Townsend Music 2022 Year In Review - Part 1
And - just like that - 2022 is nearly at an end and it's been another amazing year for Townend Music's direct-to-fan platform and services. The year saw us hosting our biggest album campaign yet, developing our D2C+ offering with a host of Top 10 hits and continuing to prove that physical music formats are as vital as they ever were to superfans worldwide.
This is the first part of our 2022 Year In Review, looking back on the album launches, chart successes and amazing music that kept us engaged and entertained this year.
Townsend Music's 2022 got off to a flying start when Liverpool indie-rockers The Wombats achieved their first-ever Official UK Album Charts Number One with Fix Yourself, Not The World, released via AWAL. Our Official Store for the record provided an online shop window, with the album available across exclusive picture disc, 'Eco' vinyl, CD and cassette alongside bundles including prints signed by the band.
Music Week explored the chart victory in the feature article The Wombats are a band at the peak of their powers': How the trio's fanbase helped them hit No.1, including an interview with AWAL's Head Of Marketing Nathan Liddle-Hulme about the fan-centric campaign. One notable facet was the 'Eco-Friendly' vinyl, echoing the records' message of positive change with a vinyl variant pressed on recycled 'eco-mix' - each copy is unique - with gatefold sleeves made from recycled material.
“We (maximise results across all formats) through a lot of separate initiatives and working closely with the sales team at Proper Music and Townsend Music, who run the band's D2C store." - Nathan Liddle-Hulme. AWAL.
A hectic month continued with album launches from Kae Tempest, The Shires and The Kooks as well as collectable 7" singles from Shakespears Sister and Franz Ferdinand. More exciting album action came from red-hot indie-rockers Fontaines D.C. who returned with their third record in as many years, Skinty Fia, including signed postcard sets on the album's Official Store.
Also enjoying chart success in January were Sheffield indie-rockers, The Sherlocks, whose album World I Understand was released on their own Teddy Boy Records imprint in partnership with Townsend Music's D2C+ service. The record gave the band a Number 9 album on the Official UK Album Charts, with direct-to-fan sales providing a substantial contribution towards that accomplishment.
The shortest month of the year kicked off with a triumphant chart placing for Liverpool singer-songwriter Jamie Webster. Jamie watched the world get weird and channelled every wicked turn into a 10-track album, Moments, which reached Number 3 on the Official UK Album Charts, a testament to Jamie's immense grassroots support, especially in his home city of Liverpool!
Later in the month, Cumbria's Sea Power crashed their way into the Official UK Album Charts at Number 4 (surrounded by major label releases) and also at #1 on the Independent Chart, #1 on the Physical Album Chart and #3 on the Vinyl Album Chart with their new album Everything Was Forever. The record, released on their own Golden Chariot imprint in partnership with Townsend Music's D2C+ attracted some of the greatest reviews of the band's storied career, with Pitchfork moved to declare: “The idea that Sea Power could be the biggest band in Britain no longer requires an overactive imagination or parallel-universe portal".
"Lovely stuff! We collectively feel like Eddie the Eagle after his best ski jump!" - Sea Power Frontman Jan Scott Wilkinson
Artist Store launches in February included new releases from pop prince Alfie Templeman, industrial pioneers Killing Joke and synthwave stalwarts GUNSHIP. Manchester's Everything Everything also announced their latest album Raw Data Feel, promising joyous pop music both challenging and insightful which leveraged AI automation processes for its lyrical and creative arc.
Significant releases included Johnny Marr's Fever Dreams 1-4, a wonderfully realised creative collection of four separate releases compiled into one killer album that landed at Number 4 on the Official UK Album Chart, as well as the Viola Beach rainbow coloured picture disc reissue. This poignant product marked five years since the release of Viola Beach’s self-titled debut album and sold out quickly, the band's continued popularity a bittersweet reminder of the infinite potential of these young artists we lost way too soon.
The first week of March saw rising West London rapper Central Cee return with 23, a 15-track project that crashed straight in at Number 1 on the Official UK Album Chart with only his second mixtape. Released independently and flying a flag for the UK drill and rap scene, D2C sales contributed a significant share of sales of this red-hot release. The following week saw neo-progressive rockers Marillion hit the Number 2 spot in the UK, Germany and The Netherlands (their highest chart UK placement since Clutching at Straws in 1987) with An Hour Before It's Dark, their 20th studio album. With a number of exclusive editions, including an Ultimate Edition Box Set, available on the band's Official Store, sales were buoyed by extensive signing sessions by the hard-working legends.
"Musically it’s rich and perhaps our most upbeat work for many years..." - Steve Hogarth, Marillion
Official UK Album Charts success continued with Bryan Adams' So Happy It Hurts (#4), The Shires' 10 Year Plan (#5), Franz Ferdinands' Greatest Hits collection Hits To The Head (#7) and Feeder's rocking return with the explosive Torpedo (#5).
Released in partnership with Townsend Music's D2C+ services, reviews for Torpedo were incendiary across the board, with CLASH Magazine describing the record as "an anthemic and impassioned return from the Welsh rockers" and Louder Sound observing that "Torpedo finds Feeder still at their peak". Feeder's beloved bass player Taka Hirose provided a special message for all the fans that ordered the record via the Official Store: "Thanks everyone, for pre-ordering CDs, vinyls and cassettes from the official store. Torpedo is a great rocking album."
2022 belonged to Wet Leg, whose debut album Wet Leg on Domino Records built on the excitement of head-turning singles 'Chaise Lougue' and 'Wet Dream' and sent the record to the top of the album charts in both the UK and Australia. Physical format sales on our Wet Leg Official Store were galvanised by a bonus 7” vinyl including two bonus tracks, exclusive to the store.
Brooklyn Vegan described the album's infectious appeal as "easygoing charm and catchy song after catchy song". The record has gone on to be shortlisted for the 2022 Mercury Prize, nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards and is highlighted in Album Of The Year lists in Rolling Stone, The Guardian, MTV and many more (including Townsend Music's very own TM Staff Spins: Albums Of The Year 2022 Part 1 and Part 2!)
"We are lost for words and left feeling like we’re wearing our mum's high heels 👠" - Wet Leg
Two more Official UK Album Chart Number 1s followed in April from rowdy rapper Digga D's Noughty By Nature and Irish indie-rockers Fontaines D.C's Skinty Fia. along with chart success for Kae Tempest (#7) and Camila Cabello (#8). Never Let Me Down, the eighth studio album by British alternative rock band Placebo hit Number 3 in the UK, as well as the Number 1 spot in Germany, France, Austria, Netherlands and Switzerland, highlighting the far-reaching power of Townsend Music's chart-registered order fulfilment.
A new signing to Townsend Music D2C+ arrived in April with West Yorkshire indie legends Embrace, who launched a campaign for their eighth studio album How To Be A Person Like Other People, produced by the band's own Richard McNamara and described as "the most joyous, most uplifting, most upbeat, most soulful record they've ever made."
This year's first Record Store Day took place on Saturday 23rd April 2022 and was another rip-roaring success, with Townsend Records' queues reaching around the block as people piled in for a browse of the aisles, a chinwag with their fellow music lovers - and a few records to boot! We also had the pleasure of a visit from rising UK rockers Stone Broken, who visited Townsend Music HQ in order to sign copies of their album Revelations.
With Top 10 chart placements for Thunder, Bloc Party, and Soft Cell, May was another busy month in the warehouse. Everything Everything's Raw Data Feel reached Number 4 on the Official UK Album Chart and enjoyed critical acclaim with the NME expressing: "E_E_ want to “revolutionise modern pop” with a robot - but the glistening instrumentation proves the focus here". May saw one of Townsend Music Blog's most popular posts of the year, a feature article penned by a new member of the Townsend Music team, Account Manager James Smith. In the article Could There Be A Glowing Record In Your Collection? James investigates the phenomenon of “secret” records made from Quiex-type vinyl and had us checking our own collections for these elusive glowing discs (I finally found one in mine - 1979's Sporting Themes on BBC Records! - Ed.)
The evergreen Suede returned to Townsend Music with their ninth studio album, Autofiction, set for release in September. Available from the Official Store on various formats including a deluxe box set with signed set list, Brett Anderson promised "our punk record. No whistles and bells. Just the five of us in a room with all the glitches and fuck-ups revealed; the band themselves exposed in all their primal mess." We celebrated with a #ThrowbackThursday video of Suede's 'The Drowners' on our nascent TikTok Channel - a platform we'd be putting to greater use in the second half of the year. Hip-hop fans had plenty to be thankful for as years of swirling rumours and speculation were put to rest with the announcement of rap legends Danger Mouse & Black Thought's debut album Cheat Codes, available on exclusive formats. Two of our favourite releases of the month came with the colour vinyl releases of Rosalia's MOTOMAMI and Kylie's Infinite Disco on a simply stunning transparent viny colourway.
Summer heated up with the announcement of a passion project of Townsend Music's long in the works; Betty Boo's new album - her first in three decades - to be released in partnership with Townend Music D2C+! Boomerang promised twelve killer tracks and the voices of musical legends Chuck D, David Gray, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, available exclusively alongside a limited edition, numbered 5-Track sampler CD when purchased as a bundle.
After a thirteen-year absence, British progressive rock pioneers Porcupine Tree released new album Closure/Continuation (Music For Nations) at the end of June, reaching #1 positions on the Vinyl Chart, CD Chart, Physical Chart and Download Chart, plus a triumphant #2 on the UK Offical Albums Chart. At the heart of the success was a line of audiophile-approved physical editions and variants for sale through our Closure/Continuation store, hitting the #1 Album spot in Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland, with top ten showings in Finland, Belgium, Italy and Spain.
"We think the fans are VERY important in general - direct contact is also very important" - Julie Weir. Music For Nations
Store launches in June included the return of PIXIES, who were as fired up as ever on their eighth studio album Doggerel, and Two Door Cinema Club, who presented no less than four store-exclusive vinyl colourways of the new album Keep On Smiling, each limited strictly to 1250 copies and complete with the promise that they will never be re-pressed.
With organisers anticipating complications that have challenged the vinyl manufacturing industry over the last couple of years, Record Store Day 2022 introduced a "safety net" drop date on Saturday 18th June for any releases intended for the April date impacted by shipping delays. The plan was a resounding success; Townsend participated in-store at Townsend Records on the day and placed the remaining releases online on Townsend Music Store at 8 PM the following Monday, including titles by Madness, Prince, Billy Bragg, Sandie Shaw, Jamie T and many more
Look out for Townsend Music 2022 Year In Review - Part 2 coming very soon.