The Ledge #547: Best Albums of 2022
Once again, this obsessive mind spent weeks and weeks overthinking this year's list. Notes were taken. Records were spread out all over the living room. iTunes searches revealed some forgotten gems. But I can once again say that this was a fabulous year for music, as evidenced by this countdown show. Veteran bands made comebacks. New bands made big splashes. Multiple genres revealed new life. It's a great time for music geeks. So here is my list of the year's 40 best records (although I only aired 30):
1. Superchunk, Wild Loneliness. Few bands are as consistent as Superchunk. You pretty much know what you’re going to get with each and every album, and they always deliver. Yes, this one is a bit more subdued than what you may be used to from them, but the songs are every bit as strong as anything they’ve ever put out.
2. UltraBomb, Time To Burn. This is my kind of super group. Husker Du bassist Greg Norton, Mahones guitarist Finny McConnell, and UK Subs drummer Jamie Oliver spent exactly four days writing and recording this bristling collection of rousing punk-ish anthems.
3. Spiritualized, Everything Was Beautiful. Jason Pierce is the king of orchestral space rock, mainly due to his ability to absorb pretty much any sort of influence, from free jazz to 60s pop, into something that sounds like nothing that has come before.
4. Wet Leg, Wet Lag. I hesitated to check this record out due to its pre-release hype. For once, however, the hype was deserved. If you enjoyed the alternative pop of Elastica two decades ago you should find this record quite a fun ride.
5. Miss Georgia Peach, Aloha From Kentucky. This collaboration between Beebe Gallini leader Miss Georgia Peach and the members of Nashville Pussy is the rawkin’ country/soul record we’ve been dying to hear for many years.
6. Hoodoo Gurus, Chariot Of The Gods. One of the great comebacks of 2022, our favorite Australians marked their 40th anniversary (give or take a year) with a record that proudly stands next to their college radio classics of the 80s.
7. Kevin Morby, This Is a Photograph. The latest album by one of our era’s best songwriters was inspired by a scary family moment involving his father, which led him to not only look back at his childhood but also reexamine the present.
8. Ty Segall, “Hello Hi”. After the synth and guitar grime of last year’s Harmonizer, Segall’s main instrument of choice on this record is his acoustic guitar. That’s not to say this is a quiet album. The patented Segall noise is still present, but maybe not as utilized.
9. Dry Cleaning, Stumpwork. The story is that leader Florence Shaw always keeps a notebook with her, and jots down any interesting lines she happens to overhear. She then collates these lines into lyrics that she talk-sings to the rest of the band’s post-punk influenced racket. It shouldn’t work but it’s pretty fabulous.
10. Wilco, Cruel Country. The year began with Wilco reconvening for some tentative rehearsing and recording. Suddenly they had 21 finished tracks that sort of harken back to the days of A.M. and Being There.
11. More Kicks, Punch Drunk. This was actually a great year for power pop, and the second album by this London-based trio was the best of the bunch.
12. Built To Spill, When The Wind Forgets Your Name. It’s always interesting when veteran bands find new wrinkles to their old sound. This record on first listen does sound like every other Built To Spill record but it’s also a bit weirder than what we’ve come to expect.
13. Brad Marino, Basement Beat. Brad Marino recently found a little spare time, which he utilized as an exercise to write some “Ramonescore” songs. Yet this resulting album is not full of Ramones copycat songs. These are Brad Marino songs, and he’s always had a knack for writing short, catchy rockers.
14. Fontaines D.C., Skinty Fia. The Irish post-punkers expand their sound on their explosive third album.
15. Osees, A Foul Form. A recent tour that culminated in an encore barrage of Black Flag covers appears to be the main influence on this noisy, almost hardcore record.
16. Uni Boys, Do it All Next Week. This is my new band of the year. Power pop works best to these ears when the emphasis is on the “power”, and this band is almost a modern-day Exploding Hearts.
17. Elvis Costello, The Boy Named If. Apparently, last year’s weird tribute record that saw Spanish vocalists sing over the original This Year’s Model tracks influenced Costello and his band to return to the amphetamine rush of his classic Attractions albums.
18. Archers Of Loaf, Reason In Decline. The long-awaited return of this 90s favorite may not include any individual songs that have the immediacy of their original classics, but their first record in 24 years stands strongly next to the rest of their catalog.
19. Viagra Boys, Cave World. These Swedes prove that post-punk can include a sense of humor.
20. Drive-By Truckers, Welcome 2 Club XIII. After a couple of political-themed albums, this time the Truckers take an introspective look back to their formative years of the early 90s.
21. Kiwi Jr., Chopper. Why fix something that’s not broken? This Toronto band’s first two records featured amazing jangle-pop tunes, and they don’t veer too far away from what worked on those albums.
22. Yard Act, The Overload. Imagine if The Fall were led by someone who wasn’t an angry curmudgeon. A version of The Fall where the lyrical jokes were funny to all and not just the curmudgeon. That’s sort of what we have with Yard Act.
23. The Black Lips, Apocalypse Love. You never know what you’re going to get with the Black Lips, and that is still true on their 10th album. Country vocals, disco beats, garage-y guitars, mariachi horns. That’s all here and more, and sometimes all on the same track.
24. Spoon, Lucifer On The Sofa. After a couple of records that have leaned more and more towards electronics, Spoon returns with what is possibly their loudest record to date.
25. Night Shop, Forever Night. Night Shop leader Justin Sullivan began his career as the drummer in the Kevin Morby-led The Babies (along with Morby’s first four solo albums) and it’s pretty obvious that they share similar tastes and influences.
26. Kurt Vile, (Watch My Moves). I remember reading a Kurt Vile review around the time this album came out that described his songs as “slow motion anthems”. I can’t improve on that.
27. The Speedways, Talk Of The Town. More fabulous London-based power pop, and again with the emphasis on “power”. Almost any of these songs could have been on those Rhino Records’ D.I.Y. compilations that documented the late 70s power pop phenomenon.
28. Green/Blue, Offering. Three veteran Minneapolis musicians come together to create music that could have been released on Twin/Tone back in the 80s yet fits with modern indie rock.
29. Alex G, God Save The Animals. Seriously, the title of this record accurately describes the contents, as on song after song Alex Giannascoli sings about our non-human friends.
30. New Rocket Union, Twin Cities Breakdown. High octane, balls to the wall Minneapolis rock and roll.
31. Guided By Voices, Tremblers And Goggles By Rank. It was a relatively quiet year for Robert Pollard and company, as they only put out two new albums (along with a couple of reissues). This one is arguably the better of the two, as it’s a little bit more hard hitting and also isn’t afraid to expand not only the sound but the length of the songs.
32. El Camino Acid, Sunset Motel. Good old garage rock with a side of power pop influences.
33. Brian Jonestown Massacre, Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees. There was a time that I felt that I only needed one BJM album. Yes, most of their music follows a similar template but there are reasons to treasure all 19(!) albums. Something about this one does feel different, and I don’t think it’s just because there are some new players backing him up.
34. Dehd, Blue Skies. Pitchfork, a site I normally avoid, called this record a continuation of the road trip sound of their previous record, Flowers of Devotion, and oddly I sort of get it.
35. Dropkick Murphys, This Machine Still Kills Fascists. With lead singer Al Barr taking a hiatus to care for his ill mother, the rest of the band reconvened with a satchel of (mostly) unrecorded Woody Guthrie tunes and quickly banged out this acoustic masterpiece.
36. Schizophonics, Hold It. A modern day mix of the pure rock and roll of Little Richard, The Stooges, and The Sonics, among a zillion others. What a reminder of what rock and roll was and should be.
37. Afghan Whigs, How Do You Burn? The Whigs’ first album in five years carries on the moody, haunted feel that has always been the perfect setting for leader Greg Dulli’s vocals.
38. Tijuana Panthers, Halfway To Eighty. These veteran indie rockers have greatly evolved over the years, having started as a surf-rock band. Their sixth full-length still has a trace here and there of their surf roots, but there’s also elements of punk and garage that makes if possibly their most varied release to date.
39. The Gabbard Brothers, The Gabbard Brothers. Formerly of Ohio indie rockers Buffalo Killers, Zachary and Andrew Gabbard’s current project sort of updates the laid back sounds of 70s AM radio. Yet there’s enough energy behind the songs that these songs can in no way be described as “yacht rock”.
40. New Brutarians, Hysteria. Any band whose influences are listed as including the likes of Johnny Thunders, Alex Chilton, Lou Reed, and Leonard Cohen is a must for my collection, and Adam Turkel and Christina Wright’s lofi/glam/garage/protopunk packs a huge punch that more than lives up to expectations.
I would love it if every listener bought at least one record I played on either of these shows. These great artists deserve to be compensated for their hard work, and every purchase surely helps not only pay their bills but fund their next set of wonderful songs. And if you buy these records directly from the artist or label, please let them know you heard these tunes on The Ledge! Let them know who is giving them promotion! You can find this show at almost any podcast site, including iTunes and Stitcher...or
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(Note: Tracks from the above list were aired in reverse, "countdown" order.)
1. New Rocket Union, Twin Cities Breakdown
2. Alex G, Runner
3. Green/Blue, Talking To Myself
4. The Speedways, Secret Secrets
5. Kurt Vile, Flyin (like a fast train)
6. Night Shop, Forever Night
7. Spoon, The Hardest Cut
8. The Black Lips, Lost Angel
9. Yard Act, The Overload
10. Kiwi Jr., Unspeakable Things
11. Drive-By Truckers, The Driver
12. Viagra Boys, Punk Rock Loser
13. Archers of Loaf, Saturation and Light
14. Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Farewell, OK
15. Uni Boys, Downtown
16. Osees, Frock Block
17. Fontaines D.C., Roman Holiday
18. Brad Marino, Brain Gone Dead
19. Built To Spill, Comes a Day
20. More Kicks, In Love
21. Wilco, Tired of Taking It Out on You
22. Dry Cleaning, Anna Calls From The Arctic
23. Ty Segall, Hello, Hi
24. Kevin Morby, Rock Bottom
25. Hoodoo Gurus, Hang With The Girls
26. Miss Georgia Peach, Back Side of Dallas
27. Wet Leg, Chaise Longue
28. Spiritualized, Best Thing You Never Had (The D Song)
29. UltraBomb,Fear Your Gods
30. Superchunk, Endless Summer