This year we’re going full Aquarium Drunkard (AKA the only music year end list worth reading). Except, these are just one person’s choices (unlike Bolachas Now Playing, which is a team effort). And he’s only doing this because it’s a slow week at his real work. Meaning, “going full Aquarium Drunkard” is, really, just adopting the format: a list of 100 un-ordered records bound together in groups of 4. Plus a short tweet about each of them. There are a few Spotify playlists at the end of the post, plus Bandcamp links to those records whenever available.
Top Concerts of 2022
One of my archival projects of the year (lol) was using setlist.fm as a means to keep track of all the shows I’ve attended so far. Of course, some artists/projects I’ve seen live aren’t in the Musicbrainz database and their shows cannot be added there, and my memory started suppressing most shitty shows I’ve seen in my formative years. Regardless, this was the year when I finally hit 1000 different seen-live artists. I guess it’s this world’s way of telling me I’m getting old. In case you’re wondering (if you know me, you probably aren’t), Shellac tops the list with 12 shows, one of them this year.
Doing this made me come to the conclusion I’ve seen 213 concerts this year, including opening acts and festival shows. I will not estimate how much that cost me. These 20 were exceptionally fun, impressing, moving, or all of it at once.
- black midi (Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona; TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht; Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam)
- Low (Paradiso, Amsterdam; Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona)
- Lingua Ignota (Poppodium 013, Tilburg)
- 100 gecs (Parc del Fòrum & Razzmatazz 2, Barcelona; Paradiso, Amsterdam)
- The Hold Steady (Electric Ballroom, London)
- Destroyer (Paradiso, Amsterdam)
- Turnstile (Praia Fluvial do Taboão, Paredes de Coura)
- Parquet Courts (Praia Fluvial do Taboão, Paredes de Coura)
- Craig Finn (Paradiso, Amsterdam)
- Bonnie “Prince” Billy (Paradiso, Amsterdam)
- Calexico (Doornroosje, Nijmegen)
- The Felice Brothers (TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht)
- Makaya McCraven (Paradiso, Amsterdam)
- Daniel Romano (TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht)
- Grandaddy (Paradiso, Amsterdam)
- Les Savy Fav (Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona)
- Nancy Mounir’s Nozhet El Nofous (TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht)
- clipping. (TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht)
- Kurt Vile & the Violators (Paradiso, Amsterdam)
- Sarah Shook & the Disarmers (dB’s, Utrecht)
Top Songs of 2022
Our final tally for the 46 weekly Bolachas Now Playing playlists we published in 2022: 657 unique artists, 1028 tracks, 68:20 hours of music. Destroyer and Jenny Berkel were the artists we featured the most (6 tracks each), followed by Angel Olsen, Cass McCombs, Calexico, Kurt Vile, Julia Jacklin, Renata Zeiguer, and Stella Donnelly (5 each). Of the 100 albums featured below, only five were not featured in Bolachas Now Playing during 2022.
We managed to add songs with the same name by different artists (thanks Soccer Mommy and black midi for “Still”, Heather Trost and Zachary Cale for “Sandcastles”, The World of Dust and Young Jesus for “Ocean”, Renata Zeiguer and Rocky Votolato for “Evergreen” (interestingly enough, in 2019 there were two Evergreens as well, by Jeff Tweedy and Wye Oak), and THREE songs named “Blue” (Indigo Sparke, Kristine Leschsper, and Whitney). Ok, enough looking at lists – here are my (again, mine, not the entire team’s) 100 favorite tracks of the year.
Top Albums of 2022
Future me: writing about a hundred albums at once is not a good idea, your writing isn’t good enough and by the time you get to number 15 you’ll need a drink to keep going. All these websites have dozens of paid staff to do it, man. I know you’re doing this for yourself, but come on.
These were my favorite albums of 2022, and yes, ____________ is missing – could it be that I didn’t like it, or did I not listen to it at all? Maybe I missed something – please let me know (haha, it will be 100% spam thanks to one band name amongst those 100).
Also, there is a “small” list of 50 honorable mentions at the end of this post, a mix of new albums from old favorites that didn’t quite hit the mark, or promising albums that I just haven’t spent enough time with (or both). Scroll down for full lists (including a ranked top 30) and Spotify playlists with two songs off each record. Enjoy!
Black Country, New Road Ants From Up There | On their final album with frontman Isaac Wood, the London outfit builds on the buzz generated by their long-awaited 2021 debut, aims for an epic and delivers one of the most grandiose rock albums of the past few years. Shame they didn’t get to tour it, but their Isaac-less new work is exciting, too.
black midi Hellfire | BC,NR were calling themselves “the world’s second-best Slint tribute act”, what does that make of black midi, then? Are they Mr. Bungle in disguise? Some kind of Mars Volta for this generation? Maybe whatever the hell they want to be? Hellfire is proggy, it is jazzy, it is fast, it is slow, it sounds futuristic and old timey at the same time. Good luck being indifferent to it.
The Mars Volta The Mars Volta | Speaking of the Mars Volta, Omer and Cedric decided it was time to bring it back, with a twist. In their comeback self-titled album, they tone it down, downsize the band, get closer to their Latin roots, and barely sound like the same band we used to know. It might put some hardcore fans off, but they’ll find solace in knowing their setlists contain mostly old favorites. One of the bands to watch on stage in 2023.
caroline caroline | Twenty years later, and after two years of teasing the public with mysterious Rough Trade singles, Europe’s answer to Silver Mt. Zion is here. In a less anthemic, more improvised and spaced out form, can lyric-y post-rock be as impactful in 2022 as it was in 2002?
(if I ask more silly questions throughout this article, the answer is likely yes)
Craig Finn A Legacy of Rentals | After completing a trilogy of solo records, plus writing and releasing a couple of The Hold Steady albums, their frontman Craig Finn returns with yet another collection of short stories in song form. Less americana-infused than previous offerings and gleaming with strings, A Legacy of Rentals is probably Finn’s finest work so far.
Bill Callahan YTI⅃AƎЯ | Callahan is happy, settled down, a family man. There’s not a hint of sadness in his new album. He’s at his most uplifting, chill, and contemplative here, and it’s a joy to hear. Plus, the dazzling horns at the end of ‘Naked Souls’ are some of the most beautiful things you’re gonna hear this year.
Carson McHone Still Life | Daniel Romano spent most of the pandemic years releasing two handfuls of excellent records. This year, he lets his collaborators shine. Carson McHone’s excellent third album, her first for Merge, was co-produced by Romano, whose Outfit doubled as her backing band in their recent European tour. 70s-sounding country rock for the new age.
Twain Noon | Prolific minimalistic singer-songwriter Mat Davidson is back, now with a double album. It might not be as breathtaking as 2018’s Rare Feeling, but a great listen nonetheless.
Makaya McCraven In These Times | Another year, another reason to celebrate, at least if you were blessed with the knowledge that Makaya McCraven exists and records music. Over seven years in the making, and filled with contributions by musicians from the International Anthem family and beyond, In These Times is the Chicago percussionist’s magnum opus, and my favorite jazz record of the year.
Melt Yourself Down Pray For Me I Don’t Fit In | In Portuguese singer Marco Paulo‘s 1980 hit single, “Eu Tenho Dois Amores”, he sings about having two very different lovers, and how difficult it is to pick the one he loves the most. He was obviously talking about the new Chicago and London jazz scenes, but I got some news for him: he can have both. Pray For Me I Don’t Fit In is In These Times‘s ecstatic cousin that has nothing to do with it other than being my other favorite jazz record of the year. And yes, the answer to the question “can you really call this obvious punk rock album jazz?” is “of course you can” and “stop being obsessed with purity levels”.
Fievel Is Glauque Flaming Swords | The music of Belgian-American jazz fusion septet Fievel Is Glauque sounds like it’s the mid-00s and something fresh just came out on Cuneiform Records. 18 action-filled songs packed in under 37min.
Alabaster DePlume GOLD | If you’re going to record such a long record, make sure people would love to live in it. Poet and composer Alabaster DePlume gets it right – it’s as hard to get inside of GOLD (his live shows are a shortcut, though) as it is to leave.
Destroyer LABYRINTHITIS | How can Dan Bejar keep getting away with it? Every two or three albums, there’s another one making people go like “It’s his best since ______”. Here and there, Bejar takes the role of a Machiavellian villain, which suits the menacing ambience of “Tintoretto, It’s For You” just right, and sets the mood for the rest of the record. Long live the king.
The Beths Expert in a Dying Field | The catchiest straight-up indie rock album of the year. In Expert in a Dying Field, singer and songwriter Elizabeth Stokes is fronting a less edgier, more melodic, power pop version of Superchunk, and pens my most listened song of the 2022, “I Want To Listen”.
Mattiel Georgia Gothic | Speaking of catchy indie rock songs, on their third album, Mattiel Brown and Jonah Swilley just got their masters degree in their craft. From the dancey opener “Jeff Goldblum” to the southern gothic “Blood in the Yolk”, this is Mattiel’s best offering so far.
Tallies Patina | It’s not released on 4AD, but it has 4AD written all over it. Tallies’ second album Patina has all the ingredients that made dream pop all the rage in the 80s.
Chat Pile God’s Country | Lol at adult people far removed from any metal scene calling Chat Pile “noise rock” to avoid being seen as metalheads for absolutely adoring this gem of an album. As dark as sludge can get, God’s Country is the soundtrack to the violent world-ending fire we all deserve, I guess.
Wovenhand Silver Sash | On his first release since 2016’s heavy Star Treatment, David Eugene Edwards teams up with Planes Mistaken for Stars’ Chuck French for another oddball in his post-16 Horsepower discography, entirely recorded at home, and employing some electronics.
Terzij de Horde In One of These, I Am Your Enemy | My favorite black metal is black metal that does not sound like black metal fans think black metal should sound like. In In One of These, I Am Your Enemy, the Utrecht band sounds more like Canadian hardcore heroes Fucked Up playing their epics (see Year of the Tiger or Year of the Ox) through a blackened lens. In all their triumphant glory.
No Home Young Professional | Like any music nerd who’s not dead inside, I love Lars Gotrich’s newsletter Viking’s Choice, something you should totally subscribe to. That’s where I found out about Charlie Valentine’s industrial bedroom pop gem Young Professional, an album best enjoyed at night, using headphones, blablabla, you know the drill.
Big Thief Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You | There are no words for these people anymore and it’s very unlikely you’re not familiar with them if you’re reading this so I just won’t use any.
Jenny Hval Classic Objects | The Norwegian musician’s latest offering makes me want to go back to February 2020, get myself a large dog, use said dog as an excuse to go for a long walk in the woods every single day during lockdown and do not turn into a couch potato. Spacey, contemplative, uncomplicated-yet-not-basic music, Classic Objects is probably Hval’s most accessible, conventional record so far.
Modern Nature Island of Noise | Technically a vinyl-only 2021 release that most of us could only listen to at the end of January, Island of Noise boasts not only some of the most beautiful artwork of the year, but also the most gorgeous soundscapes, in a stellar record equal parts folk and jazz.
Florist Florist | Compared to previous records, Florist’s self-titled album sounds much more like a full-fledged band coming together, and less like a collection of Emily A. Sprague’s sparse folk musings. I’m not going to compare Florist to Big Thief, but I’m going to tell you to spend some time with this album if you like them.
Nancy Mounir Nozhet El Nofous | Cairo-based violinist Nancy Mounir brings early 20th century recordings of follow female Egyptian singers back to life in this haunting collection. These reworks sound like they come from another world – one where Arabic music was not subject to standardisation and having its microtonality extirpated.
Black Ox Orkestar Everything Returns | Legendary Montréal (and GY!BE adjacent) Jewish folk band Black Ox Orkestar returns fifteen years later, and it’s like they never left. If there’s something you should definitely take from this list, this panel is the one to look at – all these four albums pair magnificently.
Richard Dawson The Ruby Cord | It’s unlikely that any tracks in this double album from Newcastle’s most exquisite songwriter will make you want to press the repeat button for its catchy hooks or anything, but that’s not what it’s for. Take a seat. Dawson’s latest baroque epic is the spiritual heir of 2017’s Peasant, one of my favorite albums of the past decade, and deserves your full attention.
Širom The Liquified Throne of Simplicity | What even is this? The Liquefied Throne of Simplicity sits in the crossroads between folk, ambient, and noise – the soundtrack to some role playing game set in medieval times.
Silverbacks Archive Material | In a scene bursting with hype, the Dublin-based art-rock band took the crown. Archive Material is uncomplicated, catchy, edgy, and fun. And I’m sure the only reason why they weren’t in every 2022 summer festival lineup is because they didn’t want to. Right?
Crack Cloud Tough Baby | The Vancouver collective is all over the place in this one – good luck putting them in a box. But it’s when they come closer to a post-punk band that they shine the most.
Yard Act The Overload | This time last year, Yard Act’s debut album was the most exciting thing to look out for in 2022. It’s up to debate whether The Overload lives up to the (rightfully generated) hype surrounding its singles, but those four tracks alone are as exciting as rock music can get this century.
Viagra Boys Cave World | Maybe excited for the tours to come after two years at home, the boys get groovy in Cave World. Fortunately, the silly lyrics about low hanging fruit conspiracy theorists are overshadowed by how fun the record actually sounds.
Calexico El Mirador | In the department “new records by old favorites”, Calexico sound as tight as ever, more norteño than indie rock – their best since 2008’s Carried to Dust.
Wilco Cruel Country | What do you do when you’re tired of experimenting? Back to basics it is – and Wilco’s basics means the comforting alt-country sounds of Being There. With one catch – the band is not the same as it was back then, and there are vast areas in the album’s 21 tracks (e.g. “Many Worlds”, “Bird Without a Tail / Base of My Skull”) where these differences are visible (read: Nels Cline is allowed to shine).
Spiritualized Everything Was Beautiful | Spiritualized’s ninth album is a companion piece to 2018’s beautiful And Nothing Hurt. And, while it could be seen as a minor release (and we’ve heard a version of lead track “Always Together With You” in a compilation before), it’s reductive to consider it some sort of b-sides amalgamation.
Lambchop The Bible | So, you’re one of those who hates Kurt Wagner’s vocoder? You’ll be pleased to see that it’s turned off for a while in The Bible, Lambchop’s darkest hour and hardest nut to crack in so far. Frankly, I haven’t been able to fully do it – but the occasional moments of bright brilliance (see “Little Black Boxes” or “Police Dog Blues”) are enough to earn a place in this list – I know that by the time they tour this album here in Europe, I’ll be hooked.
Alvvays Blue Rev | I guess I still remember the moment when I went from “This band name is so stupid and reminiscent of the chillwave era it makes me not want to listen to them” versus “damn, “Archie, Marry Me” is the best song I’ve ever heard by a band whose name I find pathetic”. Blue Rev, their third album, is indie pop’s highest moment in ages – it doesn’t get much better than this.
Jockstrap I Love You Jennifer B | Leftfield pop by a BCNR-adjacent duo that trades guitars for synthesisers and sounds like nothing else in this list.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever Endless Rooms | This is an indie rock record by Australian band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. It sounds like an indie rock record by Australian band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, which means it is fun, straight to the point, and, well, good.
Cate Le Bon Pompeii | Sixth studio album by the Welsh institution of songwriting. Although I was not impressed by this album’s live presentation at last November’s Le Guess Who festival, it’s always a pleasure to come back to the studio recordings – there’s something about these groovy saxes.
Anna Tivel Outsiders | 2022 was the first year in a while where I felt mostly disconnected to whatever the current trends in Americana music are. Except for NPR’s Ann Powers’ always excellent best of ’22 list, where Anna Tivel’s Outsider is #1, there are barely any mentions to it in generalist indie publications. But the folk singer’s latest collection of songs, building up on 2019’s excellent The Question and magnificently produced by Shane Leonard, was easily my favorite of the genre.
Tomberlin i don’t know who needs to hear this… | During the height of the worldwide lockdowns of 2020, another pandemic struck – notifications after notifications of artists trying to get our attention by playing songs live on Instagram, the absolute worst medium for a livestream ever – sorry, I’m not going to make my phone unusable for an hour in the middle of my day. Except if you’re Tomberlin, who took the crown of all those pandemic streams and prompted me to learn how to download Instagram lives into my computer. Some of these songs made their way into her sophomore album, and it was a treat to hear them live this year, both in my favorite brewpub and, later, opening for Angel Olsen.
The Weather Station How Is It That I Should Look at the Stars | The quiet, piano-led companion piece to my top album of 2021 is an obvious minor release in the Weather Station oeuvre, but it’s here in its own merit. And “Stars” is gorgeous.
Angel Olsen Big Time | A return to form from the singer-songwriter, reaching out to her country-ish roots – and penning her most beautiful song in a decade, “All the Flowers”.
Jake Xerxes Fussell Good and Green Again | Folk singer and guitarist Jake Xerxes Fussell has never made music for the masses – and probably won’t, ever. Critically, however, there was no good reason why his music was not featured more prominently in specialty publications. Four albums down the line, that finally seems to have changed, as it’s impossible to ignore Fussell’s warm guitar melodies playing over James Elkington’s masterful details. His finest work yet.
The Delines The Sea Drift | Amy Boone’s vocals can brighten up the dimmest of rooms. The Delines are not a Richmond Fontaine side project anymore, they’re their own thing. One of the finest Americana releases of the year.
The Cactus Blossoms One Day | Bros Page and Jack return with another set of laidback, old-timey, harmony-heavy songs.
Plains I Walked With You A Ways | Rising songstresses Jess Williamson and Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) get in touch with their southern roots and join forces in a very Lucinda album.
Stromae Multitude | While this list is quite anglocentric – which is to be expected, given the genres we typically cover here – and there’s only a handful of albums in it where English is not the main language, this was another year where my most played pop album of the year did not come from the Anglosphere. Eight years since racine carrée, the multifaceted Belgian artist has released his most complete work yet, and good luck finding tickets for his upcoming tour. Also, check out his most recent Tiny Desk concert – easily the best of the year.
Bad Bunny Un Verano Sin Ti | The Puerto Rican urbano star had his most successful year so far, selling out arenas and stadiums all over the world, and solidifying himself as the leading pop artist of the decade. And he did it with a cohesive album that – despite feeling a bit bloated at times during its 81min runtime – does not sound at all like a collection of hits.
Charli XCX CRASH | Charlie turns it up a notch for her final Atlantic album. There are barely any high profile feats here (that later big Tiësto collab might have been her highlight of the year, but would feel out of place in CRASH); instead, she turns to her usual producers to make her shine in her least weird (but not less interesting) full length so far.
Hyd CLEARING | Hyd sits at the less glitchy end of the PC Music universe. CLEARING is probably their catalogue’s most accessible long play so far, trading the usual bombastic hyper-pop tropes for a more atmospheric ambiance, masterfully bridging the gap between terminally online weirdo music and mainstream acceptance.
Weyes Blood And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow | By the time this album was released in mid-November, some publications were already publishing their end-year lists. We get it, your writers had access to all “relevant” labels’ releases by then. But if it was released on a smaller label, it would have likely slipped into the catacombs of time, like every other record released in December – and that’s why this list will always be published whenever people are already tired of lists. Anyway. Every three years, Natalie Mering brings us another perfect darkish, folky-pop record, and this might be her most immaculate yet.
Heather Trost Desert Flowers | Another psych pop nugget from A Hawk and a Hacksaw’s Heather Trost. A lighter companion to And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow, where unusual instrumentation runs free.
Tenci A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing | On debut My Heart Is An Open Field, sparse instrumentation and silence were used to highlight singer-songwriter Jess Shoman’s lyrics and voice. In their second album, Tenci feels more like a band and less like somebody’s moniker.
Aoife Nessa Frances Protector | In 2022, the Irish singer-songwriter was the EU opening act of choice for two of my favorite Canadian touring acts (The Weather Station and Destroyer). By the time Protector was out in late October, most of these songs were not a secret anymore – except that they were missing their lush instrumentation when played solo live.
Porridge Radio Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky | Dana Margolin’s cathartic, art-rock compositions might have been composed in 2020s England, but wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the 90s Midwestern emo scene.
Stella Donnelly Flood | Sweet and catchy melodies try to mask some deep, darker lyrical themes. Another great moment from one of Australia’s on-the-rise singer-songwriters who doubles as the most lovely character in indie music.
Gladie Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out | After a first record that sounded more like a bedroom pop Cayetana side-project, Gladie goes proper full band mode for their second album. Indie rock with some Americana grit.
Julia Jacklin PRE PLEASURE | Not all moments in PRE PLEASURE are as memorable as most of the Australian singer-songwriters impeccable first two albums, but those were some huge shoes to fill. Opener “Lydia Wears a Cross” is one of the best songs of the year, though.
Renata Zeiguer Picnic in the Dark | Zeiguer makes tasteful, groovy dreamy indie pop (with some bossa nova influences here and there). Her perfectly timed second LP was a great Spring companion.
Mitski Laurel Hell | Not a bad effort for someone who wanted to quit music just three years ago, is it? Hit after hit from one of indie rock’s most interesting figures of the past ten years.
Joan Shelley The Spur | Folk singer Joan Shelley is at the top of her game here. Yes, the list of contributors is impressive (Nathan Salsburg, Bill Callahan, James Elkington et al) but it’s her songwriting that shines through.
Julianna Riolino All Blue | Debut album from Riolino, who is also part of Daniel Romano’s Outfit. Less abrasive than the Outfit’s on-stage antics, All Blue is all about engaging stories in mid-tempo alt-country format.
The Deslondes Ways & Means | The five princes of country-folk – who all take songwriting duties in the band – put their solo careers aside for a moment to release the follow up to 2017’s vital Hurry Home, the Riley Downing-penned “Good to Go” and “South Dakota Wild One” being the highlights.
Bonny Light Horseman Rolling Golden Holy | The singer-songwriter almost-supergroup composed of Anaïs Mitchell, Fruit Bats’ Eric D Johnson and Josh Kaufman joins forces again, this time recording original material.
Jenny Berkel These Are the Sounds Left from Leaving | Berkel conjures 60s folk on her first album in six years, surrounding herself with some of Canada’s finest musicians (Kacy & Clayton, The Deep Dark Woods).
Tyler Childers Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven? | Country star Tyler Childers decided it would be a great idea to record eight gospel songs (five of them originals) in three entirely disparate styles. He was correct.
Cool Sounds Like That | Australian shape-shifters abandon their Americana skin and wade into more upbeat, funky waters on their third release in three years.
Drugdealer Hiding in Plain Sight | On the more laidback side of funk, Drugdealer are back with some more soft rock goodness. The bad news: for the first time, there are no Weyes Blood guest vocals in any of the tracks; the great news: Kate Bollinger, Sedona, and Tim Presley fill up the gaps.
Garcia Peoples Dodging Dues | NJ jam band Garcia Peoples kicked 2022 with a trippy, Dead-y, and relatively short (if compared to their sprawling live shows) album.
Kurt Vile (watch my moves) | On the other side of brevity, KV keeps trying to fill out a standard-sized CD with new tunes every time he puts an album out. Thankfully, the amount of filler on (watch my moves) is very limited; you don’t want to rush it when you’re listening to Vile’s freewheeling jamming, anyway.
Superchunk Wild Loneliness | After a trio of post-reunion high octane punkier albums, Superchunk tone it down with a softer, poppier album that wouldn’t feel out of place in Teenage Fanclub’s recent discography.
Dry Cleaning Stumpwork | The follow-up to last year’s excellent New Long Leg repeats the successful formula of its antecessor, although it feels slightly less brash and a bit more moody at times.
Fontaines D. C. Skinty Fia | The London-based Irish post-punk band all but leave their boisterous behind, spending more time engaging in balladry than rocking out. The production tames down some of the potential quasi-anthemic moments in the album, though: “Jackie Down the Line” and regular set closers “I Love You” and “Nabokov” are something else on stage.
King Hannah I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me | One of the highlights of 2021’s Le Guess Who? Festival (unfortunately cut short by a lockdown). More deadpan lyrical delivery from an English band – although King Hannah’s soul is straight up Southern Gothic.
SAVAK Human Error / Human Delight | The Brooklyn band’s fifth album in eight years is probably their best yet. If you miss Hüsker Dü, Mission of Burma, and more generally having fun with guitars, this is for you.
PUP THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND | All caps, all hooks, all despair, and all fun at the same time. Infectious sing along punk choruses for the new generation.
Birds in Row Gris Klein | French trio signs for Cult of Luna’s label Red Creek Recordings, but their sound strays a bit from the post-metal path and takes the post-hardcore road. It suits them perfectly.
Titus Andronicus The Will to Live | Another epic from one of the most crucial rock bands of this century that feels more focused and straightforward than their last few albums.
MJ Lenderman Boat Songs | Fresh off a successful 2021 – his band Wednesday had just broke through with their third album Twin Plagues – lead guitarist MJ Lenderman just had himself an unexpected hit with Boat Songs, an album that has him sound a bit like mid-00s Jason Molina with a fuzz pedal. (Note: Any kind of comparison with Jason Molina, even if it were to say something sounds like a blatant ripoff of Ghost Tropic, is the highest compliment anyone can get on this page.)
Andrew Combs Sundays | One of our favorite Americana songwriters simultaneously goes darker and back to basics, with a “smaller” sound. Coincidentally, he finds his best form.
GGGOLDDD This Shame Should Not Be Mine | Originally commissioned as a performance for the 2021 online edition of the legendary Dutch festival Roadburn, the guitar-driven Rotterdam band enhances an already devastating piece with layers of cathartic, brooding synths.
Cass McCombs Heartmind | Surprisingly, there was not much buzz around McCombs’ most concise and poignant work since his critical breakout. That’s what consistent singer-songwriters get when they’re 10 albums deep into their careers and never had a bad album nor a cross-genre commercial success – “oh, it’s just another great record, but I won’t bother – need to go find the next big thing, bye”.
Skullcrusher Quiet the Room | Helen Ballantine spent the plague years teasing folky audiences with two EPs’ worth of haunting, whispered songs, equal parts Grouper and Elliott Smith. Critically, her debut LP did not live up to the hype, but Quiet the Room was still one of the genre’s highlights of 2022.
Caitlin Rose CAZIMI | Just as I had lost any hope Rose would come back to her recording artist career, she drops her long awaited third album. There’s a slight departure from her old sound, the guitars are more prominent, but her voice – and her songwriting – is as stellar as ever.
Soccer Mommy Sometimes, Forever | The oddball in the group of young female songwriters funnily lumped together as sad girls (seriously) keeps distancing herself from tentatives of making her part of any kind of homogeneous group, bringing back the synthesizers from 2020’s color theory and teaming up with Daniel Lopatin.
Courtney Marie Andrews Loose Future | On her new album, Courtney Marie Andrews strays a bit from her classic folk-country sound with producer Sam Evian’s assistance.
The Comet is Coming Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam | London-based trio keeps doing their thing: loud, larger-than-life, key-and-sax-heavy jazz jams.
Horse Lords Comradely Objects | Freaky saxophone and guitar lines duel in a groovy affair that simultaneously channels West African rhythms and kraut-like beats.
Lalalar Bi Cinnete Bakar | Istanbul’s finest alternative pop band finally releases their debut album after a few mouthwatering singles on Bongo Joe. Heavy bass electronica meets samples from the golden era of Turkish psychedelia.
Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek DOST 2 | Turkish-German bağlama player singer Yıldırım again teams up with multi-national outfit Grup Şimşek for another danceable psych pop bop.
Moriah Bailey i tried words | Harpist Moriah Bailey (formerly known as sun riah) ceases hiding her voice behind waves of noise in another late-in-the-year favorite release on the excellent Keeled Scales.
Julian Lage View With a Room | The vibe is so warm here that Julian Lage and Bill Frisell’s guitars seem to melt together in Lage’s second Blue Note LP.
Mary Halvorson Amaryllis | The grooviest half of Halvorson’s twin-album release sees the composer write for an entirely new, improv-heavy sextet, including vibraphone extraordinaire Patricia Brennan.
Medicine Singers Medicine Singers | The collaboration between Israeli guitarist (of Monotonix fame) Yonatan Gat and Native American powwow group Eastern Medicine Singers finally materialises in LP form after enchanting audiences worldwide. jaimie branch’s trumpet and Laaraji’s zither (among other guests such as Ikue Mori and Swans’ Thor Harris) elevate these compositions, but the group’s chanting takes the spotlight.
Dawes Misadventures of Doomscroller | Dawes seem like they are out of fucks to give, finally doing what they want – and Misadventures of Doomscroller is their career’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot moment. Another album turned to gold by Jonathan Wilson.
Drive-By Truckers Welcome 2 Club XIII | The American country rockers are back on their lighter side – even going as far as sounding fun – after a string of heavy-themed, politically charged albums.
The Mountain Goats Bleed Out | Reminder that this list isn’t ordered, because there’s no way Darnielle’s best album since 2011’s All Eternals Deck, full of uptempo bops, is at the bottom of a 100 album list.
Sorry Anywhere but Here | A very pleasant surprise, as I had no idea who these people were until I saw they were playing in my neighborhood the week after they released their album. “Thank God that I found you”, Asha Lorenz sings on an opening track filled with Micachu and the Shapes vibes – right back at ya.
Tier A (albums 1 through 50):
- Black Country, New Road, “Ants From Up There”
- Craig Finn, “A Legacy of Rentals”
- Destroyer, “LABYRINTHITIS”
- Makaya McCraven, “In These Times”
- Chat Pile, “God’s Country”
- The Beths, “Expert in a Dying Field”
- black midi, “Hellfire”
- Big Thief, “Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You”
- Bill Callahan, “YTI⅃AƎЯ”
- Nancy Mounir, “Nozhet El Nofous”
- Wovenhand, “Silver Sash”
- Black Ox Orkestar, “Everything Returns”
- Carson McHone, “Still Life”
- Anna Tivel, “Outsiders”
- Jake Xerxes Fussell, “Good and Green Again”
- Weyes Blood, “And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow”
- Jenny Hval, “Classic Objects”
- Modern Nature, “Island of Noise”
- The Mars Volta, “The Mars Volta”
- Calexico, “El Mirador”
- Silverbacks, “Archive Material”
- Terzij de Horde, “In One of These, I Am Your Enemy”
- Mitski, “Laurel Hell”
- Stromae, “Multitude”
- Kurt Vile , “(watch my moves)”
- Mattiel, “Georgia Gothic”
- Alvvays, “Blue Rev”
- Tallies, “Patina”
- Jenny Berkel, “These Are the Sounds Left from Leaving”
- caroline, “caroline”
- Angel Olsen, “Big Time”
- Bad Bunny, “Un Verano Sin Ti”
- Cass McCombs, “Heartmind”
- Cate Le Bon, “Pompeii”
- Heather Trost, “Desert Flowers”
- Joan Shelley, “The Spur”
- Melt Yourself Down, “Pray For Me I Don’t Fit In”
- Plains, “I Walked With You A Ways”
- Porridge Radio, “Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky”
- Renata Zeiguer, “Picnic in the Dark”
- Richard Dawson, “The Ruby Cord”
- Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, “Endless Rooms”
- SAVAK, “Human Error / Human Delight”
- Spiritualized, “Everything was Beautiful”
- The Mountain Goats, “Bleed Out”
- Tomberlin, “i don’t know who needs to hear this…”
- Twain, “Noon”
- Viagra Boys, “Cave World”
- Wilco, “Cruel Country”
- Yard Act, “The Overload”
Tier B (albums 51 through 100):
- Alabaster DePlume, “GOLD”
- Andrew Combs, “Sundays”
- Aoife Nessa Frances, “Protector”
- Birds in Row, “Gris Klein”
- Bonny Light Horseman, “Rolling Golden Holy”
- Caitlin Rose, “CAZIMI”
- Charli XCX, “CRASH”
- Cool Sounds, “Like That”
- Courtney Marie Andrews, “Loose Future”
- Crack Cloud, “Tough Baby”
- Dawes, “Misadventures of Doomscroller”
- Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek, “DOST 2”
- Drive-By Truckers, “Welcome 2 Club XIII”
- Drugdealer, “Hiding in Plain Sight”
- Dry Cleaning, “Stumpwork”
- Fievel Is Glauque, “Flaming Swords”
- Florist, “Florist”
- Fontaines DC, “Skinty Fia”
- Garcia Peoples, “Dodging Dues”
- GGGOLDDD, “This Shame Should Not Be Mine”
- Gladie, “Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out”
- Horse Lords, “Comradely Objects”
- Hyd, “CLEARING”
- Jockstrap, “I Love You Jennifer B”
- Julia Jacklin, “PRE PLEASURE”
- Julian Lage, “View With a Room”
- Julianna Riolino, “All Blue”
- King Hannah, “I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me”
- Lalalar, “Bi Cinnete Bakar”
- Lambchop, “The Bible”
- Mary Halvorson, “Amaryllis/Belladonna”
- Medicine Singers, “Medicine Singers”
- MJ Lenderman, “Boat Songs”
- Moriah Bailey, “i tried words”
- No Home, “Young Professional”
- PUP, “THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND”
- Širom, “The Liquified Throne of Simplicity”
- Skullcrusher, “Quiet the Room”
- Soccer Mommy, “Sometimes, Forever”
- Sorry, “Anywhere But Here”
- Stella Donnelly, “Flood”
- Superchunk, “Wild Loneliness”
- Tenci, “A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing”
- The Cactus Blossoms, “One Day”
- The Comet is Coming, “Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam”
- The Delines, “The Sea Drift”
- The Deslondes, “Ways & Means”
- The Weather Station, “How Is It That I Should Look at the Stars”
- Titus Andronicus, “The Will to Live”
- Tyler Childers, “Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven?”
Tier C (albums 101 through 150):
- A.O. Gerber, “Meet Me at the Gloaming”
- Aldous Harding, “Warm Chris”
- Black Flower, “Kala of the Unspoken/Magma”
- Bladee & Ecco2k, “Crest”
- Built to Spill, “When the Wind Forgets Your Name”
- Carly Rae Jepsen, “The Loneliest Time”
- Color Green, “Color Green”
- Daniel Romano’s Outfit, “La Luna”
- Daniel Villarreal, “Panamá 77”
- Dehd, “Blue Skies”
- El Khat, “Albat Alawi Op. 99”
- Erin Rae, “Lighten Up”
- Father John Misty, “Chloë and the Next 20th Century”
- First Aid Kit, “Palomino”
- Futurebirds & Carl Broemel, “Bloomin’ Too”
- Garrett T. Capps, “People are Beautiful”
- Hurray for the Riff Raff, “LIFE ON EARTH”
- Jeremy Ivey, “Invisible Pictures”
- Johanna Warren, “Lessons for Mutants”
- Kevin Morby, “This Is a Photograph”
- Kiwi jr., “Chopper”
- Laurent Bardainne & Tigre D’Eau Douce, “Hymne au soleil”
- Leyla McCalla, “Breaking the Thermometer”
- Little Mazarn, “Texas River Song”
- Lola Kirke, “Lady for Sale”
- Mabe Fratti, “Se Ve Desde Aquí”
- Marlon Williams, “My Boy”
- Mary Gauthier, “Dark Enough to See the Stars”
- Mary Simich, “How Does One Begin”
- Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, “Crooked Tree”
- Muriel Grossman, “Universal Code”
- Orville Peck, “Bronco”
- Pan-American, “The Patience Fader”
- Rhett Miller, “The Misfit”
- Rosalía, “MOTOMAMI”
- Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, “Nightroamer”
- Sharon van Etten, “We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong”
- Simon Joyner, “Songs from a Stolen Guitar”
- Spencer Krug, “Twenty Twenty Twenty Twenty One”
- Sunflower Bean, “Headful of Sugar”
- SZA, “SOS”
- Taylor Swift, “Midnights”
- The Reds, Pinks and Purples, “Summer at Land’s End”
- Tony Molina, “In the Fade”
- TRAAMS, “personal best”
- Villano Antillano, “La Sustancia X”
- Wet Leg, “Wet Leg”
- Wilder Maker, “Male Models”
- Zachary Cale, “Skywriting”
- zannie, “How Do I Get That Star”