"It usually takes me some time to warm up to new music," says country artist Dougie Poole when sending us his Best of 2022. "On top of this, I had a particularly basic year, by which I mean the majority of what I consumed was prestige television, professional basketball and related content, and local country, pop and public radio here in Maine. It's all been good, so I'll try to pick out a few special things that popped up along the way." As he hints at, Dougie's list includes a few albums (new and old), some TV and a podcast. Check out Dougie's list and commentary below.

Dougie is gearing up to release his second album, The Rainbow Wheel of Death, in February, but also made time to record his take on a holiday classic, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," which was made famous in classic Judy Garland film Meet Me in St. Louis. "I was raised on Peanuts, so I’ve always loved that Vince Guaraldi Christmas record but other than that I never gave popular Christmas music much thought until recently," Dougie says. "My family did Christmas when I was a kid even though I am a Jew (my dad was raised Lutheran), but popular Christmas music - Saint Nick, milk and cookies, the sleigh bells, the militant spreading of cheer - it always maybe felt a little *too* gentile in a house full of Jews. I always half-wondered why there weren’t any killer Hanukkah tunes out there and until sort of recently when I found out that like half of the American Christmas canon was written by Jewish songwriters hustling in the music industry. So, naturally, I started to warm up to it all a bit."

He continues: "I didn’t decide to sing 'Merry Little Christmas' for any other reason than that it’s got a nice bridge and it’s a pretty easy tune to pick up. We booked this session sort of last minute, and recorded to tape, so I wanted to keep the music relatively simple. But as I’ve come around to Christmas music, I’ve started to develop a sensitivity to the heaviness and that sadness that is lurking just under the surface of a lot of it, and 'Merry Little Christmas' captures that nicely, I think." Dougie turns in a lovely version of the song, upping its melancholy undertones with barroom piano and pedal steel. Check that out below.

The Rainbow Wheel of Death is out February 24 via Wharf Cat and he made it with producer Katie Von Schleicher and recorded it live with his band. Check out two songs from it below.

You can also catch Dougie Pool live in NYC this weekend at Ridgewood's Gottscheer Hall on Saturday (12/10) with Quilt's Anna Fox Rochinski and Crosslegged. It's a free show (though donations are encouraged).

DOUGIE POOLE - 2022 YEAR END LIST:

Industry - (HBO Max)
I love a show with a lot of jargon -- it makes for a good rewatch. Between the financial yammering, British accents, and zoomer slang, I estimate that I can understand roughly 30-40% of what gets said on this show, but there's enough sex and drugs and betrayal to keep me coming back.

Sam Buck - Out of Control (2022) / KFM Country Radio
Sam is my guy! He's been making great, unusual sounding pop-country for years. He currently hosts a hilarious and excellent radio show called KFM Country Radio through his patreon. He keeps me up to date on and thinking critically about contemporary country music.

Dukeyman - Baltimore Club Classics (Dukeyman Greatest Hits) (2017)
There are times when I fear that if I hear one more song I may lose my mind, and when tube amps and slick reverbs or crispy compressors sound incredibly grating to me. Usually when I go digging in these times, I end up listening to Baltimore/Philly/Jersey club for a while. I love how it's groovy and trancy but still offers a sense of familiarity by building the grooves out of sampled popular music. I love how it's technically impressive but also funny and not over-serious. Really fun driving music.

Mary Margaret O'Hara - Miss America (1987)
My friend Katie Von Schleicher put me on to Mary Margaret O'Hara. I'm a songwriter who clings desperately to rules and structure and form, and so I find the perfect looseness and ease of MMO's songwriting and performance to be so alien! I am drowning in enjoyment and envy whenever I listen! Gorge.

Mason Ramsey - "Before I Knew It" 
This song is from a couple of years ago, but found a new burst of life on TikTok this year. It sounds like Nashville's slickest players doing '90s radio country but with a voice that sounds so very strange and autotuned. It's like someone chipmunked the vocals on an Alan Jackson tune, but left the backing track untouched.

Knuckleheads (Podcast)
I drive a lot in Maine and there's a seemingly infinite wellspring of podcasts churning out content about the NBA. Some are high drama, some are high concept, some are technical to the extent that I don't really understand what's being said a lot of the time (again... love jargon!). Knuckleheads is a podcast hosted by two former players that's a nice balance of all of those things. QRich and Darius were never superstars or anything, just career players, and so they're experts but don't have huge egos. Their pod has a relaxed, mellow tone that is rare when you get two or more men around a mic talking about professional sports.

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