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Year End Lists – Individual

As we enjoy the countless year-end best-of festivities, let’s not forget the wonderful album artwork that 2023 has brought us. Below is a list of 100 of the best covers I saw all year, not ranked by quality but following a vague progression of color and shape. As always, this is by no means an exhaustive list, as many iconic artworks were left on the cutting room floor, but I think it all adds up to my favorite collage yet! Have fun, and here’s to another year of great album covers! — neekafat

Click or tap the 10×10 grid for the high-res image:




The Albums:
Young Fathers // Heavy Heavy

Madeline Kenney // A New Reality Mind

Gretta Ray // Positive Spin

Ulrika Spacek // Compact Trauma

The Hirs Collective // We’re Still Here

Allison Russell // The Returner

Jeff Rosenstock // HELLMODE

Beta Librae // DAYSTAR

Covet // catharsis

Indigo De Souza // All of This Will End

Ayesha // Rhythm is Memory

George Clanton // Ooh Rap I Ya

Altin Gün // Aşk

Beth Bombara // It All Goes Up

Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean // Obsession Destruction

Blood Incantation // Luminescent Bridge

Hail the Sun // Divine Inner TensionAlbum Review: Hail the Sun - 'Divine Inner Tension' - The Alternative



Negative Blast – Echo Planet

Simply put; Echo Planet is a rip-roaring walk down memory lane for me. It’s a hard-hitting hardcore punk album that manages to capture the zeitgeist of the mid-noughties’ punk scene, procuring all of its greatest attributes along the way. If you’re a fan of bands like The Bronx, Fucked Up, or Paint it Black, this will satisfy your needs in every conceivable way. A ferocious banger in every sense of the word, and it wastes absolutely none of your time while doing it.


Orsartag – Found Wisdom: Symphonic Tribute to Burzum

Found Wisdom: Symphonic Tribute to Burzum is a novel idea, but one that works really well. Taking various numbers from across Burzum’s broad body of work, this album sets out to give you a fresh perspective on these (mostly) beloved tracks. Admittedly, the album is at its strongest when it is reinterpreting Burzum’s heavier side – namely the golden age of the band – than the synth sound adorning later works, but nevertheless, the album is packed with excellent renditions and is sure to win you over if you’re a fan of the band.


Paramore – This is Why

As far as albums go, This is Why ticks all of the right boxes for me. For any long-standing band, it can be hard keeping things fresh, but This is Why’s post-punk leanings and relatively lean run time make it a worthwhile entry for the band. Paramore ensures their…

What a year for the site and for music. Within the genres I listen to, I wouldn’t say there was anything significant that happened.

In the world of metal… Floor had another baby. Mike Portnoy rejoined Dream Theater. What else? Musically speaking, it seems like the metal genre (and its sub-genres) are content to keep things status quo for now. I’m not sure what needs to happen for that to change, and I’m sure there are some ground breaking bands out there, but I didn’t hear them. We can chalk that up to age and apathy, I’m assuming.

Industrial is pretty much a dead genre with nothing truly significant being released — and Skinny Puppy did their final tour before calling it quits.

As for indie pop… I don’t really track that genre, I just stumble across albums I enjoy from time to time, so NSTR.

As for the website, we’ve gone ahead and stuck some more duct tape over another hole in an attempt to keep it functional. So, pay no attention to the corpse behind the curtain.

As always, these were my favorite albums of the year regardless of originality, impact on any genre, or any other superfluous qualifier. The only thing that mattered was how much I personally enjoyed it.


50. Nospun – Opus

Genre: Progressive Metal // Review
Recommended Track: The Death

JAW Awards Music Awards BEST 2023

(all of them!)

Welcome back the site’s most cold-blooded annual honour call of congratulatory fluff!

jaw shark


The year is about to end: it is time for new JAWs. I don’t know what JAW stands for. It is a new and deeply prestigious award – so much so that 2022 saw just one (!) JAW awarded, for best debut This was because I was too busy screaming into a paper bag last year about how many quality records had come out to pull up my gloves and choose which ones to reward (unless they were from fresh meat). It was a great year!

2023 is an altogether different story: an abundance of chaff and my own arbitrarily higher motivation levels have sustained six (!) JAWs this year! Find out what these are overcompensating for on literally every other year-end list (including the one I will inevitably publish later), but for now get yourselves set for: folk record, pop record, metal record, [[hard/metal/]] grind -core record, banger record and EP of the year. There will be no AOTY winner drawn from a pool exclusively made up of LPs because I have just enough grey matter to recognise what a silly idea this is and has always been. There will be no AOTY winner drawn from a pool including all formats because I’ll be dropping an exhaustive year-ranking as a list later – so no redundant double-posts!

2023-2024 GIFs on GIPHY - Be Animated

Well, it’s that time of year again when I compose a needlessly elaborate blog post highlighting my favorite (and least favorite) musical happenings of the year. You and your extended family know it as Sowing’s Music Awards, and it’s been an on-and-off tradition for NINE years now, thus proving that I do not quite have the quality of life I thought I did. Take a gander at the past winners, all of whom have been enshrined in immortality:


2014 – Low Roar: 0

Carrie & Lowell
2015 – Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell

2016 – Yellowcard: Yellowcard

A Black Mile To The Surface
*2017 – Manchester Orchestra: A Black Mile to the Surface

Untitled Album
2018 – mewithoutYou: [Untitled]

Lana Del Rey
2019 – Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell!

*2020 – Honey Harper: Starmaker

2021 – Iosonouncane: IRA

*2022 – Domestic Terminal: All The Stories Left to Tell

*Denotes AOTYs on years when the SMAs did not formally take place. 

WHO will take home the coveted AOTY trophy in 2023 and join such esteemed company? Scroll down to find out, but don’t forget to wipe as you read along, seeing as our data analysis team has determined that bathroom breaks are the best (and most symbolically congruent) time for reading…

a short list of projects that probably would have had a good chance of being on this list if I had ever gotten around to listening to them:


Honestly, Nevermind


Dirt Femme

Being Funny In A Foreign Language

Harry’s House



Blue Rev

The Long Count


almost certainly a bunch of other stuff I’m forgetting



projects I didn’t like as much as I hoped I would



This one’s almost great. I wrote a whole review explaining my feelings, but it basically sums up to this being hit or miss and a great idea in theory despite the various dumb people saying she shouldn’t make pop music. Check it out, just skip “Lightning” and any songs that don’t grab you in the first 30 seconds.


Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2

This doesn’t have anything as good as “Slide” but that was a once-in-a-lifetime song. Other than that, it’s basically exactly as good as the last one, so it’s OK. It’s got some really fun songs and some very boring songs. And it has the best Halsey feature since “Closer.”



To be clear, I like this album! I like Beyonce’s music, I just think she can do better than this. It’s cool that each song here flows into the next – but imagine how much better it’d be if she didn’t need to sell it on LPs or whatever and just made it into one more cohesive…

JAWs 2022: Best debut

Hello and welcome to the first instalment of this year’s maybe-annual JAWs! Screenshot 2022-12-02 at 21.09.44

Here are your questions:

Who Are You?

I am johnnyoftheWell!

How Are You?

I am well. I am in a cafe procrastinating an essay deadline and stressing about my laptop battery, which is not long for this world. How are you?

How Was 2022 For Music?

2022 was(/is!) pretty awesome for music! There have definitely been a few lulls, but I’ve had an overall great time digging up silly treasures, listening to people’s recs and just following them trends (which has been a good deal more fruitful than in previous years lemme tell ya). 2022 is good!

What The Flying Frick Is A JAW?

One of my best features tbh, but also um, it had a definite phrasing and I forgot it. (This one’s for you, Cimnele:)

It might have been an acronym for something like Johnny Awards Winners or Jackpot Ablutions from the Well, but I think in my head at the moment it’s a syllabic abbreviation from Jotw AWards or maybe JotAWwww. It is absolutely not an initialism – say Jay Ayy Double-you out loud and I will slap you and eat mx. 

tl;dr it’s a nice way to spotlight some year highlights that I think deserve to be spotlit. 

I’m not posting a full list from the year or declaring an AOTY at this point because the Cram is still in session

 Another year down… As always, these were my favorite albums of the year regardless of originality, impact on any genre, or any other superfluous qualifier. The only thing that mattered was how much I personally enjoy it. As has kind of been my thing, instead of rambling on my own for 50 entries, I prefer to highlight some of the other users on the site and their opinions. I think it breaks up the monotony. Thank you everyone for another year of music and thank you to the users whose posts I’ve highlighted below.


50. Shadow of Intent – Elegy

Genre: Symphonic Blackened Deathcore // Review
Recommended Track: Elegy II: Devise

** Absolutely brutal. Now THIS is how you mix an album. The sound production is clean yet retains extremely heavy crushing guitar tones that pierces through an epic melodic soundscape. Vocals are powerful and dirty to the core. Phenomenal release here. I just seriously don’t get the dislikes for this. I love it all. — ShadowNeko

** Doesn’t have the same lightning in a bottle magic of Melancholy, but Shadow of Intent are very good at what they do. There isn’t a bad song here, but comparing the relatively tame Reconquest to Melancholy’s phenomenal Dreaded Mystic Abyss represents the gap between the two albums. That said, been spinning Saurian King and the title track(s) since release; Elegy II: Devise is

As we reach the end of another incredible year of music, I’ve decided to deviate from my typical awards ceremony in favor of something a little more traditional. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the thought of constructing yet another bloated set of “categories” with GIF-hyper presentation and endless embedded videos made me feel…tired. So, in retiring that format at least temporarily (RIP Sowing’s Music Awards, 2014-2021), I present to you — plain and simple — my Top 50 Albums of 2022. I hope you find some quality releases and/or songs here that you might not have otherwise discovered. Thanks for a great year, and I hope you have a very safe and enjoyable holiday season. See you in 2023!


Everything Was Forever Limited Yellow

#50 – Sea Power: Everything Was Forever

 Official Site // Review

Oscillating between power and beauty, Everything Was Forever is grandiose and thrilling at its best and still very solid/serviceable even at its perceived worst. This band was one of my favorite discoveries of 2022; just high quality indie-rock with no unnecessary frills.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

#49 – Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Cool It Down

Bandcamp // Review

After nine years, Yeah Yeah Yeahs return just as bold and confident as ever. Cool It Down, a warm and dreamy…

2019 and Growing Old

I’ve been doing this since 2007 and I’ve watched as members have come and gone (some departures way more welcome than others). I’ve also watched as my personal musical tastes have slowly separated from the Sputnik collective (they were never entirely in line to begin with), and that is no where more apparent than on this years’ list. As I created this list I noticed a lot of the albums I really enjoyed this year either garnered very little interest or were straight shit on by the Sput masses. It doesn’t really bother me because I’m always going to enjoy listening to what I’m going to enjoy listening to regardless of public opinion, but this list was just a confirmation that I’m rapidly aging out of the music scene. This was made more obvious by the fact that a vast majority of what did make the list was by bands and genres I grew up on, with only a handful of brand new artists.

In order to confirm this, I went back through previous lists and found an obvious trend where each passing year seemed to feature fewer and fewer new artists on my personal lists (a fact backed up by Last.fm listening statistics). Music was still interesting to me, but I was returning to familiar bands and familiar albums… so, I took a break. I didn’t actually participate on Sputnik Music for a majority of 2019 in any obvious way,…

Related image

If you’re excited for the 5th annual SMA’s, you’re not alone.

It’s that time of year again when artists wait with baited breath to hear their name called for the most prestigious award in all of celebrated art.  Sure, there are more mainstream ceremonies out there, but this is the one that artists – secretly – take vast pride in.  In 2014, Low Roar won the Seriously Cool Shit AOTY trophy [pictured below], for their breathtaking sophomore LP 0.  In 2015, it was Sufjan Stevens for his haunting classic folk record, Carrie and Lowell.  2016 yielded us Yellowcard’s tear-jerking finale.  Manchester Orchestra swept away the competition in 2017 with A Black Mile to the Surface.  2018 rewarded mewithoutYou for finally topping Brother, Sister with their [Untitled] album.  None of them have reached out to me requesting to make an acceptance speech – I find it surprising, if not even a little rude, but I suppose that they’re just so humbled emotionally and spiritually that they can’t muster the words.

The categories are largely the same as they’ve been in previous years, but also a little different.  The only EP I enjoyed this year was Mree’s The Middle, so I did away with the EP category (but seriously, if you want to hear an angel sing ambient pop songs, look no further).  Gone too is the “best under the radar” category, because it aligned almost precisely with my “best new artist”…

Welcome back to the greatest show on the internet!

The SMA’s have returned!

star captain GIF

Duh – Sowing’s Music Awards?  It’s cute that you pretended to forget – it’s only the biggest name in sputnik user profile, end-of-year, blog-based award shows.  It’s kind of a big deal.

So anyway, after a one year absence, the SMA’s are back in full force to rock your world.  Forget the Grammy’s – they’re a joke.  Teen Choice Awards?  God help us.  This is where you want to look for the best music of 2018: A place where only exceptional music earns the spotlight, and only the very best wins (Well, unless it’s one of the worst of the year categories – a brand new feature!  But I won’t give anything else away.)

There’s a plethora of fun categories this year, but no award is more coveted than the seriously cool shit AOTY trophy [pictured below].  Low Roar, Sufjan Stevens, and Yellowcard (lol) have all come away with it before, and last year it would have been Manchester Orchestra.  In the meanwhile, we’ve seen distinguished nominees such as Radiohead, The Antlers, and Fleet Foxes walk away empty-handed.   It just goes to show that I don’t give a shit, and this is my show.

I’m still accepting offers to host the show.  Judio (remember him? wasn’t he a contributor or something?) still has permanent dibs, but seeing as…



**Click the Arrow on the top left of the player for songs from 40 – 31**


40. In the Nursery – 1961

Post Rock/Classical/Ambient // ITN Corporation

In The Nursery have been around since the early 80s and have gone through a number of style changes without ever losing sight of their original formula. That formula is basically percussion-laden classically-influenced music. 1961 is significant because it marks yet another stylistic adjustment, and it might just be their biggest yet. This time In The Nursery have added rock elements to their classical sound, and it basically makes the album sound like a very symphonic post rock album with occasional vocals. In the Nursery have never really released a bad album, and this one isn’t bad either. Every change they’ve ever made has been great and the rock influence on 1961 is no different. The song on the video doesn’t really do the album justice, but it was literally the only video I could find for the album.


39. Cyanotic – Tech Noir
a3708497318_10 copy

Industrial // Glitch Mode Recordings

I’m a big fan of Cyanotic’s brand of industrial metal. A lot of industrial bands that feature guitar riffs tend to get real lazy with the programming and electronics, but Cyanotic never have. I guess that’s why they can pull off an album like Tech Noir. Tech Noir drops almost all…

50 Best of 2016

From Norwegian Pop to Dad Thrash

Skylar Grey, Sleigh Bells, Metallica, Aurora, and Devin Townsend.

2016 was a pretty good year for music. Admittedly, there was nothing that I would call a classic or game changer, but there was a huge influx of albums I would still refer to as excellent or outstanding. It wasn’t just the great albums that made 2016 special, it was also the bands that released them. We had albums from Korn, Metallica, Testament, and Anthrax that were some of their best in years (if not decades). We also had a lot of cool re-issues this year. Circle of Dust remastered and re-released their entire discography, including the Argyle Park side project. These weren’t just cash grabs either. These were totally remastered and released with one or more extra discs of unreleased and rare material. We also had remastered albums from Mother Love Bone and Temple of the Dog. The other one I can remember is the remastered version of Remedy Lane (only their best release).

Anyway, this list is my Top 50 albums of the year. This was a painstaking process as I took my ratings and bumped them against the average Sputnik rating while also checking them against the overall Metacritic value (where applicable) to confirm that my opinion was indeed correct. From there I would assign a number to each album based on how original it was and where it stood within a band’s…

It’s a grand celebration!  The SMA’s are back for the third and possibly final time, and quite frankly even that’s a miracle.  But I forced myself to have time to host one more of these god forsaken best-of-Barnes & Nobles (I upgraded from buying all my CD’s at Target, bitches) and we find ourselves at the end of this storied trilogy.  Pop-Punk Strikes Back, if you will.  Oh wait, that’s the second one – oh well, you catch my drift.

Anyway, if you have an amazing enough life to remember every detail of your 2014 sputnikmusic.com profile, you’ll likely recall commenting on, hearing the buzz about, or otherwise discussing – possibly over a Christmas ham with your extended family – that Low Roar’s 0 took home the 2014 SMA AOTY Seriously Cool Shit Trophy.  Then last year it was obviously Sufjan Stevens for his brilliant work with Carrie & Lowell.  For some reason whatever web article I originally swiped that trophy pic from in the past has been deleted, so let’s just say for now that the new award looks something like this:

Image result for music trophy

Music, fuck yeah!

Ironically, and just in time for that  shiny new trophy, I have no actual idea what my album of the year is going to be.  Even as I sit here writing this, I’m torn between about five different records.   I can’t help it, I rated like thirty some odd releases over a 4.0 this year.  Maybe I’ll figure it out…

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