There were a lot of these this year. Cheers!
I don't know how the years just keep getting worse, but here we are ya'll.
I'm late with this list, like, months long depressive procrastination kind of late, but I was surprised to find SO MUCH music that I adored from 2022! Which also made me intimidated to put this thing together.
But here it is, finally. Thanks for your patience.
Let me know what you loved, what you liked, and what you hated!
(Bedroom Pop, Alt R&B, Funk, Experimental.)
Juno is Wolf's debut full-length album, and man, this thing slaps from front to back.
The California-based singer-songwriter attracted attention from an American Idol appearance, and a number of singles and an EP, but she truly gained a following from her online presence during the COVID lockdowns.
Wolf's project clearly pulls from a bunch of different influences, and combined with her neon, hyper-pop silliness and focus on dance-ability heavily reminds me of BROCKHAMPTON.
I actually listened to the deluxe version of Juno before the original, and well, I might be cheating here. The original Juno is from 2021, but the deluxe version is from 2022. And, honestly, the deluxe is better. There are a bunch of incredible bops that were just missing from the condensed version, it's worth the longer listen.
Fave tracks: "Liz," "Michael," "Quiet On Set," "Liquor Store," "Sexy Villian," Anthony Kiedis," "Street You Live On."
We've been waiting for this.
As one of the biggest names in R&B, SZA made an immediate splash after releasing her first full-length album in 2022 after 2017's CTRL.
If you're on TikTok, you've heard "Kill Bill," "I Hate U," "Blind," and "Nobody Gets Me" by now- but don't mistake the app's love for these singles as a one-off, SOS, the massive 23 song album is like, 90% bangers. The album follows SZA through each step of a major break-up: there's heartbreak, bitterness, toxicity, begging, anger, and then.. I guess, acceptance?
From "Seek & Destroy," to "Blind," to "Gone Girl"- SZA came out swinging, and this is easily one of the highest quality albums of the year.
Fave tracks: "SOS," "Seek & Destroy," "Gone Girl," "Smoking on my Ex Pack," "Ghost in the Machine," "Nobody Gets Me," "Blind," "Good Days," "Shirt."
Nashville singer-songwriter Sophia Allison just keeps getting better with age. Known for her vulnerable yet edgy indie-rock hits, the artist leans heavily into grunge-y influences on Sometimes, Forever, and on certain tracks giving me huge Radiohead vibes.
She's one of the biggest names in indie rock right now, and for good reason. Allison's voice has a real ghostly quality on her latest project, and with the dark, grunge-y lyrics and instrumentals on each track, the album feels intentionally spooky- with mentions of monsters, fog, following eyes, horror, witches, spiders, etc. While the content of her music hasn't varied much: heartbreak, failed relationships, depression, Sometimes, Forever feels like a more grown-up, confident Soccer Mommy.
Fave tracks: "With U," "Unholy Affliction," "Shotgun," "Darkness Forever," "newdemo."
This album was, unfortunately, overlooked by many previous Peck fans.
Maybe it was a marketing issue, maybe the spark of being a shiny brand-new artist wore off, or maybe the lack of singles on Bronco evaded listeners, but there is a noticeable decrease in Spotify streams, YouTube videos, etc. for this 2022 album's releases.
It's sad to see, especially since Peck's voice has improved so much on this record, and the singles that DO slap, go SO hard. The 'anonymous' queer alt-country artist is unlike anyone else in his field, and although I was disappointed with the lack of upbeat tracks, Bronco is still an extremely worthwhile listen.
Fave tracks: "Daytona Sand," "The Curse of the Blackened Eye," "C'mon Baby, Cry," "Hexie Mountains," "Lafayette."
(R&B, Electronic, Alt Pop.)
So, I guess this is a mixtape, not an album.. but I don't really care, I'm still including it!
MAGDALENE was only released in 2019, but doesn't that feel like a decade ago? We haven't heard much music from the artist recently, but Tahliah Debrett Barnett sure has been put through the wringer over the last few years, from facing racist abuse while engaged to Robert Pattinson, to filing a domestic abuse lawsuit against former partner Shia LaBeouf (fuck him), so on CAPRISONGS, FKA Twigs focuses on rediscovering herself.
This mixtape is so much fun. CAPRISONGS has everything, from R&B and hip hop to electronic and dancehall, featuring softer, introspective songs alongside upbeat bangers- all oozing with sexuality. Less avant-garde than Twigs' past projects, CAPRISONGS includes some huge features including The Weeknd and Daniel Caesar, so it's a much more digestible project, but then again- it's a mixtape. FKA twigs focused on playing around with styles, discovering what excites her, and just having fun. She deserves that.
Fave tracks: "ride the dragon," "honda (feat. pa salieu)," "meta angel," "oh my love," "pamplemousse," "papi bones," "jealously (feat. rema)," "darjeeling (feat jorja smith & unknown t)."
(Electronic Rock, Indie Pop, Synth Pop.)
Mitski took the recent 80s revival trend and fully ran with it on Laurel Hell.. and it worked!
I've been a long time Mitski fan, severely peaking around 2016/2017. As an angsty young adult, Puberty 2 and Bury Me At Makeout Creek are now permanently burned into my subconscious.
Now, when Be The Cowboy dropped in 2018, I honestly didn't listen to it much. There are a handful of tracks I adore for sure, maybe it was just a great year for music and I got distracted, but ultimately the album doesn't come to mind often.
Laurel Hell on the other hand, I've been revisiting often. This is the album Mitski realized that she was contractually obligated to make before officially retiring, so in return, she spends it exploring her turbulent relationship with fame, capitalism, and why she's making music. On her 2022 album, Mitski asks why achieving her artistic dreams don't seem to make her any happier.
Fave tracks: "Working for the Knife," "Valentine, Texas," "Stay Soft," "The Only Heartbreaker," "Should've Been Me."
(Hip Hop, Rock, Funk.)
There's a lot of astrology references in these 2022 releases.. interesting.
Another TikTok smash hit, the alternative hip hop artist's fourth long-form project dropped last summer, and immediately blew up online.
Lacy is a total rockstar man. This album has some fantastic online megahits that are just pure pop perfection, there's something so magnetic about the star, Lacy's got serious charisma that I think could make him last for a long time. The guitarist for The Internet is one of those musicians who has got his hands in everyone else's projects, but in reality has quite a small personal catalogue. The singles on Gemini Rights are funny, heartbreaking, yet uplifting all at once- I'd kill to see these live.
I hope Lacy continues in this direction, especially leaning into his funk and rock influences- there's some real Prince energy on Gemini Rights, and I'm excited about it.
Fave tracks: "Static," "Bad Habit," "Helmet," "Amber," "Mercury," "Sunshine (feat. Foushee)," "Give You the World."
(Punk, Riot grrrl.)
English punk rock group Petrol Girls are reviving Riot grrrl.
On Baby, the four-piece band talk honestly and ferociously about religion, immigration, abortion, domestic and sexual violence, police violence, etc. with a fiery, furious passion.
Dripping with righteous anger, the feminist punks scream what we only wish we could say so loudly. In a post Roe V. Wade world, (even though they're English) songs like "Baby, I Had An Abortion" and "Fight for Our Lives," hit home as the band demands that political bodies keep their hands off women's bodies and reproductive rights.
Forcing optimism for the future often feels a lot like the band's second last single, "I've been tired for years/ I'm sick/ I'm fucking sick," and if you're ready to scream about it, give Baby a spin.
Fave tracks: "Preachers," "Baby, I Had an Abortion," "Fight for Our Lives," "One or the Other," "Violent by Design," "Bones."
(Funk, Rock, Jazz.)
This is definitely my smallest, in terms of notability/fame, choice for this list. I actually discovered this gem from an Exclaim! review!
Mitch Davis is Montreal-based musician and producer, (formerly a rapper under Mitchmatic) and with this new persona, Davis focuses on a mixture of jazz, funk and and soul, all while playing every single instrument himself.
It's a pretty chill listen; laid back, slightly sad, and has huge 70s feels. The cover art has this whimsical, yet still creepy vibe, which I think suits the record well. It has so little streams, so please- go check it out!
Fave tracks: "In the Morning," "Let it Die," "Left Inside," "What You Say," "The Haunt."
Natural Brown Prom Queen
(R&B, Alt Pop.)
I was truly blown away after hearing this.
I'd never heard of Sudan Archives until 2022 when I was researching for this list, and yikes man, I've been missing out.
This is only singer-songwriter Brittney Parks' second album, yet it has become quite hard to avoid- as it appears on every music publication and music nerd's best of 2022 albums lists.
Parks writes about identity, confidence, insecurity, colourism, and being perceived across Natural Brown Prom Queen. On the title track, one of the most upbeat songs, the song opens with: “Sometimes I think that if I was light-skinned/Then I would get into all the parties/Win all the Grammys, make the boys happy," then immediately follows up with a chant of, "I'm not average/ I'm not average/ I'm not average." Even through her lowest, most insecure moments throughout the album, Parks manages to shine through with a contagious optimism and internal self-confidence.
Fave tracks: "Home Maker," "NBPQ (Topless)," "Selfish Soul," "ChevyS10," "OMG BRITT," "Copycat (Broken Nations)," "Freakalizer," "Yellow Brick Road."
Melt My Eyez See Your Future
Floridian rapper Denzel Curry trades his usual high energy for introspection on his fifth studio album.
On Melt My Eyez See Your Future, Curry bounces back from a rough period. The artist gets brutally honest, discussing toxic behaviours, misogynistic tendencies, addiction, and suicidal thoughts.
This is a hip hop record for those of us attempting to retreat from the horrors of the world to work on ourselves- it's not a total downer though, at least by my definition, Curry still pulls through with a project chock-full of bouncy, upbeat tracks.
In interviews about the project, Curry has said, “This album is about me, Denzel Curry. No alter egos, no nothing. Just Denzel Curry.” In a time where we as a society are lonelier than ever, in the midst of a pandemic, a financial crisis, and political unrest- I think we all need to follow Curry's advice and take some time for ourselves.
Fave tracks: "Melt Session #1 (Feat. Robert Glasper)," "Walkin," "Worst Comes to Worst," "X-Wing," "John Wayne (Feat. Buzzy Lee)," "The Last," "Troubles (Feat. T-Pain)," "Zatoichi (Feat. slowthai)."