Exclaim!'s Staff Picks for December 5, 2022: Weyes Blood, Keysha Freshh, Nia Archives

Photos (clockwise from top left): Weyes Blood by Neil Krug, Keysha Freshh by Flee Normality, Nia Archives by Cosmo Webber, Marker Starling by Colin Medley

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Dec 5, 2022

'Tis the season of year-end lists, but November releases are notorious for not having had quite enough time to catch on or even just narrowly missing the deadline for inclusion. Enter Exclaim!'s Staff Picks with some late-year new music that is definitely worthy of being listed in some shape or form. This week, we have velour suits and sweatsuits, the latest non-Natasha Bedingfield Natasha Bedingfield song and more.

Don't forget to check out our reviews section for any other under-the-wire 2022 releases to note — better late than never!

Roman Clarke
(One More Pastime)

Winnipeg has been revealing itself as a contender to expand the Toronto-Vancouver-Montreal CanCon triangle into a square. Roman Clarke has long been part of this movement; I saw him play with his old band the Middle Coast almost five years ago now, and since their dissolution, he's been cranking out solo releases as well as collaborating with other members of the emerging Winnipeg pop (Winnipop?) vanguard (Taylor Janzen, Cassidy Mann). Clarke's latest flows seamlessly through nostalgic viewfinder apparitions of 20-something domesticity — from "RERUNS" to "LAUNDRY." If you're also still obsessed with that Dijon album from last year, this absolutely loops just as effortlessly.
Megan LaPierre

Doon Kanda

Glitchy IDM merges with atmospheric darkwave on Jesse Kanda's sophomore LP as Doon Kanda (following 2019's Labyrinth), as the artist continues his multidisciplinary journey, feeding his visual art into grotesque sonic slabs and back again, like human machine learning software on a creative feedback loop. Clanging about aimlessly, Galtea's 13 songs represent the creepy-coolness fans have come to expect from the London-based neo-goth experimentalist. 
Allie Gregory

Keysha Freshh
House Clothes

On "UNDERSTANDING" from this seven-track "live mixtape," Keysha Freshh illustrates just how high of a level they're operating on: "I picked up some books to refine mine / I put the hooks in between the lines / I don't even write 'em down no more, I just see 'em float in front of me." This effortlessness is imbued in the MC's evocative, economic writing and the tightly spun loops of producer Malone Brown, making House Clothes as comfy as its title sounds.
Calum Slingerland

Nia Archives
"So Tell Me..."

Music writer Joshua Minsoo Kim recently described Nia Archives' latest single as "basically a Natasha Bedingfield song" — he was clear that this was, in fact, a compliment. Atop frantic drum and bass that sounds like running full-tilt along a cliff's edge, the Bradford-born producer crafts the kind of warm, wide-eyed contempo-pop melody that songwriters like Bedingfield were cranking out with alarming ease in the early aughts. "So Tell Me..." nails this juxtaposition with gentle flair and a sense of spacious reserve, finding the late-night middle-ground between comfort and raw abandon. 
Kaelen Bell

Marker Starling
Diamond Violence
(Tin Angel)

With one foot in the disco and the other in the cocktail lounge, Toronto's Marker Starling shuffles out onto the dance floor in a velour suit on the follow-up to 2020's High January. Accompanied by a smooth 'n' funky band (including Dorothea Paas, who provides silky backing vocals and shares lead on closing duet "Yet You Go On"), songwriter Chris A. Cummings leads listeners in a seductive easy listening dance party. The dreamy breakup song "Experience" has one of my favourite rhymes I've ever heard: "What can you do except pretend you can hack it? / What can you do but pretend to turn your back on it?"
Alex Hudson

Weyes Blood
And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow
(Sub Pop)

The second effort in Weyes Blood's trilogy that started with 2019's Titanic Rising, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow is Natalie Mering's magnifying glass on disaster. It's hard to tell whether she meant for this record to soothe anxious chests or to pull everyone further into the catastrophe. Regardless of which of these she intended, it's clear Mering wants connection amid the chaos — so much so, she's practically begging for it. 
Sydney Brasil

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