Hey, it’s been a year, hasn’t it? Throughout, I was listening to music. Some really excellent stuff these past 12 months and this is in no way comprehensive. Just some of the cool stuff that graced my headphones and speakers. Music might not solve the great problems of the world, but it sure makes things better.
Most of this stuff’s available on Bandcamp or with a quick search online. I’m feeling lazy this year, so you’ll have to look ’em up yourselves. I believe in you.
Here are some quick reviews, in no particular order.
Arctic Monkeys “The Car”
Their descent into lounge was so gradual I almost didn’t notice it happening. But it did, and I am ready for it. 2022’s “The Car” is a smooth rock lounge concept epic. I think? I’m not sure what the concept is, something about the moods while going on a drive. Maybe. Whatever, this is a great listen.
The ominous “Sculptures of Anything Goes” is minimalist, dangerous music over interpretive lyrics. “Body Paint” is irresistibly catchy. “I had big ideas, the band was so excited,” is almost certainly allegorical. I’m excited too.
Leftfield “This is what we do”
It’s been years since we’ve heard from Neil Barnes and his Leftfield project. The originator of the form has returned with this late year gift.
The Weeknd “Dawn FM”
Look. I know. I’m sorry, but this is a good album. It’s weird. It has… Jim Carrey on it? Is that him on the cover? wtf am I listening to? 80s new wave synth meets hip hop about death.
Deserta “Every Moment, Everything You Need”
Shoegaze is alive and well in 2022.
alt-J “The Dream”
Heavy rotation in this first part of the year, alt-J’s “The Dream” is the band’s fourth and probably most-accessible album to date. The lead-off single, “Hard Drive Gold” is pure radio hit material with some funny lyrics for coin bros.
The real stuff is much darker though. “Happier When You’re Gone” and “Get Better” are emotionally tormented, painful tracks, beautifully arranged. My favorite, “Walk a Mile” starts with an a capella barbershop refrain that leads into a slow, drop-D blues groove with a fantastic guitar solo. One of my favorite tracks of the past few years for sure.
Alvvays “Blue Rev”
This album almost never made it to us. A break-in robbed them of four demos and then a flood almost wiped them out. Somehow, Molly and the gang persevered and released this absolute stunner on the world in 2022 after five years of toil.
Pitchfork gives it an 8.8, but it’s a solid 10 in my book.
Andrew Bird “Inside Problems”
Andrew Bird doin’ what he does. There’s whistling. There’s excellent song writing and musicianship. Good listen. The title might have something to do with being locked up for years in a pandemic.
Beach House “Once Twice Melody”
Beach House really leaned into the Dream Pop end of their musical spectrum for this double length album. Released in four parts (chapters), the whole is an ethereal experience, best enjoyed in a suitably quiet place with some big speakers and lots of blankets. At least, that’s how I did it. Music for pillow forts.
Another late entry, Dan Snaith of Caribou fame reintroduces himself as Daphni with this electronic dance party on acid. Synthesizers warble and warp their way around on this fun album. I might just take it for a spin this New Year’s Eve.
Back in 2005 or so, Editors came out with “The Back Room” and were immediately compared to their American counterparts Interpol, who also had a new album this year. Both of whom seemed to be doing their best “Joy Division in the 2000s” efforts. Since then, Editors have diverged and reinvented themselves numerous times, culminating in 2022’s EDM+industrial “EBM”.
Consequence of Sound does a better job with their interview breaking this record down than I ever could.
When your band says, “for this album, we need to do a complete rebuild of our studio,” most acts would question the sanity of such a thing. Fortunately for us, they went for it, and the result was this beast. Returning to the tried and true tradition of opening with a 10 minute monster (that’s a joke), Formentera opens with “Doomscroller” which could be a whole album in itself. I Love Metric.
Momma “Household Name”
Some reviewer called this “Wet Leg from Americans” and it’s not far off, though maybe a harder crunch than Wet Leg’s playful antics. The lyrics are a bit darker and more ominous. Some strong J.Mascis vibes on some of the guitar parts and that’s always a good thing.
Pale Blue Eyes “Souvenirs”
This band is making music I would have listened to in highschool. Dancy, shoegazey, dreampop. The art school rockers have made something remarkable here. Amazing first album.
Shearwater “The Great Awakening”
Jonathan Meiburg’s 18th or 19th album (hard to count, considering they have several albums of covers and demos, but it’s a large number) with his band Shearwater, “The Great Awakening” was a real highlight for me in 2022. Thoughtful, artistic rock with Meiburg’s unique vocals and writing guarantee an interesting listen.
Minimalist electronics with guitar and vocals. Soulful and emotive. Great listen.
Spoon “Lucifer on the Sofa”
Album of the year for me. Slickly produced, the Texas quintet have expanded and tightened their sound and given us a perfect album of absolute bangers. “The Hardest Cut” is one of my favorite tracks, the Rhett Davies inspired guitar stabs and solos are knife edged. “Wild” is a shuffling ramble of a radio hit with a bit of autobiography. “My Babe”, “On The Radio”, … awesome. The title track closes out the album and leaves you wanting more. Flawless.
It’s even been nominated for a grammy, the band’s first. I hope they get it.
And if you liked this, you’ll probably love the dub remixes available on “Lucifer on the Moon”.
The Haunted Youth “Dawn of the Freak”
Debut shoegazer from Belgium rocker Joachim Liebens was a surprise late addition to this year’s favorite albums. Songs like “Teen Rebel” and “Broken” could have come out any time in the last 20 years and would have been just as at home. One to watch.
The Smile “A Light for Attracting Attention”
Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood and jazz drummer Tom Skinner are on board for this not-quite-radiohead-but-still-radiohead-album. Experimental, edgy, exciting, emotional… Hard to classify. I love it.
Wet Leg “Wet Leg”
Raunchy and hilarious, Wet Leg knows how to rock. I love this band and this album. Instant fave.
Fave: “Chaise Longue” but the whole album’s a treat.
The Beths “Expert in a Dying Field”
Faves: “Best Left”, “When you know, you know”.