In Search of the 22 Best Albums of 2022: May

It took us three tries, but finally a single month posting, and before the end of the next month. Victory! Or at least, you know, less defeat. If you’re new here, I’m listening to new releases each month, and then sorting them into “Yes”, “Maybe”, and “No”, with the ultimate goal of finding… The 22 Best Albums of 2022!

You can find the previous not single-month reviews here:

( January/February March/April )

I did something like this last year, so if you’re curious you can also check out the round-ups of my three blog series reviewing the critic’s choices for the best albums of the 2010s, and 2020 , and my discovery of the 21 best albums of 2021.

We’ll get going in a moment, but first a brief overview of the three categories:

Yes– These albums, upon first listen, could be in running for the year’s best. If they survive the brutal winnowing to come!

Maybe– These albums have a considerable something going for them, but also something that gives me pause. I’m giving them their own category, because “maybes” sometimes linger and become “yeses”.

No– Being a “no” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re bad. Though sometimes you do end up there because you’re crap. But you can also be fine, but not more than fine. Or interesting in some way, but not quite pulling it off. Getting to yes isn’t easy!

With all that established, let’s get on with it and review the good, the bad, the ugly, and the merely insipid from the 93 May new releases I listened to!

Action Bronson, Cocodrillo Turbo– A cacophony of sound effects and musical influences (with a pleasing tendency towards good old fashioned rock) on the mix side, and some variously hilarious and scary swagger on the vocal/lyrical side. He is now my favorite Albanian-American rapper of Jewish and Muslim parentage! His food show is really fun too, although I guess that review belongs in another blog…

Alfie Templeman, Mellow Moon– Swinging indie pop that bangs its way through multiple styles and has fun the whole way through. The smooth pop production is there, but so is an indie spirit of experimentation. Here’s to more innovative 19-year-olds making bedroom pop!

Arcade Fire, WE– If there’s anybody out there on the artier side of indie rock who does a better job than Arcade Fire at making albums that are artistically deep, emotionally evocative, and have honest to goodness structure, I haven’t heard of it. With this exploration of the ends of emotion and ends of empire, I had the experience I often have with their music, of starting off not sure if I’m buying it this time and realizing by the end that I’m utterly entranced.

AWOLNATION, My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers and Me– I am told AWOLNATION is an electronic-rock project fronted by Los Angeles-bred singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Bruno. They decided to ride out COVID by taking on a truly dizzying array of covers including songs from, for example, ABBA, Alan Parsons Project, Biz Markie, Madonna, and Midnight Sun. Sometimes their takes are more faithful, sometimes cleverly inventive, and always well done and fun.

Belle and Sebastian, A Bit of Previous– If there have been better purveyors of melodious indie pop the last twenty years than Belle and Sebastian, I’m not sure who they are. Every song here is smooth and on-target without ever sounding artificial or rote, and you only have to listen around a little to appreciate how rare that is. I also like that this album in particular feels like it has a slightly harder and driving edge than their music sometimes does.
  

Boat Songs, MJ Lenderman– The musical touchstones of this album are country-inflected heartland rock a la Neil Young, 80s/90s alt country, and seething hardcore guitar. On the lyrical side, there’s a snarky take on matters personal and pop culture worthy of classic Uncle Tupelo or Warren Zevon. This Asheville-based musician is truly producing something that honors multiple pasts and still feels individual and vital.

Boldy James & Real Bad Man, Killing Nothing– Detroit rapper James has teamed with crew Real Bad Man to produce this throbbing menacing set of songs livened by clever and unexpected mix effects. The vocal flow adds a hypnotic quality to the dark tales being told. It leans a little toward cliché at times lyrically, but for every moment like that there are a dozen where the power and musical surprise pulls it through.
  

Cave In, Heavy Pendulum– The metal crunches. The music swirls and swells in great waves. Sometimes it’s thrashy, sometimes it’s orchestral, sometimes it’s heavy. The vocals shout but you can make them out, and then another vocal which is more metal ballad kicks in. At times it becomes almost a resurrection of Soundgarden, then gets a little edgier a la the Melvins or Tad, other times I’m hearing Rush, even a distant hint of Zeppelin. Something serious is going on I think, but livened by a lot of musical fun. Even the 12-minute track at the end works!

Craig Finn, A Legacy of Rentals– A solo outing from one of the leads of the Hold Steady. Vocally/lyrically it’s pretty much spot on with the vivid tales of regular life storytelling he does, which you either like or don’t (I do!). Musically is where it gets interesting- there is a lot more variety and experimentation here than on most Hold Steady albums- it reminds me of the difference between, say, the Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie.

Gospel, The Loser– I don’t know where Gospel came from, but this is apparently their first new album in 16 years. And I think they’ve been saving up! Blistering metal, sometimes technical and prog-rocky, sometimes full of hardcore snot attitude. If you’re in the mood, it won’t do you wrong on a single song.

Joe Rainey, Niineta– Niineta, the title of Pow Wow singer Joe Rainey’s debut album means “just me” in Ojibwe, the native language of Red Lake Ojibwe in Minneapolis. If you didn’t know what to expect from a Pow Wow album, you’re just like me. It’s powerful in its own right, but is interspersed with a sound recording collage and an electronic mix that enhance it further and sends it in surprising directions. Worth repeated listens for all that’s going on here!

John Doe, Fables in a Foreign Land– John Doe has been exploring Americana/heartland/country territory off and on since the 80s, so in a sense this album is no departure. But boy has he jumped in to it here! The folk influences are in full flower, and the lyrical heft, musical excellence and dark vision all churn along.

Johnny Ray Daniels, Whatever You Need– Debut album from a 76-year-old North Carolina-based singer/guitarist who has previously been a key background figure in multiple North Carolina gospel productions? I’m in! And as it turns out, this is rocking good music from start to finish, without a hint of slickness or inauthenticity. Everyone who’s not a 76-year-old releasing their first solo album should take note and question why they aren’t doing this well.

Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers– As befits Kendrick Lamar, this is by turns hilarious, menacing, willing to explore ugly truths, and uncomfortably vulnerable and self-exposing. His customary musical and vocal kaleidoscope of approaches is there throughout, and, if anything, is more varied and experimental than ever. If it comes in a little long (1 hour 17 minutes) and isn’t as focused or structured as some of his albums, it also gets more powerful as it goes on. And isn’t the best hip-hop artist of his generation entitled to a sprawling double album now and then?

Otoboke Beaver, Super Champon– Rocking female-led bands and quirky Japanese noise-pop are two of my happy places, so… And indeed, this is brutal and hilarious. It reminds me, variously, of Bleach era Nirvana, a snotty young hardcore band, and the thrashier side of Cibo Matto. It’s a winning mix, and even the parts that are entirely in Japanese work.

Porridge Radio, Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky– Wow do I love what this English group is doing here. Musically, you’ll hear some of the synth-pop 80s, some of the Cure/Siouxsie side of things, and a fair nod to the darker side of emo. Vocally, the lead singer often comes across as anguished, even harrowing at times, but it never rings false. And it’s livened by some darkly funny lyrics that have a genuine bite to them. Their album Every Bad was on my 2020 final list, and it looks like I’m still buying what they’re selling!

Steven Lambke, Volcano Volcano– This Canadian singer-songwriter’s album is mostly in an acoustic vein, but with richly supporting instrumentation redolent of classic rock. That, and the combination of Lambke’s wispy vocals and densely intelligent lyrics, casts an entrancing spell. Though spare, there are layers here that bear repeated listening.

Tess Parks, And Those Who Were Seen Dancing– This starts off with slow grooving songs, blues and R&B chord changes, fuzzy and echoey, with dark complex lyrics and languid vocals. All this is still going on, but it gets some darkly surging rock going on later without losing the flowing feeling. This Toronto singer-songwriter is someone to keep an eye on!

Yves Jarvis, The Zug– This album by Montreal-based musician Jean-Sébastien Audet is really something! In (large) part, it’s in the vein of mellower folk-tinged psychedelia from the late 60s/early 70s. But interpreted with more than a dash of bright, quirky electronic music, and sometimes the kind of fusion of philosophical flights and confessional material you might find from, say, Sufjan Stevens. Both a fun and interesting listen, and layers of what’s going on here that are well worth re-exploring!

Maybe

  • Andrew Leahey & the Homestead, American Static, Vol. 2– It’s like one just accidentally tuned in to 40 minutes of AOR radio from the 70s. Which makes for a very agreeable 40 minutes! It’s not over-brimming with originality and does fall a little into sameness track to track, but it never feels false.

  • Def Leppard, Diamond Star Halos– Def Leppard, who are a great band, paying tribute to the great 70s music that first inspired them (hence the T Rex lyric reference in the album title) by making songs in that vein. This is a good set-up! I don’t know that I can always hear those influences on the tracks here, but when I can, it’s amazing. The rest of the time it’s “merely” a really good Def Leppard album.

  • Harry Styles, Harry’s House– Against my better judgement, I really liked this! Several different schools of pop are being explored here, from mellow acoustic, 60s Britpop, to neo-dance music, and they’re being explored well. He really has become a legit artist in his own right! The marks off, such as they are, are coming from a lack of the coherence that could have really cemented it as an album.

  • Leikeli47, Shape Up– This New York musician is known for being so private she’s never performed without her face covered. That’s a curiousity, but the real deal is her strong beats, husky sensual hypnotic flow, fun musical, vocal, and lyrical twists, and delightful inversion of hip-hop gender dynamics. She sometimes waxes downright ballady along the way as well. There’s some lack of album coherence/structure keeping this from getting to “yes”, but it’s still a strong package.
      
  • Let It Be Blue, !!!– The first track was a nice moody acoustic ballad, the second is a very techno electronic outing, the third is more dance club and neo-disco, and now I just don’t know what is going on! It continued in that vein, and afterward I read that they are a twenty-year-old unconventional dance-punk band. I’ll say! It’s never less than unusual, interesting, and fun the whole way through, and their cover of “Man on the Moon” as a dance club power-song is amazing. I’m still not sure about the intro track, which is so unlike the rest in tone, but I have to consider it a maybe!

  • Midland, The Last Resort: Greetings From– I was favorably impressed by their album The Sonic Ranch from last year, and this neo-traditionalist country band from Texas has done it again here. It veers a little toward cliché, but if the median country band had this much respect for the musicianship and songcraft of country, along with some rock verve, we’d be in great shape collectively.

  • Say Sue Me, The Last Thing Left– I think I was expecting something more…K-Poppy?… from an indie rock band from Busan, South Korea. What we have here, though, is as fine a set of shimmering, chord-working, strongly felt and sung jangle-pop songs as you could hope to find. Very much in a vein that’s not surprising from an 80s alt or 90s-00s indie rock world, but no less solid for it. Maybe!

  • Slang, Cockroach in a Ghost Town– A sort of Pacific Northwest indie supergroup- composed of lead singer Drew Grow (Modern Kin and Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives), drummer Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney, Quasi, and Wild Flag), lead guitarist Anita Lee Elliot (Viva Voce) and bassist Kathy Foster (the Thermals and Roseblood). They’ve all learned their craft well, and they work well on it together.

  • Tank and the Bangas, Red Balloon– Oh, this was so close! This new Orleans group mixes together genres, and had, at times, an almost early 80s hip-hop feeling, other times something jazzier, and sometimes verging on downright psychedelic. And the hilarious and just downright weird cutting up they do during and between pieces is a delight. There were a few spots where it became more easy listening jazz, and that’s what threw my off. But I’m surely going to listen again!

  • Uffie, Sunshine Factory– This rapper, DJ, and singer/songwriter has been working furiously in collaboration with others and behind the scenes for years and has put out music on social media and via EP, but this is her debut solo album. On the one hand, it is autotuned dance music par excellence. On the other, it is utterly given to the genre, and milks it for all the glitz and tawdry afterburn it’s worth. If anything, the only thing that threw me off was a flat song or two that didn’t have the sparkle of the rest.

  • VERO, Unsoothing Interior– Stockholm trio! You know how I feel about Scandinavians… Some excellent angular post-punk, moody and sometimes thrashy, a la Elastica. It’s not the newest sounding thing in the world, but it I liked it more track by track as I listened.

  • Wilco, Cruel Country– Wilco getting back to their (that is, Uncle Tupelo’s) alt country roots. A lot of this sounds familiar to that era, and also hearkens back to some solid Alex Chilton. It’s very good, and the best moments are haunting and yearning. But I’m not quite sure it sustains the double-album length.

No

  • Alex Izenberg, I’m Not Here– This Los Angeles musician wrestling with his diagnosis of schizophrenia is certainly interesting, lyrically and musically. It’s in a dreamy, heavy 70s pop space, which when it works, works very well with what he’s doing. It often gets a little too fuzzy and indistinct to maintain, though.

  • Bad Bunny, Un Verano Sin Ti– There’s a lot in this kaleidoscope of sound and winning personality to love, but there’s also a lot of autotune, it’s closing in on an hour and a half which is a hard length to pull off, and well, I don’t understand Spanish well enough.

  • Blut aus Nord, Disharmonium: Undreamable Abysses– I mean, it’s a French Black Metal band, so I’m listening.

  • Brandon Coleman, Interstellar Black Space– When this jazz keyboardist with a love for funk leans in a funk direction on this album, it’s excellent. When it leans a little more in the jazz direction, it’s still good, but gets a too smooth and flowy to capture attention at album length.

  • Brian Jackson, This is Brian Jackson– Jackson was Gil Scott-Heron’s musical collaborator for most of the 70s. There’s no questioning the excellence, but it does sound very much of an era, and leans way too much toward smooth jazz for me.

  • Bruce Hornsby, ‘Flicted– I don’t know what I was expecting from Bruce Hornsby based on my 80s memories, but it certainly wasn’t this extremely experimental outing. For the first two thirds, you can certainly hear his jazzy mellow chords here and there, but it almost feels like the whole thing was produced as electronica. It was headed toward a yes or at least a maybe before it dipped back into the conventional and expected for the final third.

  • Chris Bathgate, The Significance of Peaches– This Michigan singer/songwriter certainly has some powerful songs, and they are nicely informed by Americana while at their heart being spare and driving. As a whole, though, it was a little too spare and same track to track to really sustain at album length for me.

  • Dama Scout, gen wo lai (come with me)– UK indie pop band Dama Scout has produced something of quality certainly, and they make interesting use of the lead singer’s Hong Kong heritage, but it’s all a little too dreamy and gauzy musically to hold attnetion.

  • Dean Spunt/John Wiese, The Echoing Shell– No Age’s drummer and a noise pop rocker collaborate. I do love No Age, and have a lot of fondness for noise pop, but this particular outing is a little too gleefully grating to work as a repeatably listenable album.

  • Dehd, Blue Skies– This Chicago-based indie band has done a very fine indie rock album redolent of 80s alt at the intersection of pop and darker more haunted concerns. If it was the 80s, I would have loved it! As it is now, I like it, and can certainly recommend it to anyone in that mood.

  • Dreezy, Hitgirl– Singer, rapper, songwriter, and actress Seandrea Sledge, aka Dreezy, has some strong flow here, and I enjoy her attitude. But it is a bit too one-note vocally, musically, and lyrically to work at album length.

  • Ella Mai, Heart on My Sleeve– Not a bad example of 2020s soul/R&B, which is to say- holy gawd the autotune!

  • Emeile Sande, Let’s Say For Instance– The first track was so autotuned to hell I could barely get through it. It got a little better from there, but not enough.

  • Ethel Cain, Preacher’s Daughter– Certainly impassioned, moody, and full of feeling, with high quality production. But, at over an hour and the songs all blending together in one vein, it doesn’t work as an album.

  • Florence + the Machine, Dance Fever– I mean, of course, not bad. Butalso not different from, better than or even as good as her earlier highlights. this is definitely an example of the perils of getting compared to yourself, but there it is.

  • Girlpool, Forgiveness– The gauzy beauty of these songs belies the portraits of dark lives they contain. Unfortunately, it belies it a little too much, so the point doesn’t fully land.

  • Grant-Lee Phillips, All That You Can Dream– Redolent of classic sounds a la Neil Young and Alex Chilton from 70s glory. However, it’s all too much in a narrow range to totally work. But if you’re looking for darkly inflected low-key songs from the heartland, this won’t lead you astray!

  • HAAi, Baby, We’re Ascending– This is not bad as an electronic music album goes, but it doesn’t rise above.

  • Hater, Sincere– I’m pre-disposed to love Swedes, and indeed between a shimmering 80s synth/goth sound and some jagged feedback-laden guitar parts I do like this. I would have outright loved it in the 80s, but it sounds a pinch dated now.

  • Hyaline, Maria BC– This Oakland-based band reminds me at moments of Kate Bush. It’s vocally and musically lovely, but ultimately too all in one low-key vein to sustain at album length.

  • Ibeyi, Spell 31– “Afro-French Cuban musical duo consisting of twin sisters who sing in English, French, Spanish and Yoruba” is a heck of a tag. And indeed, there are some very interesting genre-bridging things aswirl here. It doesn’t quite come together as a whole, and has some autotuned moments it really doesn’t need, but I’d keep my eye on Ibeyi!

  • Jack Harlow, Come home the kids miss you– This latest outing from Kentucky rapper Harlow was sometimes musically surprising and dynamically flowing, but more frequently felt curiously flat.

  • Jahmal Padmore, Esparanto– It’s a mellow jazzy affair that dips into multiple genres and would be great if you were looking for a mellow jazzy affair.

  • Jeshi, Universal Credit– Certainly some strong beats and good flow from this UK hip-hop artist, but it never quite seems to stand out.

  • Jordana, Face the Wall– It’s a little dancey, it’s a little boisterous young rock girl, it’s a little confessional. It doesn’t stand out on any of these accounts, but there’s promise here.

  • Julmud, Tuqoos– I believe this is my first album from a Palestinian DJ! Hopefully not my last- while the musical mix was a little too abstract to work for me at album length, he is doing some fun and interesting things with electronic music here.

  • Kevin Morby, This is a Photograph– Oh, this Texas-born American songwriter got close! Somewhere between country and singer-songwriter, musically pleasing and lyrically affecting. But, at the end of the day it was a little too production-polished at the expense of vitality.

  • Kikagaku Moyo, Kumoyo Island– Japanese psych-rock group. It’s interesting, but too often too slickly produced at the expense of the vitally weird.

  • Levon Helm/Mavis Staples, Carry Me Home– I think on the issue of currency I have trouble seeing it as “best of year” album (it was recorded live in 2011) but these two greats of American music do sound pretty darn good together.

  • Liam Gallagher, C’mon You Know– Not a surprise, this sounded a lot like an Oasis album. And for a good long time, I thought it was an Oasis album that I really liked, then it became one that I merely liked.

  • Lyle Lovett, 12th of June– Lyle Lovett has always been a) excellent and b) idiosyncratic. Both of those are on display here! While the swinging jazz lounge/standards space going on here is well done, it sounds sort of museum piece and doesn’t rise a lot above what it’s doing. A very pleasant ride on the way to that though!

  • M Huncho, Chasing Euphoria– This British rapper and singer has a pleasant jazzy vibe, but he ends up being a little too autotuned and undistinguished track to track.

  • Mandy Moore, In Real Life– While it doesn’t rise to what I think of as “year standout” level, it is very nice to see Mandy Moore doing so well with smart substantive pop songs. A little too produced for my taste, but there’s lots worse that can happen.

  • Matmos, Regards/Uklony dla Boguslaw Schaeffer– Innovative experimental electronic duo records a reimagining and reassembling of the works of Polish composer, theoretician, playwright, critic, and teacher Bogusław Schaeffer commissioned by the Instytutu Adama Mickiewicza as part of the Niepodlegla program. I’m not sure how this made it onto my “to listen to” list, it is, exactly as the description would lead one to expect, highly abstract electronic music.

  • Moderat, More D4ta– The synth and repetitive beat waves wash over me in this electronic album. It’s not a bad wash. But…

  • Mono, My Story, the Buraku Story [Original Soundtrack]– Experimental Japanese indie rock soundtracks could go in all kinds of ways, but the way this one went was nearly ambient, which doesn’t hold an album’s worth of attention. The discrimination against the Buraku “class” in Japan though is a worthy documentary subject!

  • Monophonics, Sage Motel– There’s a great retro-soul feeling here, but it stays a little too much in that retro groove to really kick in.

  • Perel, Jesus Was an Alien– If I say this is new wave influenced electro-disco from a Berlin-based DJ, you may develop a pretty accurate sense of what it sounds like. It’s chilly good fun, well done, but doesn’t vary internally or stand out a lot from its own sound.

  • Phelimuncasi, Ama Gogela– A gqom trio from the Mlaszi township of Durban, South Africa. Like me, you may not know, but I learned that “gqom” is a genre of electronic dance music that emerged in South Africa, descended from local varieties of house music. Sonically this is very interesting, but the repetitive nature and the language barrier kept it from fully gelling for me.
     
  • Project Gemini, The Children of Scorpio– Project Gemini is guided by the musical vision of psychedelic devotee, breakbeat enthusiast, and ’70s film soundtrack lover Paul Osborne, which gives you a fair idea of what it sounds like. It’s fun and dynamic, but being all instrumental it never quite lands for me as an album in total.

  • Quelle Chris, Deathfame– There was a nice unconventionality to the music mix from this Detroit rapper, and some traces of conscious hip-hop, but it never quite gelled together in a way that helped it stand out from the low-key mellow grove it was in track to track.

  • Quinquis, Seim– I saw this described in one source as “Heavy atmospheric electronica from Breton.” That’s right, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but it does tend a little ethereal and is all foreign language, so it’s hard to get it to the top of my list for the year.

  • Ravyn Lenae, Hypnos– This is a not bad debut R&B album, but also not one that really stands out. Glimmers of future promise though!

  • Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Endless Rooms– This Australian indie rock band makes nice and jangly white boy rock. It doesn’t sound especially better or different than multiple other examples of the same.

  • Sharon Van Etten, We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong– There is nothing wrong with Sharon van Etten’s voice, moody music, or songwriting. The issue, I think, is that while the results can be gorgeous and moving on a single song, the songs are all so much alike that it gets difficult to sustain at album length.

  • Sigrid, How to Let Go– She’s a Norwegian pop star, which makes me smile. It’s definitely good clean fun, and sometimes rises above to energetic and arresting. Not often enough, though.

  • Sly Johnson, 55.4– My sources inform me that, “Hailing from Paris, Sylvère Johnson (Sly Johnson) is a major force on the French Hip-Hop, Soul and Jazz scenes.” And that’s what it sounds like, not in bad way, actually in a really well-produced way. But one that eventually feels a little more packaged and produced than vital and real.

  • SOAK, If I Never Know You Like This Again– This Irish singer-songwriter is certainly talented, and the confessional personal songs and genuinely emotional vocals are affecting. As is the substantive way the lyrics deal with their non-binary identification. It does end up vocally and musically in too limited of a range eventually. But it was close!

  • Soccer96, Inner Worlds– A nice electronic music album, but it eventually gets too far in the direction of post-modern lounge music.

  • Stars, From Capelton Hill– This was a little confounding- some of these songs were great pop rock redolent of different eras, some of them were haunting atmospheric ballads, and then some, at regular intervals, were overproduced shallow indie pablum. Eventually it got to be too inconsistent in this regard, but the highs were great.

  • Sunflower Bean, Headful of Sugar– When it has some verve to it this is really pretty good, but it too often goes downtempo and fuzzes together.

  • The Black Keys, Dropout Boogie– I do love me some Black Keys, and there isn’t a bad song on this album. What there is, though, is a confusing lack of pacing. Blistering shakedowns, mellower 70s style grooves seem sprinkled around at random, and the momentum keeps getting off. This is one of the ways that sometimes, a bunch of fine songs don’t add up to a good album.

  • The Chainsmokers, So Far So Good– A little pop-rock, a little electronic dance, very autotuned, please cast it into a lake of fire.

  • The Frightnrs, Always– It’s a nice mellow groove from this New York City dub/rocksteady band, but it never really catches on.

  • The Pineapple Thief, Give it Back– A nice British indie rock band, a very 2020s pop version of indie rock band, please no.

  • The Smile, A Light For Attracting Attention– I mean, it’s a collaboration between British jazz group Sons of Kemet and Thom Yorke of Radiohead- it’s a wonder I found some songs I liked. Which I did! But too many of them background faded out of existence.

  • The Stroppies, Levity– This Australian indie pop band made up of members from multiple previous bands makes music redolent of the instrumental rock & lackadaisical vocals 80s alt and 90s/00s indie schools of rock. Notwithstanding the face that I could have been listening to this at any point in the past several decades, and it does tend towards sameness at points, there is something pleasant about it. But best of year pleasant?

  • They Hate Change, Finally, New– I really do appreciate how this Tampa Bay rap duo’s music is informed as much by post punk and electronic music as hip hop. And the high level of sophisticated social commentary they have going on. It was a little all too similar track to track to really work at album length though. Still, I’d like to keep an eye on them!

  • Thomas Dollbaum, Wellswood– New Orleans-by-way-of-Florida singer/songwriter Thomas Dollbaum delivers some solid Americana here, but it’s so in one range vocally and musically track to track that the rough and tumble lyrics get lost in the muted flow.

  • Train, AM Gold– I walked into this unsure. On the one hand, I like AM Gold as a musical area. On the other, Train, well, let’s just say when you have a vibrant and innovative local music scene and the band that makes it big from your area is something as bland as Train, it kind of sticks in your craw. Turns out this album does a decent job of channeling 70s AM Gold. But it’s still Train.

  • Van Morrison, What’s It Gonna Take?– This is, musically and vocally, the best extended COVID conspiracy rant I have ever heard. Shorter than his similar album from last year, but more ranty! But the song “Fear and Self Loathing in Las Vegas” is great, I’d recommend listening to it.

  • Warpaint, Radiate Like This– A little thick sensual vocals, a little melody, a little post-punk angularity and darkness. It’s not a bad combination, but it never rises above a certain track to track sameness.

And there you have it! May review in by the last day of June. I think we have a good shot at getting June out well before the end of July. Tune in to find out!

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3 thoughts on “In Search of the 22 Best Albums of 2022: May

  1. Pingback: In Search of the 22 Best Albums of 2022: June | Chris LaMay-West

  2. Pingback: In Search of the 22 Best Albums of 2022: July | Chris LaMay-West

  3. Pingback: In Search of the 22 Best Albums of 2022: August/September | Chris LaMay-West

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