Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The List 2022


    Two things were abundantly clear in the shortage- and inflation-plagued year of 2022: First, the ubiquity of streaming platforms did indeed lead to more new music than a human could possibly listen to, but even with the dreck filtered out, the amount of worthy new music made it necessary to bend down and drink from that firehose. There’s simply nothing to be gained from limiting yourself to the familiar, whether your familiar was 1970 or 2015. But the vinyl shortage made it necessary to wait, sometimes months, for physical products from your favorite artists. We use the general rule of thumb here that those on the list must have some kind of physical instantiation of their work (hence no Sylvan Esso, SZA, or Little Simz until 2023, while Megan Thee Stallion is in a strange “manufactured on demand” bardo), but we try to bend the rules a little. The second result of the shortage is the virtual demise of the 7” single, already on the endangered list for the past couple years. This was due as much to changing tastes as to actual shortages, but only the occasional Billie Eilish, Hamilton Leithauser, or GbV 45 rpm seems available in volume. Maybe the death of the physical single is real this time, maybe not.



     The most crushing death of 2022 might have been Mimi Parker of Low, who succumbed to cancer in November at 55, though many media outlets gave more space to departures of musicians in their 80s and 90s, which have to rank as more or less expected. Note also it has been a bad year for drummers in particular, with bass players also endangered. Goodbye to R. Dean Taylor (“Indiana Wants Me”), Bruce Anderson of MX-80 Sound, the incomparable Ronnie Spector, Sonny Turner of The Platters, rapper CPO Boss Hogg, country crooner Dallas Frazier, Detroit Cobras vocalist Rachel Nagy, Tom Smith of experimental band To Live And Shave in L.A., king-size rocker Meat Loaf, Ventures co-founder Don Wilson, Willie Leacox of America, nasty soul queen Betty Davis, King Crimson founder Ian McDonald, King Louie Bankston of Exploding Hearts, Procol Harum pianist Gary Brooker, solo artist and Screaming Trees founder Mark Lanegan, bluegrasser Mac Martin, Foghat drummer Jeff Howell, Denver trumpeter Ron Miles, Timmy Thomas (“Why Can’t We Live Together?”), Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, reggae stars Natty Wailer, Bunny Diamond and Tabby Diamond, “Convoy” crooner C.W. McCall,  early-‘60s teen crooner Bobby Rydell, Chris Bailey of The Saints, Dance Gavin Dance bassist Tim Feerick, blues guitarist Guitar Shorty, Andrew Woolfolk of Earth Wind and Fire, folkie Judy Henske, Judd matriarch Naomi Judd, Ric Parnell of Spinal Tap, Howie Pyro of D Generation, country legend Mickey Gilley, Trevor Strnad of Black Dahlia Murder, Rosmarie Trapp of the Von Trapp Singers, rapper Lil Keed, Move bassist Rick Price, folkie Bob Neuwirth, Yes drummer Alan White, Depeche Mode keyboardist Andy Fletcher, rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins, bluesician Kelly Joe Phelps, Bon Jovi bassist Alec John Such, rapper Trouble, Jim Seals of Seals & Crofts, David Lynch paramour Julee Cruise, Nazareth guitarist Manny Charlton and Nazareth vocalist Dan McCafferty, Happy Mondays bassist Paul Ryder, Suicidal Tendencies bassist Bob Heathcote, rapper JayDaYoungan, Jim Sohns of Shadows of Knight, Impressions singer Sam Gooden, Pogues bassist Darryl Hunt, Lamont Dozier of Holland Dozier Holland, Grease star Olivia Newton-John, Bill Pitman and Gene Cipriano of The Wrecking Crew session musicians, Cradle of Filth guitarist Stuart Anstis, jazz trumpeters Jaimie Branch and Creed Taylor, king of Hammond organ Joey DeFrancesco, rockabilly songwriter Sonny West, rapper PnB Rock, jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis, folkie Jim Post, Anton Fier of Feelies and Golden Palominos and Pere Ubu, Doobie Brothers drummer John Hartman, jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, rapper and actor Coolio, country legend Loretta Lynn, country singer Anita Kerr, punk-rockabilly trendsetter Robert Gordon, REO Speedwagon bassist Gregg Philbin, Diecast vocalist Paul Stoddard, the rock-n-rollin king Jerry Lee Lewis, Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro, gay country singer Patrick Haggerty, Migos rap star Takeoff, teen pop legend Aaron Carter,  Jeff Cook of Alabama, Boomtown Rats guitarist Garry Roberts, Rab Noakes of Stealers Wheel, Public Image Ltd. guitarist Keith Levene, blues guitarist Danny Kalb, Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson, Flashdancer Irene Cara, Fleetwood Mac songbird Christine McVie, Rascals drummer Dino Danelli, Savoy Brown guitarist Kim Simmonds, Terry Hall of The Specials, Felt keyboardist Martin Duffy, singer Maxi Jazz of Faithless, NOLA blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Wasington, punk fashion queen Vivienne Westwood, Ian Tyson of Canadian folk duo Ian and Sylvia, and…..   Isn’t it depressing how long these lists are getting?


Regular Studio Albums, 2022


1.    Wet Leg, s/tFie on those who say they’re sick of the hype. Sometimes a music act and a debut recording live up to billing, and all you can do is nod. Sort of reminds me of The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks – yes, it was hype, and yes, it was perfect.

2.    Black Country, New Road, Ants from Up There – What a shame that Isaac Wood departed the band just as its close-to-perfect sophomore album was released. Sure, it’s a little self-absorbed, but so is most prog-rock.

3.    Edie Carey, The Veil – There were a lot of ponderous folk singer-songwriter albums released in 2022. This was best-of-breed.

4.    Sudan Archives, Natural Brown Prom Queen – Los Angeles violinist Brittney Parks needs a special accolade for supporting and expanding the genre of wildly experimental pop/R&B. Her debut album Athena made jaws drop in late 2019, now she’s broadened further with 18 tracks to expand and blow minds.

5.    Dry Cleaning, Stumpwork – Florence Shaw proves she’s no fluke. This second album of spoken word and chaos is amazing.

6.    Bjork, Fossora – Bjork has spent more time on orchestration and video accompaniments on this album than on any to date, and it shows.

7.    Taylor Swift, Midnights – An odd hybrid of Reputation – era and folk-era Swift, with some exceptional standouts. Yes, it’s worth downloading the extended 3 a.m. edition, even if you risk Swift overdose.

8.    Kristine Leschper, The Opening or Closing of a Door – The founder of Mothers offers up a solo album mixing small chamber orchestra arrangements with her own surrealism. Maybe the loveliest work she’s done.

9.    Yard Act, The Overload – It isn’t just that these Leeds snots fit well with the British crazy-band phenomenon, it’s not just the political insider talk, it’s that they obviously are having a lot of fun.

10.                    Death Cab for Cutie, Asphalt Meadows – Surprise! The band’s most powerful work since Transatlanticism.

11.                    Regina Spektor, Home, Before and After – Too bad her tour got cut short, Regina needs to remind people at every opportunity how damned great she is.

12.                    Gilla Band, Most Normal – 21st-century bands like Gilla, Yard Act, and Dumb, convince us that brash rock is not an endangered species. Yet.

13.                    The Whitmore Sisters, Ghost Stories – Bonnie Whitmore and Eleanor Masterson prove the sister act exceeds all their side projects.

14.                    Jesca Hoop, Order of Romance – Definitely Hoop’s best solo work, and an impressive look at the many ages of love.

15.                    Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers – Lamar thankfully gave us a jaw dropper in 2022 to rival Damn and To Pimp a Butterfly, as very few hip-hop artists came anywhere close to releasing a stunner in 2022. Sweatshirt, perhaps, though no physical version of Sick  yet. Maybe Tyler, but he’s more Gil Scott-Heron than rapper these days.

16.                    Bodega, Broken Equipment – Brooklyn’s chaotic Parquet Courts spinoff proves it can keep exceeding expectations time after time.

17.                    Spoon, Lucifer on the Sofa – Britt Daniels returns with a strident and perfectly-executed release. If Mexico City is any indication, Spoon is back on top.

18.                    Beach Bunny, Emotional Creature – There are many great new women singer-songwriters out there these days, and some have tight backing bands. But Lili Trifilio beats them all with a stunning sophomore release (not counting the many EPs).

19.                    Bartees Strange, Farm to Table – Say what you will about Strange redefining indie-rock and R&B realms with a distinct voice and arrangement style, this is the type of work that gets under your skin.

20.                    bis, Systems Music for Home Defence – The Glasgow 1990s teeny-boppers are 21st-century high-speed disco wizards, like worthy successors to The B-52s, or maybe a Remain In Light – era Talking Heads played at a higher turntable speed.

21.                    Lizzo, Special – A boisterous and ambitious album, with far more unique and memorable content than Beyonce’s new one.

22.                    Aldous Harding, Warm Chris – Harding’s most impressive work yet, with adventurous arrangements.

23.                    Rosalia, Motomami – A lot of listeners tend to put this in the bilingual dance category, without realizing what an experimentalist Rosalia can be.

24.                    Porcupine Tree, Closure/Continuation – Great to have Porcupine Tree back, and even if Steven’s progressive-rock styling seems a bit 1970s, the album as a whole is 21st century all the way.

25.                    The Young Fables, Pages – By handling the grief of her father’s and sister’s deaths, Laurel Wright proves she and Wes Lunsford are far more than an awesome country duo.

26.                    Cate Le Bon, Pompeii – Many were calling this Cate’s best work, and a potential best-of. It was beautiful, but came across a bit gauzy and indistinct for me.

27.                    Big Thief, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You – It’s like Big Thief took an element from every menu item that made for a great folk/bluegrass/Americana album and put them all together. Exhausting, but impressive.

28.                    The Beths, Expert in a Dying Field – The New Zealand charmers just keep expanding their envelope further.

29.                    Florence + The Machine, Dance Fever – Don’t be fooled by the title, this is Florence at her most sullen and introspective, and it’s a winner.

30.                    Maggie Rogers, Surrender – A better sophomore effort than the likes of King Princess, because Rogers mixes greater lyrical maturity with some very unique and beat-heavy arrangements.

31.                    The Weather Station, How Is It That I Should Look at the Stars – This is not a mere companion album to Ignorance. It’s a powerful work in its own right.

32.                    Hurray for the Riff Raff, Life On Earth – The first environmental work from Alynda Segarra, and one that works much better than might have been expected.

33.                    Jack White, Fear of the Dawn – The more ambitious and interesting of the two albums he released in 2022, this one takes us from Cab Calloway to the 21st century.

34.                    Superorganism, World Wide Pop – How does one even begin to describe this band? Like Negativland meets Melt-Banana? Definitely some Situationist social critique going on, but a lot of dancing, too.

35.                    The Claudettes, Go Out – Johnny Iguana crafted this as a slower and somewhat torch-style delivery for the vocal talents of Berit Ulseth. Best opening song on an album this year.

36.                    The Cowsills, Rhythm of the World – Yes, they’re back with new material, and some finely crafted songs, at that.

37.                    The Comet is Coming, Hyperdimensional Expansion Beam –This is Shabaka’s best band, despite the great moments of Sons of Kemet.

38.                    Leslie Keffer, Temple – The unexpected return of a latter-day noise queen, returning to a new kind of spiritualism.

39.                    The Weeknd, Dawn FM – The first great release of early 2022, and a nice concept-like piece with Jim Carrey as DJ.

40.                    The Linda Lindas, Growing Up – A solid hook-filled piece of teenage new-riot-grrl pop. No clever hooks were spared in the making of the album.

41.                    Perfume Genius, The Ugly Season – Usually I find PG’s albums a trifle melodramatic, but this double album is an experimental ode to dance, and it shimmers.

42.                    Sharon Van Etten, We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong – Many fans considered this one difficult, but it spoke to me very well, albeit not in a top ten sense.

43.                    …and you will know us by the trail of dead, XI: Bleed Here Now – The 11th studio album by the Austin collective adds something from every prog-rock category in one massive work, yet it still doesn’t take itself too seriously.

44.                    Elvis Costello, Boy Named If – A return to 1980s form, which is a nice rocking thing in and of itself, but EC throws a little concept approach into the mix.

45.                    Lera Lynn, Something More Than Love – Another Lera Lynn studio outing, another winner. Lather, rinse, repeat.

46.                    The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cool It Down – A thankful return to recording, though Karen O. seems a little exhausted at being everyone’s fashion queen. So sad to hear of Nick Zimmer’s hospitalization.

47.                    Black Midi, Hellfire – It seems the new British Dadaist bands are established enough that Black Midi has gotten into the meta-analysis phase. This album has many great moments, though not as immediately-improv as the first two albums.

48.                    Fontaines DC, Skinty Fia – Always glad to hear post-punkers say they are directly influenced by the great Irish poets. It may not always be obvious, but these Dubliners try to keep it real.

49.                    Guided by Voices, Crystal Nuns Cathedral – Another great album from the Bare/Gillard phase of GbV. Of course it’s essential, aren’t they all?

50.                    Plosivs, s/t – A fine successor for the members of Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, and all that goes along with the tribe.

51.                    Belle & Sebastian, A Bit of Previous – Yes, you can make great music being twee and collegiate in your 40s and 50s. Here’s proof.

52.                    Charli XCX, CRASH – Charli comes across as a British Rosalia in this outing, very exhibitionist and very brash.

53.                    Lambchop, The Bible – Kurt Wagner wants you to know, through the band members, lyrics, and scope, that this album is epic. I agree, though its message escapes me.

54.                    Brian Eno, Foreverandevernomore – One of the first times Eno has brought together his lyrical and ambient sides, in service of telling the story of the end of humans on the planet.

55.                    Aoife O’Donovan, Age of Apathy – When you say, “Often resembles a very early Joni Mitchell in delivery,” it can be the kiss of death for folks worrying about derivative performances. But O’Donovan is simply amazing.

56.                    Alvvays, Blue Rev – The band makes a leap beyond dreampop into more declarative music and vocals. Utterly enjoy it, though I can’t see it in the Top Ten where many place it.

57.                    Stella Donnelly, Flood – The woman that defines the Perth Sound, Stella’s second full-length is as fine a piece of pop as you’ll find anywhere.

58.                    Afghan Whigs, How Do You Burn? – Greg Dulli’s back with his most exciting work in years.

59.                    The Smile, A Light for Attracting Attention – More often than not, when Thom Yorke embarks on a side project, it rocks more consistently than any Radiohead album. The rule of thumb holds here, a fun break from Radiohead gravity.

60.                    Jenny Hval, Classic Objects – Maybe the best art-rocker from Scandinavia, Hval just keeps coming back again and again with impressive works.

61.                    Methyl Ethyl, Are You Haunted? – This is the weirder, artier end of The Perth Sound, and the most intriguing thing to come out of western Australia since The Go-Betweens.

62.                    Dumb, Pray for Tomorrow – Thanks to Dan T. for turning me on to someone who brings the notion of fresh back to indie music.

63.                    Bill Orcutt, Music for Four Guitars – What a treat to see an avant-garde guitarist who dwells way outside the Oort Cloud, develop a rabid mainstream fan base. The fact that this was a collaborative quartet probably played a role in bringing Orcutt to a wider audience.

64.                    Anais Mitchell, s/t – After all the years of Anais putting all her time into Hadestown, we get a solo album and a new Bonny Light Horseman, all at once! This album is a reflection of her new life in New York City, with plenty of wonderful tunes.

65.                    First Aid Kit, Palomino – The Swedish sisters took the “go big or go home” slogan to heart after a short absence from the scene, coming back with a larger than life work.

66.                    Archers of Loaf, Reason in Decline – To all the skeptics saying “This doesn’t sound like Archers of Loaf!”, Eric Bachmann spent more than 20 years with Crooked Fingers and his solo work, and this reunion album should be seen as more of an extension of that. Which makes it more relevant for the 21st century.

67.                    King Princess, Hold On, Baby --  Mikaela Mullaney Straus, aka King Princess, had a very Broadway-style debut album. Here, Straus offers a sadder and more sober set of songs, reminiscent of Courtney Barnett’s most recent album. It’s better than repeating another album of Broadway production, but also makes for a quiet sophomore release.

68.                    Mitski, Laurel Hell – Her voice is more passionate than ever, though the arrangements on this one didn’t hit me as much as Be the Cowboy.

69.                    Beyonce, Renaissance – OK, this is indeed an interesting homage to the dancefloor, and since it is supposed to be the first in a trilogy, I will reserve judgment in part. But it seems the Queen B’s are doing their best to convince everyone this is Top Ten material, when it simply isn’t. Lavish production does not a classic album make.

70.                    Weyes Blood, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow – In her past albums, I thought Natalie Mering had gotten bit angsty and melodramatic, but this release gets the mix right, adding orchestration without getting heavy. A beautiful work.

71.                    The Mountain Goats, Bleed Out – This concept album on hero-antihero movies had some very decent songs on it, and they follow the new lusher MGs format, but I didn’t make as much of a gut connection here.

72.                    Beth Orton, Weather Alive – So relieved to see Orton back in the studio after all the health problems she’s experienced. The arrangements are to die for, she makes the huskier voice work for her, but I don’t find the Top Ten quality other reviewers do,

73.                    Harry Styles, Harry’s House – If you listened to the whole album not knowing it was One Direction’s Styles, you’d wonder who could come up with such consistently interesting pop. But Harry’s an expert at that.

74.                    Joan Shelley, The Spur – Back in the summer, I compared this favorably with Edie Carey’s The Veil, but it still doesn’t rank in my top three Shelley albums, though it’s still stunning.

75.                    Arcade Fire, We – I had such a problem with this. It seemed the band really wanted to make a new creative start, but then the new allegations about Win Butler came out, and the entire band experienced a mini-meltdown. So sad.

76.                    Florist, s/t – The fourth and eponymous album from Emily Sprague and partners, this with a broader reach than Emily Alone.

77.                    Neil Young and Crazy Horse, World Record – Three of the last four Decembers have seen new Crazy Horse albums released. This one is a two-disc set (not really necessary based on time), with Neil offering diatribes on the end of the planet. With all the Neil material pouring out of Neil Young Archives, it’s easy to get a little bit overwhelmed with Neil.

78.                    Angel Olsen, Big Time – A classic of slow country delivery, though that does not move me as much as some of Olsen’s less-country albums.

79.                    Guided by Voices, Trembling and Goggles by Rank – Maybe not as polished as Crystal Nuns, but a keeper just the same

80.                    Palm, Nicks and Grazes --  More experimental electronic chaos by folks who remain far ahead of that particular curve.

81.                    Jack White, Entering Heaven Alive – A quasi-acoustic album which has good moments, but not nearly as good as his first 2022 album, Fear of the Dawn

82.                    Carly Rae Jepsen, The Loneliest Time – Although unlucky enough to launch a new album on Taylor Swift week, Carly Rae did so with grace and lots of pop sensibility.

83.                    Andrew Bird, Inside Problems – The first release in a while where Bird has taken entirely new directions, with an emphasis on self-disclosure. And now he’s expanding his Gezelligheid winter performances with My Brightest Diamond.

84.                    Camp Cope, Running with the Hurricane – I think of this Australian quartet in much the same way I think of Warpaint, powerful women with a message of liberation. Worth your time.

85.                    FKA Twigs, Caprisongs – A “mixtape” powerful enough to be a straight-up Twigs release, though much more lighthearted than much of her work.

86.                    Danger Mouse and Black Thought, Cheat Codes – A long-anticipated and unusual hybrid of hip-hop and social-change EDM.

87.                    Father John Misty, Chloe and the New 20th Century – An interesting and subdued piece for FJM, playing like a 1930s Busby Berkeley film.

88.                    Sports Team, GULP! – A British band jocky enough to win a mass audience while weird enough to deserve entry into the British Dadaist band category. Well played.

89.                    Okay Kaya, SAP – More playful experimentalism from an artist who remembers how to keep wonder paramount.

90.                    Destroyer, Labyrinthitis – Usually, Dan Bejar’s cryptic nature and unique arrangements are what make Destroyer great, but this album left me scratching my head.

91.                    Wilco, Cruel Country – A two-record set of country lamentations should have been just the thing Wilco needed, and individual songs grabbed me, but the end result was just OK.

92.                    Rain Perry, A White Album – As the title would suggest, this is a folk-rock album about privilege, and it works rather well.

93.                    Soccer Mommy, Sometimes, Forever – Many critics were calling this Sophie Allison’s most mature work. Didn’t grab me a whole lot, though it’s Soccer Mommy, so still a worthy release.

94.                    Silversun Pickups, Physical Thrills – One of the best of SP’s albums, thanks largely to Nikki Monninger’s contributions.

95.                    Bonny Light Horseman, Rolling Golden Holy – Anais Mitchell puts her effort into this as well as a solo album, and the trio opts for original tunes rather than the traditional works in their first album. Good stuff.

96.                    SOAK, If I Never Know You Like This Again – Now that Van Morrison has been reduced to parody, we can say that SOAK is the frankest, most straightforward songwriter out of Northern Ireland right now.

97.                    Lykke Li, eyeye – In theory, this represented a move forward for Li, though the compositions were a bit ethereal.

98.                    Cass McCombs, heartmind – As usual with Cass, there are brilliant dispatches of lyrics along with odd directions in arrangement with leave the listener wondering what is going on.

99.                    Pixies, Doggerel – I don’t know why people rag on Frank Black for wanting to turn Pixies into a countryish-rock group. The Neil Young sound works well for the band.

100.                Interpol, The Other Side of Make Believe – No true shifts in direction for Interpol, but some solid new songs.

101.                Post Malone, 12-Carat Toothache – Some folks are bitching that this is the most commercial PM to date, but the songs work for me, and the album art is cool as well.

102.                Lucius, Second Nature – I’m a fan of anything this duo puts out. The kind of music great live concerts are made from.

103.                Plains, s/t – Katie Crutchfield and Jess Williamson pair up for a very unpretentious set of country tunes.

104.                Jockstrap, I Love You Jennifer B – Critics are absolutely gaga over this duo. I enjoyed this album, but wasn’t bowled over.

105.                Preoccupations, Arrangements – The Calgary band formerly know as Viet Cong is back with mournful tunes suggestive of Interpol. Good return to the fold, though a short album.

106.                Bonnie Raitt, Just Like That – So she’s not on top of the publicity heap any more, she still makes great blues-rock, which is an accomplishment on its own.

107.                Midlake, For the Sake of Bethel Woods – Midlake is back! Sort of a Woodstock conceptual piece, interesting in many ways.

108.                Smut, How the Light Felt – This Chicago band has the definite feel of Mazzy Star. Tay Roebuck’s vocals are too exciting to be called shoegaze, still….

109.                Shearwater, The Great Awakening – This feels more like an enhanced Jonathan Meiburg solo album than a Shearwater group effort, but it’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from the band.

110.                Earl Sweatshirt, SICK! – This only got demoted a bit for being way behind in physical copies being out. It was a surprise diatribe on Covid casualties among his friends, inserted before his next proper release, but it deserves its own CD or LP release, which is being promised for some future time.

111.                Jethro Tull, The Zealot Game – Ian Anderson revived the JT name for an album that is a j’accuse for the 21st century – which certainly deserves it.

112.               White Lung, Premonition – It’s great to have White Lung back, but it’s only the harmonic songs like “Under Glass” that are truly memorable.

113.          Disq, Desperately Imagining Someplace Quiet – I love the way this indie quartet starts with melodic songs and smears noise and special effects all over them. A fun listen.

114.                Tyler the Creator, Call Me If You Get Lost – This was a two-record set without heavy intent, continuing with more of the melodic R&B base he’s favored of late.

115.                Sasami, Squeeze – An interesting leap, to have her second album turn into a praise of metal, at least of a sort. Fascinating.

116.                Nicki Bluhm, Avondale Drive – No Gramblers necessary for backup here, this is just pure unadulterated Nicki.

117.                Laura Veirs, Found Light – After her 2020 divorce album from Tucker Martine, this constituted her recovery album, full of surprises.

118.                Wu Lu, Loggerhead – You thought this was going to be a Brixton political hip-hop album? So did most people. There’s a lot going on here, in several dimensions.

119.                Carmen Villain, Only Love from Now On – Carmen offers some of the warmest experimentalism out there.

120.                Charalambides, What is to Come – Good to know Tom and Christina are still continuing their work.

121.                May Erlewine, Tiny Beautiful Things – The Michigan songbird definitely needs a wider audience, and this album is an ideal vehicle.

122.                Khruangbin with Vieux Farka Toure, Ali – A soaring and beautiful album to honor Farka Toure’s father Ali.

123.                Joe Rainey,  Niineta – Have to admit, this may be the first experimental powwow album I’ve ever heard. Interesting.

124.                Drive By Truckers, Welcome 2 Club XIII – After two blazing political albums, I suppose it was time for DBT to stretch out and have fun. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

125.                Urge Overkill, Oui – Here’s a reunion that the world should have paid more attention to, but then again, I sort of underplayed it myself.

126.                The 1975, Being Funny in a Foreign Language – I’ll give Matty Healy credit for bringing in Jack Antonoff and BJ Burton to try and make the band’s music more serious, but when Healy continues his histrionics and eats raw meat on stage, it’s sort of a lost cause. Still, an interesting album.

127.                Alt-J, The Dream – The band tries to be less pretentious and more adventurous here, but still occasionally get stuck in an Alt-J groove.

128.                Dawn Richard and Spencer Zahn, Pigments – Since Dawn often lives in the sort of sci-fi R&B neighborhood favored by Janelle Monae, it’s quite a surprise to hear this floaty, almost new age ethereal piece.

129.                Bill Callahan, ytilaeR – A more interesting collection of songs than his last outing, and Callahan feels less like he’s morphing into a grumpy old man.

130.                Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal, Green Light --  New songs that pay tribute to big-band soul, the funkiest thing in Nebraska.

131.                Animal Collective, Time Skiffs – It would be great to say Animal Collective is pursuing new directions, but since they’ve been just about everywhere, we can just say it’s another new AC album.

132.                Warpaint, Radiate Like This – Good to have the band back, though this has a fuzzier, more indistinct sound than earlier albums.

133.                Fanclubwallet, You Have Got to Be Kidding Me – It’s still early in the career of Hannah Judge, but you can already tell the project has a future.

134.                The Lumineers, Brightside – Lumineers is never as bad as some Denver residents insist; in fact, their last three albums have featured some very memorable tracks.

135.                Beach House, once twice melody – Maybe I wouldn’t have ranked this so low if BH hadn’t been trying so hard to insist it was epic. It’s a long, involved album, but a little bit of underselling might have helped.

136.                The Mars Volta, s/t – The founders keep switching identities between Mars Volta and At the Drive In, but this does not seem to be a typical MV album at all. It has exciting elements to it, but doesn’t seem to quite hang together.

137.                Raw Poetic, Space Beyond the Solar System – Jason Moore is more of a performance poet than a rapper, and this album spotlights his work with other poets. The melodic interludes go all over the place in this long and expansive work.

138.                Sarah Borger, Together Alone – I was heartbroken to miss her set at Lulu’s, as she is defining a rowdy sort of juke-joint singer for the 2020s.

139.                Let’s Eat Grandma, Two Ribbons – Norwich post-teens Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth continue to perfect their experimental psychedelic pop, and are broadening their US audience.

140.                Phoenix, Alpha Zulu – Glad to hear Thomas Mars and band have more energy again, but the music still seems a bit stuck in arena-rock.

141.                !!!, Let It Be Blue – There comes a time when a downtown NYC dance band begins to tire a little, and this may be that time for chk-chk-chk.

142.                Drugdealer, Hiding in Plain Sight – Michael Collins was actually starting to build a rabid fan base with his Drugdealer project, but was ready to call it quits, when he met Annette Peacock in Marfa, TX, who gave him advice about how to revamp the band. I’m liking the result.

143.                Amanda Shires, Take It Like a Man – I wanted to like this album from Jason Isbell’s wife a lot better than I did, but she let too much orchestration get in the way of her songs.

144.                Hatchie, Giving the World Away – Slightly poppier and less breathier than earlier work, Hatchie appears to be solidifying her voice and approach.

145.                Curse of Lono, People in Cars – Still a bit tied to the baritone sadness that characterizes Nick Cave or Tindersticks, this band nevertheless is trying to widen its arrangements.

146.                Hot Chip, Freakout/Release – The band still tries to take a young approach to dance music, though they’re moving on into mid-40s.

147.                3 Pairs of Boots, Mighty Love – The second album from this country duo, and a decent collection of original material.

148.                Titus Andronicus, Will to Live --  Patrick Stickles wants his New Jersey punk band to be big and relevant, but he was stuck in a rut lately. This represents a return to form, although it tries too hard to be epic at times.

149.                Yungblud, s/t – For a British vocalist who actually has some nice pop styles, why does Yungblud feel the need to look like Billy Idol as a zombie? The persona is sort of dumb.

150.                Broken Bells, Into the Blue – A decent enough return effort by James Mercer and Brian Burton, but Mercer has started to bug me with the arrogant way he carries his Shins and Broken Bells work.

151.                Ty Segall, Hello Hi – This is why I’m ambivalent about Ty. I’m anxious to hear the 2023 CIA collaboration, but this collection of acoustic numbers is just OK.

152.                Band of Horses, Things Are Great – The band likes to leave the impression of never standing still, but often their work sounds the same, album to album.

153.                Carobae, Scared to Go to Sleep – Caroline Baker is still a bit rough cut, but as Carobae, she is the perfect DIY artist. You’ll be hearing more.

154.                Tenci, A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing – This is folk music of a sort, but Jess Shoman makes music quite unlike anything else out there, even if it’s a little new-age-hippie at times.

155.                The Rave-Ups, Tomorrow – A nice reunion from a band that’s way more than cowpunk.

156.                Son Little, Like Neptune – A very interesting R&B effort covering tough personal subjects.

157.                Kevin Morby, This is a Photograph – I’m enjoying Morby’s duo work with Katie Crutchfield, but his solo albums always sound a little too 1970s-vocalist for my taste.

158.                The Waymores, Stone Sessions – A fun and lively set from an Atlanta juke-joint duo.

159.                John McCutcheon, Leap! – This is McCutcheon’s third album in three years, and the breadth of original material he’s releasing is astonishing, really.

160.                Omni of Halos, s/t – A Swedish noisy-rock indie band that tries to bring back the more chaotic part of the 1990s.

161.                Bird Streets, Lagoon – I’ve always appreciated John Brodeur’s ability to sound like Badfinger, but his tendency to sadness and regret can ground him.

162.                Orville Peck, Bronco – The problem with the novelty of gay masked cowboy is that with your second album, you have to come up with something new. That only sort of happens here.

163.                Two-Door Cinema Club, Keep On Smiling – Even at their best, this band tried to be too sparkling. After a lull, Two-Door is back with new energy, but that energy seems forced.

164.                The Handcuffs, Burn the Rails – Some bands can reintroduce swagger without stepping all over themselves. This album is their most fun yet.

165.                Cloud Cult, Metamophorsis –I appreciate the experimental side of Craig Minowa, but his melodrama keeps the band from being the mega-stars they might be. This is a nice return after an extended absence, but falls victim to that over-sincerity.

166.                Frankie Cosmos, Inner World Peace – Greta Klein actually accomplishes a nice job of self-analysis, but it’s hard to balance goofy and sincere sides.

167.                Pedro the Lion, Havasu – I like David Bazan’s Arizona series as a concept, but I find myself drifting.

168.                Soraia, Bloom – I want to take ZouZou Mansour’s 1970s hard-rock-women band at face value, but sometimes it’s hard to decide how much tongue is in cheek. A cover of KISS’s “Strutter”? Really?

169.                Evan Cartwright, Bit by Bit – The Toronto drummer for The Weather Station gives us spoken poetry and percussion, a little eclectic, but interesting

170.                Chelsea Jade, Soft Spot – Is it dreampop? Is it R&B? Whatever it is, the South Africa-born Jade has a big audience in the ANZUS nations. Still trying to decide how serious she is.

171.                Matt Kivel, bend reality like a wave – An intriguing bit of pop wonder from an ally of Bonnie Prince Billy.

172.                Judah and the Lion, Revival – This Nashville duo has roots in Christian rock, which is why everything sounds a little too happy and full of optimism, with mediocre lyrics attached.

173.                Bren Holmes, Everything You Never Wanted – The Young Dubliners bassist actually makes a decent singer-songwriter album!

174.                A Place to Bury Strangers, See Through You – I get some value in their arrangements, but there’s still too much of an unpleasant aura of Goth for my tastes.

175.                GIFT, Momentary Presence – Interesting in its own way, TJ Freda explores Baba Ram Dass and gives us a historic exploration of psychedelia.

176.                Eels, Extreme Witchcraft – OK, Mark E. is slowly pulling out of his self-absorbed depression, but he still has a long way to go to make it back to days of early Eels albums.

177.                Arctic Monkeys, The Car – Notice how far down this is? I’ve followed Alex through a lot of twists and turns, and there are a few good lyrics and arrangements here, but where the hell did he get the notion that emulating Nat King Cole and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra would be a good idea?

178.                Black Keys, Dropout Blues – So am I picking on Black Keys solely due to Patrick Carney’s dust-up with wife Michelle Branch? Well, yes and no. Black Keys have been annoying me for the last few years, though Dan Auerbach provides something of value every once in a while. Carney, however, is a total dick, and I wish Michelle would have gone through with the divorce.



Special Albums (Live, Compilations, Splits, CD-Rs, MP3, etc.)


1.    Tedeschi-Trucks Band, I Am the Moon, Vols. 1-4 – This combines four albums and accompanying films to tell a Persian fable about a pandemic. Truly something out of character for this band, and worthy of attention.

2.    Lora Logic/Essential Logic, Logically Yours  -- She’s back! The wild saxophonist who disappeared inside a Krishna house in 1982 has returned with a four-LP retrospective and a brand-new studio LP, Land of Kali. Her first live show in decades, on Dec. 1, 2022, proved this is no fluke. Statistically, this is more than OK.

3.    SAULT, Six and More – The five CDs of free downloads SAULT put online in late October are mostly gospel free-jazz, though ending with a session of a children’s chorale backed by a metal band. This is all serves as proof that you never know what you might get with SAULT.

4.    Black Midi, Live Fire – Surprisingly even more coherent than their 2022 studio album.

5.    Zoh Amba, O Sun/Bhakti – If Lora Logic was the 15-year-old saxophone hero of 1976, Amba is the 23-year-old saxophone hero of 2022. Two 2022 releases from Tzadik and Mahakala spotlight her ensemble work.

6.    Eszter Balint, I HATE MEMORY! – The Hungarian refugee and queen of the 80s downtown scene comes back with an “anti-musical” that marketers will tell you is full of punk rhythms and cool spoken-word poetry, but it’s also graced with passionate singing dwelling somewhere between Laurie Anderson and Joy Eden Harrison.

7.    Bruce Springsteen, Only the Strong Survive --  I’m pissed enough at Bruce for his dynamic pricing fiasco with Ticketbastard (and his “apology” was far less believable than Taylor Swift’s), that I should boycott him, but damn these Motown covers are good!

8.    Climax Golden Twins, Double – It’s been years since we’ve heard from these cryptic experimentalists, but this self-titled double album is a jam session of Seattle strange artists, including Jeph Jerman, A-Frames, and The Bishop Brothers.

9.    Heather Maloney, No Shortcuts Live – When is the world going to appreciate this remarkable singer-songwriter?

10.          Bill Orcutt, The Entertainer/New Words – A new limited release from the Fake Estates label.

11.          Mark Stewart, VS – The Pop Group’s founder offers a strange mix of political collaborations and remixes.

12.          Various Artists, Dig Me In – A reinterpretation of Sleater-Kinney’s Dig Me Out, just as fun as it sounds.

13.          Various Artists, Americana Railroad – My only gripe is where was Stephan Merritt for this collection of songs about trains? Never mind, folks like Peter Case, Carla Olson, and Don Flemons are along for the ride.

14.       Tall Dwarfs, Unravelled – A double-length collection of their best lo-fi work from early 1980s to 1990.

15.          Boy Harsher, The Runner OST – It’s taken me a while to realize just how interesting Boy Harsher is, and this soundtrack spotlights the duo’s best efforts.

16.          Fleet Foxes, A Very Lonely Solstice – A live version of FF’s latest, which some might deem unnecessary since the band is now Robin Pecknold, but what the heck. Interesting.

17.          Rochelle Jordan, Play with the Changes Remixes – It’s been a while since a good R&B remix album, and this is it.

18.          Blanck Mass, Ted OST – I’ll admit it, I’m beginning to look forward to new Blanck Mass work more than Fuck Buttons work.

19.      The Smile, Live at Montreux Jazz Festival July 2022 -- Thom Yorke's new work in the studio is more rocking than Radiohead, but a big unformed. When performed live, however, Smile songs are big and bold.

20.          My Morning Jacket, Live from Studio A – Nice to hear Jim James sound so live and unrehearsed for a change.

21.          Neil Young, Toast – This was billed as a “great lost Young album,” but a lot of albums have been getting that billing since Young began dumping everything out of his archives. This one was more a reworking of Are You Passionate?  tunes than a true lost album.

22.          Cat Power, Covers – On her third release of cover songs, Cat Power displays once again that she always dishes out nice works written by others.

23.          Fucked Up, Do All Words Can Do – A release of extras from the last studio session, to prepare us for a new full-length in early 2023.

24.          Guided by Voices, Scalping the Guru – Technically, this shouldn’t qualify, since all tracks were released in earlier 1990s EPs, but the presence of “Big School” makes us bend the rules.

25.          The Left Banke, Strangers on a Train – Collecting all the later and unreleased work of Left Banke, of “Walk Away Renee’ fame.

26.          Brandi Carlile, In the Canyon Haze – This was really just an expanded edition of last year’s studio release, but Carlile has done so many great things for so many people in 2022, we’ll squeeze this in.

27.          The Senders, All Killer No Filler – The presence of guests like Wayne Kramer and Johnny Thunders on this overview of an ‘80s band should make it essential, though The Senders were pretty rough-cut.


Singles and EPs

                An unusually truncated list this year. Note that both 2-3 and 4-5 were dual EP releases in one year from Alicia Blue and The Accidentals. An interesting trend, but only slightly different than staggered releases of singles. Physical singles in CD or 45/12” formats were becoming very hard to find. I might have missed several, but they are rare.


1.    Maria T, Afternoon Destroyer – It’s wonderful to have Maria’s fine guitar and equally fine voice back in the game, since she’s been keeping a low music profile since the days of the No Other duo. Bonus points for the physical cassette release. Be sure to download the aperitif track, “Most Perfect Thing,” as the perfect pairing.

2.    Alicia Blue, Inner Child Work 1

3.    Alicia Blue, Inner Child Work 2 – What an unexpected dual gift from an L.A.-to-Nashville songwriter with a singing style and a lyrical turn of phrase that is very special. If I chose individual songs of the year, “Don’t Tell Me to Smile” would be way up there.

4.    The Accidentals, Time Out Session 1

5.    The Accidentals, Time Out Session 2 – In which the Traverse City wunderkids share songwriting and studio sessions with worthy compatriots. Hard to keep The Accidentals still for two seconds.

6.    Marissa Nadler, Wrath of the Clouds – Not a Path of the Clouds outtakes release in any sense, this one has some very cool additions to the 2021 main event.

7.    Lake Street Dive, Fun Machine Sequel – More cover tunes one would not expect from this band, though you rarely know what to expect with LSD. The vinyl version sticks three Beatles singles on the end, almost enough to declare it an album.

8.    Guided by Voices, “Alex Bell” – Leave it to Uncle Bob to grace us with a 45 when no one else will.