Harry’s House – Harry Styles - May 20, 2022
Harry Styles’ newest album had me and everyone else feeling all the feelings. Harry’s House, the artist’s third studio album, is exactly what we needed during 2022. It has the upbeat/feel good element with songs like “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” and “Late Night Talking”, the relaxed element with songs like “Cinema” and “Keep Driving”, as well as songs that will more than likely evoke tears or have you laying on the ground staring at the ceiling with “Matilda” and “Boyfriends”. Harry Styles has created an album that fans will hold close to their hearts for many years to come.
- Haley Mautz
Omnium Gatherum - King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - April 22, 2022
On Omnium Gatherum, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard only further cement their place as the modern garage rock juggernauts they are. From spaghetti westerns on “Eyes Like The Sky” to jazz experiments on “Sketches of Brunswick East”, King Gizz are no strangers to stretching and experimenting with their sound. However on this latest release, they manage to reinvent themselves again, with a distinctly seventies flavor this time around. Soulful vocals that are a far cry from their usual shrieks, quadruple layered guitars, and head-spinningly funky drum lines all contribute to an album that sounds like their most accessible thus far while losing none of their distinctive spirit and creativity. This spirit is immediately audible on the opening track “The Dripping Tap”, an eighteen minute whirlwind of belted vocals, marching drums, and beautiful cascading guitar licks. The album continues to throw the listener for a loop with the smooth pop of “Magenta Mountain” and the indescribably groovy “Kepler 22b”. A double album that grabs your focus from the very beginning and doesn’t let go, Omnium Gatherum is easily one of the best rock releases of this year.
- Thomas Averill
Dawn FM – The Weeknd – January 6, 2022
Over the past few years, R&B singer The Weeknd has distinguished himself from his typical alternative catalogue by delving more into a heavily synth pop inspired sound. Since the release of The Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd has dominated the charts, producing six Billboard Number One hits. He continues this trend with Dawn FM, another stellar synth pop album filled with infectiously catchy hooks, deceptively depressing lyricism, groovy synth lines, and utterly fantastic vocals. The Weeknd’s vocals continue to be his best attribute even after adopting a radio friendly pop sound that strays from his original alternative R&B that made him popular. Dawn FM is brilliantly produced, playing into this strong suit while simultaneously heavily leaning into the early days of synth pop to create a track list filled with hits that listeners will find difficult to not sing and dance along to. Along with a stellar set of tracks, Dawn FM continues the narrative set up by his previous album After Hours, including a set of interludes narrated by Jim Carrey which take The Weeknd, and the listener, through an out of body afterlife experience. This inclusion really sets Dawn FM apart from The Weeknd’s previous ventures and creates a listening experience that has yet to be topped by any pop album in the year since its release. Every track could be its own number one hit, but the standouts are the slow and melodic “Out of Time”, the upbeat and heartfelt “Less than Zero”, and a song that sounds straight out the 80’s new wave, “Gasoline”.
For a more on The Weeknd, check out our Dawn FM Album Review, or The Weeknd at Mercedes Benz Concert Review.
- Cameron Kasprzak
American Heartbreak - Zach Bryan - May 20, 2022
Zach Bryan's major label debut was the best country album this year. To sell Byan as only a country artist is selling him incredibly short. He can be best categorized as an incredible singer-songwriter. Being a triple album, American Heartbreak represents loss, resentment, and angst. His hit single "Something in the Orange" was a breakup ballad for the ages and earned him a spot on the Billboard Top 100, peaking at number 12. This album can be quite daunting to give a listen to, clocking in at over two hours, but rest assured that when this album hits highs, they're very high.
- Logan Respess
SOS – SZA - December 9, 2022
After five long years of waiting since her last album, we can thank 2022 for bringing us SZA’s second studio album: titled SOS. Consisting of 23 songs total, SOS has earned SZA two straight weeks as No. 1 on the Billboard’s top 200. She has also earned her rightful place at the top of the Billboard Artist 100 rankings. Aside from her obvious on paper success with this LP, SOS tells a story that has struck a chord with SZA’s audience. The album speaks about insecurities, vulnerability and even wanting to kill an ex (she was obviously exaggerating but “Kill Bill” just hits so different). This album has earned its rightful place on our top albums of the year list, it is a near perfect representation of SZA’s talent and genius when it comes to conveying emotion in her work. I highly recommend listening and relistening to this album as much as possible. It gets better every time.
- Haley Mautz
JID – The Forever Story – October 31, 2022
JID is back this year with his first solo album since 2018’s DiCaprio 2 with The Forever Story. A spiritual successor to his debut album The Never Story from all the way back in 2017, and succeed it did. The Forever Story takes all of the themes, techniques and progress JID has made over his career and puts them in their best light yet. JID tasks many phenomenal features, from Yasiin Bey and 21 Savage to Kenny Mason and Ravyn Lenae, all to build JID’s best album yet. With great tracks such as "Money," "Stars" and the standout track "2007," JID has delivered his best album yet.
- Davis Carroll
Black midi – Hellfire – July 15, 2022
Having become one of the most well-known and critically acclaimed rock acts of the past five years, the black midi trio, fronted by charismatic “crooner” Geordie Greep, is a band like no other. Songs that at times are so technical and ridiculous you can’t help but laugh; Primus meets the worst most tortured Robert Browning poem you can imagine, in the best way possible. With that said, there is something so captivating about not just the unbelievable level of skill among the young musicians, but their ability to remain so in touch with the current state of music and pop culture, while seeming on the surface like time traveling carnies. Hellfire is, in my opinion, a step forward for the band creatively, technically, and conceptually. The album deals with loads of imagery evoking that of military common rooms, illegal boxing matches, and the filth of 19th century western Europe. All of these over instrumentals that are too complex to quantify with a conventional genre, but most closely mirror jazz-prog and good ole’ punk rock; the ladder being more felt rather than heard (with the exception of the heartfelt folk track “Still”). There is a mind-blowing level of detail in each track, particularly "Sugar/Tzu," undeniably one of the most impressive and interesting rock songs of the year. Like a large portion of their past material, there are also plenty of dissonant grooves and moments where you can’t help but dance, even if it is almost certainly the worst dance ever done. Hellfire is an album that is beyond entertaining. An album that is, at the very least, unlike anything we’ve ever heard. A true spectacle.
- Will Lewis
Denzel Curry – Melt My Eyez See Your Future – March 25, 2022
Denzel Curry has had one of the most consistently engaging and acclaimed careers of the sect of rappers to emerge from the mid 2010s. From his beginnings in SpaceGhostPurrp’s Raider Klan, his viral status thanks to the track “Ultimate” off of 32 Zel, his inclusion in the legendary 2016 XXL freshman class, and the bold artistic statement of 2018’s TA13OO, Curry has never rested in his grind to be among those considered the best in the genre. Now 5 albums deep in his career, it comes as little surprise that his latest release exudes all the confidence and passion for his craft that has kept his fanbase so dedicated for years. Weaving effortlessly across fluid, serene instrumentals alongside a wholly unique cast of features, Melt My Eyez is a masterclass of style. And while very different from his past work, it is still full to the brim with that spirit that makes it distinctly Denzel. Endlessly relistenable and entirely unique, Melt My Eyez is easily one of the best albums to grace this year.
- Thomas Averill
Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There – February 4, 2022
Stemming from the same London-based underground rock scene as contemporaries such as black midi, Squid, and Shame, Black Country, New Road, are a band that has been discussed frequently on our page. The band that has gripped much of the indie-rock community for the past 2 years, dating back to last year’s release of their debut record, For the first time, did everything but disappoint with this year’s album, with many fans, critics, and fellow musicians describing Ants From Up There as an instant classic, and I most certainly agree. I mentioned the band in last year’s year end review, proclaiming my anticipation for the upcoming release, as well as my sadness given the front man Isaac Wood’s departure of the band just before the official release of album two. AFUT is his swan song, but it is so much more than that. It is a step forward for rock music as a whole; an emotional journey full of sparse, barely audible notes, that grow and morph into some of the most intense crescendos you can imagine, all whilst never shying away from classical technicality and pop appeal. Isaac’s vocal performance is the icing on the cake, the vulnerable and emotional core of the massive expanse of musical talent and genius creativity. Needless to say, the world of underground rock lost one of its great modern songwriters (hopefully temporarily), but the band lives on. And having seen some of the new material live, I can’t wait to write about it. Regardless, this is the kind of album that you remember where you were when you first heard it. A truly perfect amalgamation of everything that is the spirit of being young in the 21st century, all the while yearning for something more. Ants From Up There is a window into the minds and hearts of some of the best, most creative musicians in the rock scene. A brilliant time capsule that allows to revisit a moment when everything came together perfectly, an impossible rarity in art, but one that must be appreciated.
- Will Lewis
Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers - May 13, 2022
After a five year long hiatus, Kendrick Lamar returns to prove himself a generational legend in the hip-hop community by releasing his most ambitious album to date. Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is a beautiful, well-crafted record that uses its grandiose and unusually experimental production to emphasize the state at which Kendrick is currently at. The base of his conflict centers around his legend status and how he feels his flaws contradict it. He questions the way his fans view him as he views himself merely a mortal man whose past deals with grief, internalized homophobia, and vicarious trauma. This internal war that the album showcases humanizes Kendrick to the rest of us, making Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers a unique masterpiece in his ever-expanding, legendary discography.
- Gerrit Notch