So that was 2022 then. Another year to forget for so many reasons. In the UK, of course, we had three Prime Ministers, two monarchs and a cost of living crisis (in a pear tree?).
Thankfully the saving grace was, once again, the music. In that respect 2022 was the gift that kept on giving. We loved everything we reviewed over the last year (and a lot that we didn’t get around to writing about!) and it’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to listen to so much fantastic music. As is our want we only ever review music we think is really special, (although some slips the net and we miss it altogether). So thank you, as always, to everyone who has submitted releases to us this year, shared our articles and been kind enough to read our highly unpolished rambles. So what were our albums of 2022? We’ve ordered and re-ordered this list several times (because there’s so much great stuff here) but here’s our top 22:
22. Vintage Crop – Kibitzer
21. Say Sue Me – The Last Thing Left
20. The Orchids – Dreaming Kind
Vintage Crop made a welcome return with ‘Kibitzer’. The Aussie punks, based just outside of Melbourne, delivered a solid collection of post punk bangers which was remarkably recorded in just one day.Their confident, no nonsense approach is nothing revolutionary but boy is it effective.
The South Korean indie rockers continue to impress with their sometimes Yo La Tengo-esque melodies, atmospherics and dreamy vocals. ’The Last Thing Left’ was their most cohesive and purposeful album to date, with a sense of urgency, focus and clarity of vision that wasn’t quite so apparent until now.
The gorgeous intricacies of The Orchids’ first album in eight years provided the comeback of the year. Their indiepop has lost absolutely none of its shine. The melodies and textures are understated but sublime. It was great to have them back.
19. Alevia Avina – A Little Older
18. The Web Of Lies – Nude With Demon
17. Julie Odell – Autumn Eve
Alexia Avina followed up 2020’s ‘Unearth’ with another hypnotic collection of delicate dream pop. Avina’s angelic vocals are haunting throughout. This was one of the year’s most delicate, introspective and quietly spectacular records.
Somewhat an underground supergroup, The Web Of Lies dropped ’Nude With Demon’ back in February. A twisted psych rock record with longform jams that sound like a long lost 60s hippy cult gem with hints of the Velvet Underground’s White Light White Heat and Spacemen 3.
Singer songwriter was another new name to us in 2022. Her playful touch and often explosive approach to song structure was an absolute joy to discover. ‘Autumn Eve’ is folky, dreamy and warm like Rozi Plain with the power and passion of Big Thief and Fleet Foxes. This is the sound of someone really enjoying their creative process.
16. Nervous Twitch – Some Things Never Change
15. Ex-Vöid – Bigger Than Before
14. Fell – Mallows Marsh
Nervous Twitch just make you smile. Their upbeat punk, direct lyricism and catchy melodies are as infectious as ever on ’Some Things Never Change’. They know their strengths and play to them, making this another album to pogo around the living room to.
Another debut album we eagerly awaited dropped in March. Ex-Vöid’s glorious indie rock has echoes of Joanna Gruesome of whom two of the band were members. Naturally there are echoes of Teenage Fanclub and the pristine pop of the New Pornographers. This album just constantly delivers with some of the finest melodies and harmonies we heard all year. It’s sensational.
This release right at the end of the year caught us by surprise. We’d never before heard of London based Fell but, enticed by some beautiful artwork and the Lost Map stamp of approval, we were glad to have checked this out. There’s a lightness of touch and sense of everything being in its right place throughout “Mallows Marsh”.
13. Dry Cleaning – Stumpwork
12. Palm – Nicks And Grazes
11. The Cool Greenhouse – Sod’s Toastie
’Stumpwork’ certainly didn’t see Dry Cleaning resting on their laurels. A lot of people would no doubt been happy with more “Magic of Meghan”s and “John Wick”s on their second album, however they toned things down dramatically, stretched their songs out and provided a completely different atmosphere to complement Florence Shaw’s cut and paste mundane-surrealist lyrics.
It was great to see Palm returning this year. Their dizzying rhythms and magical melodies are just as effective on ‘Nicks and Grazes’ as they were on the excellent ‘Rock Island’. Are they the poppiest math rock band or the mathiest pop band? However you define them this was a joy.
Tom Greenhouse and his troops returned to follow up their debut album on the bizarrely titled Sod’s Toastie. The heavy repetition of their earlier work is still there in parts, but this is altogether more surreal, sophisticated and enjoyable. The music now holds up a mirror to Greenhouse’s bizarre stories.
10. The Birthmarks – Slowly
9. The Guilty Pleasures – Komplot
8. Otoboke Beaver – Super Champon
Manchester’s The Birthmarks have long been a favourite of ours and their debut album ’Slowly’ was the weird and wonderful lo-fi retro post punk psych fusion we had hoped for. Their deadpan delivery, beat inspired guitars and bizarre sense of humour are all on display to glorious effect.
This came to us out of the blue via the band. At the time we said this would be one of the most fun albums of the year and it absolutely stands up to that. Their humorous lo-fi post punk proved just the tonic to the bitter February chill.
We’re a little late to the joys of Otoboke Beaver. Their maniacal punk and surreal topics are a technicolour explosion of fun. The relentless silliness of ’Super Champon’s 21 minutes smashes through sugary pop punk, call and response vocals and an infectious energy and wild noise that, at times, recalls the wonderful Afrirampo.
7. Shake Chain – Snake Chain
6. Richard Dawson – The Ruby Cord
5. Robert Sotelo. – Indoors
Another album we were looking forward to for a long time, ’Snake Chain’ doesn’t disappoint. Kate Mahony’s wild, unhinged vocal operatics may be what draws the crowds but they stay for the awesome grooves the band lay down. Playful, abrasive and crooked but solid as a rock, they provide the perfect backdrop.
We were eagerly anticipating “The Ruby Cord” as soon as the final notes of 2019s “2020” rang out; an album that stunned with its bleak, poignant storytelling and gnarled electric folk. This takes an altogether different approach. The final part of a past, present, future triptych, this is ambitious yet understated, subtle and expansive. The rough edges and assault on his own vocal chords are largely gone, which means this takes a little longer to bed in. Once it does it’s exceptional… again.
A sister album to the previous year’s ‘Celebrant’, ‘Indoors’ features a lot of the traits of its predecessor but somehow ups the ante. This is probably the most uplifting document of lockdown Britain we’ve heard. Despite the subject matter the melodies are stunningly sweet, the approach as playful as ever. This is far more cohesive as a long player than anything we’ve heard from this cult treasure before.
4. No Home – Young Professional
No Home once again showed they are a true one off. Following 2020’s ‘Fucking Hell’ was always going to be a challenge. No Home eschews rules and expectations. Moments of abstract noise meld into grunge and intensely soulful singing. This is music from another planet.
3. Sniffany And The Nits – The Unscratchable Itch
We waited a long time for this one and it’s just as visceral, urgent and exciting as we’d hoped. It’s hard to look past charismatic Nurse Sniffany’s savage vocals but the band really pack a punch too. Sniffany And The Nits are undoubtedly one of the best punk bands in the UK.
2. Big Joanie – Back Home
How do you follow up a debut as strong as Sistas? We got our answer in 2022. Big Joanie ramped up everything on their sophomore album. The drums are fiercer, the guitars more aggressive and grungy, the songwriting and Stephanie Phillips’ delivery more confident. Their turning everything up to 11 was a surprise and it works so well for them.
Album of 2022
1. Bas Jan – Baby U Know
A very early release this year, we’ve spent a lot of time with ‘Baby U Know’. It’s an album of great variety, warmth and depth, with themes of motherhood, protest and revolution as well as some bonafide hip shakers. Bas Jan‘s expanded format as a four piece has allowed them to widen their explorations. We thought this would be something special and it didn’t disappoint.