Title: 20 Best Albums of 2022



Discovering the titles on my annual best albums lists, is a year long pursuit where I sample lots of new music. What I listen and look for are a combination of aesthetics and context. How does the music sound, how are the musicians informed by what's been done before, and how does their music add to the conversation? Evaluating music based on these criteria are what most excites me.  The albums on this list are my favorite releases from 2022. You can find a playlist on Spotify that features one track from each album.

Artist: Night Shop

Title: Forever Night

Label: Dangerbird Records

Night Shop is the solo project of Justin Sullivan. He is probably best known for playing drums for Kevin Morby and stints with Flat Worms and The Babies. This album features Meg Duffy on guitar (Hand Habits), as well as Jess Williamson, Anna St. Louis, and Jarvis Taveniere from Woods and Purple Mountains.

I basically love everything about this album. The vibe, the excellent songs, and its total lack of pretension. It sounds a little like a record Roy Orbison would make if he was in his 30's in 2022. This is just a timeless rock and roll record and baby there is nothing wrong with that!

Night Shop's "Forever Night' is my album of the year for 2022.

Artist: Tone

Title: So I Can See You

Label: Rhythm Section

 tone - so I can see you - album of the year

TONE, real name Basil Anthony Harewood is a South London based songwriter, musician, and producer. I would describe his music as slow-core-down-tempo-beat-oriented-minimalist-urban-pop-with-a-twist-of-ska. What ever you call it, this record hits all the sweet spots. Great songs and a range of styles. Perfect album for straight-up chillin!

Artist: Porridge Radio

Title: Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky

Label: Secretly Canadian

porridge radio - waterslide, diving board, ladder to the sky - album of the year

Porridge Radio are a British indie rock band who formed in 2015. They are fronted by vocalist, songwriter and lead guitarist Dana Margolin. The other members are keyboardist Georgie Stott, bass guitarist Maddie Ryall and drummer Sam Yardley.

This is a really nice indie-rock record and one that I listened to a lot in 2022. If I had this on vinyl, side A would be my favorite. With that said,"The Rip" on side B is one of my favorite of the record's 13 tracks. 

Artist: Kenny Beats

Title: Louie

Label: XL Recordings

kenny beats - louie - album of the year 

Louie is the solo debut album of American hip hop producer Kenny Beats. Though best known for producing albums for other artists on LOUIE Kenny takes on his own soulful style. The album, a tribute to his ailing father is a personal statement by a skilled studio technician. You like hip-hop soul? Take this album for a spin!

Artist: Moin

Title: Paste

Label: AD93

moin - paste - album of the year

Moin is Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead (Blackest Ever Black) as well as long time collaborator and percussionist Valentina Magaletti. Paste, the band's first release, is a really fresh take on alt-rock where both the music and vocals are sort of hard to describe. While there are traditional arrangements of guitar-bass-and-drums the band's utilization of complex rhythms, distortion, samples, and tight arrangements keep things interesting. The vocal tracks are a mix of spoken-word stories and fragments of conversations. This record reminds me of the album "Palace Intrigue" by Household Gods. If you like this record then that is an album you need to checkout. You're welcome!

Artist: Robert

Title: Orange Is The New Black

Label: Antelope Records

robert - orange is the new black - album of the year 2022

Robert’s full-length debut blends piano and guitar rock samples with spoken-word -rap vocals. Lyrically dense and autobiographical, the album was conceived and crafted during a stint in a UK prison. With guests including Kool Kieth and Slug of Atmosphere this record has all the street-cred it needs. Thankfully, the songs live up to the sum of their parts. The artist's selection of samples perfectly set the stage for each track. Together, the words and music have a cinematic vibe. 

Artist: Spiral Stairs

Title: Medley Attack

Label: Amazing Grace Records

spiral stairs - medley attack - album of the year 

Scott Kannberg is a founding member of Pavement and so you might say, he's alt-rock royalty. Since Pavement fizzled out some 20+ years ago, Kannberg has had numerous projects but none that I have enjoyed as much as Spiral Stairs. Medley Attack is the third Spiral Stairs record in a row that has made my year's best list. In 2017 there was "Doris and The Daggers". In 2020, the band released "We Wanna Be Hypnotized". I recommend all three of these records! At times Spiral Stairs' music reminds me of David Bowie but most of the people I say that to disagree. You'll have to listen and form your own opinion. Below, a note from the artist.

“It’s definitely been the weirdest and the hardest record to make, but I think I like it the best, really. I think they’re my best lyrics — they’re pretty dark, but they’re pretty honest and they tell stories a little more than in the past. And originally it was really going to be a stripped-down swan-song record — I really didn’t want to get a bunch of people involved — but I ended up getting so many of my closest friends and people I admire to help and I couldn’t be prouder of the results. It’s kind of made me want to make more records!” - Scott Kannberg

Artist: Oren Werlin, Johan Berthling, Andreas Ambarchi

Title: Ghosted

Label: Drag City

Oren Werlin, Johan Berthling, Andreas Ambarchi - Ghosted - album of the year

This trio features Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin. Ghosted's four tracks borrow from jazz, world, and experimental musics. The sound is at times eerie, distorted, trance inducing, and hypnotic. With scrawls of guitar and feedback layered on top of highly skilled rhythmic accompaniment. This is a truly gorgeous record of fully enveloping soundscapes. Headphones recommended.

Artist: Afghan Whigs

Title: How Do You Burn?

Label: Royal Cream / BMG

afghan whigs - how do you burn? - album of the year 

The Afghan Whigs are an American rock band from Cincinnati, Ohio. Their brand of soul infused alt-rock has been a staple in my universe since the late 1980's when they were one of Sub Pop Record's first signings from outside of the Pacific NW. While the band's post 90's releases fail to live up to that decade's output, they still bring the heat. Despite lineup changes over the years, vocalist/guitarist Greg Dulli and bassist John Curly still remain from the band's earliest incarnation. Dulli is an accomplished frontman who has had prolific career with the Afghan Whigs and his secondary project the Twilight Singers. Curly has been one of my favorite rock bassists for a few decades now. I saw them in concert in 2022.  Way too loud, as usual!

Artist: Craig Finn

Title: A Legacy of Rentals

Label: Positive Jams / Thirty Tigers

craig finn - a legacy of rentals - album of the year 

Craig Finn is an American singer-songwriter and musician. He is best known as the frontman of the indie rock band The Hold Steady, with whom he has recorded eight studio albums. His solo work is consistent with his previous output and that's a good thing. If you enjoy highly literate rock music - where each song unfolds like a short-story - you might enjoy spending time with "A Legacy of Rentals".

Artist: Mattiel

Title: Georgia Gothic

Label: ATO Records

mattiel - georgia gothic - album of the year 

‘Georgia Gothic’, Mattiel’s third full-length album, is another example of this Atlanta based band's consistently high-quality output. Except for this album's opening track, I like this album as much as anything the band has done to date. If you like a little pop with your indie-rock, Mattiel's radio friendly songs are the kind that stick in your head.

Artist: Yahritza Y Su Esencia

Title: Obsessed

Label: Lumbre Musica / Columbia

yahritza y su ssencia - obsessed - album of the year

Yahritza Y Su Esencia are a sibling trio from Yakima, Washington. They are fronted by singer, songwriter, and acoustic guitarist Yahritza Martinez, who is backed by her older siblings on acoustic bass and 12-string guitar. Their music weds Mexican regional music, drawn from the ranchera and corridos traditions, to acoustic folk-pop. That teenagers are capable of this level of talent and musicianship is commendable.

Artist: Oneida

Title: Success

Label: Joyful Noice Recordings

oneida - success - album of the year 

Oneida is a five-member genre-defying experimental rock band from Brooklyn, New York. 'Success' marks the bands return to a more guitar-centric sound. This record sounds like New York in the best way possible. The perfect combination of feedback, dissonance, and cacophony. 

Artist: Panda Bear & Sonic Boom

Title: Reset

Label: Domino Recording Co.

panda bear & sonic boom - reset - album of the year 

Reset is an album by Panda Bear (Animal Collective) and Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3). It marks the duo's first collaborative album although each artist has appeared on the other's records in the past. Much of the album is built on a bedrock of sampled loops taken from 1950s and 1960s pop songs. This gives the album a vintage sheen that lands someplace between The Beach Boys and Galaxie 500.

Artist: Courting

Title: Guitar Music

Label: Play It Again Sam Recordings

courting - guitar music - best albums of the year

Guitar Music is the debut studio album from British band Courting.

Artist: Anteloper

Title: Pink Dolphins

Label: International Anthem Recording Co.

anteloper - pink dolphins - best albums of the year 

Anteloper is a duo consisting of Jaimie Branch on trumpet & synths plus Jason Nazary on drums & electronics. Pink Dolphins was produced by Jeff Parker (The New Breed, Tortoise, Chicago Underground), who also plays guitar on some tracks. Constructed from hours of recorded improvisations, the album is a spirited example of free jazz with brass, synths, and percussion producing an enveloping sonic palette. 

Artist: Caroline

Title: Caroline

Label: Rough Trade Records

caroline - caroline - best albums of the year

Born in 2017 as a three-piece post-punk band Caroline has since added five additional members and seen their sound shift into something more expansive. 

Artist: Delicate Steve

Title: After Hours

Label: ANTI-

 delicate steve - after hours - best albums of the year 2022

Steve Marion, aka Delicate Steve, is one of my favorite contemporary guitarists. His talent for writing gorgeous melodies lends itself to his equally beautiful instrumental soundscapes. This LP — written and recorded on a 1966 Fender Stratocaster — features psychedelic loops and guitar solos accentuated by Pakistani bassist Shahzad Ismaily’s grooves and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco’s beats. 

Artist: John Dwyer

Title: Gong Splat

Label: Castle Face Records

john dwyer - gong splat - best albums of the year

Punk jazz.

Ryan Sawyer: drums 

Greg Coates: upright bass 

Wilder Zoby: synth & mellotron 

Andres Renteria: conga, bongos & hand percussion 

John Dwyer: guitar, synths, pan flute, cuica, percussion, space drum & effects

Artist: Widowspeak

Title: The Jacket

Label: Captured Tracks

widowspeak - the jacket - albums of the year 2022

Widowspeak is an American indie rock band from Brooklyn, New York. Their music is a dreamy blend of pop that sounds like Fleetwood Mac meets alt-rock. The band consists of guitarist and vocalist Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas.

Hope you find some music to love! - Howard

You can find me on Spotify at HipHopPunkRock

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