The Upstate Beat: Some favorite local music releases from 2022

New music from The Jagaloons and Buggy Jive. 

New music from The Jagaloons and Buggy Jive. 

UPSTATE BEAT – The past year was rich for local music, with bands returning to play live shows after several years of pandemic-related closures and cancellations (although sickness-related cancellations are still often a fact of life.) Many local bands released great singles, EPs and albums this year, and the following is by no means an exhaustive list. But here are seven local music releases that I personally enjoyed in 2022.

1. The Jagaloons, “Walk, Don’t Run for the Border.” This EP from the Albany-based surf-rock combo covers fertile surf instrumental territory, swinging from the Tijuana sounds of “Baja Blast” to the tastefully delicate “Nacho Boyfriend [Seven Layers of Tears].” It’s an all-instrumental tribute to Taco Bell, proving — in the band’s words — that “terrible food can inspire excellent music.”

2. Steve Hammond, “Honky Tonk Record Club No. 1.” Troy outsider musician and audio engineer Steve Hammond is both versatile and prolific, self-releasing albums and singles that range from metal to psychedelic and experimental rock. Here he turns his attention to straight-up honky tonk, and the results are impressive, from the cosmic country of “Someday Mother” to a completely revamped, twang version of the Jesus and Mary Chain classic “Halfway to Crazy.”

3. Saucer, “Outside.” Jim Crawley and Jim Temple, formerly of Poestenkill rock band Blue Factory (and Albany’s Private Plain), team up with Crawley’s son Evan — a talented songwriter on his own — as the band Saucer and release a debut album that demonstrates the trio’s melodic gift and bristling rock punch on tracks like “Miss Loneliness,” “Motorcycle” and “Rest.”

4. The Scurves, “Shelter in Place.” Guitarist and songwriter DJ Miller, formerly of heavy Saratoga-area rock group Small Axe, was a force of late 1990s and early 2000s before taking a break from the local musical scene for a while. It’s great to have him back with a new trio that also features Dan Sorensen and Levi Jennes, formerly of The Orange.

5. Sinkcharmer, “Radical Luck.” Paul Coleman (who also plays in Haley Moley with his super-gifted partner Jennifer Maher Coleman) of Ballston Spa is one of the most prolific and active local musicians around. Sinkcharmer is his solo outfit, although the ever-talented Shane Sanchez (100 Psychic Dreams) and Madeline Darby join him live. Highlights include the Madeline Darby-penned electro-anthem “Innovation” and the delicately dystopian “Season Six Script Planning Meeting.”

6. Buggy Jive, “The Ghost of Alexander.” A new album from soul rock singer-songwriter Buggy Jive, aka Bryan Paul Thomas, a Niskayuna High grad, is always a treat. He also released a stellar EP, “I Don’t Understand How the World Works,” this year. A self-described “Literary Kravitz,” Buggy Jive melds the funk of D’Angelo and Prince with trenchant lyrics and cutting social commentary. Always unpredictable, always vital.

7. Doctor Baker, “Trespassers.” Recorded by Troy punk legend Don Fury, this album by Albany’s Doctor Baker was the perfect musical antidote to post-pandemic malaise, from the opening track of “Exhausted,” which rolls like a Mississippi river boat down a current of dissatisfaction, to the toe-tapping, hopeful uplift of “Hey Romeo” and “Dark Times.”

The Week Ahead

To commemorate the life and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., several area venues host celebratory music and cultural events this weekend. Don’t miss the following:

— A 2021 Yaddo fellow, Danyel Smith is an author, journalist and the creator and host of Spotify’s Black Girl Songbook, a music and talk show that centers on Black women in music. She leads “Greatest Love of All: The Roots & Revolution of Black Women in Pop,” a free concert at SPAC’s The Pines concert space on Saturday. Register at 6 p.m.

— The Strand Theatre (210 Main St., Hudson Falls) hosts an afternoon musical celebration in honor of Dr. King on Sunday with R&B singer Milayne Jackson, local gospel ensemble the Heavenly Echoes and Jonathan Newell. 3 p.m.

— At Capital Repertory Theatre (251 North Pearl St., Albany), DJ Hollyw8d and a cast of performers — including Doc Horton and The Jay Street Band, Camtron 5000, the Leik, Quav13, Gianlife, Levi, Ovaia, NoxTros, King Malachi, King Var DaSuperstar, and spoken word poet Nrgy — kick off the first annual More Music Less Violence concert gala with a positive message and a safe space for creative freedom. Sunday, 4 p.m.

— A free family concert in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. takes place at Caffè Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) on the afternoon of Sunday with Brooklyn native Nikara, a vibraphonist, teacher and composer who introduces children to jazz as part of the American story. 3 p.m.
Reach Kirsten Ferguson at [email protected].

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts

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