I wanted to highlight some of my favorites that the homies didn’t already mention. So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite albums of 2022, in no particular order.
Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems
You have no idea how many times “who the fuck gonna beat my ass?!” has played on a loop in my brain this year. “Gold Chain Punk (whogonbeatmyass?)” is without a doubt my favorite first track of the year. It kicks Diaspora Problems off with such an incredible amount of energy, and Soul Glo keeps that energy level for the entirety of the runtime. Mixing hardcore punk with rap, metal, and funk influences, this album is a must hear. And if you don’t believe me when I say it absolutely rules, maybe its ranking on NPR, Vulture, and Pitchfork‘s Top Albums of 2022 lists will convince you.
Chat Pile’s brand of sludgy noise rock is crushingly anxious and utterly hopeless – it’s no surprise to hear that their personal influences include transgressive films like Mysterious Skin and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer – but their songs aren’t all nihilistic doom and gloom. There’s a real sense of empathy within their music, especially on tracks like the heart-wrenching “Why” that angrily questions, “Why do people have to live outside? We have the resources, we have the means.” There’s also a twisted sense of humor on a lot of these tracks. The closing song is maybe one of the most unsettling songs I’ve heard this year, and it’s called…”grimace_smoking_weed.jpg”. 10/10
Listen. All of the Left of the Dial live sessions are really fucking good, but Froggy’s is like…REALLY fucking good. I’ve been eagerly awaiting their album ever since their sesh, and Harmburger did not disappoint. It’s a rowdy and energetic album, featuring songs that range from the light and silly (“Senior Citizen,” a song about yearning for early bird specials) to the painful and vulnerable (“Rippin’ My Skin,” “Spring Fever”). The band has great charisma and great chemistry, and the dual vocal dynamic between Brooke Feenie and Morgan McClain is charming and adds a layer of added fun to an already extremely fun album. Harmburger has strong and clear riot grrrl and queercore influences, but don’t get it twisted – Froggy is in a league of their own. It’s Froggy-core!
Naked Lake are the duo Abbie Painter (they/them) and Jordan Hartsfield (they/them), and they crafted an incredibly honest album that explores transition, coming out, and finding your own place in the world. Painter purposefully framed the album around their hormone replacement therapy timeline, and the album includes introspective and honest songs that tackle transition and the conflicting emotions that come with it – certainty and uncertainty, comfort and loss, hope and fear. These are perspectives we rarely get to hear on a mainstream level, so to have an entire album of painstaking vulnerability and honesty feels hugely important. It’s a really, really special album.
As the album title suggests, these songs are all about embracing musical guilty pleasures. From rap metal to boybands to neon-scene-kid-shit, Cheem combines all those genres that we’re supposed to point and laugh at…and proves that they’re all fun and fantastic sounds. I think I had previously described Cheem on the podcast as “nu-metal Backstreet Boys,” and if that sounds like something you’d be down with, you have to check this out. And if that isn’t something you’d be down with, stop being such a snob and have some fun!!!!
This album was one of my favorite new finds of the year. I stumbled upon it while searching through random bandcamp tags, and thank goodness for that bit of serendipity because it ended up becoming one of my favorite albums of 2022.
Soft and Dumb are an art rock duo out of Illinois. Together, guitarist Elena Buenrostro and drummer Travis Newgren craft music that’s both twinkly and gritty. It’s harsh, yet tender. Their sound is a bit like if Mitski was a member of Sonic Youth. Or like, if Soccer Mommy was in a mathcore midwest emo band. Actually, it feels like a cop-out to even compare them to other artists at all – Soft and Dumb are truly one of a kind, and their self-titled debut is fantastic. I was lucky enough to interview them for our Home Studio Stories series, so give that a read if you like what you hear.
I don’t write about my love for eclectic grindcoremusic enough, to be honest. There’s something so special about the chaos in the genre. This year was a great year for those kinds of releases: Wormrot’s Hiss, p.s.you’redead’s Sugar Rot, and The Sawtooth Grin’s Good., to name a few. But I’m bestowing the Best Chaotic Grindcore Album Award to this split between THECHEESEBURGERPICNIC and Thotcrime. I mean, it kicks off with a J.K. Rowling diss track. I’m not going to not give something like that a Best Of The Year spot.
But seriously, though. The Thotcrime half of this project is glitchy pandemonium while THECHEESEBURGERPICNIC’s portion cranks up the distortion and throws in harsh noise and a bit of doom. The entire project is dripping with visceral energy and anger, and is a fantastic collection of songs to listen to when you’re fed up with rampant queerphobia (and/or fed up with J.K. Rowling’s tweets).
The first full-length from country artist Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, aka CMAT, really impressed me. There’s a lot of goofiness here – I mean, just look at that album artwork and title – but there are also some surprisingly affecting emotional tracks. The album opens on the gorgeously depressing “Nashville,” a song about suicidal ideation, and then a few tracks later pulls off a much sillier song about wanting to have an affair with Peter Bogdanovich. It has a little something for whatever mood you’re in, and shows that CMAT has fantastic musical range.
I’ve heard a lot of people complain that new country tends to be nothing but empty beach tunes or corny bullshit to play in aTexas Roadhouse. If you’re one of those folks who thinks that, give If My Wife New I’d Be Dead a spin. Another 2022 country highlight? Paisley Fields’ Limp Wrist.