Monthly Archives: January 2023

In Search of the 22 Best Albums of 2022: November/December

We are now finishing 2022! In 2023, it’s true, but hey, you gotta finish somewhere. And for us, the November and December edition of our quest for the 22 Best Albums of 2022 finishes here!

Anyone who needs to catch up can find the previous editions here:

( January/February March/April May June July August/September October )

Such an individual might also want to check out the finale of my search for the 21 best albums of 2021, and the round-ups of my blog series reviewing the critic’s choices for the best albums of the 2010s, and 2020.

But we’re here for 2022! Before we go further, let’s do a quick overview of the three categories:

Yes– These are albums that could be in the running for the year’s best. We’ve ended up with153 yesses, so every eventual winner will have vanquished 7 competitors to get to the finish line.

Maybe– But wait, that’s not all! These are those albums that definitely had something going for them, but also gave me pause. Because “maybes” sometimes linger and become “yeses”, I’m giving them another listen too. There are 136 competitors in this category.

No– Then there’s “no”. Ending up here doesn’t necessarily mean you’re crap. You do sometimes end up here because you’re crap. But other times you can be fine, but not more than fine. Or interesting and ambitious, but not quite pulling it off. The arena is a brutal place!

And now, with our categories established, we shall proceed with the review of 114 new releases from November and December 2022!

$ilkmoney, I Don’t Give a Fuck About This Rap Shit, Imma Just Drop Until I Don’t Feel Like It Anymore– The title is solid gold to start with, but what’s really extraordinary here is that it’s a psychedelic album and a socially conscious one in a 90s kind of vein, but with the swagger and musical muscularity of gangster rap. One can’t always quite tell whether it’s embracing or deflating either genre. Both simultaneously? It also contains one of the best cannibalism songs I’ve ever heard!

Big Joanie, Back Home– It’s got a 90s alt rock feeling, with variously surprising electronic, folk and soul undertones, and the rich and ragged depths of lead singer Stephanie Phillips’s voice are the perfect accompaniment to the music. They are apparently a Black feminist British punk trio. Well a-freakin’-men!

Coco & Clair Clair, Sexy– Think about a feminist but irreverent take on hip-hop. Now make it lyrically hilariously sharp and cutting, and musically multi-layered and unusual while being sugar-sweet. This was just a solidly fun listen!

Dazy, Outofbody– This debut project of Virginia-based James Goodson is by turns a little punky, a little emo, a little 60s garagey, a little grungy, a little poppy, and always big on fuzzy guitars and feedback. Would that all kids who aspire to rock out do this well, because these kids are all right!

Little Simz, No Thank You– Her album sometimes I might be introvert made my honorable mention in 2021, so I came in here well-disposed. And deservedly so! There’s a chanting spell to her vocal flow, lyrics full of poetic phrasing and personal and social importance, and a dynamic and variable musical mix that makes use of multiple idioms of R&B and soul music. Another strong contender from this UK hip-hop artists.

Lyrics Born, Vision Board– I love the dub and ska influences, I love the wacky wit that reminds me of when hip-hop was hilarious in the 80s and early 90s, and the musical mix and vocals have a strong whiff of that era as well. This music functions in both hip hop and R&B modes, and it’s brilliant, if weirdly retro, in both. Along with his very different album from earlier this year, it shows just how this versatile an artist he is.

R.A.P. Ferreira, 5 to the Eye With Stars– I was impressed by this Wisconsin hip-hop artist’s album The Light-Emitting Diamond Cutter Scriptures last year, and this has many of those same charms. It’s like a lost era of hip-hop in some ways- philosophical, poetic, conscious, given to wild wordplay and lively musical mix. This isn’t by accident, as the name check of an Arrested Development song in one track demonstrates. But it also sounds thoroughly contemporary in a way, and certainly not like something plucked from a museum.

Run the Jewels, RTJ Cu4tro– Re-recordings and re-workings of previous year’s albums are not uncommon in this list, but this one has an especially interesting premise: “It’s a reimagining of RTJ4 through the lens of collaboration and a fusing of numerous musical cultures and influences,” and was made exclusively with Latin collaborators. This works in the best kind of way, taking what was one of my favorite albums from 2020 and making it into something genuinely new, and worthy on its own.

Special Interest, Endure– This New Orleans band’s album is punky, clashing, exuberant! I’ll tell you it’s like a riot grrrl sound heavily informed by dance music, post-punk, and electro, and you’ll form an image that will be rightish, but won’t really let you know how high quality it is, how varied, or how wild.

Uni Boys, Do It All Next Week– This Los Angeles band knows how to do some good old fashioned (circa 70s) Rock and Roll. It’s power poppy, with hand claps, hooks, and just the right mixture of sleaze, sweetness, and bratty whining. I’m glad somebody still knows how to do this!


  • Boldy James & Cuns, Be That as It May– I did like the mix here a lot, and indeed Boldy James’s production has been behind many things on the hip-hop front I’ve liked over the last two+ years. (Cuns was previously unknown to me, and is apparently an Italian hip-hop producer known for his affiliation for vinyl. I can hear it!) I wasn’t quite as sold on the vocal flow and the lyrics, but they had their moments and carried along with the mix, it’s a complete package worth considering!

  • Brendan Benson, Low Key– This album from Raconteurs member Benson displays that group’s sure feeling for classic sources, in this case turning in a decidedly 60s ornate pop and 70s power-pop and prog pop influenced sound. It’s halfway to being a museum piece, but it’s a darn good exhibit.

  • Caitlin Rose, Cazimi– This Nashville-based singer-songwriter has a voice that really sticks, with a powerful but plaintive quality. Musically, this is a combination of country influence and something that sounds much more like indie rock in a 90s alt vein. I was sometimes wavering, but then golden moments kept bringing me back. So I guess I’m a maybe!

  • Fleshwater, We’re Not Here To Be Loved– This sounds like it fell straight out of the 90s. And I mean that in the best kind of way! Imagine that a good album somewhere in the vicinity of the intersection of Soundgarden, Veruca Salt, and My Bloody Valentine  was somehow lost and had just been re-discovered. Obviously derivative in a way, but I can’t help myself, I dig what this Massachusetts group is doing!

  • Foushee, Softcore– This New Jersey singer/songwriter is showing up with sassy attitude, emotionally complex lyrics, and musical styles that take in blistering hardcore, inventive electronic dance, delicate indie, and pop sweetness. All this comes at the expense of coherence, but her presence and verve do hold it together in a way.

  • Mud Morganfield, Portrait– Son of Muddy Waters! This is a rework of a 2012 album, with two new songs. It sound like muscular 60s blues, contemporary smooth blues, but also has goodly dollops of soul, R&B, and gospel. It also very consciously plays up his father’s legacy. All-in-all, it’s a reworking, and a familiar sound, but there’s a lot to like here.

  • Spoon, Lucifer on the Moon– A dub re-mix from UK dub producer extraordinaire Adrian Sherwood of their album Lucifer on the Couch from earlier this year. As with many dub remixes, I like it better than the original! In this case, taking their somewhat arty indie rock album and remixing it turns it into something truly new and different.

  • 454, Fast Trax 3– Albeit high energy and clever, a super-autotuned hip-hop album at this point in the year is a nyet. (Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Adrian Quesada, Jaguar Sound– Some good and kind of trippy electronic music, but ultimately didn’t engage me.
  • AKAI SOLO, Spirit Roaming– I was kind of on the fence here. This was, without question, a sophisticated and complex hip hop album. Earlier in the year it probably would have made my “maybe” list. But we’re so late in the year, it’s only knock it out of the park territory now!
  • Amos Lee, My Ideal: A Tribute to Chet Baker Sings– Modern master Amos Lee takes on the music of Jazz pioneer Chet Baker” is a good concept. Ultimately it’s a very period-specific feel, but jazz aficionados would be well served.
  • Apollo Brown, This Must Be the Place– Unlike his February collaboration Blacklight, this album finds Detroit producer Brown in a very jazzy instrumental place. It was good, but I did not find myself there with him.
  • Asake, Mr. Money With the Vibe– Ahmed Ololade, known professionally as Asake, is a Nigerian Afrobeats singer and songwriter. The mix here really won me over, and the energy kept me engaged, but eventually the autotune started to make things a little too repetitive. (Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Baby Tate, Mani/Pedi– Damn I like this from the get-go. Vintage 2020s in your face, full of attitude and humor feminist rap (aka “pussy rap”) is my jam. It was headed to automatic yes until a weird back to back slow-down set 2/3 of the way through.  (Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Babyface Ray, MOB– There’s definitely some power here, but too much of it feels like the “mumbled” school of hip hop.
  • Backxwash, His Happiness Shall Come First Even Though We Are Suffering– Noise rock? Experimental music? Metallically heavy conscious hip-hop? Really some of all of the above! It’s a little too all of these for consistent listening, but it is interesting.
  • Bbyafricka, The Art of Geekin’– There is a driving glower to this hip-hop album, and some lyrical heft, but ultimately it ends up feeling a little thin musically. (Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Bill Nace, Through a Room– Grating machine electronic music. Actually, pretty good for grating machine electronic music.
  • Billy Strings, Me/And/Dad– It’s certainly a sweet premise- modern purveyor of bluegrass Billy Strings records an album with his father, who taught him how to play. It is solid traditional bluegrass, and certainly won’t steer someone looking for that sound wrong, but it doesn’t stand out in a “best of year” kind of way.
  • Blackstarkids, Cyberkiss*– The fun and inventive mix of conscious-flavored hip-hop, electronic, and experimental rock is a pretty winning combination. It gets  a little indistinct and doesn’t totally come together as an album, but I’m in for seeing what this Kansas group gets in for in the future. (Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Brittle Brian, Biodiesel– An interesting emotional down-tone, a little jangly, a little fuzzy, but it gets to be too same track to track. (Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • BROCKHAMPTON, The Family– This multi-racial hip-hop collective that’s redefining the meaning of “boy band” got pretty high in my 2021 rankings with their previous album. This one doesn’t quite have the impact and clarity of that, but I do still appreciate what they do.
  • Bruce Springsteen, Only the Strong Survive– “Bruce Springsteen does an album of soul classics” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of him. But when you hear it, it fits with his soulful searching side, and it’s obvious how much he appreciates the material. And these are, to be sure, good solid covers. They’re a little too reverent as covers go, and, being recorded in one time and place, also a little indistinct track to track. Certainly a nice rounding out of the catalogue for Springsteen fans (of which i am one!), but not a “year’s best”.
  • Carla dal Forno, Come Around– There is something about the beautiful poetic swirl of the lyrics, elfin vocals, and delicate oddly accented folk-electronic touches that makes this very compelling. Eventually it got to be too the same track-to-track, but I did find a lot to appreciate.
  • CEO Trayle, HH5– I liked the horrorcore elements, but otherwise the flow and mix of this hip-hop album were a little too indistinct.
  • Cerrone, Cerrone by Cerrone– This continuous set of re-mixed songs of disco pioneer Cerrone is definitely top-level dance music, but I’m not sure it adds up to an album.
  • Chris Isaak, Everybody Knows It’s Christmas– I go into a Christmas album somewhat hostile, but a rocking-themed one warms my Scroogey heart a little, and I go into anything by Chris Isaak open for a listen. And it is all pretty well rendered, even if I don’t think it adds up to a “year’s best”.
  • Chris Liebing/Ralf Hildenbeutel, Another Night– Club retooling of their album Another Day from 2021. These are good high energy tracks, but two hours of it does not a coherent listenable album make.
  • Christine and the Queens, Redcar les adorables étoiles– Sophisticated, multilayered, somewhat eerie and discordant adult pop. It was ultimately a little too disembodied, and too mostly in French, for me.
  • Coby Sey, Conduit– Some intense electronic music themed hip hop, it certainly sets a mood, but is eventually too abstract and discordant to work at album length. (Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Contour, Onwards!– Soulful and jazzy and mellow and too much of a steady groove that fades into the background. (Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Daniel Avery, Ultra Truth– Kind of a Vangelis soundtrack version of electronic music. It’s fine as far as it goes.
  • David Bowie, Moonage Daydream: A Film by Brett Morgen– This is a lovely amalgam of dialogue snippets, live performances, and remixes, but at a more than two-hour running time it’s prohibitive to listen to as an album. Bowie fans (including me!) might rightly treasure it though.
  • Dead Meadow, Force Form Free– My sources tell me that Dead Meadow is an American psychedelic rock band formed in Washington, D.C. in 1998. I really liked their sludgy heavy intro track. The sprightlier subsequent track was so different it threw me for a loop. Overall, still good, but as an all-instrumental album with longish tracks and no coherent theme…
  • Drake & 21 Savage, Her Loss– I do like Drake, but this collaboration is way into the monotone mumble over-autotuned style of hip-hop.
  • Dream Unending, Song of Salvation– 5 long songs of ornamented symphonic metal with indecipherable growl vocals. It’s a sound. It’s a common sound. But it’s not my sound…
  • Duke Deuce, MEMPHIS MASSACRE III– It’s got a bit of a horrorcore rap feeling, and some gonzo attitude to the flow and lyrics, but is too monotone track-to-track to sustain.
  • Dumb, Pray 4 Tomorrow– A better than average young Vancouver punk band putting out a better than average young punk band album.
  • Duval Timothy, Meeting With a Judas Tree– A nice somewhat jazzy, somewhat experimental instrumental album.
  • Ezra Collective, Where I’m Meant to Be– The first track was jazz-informed, left-field, sunny and exuberant hip hop. The second was a Latin jazz live instrumental. Next up was something in-between. It was all musically very good, and wouldn’t let fans of this style down, but not sure it’s a stand-out of the year.
  • Fenella, The Metallic Index– This was much less metallic than I was expecting from the title. More swirly new-age electronic. Eh.
  • Field School, When Summer Comes– A nice jangly fuzzy album that would have sounded good in the alt 80s or 90s, and still does, but sort of same track to track and not especially new or different or better.
  • First Aid Kit, Palomino– The vocals are powerful from this Swedish folk duo, and the music is some good old fashioned indie pop with a dance edge. If it were earlier in the year, they might make my “maybe” list, but we’re getting late, so only surer things are making it through now. Alas!
  • Fitz and the Tantrums, Let Yourself Free– Fitz and the Tantrums is state of the art for a good enough 2000s somewhat indie very radio friendly band. Some great singles come out of their approach, but I don’t know that anything adds up to an album.
  • For Tracy Hide, Hotel Insomnia– This Tokyo dream pop band’s ninth album is a stuffed to the gills kaleidoscope of dream pop, J-pop, neo-psychedelia, with a lot of just plain fun. Eventually through language, length, and sheer sonic overload it stopped working for me as an album, but they do work it!
  • Gold Panda, The Work– Nice sparkling ethereal electronic music. Nah.
  • Harvey Mandel, Who’s Calling– An instrumental album feeling like something in the vicinity of prog rock with some jazz fusion thrown in. Not bad by any means, but didn’t set in as an album for me.
  • Heather Trost, Desert Flowers– It’s not bad-electronica, given to organ sounds, some nicely rough edges, elfin vocals. But no.
  • Hieroglyphic Being, There Is No Acid In This House– More electronic. Much electronic. I do like something about the repetitive hypnosis of this one. But no.
  • Honey Dijon, Black Girl Magic– There’s some great music here, with great focus, but a little sprawling, unfocused and blending too much track to track to work as an album.
  • Infinity Knives/Brian Ennals, King Cobra– 30 songs in 30 minutes is intriguing as set-ups go! And there are indeed some interesting approaches scattered around this hip-hop album, but a lot of it is too similar track-to-track.(Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • James K, Random Girl– I think there were some interesting things going on here. It was so abstract and ambient it was hard to tell. (Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Jeb Loy Nichols, United States of the Broken Hearted– Subtle low-key songs in a country/blues vein with lyrical depth, painting what the title seems to promise- a collection of dusty scattered portraits of the down and out. I do dig what this Wales-based American singer/songwriter is doing, even if it did become a bit too low-key and same track to track to sustain eventually.
  • Joji, Smithereens– Mot bad musically or lyrically, but a little too shimmery low key same vocally and musically.
  • Julie Odell, Autumn Eve– I appreciate the swirl and the shimmer of this, but it becomes too gauzy all the same.(Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Julien Chang, The Sale– It’s jazzy, abstract, low-key, arty. Not bad, but no.
  • La Femme, Teatro LucidoParadigmes was one of my semi-finalists for 2022, so I was curious to hear the new album. It has a lot of the verve and gleeful musical stylistic mix I appreciated from their last album, and an even higher level of multicultural coverage with the French band working with Latin musical forms and Spanish lyrics. Eventually too many lull moments and the language barrier prevented me from really attaching to it, but I appreciate what this group does!
  • Laura Jean, Amateurs– This had an interesting dark and charging feel with minor chords and vocals and lyrics reminiscent of 90s alt songstresses early on, but eventually became too lilting quiet folk later on.
  • Lykotonon, Promethean Pathology– Per Pitchfork: “Members of Blood Incantation, Wayfarer, Stormkeep, and anonymous other groups comprise Lykotonon, who make industrial metal with lashings of black and death metal. The Denver outfit describes its sound as “a digitized descent into the darker side of the human psyche””. So, you know, I was rooting for it on description alone. And the mix of metal industrial and electronic is interesting. Not quite consistently listenable at album length, but good.
  • Meekz, Respect the Come Up– A good outing from this Manchester rapper, and it reminds favorably of a lot of contemporary UK hip-hop, but I don’t know that it “whole year” stands out from it.
  • Metro Boomin, Heroes & Villains– This album does have an epic scale, and the opening had a really good start along those lines, but it descended into over-autotuned production soon after.
  • Militarie Gun, All Roads Lead to the Gun (Deluxe)- Repackages last year’s dual EPs from this Los Angeles band along with four new songs. This reminds me of 80s hardcore in the best way- guitar churning, semi-shouted lyrics, angst-full, noisy, but strangely melodic. It feels a little too bounded in what it is to be getting to “best of year” status, but I do appreciate it!
  • Mocky, Goosebumps Per Minute, Vol. 1– Nice energetic electronic. I didn’t hate it!
  • Moin, Paste– Doesn’t totally come together for me, but I enjoyed this collection of 90s sounding guitar riffs, electronic noise, and philosophical mumbles.
  • Mount Kimbie, MK 3.5: Die Cuts | City Planning– British hip-hop and electronic mix. Eh.
  • Nathan Salsburg, Landwerk No. 3– With over an hour run length, and only six tracks, this would have to be doing something pretty arresting to get one to hang in there. In fact, it’s a series of pretty, muted instrumental pieces. Not without worthy craft, but didn’t work for me.
  • Neil Young & Crazy Horse, World Record– As mentioned in previous reviews, Neil Young is in my all-time top 5 artists, so I’m going to listen to, and probably absorb into my collection, most anything he puts out. That being said, this is definitely not one of his more “on” albums. It has excellent Crazy Horse shredders, mellow golden-hued life reflections, but can’t quite seem to find the tone between them.
  • Nickelback, Get Rollin’– A new Nickelback album in 2022 sounds like a Nickelback album form the early 00s. You either like that or you don’t so much. My rating here answers that question for me.
  • NNAMDI, Please Have a Seat– I like the neo-psych touches and the incorporation of guitar, but eventually gets too autotuned, and feels unfocused.
  • Okay Kaya, SAP– While unquestionably high-quality, this was a little low key and abstract for me. She’s still my favorite Norwegian-American musician and actress though!
  • Phobophilic, Enveloping Absurdity– As contemporary metal romps go, this is a pretty good one! Maybe not best of year good, but if you’re looking for some good solid metaling out, this won’t mislead you. (Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Phoenix, Alpha Zulu– 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was one of my favorite albums of well…the whole millennium thus far! So, I come in well-disposed. And indeed, this album has many of the things I love about this French group- the exuberant musicality, the sunny energy. But maybe without quite the punch of the earlier work, more lulls, more sounds we’ve heard before from them. I wouldn’t kick it out of musical bed, but it’s not best of year.
  • Quinn Christopherson, Write Your Name in Pink– The searching and high quality pop her is affecting, even if it is sometimes a little too 2020s radio-indie smooth. But it lulled out a little too often to work as a sustained album.
  • Randy Houser, Note to Self– It got a little too formulaic eventually, but this album is about the best case that can be made for contemporary pop country. It’s audibly operating in that space, but with traditional country call-backs, and generally a sense of authenticity.
  • Rauw Alejandro, SATURNO– This Puerto Rican performer’s album started off in an interesting synth/techno vein, and remained interesting on the mix side, but descended rapidly into autotunmania.
  • Reace Sosa, Big Zap– There is some personality here, and a kind of sinister drive, but not enough about this hip-hop album distinguishes itself from a lot else that sounds like this this year.(Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Richard Dawson, The Ruby Cord– It’s over an hour long, and it opens with a 41-minute track that mostly seems to feature infinitesimally slow drumming and occasional muted rises and dips of strumming and horns. It’s a shame, because there is an interesting weirdly off-kilter neo-folk thing going on once it gets to later smaller tracks. But nyet!
  • RM, Indigo– As far as smooth mid-tempo Korean hip-hop albums go, this is one.
  • Roddy Ricch, Feed Tha Streets III– Not without merit, but boy is that autotuned.
  • Röyksopp, Profound Mysteries III– I had the same feeling about this as Profound Mysteries I & II, which is that it’s beautiful and sophisticated electronic music, but may be a little too blended track to track add up to a stand-out album as such.
  • rRoxymore, Perpetual Now– Somewhat abstract and very muted electronic. It is smart and interesting, but I don’t see it as an album that gets played again and again.
  • Seahawks, Infinite Echo– The decryption I saw read: “Taking influence from the writings of the late peace activist Thích Nhất Hạnh, the self-described “anti-dystopian” album incorporates vocal software programs designed by Lyra Pramuk and Holly Herndon, as well as the voice of Mindar, a Buddhist robot priest.” It’s actually not as interesting as that promised, very muted, almost fade into the background.
  • Smino, Luv 4 Rent– There is some personality here, and a kind of quirky edge, but not enough about this hip-hop album distinguishes itself from a lot else that sounds like this this year.
  • Smut, How the Light Felt– good chimey indie rock that would have sounded very at home in the 90s. It still sounds good now, but maybe not stand-out best of year good.
  • Sophie Jamieson, Choosing- An articulate and heartfelt acoustic album, but too much all in one tone song-to-song to sustain at album length.
  • St. Lucia, Utopia– Pretty, exuberant, a kind of 80s sound dance/pop sound. Eh.
  • Stormzy, This Is What I Mean– Some really pretty good UK hip-hop, with the smoothness and jazzy quality one often finds there. Not sure it stands out in an above and beyond way, though.
  • Suzi Analogue, Infinite Zonez– An interesting electronic/club mix here, a little on the abstract side, and not sure if it adds up to an album.(Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Svengali, Cakes da Killa– There is an interesting old school sound to this, reminding of the late 80s Boogie-Down Productions, and some of the jazzier/groovier side of conscious hip-hop. Certainly not unworthy, but we’re late in the year here so the bar is high!
  • SZA, S.O.S.- Her album “Ctrl” was one of my favorites from my review of the 2010s, so I’m well-disposed. And this is certainly high quality, but lacks the coherence to pull off its length, and the stand-out nature of tracks to get to year’s best. So, “merely” a good album by a good artist. Could not hurt to have more of those!
  • Tenci, A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing– There’s an interesting quirky experimental nature to this music, but it’s a little too muted and low-key to really kick in as an album proper.
  • Thaiboy Digital, Back 2 Life– Autotunnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeeeee
  • The Lone Below, Love Songs For Losers– “Honey” is a great single, I’ve been hearing it all over the radio lately and it belongs there. My question going in to this was therefore if the album holds up as a whole. And, well… It’s not bad, but it’s not stand-out enough in total.
  • Theo Parrish, DJ-Kicks: Theo Parrish– This Detroit DJ wields his three decades in the community to put forward a variety of mixes featuring collaborators and styles from throughout the city’s storied musical history. Three hours of it though, well, it’s hard to get an album to work end to end at that length. There is plenty of great material here though!
  • Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Empire of Light (Original Score)– The presence of Trent Reznor in this soundtrack for the Sam Mendes film made me curious enough to give it a try. It turns out to be a very proper, somewhat ambient-tending film score, without much hint of Nine Inch Nails. Very fine, but not the cup of tea we’re looking to sip here!
  • Turnover, Myself in the Way– It’s smooth, it’s jazzy, it’s funky, it’s fusion. It’s a no.
  • Valee, Vacabularee– Mumbly indistinct hip-hop
  • Various Artists, Music from Saharan WhatsApp– A kind of sampler of the South Saharan music scene via WhatsApp submissions, I’m intrigued by the content and the conceit. And the music is very interesting and varied too. Does it entirely work as an album? No. But does it function as a pointer toward an interesting and dynamic musical area? Yes! (Note: This is not actually a November release. It’s from Pitchfork’s Fall list of “34 Great Records You Might Have Missed”. I ain’t gonna miss ’em!)
  • Various Artists, Live Forever: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver– A tribute to Billy Joe Shaver, a pioneer of outlaw country who passed in 2020, by an array of country and country-adjacent musicians old and new. In terms of source and treatment, it’s good, but maybe a little too twice-derived to work as a “best of year” album. Anyone interested in this school of country music wouldn’t be steered wrong by it though!
  • Waajeed, Memoirs of Hi-Tech Jazz– It petered out into too mellow and too babbling just toward the end, but until that point the cool urban jazz heavily informed by hip hop on display here was winning me over.
  • Weyes Blood, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow– Recognizably of a Lana Del Rey kind of set, and not a bad member of it. At its best, really good. But not consistent or original enough.
  • White Lung, Premonition– Some fine rock, sometimes 90s grungy, sometimes metallic. It sounds a little too of a period for year’s best, I think.
  • Young Dolph, Paper Route Frank– This posthumous album from a Memphis rapper does have a strong billowing presence to it. Earlier in the year, it probably would have at least made my “maybe” list, but now it’s the next to last album I’m listening to for 2022. Competition is fierce!
  • Your Old Droog, YOD Presents: The Shining– This is apparently the 6th release this year from the Ukrainian-born Brooklyn rapper. Well, okay! There’s a lot of with and cleverness in the lyrics and mix, and again, this is something that probably would have been a “maybe” earlier in the year. But we are finis!

And with that, we have finished reviewing November and December 2022’s new releases. Now on to The Final Reckoning…

In Search of the 22 Best Albums of 2022: October

Are we still behind? Well, it now being 2023, one could reasonably say that. But we’ll get there, and to whit, here is the October (2022) edition of our quest for the 22 Best Albums of 2022!

If you need to review what we’ve gotten up to so far, you can find the previous editions here:

( January/February March/April May June July August/September )

And, since you now have a whole new year’s worth of reading time, you can also check out the finale of my search for the 21 best albums of 2021, and the round-ups of my blog series reviewing the critic’s choices for the best albums of the 2010s, and 2020.

Before we go further with 2022, let’s do a quick overview of the three categories:

Yes– These are albums that could be in the running for the year’s best. As of October we have 143 yesses, so there’s going to be a bloody reckoning.

Maybe– These are the albums that definitely have something going for them, but also something that gives me pause. But because “maybes” sometimes linger and become “yeses”, we’ll give them another listen too. This category now has another 129 victims for bloody reckoning.

No– Being a “no” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re crap. You do sometimes end up there because you’re crap. But other times you can be fine, but not more than fine. Or interesting and ambitious, but not quite pulling it off. Getting to “yes” isn’t easy!

And now, with our categories established, let’s get underway with the review of 106 new October releases!

Avantasia, A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society– Between the descriptor “German metal supergroup whose works have often been compared to operas” and the album name, you may have some inkling that you’re in for something overwrought. And it is true in the most glorious of ways! It’s as if multiple strands of 80s metal- British New Wave, hair metal, European metal a la the Scorpions, a dash of Heart, got together to produce their very own rock opera. It’s as unapologetically over the top as it should be, and it makes my heart smile.

Betty Who, Big– On one level, this Australian-American singer-songwriter and musician has put out an album that is a straightforward 2020’s dance album. But her personality, the darker lyrical depth, the nods to 90s dance pop, and the sheer verve behind the songs take it to a whole other level.

Drugdealer, Hiding in Plain Sight– This project of Michael Collins, a veteran of LA-area psychedelic bands for the past 20 years, focuses on a soft rock sound that could have drifted straight up from Topanga Canyon in 1972. I say that not to be dismissive, it genuinely sounds not just like music from that era, but like great music from that era, so familiar it’s practically heartbreaking, but still fresh and breathing. Bravo!

Lee Fields, Sentimental Fool– Fields became a “sudden” success in his 40s with a classic soul sound and is now 71.  He continues to be in great form here, with a sound recalling 60s and 70s R&B.

Tegan and Sara, Crybaby– The sure feeling for pop, the exposure of personal thoughts and feelings, the driving energy, the weirdness- all the best things about Tegan and Sara are here, with layered production and unusual musical and vocal choices bringing a twist to every track. It doesn’t feel totally together, but it more than makes up for it by being consistently compelling and interesting.

The Bobby Lees, Bellevue– You start with a picture of a woman in dirty coveralls sitting in a pig pen for the cover, and I’m pre-charmed. I might have expected something a little country-fried based on that, but what’s actually here is a muscular, rocking, feminist musical assault bringing to mind Babes in Toyland, L7, and early Hole. This Woodstock, New York band’s album is the kind of thing that grabs you by the throat with the first track and doesn’t let go from there. Amen!

The Reds, Pinks & Purples, They Only Wanted Your Soul– In addition to repeatedly using pictures from my old neighborhood in San Francisco for album covers, I love this brainchild of auteur Glenn Donaldson for its shimmery, fuzzy guitar soundscapes, which plot the exact right co-sine between distortion and sweet pop melody.

Todd Rundgren, Space Force– I like Todd Rundgren both for his own music and his work as a producer going back to the 70s, and also I like a good concept. This is an interesting one- he solicited other songwriters from a variety of genres for unfinished songs they’d abandoned, and he completed and recorded them. As befits the concept, it doesn’t exactly sound coherent or unified. But as befits Rundgren, there is a kind of unity in production approach, and a madcap genius behind it holding it all together.

Willow, coping mechanism– Her album LATELY I feel everything was one of my “honorable mention” listees of 2021, and this has the same kind of energy and challenge to it. If anything, it goes further, with the hard rock 90s edges and R&B ballad sensibilities even more organically blended and balanced, and the lyrics and vocals feeling even more personal.


  • Bill Callahan, Ytilaer– There’s a quiet but driving, minor chord, dusty sketches of life quality to the goings on here. It’s mostly that, but sometimes also given over to quirky songs with a jazz jam feeling. And I more than once had the feeling that I was listening to the Doors if the Doors had done a Western soundtrack. Callahan was a pioneer of lo-fi indie rock in the late 80s with his band Smog and continues to be challenging today. If I’m not quite sure the parts here hold together, those parts were so good that I still want to listen to it again.

  • Dry Cleaning, Stumpwork– Their album New Long Leg was in my top 21 list for 2021. This has many of the same charms- the harsh and angular but also clever and interesting post-punk musical approach, and the dry wit of the spoken word vocals by lead singer Florence Shaw. I’m a little unsure simply because it’s so like its predecessor. But is being like a really good thing a sin?

  • Goat, Oh Death– This Swedish psychedelic band is known for fusing their psyche sound with world music, which you will hear here, but that undersells how weird it is. There are equal parts distorted garage rock, jazz solos, and African dance rhythms. It makes it a little hard to hold on to, but also perpetually fascinating track to track.

  • Kenny Mason, RUFFS– There’s something about this album’s mix of rock and hip-hop. That in itself is not a new thing, at all, but here it feels very integral- metallic rock and driving hip hop are both authentic musical languages to this Atlanta rapper, and it shows in his fusion of them.

  • Loyle Carner, Hugo– This UK hip-hop artist has produced an album that is thick with intelligence, personal material, socially significant tie-ins on race and identity, and a sophisticated musical mix. I’m a little unsure about whether there’s enough variety in the vocal flow and mix track to track, but it’s still compelling.

  • Meghan Trainor, Takin’ It Back– I started off thinking that, while I am forever grateful to Meghan Trainor for bringing booty back, I wasn’t sure I needed an entire new album. Then I rapidly began to succumb to all the charms of her big hit song from a few years ago- the energy and positivity, unafraid quality of being a little goony, and the musical approach of joining electronic dance with some of the dance forms of yesteryear. There are some moments where it slowed down for me, sometimes it leaned a little heavily on the autotune, but this album is undoubtedly fun.

  • Paul Heaton/Jacqui Abbott, N.K-Pop– This is a collaboration of the founding members of the Housemartins and the Beautiful South, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it sounds like that 80’s melody and hook-heavy, syrupy yet biting era/school of British pop. In a way almost a time capsule musically, but the lyrics here, both in topicality and in their point of view, recognize that this is more than 30 years later, and show some wisdom and weariness. I’m hedging because of how perfectly of its former era it sounds, and yet how contemporary it is in other ways.

  • Sloan, Steady– This got off to a nice no fuss no muss rocking start. It’s got a power-pop feeling as well, a pinch of 70s Beatles-inspired sounds, and more than a little on the glam side of bubble gum (or the bubble gum side of glam?). This is the 13th album from this Canadian group, and they have been doing this since 1993. It’s not the freshest approach in the world, but darned if I ever had a bad time with a single track.

  • Sobs, Air Guitar– This Singapore indie pop band’s album is the second time this year I have come across an Asia-based band delivering nearly perfect-sounding 90s alt rock, in this case in the rocking but still pop vein of say, Letters for Cleo or Liz Phair. It seems a little museum piece to give an unreserved “yes” to, but it’s also too damn much fun to ignore. 

  • A.A. Williams, As the Moon Rests– It’s moody, it’s atmospheric, it’s not bad if you want something in the surging orchestral neo-goth space. But is it particularly more or better than other things in the surging orchestral neo-goth space?
  • Abraxas, Monte Carlo– There is something to be said for the minor chord atmospherics and dramatic vocals here, it reminds one of a certain surf/60s rock America with a gonzo edge. Eventually a little too low energy and same track to track though.
  • Adrian Sherwood, Dub No Frontiers– Veteran UK reggae producer Adrian Sherwood takes a cosmopolitan approach to dub here, and it would make a great mellow background soundtrack, but I don’t think it lingers the way a year’s best needs to.
  • a-ha, True North– It’s nice to hear a-ha back, and they’re very sophisticated in this outing, but it’s a little too low key and smoothly produced to really stand out.
  • Alvvays, Blue Rev– If you’re looking for a My Bloody Valentine shimmer of noise with a hint of jangle pop, look here.
  • Aoife Nessa Frances, Protector– This Dublin singer-songwriter produces a nice neo-folk swirl, but all a little too same track to track to really stand out.
  • Arches of Loaf, Reason in Decline– An American indie rock band that started out on the 90s, broke up, and then reformed, and it sounds like many eras of indie rock from the 90s forward. Not bad if you want a good indie-leaning guitar-based band, but a little too smooth and prefab.
  • Arctic Monkeys, The Car– They had one of my favorite albums of the 2010’s with AM, and I suppose I was expecting something similarly rocking here. Instead, they’re in a much croonier mood, really somewhat reminiscent of David Bowie on his ballad side. It’s not bad, but it’s also not arresting or distinct.
  • Ariel Zetina, Cyclorama– a beacon for the queer electronic underground. Playing trance-techno sets informed by her identity as a trans woman of Belizean descent. Some of that does show up in the music, and is fascinating when it does, but it tends a little too toward the abstract end of techno.
  • Armani Caesar, The Liz 2– There’s high concept her in this albums interest in divas, high feminism in the “pussy rap” vein, and some pounding music and lyrical incision. If it doesn’t quite all come together, well, ambition is a reward in itself.
  • Ashe, Rae– Singer songwriter in a musically smooth, lyrically arch vein a la a lot of others out there now. This is fine, but it doesn’t especially stand out from the pack.
  • Babehoven, Light Moving Time– There’s a vocal and musical beauty to this Hudson NY group, but the kind of folky kind of country gauziness of it all gets a little too gauzy to sustain.
  • Bandmanrill, Club Godfather– This debut mixtape from Newark, New Jersey rapper Bandmanrill is a fine hip-hop album. It’s too late in the year for albums that are merely fine.
  • Bibio, Bib10– A little art rock, a little neo-disco, a lot of mellow, more than a bit of no thanks.
  • billy woods, Church– I do like what billy woods does, as witness aethiopes ending up on my April “yes” list. Maybe it’s the comparison to that, to which this doesn’t quite measure up in coherence or originality, which did it in.
  • Bladee, Spiderr– I do love my Scandinavian artists (Swedish in this case), and this fun and goofy overdrive version of electronica was working for me for quite a while. It eventually blended into too much track-to-track sameness though.
  • Brian Eno, FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE– Brain Eno is one of those artists who I have enormous respect for, both for his Roxy Music and solo albums in the 70s, and his production work in the 80s, but I rarely succeed in actually liking his contemporary albums. That happened here- it’s all a little too abstract and hushed for me. Alas!
  • Broken Bells, Into the New– The experimental indie pop duo of the Shins’ James Mercer and Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse). I liked it when it sounded like the Shins. I still liked it, but didn’t as much think it stood out, when it had a kind of 80s pop side of prog rock sound.
  • Bush, The Art of Survival– I must begin by stipulating that I really liked the sound of this album. If it was 1996, I might have it in heavy rotation. But do we really need Bush to be perfectly recreating their 90s sound in 2022?
  • Carly Rae Jepsen, The Loneliest Time– She does a good brand of pop that combines dance music and some serious singer-songwriter skills, and she’s doing it well here, but better than a lot of other contemporaries?
  • Charlie Puth, Charlie– As autotuned young pretty boy pop goes, this is.
  • Charlotte dos Santos, Morfo– She has a beautiful voice and idiosyncratic vocal style, but it seems a little thin and over-produced musically.
  • Courtney Marie Andrews, Loose Future– She’s a fine singer-songwriter, with an acoustic country and folk-inflected sound, but it gets to be too track-to-track same in terms of vocals, music, and tempo.
  • Daphni, Cherry– Nice mid-tempo electronic music. It would be great to do the dishes to.
  • Dawn Richard & Spencer Zahn, Pigments– It’s mellow, it’s folktronic, its new agey, it’s a little bit jazz. Please save me.
  • Douglas McCombs, VMAK– An abstract instrumental three-song suite, and not without compelling features, but couldn’t quite lay my hands on it.
  • Dragonette, Twennies– The electronic dance music here had enough unusual and indie twist, and sheer verve of personality, to keep me invested for a while, but eventually didn’t sustain.
  • Dungen, En Är För Mycket och Tusen Aldrig Nog– I do like my Swedish collectives, and this album had some fun hi-energy electronic music with a rock edge but was eventually too in Swedish and too given to mellow meandering to work.
  • Esmerine, Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More– Opened with some fine moody instrumental piano music and, eh…
  • Field Medic, Grow Your Hair Long If You’re Wanting to See Something– Skillful playing in a n acoustic jangle pop vein and interesting introspective lyrics, but too same track-to-track vocally and musically.
  • Frankie Cosmos, Inner World Peace– Incidentally the daughter of Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline, Frankie Cosmos is Greta Simone Kline. She’s putting out some great dreamy, semi-twee pop here, and it’s very good, but eventually the vocal and musical and energy level balance tract to track is too often the same.
  • Gilla Band, Most Normal– This may have been a little too grating and experimental for me as noise pop goes.
  • Hagop Tchaparian, Bolts – This electronic music was a little too hushed and abstract-tending for me, but he is now my favorite British-Armenian artist.
  • Hermanos Gutiérrez, El Bueno y el Malo– This Swiss Ecuadorian musician is making some soulful and complex music, but the all-instrumental album and slower tempo made it hard for me to get my hooks in.
  • iLe, Nacarile– I do like a theremin and other psychedelic affects thrown in with my Spanish language ballads, but the foreign language and relative sameness in tone track to track kept it from settling in with me.
  • Indigo Sparkle, Hysteria– It’s a beautiful folk-flavored album and her voice is sublime, but it is very same track to track.
  • Joanne Shaw Taylor, Nobody’s Fool– There’s some good country/folk playing here, but the production feels a little too slick, and the track sameness sets in by and by.
  • Johanna Warren, Lessons for Mutants– A bit of a spooky ethereal singer, and not bad, but very in a similar flat vein.
  • Julia Reidy, World in World– The all-instrumental format made it hard for me to get ahold off, but there’s some good spooky discordant guitar here.
  • Junior Boys, Waiting Game- Well that was pretty ambient and abstract
  • Keiji Haino/Sumac, Into This Juvenile Apocalypse our Golden Blood to Pour Let Us Never– The philosophical and abstract title of the album and the tracks is borne out in the (mostly instrumental) music, although in a very noisy, metallic, and discordant kind of way.
  • King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava– A strangely poppy and sunny sound from these eclectic psyche masters, but eventually it got too jazz-jammy.
  • King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Changes– Even more jazz-jammy than the other album by them I listened to this month.
  • Lamb of God, Omens– I do appreciate some Lamb of God, but was this lambier or godier enough to stand out among their work and the best albums of the year?
  • Leah Weller, Freedom– Nice sophisticated quiet storm R&B-flavored singer. Eh.
  • Lucrecia Dalt, !Ay!– Per description I read: “Lucrecia Dalt’s ¡Ay! was inspired by the bolero, salsa, and merengue music she grew up hearing in Colombia as a child. The album follows a science fiction story line about an alien visitor named Preta who visits Earth and attempts to make sense of the human condition.” This certainly intrigued, but between an abstract bent and being all in Spanish, I had trouble connecting with it.
  • M.I.A., MataArular and Kala are two of my favorite albums not just of the 00s, but of the whole damn last 25 years, which in this case is a double-edged sword. It had me going in rooting for this album, but it also has me going in with some steep reference points. I’m left feeling that, while there are many fine moments throughout, and it’s never bad, what’s here isn’t as coherent, arresting, or challenging as her best.
  • Macula Dog, Orange 2– A lurching off-kilter and often quite funny electronic album. Eventually a little too off-kilter to be consistently listenable for me, but interesting.
  • Martha, Please Don’t Take Me Back- Nice poppy punk, it would fit in well with nice poppy funk from most anytime the last twenty years or so.
  • Mavi, Laughing So Hard It Hurts– Definitely some literate self-exposure on this hip hop album, but the flow is a little too low key, as is the mix.
  • Meat Wave, Malign Hex– Shouty, punk-flavored, with an air of post-punk angularity. It’s fun enough but doesn’t really stand out from other similar examples of this sound.
  • Mightmare, Cruel Liars– Sarah Shook solo, her other album is one of my favorites of the year, and while this is extremely high quality, it doesn’t have quite the same spark of authenticity and personal power about it.
  • Molly Joyce, Perspective– Philosophical musings and interview sound snippets on disability, along with experimental music. It’s certainly interesting, definitely artistic, undoubtedly worthy, but I’m not sure it adds up to a repeatedly listenable album.
  • Natalia Lafourcade, De Todas Las Flores– A touching collection of ballads from this Mexican pop artist, on the theme of heartbreak. The sameness of tone and the language barrier kept me from “getting” it, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something there to get.
  • Nick Hakim, Cometa– This Brooklyn Musician is doing some decent work here, thick with mood, lo-fi musical surprises, and lyrics full of feeling. But it’s all a little too hazy and undifferentiated track to track to really grab hold of.
  • Open Mike Eagle, Component System with the Auto Reverse– Some good left-field rap with a lot of humor, but it never quite feels dynamic and captivating enough on a song-to-song basis.
  • Palm, Nicks and Grazes– There is an air of clashing and discordant to this electronic music, and traces of melody, which make it interesting. But it ends up being a little too clashy feeling for sustained listen.
  • Peel Dream Magazine, Pad– It’s a nice mellow grove with pleasant synth pop flourishes, but, eh…
  • Peter Buck/Luke Haines, All the Kids Are Super Bummed Out– Post-punk legend Haines had one of my semi-finalists last year, and Peter Buck, is of course Peter Buck of REM. So, it was some promising material. And, on about every other track, where what each of them is doing really gels, it’s sublime. The rest of the time, though, it’s a little muddy-sounding and unfocused.
  • Plains, I Walked With You a Ways– Together, Jess Williamson and Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield are Plains. Waxahatchee’s Saint Cloud was one of my favorites of 2020, and I do like the country inflected genre. It’s well played, well sung, meaningfully lyrical but a little too same all the way through.
  • PVA, Blush– If you like your dance music metallic and vaguely terrifying, this is rather good. I do like those things, but it blends on a track-by-track basis after a while.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, Return of the Dream Canteen– This is a great band. This is a great band stretching out and getting trippy. As such, there are many interesting moments here. But at 75 minutes, and without a coherent theme or structure, I’m not sure it adds up to a great album.
  • Rich Aucoin, Synthetic: Season One– I will grant this sounds very synthetic. It’s not bad as electronic music goes, sometimes more on the abstract/experiment than the dance side.
  • Robyn Hitchcock, Shufflemania– As a child of the alt 80s, I was required by law to like Robyn Hitchcock. It was a good law, and indeed many of his 60s pop influences with a dark twist charms are on display here. At moments it’s quite engaging, but it does tend toward too many songs in amore lugubrious vein in a row.
  • Scout Gillett, No Roof No Floor– A surging wall of feedback sound, dark minor chords, yearning vocals, a hint of country. It was compelling until it got a little too hushed (and jazzy) halfway through.
  • Shabason & Krgovich, At Scaramouche– A shimmery (and weirdly Christmassy) sound that did have interesting musical nuances but didn’t engage me.
  • Show Me the Body, Trouble the Water– I do appreciate the darkness and denseness of the sound here, like post-punk heard through a musical bazaar. It’s a little on the grating sound though, especially the vocals, which eventually cuts into listenability.
  • Simple Minds, Direction of the Heart– Good on Simple Minds for still making albums (this is their 19th), and there is a world-weariness about it that I appreciate, but it’s too deep into an 80s pop veteran afterburn sound.
  • Single Mothers, Everything You Need– Some nice punk yuds, better than most and with a genuine anguish on the vocal and lyrical front that’s a little unusual.
  • Skullcrusher, Quiet the Room– This sounds much less skull-crushing than I would have expected given, you know, the name. It is a darkly nuanced well-produced swirl, but a little ethereal for my tastes.
  • Sorry, Anywhere But Here– There’s a good sound here that reminds me of many strands of 80s and 90s alt, but while tracks jumped out at me, there was something uneven that kept it from being continuously more than the sum of its parts.
  • Sylvie, Sylvie– A very pleasant acoustic slightly country-flavored ramble, but at this point in the year, you need to be on fire to stand out against the best.
  • Taylor Swift, Midnights– The lady doesn’t make a bad album, and the best moments here are up to her best moments anywhere. It does have an unfortunate tendency to have some more “typical” current autotuned sounding tracks that don’t stand out, and some sequencing and pacing issues with too many slow moments too close together. I think there’s a shorter and rearranged version of this that would have been a “yes”, but as is, it’s a nice but not vital or standout addition to Taylormania.
  • The 1975, Being Funny in a Foreign Language– This is about as good as radio hit indie rock gets, and in fact consistently has some interesting production twists. As such, it’s not bad, but am I going to remember most of these tracks at this time next year?
  • The Claudettes, The Claudettes Go Out!– Sophisticated, smoky, literate, jazzy songs. While I can’t, I acknowledge that someone can.
  • The Cult, Under the Midnight Sun– I’ve been liking The Cult since their music first crossed my radar as an 80s alt youth when their second album started getting US College radio station airplay, and their 1987 third album, Electric, remains one of my favorites of that entire era. So, I was here to listen carefully, and indeed, I listened to the whole album, even after I knew I was probably a “no”. It’s good music, reflective of many periods of their career, and won’t disappoint fans, but as a whole doesn’t stand out from their best.
  • The Lightning Seeds, See You in the Stars– The Lightning Seeds were masters of a kind of sunny twee pop from the late 80’s forward, and they’re still doing it well here. There’s nothing wrong with it, in fact it’s very pleasant, but it sounds of its era.
  • The Orielles, Tableau– Ethereal, electronic, interesting, not un-fun, but doesn’t ultimately engage.
  • The Soft Pink Truth, Is It Going to Get Any Deeper Than This?– There’s some not bad electronic music here, but not sure if it adds up to a consistently engaging album.
  • Therion, Leviathan II– Their brand of symphonic metal meets choral vocal music is interesting, but I don’t know that I’d want to play it again and again.
  • Tove Lo, Dirt Femme– She’s Swedish, which I always like, and it’s pretty good as electronic dance music goes, but not year’s best good.
  • Town Mountain, Lines in the Levee– It’s some good country, better than most. Better than best of year though?
  • TSHA, Capricorn Sun– This London producer and DJ knows her way around a soundscape, and as result there is good R&B/dance music here. It sounds a little too thinly produced at the expense of power and vitality at times, and the various approaches (while interesting) don’t quite gel. Still, I’d keep an eye out on more from her.
  • Various Artists, Here It Is: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen– Obviously, exquisite source material, and some very good covers here. Cohen fans wouldn’t go amiss by having this in their collection, even if it may not work at “year’s best” level as an album proper.
  • Wand, Spiders in the Rain– Double live album of 8 tracks recorded by psychedelic band while touring in 2019. This is actually a lot more accessible-sounding than that description might make you think! But it’s not quite over an hour’s worth of accessible.
  • Westside Gunn, 10– The haunting philosophical intro gives way to a 9albeit well-delivered) series of street-life focused songs that don’t back up that profundity at all. Maybe it’s my issue, but the disconnect there threw me.
  • YoungBoy Never Broke Again, 3800 Degrees– Apparently the artist’s fourth album of the year, and it moves pretty well, but the auto-tune is auto-tuned…
  • Zella Day, Sunday in Heaven– Not bad as torchy dance albums go, but at this point in the year, I need out of the ballparks for that category.

And there we are, finis on October! On to November and December!