It is the time of year again for my annual list of favorite albums. These were the 10 bangers, all released in 2022, that I enjoyed the most this past year. Check them out!
10. ‘Misadventures of Doomscroller’ by Dawes
Without a doubt the band’s most progressive album to date, Dawes’ “Misadventures of Doomscroller” showcases an American rock band at the height of its musical prowess, flexing its sonic muscle and refusing to adhere to limitations. The songs stretch out for six, eight, and nine minutes in some cases. Dawes take their time, explore their craft, and construct beautiful songs, all with technical skill and impressive synchronicity, and with delightful harmonies. “Sound that No One Made/Doomscroller Sunrise” is an opus. Watch it live in studio here:
This is what happens when a terrific band sets out to see what they can do without the self-imposed strictures of modern rock music holding them back.
9. ‘The Will to Live’ by Titus Andronicus
With an instrumental opening track that sounds like it could’ve come straight off of The Who’s “Tommy,” Titus Andronicus set out on “The Will to Live” to show they’re hitting their full stride as a rock n’ roll band with their latest album. A collection of Thin Lizzy-inspired punk rock tracks insure that the album is a blast. Check out the seven-minute-long Irish dirge-like “Bridge and Tunnel.”
8. ‘Everything to Everyone’ by Reneé Rapp
A 20-minute pop gem that is more accurately classified as an EP rather than a full-length album, Reneé Rapp’s “Everything to Everyone” is propulsive power pop in the same vain as Dua Lipa. The singer — who is also an actress — has a powerful set of pipes that are on full display on “In the Kitchen,” the album’s standout track. The song builds with bittersweet lyrics, piano, and strings into a soulful heartbreaking lament. “Don’t Tell My Mom” is sure to make moms and their teenage daughters weep together, and “What Can I Do” is a modern take on unrequited love.
7. ‘The Last Resort: Greetings From’ by Midland
The kings of modern-day AM country are back at it with their latest collection of melodic and catchy pop-country tunes. The band continues to sound like the Eagles, if the latter had stuck to their early ‘70s Americana sound, and written a bunch more cheatin’ songs. And that is just what makes Midland so great. They are a polished and tight musical unit, singing about heartbreak, drinking alone, drinking with lovers, and living paycheck to paycheck. I am here for it. Check out “And Then Some” and “Sunrise Tells the Story.”
6. ‘Lavender Days’ by Caamp
With their latest album, the boys in Caamp make the leap from two-man acoustic buskers to a full four-piece ensemble. The album is a correspondingly more complete collection of fleshed-out songs than their last outing, the excellent self-titled debut LP “Caamp.” The songs “Lavender Girl,” “Apple Tree Blues,” and “Believe” are radio-ready pop-folk hits, while deeper cuts “Found (Forever)” and “Fever” take the album from good to great. Caamp have a bright future.
5. ‘Palomino’ by First Aid Kit
Sweden’s reigning sisters of the folk-pop genre made probably their best album to date with “Palomino.” The album harkens back to the ‘70s Laurel Canyon scene in all the best ways, with acoustic guitars, lush melodies, and rolling bass lines, while also incorporating big pop choruses and dare I say, even a bit of ABBA at times. “Turning Onto You” and the title track “Palomino” are standout songs. One gets the sense that the two sisters are only just now coming into their stride as songwriters and bandmates. I look forward to what their future holds.
4. ‘Midnights’ by Taylor Swift
What more can you say about Taylor Swift, other than she is one of the most prolific and successful songwriters in American popular music history? Each time she releases a new album, I wait for it to be a dud, but she just keeps killing it instead. “Midnights” is no different, even as Taylor Swift moves toward a more purely pop sound. Whatever. It’s Taylor Swift, and she once again has released a great album.
3. ‘The Hum Goes on Forever’ by The Wonder Years
If you were worried that emo-punk had died and gone forever, have no fear. The Wonder Years have proven with their latest album that that particular hum does indeed go on forever. A stellar collection of angst-fueled punk tracks interspersed with some softer, slow-burn emo ballads like the opening track make for a dynamite album. “Old Friends like Lost Teeth” and “Low Tide” are standout screamers, sure to be sung along with in live shows for years to come.
2. ‘Big Time’ by Angel Olsen
Her Loretta Lynn-like voice, gorgeous harmonies, and atmospheric echoes all gift wrap a collection of simple and lush melodies to make a beautiful collection of songs. Well-placed horns, drum fills, bass runs, and crescendoing choruses all take it to the next level, especially on tracks like “All the Good Times” and “Go Home.” The latter track feels like Lana del Rey sat in the recording studio with the Sergeant Pepper-era Beatles. It is a killer album.
1. ‘Fortune Favors the Bold’ by 49 Winchester
This is the album that I found myself returning to the most after its release this past summer. I played it straight through constantly, and it grew on me with each listen. Pure barroom country in all its beer and tear-soaked glory, the latest by 49 Winchester is a modern country classic. Pianos, guitar solos, and grizzled vocals accompany sparse lyrics and simple melodies in a perfect amalgam. “Russell County Line” and “Damn Darlin’” are timeless and soaring, while “Man’s Best Friend” recalls Waylon Jennings in his prime. The country renaissance of the last half decade or so is still in full effect with albums like “Fortune Favors the Bold” and bands like 49 Winchester out there plying their trade.
Feature Image: .S. Marines with the Parris Island Marine Band play the electric and bass guitar aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, April 10, 2021. Portraits of band members were taken in support of the Musicians Enlistment Option Program. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Erin Morejon)
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