Just like our own lives, music is a journey filled with highs, lows, joy, sadness and anger and, similarly, can only be interpreted by the way it makes us feel. The soundwaves team set out on a near impossible task to put together a list of our albums of the year, and–gigantic disclaimer– did so under extreme duress. Thankfully, 2022 was filled with so many great album releases and new music that there was plenty to choose from for the list. But, as you might imagine this made the task laughably hard and basically just silly. With that! The deadline was set and the picks are in…see where we landed and the reasons below. Cheers!
~Ben, Jay, Jason and Ryan
The 5-piece from Connecticut knocked it out of the park with their third album Dripfield released in June of this year. Although there was a really strong field of contenders in the jam-band category including, Perspectives from Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s and Every Last Leaf from Twiddle, Dripfield rises to the top for me.
Produced by D. James Goodwin, who has produced with Bob Weir amongst many others, on the No Coincidence label, Dripfield embodies what the band can achieve in a controlled creative setting and provided a solid framework and freedom to create amazing variations of it live for their fans. The sound quality is exceptional and the subtle use of effects, delays and filters gives it a thoughtfully professional and polished overlay. From the subtle and beautiful tones of Borne, Dripfield and Honeybee, to the melody driven and phenomenal guitar work of Hungersite and Hot Tea, Goose served up a body of work that’s both satisfying and sure to grab the attention of non-fans.
Favorite Tracks: Hot Tea, Hungersite
(BennyD, Host of Ben Jammin’ and Alt Life)
The Orielles, Tableau
What is a Tableau? It can be defined in a number of fashions: a graphic representation, an artistic grouping, or maybe it’s how the French refer to it as a living picture—as in tableau vivant. It’s a fitting title for The Orielles 2022 release. The band’s creativity constantly ebbs and flows throughout the album, from the moody and slow-tempo to more upbeat tracks such as The Room.
Released by Heavenly Recordings out of the UK, one might describe their music as experimental electronic dream pop, but don’t bother trying to categorize it. This is what you get when you have immeasurable artistry, a few albums under your belt, and you let a band hit the studio and treat it as an adventure.
We’re introduced to the album through the track Chromo I. It’s like a moving training pulsating and picking up speed as it moves by the platform. From the overdriven guitars and evenly pronounced bass lines in Chomo II to the track Airtight which sounds as if it came straight out of an improvisational jazz ensemble warming up for a gig, you can’t pinpoint where they plan to go next.
The dreamy vocals and numerous effects applied to the keys and guitars in the track Some Day Later are trance-like. I can envision any one of their songs could be featured on a soundtrack for a Sofia Coppola film, and to me, that’s not a bad thing. The track Television I find to be one of the more cohesive on the album that brings both the vocals and instruments into pure harmony. Their willingness to explore the boundaries of music and simply not sticking to the norms is what makes this album great.
Favorite tracks: Chromo II, Television.
(Submitted by Jason Landry Host of Art+Noise)
Black Country, New Road, Ants From Up There
If it’s possible to be both sparse and bombastic simultaneously BC,NR has achieved it from their onset. “Ants”, their sophomore effort, was released early in 2022, just days after lead vocalist and guitarist Isaac Wood announced his departure from the band.
Sitting somewhere in the space occupied by the passion of Neutral Milk Hotel, the rawness of Slint, and ethos of early Arcade Fire, (if that Venn diagram even exist), the complexity and epicness of the tracks deserves its place in history with all its accolades this year. And possibly as a contender for best records of the decade so far. Too soon? Let’s check back in 2029.
(Submitted by Ryan, Host of Rye2K Presents)
Dehd, Blue Skies
This retro-sounding post-punk Chicago trio creates loud, easy to sing along in-your-face tunes.
Guitarist Jason Balla’s reverb-style 80’s guitar playing combined with the powerful, yet simple drumming of Eric McGrady make this the rock trio of the year. Bassist Emily Kempf’s superpower is her amazing voice with its intentional stutters, shouting, and yelping that make her songs bigger than life.
It’s unusual and certainly off-center, but I absolutely love the rawness and resonance behind her voice. Kempf’s distinctive vocal arrangements give the band a totally different sound than the tracks where lead vocal are either shared in harmony, or when Balla or McGrady do the honors. Without Kemp’s lead vocals, those songs project a different kind of sound — The Church meets Gene Loves Jezebel (the early stuff) maybe? Signed to Fat Possum earlier this year, Dehd will only grow on you with each new listen. It’s rock music stripped down and done right.
If you’re new to this band, you must check out 2020’s Flower of Devotion. It could be from a 1980s John Hughes soundtrack-no kidding. Similar artists include Cherry Glazer and Horsegirl.
Favorite tracks: Bad Love, Waterfall, Dream On, Stars
(Submitted by Jay Boucher, Host of the shows Music Re:Port and Port:Authority)