Friday, December 30, 2022

Year In Review 2022 - Favorite Albums of 2022

Here are our all of our favorite albums of 2022. This is the year end review, all in one place.

You can click the links to also find our favorite album cover artRtBE's favorite archive releases and picks for best live shows

Below are our picks for RtBE's favorite albums of the year. It starts with our honorable mentions then moves into our top ten albums of the year. There is a short blurb about the album and a song from it, click on the title to read our full review of the selected records. The focus here is on full albums, not singles, but long playing releases you can slap on and listen to all the way through.

We worked with the Glide Staff on their list as well, so there may be a few overlaps if you read that already. 

Thanks for reading. Until next year....

So quick thoughts on 2022, this year had a ton of 'OK' to 'Good' albums and very few 'Great' to 'Amazing'.
With the pandemic still causing chaos for touring musicians, there seemed to be a lot of the albums released this year which were recorded in isolation and that didn't lead to many breakthroughs to these ears. Mental note, collaboration is king.  

In fact, last year we stated that there had never been a year where the gap from our 'Honorable Mentions' selections and the number one album of our top ten list had been so close. Well, this year things are even closer. 

Covid has kind of leveled things in a weird way these past two years, at least where full length releases are concerned. Nothing has come close to 2020's best which saw albums recorded before and during the early phases of the lock down.  

That said, you could pick any album here and argue top ten and would have a case, even album of the year and RtBE could see it. So with that, consider all of these selections worthy of your time, money and attention. 

Honorable Mentions:

Let's start this off with a band who RtBE thought peaked long ago and who we had written off, yet somehow managed to put out a really solid record in 2022 (Spoiler/Hint: we are actually going to end our look back at 2022 albums with a band we feel the same way about). Easily the best BoH album since at least 2010's Infinite Arms, (which landed on this list that year), the sarcastically titled Things Are Great finds Ben Bridwell back at it in winning, and slightly pissed off, fashion.   

A jam/stoner metal album that cooks with energy and power (as well as a cool cover), the San Diego trio kick some demon ass on this very enjoyable album.  

Friends from New Orleans put out a solid slice of cabaret Jazz originals and covers with heart, energy, passion and chops all around. 

The middle of NOLA trio, this one is the most pop facing of the New Orleans based group. The album is full of synths and strong singing from Alynda Lee Segarra. 

Rounding out our dip south, here is a fun album from Charlie and crew that looks to the Caribbean for inspiration. Pour a cold, fruity drink and put the record on, you won't be able to help but dance.  

Another excellent release from the long running Superchunk.  This one scales back the aggression from 2018's What A Time To Be Alive, which hit this list that year as well. Scaled down but still very effective. 

Color RtBE surprised, who knew that nu-metal would be brought back into the pop fold by these two lovely ladies from London?  Amy Love and Georgia South add dashes of almost everything on Supernova, a crazy pop/rock record. 

Speaking of throwback sounds, this one came straight out of the 90's alternative buzz bin as Slang gets odd and touches lots of sub rock genres as well. 

Someone mention throwbacks?  Marcus King's Youngblood sounds straight out of the late 70's with dusty guitar solos and FM radio ready southern rock, but King's lyrics and vocals add a new twist as he sounds like CeeLo Green fronting The Allman Brothers at times. 

Forget throwbacks, LFK is a living blues legend. Always great to see him in NOLA and this album might just be his best. The warm vibe and weathered voice goes great with the easy rolling guitar grooves; this is RtBE's favorite blues album of 2022.   

The self-titled debut from Near Beer is pop punk/indie-rock in fun fashion. In a year when tons of young acts channeled Weezer to lesser degree, the older Near Beer just rolled with it and had fun; it shows. 

The debut from Dean Fertita as Tropical Gothclub is just one album where RtBE wishes more collaboration took place. This album rocks and while good, some help from Fertita's musical friends could have made it great.  Hope he keeps at it.   

Lots of good retro-soul/funky music came out this year.  The Dip's Sticking With It struck us as the best from that fast growing genre, but all were solid.

Ho-hum one of the greatest American bands dropped another solid album.  Truth be told, what is more surprising to RtBE is that it didn't make our top ten, it just didn't have the staying power like DBT's past efforts. Some of which came close and also topped our lists in the past. 

The first half of this album captures pandemic woes of musicians perfectly. Really well done. The second half isn't as strong, but still a good album overall. 

A cool, semi-concept album, from the unique NOLA outfit that uses spoken word, hip-hop, funk, and more to get their feelings across.

RtBE's favorite jazz album this year is a journey in strings, thoughts and especially rhythmic drums/beats as McCraven and crew craft an immensely listenable record that pushes the envelope in different sonic directions. A damn good jazz record, even for those who don't necessarily like the genre. 

Top 10

 Rolling Golden Holy is a sweet summer sunset album for the backyard lazy Sunday hang. The folk trio of Anais Mitchell, Eric D Johnson, and Josh Kaufman sound excellent together and here is hoping this outfit keeps galloping on. That said, this ranking sorta sums up 2022. While this is a gorgeous album, with sweet harmonies and easy folk, RtBE likes their debut more and that couldn't crack the top ten in 2020.

While his first album released in 2022, Fear of the Dawn, made our disappointed listEntering Heaven Alive was much better to these ears. Three tracks immediately jump out as all-time excellent White songs, "A Tip From Me To You", "If I Die Tomorrow" and "Love Is Selfish" instantly elevating the whole record.  RtBE are unabashed White fans and perhaps other sites won't rank this album highly, but the deep bass and crisp production on tracks like "Tree On Fire From Within", just makes this album sound great. In a down year, all of those things combined are enough to make our top ten. 

The Will To Live is a very, very solid album as Patrick Stickles and crew guns for their version of "ultimate rock and roll" in classic +A style and almost gets there. The record rips to start as "I'm Screwed" cooks and the piano ballad "69 Stones" cools it out to end (after a dynamite Cock Sparrer cover). With most of Stickles work it could use a bit of trimming, but overall it is a valiant effort to deliver a true rock and roll experience.   

Here comes some energetic hip-hop from the Mardi Gras Indians down in New Orleans, as Flagboy Giz of The Wild Tchoupitoulas gets down over the course of these twelve strong tracks. With the help of Manny Fresh and a host of local musicians, Aaron “Flagboy Giz” Hartley’s second full length is banging from the start and modernizes the funky sounds found on the classic album his crew put out in the mid 70's. Definitely an artist to keep an eye and ear on. 

An extremely affecting release from the NYC based multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter Sarah Elizabeth HainesCastaway gives a dynamic female voice projection during a year when politicians tried to particularly silence those. A strong album that sounds amazing from the opening spoken word swelling track "Body". A powerful release, Castaway shines bright during dark times.     

Some very energetic indie pop highlights one of the best albums of RBCF's career.  Endless Rooms is like catnip for indie rock lovers with catchy, electro hooks and jams. As stated in the review, Endless Rooms bristles with a creative spirit, which is clearly displayed in the twinkling folk-rock of “Open Up Your Window” and the building/banging dance-pop of “Blue Eye Lake”. Check that one out: 

Speaking of catnip, here comes Fantastic Cat.  A collection of NYC area singer songwriters who went for a modern day Traveling Wilbury's vibe, each contributing songs and playing multiple instruments throughout. Very reminiscent of an RtBE favorite Monsters of FolkFantastic Cat proves if egos can be put aside by songwriters, cool things usually flow out. "Fiona" is one of our favorite songs of the year and the rest are all solid to great, including "Nobody's Coming To Get You"...

At first listen Things Happen That Way seemed slow and bit mournful...but after a few listens it sunk in...that is the point! The last studio album from Dr. John has some issues behind the scenes, but in the end it is a great collection of tracks from the Good Doctor and ranks with the best of his career. We mentioned the Wilbury's in the Fantastic Cat wrap up, but Mac actually covered them with a slow rollin' funky "End Of The Line" and his version of the title track is a stunner. This album is must hear for fans of Americana music with a New Orleans backbone. It is also very reminiscent of Warren Zevon's The Wind where the artist goes out on a high note. 

A bit out of RtBE's normal zone, Weyes Blood big baroque pop is impressive on And in the Darkness Hearts Aglow as she crystalizes these chaotic times we are going through and delivers big hymn like songs around them. Opener "It's Not Just Me, It's Everybody" says it right from the title, we are all in this together as she takes influences from Joni MitchellThe BeatlesHarry Nilsson and more while retaining her own strong modern voice; an impressive album. 

We started this years round up with a Sub Pop band from the early 2000's whose (we thought) best days were behind them. Built to Spill goes back even longer in their history and now their first album for that famous label is a doozy.  

RtBE are shocked how much we listened to this album this year.  While we enjoyed 2015's Untethered Moon and ranked it in our top ten, we weren't keen on the last few releases from main BtS'er Doug Martsch and were so disappointed with them the last time we caught them live we vowed that was it.  This record however has it all and is better than any of their albums since at least 2001's Ancient Melodies of the Future or 1999's Keep It Like a Secret. 

Martsch went to Brazil to record with Le Almedia and João Casaes, both from the Brazilian psychedelic jazz-rock band Oruã, but the album is pure Built to Spill; total Martsch. Wandering guitar solos, pensive lyrics around Doug's laid back whine just luxuriate as the songs ease out gaining in jamminess as they progress. 

The album is immensely listenable to fans of guitar rock and that is right in RtBE's wheelhouse.  Check out some of the tunes below and the full top ten.

There we go, that's our list, how'd we do?  Weird year, old favorites and emerging new artists combine to form our top ten. Feel free to post your favorites in the comments and as always thanks for reading.  

No comments:

Post a Comment