33 Age of Apathy Asphalt Meadows Being Funny in a Foreign Language Blue Rev Cheat Codes DAWN FM Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You Fever Dream five seconds flat Florist Garageband Superstar God’s Country Growin’ Up Hellfire High Hypnos I can’t eat nearly as much as i want to vomit It’s Not Comfortable To Grow Laurel Hell Leap Leave the Light On Life on Earth, Vol. 2 Mahal MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE… Midnights Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers Orange Blood Preacher’s Daughter Reeling Renaissance Revealer Rolling Golden Holy Take It Like a Man The Car The Forever Story The Hum Goes On Forever The Kick The New Four Seasons – Vivaldi Recomposed The Paradise Club WANT Wet Leg When Everything Is Better I’ll Let You Know
From all of us here at Atwood Magazine, we wish you a happy and healthy new year!
2022 has been, in a word, an exhilarating year for music. Living legends have further solidified their legacies, whilst fresh faces have become new favorites.
Atwood Magazine has always had at its core the mission to celebrate music of all genres, and this year we continued our goal to be a space of inclusivity and representation by consciously highlighting art and artists from around the world. The year in music was made all the more exciting because of the broad range of music we featured and focused on – from those familiar names in the Top 40, to creatives in the most underground, indie, and alternative of circles.
For so many of these artists, music is more than a mere means of self-expression; it is a vessel full of awesome potential. In recent years, it has felt increasingly important to acknowledge and elevate those who use their art as a voice for the disenfranchised; the oppressed; the underrepresented; and the underprivileged. This year, we continue to recognize those who speak for more than just themselves, while at the same time indulging in the familiar, timeless themes of love, loss, hope, connection, courage, change, and the never-ending pursuit of happiness.
As the year comes to a close, our staff took a step back to honor the songs, albums, EPs, concerts, and artist discoveries that had the greatest impact on our lives. Without further ado, Atwood Magazine is proud to present our curated list of 2022’s Albums of the Year, in alphabetical order.
From mainstream heavyweights like Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and The Weeknd, to indie darlings like Arctic Monkeys, Foxes, Alvvays, The 1975, Mt. Joy, Big Thief, Mitski, and The Wonder Years, and fresh faces like Wet Leg, Ethel Cain, The Mysterines, Johnny Hunter – and so much more – these are our favorites: The albums that influenced and inspired us the most. Please join us in celebrating 2022’s contributions to the music world!
Mitch Mosk, Editor-in-Chief
Atwood’s 2022 Music of the Year
2022’s Best Albums of the Year
Released in September, 33 marked a pivotal shift in Jagwar Twin’s musical evolution. I spoke to frontman Roy English at Firefly Music festival and he described the emotion behind the lyrics of the songs on the new album: “Those hard experiences can make beautiful diamonds, whether it’s a life, an album or just a conversation.” – Michael Greco
Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Aoife O’Donovan is incredibly prolific. Aside from her astounding solo work, she is a founding member of beloved bluegrass band Crooked Still, as well as one third of the trio I’m With Her (along with Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz), and performs with legends and upcomers alike. Age of Apathy, however, might be her most special achievement yet. O’Donovan writes music like most people wish they could, simultaneously pushing the boundaries of folk and Americana while seemingly pulling from the same font as artists like Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills, & Nash. Age of Apathy finds O’Donovan singing of mythology and malaise, isolation and comfort. Her voice soars and her chord progressions hit hard, which is always to be expected of O’Donovan — yet Age of Apathy hits the hardest. In the bizarre, noisy landscape of 2022 where time has felt like a flat circle and also endless, Age of Apathy sticks out as a stunning moment of clarity. – Mariel Fechik
Death Cab for Cutie’s band members have been put through wringer these past two and a half years, and just like the rest of us, they’ve come out the other side with a deeper appreciation for life and the little moments we can all too easily let slip away. That much is evident from the onset of the band’s tenth studio album Asphalt Meadows, a sonically and emotionally charged affair that sees the Ben Gibbard-led indie rock juggernaut at the top of their game.
Asphalt Meadows is not only a special milestone in its own right, but it also marks Death Cab for Cutie’s 25th year as a band. It’s also the group’s first album since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and one can’t help but hear its impact on Ben Gibbard’s songwriting. The album’s themes include survival and perseverance, reckoning with our past, present, and future, and showing up for ourselves and for those we care about the most, alongside classic Gibbardian existential ponderings on life and death (and everything in-between). I would argue this is the band’s most hopeful and heartfelt record of their career.
Like its title suggests, Asphalt Meadows is an album of friction, juxtaposition, and finding calm in a surrounding turbulence. “Listen to the ringing in your ears, the scrambled voices of your fears, whispering,” Gibbard sings at the start of the aptly-titled opener, “I Don’t Know How I Survive” – a track that, in itself, blends tender, light sonics in the verse with a caustic, abrasive chorus. “Listen to the sound of your heart beat growing louder, gaining speed. You’re breathing out, breathing in…“
From the feverish rush and unsettled churn of “Roman Candle” (“but I am learning to let go of everything i tried to hold“) to the cinematic storytelling of title track “Asphalt Meadows” and “Here to Forever,” and the poignant, visceral nostalgia coursing through standout tracks like “Pepper” (one of my Top Songs of 2022) and “Rand McNally,” Asphalt Meadows is one of Death Cab for Cutie’s most cathartic, disruptive, impressively cohesive, and utterly engaging albums to date. This record is nothing short of a resounding triumph: Not only is it a fitting collection to be their tenth LP, but it’s also a deserving marker of where they are today, 25 years into the game and still going stronger than ever.
Gibbard sounds like he might be aware of all this too, as he ends the album in a definitive space of dedication, devotion, and resolve: “I’ve given up on confrontation, and I’ve given up on every politician, too,” he sings. “I’ve given up on affectations and the dilettantes they all consume, but I’ll never give up on you.” Is this a love song to a special person, or is it a love song to the band to which he’s dedicated the past quarter-century of his life? – Mitch Mosk
The 1975’s fifth studio album is a softly stunning masterpiece – and I don’t say this lightly. Released October 14 via Dirty Hit, Being Funny in a Foreign Language feels like the breath of fresh air that this year, and this band, have needed: Love lies at the core of a beautifully tender and honest record that takes everything we’ve long known and loved about The 1975’s artistry, and synthesizes it down into 44 captivating, deeply cathartic, and incredibly cohesive minutes (for reference, the band’s last three LPs had a runtime of 80 minutes, 58 minutes, and 74 minutes, respectively).
And while Matty Healy’s biting social commentary, his charismatic irreverence, and unapologetic introspection are still plenty present throughout this album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language feels relaxed in a way that The 1975 haven’t felt in their entire career. Maybe we’re all getting into our thirties and realizing it feels good to be happy and embrace love, even if that’s easier said than done at times. “I’m sorry about my twenties, I was learnin’ the ropes, I had a tendency of thinkin’ about it after I spoke,” 33-year-old frontman Matty Healy reflects on the self-titled opener “The 1975” (every album opens with the song of the same name, acting as a manifest or check-in with the band that sets the tone for the record to come). “We’re experiencin’ life through the postmodern lens, oh, call it like it is, you’re makin’ an aesthetic out of not doin’ well...”
This song ends with the repeated mantra, “I’m sorry if you’re livin’ and you’re seventeen,” which seems to affirm this notion of basking in the calm seas of maturity – as opposed to the turbulence and turmoil of our teens and twenties. From there, the band transition directly into the passionate, enthusiastic love song “Happiness,” an uplifting reverie whose dynamic groove, glistening guitars, soaring horns, and heartfelt, glowing vocals are joy manifest.
“She showed me what love is, now I’m actin’ like I know myself… In case you didn’t notice, I would go blind just to see you,” Healy sings, going on to declare in a buoyant chorus, “Show me your love, why don’t you? Grow up and see…” Things are never black or white for this band, but it’s nice to hear them soaking up the sunshine – and making the most of their saxophonist, John Waugh, whose horn smolders and soars throughout most, if not all of the album’s eleven tracks.
Being Funny in a Foreign Language is nostalgic and reflective; it’s humble and appreciative; it’s intimate and brooding; it’s achingly raw and brutally honest; and most of all, it’s hopeful. There’s a no-holds-barred openness and directness to Healy’s lyrics and vocal performance this time around (this shines especially bright on songs like the unapologetically radiant “I’m in Love with You,” the sentimentally sweet and buoyant “Wintering,” and the inspiring, all-consuming celebratory standout “Oh Caroline” – one of my Top Songs of 2022) that, combined with the band’s lush arrangements, their vivid, cinematic melodies, and Jack Antonoff’s production, creates an overall sense of comfort and warmth.
This holds as true for the album’s upbeat, invigorating, and anthemic moments, as it does for softer and slower songs like the heated, stirring ballad “All I Need to Hear” and the haunting confessional “Human Too,” in which an exposed Healy poignantly bares his faults, flaws, and all: “I’m sorry that I’m someone that I wish I could change, but I’ve always been the same,” he croons. “Don’t you know that I’m a Human too?“
Healy has never been shy about sharing himself in song, but Being Funny in a Foreign Language is an elevation of that intimacy. He takes his candid songwriting and colorful storytelling to new heights throughout this album, opening himself up like never before and, in doing so, creating an intensely intimate and visceral album experience for all who listen. – Mitch Mosk
Was there an album more anticipated across the past five years than the third LP from Alvvays? Or rather, was there an album that produced such an undercurrent of buzz across the past five years, on the heels of 2017’s exceptional Antisocialites? That is to say, whether you scoured Reddit or Twitter for indie rock news, the Canadian indie pop rockers always seemed to come up in conversation, always seemed to generate fervor and a sense of mystery. What exactly would they do next, and how difficult would it be to follow up on two near-perfect, critically acclaimed albums? Consider that question answered forcefully with the equally exceptional Blue Rev, a strong contender for Album of the Year in many circles. The group leveled up and worked with indie producer extraordinaire Shawn Everett, and the result is an endlessly listenable, shimmering ode to indie pop, complete with Everett’s requisite hazy, delicate yet beefed-up production work (best heard elsewhere on LPs by The War on Drugs). Just listen to the first two songs to see how masterfully Alvvays have hit on the right notes this time around, and then stick around for a newfound certified classic, start to finish. Here’s hoping Alvvays keeps the wait for LP4 to a minimum. – Beau Hayhoe
This was an album that almost slipped my mind until I came across the vinyl in stores knew this was an instant classic- the striking cover art caught my attention almost as quickly as the soulful violins on the opening track “Sometimes.” Known to many as a founder of The Roots with Amir “Questlove” Thompson, Danger Mouse is a seasoned songwriter and producer with consistently stellar, diverse production. Featuring favorites Run The Jewels, MF Doom, Conway the Machine, and more, Black Thought once again proves his lyrical mastery in this silky smooth collaboration. Though this isn’t the first time the two artists have worked together, this full length album marks a long-awaited collection that seamlessly amplifies each of their strengths. Aquamarine (feat. Michael Kiwanuka) stands out as perhaps my favorite 2022 song in the genre- it immediately locked into my subconscious Rolodex as if I’d known the song my entire life. An intricate web of modern and vintage, Cheat Codes easily earns a place as one of their best works. – Nic Nichols
DAWN FM was released almost a full year ago, on January 7th, so it could be easy to overlook it in the wake of all the great music that’s come out since then. But it’s definitely deserves its due on this list, given that it proved to be another showcase of the Weeknd as a captivating vocal master who knows how to conjure danceable pop production in a manner few of his contemporaries can equal. Plus, it was seriously amazing seeing the Weeknd give this album the live treatment this past July when he stopped by Soldier Field in Chicago for the After Hours Til Dawn Tour! He’s definitely one of the artists that best defined 2022 for me, thanks to both this album and that concert, so I gotta give him an enthusiastic nod on a list like this. – Josh Weiner
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You delivers both in quality and quantity, and I can say with ‘Certainty’ that it deserves a place on any list of best albums of the year. The double-LP croons with the melancholy, rustic charm that Big Thief has long since been known for, though the album is far from being a one-trick pony. With an arch towards experimentation juxtaposed with the slower pace of tracks like “Sparrow” and the cozy, lackadaisical hum of “Simulation Swarm,” Dragon has everything you could ask for out of an album. There’s a beauty and care taken in every song, like each one is a gift wrapped up and packaged with the most personal of intentions. Dragon is all hearts on sleeves, all the while capturing a calming hush that’s often so hard to find. It’s a sweetness unlike any other—perfect for Big Thief, and perfect for 2022. – Jamie Kahn
I’ve been on the edge of my seat for Palaye Royale’s fourth studio album since No Love In LA was released as a single last year, and I wasn’t too shocked when the record surpassed all my expectations and more on October 28th. Revered for their gritty glamour, unapologetic brashness, and rowdy rock anthems, the brothers of Palaye Royale have intricately created a vibrant world of feverish fun; channel all these things into 15 tracks, give it about two years, and you’ll get their most dynamic record to date, Fever Dream.
Sonically, lyrically, and thematically, Fever Dream marks the band’s most experimental, vulnerable, and powerful era thus far. From softer piano ballads to pure, raucous rock ‘n’ roll, the trio captures the fever dream that was the last two years into a sonic storybook spanning just over 50 minutes. Though it’s only been about a month since the album’s debut, I am positive that it’ll stick with me for a long, long time and remain a timeless staple in my library of all-time favourite albums. – Isabella Le
It’s not often that you discover an album that changes the trajectory of your music consumption seemingly indefinitely. five seconds flat did this for me. What started with discovering “all my ghosts” on a random new music Friday led to the anticipated release of five seconds flat.
It’s not often that an album, start to finish, is so cohesively perfect. From a story-telling perspective and of course, sonically, five seconds flat is a singular piece of art – forever frozen in time to be exactly what it is, which honestly is hard to put into words, but I guess that’s what we have music for? This album illicit’s a certain feeling that can be revisited whenever it is needed. That is why it is my Album of 2022 and will be heavy in my rotation, indefinitely. – Kelly McCafferty Dorogy
Intimidating, at first, due to its scope and the conceit of the record—19 tracks spread across two LPs, 10 of which are instrumentals, otfen experimental sounding, regularly ambient or lulling in their nature; the other nine find Florist’s singer and songwriter Emily Sprague continuing to explore the grief from the death of her mother, but also, now, through the help of the tightly knit group dynamic Florist built while recording this self-titled record, she is attempting to find, as she is able, comfort, solace, and even flickers of joy. A robust statement — meticulous in its organic production sounds and “in the room” feeling, Florist is an album that circles the edges of where jubilance and sorrow collide, creating something otherworldly, haunting, beautiful, and often thoughtful. – Kevin Krein
Garageband Superstar accelerates onto the tracks courtesy of the pounding beats of opening tranche Rollercoaster — an appropriately unruly launchpad for the LP with its rocky guitar slides and palpitation inducing guttural percussion. There is a brief malaise in the midst of the album, but the title track is a bona fide belter, and the most melodic three-and-a-bit minutes on the entire album. A swipe at the fame game, it provides a calm and wistful contrast to the frenzied fare adjacent, highlighting the fickle nature of celebrity. The release brims with Lauran Hibberd’s requisite acerbic wit and storm-tossed storytelling. That said, its the hitherto unseen vulnerability unveiled by the singer that ensures she reaches new levels with this rewarding debut album. – Dominic Kureen
The idyllic image of God’s Country, the debut album from Oklahoma’s Chat Pile, starts and ends with just the title. Chat Pile, whose name is a reference to the toxic aftermath of zinc and lead mining that turned Picher, OK into a ghost town, has made a name for themselves thanks to their unhinged sound and bizarre style. Combining elements of noise rock industrial, and varying shades of metal, the band conjures a sound that is both pummeling and claustrophobic. Songs like “Slaughterhouse” and “Wicked Puppet Dance” cut loose with cavernous drums and heavy guitars while frontman, Raygun Busch, shifts manically from despondent moans to agonized and tortured yells.
While no less brutal, Chat Pile takes time to focus on calling out poverty and the blight of capitalism on tracks like “Why” and “Tropical Beaches, Inc.” These songs, while more straightforward, are crushing and void of sugarcoating, “I couldn’t survive on the streets…I’ve never had to push all my shit around in a shopping cart…Have you ever had ringworm? Scabies?…Real American horror story.” The album closes with the two most harrowing tracks on the list: “I Don’t Care If I Burn” and, believe it or not, “grimmace_smoking_weed.jpeg.” The former is a spoken word track over what just sounds like scratching and crackling sounds while the latter is a sludgy, doomy, nine minute plunge into what is essentially a recording of someone in a self-destructive episode. God’s Country is by no means an easy listen, some moments are truly unsettling, but Chat Pile has always excelled in the bizarre and uncomfortable. – Nick Matthopoulos
Growin’ Up made for a perfect, country, summer album to relax on the beach with, listen to on a road trip or even dance around the backyard to. Combs’ deep, country, twang guides the roughly 41 minute album through themes pertaining to love, heartache and identity. Full of rich storytelling, each song will interest and captivate you from the first couple of notes. While “Tomorrow Me” tells the story of a couple struggling to let go, “Doin’ This” is Combs’ personal story of how he would still be making music regardless of the outcome or where it would lead to. Although Combs brings his own originality to country music, this album still highlights the traditional, gritty, honky-tonk sound we all know and love the country genre for. Full of passionate, slow and fast tempo songs, Growin’ Up has something for everyone. Released on Jun. 24, 2022, Growin’ Up is Combs’ third studio album. – Lauren Turner
South London’s bubbling scene of loosely related artists is quietly becoming one of the best in the world. Black Midi are one of its most important bands. Barely five years into their existence they already have three albums to their name, the latest and greatest being this year’s Hellfire. An eclectic mix of the more progessive areas of rock and jazz, Hellfire is rich with vaudevillian orchestration. The band push their sound to capacity with complementary instrumentation to make for a huge, sometimes disorientating sound. With quick scene changes and complex song structures, this is not a walk in the park by any stretch, but gives so much on repeated listens.
Geordie Greep’s voice beams out like a beacon on Hellfire. He ranges from rapid narration to full-on crooning, with lyrics that are constructed in absurd and fanciful long form verses. Greep’s world is one of imaginary boxing matches centuries in the future, a man waking up at his funeral to ask a series of increasingly impertinent questions, and a grand horse race. It’s the kind of storytelling that will leave you entertained or absolutely baffled, and once you realise that the best outcome is both of these then you’ll have a great old time with Hellfire. From the lush and lurid percussion that announces “Eat Men Eat”, to the pained anti-war sentiments of “Welcome To Hell” and the gorgeous ballroom dance finale that is “27 Questions,” Hellfire brings with it a whole universe of sounds and poetry. The band’s tirelessly crafted compositions back up Greep’s unique and challenging vocal style with suitable complexity. Black Midi are only just beginning what is hopefully a long and fruitful journey into the unknown. Hellfire shows where they’re at now, but excitingly hints at huge potential in the future. – Adam Davidson
Country and pop artist Caitlyn Smith is one of the foremost writers-for-hire on Music Row. She has written for Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers (“You Can’t Make Old Friends”), John Legend and Meghan Trainor (“Like I’m Gonna Lose You”), Garth Brooks (“Tacoma”), and even Miley Cyrus (“High”). In 2018 Smith released Starfire, her debut for Monument Records, following it up in 2020 with her sophomore album Supernova, which told the story of intimate moments wrapped up in a blanket of soaring vocals and stratospheric guitars and drums, further carving out her own space and sound in Nashville.
In April, Smith released High, the first part of a two-part record that Smith produced herself in Nashville. High was written during the pandemic and recorded at The Sound Emporium in Nashville. From the anthemic, gospel infused title track to the rootsy, singer/songwriter influenced “Dreamin’s Free,” High is very much a Caitlyn Smith record but this time, instead of trying to please others, it was all for Smith.
But you, you’re like a neon light
Shinin’ through a door that I can’t keep closed
And you, you’re like a rolling stone
Always buildin’ cities on the hearts that you broke
“High” was the first song recorded for the record. The track was originally written for Miley Cyrus’, but Smith took it and reworked into a gospel-infused anthem. “I Don’t Like The World Without You” was done in one take in the studio with just a guitar player.
Smith’s voice is powerful but can effortlessly become a gentle whisper and then, without warning, it roars leaving you with goosebumps. The standout track from the record, “Maybe In Another Life”, fits this description perfectly. The song, elegant yet tragic, talks about a love that flew too high and then crashed and burned with Smith’s vocals at the centre of this storm of unrequited love and regret. – Emily Algar
Oh, everything was real
From the way you kissed me to the way you made me feel
Oh, we burned out of control
And I’ll love you forever with the fire in my soul
Maybe I could be your girl and wе don’t ever say goodbye
Maybе in another life
Ravyn Lenae’s cool, self-assured futuristic R&B debut Hypnos feels like it comes from a pro, and it somewhat does. Though it’s just her debut, she’s made a name with two EPs, one in 2016, and one featuring Steve Lacy in 2018. After the second’s release, she got to work on her full-length album, the process spanning nearly three years. One quote from an interview with Pitchfork has stuck with me: “The art of really taking your time is lost, in a way. I can’t blame artists, because we have those outside pressures, and attention spans are really short. But we should take pride and value in our art, and put in the time to be thorough. I know that’s so much easier said than done—making sure it can live for years and years is really hard—but when we do it, it shows.”
And it shows here. On Hypnos, each of the 16 songs is a carefully crafted peek into her own world, whether it be the bouny and playful “Venom,” the sexy “Xtasy” or “Light Me Up,” or the spacy and light “Deep in the World” or “Satellites.” Above all, Lenae’s intricate voice — brought to barely a whisper at some points — sells the album. Her songwriting skills are evolved, and are surrounded by lush instrumentation. This is my number one album in terms of vibes — it might just be the chillest record released this year. So many great music has relied on explosivity and an array of musical styles, but with Hypnos, your journey is one of relaxation. – Sam Franzini
Prolific Oakland DIY semi-punks Shutups are the Bay Area’s best kept secret, but their days as ultra-niche cult favorites are surely numbered. The natural progression of last year’s ambitious EPs Six and Seven, their sophomore album sees the four-piece upping the ante evermore. A sonic whirlwind in the form of a pseudo-prog rock opera, I can’t eat nearly as much as I want to vomit is an appropriately maximalist response to and meditation on living today, which feels increasingly like we are individually and collectively careening off a cliff. Frontman and songwriter Hadley Davis’ arrangements and lyricism cohere in an ornate tug-of-war between hope, despondency, romance, and nihilism, as his suburban angst and Cancerian emotionality fuel his determination to create magical, humanistic moments out of dystopian modern existence—the heart and soul of the band. Davis’ pop sensibilities are on full-display throughout, but single “100Punk” is an exceptionally off-kilter yet radio-ready gem. He sings “The longer you ignore, the worse it gets” to a deceptively upbeat melody underscored by a catchy sax line, perfectly encapsulating Shutups’ candy-coated sense of dread, nuanced humor, and sonic surrealism. – Sophie Prettyman-Beauchamp
It’s Not Comfortable to Grow feels like a seminal moment in the Plastic Mermaids’ evolution, after more than ten years of paying dues. Getting underway courtesy of its pulsating title track, the 12-track release kicks off with an immediate dusting of intimacy as quaking, husky percussion plunges unashamedly in conjunction with haunting vocals. It’s music that tugs at your insides, but ultimately leaves a legacy of renewed vigour, as if this is a band shedding its old skin and publicly purging the chapters which have gone before. – Dominic Kureen
“Laurel Hell” is a term from the Southern Appalachians in the U.S., where laurel bushes grow in these dense thickets, and they grow so wide that anyone who gets into them can never get out. Laurel blossoms, however, are small, delicate and awfully beautiful – to die embedded among such beautiful flowers is almost a privilege. Similarly, acknowledging and sharing one’s suffering through Mitski’s new album is almost therapeutic. it is a record of comforting resignation, beginning with a careful step into the dark in “Valentine, Texas” and ending with the chaotic celebration surrounding the protagonist’s nostalgia in “That’s Our Lamp.” After five albums, Mitski truly continues to amaze. – Dimitra Gurduiala
James Bay is responsible for more than a dozen breathtakingly beautiful love songs over the past decade, and this year he added about twelve more to that catalog. The acclaimed British singer/songwriter’s third studio album finds Bay at his most vulnerable and brutally honest, diving into his depths like never before and allowing the rawest parts of himself to shine through. Achingly emotional and sweetly moving, Leap is a soul-stirring outpouring of unbridled intimacy and radiant passion. I’m taking creative risks and pushing his own emotional boundaries, Bay has created his purest, most powerful, and fully realized album yet.
Leap is truly the work of an artist who has found his voice, as well as his calling: Making the world a brighter place, one song at a time. The follow-up to 2018’s acclaimed sophomore LP Electric Light – which spawned multiple global hits, including the worldwide smashes “Us” and “Wild Love” – is as emotionally charged as it is utterly enchanting.
Bay holds nothing back as he unveils his own fears and insecurities, explores the highs and lows of young love and lifelong romance, and rededicates himself to his partner and their newborn baby. From the cinematic expression of love and devotion in the album’s stunning opener “Give Me the Reason,” to the achingly tender warmth of songs like “Brilliant Still” and “Everybody Needs Someone,” to the somber, sobering lessons learned in “Save Your Love” and “Silent Love,” and the unbridled passion in standout single “One Life,” Leap is a compelling indulgence of love in its many beautiful and wondrous forms.
In addition to being a personal and professional triumph for Bay, Leap is also an artistic milestone, showcasing his expansive vocal range and depth, his charismatic guitar playing, and the spirited performance of his full band setup. At its core, this album serves as an irresistible reminder as to why we keep coming back to this talented British singer/songwriter. It’s inspiring and spirited, intimate and impassioned, energizing and galvanizing. – Mitch Mosk
2022 was an incredible year for Pillow Queens, kicking off with their rapturous sophomore album Leave the Light On, followed by performances at SXSW and a sold out debut at the Mercury Lounge New York. Although more reserved in the abrasiveness of their first album, Leave the Light On, is a clear paving towards the global stage while still retaining that charming Dublin drawl in their vocals. With this maturing sound comes maturing themes. In Waiting painted a beautiful, fleeting portrait of being young in Dublin and the whirlwind of colour and heat that comes with it, years and scenes rushing past them as they race towards their twenties. Two years later and the band return with a more cynical, albeit no less picturesque outlook on their beloved city, channeling the frustrations and limitations of a city that revolts against its young people, moving the white picket finish line further and further away from them as years go on. The rich glimpses of domesticity in ‘House That Sailed Away’ and ‘Well Kept Wife’ to the powerfully robust ballads like ‘Be By Your Side’ and the deeply poetic “Historian,” Pillow Queens have bared their versatile portfolio for the whole world to see, showcasing the vast extent of their musical palette if, occasionally, to their detriment. While Leave the Light On lacks the local saturation of their debut, diluting their sense of place in favour of expanding their horizons, it succeeds in offering something universal and globally sound – a perfect showcase album. – Christine Costello
Experimentation, with a touch of familiarity is the key to success for Mikey Mike’s sophomore album, Life on Earth, Vol. 2. We start off with a groovy and slow paced song called Drama that sets the tone of weirdness and creativity for this album. Themes of loneliness and affection appear throughout the first couple of songs. When the facade of happiness is explored in Broken Man, we see a sharp, but effective transition between upbeat and groovy sounds to more introspective folk-sounding songs.
He plays with his vocal range, instrumentation, tempo, and story-telling ability in Say it Again and Trouble, songs that begs to be listened to over and over. In each subsequent song, we see the melancholy adventures of Mikey’s world in creative ways. This album centers around the idea that little moments must be explored further. Usually, these moments are interactions with people who he loves, or used to love. Mikey takes a deep dive in examining the void that fills these interactions. After exploring the lows, Devil’s Pie starts to bring back energy and the drive to move on. In Joy, we see the culmination of everything that works so well in this album. Experimentation, honesty, introspection, and the feeling of a true comeback story of sorts as Mikey contemplates being a father with a past as messy as his is. Slow and fast, subtle and right in your face, Mikey plays with his audience as he is trying to find his own voice. This album just works on so many levels. Expect big things from Mikey Mike in the future as he hones his craft a little more. – Nick Polak
Chaz Bundick, also known as Chaz Bear, the singular artist behind Toro y Moi — quietly (and somewhat unassumedly) entered the alternative-electronic music scene at the beginning of the 2010s, establishing himself as one of the pioneers of chillwave music. In the past decade, he’s released six albums, marking his seventh titled MAHAL, released in April of this year. His album drops are much like the sound of his songs; quiet, yet distinct and powerful. As a person and a performer, Bundick doesn’t draw too much attention to himself, letting the complexities of his funky production speak for themselves. This 13-track, 40-minute album doesn’t sound at all like he’s trying to put on a show. It sounds like you’re in the passenger seat of Chaz’s car, listening to him play different instruments and hum along to different beats, making up ideas as he goes along. However, though the music making may sound spontaneous and mellow, the underlying lyrics target much more complex ideas about generational anxiety, the state of the world, and our increasingly frightening relationship with technology and the media. The world’s problems may be too big too ignore, but MAHAL turns the uncomfortable dinner conversation into digestable messaging through his soothing beats. This nonchalant style of making music is what Toro y Moi’s fans have come to know and love. – Ankita Bhanot
Leicester’s easy life are having the time of their lives while spilling their guts in song. Who says vulnerability can’t be the life of the party? Released in October, the band’s sophomore album MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE… is a dreamy, grounded record of reverie and revelry: Heart-on-sleeve confessionals and intimate, inner reckonings come to life alongside nostalgia-laced stories of late night adventures, rambunctious antics, and classic escapades with your best mates.
Arriving only a year and change after easy life’s critically acclaimed debut album life’s a beach, MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE… finds them embracing a more organic suite of instruments and a deeply confessional style of songwriting: One that shirks the machismo of “traditional” masculinity, in favor of a more open dialogue about emotions and identity. From the radiant strut of “Basement” and Atwood Editor’s Pick (and Top Song of 2022) “OTT,” to the boisterous flow of “Beeswax,” to the tender reflections of “Bubble Wrap,” “Memory Loss,” and “Moral Support,” MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE… is a party unlike any you’ve ever been to: One of spilled souls and open hearts, existential aches and honest inquiries into the great unknown. Through it all, frontman Murray Matravers and his band mates Oliver Cassidy, Sam Hewitt, Lewis Berry, and Jordan Birtles – alongside special guests BENEE, Gus Dapperton, and Kevin Abstract – inject an undeniable strain of hope into the looming darkness: As dismal as things may get sometimes, all is never lost. As Matravers sings in the album’s heavy-hearted finale “Fortune Cookie,” “If you believe you’re in need of repair, take care, take care.”
If MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE… leaves us with one overarching takeaway, let it be that it’s okay to be honest with yourself and honest with your friends. It’s okay to pour your guts out. Takeaway No. 2? Live life to the fullest and have a great ride. easy life are dwelling in the deep end, having fun, and holding nothing back. – Mitch Mosk
Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve had one different version of Taylor’s Swift music per year. 2020 showed us what she could achieve throughout the COVID-induced limitations of the moment, yielding two well-regarded records (folklore and evermore) that were a contrast from her earlier material with their more muted and acoustic-driven production. 2021 found her resolving her ownership disputes with her label in absolutely stellar style, yielding two widely admired re-recordings of Fearless and Red. Yet 2022 gave us something we hadn’t had since the pre-lockdown days: Taylor Swift with unrestricted access to all of her songwriting and production resources, and free to make full creative use of them on a new round of music.
Did the results work out? Well, to answer that question, you can check out Spotify, where Midnights achieved a record-busting 9-million-plus streams on its first day out. You can also check out the Billboard Hot 100, where the album became the first in history to secure all of the Top 10 spots at once in the same week. And you can check out this list, where Midnights takes its highly rightful place as one of 2022’s finest releases. – Josh Weiner
Several awesome things happened this year for the first time since 2018. The World Cup and Winter Olympics were hosted again; a new Black Panther movie was released; and Kendrick Lamar finally came out with some new music! The last two of those are distinctly related– Kendrick Lamar was at his absolute career peak when he helmed the all-black-everything collaboration that was the soundtrack to the original Black Panther on the heels of his Pulitzer Prize victory for DAMN. And then he just kinda… disappeared. Not much emerged from the god of rap music for the next couple of years, but when he finally returned this past May, he delivered what proved to be another widely admired project, as the champion lyricist chronicled the various faux pas he’s committed as both a famous rapper and a family man over the years.
This candidacy and high level of introspection, combined with multi-textured production worthy and evocative of TPAB, won broad favor with critics and fans, wins Kendrick Lamar a spot on this Best of ’22 list, and just might win him his first Album of the Year trophy at the upcoming Grammys. It’d be well-deserved and long-awaited, if so. – Josh Weiner
It’s said that a band truly finds themselves on their third album, and that old adage seems to hold true for Philadelphia’s Mt. Joy, whose musical, lyrical, and sonic potential are at an all-time high, having been fully realized on their recently released LP. A record of deep grooves and feel-good jams, inner reckonings and raw revelations, Orange Blood is a sweet n’ spicy triumph: A soothing, spirited, honest and fun album inviting us to zoom out and reconnect to what matters most to us.
Rather than being a form of musical escapism – as so many records turn out to be – Orange Blood implores us to lean into our lives, to embrace every moment, and to see the beauty all around us, even during a global pandemic. Mt. Joy’s first major label release (via Island Records) is a truly remarkable follow-up to 2020’s sophomore LP Rearrange Us, which found them embracing their signature sound while plunging headfirst into the deep end of life.
Whereas their admittedly impressive second record was recorded over just a few free weeks in between the band’s rigorous tour schedule, Orange Blood is the product of time, patience, and practice. The five-piece returned to their native Philadelphia and worked with longtime producer and collaborator Caleb Nelson to craft a record brimming with warm light, a hopeful energy, and plenty of space. Mt. Joy are still the tight indie rock powerhouse fans have come to know and love, but every song on their new album has its own distinguishable character, from the smoldering churn and uplifting glow of the title track “Orange Blood,” to the high-octane energy of “Evergreen,” to the dramatic and charming positivity of lead single “Lemon Tree,” to the tongue-in-cheek, grin-inducing “Johnson Song,” and the passionate, heart-on-sleeve ache of “Bang” and the tranquil, life-affirming finale, “Bathroom Light.”
In listening to Orange Blood, one gets the sense that Mt. Joy have opened themselves up, more so than ever before, to allowing the fullness of life to flow through their music: The good, the beautiful, the silly, the funny, the bad, the ugly, all come to together on a record of humble optimism and heartfelt perseverance. This is Mt. Joy at their most tender and at their most jarring – and true to form, sometimes both of those qualities manifest in the same song, as is this case on the album’s stunning penultimate track, “Ruins.” For frontman Matt Quinn and his band mates, this album captures who they are at their core: Honest and open, a balance between free-spirited and painfully cynical. As a listener and longtime fan, Orange Blood feels like the most “Mt. Joy” record Mt. Joy have ever made. – Mitch Mosk
Ethel Cain was put together piece by piece, then all at once. Hayden Silas Anhedonia tells the story of her alter-ego Ethel Cain in debut album Preacher’s Daughter, a haunting epic. Ethel is cursed by generational trauma and an abusive relationship, the smell of cigarettes and the sound of buzzing flies follows her wherever she goes. Her somber alto rings through feverish lips as she runs in circles. Grand instrumentals appear as mirages in the hot summer sun, as Cain cries over an almost out of tune piano: “If it’s meant to be, then it will be”/ And I forgive it all as it comes back to me.” Preacher’s Daughter is a heroic glimpse into the life and lies of the perfect all-American girl. – Nasim Elyasi
Yet another Liverpool four-piece is making waves on both sides of the Atlantic: A true band on the run, The Mysterines are uncompromising and unapologetic: Their brand of alternative rock is heavy and heated, catchy and cathartic – erupting from a dark, dynamic, and emotionally turbulent core. There’s drama in every chord, electricity in every riff, and pure passion in every vocal line, all of which comes together in a breathtaking ecstasy of alluring and immersive sonic churn. The Mysterines’ long-awaited, highly anticipated debut album is, without a doubt, an alt-rock triumph: An intimate, impassioned outpouring of feverish energy and seismic emotion, Reeling roars with raw intensity as The Mysterines capture life’s chaos, upheaval, and inner turmoil with bold flavors, soul-stirring candor, and instantly memorable music.
Released in March via Fiction Records, Reeling is a radiant record of “grief, self-destruction, and heartache” channeled through the blackest of humor, per its candid creators. Working with acclaimed producer Catherine Marks (Wolf Alice, The Big Moon, PJ Harvey), The Mysterines inject the weight of their world into a record that’s as cathartic and cleansing as it is searing and soaring: Just because these songs ache, doesn’t mean they don’t rock, too. A scorching thirteen-track reckoning with life’s often cruel and unpredictable forces, Reeling blends bluesy hard rock riffs with charged beats, catchy melodies, and a simultaneous sense of openness and honesty, relentlessness and perseverance. Their music is at once hot and cold, burning and freezing, undeniable and inescapable.
These songs ache in all the right ways. Highlights range from the album’s rip-roaring opener “Life’s a Bitch (But I Like it So Much)” and the hypnotic, slide guitar fueled “On the Run,” to the fiery hard rocker “The Bad Thing,” the darkly dramatic “Means to Bleed,” and the gut-wrenching headbanger “All These Things” – which the band deemed so good, that it received its own EP this past October.
The Mysterines have come into their own with a strong voice that perfectly incorporates the heavy with the heartfelt and appealing: True to its name, Reeling is nothing, if not captivating from end to end. – Mitch Mosk
I put this album on as I began my bike ride to the Chicago Botanical Gardens this past August, and it gave me the energy to make it all 20 miles up there in the summer heat! More broadly speaking, though, it was great to see Beyoncé return for her first album in six years and deliver a product that was truly full of life. As I wrote in my review, ~ represents “Beyoncé back and reborn,” with a record that “evokes many of the best traits she’s displayed at various past points in the career, with consistently satisfying results.” – Josh Weiner
Reveling in a state of discomfort, Madison Cunningham closely examines her psyche, putting her innermost fears on blast within her sophomore record, Revealer, released Sept. 9, 2022, via Verve Records. As a master wordsmith and modern-day poet laureate, Cunningham’s discography has always given listeners the opportunity for pause, allowing them to deeply reflect upon their own circumstances. However, her skillful composition abilities and lyrical prowess have never shined as bright as they do in Revealer.
The record has served as a masterful soundtrack to various moments of confusion and anguish that Cunningham has faced in the past year, as she turns a mirror unto herself, boldly scrutinizing the very essence of her character. The sixth track on the record, “Who Are You Now” perhaps sums up the project in the most cohesive manner, as Cunningham sings: “Time to act your age, no one’s gonna show you how,” calling herself out in the most direct fashion, addressing the fact that she is no longer the same girl who wrote her debut record of the same name, Who Are You Now in 2019. And thus, as this year comes to a close, Madison Cunningham eagerly asks you to reflect upon the months gone by in asking: “Who are you now? Who are you this time?” – Sophie Severs
Folk is used to describe lots of music today, but it’s rare to hear an album that actually draws from the tradition of folk tunes that seem alien to modern listeners. In their second album, Rolling Golden Holy, the inimitable trio of Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson (of Fruit Bats), and Josh Kaufman double down on the magic of their first grammy nominated work, bringing Anglo-American music into the present. But while their first self-titled album was new conceptually, Bonny Light Horseman find their stride here, creating expansive and personal songs.
The understated sadness, the instrumental brilliance riding the echoes of powerful old tunes make this album the best I’ve heard in many years. “Fleur de Lis” is like a church service in the woods, “Sweetbread” is an anthem of gritty self-sufficiency, and “Gone by Fall” captures the delicate, ephemeral whispers of the heart. It’s 35 joyous minutes from musicians who mastered their craft a long time ago. – Collin Leonard
Amanda Shires’ Take It Like a Man is a record that asks the question: Can and should women experience sensuality at a certain age, which usually confines them to mother and wife roles? Shires answers this with the track “Hawk For The Dove” where she sings of wanting physical intimacy:” “You can call it serious trouble/ Cuz that’s what I want/ You can call me serious trouble/ Just admit I’m what you want,” and on the song “Bad Behaviour”: “Maybe it’s my nature/ Maybe I like strangers/ So what if I do?” Shires has never been shy of going into these territories but on this album and given the context in which she wrote the record – Roe v. Wade being overturned, the formation of the group The Highwomen – Take It Like a Man seems to hit harder. – Emily Algar
2022 brought the return of the Arctic Monkeys with their seventh studio album, The Car, an understated, reverberated, and mature new classic. Veering away from the leather-clad, distorted-guitar sound of their most popular album, AM, and sonically aligning more with their 2017 release Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, Arctic Monkeys demonstrated, not what they were once known for, but who they are at present. The album sways through tales of desire and heartbreak and and delight (as so many of their albums tend to) with a crooning, wistful ambiance soundtracked over a groovy, almost funky guitar and more falsetto than Mr. Turner’s yet shown he was capable of. This album is simultaneously effervescent and indulgent, it’s the tune of a fancy dinner party with old friends. And it was a welcome return from a truly remarkable band. – Lilly Eason
Atlanta’s hip-hop scene has been going strong for thirty-odd years now, given that that’s how long it’s been since groups like OutKast and Arrested Development first gained mainstream traction. While updates from those old timers have been limited in recent years, there’s plenty to celebrate amongst those carrying the torch for the city’s exceptionally strong rap scene in the current era. Few have that torch raised more highly and proudly than JID, who’s been on an exceptional half-decade frenzy ever since his 2017 debut, The Never Story. And now, with his widely acclaimed third album, The Forever Story, Mr. Destin Choice Route seems poised to remain the face of ATL RAP for quite some time. // Whether it be rocking an impossibly infectious “bum-bum-ba-bum” beat on “Dance Now” or engaging in inventive wordplay alongside Lil Wayne on “Just in Time,” JID keeps his audience engaged for a solid hour all across The Forever Story. On top of all of this hip-hop rambunctiousness comes a solid slice of mellow singing on the album’s later tracks, showing that this guy indeed has some vocal and cross-genre versatility. All told, while Kendrick Lamar is sure to hog the Best Rap Albums of the Year lists again (as he tends to do), you’ll be sure to spot JID somewhere on the podium as well, where he unequivocally deserves to be after the success of The Forever Story. – Josh Weiner
Through their entire discography, The Wonder Years have explored the suburbs, the American Dream, existentialist panic, and the globe, but with The Hum Goes On Forever, they’ve landed with their most emotive record yet on an unlikely topic: parenthood. While wrestling with depression (“Low Tide”), tributes to Philadelphia (“The Paris of Nowhere”), and nostalgic visions of youth (“Summer Clothes”) all make appearances, the album circles back to what it means to be a parent in a world that seems like it may be on the brink of collapse. Despite touching on more tender subject matter, the band does so without feeling like they’ve scaled anything back, whether it’s the straightforward pop-punk “Wyatt’s Song” or the gut-wrenching closer “You’re The Reason I Don’t Want The World To End.”
Even when the record strays from its main theme, the pulse of anxiety will keep listeners on the edge of their seat. Even though parental worries come to the forefront, many familiar ghosts rear their heads, as he lays them to rest with these “small memorials.” Whether its with the help of the trudging metal in “Songs About Death” or the ferocious nightmares in “Old Friends Like Lost Teeth” or “Cardinals II.” – James Crowley
Louisa Allen’s Foxes became my favorite pop artist this year, and she did it rather effortlessly. Bold, catchy, and impassioned, Foxes’ new album is an undeniable spark of radiant energy and raw emotion: A cinematic beacon of love, connection, and dance for those who need it, not to mention a good kick that hits home, and hits hard. Whether you too need to shout unabashedly into the darkness or let it all out on the living room floor, The Kick is a truly stunning record that promises to inspire and light a fire inside.
Whereas so many of her contemporaries took the pandemic’s isolation and solitude as an opportunity to write softer, gentle music, Allen went in the other direction – doubling down on dance vibes and charged beats to liven up her otherwise quiet days and locked-down nights. Musically, The Kick is meaningful pop music at its finest.
It’s a record whose uncompromising honesty, presence, passion, and charm harkens back to such celebrated LPs as Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2015 smash Emotion, Years & Years’ debut Communion, and Sky Ferreira’s Night Time, My Time.
From the buoyant charm and soaring pulse of opener “Sister Ray” straight through to the invigorating release of final tracks “Sky Love” and “Too Much Colour,” Foxes’ album is jam-packed with moving music, passionate emotions, and irresistible beats. Highlights abound, with standouts ranging from the feverish and glistening anthemic title track “The Kick,” the unimpeachably aching outpouring “Forgive Yourself,” and the vulnerable, smoldering, and gently jazzy “Body Suit” – one of our Top Songs of 2022. That being said, I truly struggled to choose only one Foxes song to put on this best-of list, and if I had my druthers, I would have at least four Foxes songs on there.
The Kick is the cinematic, stadium-sized release we’ve all needed. Unapologetically honest, emotionally vulnerable, and breathtakingly energetic, Foxes’ third album is a spirited dance record that will move the soul, move the heart, and move the body all at once. Louisa Allen bottles up her high highs and low lows in an unforgettable soundtrack to freedom, presence, and understanding. – Mitch Mosk
The Four Seasons from Vivaldi is either a beloved classic or an overplayed collection of pieces for classic music fans. It’s prominent fixture into this sphere is what grants it this unique space of equal parts love and disdain, but Max Richter opted to change that perception, infusing his own style into Vivaldi’s opus. What audiences received is a reimagining that not only elevates the original experience but does so in a way that leaves room for them both. Richter’s Four Seasons is pungent – whether it be Spring, Summer, or Winter, it’s clear Richter has a mastery at the craft. It’s more than simply rehashing what has been played for decades before; it’s uniquely crafted and emotive performance that has a home with old and new fans alike. – Adrian Vargas
Claudia Bouvette is a singer/songwriter based in Montreal whose debut album The Paradise Club was released in May. It’s a debut album that felt incredibly long-awaited, her first EP being released in 2019, but during that time Bouvette has developed as an artist and individual and, as a result, the collection of songs feels rounded and authentic, an expression of who she has become as an artist. At the beginning of the year she participated as a contestant in Big Brother Célébrités, the Quebec version of the reality show, but remained genuine and ‘cool’ throughout without dipping into the fame-hunting stereotypes that often come with reality tv. There was a strategic element, due to the album being released when the series ended, but it also feels like a respectable move that enabled Bouvette to launch into a new chapter while staying true to herself.
The Paradise Club is chill and light electro pop where relationships are turned into life lessons as emphasis is put on standing up to yourself and not letting others mess you around as well as taking advantage of the things you want. This is done with a groove (“Solo Night” and “G-Girl”), with nonchalance (“Flowers”) and with straight to the point in-your-face attitude (“Douchebag”). While The Paradise Club isn’t revolutionary or filled with innovation, it has been interesting seeing Claudia Bouvette’s vision widen throughout 2022.
Unapologetically dynamic and irresistibly dramatic, Johnny Hunter’s debut album is a musical masterpiece: A cinematic triumph of post-punk sound reckoning with life’s ever-present turmoil and unpredictable turbulence, while honing in on the resounding, unwavering strength of the human spirit. It’s a record of feverish, high-octane energy – one that hits hard from the start, erupting with a youthful, punk-ish fervor that sparks a fire deep down inside. Unwavering, fierce, and achingly honest, WANT finds the light in the darkness as Johnny Hunter deliver a cathartic and spellbinding journey of heart, passion, and release.
Channeling the great spectres of artists like David Bowie, The Cure, The Smiths, and Joy Division, Johnny Hunter’s captivating brand of new wave-inspired post-punk music is achingly raw and equally spirited: Every track is another tempest unto itself, a singular marriage of the vulnerable and the theatrical. Truth be told, I don’t think I considered myself a true post-punk fan until I discovered Johnny Hunter, but they’ve fully converted me and there’s no turning back now. What’s more, behind all of their wondrous noise lies an up-and-coming Australian band who are as sure of themselves and their musical abilities as they are of their vision.
WANT is a musical and emotional rush unlike any other. From start to finish, Johnny Hunter capture a tapestry of tension and release through melodies that demand our attention and lyrics that long to be not just heard, but felt in our core. Title track “Want” opens the record with a charged head-banger as the band deliver something of a mission statement for all that’s to come: “I, I want, I want to be somebody to you,” Hutt sings emphatically. “Turn your silver sky back to blue… I will be all that you want.”
The bar is set high with such a tall order, but Johnny Hunter make good on their promise. The effervescent anthem “Endless Days” resonates with an existential yearning for release and resolve, coming to a searing fever pitch in the song’s climactic and invariably catchy chorus: “There’s a sign and it’s calling your name, welcome to your existence of endless days, I want to run, I want to run away, forever with you.“
One of this band’s strongest talents is their ability to blend the memorable with the meaningful – a trait they prove time and again, whether on the churning, dark song “The Floor,” their contrastingly radiant outpouring “Life,” the roaring and emotional anthem “Cry Like a Man,” or the invigorating nostalgic reverie, “Dreams.” The latter is an instant standout off WANT (and one of Atwood Magazine’s Top Songs of 2022), in which Johnny Hunter paint a portrait of their modern-day evolving home in Sydney. A lush eruption of cinematic passion and heavy-hearted emotion, “Dreams” recently earned recognition as an Atwood Magazine Editor’s Pick thanks to the its sheer dazzling drive, vocalist Nick Hutt’s booming, expressive voice, and the irresistibly catchy chorus, “I don’t ever want to wake up and realise I’m still dreaming of you.”
Johnny Hunter have been quoted describing WANT as “a ten-track journey through suffering to solace, learning to accept and welcome the tentativeness of life,” and that is absolutely what this album is: A collection of stunning, stirring songs dwelling in the deep end, trying to make sense of life and finding the strength to soldier on. Hands down, WANT is my favorite album of the year, and Johnny Hunter are easily my favorite artist discovery of the year. – Mitch Mosk
Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers cemented themselves as household names with an eponymous debut LP which lived up to hype on both sides of the pond. The edifying and satire-rich 12-track album kicks off with “Being in Love,” a provocatively potty-mouthed ode to romance, which provides a leisurely initiation. The album’s zenith arrives hot on its heels — breakout single “Chaise Longue” still fresh after almost 18 months of airplay. Replete with innovative cadence and iconic inward-facing lyrics, the track probes: “Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?” in homage to the film Mean Girls. The placement of the risqué “Wet Dream” triggers a welcome second wind for the LP following back-to-back leisurely cuts, and utilizes the duo’s gift for locating mirth in the mundane. Wet Leg the album is a release rich in memorable music and one bursting at the seams with anarchic spirit. – Dominic Kureen
Manchester based R&B artist Pip Millett graced the public’s ears with her debut album When Everything Is Better, I’ll Let You Know. The album examines and dissects an entire lifetime of emotions and experiences through raw and electric lyricism, dynamic sounds, and a vocal performance that conveys emotion in every note. From agonizing love to pain to self acceptance the seventeen track album is experimental and dazzling which encourages you to sit down and listen to it all in one go. The album features all the aspects of Millett’s music that fans have come to love like her buttery vocals, groovy bass lines, and strong beats but When Everything Is Better, I’ll Let You Know goes above and beyond that, with Millett dipping her toes into a myriad of genres and sounds putting her unique spin on it.
The album features stand out lyricism such as “I look at the worst of you and I see the worst of me/ Oh, she’s sad again/ I pass that shit like an STD/ I did it for your protection,” which displays Millett’s quick wit and charm which is at the crux of all of her creations. The album also features interludes throughout which are more experimental and stripped back, they feel like demos that the singer included in the album as a palette cleanser between thematic changes in her album, this is something I have rarely seen and definitely makes the album shine. The album moves the distinct eras one experiences when going through turmoil from agonizing despair to reluctant acceptance to self actualization, the aritst closes the album with the lyrics “Looking at the space I’m in/ I’m proud of myself, loving myself/ Look how far I’ve come” concluding the 47 minute long album with a poetic moment of realization that sticks with listeners that may be experiencing similar upheaval of their lives. This album is Millett letting us know that everything is better and gets better. – Minna Abdel-Gawad
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