Exclaim!'s Staff Picks for November 28, 2022: Fred again.., Dan Mangan, Lisa O'Neill

Photos (clockwise from top left): Fred again.. by Theo Batterham, Fernie & Magi Merlin by Cam Guerer, Lisa O'Neill courtesy of Lisa O'Neill, Dan Mangan by Jonah Atkins

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Nov 28, 2022

Tomorrow, the final Exclaim! issue of 2022 hits newsstands and we will reveal to the world what music, in our humblest of opinions, defined the year. If you are inclined to trust our judgment, then good news: we've got another edition of Exclaim!'s Staff Picks to tide you over until then. This week's assortment of goodies draws inspiration from getting that paper, being somewhere in actual life and the excitement for what's to come eclipsing fear of the unknown.

Start getting your year-end guesses ready by making sure you're up to date on this year's highest-rated albums in our reviews section.

Paul Chin 
"Brand New Moon (feat. Madison McFerrin)"
(The Nautilus Foundation)

The first track to rise from a forthcoming follow-up to the Toronto artist's 2020 EP Full Spectrum, "Brand New Moon" shows Chin's penchant for deftly detailed production hasn't waned one bit over that time. Gentle cymbals, bells and a breakbeat guide Madison McFerrin's serene lead vocal and lithe, layered harmonies high above the horizon. Even in this darkened first lunar phase, her sight remains clear: "Don't try to make us believe your deception / You ain't no exception."
Calum Slingerland

Fernie & Magi Merlin

Expanding on the indie R&B sound of Magi Merlin's Gone Girl EP, "DOLLA BILL" showcases both her and Fernie's effortless edge. The track's breezy aura pairs well with Funkywhat's signature production, with a house-inspired beat acting as its pulse — exactly what's needed as we enter Sagittarius season.
Sydney Brasil

Fred again..
Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9 2022)

Landing neatly in the gaps carved out by Jamie xx, Disclosure, Caribou and Mura Masa, British producer Fred again..'s third Actual Life chapter finds the artist sampling audio from a variety of sources — Instagram videos, voice notes, a Bleu song featuring Drake — gluing pieces together as though scrapbooking his own life with meticulous, melancholic care. It's a seamless collage from start to finish, evoking late-night transit rides, nightclub euphoria, the comedown and morning-after clarity almost simultaneously. 
Allie Gregory

Dan Mangan
Being Somewhere
(Arts & Crafts)

The Vancouver troubadour snazzes up the production, adding atmospheric flourishes while preserving his penchant for quiet ballads about big questions. Textured production from remote collaborator Drew Brown helps make these songs some of Mangan's best-ever.
Alex Hudson

Lisa O'Neill 
"Old Note" 
(Rough Trade)

"Why don't you just find another song to sing? Then it doesn't have to be over." So says a voice at the close of Lisa O'Neill's stunning "Old Note," speaking to a child lamenting the end of a favourite tune. The exchange, muffled beneath great clouds of instrumentation, manages to quietly encapsulate the enormity of "Old Note," the lead single from the Irish songwriter's upcoming fifth record. Atop a slow-moving fog of creaking guitar notes, shivering strings and submerged plucks of harp, O'Neill and her inimitable voice tap into the wonder of music itself, expanding the ancient, shared history of song — with a single note, she excavates past, present and future. 
Kaelen Bell

Yes We Mystic
Trust Fall

And now, for their final trick, the art pop provocateurs take their widescreen electro-acoustic grandeur headlong into the abyss. Aptly titled Trust Fall, Yes We Mystic's swan-song third LP (following 2019's Ten Seated Figures and 2016's Forgiver) had going out with a bang — their best work ever — as a condition of its mere existence. By closing track "Sun Room," they've cracked the future wide open; the song's second act begins to take flight with a whirring sample of fellow Winnipeg artist Góra, foreshadowing the flurry of violins as Adam Fuhr sings, "Everything on the earth / Makes the same sound all at once."
Megan LaPierre

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