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 Lucido– Paradigmes 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…