|2022_well: YES 1 0 0 % ||ぼest あlbums|||
THESE ARE THE BEST RECORDS OF THE YEAR ([italics]that i have heard))!! There are loads of them! Everything here is at least a 3.5! I liked this year and then I started loving it a bit! Share your jams take my jams viva viva goodbye 2022 it's been GOOD!
|124||Carly Rae Jepsen|
The Loneliest Time
vanilla sheep pop
Did Carly Rae Jepsen really drop the worst good album of 2022 is this finally the beginning of the end for neckbeard poptimism. This does have most of her best tracks since Emotion, but also an unhealthy share of her worst ever and it kinda struggles for identity as a whole. Put that Koolaid down bois
Check: Western Wind
Change Of Turn
NEED 2 SK8;;;L8R M8
Check: lol the Thrice cover
Honey Harper and the Infinite Sky
Honey Harper now does no-nonsense boot-shuffling country bops with maybe a little nonsense actually and honestly I can find little to complain about; nice record that warrants a broad audience
frazzled beats for well-behaved lab rats
Check: MICROWAVED 3000MPH
El Valle Encantado
Check: El orden sagrado
rasp at me more bounteous folk lady
Check: Storm Queen
ethereal noise pop
Cranes for zoomers nice, cannot wait for Stranger Things tie-in
Check: Blue Chalk
ambient techno / breakbeat
surprise Skee Mask B-reel in aid of Ukraine is my favourite (very much) B-reel
Check: Msynth Patterns
|116||sonhos tomam conta|
shoegaze / blackgaze / 5th wave emo
Frozen Brazilian confusiongaze mmmmm shiver shiver
Check: Corpos gelidos...
how to build an album entirely out of langorous exhalations but also it's dummy thicc (shut up Chog Bongo)
Check: Fatal Blue
post-rock / k-folk
the way this band makes post-rock of all genres sound gravelly and not caucasian is still a marvel to me. some of the climaxes on this one are also pretty decent.
Check: Until My Wings Turn To Ash
Animal Ghosts turns wonderfully generic bedroom shoegaze into a tasty treat mmmm I am sated
occasionally overbearing, but solid envy worship with excellent DRUM HOOKS yes we can climax sometimes
|111||Ode and Elegy|
Ode and Elegy
post-Pax Cecilia long doom classical post-metal opuscore
i prefer soliloquy lol
Check: Ode and Elegy
Hold The Girl
post-Christian post-colonial '00s POP pop
"it's definitely good enough not to be a sophomore slump, but"
((there's a chance this wouldn't have even made the list if I hadn't lived through the '00s in the UK with the radio + NOW cds firmly on *but*))
|109||40 Watt Sun|
unironically wonderful album for peaceful sleep *talks quietly about songwriting under breath with incomprehensible hand gestures*
Check: the long one or the short one
dreamgaze shoe pop
soft cute and adorable i want to dream
Vista of Deviant Anatomies
Avant garde rockshit / post-industrial
unlistenable avant post-industrial jank thank god the real Vaura is *back* gunning down those plebs all day erryday baybee (happy holidays Talons)
Miracle in Transit
House / ambient trance
good house for nice clean arcade man
Check: Pan Matsuri
deconstructed djentcore / cyberglitch / jankgrind
pzzzzzzhzhahahhahahaha bonk bonk ZORK fuck YES
Check: JUST DO IT
limited meat on this one's bones, but when it works it works works work
Check: I Feel Better (than I Do Now)
Good pissy snotty fun
Check: Million Miles of Fun
|102||Akini Jing and Chace|
Synth-pop / art pop / mandopop / post-industrial
this covers um a *lot* of ground and is all the more impressive for how much it periodically grounds itself in straightforward synthpop bangers. few pacing issues and it does bite off more than it can chew at times, but cool collab interested to hear more from both in future
Check: I'M GOOD
probably the best album title of the year also conveniently catchy if that's a dealbreaker
Check: Mermaid Airplane
The Forever Story
takes *forever* to tell and is more impressive for the paucity of feet it puts wrong than for the body blows it successfully lands, but this do be good yearlist fodder, uh, i mean commerical hip-hop milestone!!
|99||The Comet Is Coming|
Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam
Fuckin cool saxjazz shit
loud jazz spaceshit synth x sax jams, maybe a little too jammy but still v cool
Check: Angel of Darkness
Gothic off-Broadway country
i like and admire this but not enough to get over my loathing of musical theatre sorry gang
Check: Daytona Sand
Very country country
full disclosure, i *still* haven't listened to this enough to know where exactly to put it, but its roughly 50/50 mix of eh-okay-country and wonderful-country is frequently lovely and the title-track is easily my country SOTY, so let's just scroll it up to Orville Peck and give it an honourable +1 xo
Check: Peculiar, Missouri
Every Moment, Everything You Need
s h o e g a z e
floaty national park music for nature documentary IMAX kids
Check: Far From Over
i am teki as all hell thank you very much lipgloss jpop
Check: Mountview (probably my #1 いつでも笑顔にさせる song of the year)
Hip-hop / R&B / pop
the hits are hot and the misses are messy imma shower
Alt sludge stoner grunge metal rock
good kurt ballou butt rock
Check: Wavering Angel
Post-punk / indie / gothic hmm
Skinty Fia treads an often precarious line between dourness and dullness; I'm a bit confused at the higher levels of acclaim that have been thrown its way, but the highlights are definitely an insight into the best of 2022 indie
Check: Roman Holiday
novelty grind for pastiche-addled dirtrats. sometimes epic sometimes jfc i wanted thrills not gimmick whiplash. rarely bad.
Check: Broken Maze
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
Scrobbles: 124 (approx 33% of which is split between Little Things and Sim Swarm alone)
literally every single one of the Brooklyn x Pitchfork genres
Big Thief more like big thing lol there is a GREAT album and a mediocre junkheap album in here and while i don't particularly appreciate them being so intimately intertwined, the good is very much good enough to outweigh the not-good. extra props to Sparrow for filtering patient folk appreciators out from the pitchfork diletantes, powerful to see a band like this shut the door on their own fanbase however fleetingly
Check: Little Things
|89||death's dynamic shroud|
Darklife was a lame rym compilation this is where the e-heaters are at (along with a mild measure of e-fluff)
Check: What? To Be Human
pros: is what the windmill artfart kids dream they had the intensity and panache to make cons: still lands within slurping distance of a windmill wet dream. the MAXIMALIST end of this crazythang is fantastic; its downtime negotiates melodrama less successfully
Check: Law of Asbestos
Emo / screamo / strings
last year chamber skramz was bad, this year it is good. measureable growth! album flows like a treat and isn't really a highlight deal, which is impressive but also harmed its staying power a little for me. absolutely huge closer though hmm
Check: Paper Tiger
Kasuka ni sou Matou
Shoegaze / noise pop / dream pop
this is insufferably cute how do they do it
perplexing blend of underrated and overrated - definitely one of 2022's essential records without being one of its best i think. Baby is absolutely scathing when it counts but parts of it don't quite scratch the itch for me. Could have been far, far higher up this list as a solid 5-track EP
Check: Violent By Design
Melt My Eyez See Your Future
Aight RABIDFISH, poser of good questions, we are now *more or less* in the realm of full albums that are *more or less* end-to-end solid! This took a few listens to open up, but is neat, versatile and consistently well-realised; v much get the broad appeal
Magic Pony Ride
Breaks / IDM
this was my sparkly zingy summer IDM lemonade album, and while it did not outgrow its purpose, it did a tip-top job. very cute
Check: Turquoise Hyperfizz
LOUD CUTE GUITAR POP
the sound of pop music from Sobs!
Check: Friday Night
The Liquified Throne of Simplicity
demands a hideous amount of patience for a reasonable amount of quirk but is randomly worth it anyway yolo
Check: Prods the Fire With a Bone, Rolls Over With a Snake
solid but safe house comeback, but the atmos is all there mmm gimme that blue light
|79||Dir en Grey|
Dir en Grey metal
songwriting and production may not be nearly as razor-focused as this band's best, but mmmm boy the scale, ambition and (at moments that count) atmosphere are back on this. tentatively optimistic about whatever they dish out next, and enjoyed this for a modest but melodramatic window of time
Lucifer on the Sofa
[indie rock music]
incorrigible fedoracore of the year
Experimental alt rock jazz rock noise rock pianoguitarmusic
moody bombastic feelingsmusic for eggpeople strong and frail. similar appeal to Spoon; set this higher for flashier musicianship and the exhange of fedora for haircomb
minimalism / classical / drone
mosh pit of the year 2022
Check: Living Torch III
Post-industrial glitch noise collage destruction ambient
this is one of the zillion smartdumb obnoxious albums that make your computer eat its own feet and retch moreishly, but it is good this time because Vladislav Delay made it. kinda cool how he went from Rakka's interplay between noisy strobes and edgy ambience to this all-out deconstructed chaos, guy's ear for subtle rhythms in unparalleled no matter what palette he works in. just wish this had more replay value
shit damn, I undervalued this quite a lot - can still see why her voice used to rub me the wrong way, but it also has a lot for it. quite a few tracks on this one, definitely one of 2022's strongest English-lang guitar pop records
Check: Midnight Sun
more of Kraus' indistinct loudgaze yes please. i lied on the Skee Mask blurb - this is the year's best B-reel. View No Country still way better ofc
once there was a boy he went away he came back he played some mean hardcore and he made sure we all knew damn well that his Mars Volta ranking would be an absolute fucking travesty if ever he aired it
Where I'm Meant to Be
killer motifs and nasty grooves aplenty on this party-viable lounge-viable badboi hmm
Trip-hop / nu-jazz
Good plastic downtempo mood gimme that midnight glow
Check: White Label
Vitamins and Apprehension
Shoegaze / dream pop / midwest emo
floaty background moodemo ft. some of the best shoegaze songs of the year heaps of potential in this artist ACOUSTIC SHOEGAZE EPICS LET'S GO
Check: Dream II
geoff rickly sings good gothboi songs over mostly great hooks and mostly decent lyrics and we love him
Check: Love Songs From Fascist Italy
DRONE BORIS is playing in my house (in MY HOUSE!)
t r a n c e
softest candyfloss vaporous shit ever made I love it
Check: Lalala (Want Somebody)
post-industrial pow wow
wonderful uh whut moment i can practically feel that sweet industrial sunrise on my face. wish i'd heard this earlier
incense music for good people
Check: A Happening In Your Head
R&B / pop / J-pop / house
underrated this a little bit, lots of solid Utada keepers and several new ideas for them as befits their first record since coming out as NB. beautiful mix of romantic/sentimental and introspective/sensitive, great album
Check: Find Love
|62||The Callous Daoboys|
least overrated overrated sput CORE record of the year, a worthy entry for the annals of patton-worshiping mathchug gym metal
Check: Star Baby
Tokyo Virus Love Story
chaosEMO and other manicFRIENDS
this album is sort-of fucking unbearable but i surrendered to the fever dream and can accept that it is also the greatest thing ever made. Shinsei Kamattechan and Ging Nang Boyz make horrible beautiful love and all their many children are depressed and unemployed and extremely fucking hyperactive
Resentment is Always Seismic...
Grindcore / Industrial metal
yeah sorry Wormrot the ogs are more fun and riff harder good slammers all round and a load of craictastic industrial screwballs. Underrated killer EP.
|59||Danger Mouse and Black Thought|
"""38 minutes of good hip-hop""" mmmmyes
[Avant] [Korean] [folk]
Whenever I've jammed this, the first 37 minutes have been various degrees of utterly and entrancing and the final 14 have been a belated "oh, it is still on??" (and listening to them standalone, this is a little unfair on those cuts). Mesmerising record, underrated and underappreciated across the board from what I've seen
Check: The Way of Spiritual Breath
The Great Awakening
Art rock ?
sowingcoreOTY 2022 this has an atmosphere and it is rich and rewards patience !
|56||Cult of Luna|
The Long Road North
Hooray for mountain-climbing metal *nods sternly looks away sheepishly drinks alone in isolation*
Check: Blood Upon Stone
Doom metal (+ female-fronted + blues)
every single one of sputmetal's creepy fetishes indulged lavishly, but also somehow good
Check: Serving Him
Post-industrial drone opera
feel that rumble hear that voice soar feel that corrosion hear that opera good Tate Modern-core
Check: Part Two
모호함 속의 너 Nebulous You
Shoegaze / post-rock / dream pop / emo / folktronica
I don't know if I love any specific song as much as the highlights on her debut, but this is somehow even more lovely as a whole (redraft edit: Concerto is magnificent and arguably her best)? Prod isn't quite there but this is otherwise basically the next step into expansive blisslands I was hoping for. Perfect December surprise!
Ambient / new age
We are travelling i am drifting are we there we are not it's lovely. This is another one that I *really* wish I'd kept on rotation throughout the year; absolutely exquisite moments of beauty across the board and a nice economical runtime. Grower and/or keeper.
Check: Will You Listen In
House / spoken word
Don't you dare scoff at this brittle young man expelling ambivalent memories over gorgeous house instrumentals, this is a spoken word treat and brings delicious levels of late night vibes. This is the album Doof would make if he were Phero's age but it is somehow really good.
Check: Your Guiding Hand
|50||Birds In Row|
this is the skramz record we have been waiting for it sounds like every other skramz record but is mostly better shit yes. final addition to the cram, but glad i bothered
|49||Melody's Echo Chamber|
Frequently vaporous but never vacuous, this thing is full of delicate vocal hooks and delicious bass buoyancy. It peaked a little on my breathtaking first listen, which repeats haven't quite matched, but this is just a solid record through and through and should have a spot on everyone's list
Check: Looking Backward
Night Parade of One Hundred Demons
Psych jam pandemonium
Badass diabolical stoner jamsterics yes big joy is sparked. great big joyous mess <
Inter Ice Age 4
Final four songs on this are an ambient pop masterclass and one of the best things released this year (even if one of them sounded far better on an earlier version). rest has a lot of dead air and a few outright disasters - Macaroom are still the best in the game when they nail it, but they've done far better
Art pop / avant baroque dance
This retains a certain chunk of its allure, but for the first 72ish hours it was out it was absolutely untouchable. Gorgeous darkening liminal space at the crossroads of pop yes please
Check: Pop Song
Dreamy alternative rock
Lovely comeback from probably still my absolute #1 band. Some songs meander into directions I'm not huge on, but there's wholesome wistful artrockmood to be found aplenty here. Would love to have put it a little higher but am still pretty happy with how it panned out
Check: Black is Magnified
Y'all really spewed yourselves hyping that stinking Turnstile record last year and then slept on this huh? Danceable noise punk bangers across the board, huge fire.
Check: Ah Bliss
The War on Two Fronts
Melodic hardcore / Skate punk
Absolutely killer opening duo on this mostly killer debut. Really confident, impressive stuff here - really appreciate how these guys play it consistently heavy while taking inspiration from a whole range of styles across the punk spectrum. Excited to hear how the refine this in future
Check: A Nation of Wolves
|42||Asian Glow and Weatherday|
5th wave emo / noise pop
two of 5th wave emo's most iconic agents of explosive melancoly team up and burn off umpteen calories this is the internet this is the future we love to hear it
Shoegaze / post-rock / blackgaze
Mixed but overall very positive feelings on this. It lacks a little inner cohesion, and I still don't think the band have worked out exactly how to channel their blackgaze/heavygaze, but at its worst this thing is at least competent. At its *best*, it unpacks the expansive/twinkly/atmospheric side of their debut (aka the best part) like a complete treat - I feel its appeal for me is a little bitesize but highly enduring (and therefore, while it isn't as solid as Death Spells as a whole, I think I care about it more). One of the better it-bands in their field for sure
Check: True Loss
Derramar | Querer | Borrar
Borrowed this from Prancer's list, lovely December surprise, by which I mean great manic desperation limb flailing insanity. Enjoying that the nastiest skramz cut here turns into a house banger midway, yet everything else on the album somehow plays it entirely straight? More where that came from, please. For the rest, this is one solid hellraiser after another.
Check: April 7th
Shoegaze / emo
Underestimated this one and wish I'd jammed it more through the year now - really lovely wistful mix of delicate atmosphere, selectively-deployed muscle and beautifully succinct mopes. I don't think much of its appeal is particularly instant; this ended up showing more value the more familiar I got with it, mid-afternoon coffee -style. Definitely one of the better gaze releases this year
The first GOOD album of the year still holds up pretty well at the end of it! Pacing on this is a treat; not sure it packs quite the same substance as many others of its kind, but it boasts enough in production and sheer ferocity to make up for it. m/ m/ m/
Check: Dead Man
This is a long way from my preferred flavour of grind, but shit damn ain't it a thunderously powerful record. Took a little while to warm up to and maybe it has one or two moments of cavernous dissoshit too many, but when it lets rip... Very much get the level of acclaim this inspired for some, even if I didn't end up loving it *quite* as much as I hoped; glad to have gotten into it as much as I have though.
Check: Gild of Blotted Lucre
Drill Music in Zion
Lupe Fiasco is funny and sardonic and cogent and I like him and his production especially dat jazz mmmm. Should have jammed this much more, feel live I've heard the t/t and closer a hundred times over while prepping for the Build An Album contest. Might explore his discog a little more, but I feel I still owe this a little more time first...
oh shit yes SHUTUP SHUTUP SHUTUP Kansai's funnest viciousest breakout four-piece are still dishing out ultra-tight bangers *quite unlike salads*. This isn't quite on the same level as their debut for me, but this more because it caters less to left-field thrills and overall meanness than because it drops the ball in any specific way. Initially expected to ranking it a little grower, but the shit-eating grin these tracks infallibly carved across my face upon relistening was an instant veto to that end. Cannot wait to catch them again in a few months
loud rat 
Caged In Gold
Grind / mathcore
Frequently overlooked from this year's heavyshit symposiums, this gnarled badboy is 28 mins of pure killer. For a long while, I had no real idea which album would claim the title of GOTY (grind of the year) and I figured it would pan out as a two-way split between Knoll and Cloud Rat, but fuck it Helpless go the hardest after all. Recommended for any and all catchup-jam scavengers
Check: Focus Group Extraction
Heavy Rocks (2022)
Stoner metal / noise rock / miscellaneous loud guitarthings
Boris make smart braindead rock metal music as loudly and chaotically as could be for 40ish minutes and the results and thrills and (make no mistake lol) spills are to die for. Deceptively creative spread of ideas across this thing, got everything from doom to (!!) gabber and it all goes to show that there are in fact very, very many ways to burn a barn. SHEH ISBURNING, gang ! FUN ALBUM
Check: She Is Burning
|31||Dai Dai Dai|
SOLID CHAOS POP / noise pop / breakcore / J-idol
MAYBE PERFECT is a *strong* contender for the most obnoxious album of the year and wilfully commits so many revoluting acts of shit-eating form-profaning pop chaos that I'm prepared to forgive the many, many things about it that don't quite add up. The opener is basically tantamount to dynamiting idol pop as institution by means of excessive bass drops, and while it sounds like death, these girls + producer commit so hard to the bit that it's hard not to adore it for the gesture alone. Centrepiece "LASE" goes one up and brings in an ultratight breakcore masterpiece to delirious effect - this group is all about having too much cake and eating all of it. This record is destined to offend all the right people for the wrong reasons and is 2022's definitive FUN MESS
|30||Say Sue Me|
The Last Thing Left
Dream pop / shoegaze / surf rock
Given how much of a snooze my previous experience with this band has been, this was maybe the surprise of the year - this record is adorable, perky and catchy as all hell! Love their hooks, love how vibrant their slower cuts are, LOVE the surf rock influences (do not love the number of surf/indie plebs who have misplaced this for Yo La Tengo influence jfc get your boards out). Some of this is straightforward pop rock perfection, some of it is gazey bliss. Closer kinda shits the bed, but the rest is mostly precious and the highlights are essential for all. Blessed.
Check: We Look Alike
House / breaks
2nd best EP of the year! Give me more breaks in my house and more house in my breaks please. Super excited to hear whatever comes next from her, glad to see this has received recognition where it matters, jam the bookends a lot a lot a lot, absolutely *loved* the cover Yeule did of the t/t live shit damn yes turn my bedroom airspace in to ice blessed zoomers.
|28||Black Country, New Road|
Ants From Up There
Post-Arcade Fire chamber glumrock
The year is up and the sting in its tail is that we must all admit that this wonderfully insufferable band are in fact quite great maybe. Ants From Up There isn't quite a full knockout and its closing pair in particular stumbles into overbearing territory, but the run from Concorde to Insert Knife Here is glorious and memorable and the best kind of sappy, and quite rightly stands as a year highlight. Still the worst of the three BIG releases that came out on the same day
Evil blues / empty basement industrial / claustrophobic black metal
Substantial proof for my working theory that it's impossible to enjoy sinister vibes without a little patience. Diner Coffee is bookended by relatively straightforward tracks with very strong hooks (no mean feat considering the styles in question), but its middle section is an absolute mass of densely-woven sparsely-paced creepyshit that finds new, insidious ways to disturb me the more time I put into it. Very nice counterpart to the earlier, more immediate Come And See, and one of the year's better sleeper picks. Put me in that diner booth and fuck my mind up, lovely twisted smoky satanpeople
NO THANK YOU
Hip-hop / gospel
Little Simz culls all the strongest parts of her Introvert palette and tapers them into something more refined, sensitive and - surprisingly - engaging. The results are frequently glorious and her personal narratives are so much more compelling now that she's no longer trying to turn them into Disneyland. Beautiful record.
Shoegaze / jangle- noise- indie- dream- pop
Grower of the year for me. Initially mistook this as a flavour-of-the-month collection of drab indie pop songs that caught on for their shoegaze/noise pop makeover, but my goodness the songwriting chops here are mercilessly succinct and surprisingly subtle. Almost all these tracks have a way of pivoting around a single vocal inflection or slight variation in a way that snaps their entire emotional framework into arresting clarity (final chorus of the initially unremarkable "Easy On Your Own?" is a case study here - song opens up beyond belief and works wonders across repeats). I feel that this could have been higher in another world, but it's too much a record of momentary rushes to hold its own at the top table. The highlights come thick and fast though, and I'll be returning to this for goodness knows how long
Check: Pomeranian Spinster
Prepare Thyself to Deal with Treacle
EXPERIMENTAL ROCK LOUD VOLUMES LONG SONGS MANY GROOVES MUCH NOISY
This record is all of the genres and all of the rocks and all of the post-rocks cracked and put into a microwave together and then mysteriously drawn out into miraculously cohesive shapes, it does everything and does it well and is altogether too much yet also entirely whelming and you must now throw away all your Mogwai records, strip off and dance in paranoia OR ELSE
Check: Dial 666 for Greta
Baby, We’re Ascending
Techno / breaks / trance
HAAi makes strident beats for sombre people, and the way she explores both sides of that spectrum to their respective extremes makes for one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking debuts I've heard in a hot minte. This does meander a little across its middle section, but the highlight pairing of Purple Jelly Disc into the resplendent Jon Hopkins-collab t/t is easily enough to redeem this. Big fan of her vocal tone and stylings, big fan of closer Tardigarde's hint at a more dour glitch sound, love the mix of heartful and rainy day atmospheres that weave in and out of each other across this. Surprisingly pertinent album artwork +1
Check: Baby, We’re Ascending
Neon White OST 1 - The Wicked Heart
No bullshit no nonsense no gimmicks (uh, MISSION COMPLETE, ssh) - Machine Girls dishes out over an hour of straight bangers and the results, if a linear (it is a gaming soundtrack, ssh) are everything I could have wished for from them. No idea if I'll ever play Neon White (not averse, ssh), but this tops WLFGRL and lands in MG's top 3 holy trinity alongside MRK90 Mix vol. 1 and the Porpoise EP. Huzzah!
In These Times
Jazz / jazz fusion / worldly things
Makaya McCraven and his smooth smooth jazz-gone-downtempo-baby grooves fold a whirl of jazz-adjacent (and not-so-adjacent!) styles together without missing a beat. In These Times gazes wistfully at about three seperate horizons at once and its revolving door of collaborators dish out a myriad of tasty performances. Read all about it here hear it all here get on it. Omni-situational strong jam!
Check: So Ubuji
Avant-black metal / drone
WELCOME TO THE TOP 20 I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT IT (ALSO THE TOP 25 tbqh it's been a grand year)
"Well the guitars sound like glaciers"
"Did you know that I like guitar drones"
"omggggg something pokemon waaa something something counterpoint awefrsgf ad nauseaauam pon_noise"
tHe CloSeSt thINg tO clAsSiCaL blACk mEtaL SIncE ChoriRs Ov tHE eYEs
[[check grotesque you stupid bint]]
Don't ever play a video game to this music, I implore you.
But but but but really, you do need to pay close attention and it is very much a whole-album deal, but gosh the tension and release and strain and icy icy composition and drone and finale are fantastic, great record.
A cappella / modern classical / gagaku / Gregorian stuff / music
Glorious voice! I had *kinda* enjoyed Hatis Noit's previous a cappella loop experiments, but this is a breathtaking step forward for her. There's so much power and beauty in these pieces, definitely for situational enjoyment but awe-inspiring when they hit the spot. Fascinatingly broad pool of influences. Love the way she plays on organic-sounding vocal lines over (uh) organic-glitches on A Caso and Himbrimi, like the sheer-power-of-chant antics on Sir Etok and Jomon, LOVE the attention given to the subtleties and fluidities of single vocal tracks on the t/t, Angelus Novus and Inori. Hope I come back to this more
Check: Angelus Novus
Onryo II: Her Spirit Eternal
Oh my goodness YES YES YES to these ultra melodic infectious snow-bitten fast-biting black metal party BANGERS ft. some some of the best metal production I've heard this year (fuck you and your shoe polish etcetc). Tremendously fun record, a highlight in tbqh a pretty great year for black metal
Check: Girl Hell 1999
Oh NOOOOOOOOO I thought I would escape the fate of being one of those poor people bound by honour and/or bad decisions to write WORDS IN ENGLISH about Billy Woods, but y'know what 本当に無理でしょ笑笑。Meiner Meinung nach ist das Album AETHIOPES wegen seiner unglaublichen Vielzahl von Stimmen und Gestalten der Anderen so schwierig zu beschreiben. Die Geschichten Woods und das finstere Gefühl der Musik dahinter werden so völlig ineinandergeriffen, dass die Beeiden erscheinen, weder anzufangen noch zu enden. Il risultato è un giro indimenticabile per le strade contorte della coscienza - insomma, Woods recita una testimonianza così scura, così circondata dalle personaggi minacciosi, che non si può che scioliersi nella sua scena vaga con l'immagiazione in gola. Sacre bleuuueuuughuh. そんなの磁石みたいな演奏魅力に憧れるしかない。めっちゃばんざい good album.
Check: The Doldrums
Rouge Carpet Disaster
POST-HARDCORE FOR THE GOOD SCENE GANG
Once in a blue moon, the Sputnik core hype does get it extremely right. Absolutely glorious revival of everything sweaty, greasy and otherwise sticky about the good ol' '00s scene. Killer performances across the board, esp in the vocals (and that in a style I usually can't stand from contemp bands) - just a ton of infectious hooks, smart ideas and barrelling energy here. Wish I'd got there earlier.
Check: Push Rope
Okay, first and foremost, if you'd told me at the start of the year that 15% of my top 20 would come from black metal bands beginning with S-, I would have screamed and logged off and written an aggressive Deafheaven review.
Secondly, this fucking thing! Sigh are notorious enough for their camp flair and extravagant weirdshit, but hot damn this might be both the nastiest and tightest I've ever heard them. Shiki is outright vicious at points, which makes it all the more rewarding when it does veer into folk- or psych- infused detours where you'd least expect them - imagine my surprise going into, say, Fuyu Ga Kuru for the first time, rolling my eyes at its Enter Sandman -adjacent intro, and then just gawping as it traded off menacing chugs of DOOM against some of the most gorgeous folk sections I've heard on a metal track in years. This record plays it fast and lean and might just be my new favourite Sigh overall; could see it being the one to break them out of cult treasure status and into required metalboi catchup material. Production is fantastic and those d r u m s are the best I've heard in metal this year (thank you Mr. Fear Factory). Awesome effort, gj Mirai + co.
Art pop / dark cabaret / trip-hop / ...others
Quantity vs. quality shut the hell up I will eat all the cakes. Only Yaya Kim (and, well, Machine Girl) has all the cakes. a.k.a YAYA is a t r i p l e album and I am damn glad it dropped in January because I have no idea how I'd have digested it by now otherwise.
Each disc does have a different character and they play off each other well (albeit in a dramatic trajectory towards despair), but this is difficult to absorb at first because holy c a o this thing is overwhelming as all hoofing heck. Overwhelming not just because it's over two hours long and touches base with every single style that looks good in red velvet in maybe six-seven different languages, but because it's one noirish banger/ballad after another and YAYA KIM's vast talents and performative flourish are apparently inexhaustible she is here and she is swallowing the worldcake. HANDLE WITH CARE!
Check: ALL OF IT YOU COWARD
(but my current obsession is Frame)
J-pop / pop rock
Seiko Oomori bounces back from a rough series of months with her most unhinged and carefree album in almost a decade. Hear her swear like a sailor, launch into a melon-serenading TV commercial fever dream, belt out death threats, prophesise her own doom and wrap it all up with a year-making ode to living your best life under the weight of all the stupid shit you shouldn't be doing. I had my doubts for this one and still wouldn't rank it too highly in her discog, but shit damn she's still got it. Best of our time.
Check: Saigo no TATTOO
Where Myth Becomes Memory
Mathcore / post-rock
Now that the *terror* that this would be a colossal flop following a bemusing series of singles (spoilers: it wasn't) and the speculation as to whether or not it could surpass 2018's Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It following that album's sentimentalist ultrahype (spoilers: it did) have both subsided and its microhype within the world of Rolo Tomassi has been thoroughly established, it's a little harder than it should be to go macro gauge this one's standing relative to other highlights of the year.
Make no mistake, it's 101% in that category - this thing goes from heaven to hell and back within the space of a single and rarely puts a foot wrong on its way - but I've come to realise that, unlike its predecessor, it's a record of constant mobility rather than epic scope, and, unlike it's pre-predecessor and ongoing highwater mark Grievances, it isn't quite nasty enough to land the number of body-blows I'd ideally love from an album this dextrous. What we get instead is a flurry of beautifully-rendered scenes, and if it takes my breath away frequently and fleetingly rather than deeply and with devastation, then my respect for this truly remarkable band and their command over their craft hasn't budged an inch.
Check: Mutual Ruin
Experimental rock / blues / noise rock
EP of the year. Springtime's 2021 debut did little for me, but these three songs are an absolutely fantastic distillation (and, length-wise, expansion!) on everything I've enjoyed so far from His Ramshackle Highness Gareth Liddiard. My only gripe is perhaps that the opener makes its point swiftly enough and does little more than hammer it through for the rest of its clamorous runtume. "The Radicalisation of D" is mesmerising unsettling narrative perfection with a perfect understated rock backing and "Penumbra" is the kind of patient, dynamic, gorgeously arranged noise rock that I would absolutely love to hear more of at any given moment from anyone. Must explore this man's work more this year.
Stalled Flutes, means
5th wave emo / post-rock / folktronica
This album is a maze! I fell in love with its palette and tangled digital lo-fi aesthetic straight away, but I think the endless repeats I put it through when it had just dropped were maybe the biggest single effort I put into trying to *get* any single album on this list. The effort paid off, in part because these songs largely follow the same methodology as one another even if their contortions have individual subtleties. Put together, they've got such kinetic density that I feel a need to find a new way through them every time I revisit. Honestly, I'm a little exhausted by it as such and will likely take a short timeout over coming months, but if any record this year has a claim to burgeoning, reckless intrigue, it's this one. Asian Glow is a hero and I have little doubt we'll be seeing him right back on my 2023 list in a few months.
Check: Look Close, Nose the Reflection
Noise rock / sludge metal
Hmmm, of all the records in this top 10 (and as is belied by its comparatively low scrobble count), God's Country was more of a huge single moment in time -deal than a record I felt compelled to return to throughout the year.
WHY is that? Couldn't say - maybe it's one of the most instantaneously satisfying albums here? Maybe it's just a *lot* to go through those harrowing narratives and scorched-earth sludge tones across repeats? Maybe the force of its first impression was simply so vast that I was wary of mining it for diminishing returns? I think I'll leave the answer to clarify itself in its own time, but more importantly - shit damn, it wouldn't have been the same 2022 without the sheer meltdown that ensued when this dropped [as a promo into in my inbox, after which I sweated and screamed in e-silence so claustrophobically for a good fortnight that it was an absolute pleasure to watch so many of you do the same in an open forum when it finally came out].
I love the way this builds more mobile, confident sounds out of the early Chat Pile EPs, I love the blistering horror that permeates every facet of its delivery, and I love listening to a band at the peak of their powers when it's clear that they have so much distance to raze ahead of them. I could ask for nothing more from this one.
Check: Tropical Beaches, Inc.
J-pop (all of it)
Big World has been my 2022 pick 'n' mix comfort jam ever since I first heard it - it's rare to find a pop record that covers practically every single base with such precision and personality (especially in a not particularly great year for J-pop). Mondo Grosso's tradition of giving each song to a separate all-star guest vocalist works wonders here, giving him free rein to cover whatever style he chooses without overstraining his scope.
This goes for everything from electric shoegaze elation ("Stranger") to fun tasteless bullshit ("OH NO!") to pure dancefloor fire ("Crypt", "B. S. M. F.") to refined introspective wistfulness ("In This World", "Big World") to midtempo earworms ("Overflowing", "Forgotten", "Gensou no Reflection"). There's hardly been a single week that I haven't tuned into at least of the album's four major highlights, and it's still an absolutely delicious listen end-to-end. Absolute benchmark for any pop producer aiming to balance ecclectic ambitions with basic pleasures, and one of the few records that I 100% could not imagine the year without.
UGLY DEATH NO REDEMPTION ANGEL CURSE I LOVE YOU
Industrial metal / nu-metal / djent / cybershit
*MANIACAL EVIL CACKLE* ignore everything I said for Dai Dai Dai (#31), this right here is the most obnoxious record of the year and would border on outright unlistenability for me, as Ada Rook's mothership project Black Dresses frequently have done in the past, were it not for the razor-sharp focus that underpins virtually every one of these tracks and the razor-sharp fucking RAZORBLADES that make up their musical substance and subject matter alike.
UGLY DEATH...'s levels of scathing are frankly diabolical to the point that they somehow override the seemingly insurmountable levels of goofball delivery and cartoonish intertext that Rook practically spits on our face in every fleeting moment of downtime. Good or bad taste alike have very little footing on this record, and anyone foolish enough to cling to notions either will find themselves mercilessly alienated.
Everyone else is left with an impeccably chaotic collection of death instincts and burgeoning frustrations that find voice in full conviction: "TRU U" weaponises digital lo-fi in such self-destructive fashion that there is hardly an audible waveform at points, "999999999 IN A DREAM" lays down enough weapons-grade industrial grooves to sustain a small orphanage, "GRAVITY WEAPON" rocks the dirtiest bounce of the year against appropriate levels of nu-metal fury and I outright refuse to summarise the avenues of pain that "XANAFALGUE" djent-synth-glitch apocalypse of the internet have put me through.
This record does impossibly awful things impossibly well and it deserves literally everything that comes its way.
Check: GRAVITY WEAPON
The Happy Star
Synthpop / Mandopop
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE DECEMBER RELEASES - that is to say, I tried not to underestimate December releases, and still had my socks blown off by Lexie Liu abruptly dropping the pop [for people who want and actually like POP] AOTY at the start of the month.
This album refines all the strongest synthpop facets of Liu's enormously fun transitional EP Gone Gold from last year, but is never hesitant to draw on her background as an R&B vocalist. She is armed well and there's a fair spread of things-to-analyse here, but good Lord I feel so disinclined to do so - this thing is a perfect antidote to everything I've found so stifling about Very Online poptimism-era pop ever since I started writing here: it's unpretentious straightforward fun, caters to gratification, demands zero self-awareness or cynical scrutiny and yet maintains easily enough energy in performance and effort in the songwriting department to reward whatever respect is thrown its way. All it takes is one strong vocalist with enough personality to pull off a load of occasionally questionable inflections over a string of almost uniformally catchy as all fuck bangers: praise fucking be. No overbearing self-scrutiny. No zeitgeist-pandering doomer bollocks. None of that plaintive Carly Rae Jepsen pity complex bullshit. The Happy Star dishes out every shade of gratification you could ask for and doesn't make so much as a feint in the oh-so-easily-disingenuous direction of depth or demand appraisal as such to get there.
Lexie Liu is living the dream as the rising Mandopop star with selective Western affinities that the world very much needs right now, and somehow she, more than any of our current frontline divas, singer-songwriters or production auteurs, seems to have the keenest sense of anyone of what pop music is ultimately *for*. The Happy Star isn't without the odd misstep ("3.14159" recalls everything insufferable about Grimes; "DIABLO" recalls everything sufferable about Nine Inch Nails but somehow drops the ball regardless), but fuck it - thrills and spills. File that shit under things-you-can-forgive-from-a-personable-vocalist-whose-muisc-doesn't-demand-an-overearnest-critical-audience-but-largely-indulges-one-anyway.
Now scram and jam before I get carried away and spiel off a bonus paragraph about how Mandarin is potentially the silkiest singing language and the linguistic interplay on this record is rarely less than gorgeous.
Pierce Jordan is honeybadger of the year and his incindiary performance on these STRAIGHT BANGERS OF IMMINENT POST-CAPITALIST DEMISE has burnt me out on so many times and I will keep coming back because this record hits like a truck with no brakes and shit damn don't we all need that kinda momentum on occasion especially from records as tight ballistic deafening as this this is what I want in my hardcore now the point is made repeat this entire sentence in one breath and you will understand the thrill maybe thankyou Godbless.
Check: John J
|4||City of Caterpillar|
Post-skramz, post-rock, post-hardcore
What an astoundingly great comeback. City of Caterpillar tighten up and shift their focus towards murkier, more convoluted territory than ever before; the highs they pull out of the tangled roots and damp corners that festoon this record feel inventive, hard-fought and enduringly powerful in a way that I never quite got from their legendary self-titled record. The dynamics and atmosphere across the board here are impeccably refined at their most expansive and improved to no end by the snark-riddled lashings of personality that dart out from the shorter cuts. Everything on this record fuckin works and I adore it - that is all.
Check: Voiceless Prophets
Experimental hip-hop / jazz / jungle / sound collage
L e t ' s g e t p e r s o n a l we are now in the realm where everything is next-level wonderful and the whims of fate (hi) will decide everything. i85mixx21-22 is a beautifully flawed record and I adore it in a way that I expect few will find reason to share.
The central *deal* here is that you listen to a jaw-droppingly magical instrumental collage of jazz, jungle and a sprinkling of emo, while the one the only the Material Girl himself raps periodically but (raises eyebrow) exclamatively about things that include and in fact orbit: disenfranchisement and grief. Some of it is a little snotty ("_radioversion"), some is convincingly vibey ("_acapella") and some is straight up WHY DEATH WHY hollering ("_remix"). So, uh, yes the dazzlingly sublime and caustically mundane are in full tryst on this one. Beyond its claim to production of the year (a title I'm always reluctant to dish out but which does fit here), I'm not sure I could really defend this as being better than Mystic Sisters upon the field of COMBAT, but
...it's also such a palpably special record and impacted my year in such a distinct way that the card of fuck-it shall be pulled and a bump shall be given! I dunno. This thing fell on me about a week before I moved from Japan and the way it unpacked feelings of disorientation, regret, nostalgia, displacement etc. that I wasn't yet fully aware I would need to unpack as I traipsed around Tokyo trying to cast off items from my oversized suitcase and greeting and abruptly sayonaraing a wonderful batch of eleventh hour hello-goodbye friends made for easily one of the most meaningful relationships I've had with any album this year. So that is personal and nice.
Don't get me wrong though, there's a spread of ideas that I find extraordinarily stirring for reasons that *don't* feel as though they need to be all that personal - the opener to end all openers in "_albumversion", the profoundly haunting minimalistic eulogy in "_live", the vast, last-gasp burnout of "_extended" with its sweet, sad bookending metaphor of misidentified ESP as (perhaps) imposter syndrome and/or survivor's guilt. Gosh darn. I feel that this record does demand individual love and a certain degree of sentimentality to pass for GREATNESS, but it's so rich in all its facets, crass or craftful, that I feel proud to shower it with both.
Loved writing on it too, both here and in review, despite finding it an initial nightmare to grapple with - ta Material Girl, it's been a privilege.
Gosh I would give anything to not have to write on this album again. Turning its gloriously intricate collage of slice-of-life shrapnel, emotional deadweights and skittish rumination into a separate commentary text for the Staff blurbs was probably the most demanding thing I've ever contributed to a Sput team feature, and yet here we all over again at the starting line.
I won't rehash my thoughts on *why* this album carries such a magnetic force of personality (hit up that Staff 10-1 and bask in that well-earned placement), but shit damn, when this thing crept up on me out of nowhere in November, I had the rare pleasure of feeling absolutely spellbound by a force of music that I would typically have expected nothing of the sort from. It was similar to Material Girl in that sense - a wholly *new* experience from unlikely quarters (fuck those horizon lines!) - but where that album's scope is hemmed by the degree to which one subscribes to its pathos (a shifting variable from day to day for me), this one has enough facets to refract practically any angle you approach it from into a surprising new direction.
It's absolutely uncontested as the milquetoast/mopehouse record of the decade so far and will likely remain as such given the standard of competition - the number of sadgirl x guitar tropes that Saya Gray turns head-over-heels on here is stunningly impressive for how much she still caters to the same audience. Probably the most exciting fresh songwriter in the game right now.
Check: SADNESS RESIDUE (ERASER ROOM)
Mmmm yep, there was never really any doubt with this one, from my borderline transformative first listen to countless twilight revisitations to a mesmerising live show to the existential considerations over what music is ultimately *there* for that inevitably accompany an end-of-year thoughtsthoughtsthoughts wrap-up. Saya Gray gave it a good run for its money for a while, but Glitch Princess reigns supreme as the most evocative, moving and overall best album released by anyone in 2022. Pour one out and cry.
For the unacquainted, the record is true to its title in that it affirms everything valuable from the shadowy lineage of (mainly) '00s glitch- and ambient- pop while also catering to the post-PC Music, by-and-for-internet stylisations of more contemporary fare. It's a rare self-portrait that directs all its creator's most pretentious (read: craftfully self-fashioned) inclinations towards representations of harrowing honesty (read: long, long list of mental health, self-image and self-identity struggles), and time and time and time again it manifests these spiralling complexities in such beautifully *graspable* fashion.
The clarity of vision and focus behind this are extraordinary precisely because the sense of self at play is so fragmentary, and also because the way Yeule bends the language of pop to their own ends is so intuitive - the pounding noise-techno on, say, "Fragments" or "Bites on My Neck" or the hints of light on "Electric" or "Don't Be So Hard On Your Own Beauty" all demand such a beautifully human reponse from such dissociated subject matter.
So on the one hand, yes, this record indulges a bunch of aesthetic leaning and substance-as-style songwriting tendencies that I've done my utmost to represent across a range of guises on here, but the way Yeule maps themselves across this record and conjures love from the pits of plummeting despair is easily inspiring enough for Glitch Princess to stand as Album Of The Fucking Year for what they have made rather than what I hoped for. Thrilled to follow their career onwards from here.
Check: Bites On My Neck