Here’s a comprehensive look of my favorite music of 2022 so far – there have been some heaters, that’s for sure. Scroll down for my Top 25 LPs (in my personal preferential order), as well as Top 4 EPs (ranked) + Top 40 songs (unranked). It’s a game of numbers here. I just completely look past the musical merit and assign numbers here at Warm Visions dot net. Just kidding, that’s not true. I’m listening to music during nearly every waking second of my adult life. Check it all out below and find a new favorite:
TOP 25 LPs of 2022 SO FAR::
25. PRIMER – Incubator [Egghunt Records]
I’ve heard a lot of synth pop over the last few years and Incubator ranks highly in the canon of the genre. Alyssa Midcalf’s vocal performances standout in a sea of soundalikes, and her command over her often climactic synthetic surroundings is immediately noticeable upon first, and many following listens.
24. TDJ – TDJ123 [Collection Disques Durs]
Pure, unfiltered, rosy-eyed nostalgia for progressive house, trance and alternative from the y2k era. After obsessing over the Doss + CFCF releases from last year that scratched the same itch, I was primed to already go gaga over this. Pounding beats, echoing piano, euro-house patterns, melancholy vocal samples. It’s interesting: I don’t remember any specific songs from this era outside of megahits like “Better Off Alone” or “Sandstorm” and the like, but listening instantly transports me back to that time, like viewing scenes from my past through a window. Laser tag, DDR, catching anime on late night TV, Sharper Image-esque stores, Darude soundalikes used in homemade AMVs. It’s infectious.
23. JUST MUSTARD – Heart Under [Partisan]
Guitar music that doesn’t sound like it’s made by guitars. When the band goes hard and lets the chaos take control, that’s when they shine the most. Even in the times when they’re slinking and sloshing through the darkness they’re compelling, but I’m drawn back when it feels like they’re trying to blow my eyelashes off.
22. THEY HATE CHANGE – Finally, New [Jagjaguwar]
Internet music of the highest degree. Dance music plucked from scenes across the globe with charismatic dueling bars, dipped in swinging Southern bounce. Andre & Vonne of They Hate Change are obvious scholars of all things music, fashion and culture, but proudly rep the Florida gulf coast and its traditions before all of that. The things they’ve pulled from the world around them is simply window dressing. Even if the internet didn’t exist, I can see these two pouring over imported zines, writing letters to fellow musicians and sound scientists in other countries, formulating wild hybrids of the arcane magic they’ve procured from ancient scrolls.
21. GUERILLA TOSS – Famously Alive [Sub Pop]
Majestically maximalist as ever, Guerilla Toss may have made their most accessible LP to date and maintains the alien grit that has made them so appealing for the last decade. On the same token, these songs are triumphant, taking the unreal energy the band is known for and pointing it in a specific direction and pushing the whole album along. Brilliant psychedelic bursts of noise act as walls for technicolor melodies to ricochet around in. These are pop songs deep down, but just covered head-to-toe in dripping slime.
20. REAL LIES – Lad Ash [Self-Released]
Seven years since their debut, London’s Real Lies still channel a vibe that feels fresh, straight from the rainy streets of their hometown. Coming of age tales, odes to close friends, love letters to lost flings. Threads of late night dance music as if it’s filtering out of clubs and pubs in the early hours of the morning as you walk home in a daze, reflecting on points in your life that have brought you to this moment.
19. FRESH PEPPER – Fresh Pepper [Telephone Explosion]
Andre Ethier, Joseph Shabason and a host of other Canadian players (most of which are also in blog fav Bernice) imagine a rosy ideal of what working in a restaurant is like, a stark contrast to the high-octane stress that happens on a daily basis. Where a restaurant kitchen is a nightmare of deadlines, large personalities, and dangerous objects, Fresh Pepper conjures up a groovy cast of characters in a flowery space of open windows, goofy mishaps, richly rewarding patron interactions and finding spiritual satisfaction in the mundanity of chopping vegetables or stirring a soup base.
18. ANGEL OLSEN – Big Time [Jagjaguwar]
Where other Angel Olsen albums strike me with their brilliance instantly, Big Time is taking its time in unfurling its glorious layers. Taking on a more hi-fi approach to country rock that her earlier work alluded to in a more lo-fi setting, Olsen navigates heartbreak and a new life beyond in songs that all would work perfectly in the back half of a redemptive, emotionally-gripping drama. Songs with small beginnings that have been finely aged and grown, to fill spaces in the biggest of halls and the most intimate of cafes.
17. WINGED WHEEL – No Island [12XU]
Recorded apart and mostly improvisationally, the four members of Winged Wheel really put their instruments through it: so many bent neck moments and punishing percussion loops, all building up into moments of gratifying chaos. The low end reigns supreme on No Island, with baritone guitar and chunky bass filling up most of the space and allowing discordant guitar shredding and the disembodied vocalizations of Matchess to progress unabated. It’s a great, noisy LP, reminding me of fellow midwest companions FACS, as well as the dreamier parts of Deerhunter’s Weird Era Cont.
16. THE RANGE – Mercury [Domino]
Another great album from The Range that too many of y’all will sleep on. Adds some spice to the general bass-y electronic field with uniquely sourced vocal samples. One thing I’ve found that I love about The Range’s music is that his songs are not simply just vibe tracks to fit into a mix, but they’re all self-contained songs, with arcs, dynamics and a loose narrative feel throughout. It’s slow in the middle, but the beginning and end contain some of the best songs in The Range’s discography.
15. TESS ROBY – Ideas of Space [SSURROUNDSS]
Perhaps the ultimate dreamlike musical experience of the year, with tactile synth work illustrating defined zones of sound and space, both in the album as a whole (as in the full album feels like a self-contained, head canon experience) and between songs (each individual movement acts as a room or area that all make up this larger picture). Sounds and textures drift, providing architecture for Tess Roby’s patient vocal delivery to act as furniture, hanging art, plants, flowers, etc. “Up 2 Me” is one of my favorite songs of the year and that initially kept me coming back, but revisiting this album is like laying in a dome and watching grand constellations and light painting slowly stretch and coat my inner skull.
14. DANIEL ROSSEN – You Belong There [Warp]
At the most basic level, this Daniel Rossen is a brilliantly done return to lush indie folk / rock that Rossen’s old band Grizzly Bear was known for. Going deeper into the praise though, should illuminate how good this record sounds across the board, and should remind us how immense the production on the old Grizzly Bear records was. The overall sound of the LP shines and gives off the quality of classic 60s and 70s folk albums, when bands had the time and budget to really hone in on a full, studio-borne sound. I’d also like to give shine to the drumming on this record, where Chris Bear (of Grizzly Bear) reprises his role as head-smasher, a role he’s been severely overlooked in when it comes to the highest-regarded players of our time. This pseudo GB reunion is something I didn’t know I needed in 2022, but I will happily let it wash over me in all its glory.
13. JOAN SHELLEY – The Spur [No Quarter]
Completely unpretentious, un-self righteous, self-contained-as-a-gift folk/singer-songwriter music with beautiful instrumental palettes painting a picture of tranquility in a chaotic world. It thrives in creating comfort in the home and the community, a dampening of the noise outside. An unfurling of tangled emotions after a long hibernation inside your inner psyche. Waking up to birdsong and sun pouring through a bedside window on a Saturday morning. You can feel fresh air hissing from its pores, a refreshing rain to put out fires. Joan Shelley delivered another home run.
12. HORSEGIRL – Versions of Modern Performance [Matador]
I cannot deny that guitar tone. Horsegirl pull inspiration from late 90s + early 00s indie rock, so it’s appropriate that they’re putting their debut out on the label that initially helped popularize the sound. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but it’s a faithful modern adaptation of a beloved Gen X sound that seems to have lost its way over the last decade. This record isn’t afraid to let it rip, and I love it for that.
11. CHARLOTTE ADIGÉRY & BOLIS PUPUL – Topical Dancer [DEEWEE]
It’s hard to make a funny record. One that is actually funny, not like “oh this record is so bad it’s funny”. Then you have to balance the funny with maintaining a sense of musical authenticity. This is not a comedy record. It’s a bomb pop exploration. Nearly every song of meticulously crafted electro comes with a wink, an elbow jab, a tongue sticking out the side of the mouth; bringing levity to such light topics as say, racism, sexism, cultural appropriation, bigotry, and the like. This record is not preachy, either. It is not a ?/50-long Twitter thread. It’s a record that will puncture you with its whiplike instrumentals, invigorating melodies, lightly psychedelic production, and then get you thinking and hopefully acting on both the wack shit we deal with on a daily basis.
10. DEHD – Blue Skies [Fat Possum]
Dehd is a band that I’ve appreciated for their prior two records but never really fully bought in on. On Blue Skies, I’ve bought the farm, I’ve shipped off to college, I’ve sold the mongoose. Whatever that means. When I find myself singing along to nearly every track, I know I’m on the bandwagon. Anchored by the brilliant single “Bad Love”, the songs unfurl into easy singalongs from there, harkening back to retro rock and roll and other dreamy varieties that populated the early 10s, my sweet spot. The charisma overfloweth, and I need an easy reason to smile. Belt away and let loose.
9. EVAN J CARTWRIGHT – bit by bit [Ideé Fixe]
bit by bit may be overlooked by many this year, but I’m not going to recommend it to just anyone. Straightforwardly sang simple melodies with a dry, unaffected timbre, field recordings, light ambient keys, inches of jazz percussion and more delicate instrumentation thread together into a beautiful synergy. This is a record for a patient music listener, one that recognizes and appreciates the microscopic magic moments that occur around us on a daily basis. Whether it be humming harmonies alongside the church bells you can hear on your morning commute, to catching birds bathing themselves in sunset-drenched puddles formed after a summer rain, to catching a glimpse of someone dancing by themselves in their living room via an open window, this LP channels the quiet peace you can experience if you listen and look hard enough.
8. NILÜFER YANYA – PAINLESS [ATO]
Nilüfer Yanya extracts the lightning in a bottle quality of 00s indie rock excitement that captivated blogs across the world, but adds something that was severely lacking from that period: a female voice + perspective. Obviously she adds more than that, but looking back at how dude-centric the scene was back then (and let’s be real, continues to be now) makes me hang my head in shame. Aside from our shameful history, PAINLESS is just a straight-up great rock record with great dynamics, innovative production techniques, and a general sonic variety to keep every listen fresh, hopefully writing a new canon of rock for future musicians to return to in the next decade.
7. MJ LENDERMAN – Boat Songs [Dear Life]
Easily relatable, funny and most of all hard-hitting and catchy country-touched rock tunes to populate both your “windows down” playlist as well as your “hungover in the Six Flags parking lot on a 100ºF day, listening to your favorite team lose on sports radio” playlist. MJ Lenderman just makes it all feel so effortless, like you’ve heard these songs years ago when you were a kid, but are just now rediscovering. It makes me wish I had a car. I never wish that at any other time.
6. NU GENEA – Bar Mediterraneo [NG Records]
Globe-trotting funk with strains from nearly all corners of the Earth, all convening in one grand palatial estate next to the ocean. Guest vocal features of many different dialects populate the track list, dictating the party while sublime grooves get the endless dancefloor melting in all directions. The instrumentals aren’t slacking either – this isn’t some GarageBand funk loop you can find in royalty-free catalog. There are flute solos. The hand percussionist’s hair is on fire. The rhythm guitars have a sense of the gravity around them. There are horns, there are strings, there are psychedelic synths, there are children choirs, the bass is fat and happy and flows freely. The grooves. They’ll take you away.
5. DESTROYER – Labyrinthitis [Merge]
Another chapter in the long-winding legacy of Destroyer, one that sees the band fully grasp the futuristic lounge + apocalyptic sophistipop it’s been percolating on the last two LPs, to masterful results. Some of Destroyer’s best songs with Dan Bejar’s most outrageous lyrics and vocal performances. Perhaps I’m biased since I’m a Destroyer lifer, but aside from one tanking interlude, this record is all bangers. It’s awesome to hear the band having so much fun again, crafting whip-smart bizarro pop.
4. CAROLINE – caroline [Rough Trade]
This album sounds like a sentient suit of armor standing atop a cliff, yearning for a romantic life beyond its means, with fierce winds whistling through its exposed crevices and piercing light from the sunset reflecting off its polished, mirrored surfaces. Threads of metallic melancholy rattle throughout the expanse of this LP, which thrives in moments of dirging repetition and discordant chaos, but is bound together by a purely human soul, depicted in swelling strings and earnest, untouched vocals. A gorgeous juxtaposition between warm and cold, a heart on the sleeve of a ghost tethered to this realm by an unextinguished passion.
3. BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD – Ants From Up There [Ninja Tune]
A dramatic elevation past the “talky UK post punk” concept, running laps and spins and somersaults around other current bands that dilute the flavor-of-the-month style that has garnered such feverish fanbases over the last decade but has presently oversaturated the landscape. Drama is actually the theme across the entire LP, with Isaac Wood’s exasperated vocals and hyper-specific lyrics painting triptychs of modern, mundane epics and the intense, multi-layered backing instrumentals of usual rock faire + “high art” strings, winds and brass casting shadows atop a vast stage for modular audiences to take in and be blown away by.
2. BILLY WOODS – Aethiopes [Backwoodz Studioz]
Hip hop you can enjoy without needing to read the lyrics alongside, but the experience becomes enriched tenfold once you do sit down and process what woods is talking about on Aethiopes. Elite visual storytelling that lays each track out like a movie, with imagery of painkiller-glazed eyes mirroring that of those in a Natural History Museum diorama, European colonists converting “savage” African tribes into tourist attractions and so many more stories from generations of forced trauma, all backed by intensely curated and masterful instrumentals courtesy of Preservation. Cuts deep and feels like essential listening to hear what a hardened master of the form can do this far into his career.
1. BIG THIEF – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You [4AD]
An era-defining rock record. An era-defining folk record. A record that makes an hour and 20 minutes feel like no time is wasted. An explosion of ideas where stylistic shifts don’t feel out of place, but rather welcomed and expected. A celebration of music and camaraderie that comes with it. Laughing in the face of seriousness, while still laying its ear down to the earth and listening to the murmuring bubbles from below the crust. Too many songs on here, even those deep in the record, I skip to and instantly start humming along. This record is a portrait of a band currently at its peak, with a glimpse into how much artistically higher they can go.
TOP 4 EPs of 2022 SO FAR::
Not really many things to say about the mini-offerings we’ve been provided this year, except that the top two (Braxe + Falcon + Blunt Chunks) are some of my most-listened to projects on the year. If I had merged them with the albums, I think they’d both be securely within the Top 15, if not the Top 10.
4. TWO SHELL – Icons [Mainframe Audio]
Not sure what the big stink about this duo is, but the songs are good, albeit a bit goofy, so I won’t dig in more than that.
3. TOPS – Empty Seats [Musique Tops]
The party never ends when TOPS are on the playlist. I saw them live for the sixth time back in October and can’t wait to see them again.
2. BRAXE + FALCON – Step by Step [Smuggler’s Way / Domino]
Ever heard a song so good it carries an entire EP? And that there’s a bonus version of the same song that’s the second best song on the EP? “Step By Step” is all we need in this life.
1. BLUNT CHUNKS – Blunt Chunks [Telephone Explosion]
Incredibly lush, expertly arranged, orchestrated and produced country-touched indie rock with unique lyrics and sublime vocals. This is her debut EP and these five songs immediately demand that you remember the name.
FAV 40 SONGS of 2022 SO FAR::
Sorted alphabetically, but I can securely say my favorite song of the year is “Step By Step (feat. Panda Bear)” by Braxe + Falcon. No question. The other tracks are great too, but I need to take a finer toothed comb through my favorite records and the lists of others to make sure I’m not forgetting anything major before the end of the year. If there are any major songs from the year that I’ve missed, let me know!
I’ve also got a Spotify playlist if you’re so inclined to preview some of these artists HERE.
- ALDOUS HARDING – “Tick Tock”
- THE BETHS – “A Real Thing”
- BIG THIEF – “Spud Infinity”
- BILLY WOODS – “No Hard Feelings”
- BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD – “Basketball Shoes”
- BLUNT CHUNKS – “Natural Actors”
- BRAXE + FALCON – “Step By Step (feat. Panda Bear)”
- CAROLINE – “Skydiving onto the library roof”
- CHARLI XCX – “Constant Repeat”
- CHARLOTTE ADIGÉRY & BOLIS PUPUL – “Blenda”
- COURTESY – “Night Journeys II”
- DEHD – “Bad Love”
- DESTROYER – “June”
- EARL SWEATSHIRT – “2010”
- ERICA ESO – “Home Is A Glow”
- EVAN J CARTWRIGHT – “impossibly blue”
- FLOATING POINTS – “Vocoder”
- FONTAINES D.C. – “Jackie Down The Line”
- HATCHIE – “Quicksand”
- IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE – “All That You Want”
- JACK J – “Only You Know Why”
- JOAN SHELLEY – “Like The Thunder”
- JUST MUSTARD – “Still”
- MARCI – “Entertainment”
- MJ LENDERMAN – “You Are Every Girl To Me”
- MOLLY NILSSON – “Obnoxiously Talented”
- MUNA – “What I Want”
- NILÜFER YANYA – “the dealer”
- NU GENEA – “Gelbi (feat. Marzouk Mejri)”
- OBONGJAYAR – “Wrong For It (feat. Nubya Garcia)”
- THE RANGE – “Urethane”
- RENATA ZEIGUER – “Evergreen”
- ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER – “My Echo”
- TDJ – “Pushed You Away”
- TESS ROBY – “Up 2 Me”
- TOPS – “Perfected Steps”
- TSHA – “Giving Up (feat. Mafro)”
- WIDOWSPEAK – “Everything Is Simple”
- WINGED WHEEL – “Passive But Jag”
- ZOLA JESUS – “The Fall”