Porcupine Tree – Closure/Continuation
I didn’t really know that I needed Closure or Continuation regarding Porcupine Tree, but then I saw them live at the Met in Philly, and man, turns out I really missed them. Often, bands come back after decades only to release a single mediocre reunion album before returning to obscurity. C/C manages to avoid that tendency. It serves as a reminder of what we liked about PT all along, sure, but it’s also one of their strongest albums yet, and proof that the band have more to say.
John Scofield – John Scofield
A warm and inviting solo(?) jazz guitar album that features the masterful playing we’ve come to expect from Scofield, who fills incredible amounts of space despite each song only consisting of a few clean guitar tracks. The sound is not so much “sparse” as it is tasteful and delicate; one of the most pleasant albums I heard in all of 2022.
The Weeknd – Dawn FM
The Weeknd builds on his familiar dark-electronic tinged aesthetic with this masterpiece; not only one of his most fully-realized works, but one of the nicest concept albums I’ve heard in several years. It’s the type of album where you can’t listen to it without feeling drawn into the questions posed by the overarching work; and it’s incredible catchy – once you start it, you’ll just want to listen through until the very end.
deathcrash – Return
If you’ve got a hankering for a blend of Red House Painters-style Slowcore with American Football-style Midwest Emo, there are no better 2022 albums to turn to. deathcrash nail the aesthetic and the overall sound perfectly, so much so that, with this debut, the instantly became one of my favorite new bands.
Julian Lage – View with a Room
Lage’s playing is such a treat to begin with, but “View with a Room” just sounds so good. The compositions cover many different tempos, styles, and moods. And the addition of Bill Frissel as a second guitar player on this record really enhances the depth of the overall atmosphere and sound of each song.
DOMI and JD Beck – NOT TiGHT
A fantastic debut from two young prodigies the nails this confluence of neo-soul, nu-jazz, and chillhop influences. A starstudded affair that includes appearances from Thundercat, Herbie Hancock, Anderson.Paak, Snoop Dogg, and even the great Kurt Rosenwinkel. Honestly, with a debut like that, how much better could it possibly get?
And So I Watch You From Afar – Jettison
A wonderful song-cycle brimming with nostalgia and sentiment. The sparsely decorated spoken-word sections do just enough to heighten the emotional connotations of the music’s drawn out tensions. And I’m right at home with these post-rock guitars and these strings. Barely a dull moment to be found. There are plenty of post-rock bands, few reach the level of ASIWYFA when they are at the top of their game.
Soccer Mommy – Sometimes, Forever
Soccer Mommy delivers yet again with another thorough record that is thematically interesting as it is rich with catchy melodies and provocative turns of phrase. Whereas the preceding record, “Color Theory”, explored the shades of grief and depression as related to the color palette , “Sometimes, Forever” looks at the contradictions that have accompanied Sophie Allison’s newfound success: the irony of the continued human struggle, and the loss of personhood that lurks behind one’s burgeoning public life.
Black Midi – Hellfire
Black Midi is a force unlike much else. “Hellfire” combines the energy of a punk band with the finesse and artistry of peak Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. I was blown away, at times, with how intense and aggressive this album could sound. Other times, I was swept away by its beauty. With “Hellfire” Black Midi are 3 for 3, cementing themselves as one of the best new bands around.
Elephant Gym – Dreams
Elephant Gym have, single-handedly, taken the genre of “math rock” and elevated it not only to the next level but several levels beyond that. Is this even “math rock” anymore? Is it jazz? Is it folk? Is it sample-based music? Throughout the course of the album, you hear all of those influence. You also will hear (I counted) at least 5 languages. I love the diversity of it all. They are so unparalleled in their uniqueness, their approach, and their ability to inspire. And that is why “Dreams” is my favorite album of 2022.