Atwood Magazine’s 2022 Songs of the Year

Atwood Magazine's 2022 Songs of the Year
Atwood Magazine's 2022 Songs of the Year
“About Hunger, About Love” “all my ghosts” “Alone Again, Naturally” “American Teenager” “Angel of 8th Ave. ” “Anti-Hero” “As It Was” “Behind Closed Doors” “bet you’ll get off on this” “BIZCOCHITO” “Black Summer”“Body Suit” “Break My Soul” “Bygones” “Carl Sagan” “Die Hard” “do you think we’re old enough” “Dreams” “Dregs of Wine” “Drowning” “Embrasse-moi” “End of Beginning” “Forever Only” “Girls” “Growing/Dying ” “Horses”“I Can’t Love You Anymore” “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody” “Just Fine” “La Isla de Lesbos” “London Is Lonely” “Love It When You Hate Me” “Mastermind” “My Discomfort Is Radiant” “New Gold” “No One Dies From Love” “Obviously” “Oh Caroline” “Ohio I’ll Be Fine” “Oldest Daughter” “On The Way To Paris” “OTT” “Pana-Vision” “Pepper” “Pharmacist” “She Still Leads Me On” “Snow Globes” “Something in the Orange” “Spit of You” “Sugar” “Sugar/Tzu” “Swan Upon Leda” “Tabula Rasa” “Talk” “That’s Our Lamp” “The Exit” “The Foundations of Decay” “This Is What They Meant” “Too Late Now” “What You Want” “What’s Up?” “Worldwide Steppers” “Wretched”  “Yakitori”

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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, EPsconcerts, 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 Songs of the Year, in alphabetical order.

From Kendrick Lamar, Rosalía, Taylor Swift, Mitski, and Maggie Rogers, to The 1975, Wet Leg, Alvvays, My Chemical Romance, Maren Morris and so much more, these are our favorites – the tracks that influenced and inspired us the most. Please join us in celebrating 2022’s contributions to the music world!

Mitch Mosk, Editor-in-Chief

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Atwood Magazine

Atwood’s 2022 Music of the Year 

2022’s Best Songs of the Year

Atwood Magazine's Top Artist Discoveries of 2022

Pearla has always been capable of summing up emotions of anxiety and loneliness in a dreamily poetic way and it’s always around autumn when her music feels the most fitting. It was the case with “Pumpkin” released in 2018 and her EP Quilting & Other Activities released in 2019. Two years later and the singer-songwriter has returned with new music ahead of her debut album to be released early next year.

About Hunger, About Love” feels like a hug while lying defeated on a pile of golden leaves, defeated but with the hopefulness that comes while watching the clouds in a childish daydream. It captures a period of transition and the build-up throughout the song intensifies the emotions. The comforting nature of this song hasn’t diminished with each listen and I’m excited to hear what the album will bring! – Francesca Rose

all my ghosts” by Lizzy McAlpine is the song that struck through my heart this year and never left. It’s nostalgia mixed with an incredible sense of vulnerability and visual story-telling that creates a song that begs to be listened to over and over. (Trust me, I did).

Not to mention the melodically smooth McAlpine sings which is entirely unique to her. “all my ghosts” was a song I found this year that led me to my album of the year, five seconds flat, which is a masterpiece. – Kelly McCafferty Dorogy

The beauty in heartache is a unique phenomenon that music is able to reflect in gorgeous fashions. Jack Stratton is keenly aware of this, opting to take on one of the industry’s most hurt-filled pieces of music. Having a funk background might have raised eyebrows initially, but the Vulfpeck frontman employed the help singer Monica Martin and flutist Hailey Niswanger to not only due to the track justice, but to morph it into a thing of immaculate majesty. Stratton proved his solo project Vulfmon can jam like the rest of ‘em, and “Alone Again, Naturally” is the song that made it possible. – Adrian Vargas

The final single from Ethel Cain’s springtime debut album Preacher’s Daughter has proved an irresistible rallying cry for disenchanted millennials and Gen Zers everywhere: Soaring with sadness, soaked in disillusionment, and laced in sepia-toned nostalgia, “American Teenager” is an irresistible anthem of inner fracture and all-American angst: The inherited turmoil, discord, and trauma we’re born into, that we can neither run from nor shake off our being.

Grew up under yellow light on the street
Putting too much faith in the make believe
Another high-school football team
The neighbor’s brother came home in a box
But he wanted to go so maybe it was his fault
Another red heart taken by the American dream
And I feel it there, in the middle of the night
When the lights go out and I’m all alone again

Folks have been decrying the “American Dream” for well over a half-century, recognizing the toxicity of this falsehood and the danger it creates as the foundational bedrock of a nation’s identity. Born Hayden Silas Anhedönia in Tallahassee, Florida, singer/songwriter Ethel Cain knows this all too well, having experienced it firsthand.

“Growing up I was surrounded by visions of Nascar, rock ’n’ roll, and being the one who would change everything,” Cain explained upon her song’s initial release. “They make you think it’s all achievable and that if nothing else, you should at least die trying. What they don’t tell you is that you need your neighbor more than your country needs you. I wrote this song as an expression of my frustration with all the things the ‘American Teenager’ is supposed to be but never had any real chance of becoming.”

Cain invites us to join in her patriotic reckoning and “say it like you mean it with your fists for once” in her intimate, epic chorus:

Say what you want
But say it like you mean it with your fists for once
A long, cold war with your kids at the front
Just give it one more day then you’re done
I do what I want
Crying in the bleachers and I said it was fun
I don’t need anything from anyone
It’s just not my year
But I’m all good out here

“American Teenager” is at once inspiring, hopeful, and unavoidably sad; Cain’s heavy-hearted narrator is jaded, and for good reason, and yet she is nonetheless resolved to fight ’til the very end of her saga. Vast, pounding drums, sweetly shimmering synths, and aching, unquenchable vocals prove an enchanting recipe for musical success, but it’s ultimately Cain’s dusty, cinematic storytelling that helps “American Teenager” seize the zeitgeist and elevate her status from indie singer/songwriter to alternative hero.

Sunday morning
Hands over my knees in a room full of faces
I’m sorry if I seemed off, but I was probably wasted (wasted)
And didn’t feel so good (feel so good)
Head full of whiskey but I always deliver
Jesus, if you’re listening, let me handle my liquor
And Jesus, if you’re there
Why do I feel alone in this room with you?

It’s just not my year, but I’m all good out here.” A different kind of American dream is born in Ethel Cain’s song: One that recognizes the fractures and failures of the system, knows the stakes, and goes all-in, anyway. This is perseverance personified; resilience, reluctance, and resolve packaged with bold self-assurance, a small but mighty slice of hope, and a massive middle-finger to the past and present.

And I feel it there in the middle of the night
When the lights go out, but I’m still standing here

We’ll keep falling for “American Teenager” because it’s the narrative of our lives, too: A soundtrack to our shared American trauma. – Mitch Mosk

Say what you want
But say it like you mean it with your fists for once
A long, cold war with your kids at the front
Just give it one more day then you’re done
I do what I want
Crying in the bleachers and I said it was fun
I don’t need anything from anyone
It’s just not my year
But I’m all good out here

Gang of Youths have built an admirable career out of songs that roar to life, that soar and crash back to Earth in a swirl of chaos and triumph — this is life-affirming, chest-beating music that burrows deep into your soul.To be sure, the Aussie rockers’ February LP angel in realtime is still filled with plenty of delicate moments and the orchestral flourishes of indigenous Aboriginal music, but “angel of 8th ave.” harnesses so much of what is essential about the hard-charging Aussie rockers. The track serves as a fitting, masterful tribute to Le’aupepe’s larger-than-life father and his complicated past, a gorgeous, propulsive song that chronicles how the singer dealt with his death (and the fallout). Like all great Gang of Youths songs (and there are surely heaps of them), it’s a song that cuts through sorrow and despair in a powerful way, and that’s an understatement. It’s enough to want to make you pump your fist and raise your eyes skyward. When Le’aupepe sings, “There’s heaven in you now,” it’s easy to believe that salvation, grace, an angel and “a tide of tender mercies” are just around the corner. – Beau Hayhoe

“We were singing in a car, getting lost upstate… I remember it all too well” (largely because it was only three days ago as of this writing). I was driving up to Killington Peak in Vermont for a 7-mile hike this past Sunday, and my three passengers and I were happily singing along to whatever bits of Taylor Swift’s new album Midnights we’d memorized so far. When “Anti-Hero” came on, one of my riders commented on the cleverness of the line, “When my depression works the graveyard shift, all of the people I’ve ghosted stand there in the room” – we even had to replay it a few times to really get a grasp on the metaphor at work here.

A few moments later, we all sang and laughed aloud at the line, “I have a dream my daughter-in-law kills me for the money,” and the others joined me in the sentiment I’d expressed in a recent Weekly Roundup– it’s so difficult to imagine such a line surfacing in “Teardrops on My Guitar” or any one of her earliest hits. What an incredibly long way she’s come since then!

Personally, I find it extraordinary that, after some 15 years in the game, Swift still has such an impressive ability for getting us to whip out our microscopes with her lyrics in such a manner. In my mind, that’s enough to earn this song a spot on this Best of 2022 list. Plus, another absorbing beat by her longtime creative ally Jack Antonoff certainly helps matters. – Josh Weiner

Gotta make room on this list for the biggest pop hit of the year, especially one that achieved that status in a pretty unorthodox manner: “As It Was” spent a near-record 15 weeks at #1 in the US from April to October, and never more than five weeks at a time. Its success is well-deserved, given that it boasts another lush vocal performance from Harry Styles and immersive co-production by one English beat-maker (Kid Harpoon) and one American one (Tyler Johnson) – representing just how much crossover appeal H.S. has achieved in both regions. Plus, the chorus here follows all of the rules of great catchy choruses: short, simple, repetitive and infectious. Chalk up another winner for one of this century’s most dependable hit factories. – Josh Weiner

Wormrot could arguably have been my entrant for the “Artist Discovery” section this year, but considering how many times I’ve listened to “Behind Closed Doors” since finding out about this band, this option made more sense. Wormrot is a Singaporean grindcore band that has been blasting and brutalizing the music world since 2007 and this track, from their excellent album Hiss, is truly no exception. In and out in under a minute and a half, “Behind Closed Doors” is a stunning, if not overwhelming, blend of nasty guitars, guttural vocals, and of all things, grooves. It’s hard not to be sucker for a heavy band that can write a groove and given how tight the band moves as a unit, the payoff feels that much more rewarding. – Nick Matthopoulos

Oozing with emotion, Canadian pop artist Xana delivers the heart aching “bet you’ll get off on this.” With raw despair in her voice, you can hear the whirlpool of feelings swirling around in her chest, as she tries to come to terms with the painful realization that someone you cared for so deeply ended up being the complete opposite of your expectations. There is nothing worse than seeing something crumble down in front of you and Xana’s vulnerability allows for the listener to see every inch of agony and sympathize with her.

What makes this single so exceptional is the sheer simplicity of it and how despite the minimalist soundscape, Xana still manages to convey such passion. Not every artist has the ability to do this and yet this pop powerhouse makes it seem so easy. The Victoria based artist also released a twelve-track album, Tantrums, this year and while it included some incredibly catchy and powerful songs which demonstrate her versatility, “bet you’ll get off on this” still remains number one. – Joe Beer

In the world of idiosyncratic Spanish pop star Rosalía, genre does not exist. Following up 2018’s lauded, new flamenco record El Mal Querer, the critically-acclaimed Motomami took the ever-singular artist’s fame to new heights this year as she flexed her innovative melding of sound. One of the record’s many standout tracks is the supercharged, gender-subverting “BIZCOCHITO,” an infectious fusion of bachata, reggaetón, and urban pop. It starts like a revved-up Mariokart ready to take off on a star speed run right as Rosalía chimes in, rapping, “Yo no soy y ni vi’a ser tu bizcochito” (“I’m not nor will I ever be your babycakes”), a reference to Daddy Yankee’s “Saoco” and a callback to her own album-opener “SAOKO.”

She turns the sexy, submissiveness of the femme fatale of Yankee’s song on its head, replacing it with her own brand of sexiness that is solely based in the way in which she, unbothered and effortlessly badass, stands in her power and confidence. Sonically and lyrically, “BIZCOCHITO” is a definitive edition to her stellar discography, and a testament to her gift of fusing sound and attitude to create a gaze of her own making. – Sophie Prettyman-Beauchamp

The Red Hot Chili Peppers had a powerful return earlier this year with their single “Black Summer,” which was released on Feb. 4, 2022 ahead of their new album Unlimited Love. It was the band’s first song since 2016 and since guitarist John Frusciante rejoined the group. Filled with riffs and funky beats, they stayed true to their unique sound which brought a sense of nostalgia to the track. Lead singer, Anthony Kiedis, sings about the period of waiting for a dark time to pass, “It’s been a long time and you never know when/ Waitin’ on another black summer to end.” The band explained their inspiration for the album in an Instagram post. “Each of the songs on our new album UNLIMITED LOVE, is a facet of us, reflecting our view of the universe,” they wrote. “This is our life’s mission. We work, focus, and prepare, so that when the biggest wave comes, we are ready to ride it. The ocean has gifted us a mighty wave and this record is the ride that is the sum of our lives.” Once again, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have smashed it with another rock ‘n’ roll single. – Lauren Turner

Foxes’ Luisa Allen made a massive return with last year’s Friends in the Corner EP, and this year’s bold, impassioned, and irresistible album The Kick has proved her to be a true powerhouse of pop magic and wonder. From the intoxicatingly groovy title track to the invigorating “Sister Ray,” so many of this album’s songs were in contest to be my favorite of the year, but I was instantly moved when I first heard “Body Suit”: Something about that song continues to strike a chord deep down inside. Smoldering, smooth saxophone flourishes and a buoyant, moody slow groove immerse us in Foxes’ dreamworld.

But as is often the case with Foxes’ music, it’s Allen’s golden vocals and inspired lyricism that hit home hardest, tugging at our heartstrings while taking our breath away. Vulnerability, love, and a gutting nostalgia permeate this future wedding slow-dance song:

Watching you watching me
We’ve come undone
I’m falling through a dream
Nothing is what it seems
Take me home, make me whole
I know you don’t have control
It’s like you’re taking me dancing
Making me move
You get under my body suit
Yes, you do
It’s like you’re taking me dancing
Making me move
You get under my body suit
Yes, you do

“‘Body Suit’ is about letting your guard come down completely, showing your true self, and letting go of all pretense and ego,” Allen shared earlier this year. “Falling into someone and letting them see you entirely without the fear of being judged. ‘Body suit’ is a way of describing someone seeing the real you and them accepting you as you are.” It’s that magical fuzzy feeling when someone sees the real you; when the person you love gets under your skin, and you in turn get under theirs. It’s acceptance and understanding: The most intimate of connections, and (I might argue) the most beautiful).

Gently jazzy and tenderly cinematic, “Body Suit” is a classic in the making, and easily one of the most special songs I’ve heard in a long, long time. In my eyes and in my heart, The Kick has elevated Foxes to a new level of singer/songwriter: She is a true master of her craft, and one of our generation’s best. Music this moving deserves to be heard (and felt) by everyone. – Mitch Mosk

Twisting, turning
Through my head
Lay it down
Lonely, left unsaid
Just a you and I moment
It’s like you’re taking me dancing
Making me move
You get under my body suit
Yes, you do
It’s like you’re taking me dancing
Making me move
You get under my body suit
Yes, you do

Break My Soul” was an LL Cool J-style comeback single (i.e. not exactly one, since the author never really went away to begin with). Still, even though Beyoncé had continued to be culturally omnipresent since 2016’s Lemonade, she had reached the longest album drought of her career by the time “Break My Soul” debuted on the radio in June. Yet it was immediately clear that she was back and ready to rock with this energetic fusion of house and dance-pop music, along with lyrics that displayed Beyoncé’s signature brand of altruism towards her fans, especially her female ones. “You won’t break my soul” is a sentiment that Beyoncé was evidently ready for the whole world to declare alongside her. Such a song has just earned the Queen Bee her record-breaking eighth nomination for Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards, and it’d be all too fitting to see her finally take home the top prize at Feburary’s ceremony. – Josh Weiner

2022 was a standout year for indie rock with some of my favorite bands hitting the scenes this year, New York based band Seeing Double is no exception. They began this year by releasing their debut single “Leah” which is heavily ’70s inspired, it immediately gained traction via their TikTok and amassed over 3 million streams on Spotify. The five person collective utilizes their retro and psychedelic rock inspirations adding their own spin to it with their powerful vocal performance, extraordinary use of 3 part harmonies and groovy guitar solos to enamor audiences.

Whilst their previous releases took heavy inspiration from the likes of Fleetwood Mac, The Strokes and Paul McCartney the band’s fourth single “Bygones” feels like a breath of fresh air. Beginning with a twinkly piano driven introduction the track quickly spirals into a self proclaimed, “Spy Rock” sound. Vocalists Allie Sandt and Ali McQueeny give powerful, soulful and high energy vocal performances alongside a gritty, thrashing guitar piece played by Zach Torncello and prominent tambourine piece that is memorable and unique. Sandt’s vocal performance is stellar as she powerfully belts “To stick out my heel and ideally/ Knock dominoes down and I really wanna/ Show you running alone and freely/ Are you serious now?” during the pre-chorus is unforgettable. While the track may sonically be upbeat and head bang worthy the lyrics tell the story of unrequited love “You say you’ve got me where you want me/ But California haunts me/ Like you’d never believe/ And I’ll stay but puppy love is crying/ For all the towns it dies in/ Why wasn’t it with me?” This track stood out to me not only for its juxtaposing sounds and lyrics but for this new spin on retro sounds breathing dynamic and energetic new life into the genre. – Minna Abdel-Gawad

“Hey, how are you?” While the aforementioned question is a customary greeting in most casual conversations, folk singer-songwriter Reina del Cid actually wants to know. Released on July 10, 2022 on YouTube and later via streaming services, del Cid’s “Carl Sagan” has become a go-to anthem for those who continue to feel alone, despite living in an age where we are all connected by the Internet. While the track is clearly a homage to American Astronomer, Carl Sagan, it is even more of a declaration of kinship and an extension of understanding toward the lost and lonely.

With del Cid’s warm vocals complimented by both her solid rhythm guitar work and Toni Lindgren’s twangy, lead guitar soloing, this melody reaches out to envelop listeners in a warm blanket of sonic goodness. Singing of a life where one’s peace of mind is often infiltrated by the isolating nature of the internet and social media, del Cid muses: “Are you like me / On this app so you can be / Lost and numb in a warm bath full of content? / Watching brilliant bits of nonsense / ‘Cuz it feels like making contact.” Though del Cid is quick to acknowledge that we are, in fact, not quite alone as we think, as she sings: “We are billions and billions / Of lights reaching out / Through a satellite just to know / That feeling / That even when we’re cold and on our own / We’re not alone, not alone.”

So, even though we might all get lonely sometimes, del Cid reminds us to take it easy and simply remember: “We’re all just stars and bacon.” – Sophie Severs

Kendrick Lamar’s ability to smoothly shift from volatile to docile and back is one of many qualities I have long admired in the champion MC. It really is impressive how each of his albums contain pairs of songs such as “DNA” and “LOVE;” “The Blacker the Berry” and “Complexion (A Zulu Love);” and so on. That pattern was maintained on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, which contained some of his most abrasive songs ever (and perhaps even the most abrasive one, “We Cry Together”), and yet also some of his softest and most reflective ones as well.

Die Hard” was a stand-out for me in that department. Blxt’s soothing refrain about how “I hope I’m not too late to set my demons straight,” followed immediately by Barbadian singer Amanda Reifer’s amazingly melodic post-chorus, collectively put my mind at ease in a way that few other Kendrick Lamar songs (other than “How Much A Dollar Cost,” perhaps) have ever achieved. Plus, once the main man entered the scene himself, he delivered his signature nimble and thought-provoking lyricism, this time addressing how he manages to make his way through all the challenges love and life, all without letting his past faults get the better of him (“I’ve got some regrets, but my past won’t keep me from my best” — what an uplifting line, in its own right!). It took a long time for us to get a follow-up to 2017’s DAMN, but tracks like “Die Hard” demonstrated that not an ounce of rust had accumulated over the interim, and what a sensational discovery that was.

Growing up is something that weighs heavier on all our minds the older we get; aging clearly shows in the way our physical appearances, responsibilities, and those around us change, but seldom do we accept that leaving our childhoods behind is a part of it as well. It’s a timeless and universal process and experience, much like Au Gres’ ode to maturity and childhood dreams, “do you think we’re old enough.” Equal parts melancholic, reflective, and hopeful, the song serves as a future-forward pondering of whether or not we’re old enough, or if we’ll ever be old enough, to live life as we once imagined.

Au Gres, the moniker of Michigan-based singer/songwriter Joshua Kemp, makes use of soft synths and gentle acoustic guitar strums to create a track meant for easy listening anywhere, anytime. Tenderly singing about his simultaneous apprehension and optimism for the future, Kemp’s lyrics are candid and forthright. As difficult as handling change might be, at least we have “do you think we’re old enough” to make growing up just a little bit more comfortable. – Isabella Le

Johnny Hunter’s soaring post punk anthem “Dreams” quickly became my favorite song of 2022, and yet you’d be easily forgiven for thinking this song dated back to the mid-1980s. Channeling the great specters of bands like The Cure, The Smiths, and Joy Division, “Dreams” is a lush eruption of cinematic passion and heavy-hearted emotion taken off the Australian band’s debut album, WANT – a captivating masterpiece in its own right, and one of Atwood Magazine‘s top albums of the year (Johnny Hunter also made our Top Artist Discoveries of 2022 list). The band once described their album as “a ten-track journey through suffering to solace, Johnny Hunter are embarking on a quest to restore the world’s faith,” and it more than lives up to the hype.

With 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,” “Dreams” might as well be our very own dream come true.

There’s a place where the weather’s ever changing
The city’s steeple is a beacon to its home
The iron gates of heaven open up the doorway to the harbour
And in the paper today there is no ink on the page
Because the writing is on the wall

It may sound like a blast from the past, but “Dreams” doesn’t linger in nostalgia: Together, the band of Hutt, Ben Wilson, Xander Burgess, Nick Cerone, and Gerry Thompson seek to triumph over the old, in an effort to dwell not in the past, but the ever-changing, bustling present. “Dreams” paints a portrait of their modern-day evolving home in Sydney, Australia.

Up the hill backwards, speaking in tongues
You are a runaway, with nowhere to run
I don’t ever want to wake up
And realise I’m still dreaming of you

“To dream is to live through the subconscious of the world,” Nick Hutt told Atwood Magazine upon the song’s release. “It is in this state we create myth and folklore to give reason to the challenges and change we face within our lives. This is a love song dedicated to the fear of accepting the changes that life throws at you. Changes whether good or bad are inevitable, we can’t dwell upon them, we need to face them and run with them in order to progress.”

“The Sydney I grew up in is a very different Sydney to the one we live in today. Iconic buildings knocked down for skyrise apartments, famous music venues destroyed by political legislation. We started playing live music during the death of live music in Sydney. Now one day you are walking down the street, enjoying a nice cold schooner and the next you’re confined to the four walls of your own bedroom. Wallowing in self pity and declaring the current state of affairs to be insurmountable would result in this band not existing. The same goes for experiencing heartbreak and failure.”

“I woke up one morning singing, ‘I don’t ever want to wake up and realise I’m still dreaming of you.‘ The rest of the lyrics paint a picture of Sydney such as the harbour bridge and the Centre Point Tower. As this song was inspired by an ever changing Sydney, we found ourselves being influenced by iconic Australian artists such as The Church, The Triffids and The Go-betweens. As we have played this song many times live it was our least challenging to record.”

If change is in the air, then “Dreams” is the soundtrack to our own constant growth and evolution. Johnny Hunter have an undeniable hit on their hands with this timeless, triumphant song. – Mitch Mosk

Can you feel the changes?
Changes in the weather
Stuck somewhere in-between the past and the future
And in the paper today there is no ink on the page
Because the writing’s written on the wall
Up the hill backwards
Speaking in tongues
You are a runaway
With nowhere to run
I don’t ever want to wake up
And realise I’m still dreaming of you

In many ways, the best part of the Pixies’ intoxicating blend has always been the subversive fretwork of Joey Santiago. And so, for that reason – and many others – “Dregs of Wine” is a favorite of the Pixies’ latest LP, Doggerel. But what’s even more delightful is that not only did Santiago deliver the goods via guitar, but he also took a turn with the pen and wrote much of the lyrics for this track. Frank Black seldom solicits the help of his bandmate’s wordsmith, so when he does, it behooves them to deliver. That’s not to say that Santiago is about to knock Black off his perch for band lander or chief lyricist, but it does show that for the first time in a long time, the Pixies seem to be firing on all cylinders again. Moreover, if Doggerel is any indication, for the first time since Kim Deal left the band, they’re finally comfortable in their own skin. – Andrew Daly

The longtime Blur six-stringer lent his angular talents to this project alongside Rose Elinor Dougall, and boy, what a project The WAEVE appears to be. The possible best of the bunch, “Drowning,” starts slow, with lush moods, gentle instrumentation, and somber vocalizations guiding the listener along. At the same time, Coxon does his best to send the track off the rails through his patented guitar wizardry before adding his own distinctive vocals into the mix. For Coxon fans searching for hints of Blur, it’s there – Coxon can’t escape it – but still, the newly formed duo has managed to forge a path forward that is new and extremely exciting. – Andrew Daly

We can approach songs of the year from an analytical perspective, choosing it for its musicality and influence, and we can approach them from a purely personal point of view. “Embrasse-moi” is a song that will be perhaps forever associated with my 2022. I first heard the track when it was presented for the first time during a live stream in September 2021. I wasn’t there at the show and instead was watching it with a broken heart in the gloom of my bedroom in England. It had stayed in my head but remained seemingly inexistent due to no uploaded videos on Youtube. Then it was released into the world in May this year (don’t you just love that feeling?!), several weeks before I set off on an adventure that ended up being situated for most of the time in Quebec city.

Jérôme 50 is a singer-songwriter from Quebec whose music is often a playful pastiche of styles and observations. “Embrase-moi” is his take on a typical love ballad with a build up of sentimental instrumentation (the piano, violin and Simon Kearney’s guitar solo) and vocals delivered with passion despite the humorous touch of the lyrics. The song features Ariane Roy, a singer-songwriter who has also been prominent this year! – Francesca Rose

Djo’s synth-pop “simulation” sound is always a stunning listen- it’s easy to catch new quirks and hidden elements with every play. With his second solo album Decide, Djo creates a half hour serotonin boost with a clear standout with “End of Beginning.” Recounting his former life in Chicago and speaking as though he’s reconnecting with a past version of himself, the existential longing and frustration coats the frustration and holds you under a blanket of nostalgia. Formerly a member of the psychedelic rock band Post Animal, Djo’s (aka Joe Keery) career erupted in the past decade, the anxieties from these changes are laced in the sincerity of the lyrics. The bridge offers a muted hum of the lyrics of the chorus as Djo contemplates, “And when I’m back in Chicago, I feel it. Another version of me, I was in it. I wave goodbye to the end of beginning.” It’s the perfect track for the twenty-something who feels surrounded by choices, yet remains unaware of their true consequences, or whether any of it was worth it. It seems Djo himself hasn’t decided, but it’s a topic worth musing over nonetheless. – Nic Nichols

The solo debut of NCT’s dreamy baritone vocalist, JAEHYUN, has been a long time coming. I may be biased as he’s my #1 favourite of the 23-member group, but the TikTok virality of his 2017 single “Try Again” earlier in the year showed that NCTzens weren’t the only ones who foresaw his success and creative vision as a solo artist. With the release of “Forever Only” in mid-August, JAEHYUN poignantly rewinds to the early 2000s with sultry R&B beats and hypnotic acoustic guitar riffs.

JAEHYUN’s project was certainly a huge breakaway from the hard-hitting beats and electronic mixing signature of the NCT brand, but it has a groovier, more addictive quality that’s impossible to find anywhere else in the group’s discography (or, really, modern K-Pop as a whole). An honest extension of himself beyond his title as “NCT’s JAEHYUN”, the song puts the singer’s affinity for the simple, nostalgic, and introspective on full display. Warm, romantic, and pensive, the soft but ever-alluring production and lyricism of “Forever Only” makes it worth listening to forever only. – Isabella Le

Brooklyn musician and Home Sweet Home DJ Harrison Patrick Smith, better known as The Dare, has already amassed a cult following over the past several months thanks to his semi-viral hit “Girls.” With The Dare, Smith slips into a sneering club bad boy persona that couple his knack for catchy songwriting with ‘00s New York electropop nostalgia. “Girls” is a delightfully crass banger in which the insatiably horny Smith lists off the variations of unconventional and unsavory girls he loves and lusts after—these include “girls who give it up for Lent” and “girls with no buns,” to name a few of the SFW ones. Like the lovechild of an early Peaches track and “Mambo No. 5,” its silly sex beat pulsates with irresistible hedonism, punctuated by Smith’s cocky caricature to the point where the cringe factor is what makes it so damn easy to keep on repeat (to be cringe is to be free, as they say). Embracing the lowbrow trashiness of bloghouse and running it through a terminally-online, indie-sleaze revivalist lens, “Girls” is a comically cool anthem encapsulating Y2K-obsessed Gen Z’s cultural reinvention. – Sophie Prettyman-Beauchamp

If there’s one track off The Backseat Lover’s new 2022 record Waiting to Spill that reflects the group’s shift towards an emotionally vulnerable and raw songwriting style, “Growing/Dying” would steal the show. The image of a plant growing and dying seemingly represents being stuck in a cycle of life met with forthcoming death; the inability to reach achievement due to the imminent realities of failure to follow. As the song proceeds, the words are sung with more anguish, the chords are played more intensely and the painful reality of stagnancy and missed potential shine through the final words: “it would be nice to know, when I’ll decide to grow.” The band is certainly growing as songwriters, performers and musicians, and this track is the perfect example of the group’s evolution throughout the past year. – Miles Campbell

From the moment I heard this “Horses” featured on the All Songs Considered podcast, I was blown away by the power and intensity of Rogers’ vocals. This was not the same woman who charmed us with her Alaskan ode years ago, this was something far more visceral and immobilising. The Maggie Rogers of 2022 is commanding your attention and her sophomore album Surrender uses every tool in her wheelhouse to attain it. In the age of waning attention spans, Rogers’ alleviates her listeners of all responsibility. The track could be completely wordless and the feeling would still be there, one of impenetrable authenticity.

“Horses” is the pinnacle of the new Rogers, and sees the artist establishing new limits for herself, pressing beyond her acclaimed debut to unsheathe the tremendous power of her talent. Packed with rich lyricism and an uproarious chorus that left audiences trembling after live performances, “Horses” is the emotional pillar of this album, and of the year. The best thing about “Horses” is it’s only the beginning for Rogers, a multi-faceted artist exploding from her influences to create something unique, and a promising insight into what’s to come. – Christine Costello

Humble Quest, the third album from Maren Morris, arrived in the world on March 25 this year, and without a doubt its third track, “I Can’t Love You Anymore” has been my most played song of the year. The arrangement is simple. The lyrics concise. It’s organic and warm and has that lovelorn country song sound without the artificial twang. There’s a sing-along quality to it, but there is also so much more to the song than that.

Morris bends and inhabits the lyrics of each chorus differently. The first time is fun and light; the second is filled with heat and longing; and the third and final time almost makes me cry. There’s an ache in her vocals.

Shoulda known what I was getting in
Fallin’ for a boy from Michigan
You love your mom like every Midwest kid
You like driving to Texas
You put up with all my exes
To deserve you, don’t know what the hell I did

Though the song is about all the reasons why you love someone and how you will never understand why they love you, “I Can’t Love You Anymore” is also attempting to put into words how much you love someone. You can easily tell them why but trying to tell someone how much you love them is a hopeless task. Words are not enough, which is why we have the music.

Morris co-wrote the song with Greg Kurstin, the album’s producer, and her husband the artist Ryan Hurd, who also sings background vocals on the song. I can’t tell you what makes the song so special. Perhaps it is the simplicity of the lyrics or maybe it’s Morris’ emotive vocals. It might because Morris and Hurd wrote the song together that makes it real. Maybe trying to pin down the reason is just like trying to describe why you love someone. Impossible.

I can’t love you any more than I do now
You can try to talk me down
But I can say without a doubt
I can’t love you any more than I do now

Doomsday might be right around the corner, but what’s stopping us from enjoying the time we have left? Weyes Blood (AKA Natalie Mering) ponders this query within the lead track, “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody,” from her newest record, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow, released Nov. 18, 2022. In a time where hate, fear and misunderstandings plague our society, Mering calls for a ceasefire as she recognizes: “Living in the wake of overwhelming changes / We’ve all become strangers / Even to ourselves.” But even if we are no longer sure of who we are, there is one thing Mering is completely confident in exclaiming: “It’s not just me / It’s everybody.”

Over the years, Mering has claimed her spot as an ethereal harbinger of comfort in the face of disaster. Her songs mitigate the feelings of impending doom that haunt the daily lives of many, allowing them to indulge in her dreamy psychedelic folk melodies. “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody” guides listeners toward the recognition of our universal circumstances, uniting all who choose to indulge in the track under the comforting notion that we are never alone in our struggles. – Sophie Severs

Toronto alternative singer/songwriter Zoe Sky Jordan finished 2022 off with a slam dunk, with the unveiling not only one, but two brand new tracks. Just as we thought the year was cooling off with releases, she jumps in with what is worthy of being titled one of the best songs of 2022. “Just Fine” immediately starts off with the type of guitar that instantly makes your head bob, indicating that this song is going to be stuck in your head all day long. With simple instrumentation and a steady beat, there are no unnecessary embellishments to this track, allowing for the artists’ soothing vocals to glide effortlessly, as she narrates a topic close to her heart.

As the daughter of acclaimed musicians Amy Sky and Marc Jordan, a young Zoe would often see gender stereotypes frequently being played out and how others would look at her parents success differently, simply due to their sex. Zoe sings, “I’m sure that they’re saying something about where I get the money, I’ve heard something ‘bout every woman I’ve ever met, but at a certain point it’s gotta be easier to stand on her shoulders, than to sit on his lap.” The now Los Angeles based artist alludes to the fact that no woman needs a man to account to her success. Simultaneously making a strong message and delivering pure sonic bliss, there is no greater combination. The best part is, “Just Fine” is off of her upcoming album, Selfish, so expect even more in Spring 2023!

Javiera Mena has been unapologetically herself throughout her career of over 20 years. The Chilean artist has never shied away from her sexuality as a lesbian, and her single “La Isla de Lesbos” is a stark example of that. Spacey production elements come together with tropical percussion and groovy bass to create an enticing soundscape while Mena croons about rituals, desire, good, and evil. The track is a testament to living freely and indulging in our own sensuality without fear of judgment. In the accompanying video, we see Mena at a pool party with a diverse set of friends and lovers enjoying each other’s company, free from scrutiny. Javiera Mena never fails to craft dance-worthy bops, and her dedication to the queer community has long been admired by those of us that have followed her career. Now, fans who are just discovering her work after her latest album release, Nocturna, are relishing that same freedom of expression. “La Isla de Lesbos” shows us that Mena’s work is still able to speak for itself and serve as a solace for anyone who might need it. – Alex Killian

I describe Holly Humberstone to my friends as “the most vulnerable songwriter of the 2020s,” and to be honest I don’t even have to stand by those words; her music speaks for itself. Two EPs – 2020’s Falling Asleep At The Wheel and 2021’s The Walls Are Way Too Thin – have established the 22-year-old singer/songwriter from Grantham, England as a purveyor of intimate emotion and uninhibited, unrestrained self-expression. She sings from the heart and with abandon, pouring her full self into every song no matter the cost. Her art is tender, achingly honest, and unapologetically real – which is why, whether it’s via the visceral energy of “Overkill,” the pulsing drive of “Scarlett,” or the sheer, bittersweet weight of her new single “London Is Lonely,” Holly Humberstone always takes my breath away.

I started feeling like I’m living in the upside-down
Haven’t seen you in forever and I don’t know how
And I’ve been smoking and staying out too late
But you know I’ve got good intentions babe
Started feeling I could see you in the rush hour crowd
When I catch you in a stranger on the underground
But something’s missing I’ve got an empty space
And something’s different, when you leave my place
So I’ll try not to say what I mean when I call you up
And I’ll try not to think of the distances between us

Humberstone’s hauntingly beautiful first single of 2022, “London Is Lonely” is a vivid, raw confessional: One that soaks up the solitude and dwells in the distance, leaning into the pain rather than trying any number of means to numb it. And yet, this song also helps us cleanse ourselves and our sadness: Long before its end, Humberstone has inspired us anew, planting seeds of heartfelt hope that blot out the hurt and anguish. Yet another stirring display of raw talent in action, “London Is Lonely” aches in all the right ways. – Mitch Mosk

And it’s all good when we dance all night
And I swear that I’ll be alright
but it’s getting harder and harder to reach you
London is lonely without you
So will you stay? Cos I’m oh so sick of this place feeling way too big
And nothing can hold me can hold me like you do
London is lonely without you

2022 was a year to celebrate the Avirl Lavigne of Old and New. This year marked her 20th anniversary as a pop star – given that’s the current age of her debut album, 2002’s Let Go – which incentivized fans like me, who’ve been bumping her jams since our elementary school days, to revisit her output from across these past two decades. But on top of all that livin’ in the past, it was also important to appreciate the current version of the Sk8er Girl, which can be enjoyed to the fullest on Feburary’s Love Sux, one of the albums that gave me the most escapist fun in all of 2022.

One of the tracks that captured that rush of joy the best was “Love It When You Hate Me,” which proved that Ms. April Grapevine hasn’t yet given up on securing My Happy Ending. “I’m a lush, and I’m drunk again off another crush,” she confides in the song’s opening moments– perhaps this one will turn out better than the last? Coupled with a nimble and infectious verse from blackbear (“should’ve seen the red flags, but for you, I’m fucking blind,” he admits), and you’ve got one of Love Sux‘s standout numbers and proof that Avril is ready to get start her third decade in the game with a serious bang. “Like a ticking time bomb, I’m about to explode,” she sings at the start of this album, after all. – Josh Weiner

Mastermind” is the epitome of Taylor Swift’s genius. Lyrically and musically this song is a force of nature placed meticulously as the 13th and final track of the Midnights album. It is as vulnerable as it gets, which is rare to find from songwriters with so much fame and notary. Swift reveals her thoughtful strategy and the reasons behind it. She reveals that her thoughtfulness has brought in the love of her live and kept him there. She is admitting her genius and I love it. – Kelly McCafferty Dorogy

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
Strategy sets the scene for the tale
I’m the wind in our free-flowing sails
And the liquor in our cocktails

When the news of new Melvins’ music is afoot, my excitement immediately ratchets up to ten. It didn’t take long for the band’s latest, Bad Moon Rising, to enter the top tier of my year-end list. Beyond that, I’d go as far as to say – and I know it’s early – this is the best Melvins record in years. Why? Simply because it’s the most “Melvins sounding” album they’ve made in some time. And the best example why would be “My Discomfort is Radiant;” it’s got the weird title, unsettling vocal performance from Buzz Osbourne, guttural guitar riffs, fragmented solos, and Dale Crover, as usual, throws down the gantlet with a tour de force drum performance for the ages. The music of the Melvins is pure magic, and fans of the band know full well that the band’s catalog is akin to a national treasure. To that end, songs like “My Discomfort is Radiant” show that Bad Moon Rising is yet another stellar entry to an already luminous catalog. – Andrew Daly

My sister and I once, while on a drive, were spitballing dream collabs between some of our favorite artists. Hozier and Florence, Lana and Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala and Gorillaz. So when teasers for this song came began circulating my TikTok FYP, I lost my mind. My initial thought during my first listen-thru was how perfectly balanced Tame Impala and Gorillaz’ very distinct individual sounds. This is, in part, due to Kevin Parker’s recognizable vocals (btw did you know that Tame Impala’s actually just one guy?), combined with Gorillaz’ ability to cultivate such a unique sounds while constantly collaborating with other artists and allowing their collaborator’s influence to shine through. But with this particular Gorillaz track, it’s more how the two artists stacked their distinct producing styles. Gorillaz maintained a familar structure of rap verses paired with a catchily-sung chorus over a rooted, repeating bass line. Tame Impala brings that classic hazy and dynamic synth-guitar combo. The two artists work both exceptionally at working together and standing their ground, of combining while remaining separate. This was one of my favorite Gorillaz collaborations yet, my only criticism is that Kevin Parker and Damon Albarn made only a single rather than a full album. Nevertheless, I think this track was relatively underrated amidst the flurry of music that this year imparted and that it’s likely to become a standout in both Gorillaz’ and Tame Impala’s discographies. – Lilly Eason

It’s not that “No One Dies From Love” by Tove Lo is necessarily a different sound or any new direction, but that she’s just so good at this particular niche. The song was the lead single from her 5th album and first that was independently released, Dirt Femme, which was filled to the brim with the sexy, dark electro-pop music that Tove Lo is known for. But “No One Dies,” the album’s opener, is unquestionably its greatest song. Reminiscing on a past relationship, she asks, “Will you remember us / Are the memories too stained with blood now?” She (and fellow Swede Robyn) are known for producing heartbreaking lyrics over beats you can dance to, and this song is no exception. It’s ultimately sad, but, as she revealed on the new album with songs like “2 Die 4” or “Attention Whore,” she has no problem going with a shorter, more explosive relationship as well. Few artists feel emotions as heavily as Tove Lo; as a result, her songs can be both intimately powerful and heartbreaking. And, also, great choices to dance to. – Sam Franzini

Vivid dream pop sonics and driving indie rock drums make for a powerful combination in the hands of South London’s Bleach Lab. Already one of my personal favorite bands of the 2020s, the four-piece of Jenna Kyle, Kieran Weston, Frank Wates, and Josh Longman have emerged over the past 2.5 years as “a ray of breathtaking musical introspection, heart-on-sleeve expression, and sheer vulnerability,” if I may be so brazen as to quote myself. The 2 (now 3)-time Atwood Editor’s Pick was also one of our 2021 Artists to Watch, and at the end of that same year, made it onto our list of the year’s top artist discoveries. Between their debut EP A Calm Sense of Surrounding and their sophomore effort, Nothing Feels Real, Bleach Lab have found their niche in a glistening alternative assembly of sweet, seductive, and singular sound. Think Mazzy Star meets Daughter, The Smiths, and The 1975.

It is on the heels of this blur of excitement that the band this year released their third EP, If You Only Feel It Once, a five-track, all hits no misses affair. My personal favorite is “Obviously,” a sweet upheaval, replete with a catchy, cathartic chorus and stirring shoegaze-y guitars that capture, in their reverb-drenched vibrations, an unimaginable amount of dashed hopes and words unsaid. Jenna Kyle calls it “a candid reflection on the aftermath of an unexpected breakup and the inevitable cycle of blame and misdirected emotion that follows.”

If you think it isn’t about him, well it is
What you gunna do about it?
And if you think that you were the first
You were probably third or fourth of fifth
What you gunna do about it?
If it keeps you up
If you question it
Does he still love her?
Obviously, obviously, obvious…

“This track addresses the person your partner has left you for,” Kyle shared upon the song’s release. “You’re bitter, hurt, and rightly or wrongly directing your aggression towards them instead. However in the chorus, it is a bit of a conversation with yourself – a self-reflection and realization that it doesn’t really matter what you say or do, your former partner still loves them either way.”

Call it one more in a long set of successive hits for Bleach Lab; “Obviously” is resilient, resounding, and refreshingly hard-hitting. I had the pleasure of catching Bleach Lab live in London this year, and I can proudly say that the song hits as hard live in concert as it does on record.

Whether the world’s currently raining down on you, or your out for a drive with the windows all the way down, Bleach Lab tap something deep down inside. – Mitch Mosk

If you think, that you can read inside his mind
Well you are crazy, just like me
And if you think, that you were the first to touch him that way
Well you are crazy, just like me
If it keeps you up
If you question it
Does he still love her?
Obviously, obviously, obvious…

The 1975’s fifth studio album is a softly stunning masterpiece, and “Oh Caroline” is its boldly beating heart – or at least, one of them. Released in October, the highly anticipated 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.

It’s hard to choose a favorite on an eleven-track all-hits, no-misses affair – even the eponymous album opener “The 1975” is a catchy delight – but for me, “Oh Caroline” was an instant standout from the minute I heard it. Balancing intimate, brooding, and heartfelt emotions with an uplifting, effervescent, smile-inducing soundtrack, The 1975 do what they’ve long done best: Giving us the space to dance and sing out all the pent-up emotions we’ve built up deep down inside.

I’ve been suicidal
You’ve been gone for weeks
If I’m undecided, will you decide for me?
Baby, I’ll do anythin’ that you want to
I’ll try anythin’ that you want to
I’ll try, ’cause you’re on my mind
Oh-oh, Caroline
I wanna get it right this time
‘Cause you’re always on my mind
Oh-oh, Caroline (Oh-oh)

Glistening piano licks, groovy guitar strums, and Matty Healy’s hot on the mic vocals create a resounding sense of warmth, affection, and connection: This song truly is comfort manifest. “Oh Caroline” is an undeniable love song, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a soundtrack to raw, unabating, and uninhibited passion. I know I’ll be singing this song with all my heart for years and years to come. – Mitch Mosk

Getting suicidal? It’s honestly not for me
I’m gettin’ on my nerves, by gettin’ on my knees
Getting cucked, I don’t need it
The place I want to be
Is somewhere in your heart
Somewhere guaranteed
‘Cause baby, I’ll do anything that you wanna
I’ll try anything that you wanna
I’ll find myself in the moonlight
‘Cause baby, I want everything that you wanna
And I’ve tried to just be me like a thousand times
But you’re on my mind
Oh, Caroline
I wanna get it right this time
‘Cause you’re always on my mind (always on my mind)
Oh, Caroline (oh-oh)

I had the honor of premiering Kramies’ debut album earlier this year, after covering his music on and off for the past six years. The phrase “hauntingly beautiful” comes to mind when describing the self-titled Kramies, a stunning record that blends fantasy and reality into a lush, raw, and ethereal dream-folk triumph. Listeners are sure to find their own favorite moments of catchy music and deep meaning, and for me the indisputable highlight is Kramies‘ fourth track, “Ohio I’ll Be Fine,” a heartfelt acoustic ballad featuring Jerry Becker and Jim Bogios.

You can have the money, you can give blame
you can take the land from me
and I’ll just leave in pain
but I’m fine, Ohio I am fine
Waking from the headaches then flushing all the drugs
staring down at cornfields, now passed out on your rug
I was fine, Ohio I was fine

The closest thing the folk singer/songwriter has come to “emo” music in all the time that I’ve known him, “Ohio I’ll Be Fine” is an achingly bittersweet, happy/sad reckoning with Kramies’ past and present home state of Ohio. “I grew up in Ohio, I got sober and left, my life changed and grew into what it is now,” he explains. “What’s so ironic is I just moved back after almost two decades away. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’m here in it and I’m really happy for now. Without giving to much away, I’ll say this is more of a positive so-long song than sad: It’s my ‘goodbye/hello again‘ song to Ohio memories.”

He continues, “I’ve had a love/hate affair with this place. I was a drug addict here and I lost a lot in Ohio, as well as gained wisdom. It’s the woods and nature here that taught me how to write – I owe that to Ohio… There’s nothing like early morning or dusk in the woods of Ohio. It’s where fairytales and folklore are created. When the dusty sunbeams come breaking through the trees and you’re in its silence, it will change you. I never even thought of being a songwriter; I always wanted to write books, but this place kind of carved my path for me…. I definitely owe it to Ohio.”

I never felt too good, but I never felt too bad
and just like my pharmacist, I took all you had
and I was fine
I settled on a goldmine that was looking down at ghosts
I’m a hundred grand richer, still living off of toast
I’ll be fine; Ohio I’ll be fine…

Kramies’ poignant, deeply moving lyrics and his breathtaking, up-close and personal performance help make “Ohio I’ll Be Fine” the singular experience that it is today. I cried big ugly tears when I first heard it, and truth be told I loved every minute of it; this is truly one of the best songs I’ve heard all year, and I sincerely hope it gets the recognition it deserves. – Mitch Mosk

The Wonder Years’ first single from The Hum Goes On Forever is one of the most heartbreaking songs on the record. A follow-up to 2013’s “Madelyn” from The Greatest Generation, Dan Campbell details a family member struggling with addiction, with the bombastic scope that the Philadelphia band’s best songs have. While the band offers one of their strongest instrumental performances, Campbell details both the shredded hope that comes with trying to help someone you love. “Another day up in flames/Another year that looks the same,” he sings detailing how the difficulties can bleed into mundanity. It’s heart-shattering to see loved ones “lost in the grey with two broken legs trying to swim,” but we still try. – James Crowley

A November release from one of a conveyer belt of breakthrough Isle of Wight musicians in 2022. 20-year-old singer/songwriter Beth Brookfield’s latest release “On the Way to Paris” sonically captures the romanticism of the French capital. Her third standalone release sees the singer’s customary serene vocals and Billie Jean-inspirited guitar riff combine to create a euphoric, yet wistful, soundscape. The single was recorded at Newport’s Empire Sounds Studio, where artists such as Wet Leg and Lauran Hibberd have laid down tracks previously. Beth, who made her Main Stage debut at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival, has the requisite talent, tenacity and temperament to follow in their colossal footsteps. – Dominic Kureen

One of my favorite aspects about music is how a song can forever capture and enshrine a moment in time, creating a unique memory you can easily and reliably return to with the simple flip of a “play” button. This summer my wife and I spent our honeymoon in the UK, and that entire journey – a beautiful, amazing experience I will cherish for the rest of my life – will forever be entwined with the music of English indie pop band, easy life (also one of my Top Artist Discoveries of 2022). It started with a song playing over the sound system at a London restaurant – their 2020 single, “peanut butter”:

I’m a go-getter, so I go and got her
I’m an introvert, superstitious globetrotter
She’s a do-gooder, could do much better
She matched her blue eyes to her blue sweater
We had some good food, some good weather
But I’m a paranoid by default, sun-setter
And now we’re never running on time
It must be something in our star sign…

For most, this was background music – but for me, it was an instant connection. Something clicked between the woozy keys, the groovy beat, and frontman Murray Matravers’ simultaneously in-your-face and unapologetically laid back vocal performance, and from that point forward, I had easy life on repeat. It got to the point where my wife asked me who it was I’d been listening to so obsessively, which, take that for what you will, but I consider it a good sign.

easy life are here to have fun, release their emotions, make a connection, and have a good time. The singular, self-described “escapist” band released their debut album life’s a beach in May of last year – I can’t recommend this album enough – and they have continued to carve our their own singular space with the year’s sophomore LP, MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE… (released this fall), which features a number of standout songs, including the enchanting singalong “OTT.”

Featuring New Zealand singer/songwriter, “OTT” is a fast-paced headbanger about reckoning with your past, finding balance and moderation in a world full of extremes, and continuously working to become your best self. Murray Matravers and BENEE each take a vivid and vulnerable verse over an intoxicating soundscape with a gently urgent pulse. Lyrically, the song lays everything out in the open:

I’m late, sober, and my friends are all wasted
I go home on my own with no friends that I came with
But, oh, it’s such a laugh, such a happy occasion
I took a photograph and it turned out amazing
I don’t understand you
‘Cause you’ve got a face like a slapped fish
Always in vain, but in vogue and on trend
Sure hope you calm down in the end
You’re way too OTT, wish you’d go slowly
I think you’ve had quite enough
Time to get back on the bus
You ought to keep it low-key, you’re too close to OD
I only tell you out of love
Just try to keep your head above water

There’s churn in the melody, charge in the vocals, and layers of emotion radiating off every instrument present. The band describe this song as “the talk you long to have with someone who’s on a self-destructive streak”: “Like most things easy life, there is still that element of optimism: that perhaps with enough care and attention, something can be done,” Murray shares, adding a note of respect and reverence for his vocal partner: “BENEE crushed it – her voice is like water and she’s a real queen of melody.”

A standout in easy life’s burgeoning catalog, “OTT” struts its stuff like the best of them. It’s the kick in the arse we need to walk a little faster and stand a little taller as we go about our days, getting in those last licks of summer before autumn’s chill sets in. For me, this song – and easy life as a whole – will forever be extra special, capturing a highlight of my 29 years. My only hope is that this song and band can do the same for others who listen, and turn the ordinary into extraordinary. – Mitch Mosk

The idea of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and Tom Skinner forming a band is enough to make any self-respecting alt-rock fan shiver with delight. And for the uninitiated, the trio delivered the goods with The Smile’s debut affair, A Light for Attracting Attention. And while the record has a plethora of memorable moments, “Pana-Vision” is particularly sublime, with a classic Yorke vocal performance set beside delicate piano chords with a gentle drumbeat guiding the festivities alone. But it’s Greenwood’s multi-instrumentation that steals the show, not through blistering guitar solos, but through what can only be described as “vibe,” pointedly aimed at challenging the listener to examine how this track makes them feel. Not unlike Greenwood’s film scores, or Radiohead’s latter-day work, the music of The Smile is an exercise in expanding one’s musical IQ. – Andrew Daly

In this year’s interview with Death Cab’s Dave Depper, I boldly called Asphalt Meadows “one of Death Cab for Cutie’s most cathartic, disruptive, impressively cohesive, and utterly engaging albums to date.” The band’s tenth album is a sonic and emotionally charged triumph brimming with nostalgia, introspection, and intimate moments of connection, and for me, these qualities shine brightest on the deep cut, “Pepper“:

Take a picture to remember this by
You’ll never hold all the details in your mind
Fillin’ your head with superfluous facts
Pushin’ out what you’re never getting back

And all that’s left is a version of the truth
A recollection that is often misconstrued
Sergeant Pepper with the faces of friends
But the names all elude you in the end

Kiss me just this one last time
Tell me that you once were mine

Gibbard looks in both directions at once here, his earnest vocals aching with intent alongside the steady pulse of the band’s guitar and piano accompaniment. The past is ever-present inside of us, but those meaningful moments and memories we cherish are forever getting farther and farther away from us; we only move in one direction, after all. “Pepper” recognizes this poignant truth, and rather than reject it or try to find a futile workaround, Gibbard leans into acceptance, embracing a meaningful moment for what it is here and now: “Kiss me just this one last time,” he sings in a stunningly tender chorus. “Tell me that you once were mine.” Is he singing to the ghosts of the past, or to someone with him presently? Either way, by tomorrow they’ll be gone – a ghost all the same. We don’t get to hold onto anyone or anything forever; haunting and heartfelt, “Pepper” reminds us to share our love today, because this is ultimately all we have. – Mitch Mosk

Take a picture to remember me by
To show everybody who you left behind
The near miss that almost shot you out the blue
And I was a city you were only passing through

And all that’s left is a version of events
Favorably framed for the sake of self-defense
We barely notice as the pages disappear
Floating off into another year
Kiss me just this one last time
Tell me that you once were mine
Kiss me just this one last time
Show me that your love was mine

From the opening notes of “Pharmacist,” it’s clear that five years away have done little to dull Alvvays’ potent mix of indie pop and jangle rock, a kind few other bands this day and age have mastered. Yet there’s something else at play on “Pharmacist,” beyond vocalist and guitarist Molly Rankin’s sense of quiet melancholy. Sonically, the track is at once more amped and yet hazy, pleasantly washed out — that’s thanks to the production efforts of Shawn Everett and the band itself. The result is classic Alvvays, but taken to another level, as so often seems to be the case with bands who work with Everett. It’s truly a one-two punch — “Pharmacist” leads the album off, then the equally excellent “Easy On Your Own?” makes a statement in its own right: Alvvays are absolutely back, and it’s as if they never left. – Beau Hayhoe

Radio static is what we first hear as this cut kicks off before Richard Oakes’ familiar brit-pop-tinged guitars and Brett Anderson’s melancholy vocals remind listeners of all they’ve been missing. Linchpined by a rapid-fire drumbeat and passionate lyricism, Suede’s latest finds the London-born band in classic form. To be sure, each release from Suede is a treasure, but there’s something about these lads pouring their hearts out across the fuzzed-out guitars and bombastic chorus radiating through “She Still Leads Me On” that rips listeners’ hearts out like no other. – Andrew Daly

London-based band Black Country, New Road has steadily gained a dedicated following in the indie scene, with glowing reviews and nods in The New York Times, The Quietus, and more. Their latest album Ants from Up There is a triumphant step forward for the group: a vast collection of gems. Despite the controversial drums, “Snow Globes” is easily one of my standout songs. The story it tells seems to describe a struggle against a force that can never be shaken, though it’s also been interpreted by fans as an examination of fear of a higher power or even an allude to King Henry. Perhaps this is what draws me to this song most: the conversation it invokes. The final lyrics, which are repeatedly wailed and shouted out, are the most piercing: “Oh, god of weather, Henry knows snow globes don’t shake on their own.” – Nic Nichols

Oklahoma singer/songwriter, Zach Bryan, is rising on the charts with “Something in the Orange.” Released on Apr. 22, 2022, ahead of his first studio album American Heartbreak, Bryan mixes musical flares of folk, rock and country in this single. His raspy voice and vulnerable lyrics, accompanied by the steady strumming of a guitar, will tug at your heartstrings. The chorus, “To you I’m just a man, to me you’re all I am/ Where the hell am I ‘supposed to go?/ I poisoned myself again/ Something in the orange tells me you’re never coming home,” plays with the idea of reflection and reminiscence that can be found within the orange hues of the sky at the end of the day. It hints at the hope a sunset could bring as someone waits for a better tomorrow.

According to Billboard, Bryan jumped from No. 9 to No. 1 on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart (dated May 7), becoming the top emerging act in the U.S. for the first time due to the song. In an Instagram post he wrote, “At the risk of sounding pretentious; I don’t want a genre, I don’t want a scene, I don’t want a title, I just want to make music.” He has accomplished just that and more within his music this year. – Lauren Turner

Unrequited love is thought of as romantic but what about unrequited parental love? We all have complicated relationships with our parents. Parents who have passed away; parents who have left; parents that had problems before we even arrived that eclipsed the parent they were meant to be; parents whose views are black and white compared to our grey; and parents you can’t talk to.

British artist Sam Fender knows about this unrequited all too well. On his critically acclaimed album Seventeen Going Under he wrote the song “Spit of You,” a song about and to his dad.

I can talk to anyone
I can talk to anyone
I can’t talk to you

“Spit of You” is a gentle rock song drenched in a sadness you will only recognise if you have a difficult relationship with either parent. You will recognise the familiar words and feelings of desperately wanting more from someone who should by all accounts be able to give you want you need, but they can’t/won’t.

You kissed her forehead
And it ran like a tap
No more than four stone soaked wet through
And I’d never seen you like that
Spun me out
Hurt me right through

Parents are people first, something you don’t get until you become an adult yourself, and even when this realisation slowly sinks in, your heart, like the little girl or boy you once were, still doesn’t understand. – Emily Algar

‘Cause it was love
In all its agony
Every bit of me
Hurting for you
‘Cause one day that’ll be your forehead I’m kissing
And I’ll still look exactly like you

I knew it was going to be a good year once “Sugar” played for the first time. The once dark tones and melodies of Surf Curse brightened to reveal an indie rock anthem that yearns for true connection. The guitar riffs provide a consistent stream of splendor that, when combined with the lively layers of percussion, create a piece of music that will sink into the minds of listeners well past the closing notes. – Adrian Vargas

If you’re the sort of listener who enjoys WWE-inspired energy mixed with odd-ball jazz fusion-inspired rock, I’d say Black Midi is for you. Seriously, though, the instrumentation on this track is off the wall, with frenetic flourishes of jagged guitars interesting with pulsating bass lines, which swap spit with collision course drums, and cataclysmic lyrics. Is there a hook here? No. But that’s the beauty of Geordie Greep’s Frankenstein rock outfit, isn’t it? To put this in terms that perhaps make a bit more sense while still driving home the beautiful absurdity of this music, the best way to describe “Sugar/Tzu” and the music of Black Midi, in general, is: this record is the Trout Mask Replica for the modern era. Heavy praise, to be sure, but well-deserved nonetheless. – Andrew Daly

The way Hozier always manages to describe his devotion and respect for women with grace and poetry is admirable. In fact, his upcoming album Unreal Unearth was preceded by the single, “Swan Upon Leda,” which takes inspiration from a statement by Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy, who describes female oppression as the world’s “oldest form of occupation.” “Swan Upon Leda” is in fact a pro-choice statement that starts from a Greek myth to remind us how women are free creatures and capable of making decisions about their own bodies. It is neither for angels, gods nor men to decide what to do with it, because it never belonged to them. The swan, however, “occupier upon land”, continues to be sustained by false myths, that should be deconstructed for a better future. – Dimitra Gurduiala

Earl Sweatshirt is right at the forefront of the exciting alternative hip hop movement that has been flourishing over the last few years. With his blurry, heady soundscapes, his beats exemplify the very essence of experimentalism in hip hip in the modern era. Earl is joined by esteemed fellows of the scene Armand Hammer on “Tabula Rasa,” the stand-out pick from his latest album. Something about the three MCs taking turns on this track elevates it. Earl’s sleepy delivery combines with his swirling, muddy beats often too well, sinking into the background at times. But Elucid and Billy Woods add their distinct vibes to “Tabula Rasa,” making it glide through the air.

The music is what it’s all about here, a heavily chopped vocal line gets varied amounts of airtime throughout, as a sky-high piano line makes this song feel classier than a cocktail bar on top of a skyscraper. They talk of their skills, but in a none-boastful, matter of fact way, observing that there’s “a lotta mids in the room” and that “some act like they never got punched in the face”. There’s all elements of life in these bars, Billy Woods calls himself “Kofi Annan in the booth” then moments later recalls cooking chicken while his girlfriend sleeps on the couch. In the end, this is what this kinda music is about, it’s not cerebral, observational or anything like that. It’s just calling it as you see it happen, unrelated thoughts and concepts passing through the paragraphs that add up to something just about thematic. It is this loose coherency which forms such an attractive style of hip hop, and Tabula Rasa is a prime example of the depth and originality which can be achieved within the sparse parameters of this genre. No hook, no nonsense. Let it spin for hours past midnight, this track has everything. – Adam Davidson

beabadoobee’s Beatopia was a stand-out album of the year for me; exploring themes of love, loss, longing, and moving forward seeing the way the singer sees the world was truly a joy. I had the temptation to talk about the album’s most popular song, “perfect pair,” for its catchy, twangy hook, but rather I chose to discuss the quintessential garage rock track “Talk.” The performer’s third album, Fake It Flowers, was full of that alt-rock influence and I love that she returned to that as it is in her wheelhouse. beabadoobee is able to mix vampy sounds with grainy bass lines, head-banging guitar solos, and strong drum lines with her pop-princess-like vocals that create the perfect early 2000s pop-rock reminiscent track. A highlight of the song is the singer’s vocals ringing clearly “You don’t exist, you’re my imagination, you don’t exist, you’re just a bad decision,” whilst the sliding guitar and strong beat pick up and unfold into the dynamic and mosh-worthy chorus kicks in. The perfect track for over-thinkers and sufferers of heartache “Talk” makes you want to throw caution to the wind and “go out on a Tuesday.” – Minna Abdel-Gawad

According to my Spotify Wrapped, I have listened to this song as many as 1087 times since it came out – which could be a positive sign as much as a negative one. “That’s Our Lamp” is a poignant farewell to a slowly fading romance, made all the sadder by the memories and nostalgia of past happy times. Around the song’s protagonist, however, there is liveliness, there is chaos. A chorus of comfort rises in the end, during the repetition of the line “Thinking that’s where you loved me / That’s where you loved me”. The love story depicted in the song is coming to an end, but the world goes on. It is a farewell whose protagonists are not the two almost former lovers, but everything around them. And Laurel Hell could not have ended in a more poetic way. – Dimitra Gurduiala

Conan Gray has always been one to watch in the music industry ever since his debut album Kid Krow which was a beautiful ode to the high school and young adult experience. However, his sophomore album Superache solidifies his spot as a Gen Z pop icon. The album contains vignettes of Gray’s life as he tells vivid accounts of love whether that is in heartache, heart break, familial relations or life long friendships Gray is here to enchant us with every side of his story. Superache is a culmination of the artists growth since he began in 2018 in his bedroom in Texas, but the stand out song is easily the closing track of the album, “The Exit.”

This track tells the tale of heartache and feeling left behind in a relationship that has just ended. As someone who experienced heartbreak in the year of 2022 I can vouch that this song felt like a hit in the stomach, words plucked straight from a heartbroken mind and articulated into an unforgettable heartbreak pop ballad for the ages. The song opens with a plucky viola solo, Gray’s emotive vocals then kick in and he achingly sings the opening lines “February, and the flowers haven’t even wilted, it’s crazy how fast you tilted, the world we were busy building.” He encapsulates the ache that occurs as you watch the world turn while you stay stagnant in your pain. Gray’s lyricism is evocative and vivid as he pairs each song with personal touches that transport listeners into his world lyrics like “I was movin’ into your apartment/ When you met someone, she’s from your hometown/ You hate the East coast, it’s where you live now/ Impossible to understand how you’re not comin’ back/ But I can’t say it out loud,” it’s the little details that make these things painful and Gray pinpoints these aspects perfectly. Aside from the haunting lyricism the best moment of the song is in the chorus and the instrumentation cuts out as the singer’s voice rings out, “I’m still standing at the exit,” before a powerful percussion, violin, synthesizers and echoey vocals fill the hole that the pain has left. The artistry that was displayed in “The Exit” makes his upcoming releases all the more exciting as I look forward to seeing him bloom into the pop sensation he is rising to become. – Minna Abdel-Gawad

My Chemical Romance’s first song of the 2020s is as epic and apocalyptic as anyone could have hoped it would be. Released in May, the thunderous “The Foundations of Decay” is urgent; it’s dark; it’s visceral; it’s dramatic; it’s disenchanted (wink); it’s angry; it’s sonically and emotionally charged, and it’s unapologetically larger than life. MCR returned after nearly a full decade, took a look around them at what the world had become in their absence, and erupted in a fiery emo and hardcore fury.

See the man who stands upon the hill
He dreams of all the battles won
But fate had left its scars upon his face
With all the damage they had done
And so time with age
It turns the page
Let the flesh
Submit itself to gravity

“The Foundations of Decay” dwells in a space of disillusionment, with a spark of hope at the end of a long chain of despair. As the opening song to My Chemical Romance’s Reunion Tour shows, it ensured that every night hit heavy and hard from the start; and with a cataclysmic release of tension radiating within and around all present, the song also served (and continues to serve all who listen) as a unifying existential rallying cry: A cinematic, upheaval for all of us damaged and broken souls, reminding us that we’re not alone in our suffering.

Let our bodies lay, mark our hearts with shame
Let our blood in vain, you find God in pain
Now, if your convictions were a passing faith
May your ashes feed the river in the morning rays
And as the vermin crawls
We lay in the foundations of decay

Now, if your convictions were a passing faith, may your ashes feed the river in the morning rays.” My Chemical Romance’s lyrics are moving and vivid, if not a little vague; I’ve read dozens of theories as to what Gerard Way is actually singing about, from some kind of fantastic tale to candid reflections on his and the band’s very own legacy. I like them all, but subscribe to none; what it is to me, it doesn’t have to be to anyone else but myself – and for me, this song is release manifest.

And as the vermin crawls, we lay in the foundations of decay.” It’s not the prettiest picture, but it sure makes for a legendary chorus: it’s a captivating and cathartic chant I’ll be screaming and shouting for years to come. – Mitch Mosk

You must fix your heart
And you must build an altar where it swells
When the storm it gains, and the sky it rains
Let it flood, let it flood, let it wash away
And as you stumble through your last crusade
Will you welcome your extinction in the morning rays?
And as the swarm it calls, we lay in the foundations
Yes, it comforts me much more
Yes, it comforts me much more
To lay in the foundations of decay

Featuring a sound steeped in neo-soul, alternative indie, and dance, Biig Piig has made a name for herself with exceptional singles and EPs since 2017. “This Is What They Meant” is no different, but it increases her departure from her lo-fi hip-hop start to a more polished, dance-y sound. Dreamy vocals glide over a grooving, punchy bass line, which has quickly become a Biig Piig signature. Throughout the track, she sings about staying in the moment and enjoying every second, no matter what it might cost. The euphoric, hazy atmosphere she creates across the production, lyricism, and delivery seems to offer listeners an escape from the mundane and the expected. For just under three minutes, we enter a captivating world where anything is possible. Those magical yet fleeting moments leave us craving whatever’s coming next on Biig Pigg’s debut mixtape Bubblegum, set to release on January 20, 2023. – Alex Killian

If 2021’s run of energetic earworm singles like “Chaise Longue” didn’t have you on the hook, then hopefully, the hotly anticipated debut LP by newly anointed Isle of Wight rock heroes Wet Leg made you a believer earlier this year. Wet Leg’s playful, incredibly clever Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers are a breath of fresh air in the indie rock scene, with enough hooks and witty lyricisms to satisfy even the most jaded listener. And “Too Late Now” encapsulates the band perfectly, with a zippy guitar riff set over churning drums, calling to mind ’90s alt rock (like Pixies) while going perhaps as deep as any track they’ve released. By the end of the song, the listener believes that, in true Wet Leg fashion, all of one’s problems can be solved by something as simple as a bubble bath – you can’t help but trust the band when they say everything’s going to be just fine. – Beau Hayhoe

Prolific, genre-roaming Brightonian who rarely releases anything shy of captivating. Ren launches into “What You Want” with the blazingly onomatopoeic “Boom like dynamite, yes I get wild”, before surging into an effortless stream of light-footed lyrics and subsequent irksomely catchy chorus. A self-deprecating yet unflinchingly sincere track, this feels like the grown up sound Goldie Lookin’ Chain could have cultivated until evolutionary inertia rendered them comic relief. Ren, who began his career busking, credits a stem cell transplant with saving his life in 2016: his stirring renaissance since then never more evident than throughout a virile 2022. – Dominic Kureen

A near-perfect microcosm of the midwest emo ennui that we’ve come to expect from Mom Jeans, “What’s Up?” was the single that led their 2022 album, Sweet Tooth into the world. It’s been more than five years since their debut album Best Buds put them on the map, and “What’s Up” captures that same youthful pluckiness and moodiness that made their fans fall in love and learn all the words to their songs. It’s just as infectious. Just as personal. Just as emotional. – Jamie Kahn

Kendrick Lamar is surely the finest rapper of his generation, and with each passing release, is cementing himself as one of the all time masters of the game. Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers is the continuation of an arc of superb records which began barely more than a decade ago. It’s his most unconventional record to date, and completely turns the table on DAMN, the commercial and singles-laden album which came 5 years ago. This one is for the true heads. “Worldwide Steppers” goes right into the weeds with Kendrick’s new era of avant-garde conscious hip hop. That endless wub-wub bass must feel like a freight train when it rumbles in your chest with 20,000 other people on his stadium tour, but his voice is crisp and clean on the track, right at the forefront of the mix. It’s like he’s grabbed your collar and is staring inches from your face. He’s making it personal.

“Worldwide Steppers” is about a lot of things. Kendrick tells many candid stories on this album, arguably his most personal to date. He talks about his children and hopes for the future alongside wondering if him having sex with white women is subconscious revenge for structural racism. Just when it all gets a little intense, the beat switches up for a few bars to take the shine off the bruise a little before diving back in. This time he’s rapping about the state of the world and how things are changing. He casts himself as an observer, not quite fully free from the melee but removed enough to give a top-down perspective of a world falling into turmoil. It’s all tied together by that two-line hook that’s so catchy it sticks around for weeks – “I’m a killer, he’s a killer, she’s a killer bitch/We some killers, walkin’ zombies tryna scratch that itch.” There are more popular songs on the album, but “Worldwide Steppers” is Kendrick Lamar at his most raw and self-confrontational. That’s how he built his empire, and why he’s one of the greatest ever to do it.

Farm To Table was a perfect follow-up to Bartees Strange’s excellent 2020 debut Live Forever. The indie polymath toed the lines between genre so well on his first album, and he continued to push boundaries on the new record, and that shined best on “Wretched.” The alternative rock song called back to the melody from his great tune “Flagey God,” but quickly builds into a a full-on dance track, perfect for jumping up and down in a packed club. – James Crowley

Starts with a bop and ends with a grind! Otoboke Beaver is Japanese band that combines elements of punk rock and riot grrl to form something completely erratic and energetic. “Yakitori” opens simply enough as a minimalist punk jam with rhythmic drums and bass, textured guitar strums, and alternating group vocals that constantly repeat, “I’m sorry one day/ Your post box/ Throw you into yakitori/ It’s me.” In addition to a couple of verses in Japanese, they scream “Destroy” twice, and after the second time is where the song becomes a grind. The band cuts loose, turning rhythm into speed, with shredding guitars, blasting drums, and a flurry of group vocals. Within moments of the song turning heel, it’s over in a blazing, disorienting flash. According to the band’s Instagram page, “Yakitori” is a reflection on their lack of popularity in Japan and the way some people claim they are “flirting with foreigners.” That same post says the last lyrics in the song are “F*** the chicken bastard I’ll crush you and victory.” Few can drive a point home like Otoboke Beaver. – Nick Matthopoulos

Atwood Magazine's 2022 Albums of the Year


Atwood Magazine's 2022 Songs of the Year


Atwood Magazine's Top Artist Discoveries of 2022


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The 22 Best EPs of 2022


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