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Sowing's 2022 Halfway

We're roughly halfway through 2022, so here's a quick catch-up on some of the stuff that I've enjoyed loosely ranked.
50Simone Felice
All The Bright Coins

The best moments here make this seem like it should rank higher, but there's simply too much of that spoken word/faux-deep poetry nonsense going on. There's also some forgettable acoustic filler that pads the tracklist. Folk/Indie fans should still spin this, but temper your expectations.
49Caroline (UK)

The creative chops on this one are admirable and almost make up for the album's atonal nature. This is a classic case of experimentation not necessarily equating to enjoyable music; it's very difficult to sit through this thing, but in small bursts it can sound authentically groundbreaking.
The Dream

I forget more about this than I remember, which is telling. For a while now, Alt-J has been carefully toeing the line between artsy/experimental and overly indulgent; I think this time they finally fell onto the wrong side of that line. That said, alt-J is still always good for a small handful of good songs.

Cheese, cheese, and more cheese. With that said, I never thought I'd hear a hair metal record in 2022 that I actually derived some unironic pleasure from, so in that sense this is definitely at least a moderate success.
46Drug Church

With Hygiene, Drug Church has crafted a thrilling and immersive indie-punk record. The album sorely lacks variation and the entire thing bleeds together, but the overall aura here definitely scratches an itch.
If My Wife New I'd Be Dead

The songwriting is solid and the lyrics are excellent, but this is mostly about Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson (CMAT)'s vocals, which are stunning. This isn't on the cutting edge of furthering country music or anything, but it's good for what it is.
Giving the World Away

Another neon-bright batch of warm, sugary tunes from one of my new favorite dream-pop artists. This does not quite live up to Keepsake's highs, but it's a little more consistent. This won't change anyone's mind about Hatchie for better or worse.

This has some really great songs and some of Underoath's most intense performances in years. Unfortunately, it also wafts some absolute stinkers our way ('Hallelujah' is a strong contender for worst thing they've ever done). As a whole, though, this is probably still a worthwhile experience for most metalcore/post-hardcore fans.
42Charli XCX

Charli traded a good deal of the glitch pop and autotune from 2020's celebrated How I'm Feeling Now for straight-up bops, and I'm personally quite the fan. I always preferred her more direct pop songcraft, so Crash delivers the goods - especially with bangers like Good Ones and Beg For You.

A sweepingly powerful death/doom metal tour de force with a slightly progressive/experimental bend. The artwork is fucking magnificent to boot. It's main flaw is that it recycles those amazing ideas across its excessive length until it eventually runs out of steam.
40Florence and the Machine
Dance Fever

Florence has been trending away from rock and more towards these sort of moody, atmospheric dark pop albums. High as Hope did it way better, but this is still an entirely listenable and good LP. It lacks any real standouts and I'm not entirely sure how much I'll return to it, but it's still a great in-the-moment listen.
i don’t know who needs to hear this...

Tomberlin's debut caught me off-guard with its subtly gorgeous atmosphere and incredibly moving lyrics. This doesn't have the benefit of the element of surprise, but is similarly understated and just as beautiful. Nobody does depressioncore as good as Tomberlin at the moment.
38Grace Cummings
Storm Queen

She's definitely got a unique voice that I believe listeners will either love or hate. The music is very elegant/pastoral, and while the entire experience isn't very consistent, gems like 'Raglan' are breathtaking. It's a worthwhile journey just to witness such peaks.
The Loser

I love the chaotic energy on this release. It's intense, wild, and unpredictable. The vocals can become a bit grating over the course of the entire album, but the sheer creativity here makes this an excellent release at minimum. (disclaimer: this was my first Gospel experience).
36Falls of Rauros
Key to a Vanishing Future

Some of the screams here are absolutely bone-chilling, and this feels way more emotional than most black metal that I've heard (which isn't much). I think you need to be in a depressed/angry headspace to fully appreciate this, but when the stars align, this is an exceptionally moving piece.
35Cave In
Heavy Pendulum

Somehow this was my first Cave In record, and I really enjoyed it. After a while some of the songs start to sound similar, but the highlights here are undeniably great. This could grow on me and climb the list if I end up spending more time with it across the back half of 2022.
34Craig Finn
A Legacy Of Rentals

Compared to I Need a New War, A Legacy Of Rentals is much smoother, accessible, melodic, and immediate. That said, it also rings a bit hollow by comparison...I didn't feel like the storytelling was quite as fascinating or enveloping, and the flourishes don't feel quite as earned. I was blown away by my first listen, but have become a little less impressed after each subsequent spin.
33Night Palace
Diving Rings

A downright gorgeous record with the lushest of atmospheres and an absolutely seamless flow. This thing entrances with its dreamy melodies, and while it's nothing groundbreaking, it is about as aesthetically pleasing as indie-pop can possibly be.
32Circa Survive
A Dream About Death

This is a good EP, but there's an over-reliance on electronics/ambience and the melodies/hooks aren't up to Circa Survive's usual standards. The result is an experience that sort of floats by; you sort of get out of it what you put into it, but it's not all that gripping. With that said, CS at their worst are still pretty good.
31All Get Out

This seems like a great album held down by questionable production. Hussey's vocals also seem really reined in for whatever reason. Despite some questionable choices in the studio, many of these songs still manage to impress -- there's a nice balance of poignant balladry and more explosive cathartic releases.
30Orville Peck

Very enjoyable outlaw-styled country record. This is an improvement over Pony but falls just shy of the melodic heights of the Show Pony EP. All in all, another excellent addition to Peck's resume.
29Angel Olsen
Big Time

The production is downright incredible here, which when combined with Angel's voice gives it the feeling that it should be an earth mover of an LP -- but many of these songs lack an engaging melody or strong enough hook to leave a lasting impression. It gives off gorgeous vibes for sure, though.
28Harry Styles
Harry's House

Yes, it's very overproduced - but it's Harry Styles, so what were you expecting? This thing is otherwise a ton of fun with plenty of intriguing wrinkles. It's a great pop record.
27Kevin Devine
Nothing's Real, So Nothing's Wrong

Devine's vocals are perhaps better here than they've ever been. The LP also starts out absolutely bounding with creative energy, especially on the massive opener Laurel Leaf. The main thing holding this back is that it doesn't maintain that level of intriguing, confident experimentation. It loses some steam as it levels off into more of a standard folk singer-songwriter approach, but this is still an excellent record that qualifies among Devine's best to date.
26Gang of Youths
Angel in Realtime

GoY find themselves sacrificing some of their raw emotion for more production value. The synths/strings etc. don't quite bridge the gap; while this still manages to be absolutely gut-wrenching in spurts (hello 'Goal of the Century'), it's not quite the game changer that Go Father in Lightness was.
25Domestic Terminal
I Could B Midnight Sides

From our very own Jack Mancuso comes this delightful EP, which comes on the heels of a personal favorite album of mine in 2020's I Could See Midnight Sky. This is just two songs, but they're both beautiful ('Meet Me In Denver' is particularly stunning). Listen to this on a warm summer evening and let the memories begin.
For the Sake Of Bethel Woods

A really smooth, proggy semi-concept record that transports the listener. Imagine The Shins were still in their prime but were also more ambitious. This admittedly lacks the grit/power/oomph (instrumentally or emotionally) to truly elevate it beyond merely pleasant, but it's an incredibly tight indie-folk release nonetheless.
23William Ryan Key
Everything Except Desire

If you'd asked me around the time Ocean Avenue dropped if I could picture Ryan Key making a solo electronic EP that was actually really good, I'd probably have laughed in your face. It seems there's much more to this pop-punk vocalist than initially meets the ear.
Every Moment, Everything You Need

My primary issue with shoegaze as a genre is that it's so gorgeous/shimmering/sleek that it also becomes slippery/evasive. Every Moment, Everything You Need shatters that illusion with blistering synths and massive riffs that make for a truly unforgettable experience.
21The Weeknd
Dawn FM

Surprise record from one of the world's biggest pop/R&B stars. It lacks the massive hits, but it's held together by a very cohesive theme and an intoxicating nightclub-styled atmosphere. In terms of an "album experience", this might actually be his best since the Trilogy.
20Rolo Tomassi
Where Myth Becomes Memory

Where Myth Becomes Memory represents the ideal intersection between beauty and aggression. This particular style of post-hardcore has never really been by cup of tea, but I still enjoyed this a ton. Rolo Tomassi has a new fan.
There's Always Blood at the End of the Road

This is full of straightforward bangers, with some really cool and creepy twists (see: "Nuages"). The one word that comes to mind is gritty. If you're a metal fan, you simply can't miss with this record.
18Blut Aus Nord
Disharmonium - Undreamable Abysses

A hopeless abyss that is as terrifying as the utter darkness that it conveys. Somehow this exists as both a relentless wall of sound but also as a nuanced and memorable record - it's one of very few albums in this vein that I could listen to repeatedly.
17Father John Misty
Chloë and the Next 20th Century

Apparently the unanimous pick for Sput's least favorite FJM, I found this to actually be the best thing he's accomplished since Honeybear. It fulfills a lounge-y, showtune-y place in his catalog that otherwise does not exist and - for me, at least - it struck all the right chords. Chloe, Goodbye Mr. Blue, Q4, Funny Girl, and The Next 20th Century are all superb cuts, and the rest - even at its worst - holds its own as a series of suave, pleasing melodies.
Everything Was Beautiful

A magnificently warm embrace, Everything Was Beautiful is essentially a series of uplifting and blissful indie-rock tunes, where everything flows exceptionally well and there are plenty of crescendos and other epic moments. It's an album that sings about love from the top of mountains - which means you have to be in the right headspace for it - but when you are, there's nothing quite like it.
15Beach House
Once Twice Melody

A sprawlingly gorgeous dream pop record, Once Twice Melody is Beach House's longest album to date. Somehow, it is also their most consistent. A legitimate argument could be made for this being the band's best record and magnum opus, even if my heart still resides with 2012's Bloom.
14Placebo (UK)
Never Let Me Go

This was my first Placebo album. The singer reminds me of a blend between The Decemberists' Colin meloy and The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle. There's an odd rift between the rock instrumentation and the comparitive litheness of said vocals that I don't quite vibe with, but the songwriting here is great and tracks like 'The Prodigal' and 'Surrounded By Spies' are simply outstanding. Album also gets better with every spin.
13Sea Power
Everything Was Forever

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.
12Animal Collective
Time Skiffs

The best AnCo since Fall Be Kind. It was initially too eclectic for my taste, but a lot of the tracks grew on me. 'Prester John' and 'Strung With Everything' anchor this thing though, with each serving as a perfect 5/5 track.
This Bright And Beautiful World

This Bright and Beautiful World is a brilliant blend of heaviness and melody, in essence beating ETID's Radical at its own game. The album is a wild and thrilling ride full of huge hooks, seamlessly blended harsh/clean vocals, immaculate and intricate guitar work, and flawless production. The whole thing is so explosive that it's nearly impossible not to get out of your seat and start rioting in your own home.
10Jack White
Fear of the Dawn

I've always enjoyed Jack White, dating back to The White Stripes' self-titled debut. I lost track of a lot of his recent solo discog however, so this came as quite the pleasant surprise. This electronic/synth infused album still undeniably rocks, as Jack comes out with guitars just as blazin' as always. This is pure weird fun rock n' roll like I'm not sure I've ever heard.
9Prince Daddy and The Hyena
Prince Daddy And The Hyena

A thrilling emo-punk record that gets better with every listen. This is melodic with a raw edge, and has a penchant for getting ambitious ("Black Mold"). It's a bit weird, but you knew that when you saw the creepy-as-all-fuck album artwork. This band's self-titled is their best, and easily moves into the upper echelon of 2022 releases.
The Unraveling of PUPTheBand

Holy shit is this a fun record. Brimming with infectious energy, raw production, and gang-chanted choruses, this is basically a pop-punk magnum opus. I can't listen to this without screaming along to every word, while smiling ear-to-ear.

This is Pinegrove's most scaled back effort so far, featuring lush/earthy instrumentation that is beautifully timid and equally unhurried. Tracks like 'Iodine' 'Swimming', 'Cyclone', and '11th Hour' are all some of the best songs that this band has ever written, and there's nary a weak track on the whole thing. 11:11 feels like a collective exhale, and it is also Pinegrove's best album to date.
6Out of Service
The Ground Beneath Me

Something of a coming-of-age record for Out of Service, these emo-rockers put forth some of their best material to-date while teaming with Taking Back Sunday, Emery, and All Get Out. Critics will cite the vocalist's uncanny similarities to Jesse Lacey, but if that doesn't bother you with artists like The Republic of Wolves or Seaheaven, then it shouldn't bother you here. It's a consistently intense and moving record that all fans of this particular scene should enjoy.
5Daniel Rossen
You Belong There

From the Grizzly Bear frontman comes a whirlwind of avant-garde classical prog folk. Imagine that Shields-era Grizzly Bear merged with Crack-Up era Fleet Foxes. Mystifying and reassuring all at once, You Belong There rests easily among the best folk records of 2022.
Call To Arms and Angels

Holy shit. This is a monumental release; big on dramatic arrangements and gorgeous/lush with a side of creepy. For an alt-rock band, it's surprisingly progressive and complex, ranging from straightforward rockers to atmospheric piano folk pieces to 14 minute ambient tracks. Detractors will complain about its length, but I thought this album was so fascinating and eclectic that it breezed by. Rarely has it been easier to navigate a seventeen track, 103-minute double LP than it is here.
3Zach Bryan
American Heartbreak

American Heartbreak is Zach Bryan's best album, at least from a sonic/sheer musical perspective. Somehow even at 34 tracks the thing never really gets old and it always feels like you're just 1 or 2 songs away from an absolute stunner, or a tearjerker, or a lyrical masterpiece of some kind. I'm going to be listening to this for a long, long time (and not just because it's really long, ha). As this continues to grow it could possibly climb higher than #3 on my year-end 2022 list.
2Big Thief
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

I never expected a 20-song Big Thief album to be among my favorite LPs of the year, but here we are. This thing is wildly consistent given its massive length, with really only 1 obvious outlier (the raw, demo-esque 'Love Love Love'). The other 19 songs are varying degrees of hybrid indie-rock/folk/country excellence, and it's no small exaggeration to place this among the best double albums of the last ten years. Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You is a landmark achievement that will likely define Big Thief's career and help shape many "best of" lists when December arrives.
1Ethel Cain
Preacher's Daughter

An intense tale of love, lust, sexual/physical abuse, suffering, and drugs that ranges from downright terrifying to inadvertently hopeful. The album twists and turns, its plot gradually unfolding like a movie. You won't appreciate this album fully until you listen while reading along with the lyrics - it's more than just an album, it's a story. I remain haunted by this genuine classic: a piece that may be based upon a fictional story, but that constantly and rather unfortunately intersects with reality for so many people.
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