Albums Of The Year 2022

2022 Albums Of The Year

Rockshot Magazine Albums Of The Year 2022

While not in any particular order and by no means an exhaustive list of our favourite records of 2022, here are a handful of those that stuck out in what has been a massive year of music. From earworm-filled LPs and thought-provoking records to the banger-laden spinners that promise to have clubs to festival fields bouncing next year, here are a few of our favourite things.

Maya Hawke - Moss

Maya Hawke - Moss

Maya Hawke’s sophomore record Moss comes in a year where the multi-talented singer-songwriter and actor’s career is in full-flight as one of the highlights of Netflix’s runaway hit Stranger Things. Moss takes the foundations laid in 2020 debut Blush to the next level with its delicate and melancholic folk stylings. Guitars provide the rhythm throughout, and the 24-year-old’s double-tracked and whispery vocals easily become stuck in your head. Luna Moth’s sad prettiness seems simple but is ridiculously effective. Crazy Kid brings in additional vocals via Okkervil River’s Will Graefe while Thérèse is the standout highlight.

Placebo - Never Let Me Go

Placebo - Never Let Me Go

Placebo don’t follow the rules. So much so that this year’s fantastic Never Let Me Go came out nine whole years after the core duo’s seventh record Loud Like Love; Brian Molko and Stefan Olsal the remaining heart of the group. Their signature industrial rock sound shines through from the opening bars of Forever Chemicals but while this is clearly a Placebo record, it transcends “more of the same”. Beautiful James is a delicious outing that has you strumming those guitar parts on air guitar as synths flow elegantly over. Hugz ups the tempo, while Happy Birthday In The Sky is a classic slow-build, thoughtful tune with lush instrumentation. Strings adorn The Prodigal while Surrounded By Spies raises interest with its lyrical repetition.

Rockshot Magazine went down to London’s Brixton Academy to check out Placebo’s live show in November. Read what went down here.

Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler - For All Our Days That Tear The Heart

Jessie Buckley and Bernard Butler - For All Our Days That Tear The Heart

Actress Jessie Buckley putting out an album with former Suede guitarist and producer Bernard Butler might seem like an odd proposition, but For All Our Days That Tear The Heart is a truly magical piece of work. A contender for this year’s Mercury Music Prize, the record was born by the two being paired by Butler’s manager. The folk of Ireland, England, Spain and America along with a bluesy-infusion set the undertone of this collection of songs the pair would like to have you discover “as if they have tripped across a box of photographs in the back of their closet”. The Eagle & The Dove, builds slowly showing intent and showcasing Buckley’s range, even if the piano-led outro lingers. Butler leans into acoustic guitars rather than the glorious electric sheen of his Brett Andreson or David McAlmont collaboration days. The gentle slowness of Seven Red Rose Tattoos is coloured with shimmering muted trumpets, folk and jazz melding seamlessly. Footnotes On The Map takes its time to build, double bass rippling gorgeously, strings, guitars and a choral of voices lifting the tune off the spinning vinyl. Seemingly from another time, there is something distinctly unique about this very special collection of songs.
Foals - Life Is Yours

Foals - Life Is Yours

Foals had geared up for a massive 2020 and 2021 courtesy of 2019’s (effectively) double record Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, foundations laid to send the Oxfordshire band into the stratosphere. But, as for everyone, COVID-19 put paid to that. And so was born Life Is Yours in 2022, a proper dance party of a rock record, seemingly an antithesis for that intervening period. Known for their energetic live shows, it’s easy to see what was going through the minds of Yannis Philippakis, Jack Bevan and Jimmy Smith as they crafted the record. Title track Life Is Yours sets the scene, but the Chic-style disco guitar work which careens through the record is front and centre for single Wake Me Up. There’s something a little Daft Punk’s Around The World about the bassline hook that emerges in the late stages of 2001. Short instrumental break (summer sky) splits the record in two. Looking High has that ethereal summertime feel. Under The Radar is Philippakis & co. going new wave while closer Wild Green is the party tune that keeps the night moving.

Beyonce - Renaissance

Beyoncé - Renaissance

Beyoncé’s seventh studio album, and her first solo studio release since 2016’s Lemonade, is a multi-layered, disco and house-tinged adventure that offered up a safe place for us to let go in 2022; to feel free, unrestricted and liberated from the hardship of the past couple of years. To celebrate under the glow of a sparkling disco ball. 

The first instalment of a trilogy project, Renaissance features production and songwriting collaborations with Nova Wav, Honey Dijon and more and vocal appearances from Grace Jones and Tems. 

The tracks flow seamlessly, like a pulsating DJ set, and sound utterly delicious when played at full volume. The record fuses post-1970s Black dance music styles and pays homage to the Black and queer pioneers of those genres. Highlights for me are the infectious Cuff It (which has its own TikTok dance challenge), Church Girl with the 1981 gospel tune ‘Center of Thy Will’ by The Clark Sisters as the base, the lush Plastic Off the Sofa and the dizzying, effortless Virgo’s Groove. 

With Renaissance, Beyoncé proves, once again, that she’s otherworldly. Care to dance?

 – Nicola Greenbrook

Paolo Nutini - Last Night In The Bittersweet

Paolo Nutini - Last Night In The Bittersweet

Eight years on from Paolo Nutini’s third record, Caustic Love, comes this year’s Last Night In The Bittersweet. From the opening beats, bassline and Nutini’s vocal growls across Afterneath to the track’s vocal overlays including spoken words from Nutini in his thick Scottish drawl, intent is laid out. Radio builds on that intent with the perfect demonstration in pop-rock mastery, coated in lush guitars. Through The Echoes is reminiscent of 1970’s folk-rock while Acid Eyes jolts us back into the present day. The menacing swagger of Lose It is immediately countered by the jangly punk-rock of Petrified In Love, another ‘70’s hark-back. Everywhere takes a left-turn in a folksy-blues direction. Slow-drive, psychedelic album closer Take Me Take Mine, is almost seven minutes in length, leaving you with a sense of journey rather than a departing blast.

Paolo Nutini played London’s Alexandra Palace in October and Rockshot Magazine went along.

King Princess - Hold On Baby

King Princess - Hold On Baby

23-year-old Mikaela Straus – AKA King Princess – came good with sophomore release Hold On Baby, the LP building on what made 2019’s debut Cheap Queen so endearing. Straus’ delicate vocals, layering diligent words upon expertly crafted instrumentation that take the bravado of Cheap Queen out, replacing it with an honest vulnerability that is immensely pleasing to listen closely to. The bluntness of bare-bones opener I Hate Myself, I Want to Party and its closing lyrics, adorned with fuzzed-up guitars, sets the record up for an assault on the senses of the right kind. Cursed is harsh, in the lushest way. Little Brother steps the tempo up, Crowbar takes the record’s instrumentation next-level with delicate keys giving way to strings and saxophone, Straus’s own voice in its various forms, stunningly gorgeous. Closer Let Us Die, feels like it borrows from everything that came before, glorious drumming from the late Taylor Hawkins adding additional sparkle.
Fickle Friends - Are We Gonna Be Alright

Fickle Friends - Are We Gonna Be Alright?

It’s been four whole years since the Natassja Shiner-led Brightonian four piece indie rock outfit released their debut record. But Are We Gonna Be Alright? Was well worth the wait. Opener Love You To Death kicks the record off with the flair and funk we’ve needed this year. Write Me A Song, threatens 90’s rock but delivers a lush drivetime tune with delicious guitars. Glow’s 80’s guitars and synths move beyond the nostalgia they might evoke. IRL shimmers with more retro-pop stylings but keeps the record firmly on the right side of that fence. Won’t Hurt Myself is an earnest hook-laden pop tune but it is the LP’s centrepiece Pretty Great that is the record’s standout tune (if I must pick just one!).
Editors - EBM

Editors - EBM

Tom Smith-led, Birmingham-hailing Editors returned in 2022 with seventh LP EBM, and truly delivered. From opener Heart Attack, with its storming beat and new wave-influenced synths, brought to a crescendo with screeching guitars, through the nine tracks which stretch to over 50-minutes of runtime, EBM is a pulsating ride of a musical journey. Benjamin John Power AKA Blanck Mass – who worked with Editors on 2018’s Violence LP joins the troupe as a full time member this time out. Picturesque leans on the industrial rock foundations of the six-piece, while storming second single Karma Climb demonstrates the intent Smith’s men have laid out, pounding drums and moody guitars overlaid with signature synths and Smith’s instrumental vocals swelling into a classic comfortable on the dance floor or festival field. Haunting Kiss makes way for punchy Strawberry Lemonade via Silence, a tune that showcases either ends of the frontman’s vocal range perfectly. Vibe might be  reminiscent of a vibrant Depeche Mode but it would be lazy to classify Editors as derivative, EBM showcasing the musical innovation they bring.

Fontaines D.C. - Skinty Fia

Fontaines DC - Skinty Fia

Brilliant third album. The boys throw everything in from gaelic folk, industrial punk, telephone stories, guitar psyche riff pop and bringing shadows of late Clash with Jackie Down The Line.

 – Simon Jay Price

Kokoroko - Could We Be More

Kokoroko - Could We Be More

British jazz soul funksters Kokoroko sound like they have come out of the Sly or Parliament era. Could We Be More plants them firmly at the head of the British led “new funk” movement.

 – Simon Jay Price

Whatever The Weather - Whatever The Weather

Whatever The Weather - Whatever The Weather

Each track on Whatever The Weather’s eponymous record is named after a degree in temperature. Wonderful floating, absorbing and pitchy from the ambient-minded alias of British electronic producer and musician Loraine James. Find of the year!

 – Simon Jay Price

The Big Moon - Here Is Everything

The Big Moon - Here Is Everything

A number of records were written and recorded while bands had their touring plans put on indefinite hiatus through the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with The Big Moon’s Jules Jackson becoming pregnant and having her first baby during this time, while the band themselves adjusted to the new dynamic, Here Is Everything became the perfect vehicle to put out all of that emotion. The indie-rockers’ third record is resplendent in its unabashed recording of these times via eleven fantastic tunes. 2 Lines is a reference to the pregnancy reveal. First single Wide Eyes is seeing life through the eyes of others. But the outpouring of raw emotion doesn’t take anything away from why we listened to the London-based quartet in the first place, it just brings us closer to them.

Silversun Pickups - Physical Thrills

Silversun Pickups - Physical Thrills

L.A. rock four-piece Silversun Pickups have been skirting the boundaries of indie rock since dropping 2006’s outstanding Carnavas. 2022’s Butch Vig-produced sixth record Physical Thrills is a rollercoaster, sweat-inducing tour of what makes this group so great. Delicate acoustic guitars tease us before familiar, sinister drums and vocals open up first track Stillness (Way Beyond). Frontman Brian Aubert’s somewhat androgynous vocals always add that air of confusion on how to interpret their music, but Physical Thrills seems to play on the unfamiliar. Dream At Tempo 050 exudes the theatrical as it kicks off a trio of short instrumentals, Scared Together’s off-beat thrilling, Alone On A Hill offering spooky solace before the urgency of the opening bars of Hidden Moon put us back on a path to somewhere promising. We Won’t Come Out does funk Pickups style, where urgent guitars re-base what we’re listening to before closer Dream At Tempo 150 makes us question what we’ve just heard.
Wet Leg - Wet Leg

Wet Leg - Wet Leg

Chaise Lounge. Now we’ve mentioned it, we can move on. Ok, so the banging novelty tune might have made people pay attention to the Isle Of Wight-hailing indie rock duo of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers but their debut is worth a spin for the body of work on offer here. Angelica’s driving beat and guitars echoing Teasdale’s vocal melody, I Don’t Wanna Go Out’s lush vocals decorated with a guitar hook reminiscent of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World. But with song names like Wet Dream, Ur Mum and Piece Of Sh!t, it might be easy to put the record down without even listening. But do your ears a favour and think twice. They might be a little in your face, but the writing is filled with the kind of wit that will entice a cheeky smile more than a few times throughout.

Phoenix - Alpha Zulu

Phoenix - Alpha Zulu

For a band that had always created music while in the same physical space, the forced distancing imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic saw frontman Thomas Mars in New York while his Phoenix bandmates remained in their native France. Mars leaned into this by collaborating with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koening for lead single Tonight. But the electro-pop outfit did eventually converge in their homeland to record the record together, in none other than Musée des Arts Décoratifs, a wing of Paris’ historic Louvre. And their seventh L.P. didn’t disappoint, its 35-minute runtime very Phoenix-like. Title track Alpha Zulu has Mars evoking his inner Busta Rhymes as he sings “Woo ha, singing hallelujah”. Airy The Only One is a fresh summer breeze while uptempo After Midnight brings a bounce-along 80’s throwback vibe. Artefact throws in delicious, jangly guitars and sway-along beats but is immediately countered by the jarring, paranoia-evoking All Eyes On Me, itself underpinned with harpsichord notes. Closer Identical restates the French group’s purpose powerfully, over two decades into their career. Where 2017’s Ti Amo may have stalled, Alpha Zulu flourishes.

Rockshot Magazine caught Phoenix at their November Brixton Academy show. Read the review with loads of photos here.

Tedeschi Trucks Band - I Am The Moon

Tedeshi Trucks Band - I Am The Moon

There are albums, and then there are albums. 

It’s been said that the way we listen to and absorb music is becoming lost; we have access to millions of tracks at our fingertips, immediately, and we can skip through or discard album tracks within seconds, if we choose.

To be absolutely clear, I Am The Moon is not for skipping, it’s for savouring. 

Another album created out of the pandemic, the Jacksonville, Florida based twelve-piece rock and soul band has poured their heart and soul into creating 24 beautiful tracks which they delivered across four instalments this year.

Blending Americana, roots and blues-rock and amplified by Susan Tedeshi’s sultry vocals, I Am The Moon in its entirety is ambitious, provocative and compelling. From the opener Hear My Dear on Part I: Crescent, to Rainy Day on Part III: The Fall and through to the closing track Another Day on Part IV: Farewell, this is music that can both uplift and soothe my soul. Tedeshi Trucks Band is my go-to when I want to feel connected again to music and I Am The Moon was by far one of my sonic highlights from 2022.

 – Nicola Greenbrook

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