to keep an eye on in 2022, starting with number 15:

15. Arctic Monkeys

arctic monkeys alex turner last shadow puppets new album 2022 best most anticipated musicAlex Turner has become something of an icon in the British music scene in recent years, but it is still his first vehicle, Arctic Monkeys that represents his most successful outlet to date. In 2022, AM is returning with their 7th, as yet unnamed, LP.

Currently little is known about the upcoming album other than that it is essentially complete at this point and will release this year. What little information is out there has been leaking out at a drip-feed via social media and word of mouth. By all accounts it appears to be a spiritual continuation of their last album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, an exploration of modern consumer culture most successfully conveyed in the lead single from that album, Four Out of Five

Given the lack of a formal release date, yet the apparent completeness of the record, I would expect this one to drop on short notice. Potentially in the spring, but more likely a summer release.

Release Date: Summer 2022

14. Sarah Kinsley (New band)

sarah kinsley 2022 debut album king best most anticipated new music
The "new band" label here would identify Sarah Kinsley as an upcoming star of the future, but in truth this is a tad misleading given the massive success she has already seen with her EP The King

Kinsley is widely seen as one of the next big things in music and a debut LP is expected to release in the near future. Her sound strikes that magic balance of big, catchy hooks and relatable vulnerability that the most successful pop acts strive for, and will certainly be one to watch.

A release date has yet to be confirmed, but this is expected to be a 2022 release.

Release Date: TBA 2022

13. Gabriels (New band)

gabriels debut new album 2022 best most anticipated musicAnother exciting newcomer in the form of LA's Gabriels. This soul-singing trio has been hotly tipped for success by many pundits in the industry and attracted glowing endorsements from heavy hitters like Elton John, who described last year's EP release as one of the most seminal releases of the past 10 years.

Gabriels' sound builds on the entire history of Black American music, with influences in gospel, soul and blues. A smattering of EP and single releases to date have earned hype reviews, most notably 2021's Love and Hate in a Different Time.

A full LP release is due to follow and will make for a refreshingly different sound in the modern music landscape.

Release Date: TBA 2022

12. "The Tipping Point" by Tears for Fears

tears for fears comeback new album tipping point best most anticipated new music 2022
Here's one I did not see coming. Tears for Fears are among the most iconic British bands of the 1980s, with well-worn hits such as Everybody Wants to Rule the WorldMad World, and Head Over Heels. Songs that most everyone will be familiar with and are likely to grace any best of the 80s playlist. 

It's thirty years past their heyday, and twenty since their last album. Yet, following a successful spell of touring in recent years, 2022 will see a comeback in the form of new album The Tipping Point. At the time of writing, the band has released a lead single of The Tipping Point, and it's more or less what you would expect from the band. The far more stripped down No Small Thing seems more interesting to my ears and suggests at something of a new direction.

Cash grab or return to form? Comebacks are difficult to pull off, but even if they aren't able to add to their stable of genre classics it will be interesting to see what fresh ideas they might have.

Release Date: February 2022

11. "Time Skiffs" by Animal Collective

time skiffs animal collective panda bear best new most anticipated debut album 2022
Animal Collective are one of those marmite bands. You either love them or hate them. The experimental Baltimore band have baffled and delighted music lovers for a good twenty years now (feel old yet?) and spawned a highly successful spin-off career for founding member Panda Bear. A new album, Time Skiffs, will release in 2022.

Their experimental nature makes this a difficult band to predict. Theirs is a sound that can range from the bafflingly mesmerising to the bafflingly unhinged to the actually kinda mainstream. Lead single from the new album, Prester John (loving the historic mythology reference), suggests a neat balance between their typical edge and commercial appeal, with something approaching a more breezy rock and roll sound.

Always intriguing, Animal Collective's latest will launch in February.

Release Date: February 2022

10. "As I Try Not to Fall Apart" by White Lies

white lies as i try not to fall apart new album 2022 best most anticipated musicAn underrated part of the British music landscape, White Lies have been putting out consistently solid music a number of years now. New album As I Try Not to Fall Apart releases in 2022.

Still best known for their chart-topping 2009 debut, featuring hit single Death, theirs is a sound heavily influenced by "big" rock of the 1970s and 1980s, bands like The Doors, Talking Heads and Tears for Fears. If new lead single Am I Really Going to Die is any indication, it seems like they have nailed the genre. If the album lives up to this quality then it will definitely be one to keep an eye on.

As I Try Not to Fall Apart releases in March.

Release Date: March 2022

9. "Once Twice Melody" by Beach House

beach house once twice melody album best new anticipated music 2022
Baltimore (seriously what is it with Baltimore and music?) dream pop duo Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, known by their band name Beach House, have made a name for themselves with their lush, intimate music, perhaps best typified by 2015's Space Song.

But while they have had plenty of success over the past decade, there's always been the impression of more to come. Each album has seen their sprawling stream of consciousness finessed into increasingly fine-tuned productions, and with their new album Once Twice Melody there is the sense that this may be the moment where they really hit their stride. If title track Once Twice Melody and early single New Romance are anything to go by, this could be a pretty spectacular album.

Once Twice Melody will release in February.

Release Date: February 2022

8. Toledo (New band)

toledo debut new album best new anticipated music 2022New York-based indie due Toledo have been quietly building a reputation with a string of well-received single and EP releases over the past two years. 2021's return to the touring circuit saw them partner up with a number of well-known artists including Julien Baker and Dirty Projectors. With work now underway for an unnamed debut LP, many are tipping the band for success.

Theirs is a fuzzy, indie folk sound in the style of bands like The Fray and Fountains of Wayne (RIP Adam Schlesinger). It may be the 2020 release of single FOMO that first brought them to mainstream attention, but it's last year's Sunday Funday that most impresses as a polished piece of music. We will watch their career with great interest.

Release Date: TBA 2022

7. "Unlimited Love" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

red hot chili peppers 2022 unlimited love album best most anticipated new musicI do not think it would be controversial of me to say that the legendary California rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers have recently been punching somewhere below the peak of their heyday. But they are far from the spent force that some would suggest. There is a reason that the band has enjoyed the remarkable longevity of a nearly forty year career, during which time they have crafted an enviable discography.

As they approach studio album number 12, there is particular cause for excitement with the return of longtime guitarist John Frusciante, who had sat out the last two albums. For many, Frusciante's sound is key to the band's identity, and his return bodes well for what could be a major return to form.

The newest album Unlimited Love is said to be in the late stages of production, with a release expected this spring. So far, we have heard just the one single Black Summer, an introspective track with gorgeous guitar-work reminiscent of the Californication era. Looking forward to this.

Release Date: April 2022

6. Skullcrusher (New band)

skullcrusher debut new album 2022 best most anticipated musicA name like Skullcrusher evokes the blackest of heavy metal, but this couldn't be further from the reality of Helen Ballentine's music. This is some delicately crafted multi-instrumental folk pop. Tranquil, lush, and grounded with some deft lyrical work.

Skullcrusher spent 2021 testing the waters with EPs and singles, a productive output that saw the release of some wonderful early tracks in Storm in Summer and Song for Nick Drake. It's all sounding great so far and bodes well for the eventual LP debut that is expected to happen at some point in 2022.

No firm release date has been provided at the time of writing, but this is expected later in 2022.

Release Date: TBA 2022

5. "From Capelton Hill" by Stars

stars from capelton hill new album best most anticipated music 2022
Canadian band Stars are an iconic name in the indie music scene for many of my generation. A soundtrack to many a coming of age story and a consistent purveyor of gorgeous music over many years and nine albums. Album number 10, From Capelton Hill releases in 2022.

The band has many classic tracks to their name, including Your Ex-Lover is DeadAgeless Beauty and so many other near flawless tracks. If early single Pretenders is any indication, then the band finds themselves in fine, if familiar form.

From Capelton Hill releases in May and I personally am looking forward to it with great relish.

Release Date: May 2022

4. Aloboi (New band)

aloboi new debut album 2022 best new anticipated musicAnother year gone with no LP, but still Aloboi remains one of the most exciting new artists in electronic music. The Berlin-based composer has continued to release new tracks at a steady clip, each highlighting the artists flair for dreamy soundscapes and eclectic influences.

Aloboi's work-to-date has been highly impressive. From the retro chill out vibes of A Pleasing Smile, to the more danceable electronic stylings of Want To Love, the classical remix of Night Train (Claire de Lune), or the dazzling genre mash up of Somebody Feel, it's a very impressive array of work for a newcomer that is fast establishing Aloboi as one of the more exciting talents in the industry.

As we await a debut album, one gets the impression that there is a lot more to come from this artist, whether its in 2022 or beyond, Aloboi is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Release Date: TBA 2022

3. "Chloe and the Next 20th Century" by Father John Misty

father john misty fleet foxes chloe next 20 twentieth century 2022 new album best new anticipated music
The godfather of hipster folk, Josh Tillman may have started life as the drummer of outstanding Seattle band Fleet Foxes, but has since gone on to forge his own career under the stage name Father John Misty and achieve remarkable success. New album Chloe and the Next 20th Century drops in 2022.

Perhaps best known for tracks Real Love Baby and Chateau Lobby #4 (or my own personal favourite So I'm Growing Old on Magic Mountain). A new album is on the way, with early single Funny Girl suggesting a move into something a bit more classical and nostalgic. Could this be indicative of the direction for the new album? 

In any case, we won't have long to wait with a release set for April. This won't be one to miss.

Release Date: April 2022

2. The xx

the xx jamie new album 2022 best new anticipated music
Just over a decade on from The xx's debut and the former indie darlings and firmly embedded themselves as global superstars, with three chart topping albums (more if you count the outstanding solo work of Jamie xx) that seem to get better and better with each release. 

Despite this success, it has now been five years since the London trio last released an album. But that could be about to change, with frontman Jamie xx revealing last year that a fourth LP was near completion and due for release in 2022 (as well as a third Jamie xx solo album at some point, apparently).

We don't have an album name or release date, so I will just leave you with their best track, On Hold, as a reminder for how good these guys can be. I can't wait for this comeback.

Release Date: Summer 2022

1. "Reborn" by Kavinsky

kavinsky reborn renegade zenith nightcall new album best most anticipated music 2022
French house artist Kavinsky spent much of the 2000s developing his signature synthwave sound, inspired by the cinema and pop culture of the 1980s. That process culminated in his debut, and so far only studio album, OutRun.

An ambitious concept album, complete with its own mythology and distinct artwork. But it's the great singles we care about, including his most famous tracks Nightcall, and Odd Look. Indeed OutRun was so successful that it is considered among some internet subcultures to have created its own aesthetic genre, and is now an umbrella term used to describe any form of neo-futuristic 1980s revival.

Yet despite the success, there has been almost complete radio silence since that album's release in 2013. Until now. A follow up album, Reborn, is finally on the way and we have the first two singles. If Renegade makes for a delightfully funky, over-the-top slice of nostalgia, the second release Zenith is an absolute masterpiece. Oozing with atmosphere, melancholy, and even a twist of irresistible saxophone goodness. This is as close to an "event" album as it gets.

Release Date: March 2022

So there you have it folks: 2022 in music. Tune in next week for this year's final Hot List, where we look at the most exciting new movies in 2022.

Sunday 13 February 2022

Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2022 Hot List. This week we will be having a look at the most exciting theatrical productions coming to the stage in the coming year.

best anticipated new theatre theatrical production 2022 hot list
The last two years have not been kind to theatre, with pandemics, lockdowns, and tight restrictions on when and how you can congregate indoors. So much so, that this blog skipped the Theatre list entirely in its 2021 preview. But in 2022, theatre makes a comeback. The playhouses are reopening, the great thespians of the world are returning to the stage, and the pent-up creative output of two years is ready to be unleashed.

Make no mistake, we are still not back at 100%. I hold tickets for several 2020 productions that have still yet to be rescheduled and there is no guarantee that conditions won't worsen once again. For this reason, this year's list will be reduced from 15 to 10.

So without further ado here's our list of the top 10 theatrical productions to keep an eye on in 2022, starting with number 10:

10. "Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams, at Duke of York's Theatre

london best theatre 2022 glass menagerie tennessee williams duke of york london amy adams
Tennessee Williams' celebrated "memory play" is well-trodden ground for the theatre. In fact this is not even the first time in recent years that it has graced the Duke of York Theatre's stage. Still, this is a production of Glass Menagerie that could well stand out.

One of the great draws of British theatre is its ability to attract the most celebrated names in acting. Glass Menagerie has a real superstar waiting in the wings in Amy Adams. The six-time Academy Award nominee has been cast as Amanda Wingfield. A less flashy, but no less important addition is in director Jeremy Herrin, a master of the stage who in recent years has worked on some top productions in This House and Wolf Hall Trilogy.

Glass Menagerie will begin previews in May.

9. "Marys Seacole" by Jackie Sibblies Drury, at the Donmar Warehouse

london 2022 best theatre marys seacole jackie drury donmar A new play about the pioneering Jamaican nurse who braved the battlefield to heal soldiers in the Crimean war. Billed as a metafictional biography, Marys Seacole is a story about what it means to be a woman who is paid to care, and how, ultimately, no one is in charge of their own story.  

This is the centrepiece of a new programme to mark the reopening of Covent Garden's cherished Donmar Warehouse. It is the latest work from the mind of the Pulitzer Prize winning Jackie Sibblies Drury and reunites the creative team behind her critically acclaimed Fairview.

Marys Seacole will run from April until the end of June.

8. "4000 Miles" by Amy Herzog, at the Old Vic

best theatre london 2022 4000 four thousand miles amy herzog old vic eileen atkins timothee chalamet A dramatic comedy and Pulitzer Prize finalist when it launched on Broadway, Amy Herzog's 4000 Miles is one of several delayed 2020 productions looking to make its long-awaited curtain-fall this year. 

21-year-old Leo set out from the West Coast cycling across America with his best friend. After weeks of radio silence, no one is more surprised than his 91-year-old grandmother, Vera, when Leo turns up on her Manhattan doorstep in the middle of the night. A tale of grief and friendship in New York City, this production at The Old Vic is blessed with a cast of stars that includes Dame Eileen Atkins and Hollywood wunderkind Timothée Chalamet.

The exact date of this launch has yet to be confirmed, but is said to be sometime in the summer.

7. "The House of Shades" by Beth Steel, at the Almeida

best theatre 2022 london house of shades almeida beth steelAnother rescheduled 2020 production, The House of Shades promises a working class epic, told over five generations of a family struggling through the industrial landscape of 20th Century Britain.

This world premiere at the Almeida comes courtesy of Hampstead Theatre regular Beth Steel, best known for her productions of Wonderland and Labyrinth on that stage. Here, she collaborates with director Blanche McIntyre, a familiar face for patrons of the Almeida following her star studded production of The Writer.

The House of Shades will run over the summer, with previews commencing in May this year.

6. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Aaron Sorkin and Harper Lee, at the Gielgud Theatre

london best theatre 2022 to kill a mockingbird harper lee aaron sorkin rafe spall gielgudBut not all of 2020's rescheduled productions have re-emerged unscathed. The Gielgud's production of the classic Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird will finally see the light of day in 2022, albeit with a notable casting change.

This is a production of the adaptation by legendary screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, previously a mega-hit on Broadway that has earned rave reviews from the critics. The London production had originally been cast with Rhys Ifans, but following a two year delay, he has been replaced by Rafe Spall. Ifans is one of the greats, but in Spall we have a very capable replacement. It will be interesting to see how he fares.

It is sad that in 2022, the 60th anniversary of the novel's original publication, its themes of racial injustice remain so pertinent, hopefully this production can serve as a timely reminder, and stir some fresh impetus into solving some of the problems that we still face as a society.

5. "The 47th" by Mike Bartlett, at the Old Vic

london best theatre 2022 47th president election trump biden charles iii bartlett carvel old vicMike Bartlett is one of those playwrights that merits attention any time he puts out new work. His plays have drawn critical acclaim and big budget adaptations. 

The 47th sees him tread the familiarly political ground of King Charles III and Albion, with a new darkly comedic script that imagines the hypothetical 2024 Presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Exciting casting news sees the highly accomplished Bertie Carvel in the starring role, seen recently in his Olivier award winning turn as Ruper Murdoch in the excellent Almeida production of Ink.

The 47th will run from the end of March until the end of May at the Old Vic.

4. "The Father and the Assassin" by Anupama Chandrasekhar, at the National Theatre

best theatre 2022 london the father and assassin anupama chandrasekhar national One of the main tentpoles of their summer line up, The Father and the Assassin is the National Theatre debut of acclaimed Indian playwright Anupama Chandrasekhar

A dramatic epic about the man who would become Mahatma Gandhi's assassin, The Father and the Assassin traces the life of Nathuram Godse over thirty years during India's fight for independence.

The Father and the Assassin opens in May and will run through the summer on the National's Olivier stage.

3. "The Pillowman" by Martin McDonagh, at Duke of York's Theatre

london best theatre 2022 pillowman martin mcdonagh duke of yorkOne of the most celebrated works of the multi award winning playwright, screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh, best known for his work in Hollywood that includes In Bruges, Seven Psycopaths, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. The Pillowman made its debut at the National Theatre back in 2003. Now, some 19 years later, it returns to the stage at Duke of York's Theatre.

The Pillowman is the story of Katurian, an author living in a police state whose work comes under scrutiny when it becomes apparent that the violence depicted in his writing bears striking similarities to a series of gruesome child murders that take place. This West-End revival comes with a fairly prominent star in Aaron Taylor Johnson, and a dark turn for comedian Steve Pemberton

This was one of those productions originally slated for 2020 before the pandemic hit. While a new release has yet to be confirmed, it is expected to hit the stage later in 2022.

2. "Jerusalem" by Jez Butterworth, at the Apollo Theatre

jerusalem jez butterworth apollo mark rylance london best theatre 2022 One of the most unmissable pieces of theatre to come along in a long while, yet unfortunately also one of the easiest to miss due to the high demand for tickets.

Jerusalem is a revival of the 2009 Jez Butterworth play, previously at the Royal Court Theatre. But the main attraction is its world-renowned star Mark Rylance, whose starring turn in the original production is commonly viewed as one of the all time great theatre performances. Rylance, incredibly, returns to the role some twelve years later, offering a new opportunity to witness this great piece of theatre.

This new production comes courtesy of the Apollo Theatre and begins its run in March. Tickets are going fast.

1. "The Burnt City" by Punchdrunk Theatre

london best theatre 2022 burnt city punchdrunk drowned man sleep no more immersive interactive woolwichBut our number 1 play to see in 2022 is the latest from hugely ambitious immersive theatre maestros Punchdrunk, The Burnt City. While Sleep No More continues to run strong in New York some six years later, and now also in Shanghai, this marks their first London production since 2013's The Drowned Man.

A loose adaptation of Greek tragedies Agamemnon and Hecuba, The Burnt City will be another immersive showcase, taking place in not one, but two former military arsenal buildings in Woolwich. Attendees will be free to explore these sprawling, immaculately detailed environments while actors perform the rather loose narratives around them. 

A Punchdrunk theatre production is an experience like few other. An extraordinary mix of theatre, open-world videogame and hallucinogenic waking dream. Many others have since followed to try and do what they do, but none have pulled it off so convincingly. This will be a must-see event, possibly even multiple times..

So there you have it folks: 2022 in theatre. Tune in soon for our next instalment of the Hot List, covering the essential new music coming this year!

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