It’s every record collector’s favorite time of year, and I’m not talking about holidays or gifts. I’m talking about the time of year where we all hole up and analyze all the new albums we checked out this year to compile our best of lists. I was going to do a top 5, but then it became a top 10. I finally settled on a top 20 with an honorable mention. Nope, make that 21 with an honorable mention.
So here it is, FensePost’s Top 22 Albums of 2022!
Watch my Best Albums of 2022 Countdown
If you prefer to watch the countdown, I’ve included my YouTube Playlist containing all four videos here:
#22. Khruangbin & Leon Bridges: Texas Moon
My honorable mention goes to Texas Moon by Khruangbin and Leon Bridges. The only reason this gets an honorable mention as opposed to a top 10 spot is because, technically, it’s not an album. It’s an EP. The two artists originally joined forces in 2020 for Texas Sun, and while the title track of that EP remains my favorite from the collective, as a whole Texas Moon stands above that release with five truly phenomenal tracks blending elements of R&B, funk, soul, and psychedelic rock.
There really isn’t a weak point on this release, and I hope they get together again as this combo is rock solid!
Here’s the unboxing video of my copy, which is the limited edition version on lunar fog vinyl. A more reasonably priced black vinyl version is also available.
Listen to “B-Side” from Texas Moon below:
#21. Dope Lemon: Rose Pink Cadillac
Dope Lemon’s third LP finds Angus Stone continuing to pump out highly catchy, super contagious, hazy psychedelic pop. Released on January 7, 2022, this is most likely the oldest album in the countdown. I still contest that Dope Lemon’s debut 2016 LP Honey Bones is my favorite, but Rose Pink Cadillac has plenty to warrant its placement on this list.
Here’s my unboxing video:
Stone weaves in elements of R&B in “Kids Fallin’ in Love,” collaborates with Australian funk and hip hop artist Winston Surfshirt on “Every Day is a Holiday,” and closes the album with the eerie Halloween-worthy “Shadows in the Moonlight.” Definitely worth more than a handful of spins.
Copies of this cool vinyl are still available at a quite reasonable price!
Listen to the title track “Rose Pink Cadillac” below:
#20. Father John Misty: Chloë and the Next 20th Century
Opening track “Chloë” sets the stage for Josh Tillman’s fifth studio album under the monicker Father John Misty, and it — and in fact the album as a whole almost comes across as an old-time-y cabaret. Father John Misty’s Chloë and the Next 20th Century is quite an interesting ride, and one that you kinda need to get into the mood to listen to as a whole. Individually, there are some great tracks here, from “Goodbye Mr. Blue” to “The Next 20th Century.”
Watch the music video for “Buddy’s Rendezvous” below:
#19. Beach House: Once Twice Melody
Beach House is at a place now where they can be considered quite seasoned when it comes to independent bands these days. Their debut self-titled LP was released way back in 2006, and this year’s Once Twice Melody makes it their eighth studio LP. They’ve been around a while. That said, I put them in at #19, which is something I’m already coming to regret.
In my video countdown, I originally noted that when compared to their now extensive library of work, it’s far from my favorite. Then again, with a few additional listens since then, the album continues to grow on me. It probably should have cracked the top 15. Alas, that’s the problem with countdowns — they’re not just subjective but bound to change the moment after their compilation.
There are a variety of pressings available from a Box Set (which is what I have) to a Silver Edition. Beach House also has a full album video with lyrics:
#18. Daniel Rossen: You Belong There
Deeply rooted in folk and world music, Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen debut solo album sees him both in familiar territory while also expanding into the new. Grizzly Bear has always had a penchant for exploration and experimentation. In particular, Rossen’s You Belong There is probably best related to the early works of Grizzly Bear where that exploration was a bit more free.
Watch the official music video for “Shadow in the Frame” below:
#17. Jack White: Entering Heaven Alive
One of a few highly prolific artists on the list (see the next artist), Jack White is constantly creating and releasing new music. If not under his own name, he’s part of a handful of current and previous bands like The White Stripes, Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather. Entering Heaven Alive is one of a pair of albums he released under his own name and on his own Third Man Records label in 2022. This is the one that stood out for me.
Entering Heaven Alive is heartfelt, filled with great hooks, and packed with great melodies and lyrical prowess. He jumps around, injecting subtle traits of genres as wide ranging as Americana, folk, and garage rock without ever compromising his ability to create a cohesive, unified sound. But then again, that’s always been a skill of White dating back to the earliest albums from The White Stripes.
One of my favorites off the album is “Love is Selfish” and you can check out the music video below:
#16. Ty Segall: Hello, Hi
Ty Segall continues to be among the most prolific artists around, releasing at least one album per year on average pretty much consistently for the past decade or so. Hello, Hi is his 2022 offering, and it slows things down, sees Segall grabbing an acoustic guitar rather than an electric more often than not, and he steps into the shoes of one of his biggest influences: Marc Bolan.
Here, perhaps more than any of his other studio albums, that influence can be heard outright, mostly the early Bolan years, in the pre glammed-out abbreviation, as Tyrannosaurus Rex. Plus, it includes a cover of one of my favorite tracks from one of my favorite albums: “Don’t Lie” off The Mantles by The Mantles.
Check out my review of the album here and watch my vinyl unboxing video below:
Here’s the visualizer video for “Saturday Pt. 2”
#15. Sharon Van Etten: We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong
I’m a longtime fan of Sharon Van Etten and am always excited to explore new music of hers when it’s released. We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong finds her exploring more dreamy landscapes than before, but it’s a direction she’s been heading for a while now. That said, this album is a grower — it might not resonate with die hard fans right off the bat, but given time it’ll prove to be delightfully provocative.
The vinyl pressing on Marbled Smoke Vinyl is pretty stunning and decently priced.
#14. Spiritualized: Everything Was Beautiful
30 years on from their 1992 debut LP Later Guided Melodies, Spiritualized continues pumping out hypnotic space rock. Everything Was Beautiful seems short with just 7 songs. Especially stacked up next to double LPs (not to be confused with double albums) containing 10-12 songs. If anything, that’s my lone complaint here, and likely why it didn’t end up higher on the list — at times it almost seems incomplete, albeit that doesn’t take away from its greatness all too much.
NOTE: After writing this and recording the accompanying YouTube Countdown Videos, I revised much of what I said and reorganized the list. Everything Was Beautiful by Spiritualized should have come in at #6.
#13. Brian Jonestown Massacre: Fire Doesn’t Grow on Trees
I’ve always had a bit of a penchant for thick, sludgy psychedelic rock and Brian Jonestown Massacre knows how to tickle that fancy. After all, he’s been delving into psychedelic rock since 1993. Fire Doesn’t Grow on Trees is the 19th studio album by BJM. In my video review of the album, I noted that I found it hard to find any weak points on the album, and this remains true months later.
Here’s my video on the album:
#12. Julia Jacklin: Pre Pleasure
Among my most listened to records of all time is Julia Jacklin’s 2019 LP Crushing so I just had to snap up the Early Bird pressing of her new album Pre Pleasure. Like its predecessor Crushing, Pre Pleasure took a while to sink in, and to be honest it’s still growing on me. But the more I listen to it, the more I love it.
Like Everything Was Beautiful by Spiritualized, in time Pre Pleasure will likely creep down the list and into the top 10. But this is here and now, and #12 it is.
Also available on white vinyl.
#11. Arcade Fire: We
Earlier this year, I was pretty sure Arcade Fire’s We would hold a very high spot on my year-end list. When I say that, I’m talking top 3. Then the allegations arose around Win Butler, and I’ve since struggled with it. Still, I can’t discount the impact the album had on me this year in the months prior to that.
There was a catharsis over the summer, as I took long walks through the nature preserve near my house, and experienced a reckoning of sorts. As I prepped this post, I revisited the album for the first time since August or September, and was immediately reminded of the power it had over me. It really is a great album, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it in the top 20.
#10. Broadcast: Maida Vale Sessions
There are bands you have loved since first discovering them, and others where it requires a moment in time to have that big Aha. If you’re me, the latter tends to come with a sizable groan and a personal smack to the face.
When it comes to Broadcast, Maida Vale Sessions was that for me.
Despite having listened to Tender Buttons a few times, it just never seemed to sink in until now. But holy shit, listening to this album really made me ask myself What the hell was I thinking?!?
#9. Porridge Radio: Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky
I was a year late to the game on Porridge Radio’s 2020 LP Every Bad, so I made sure to snap up the Secretly Canadian exclusive pressing on highlighter yellow translucent vinyl when it was announced. I have one of the 300 copies that came with a foldable signed art print.
Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky follows Every Bad but isn’t nearly as raw or as punk, and while those are elements I really loved about Porridge Radio’s 2020 album, their absence here is just as welcome. While Porridge Radio still resides within the post punk realm, there’s a greater emphasis on synths. Dana Margolin’s vocals remain just as aching and grating with a seemingly teen-ish angst that’s damn close to being emo.
#8. Fontaines DC: Skinty Fia
I devoured Skinty Fia this year, and probably gave it more listens than any other album while riding my bike in 2022 — and I logged over 2600 miles! It’s an extremely well crafted album, and I’ve found no better description of it than what can be found in the promotional material surrounding the album:
“Part bittersweet romance, part darkly political triumph – the songs ultimately form a long-distance love letter, one that laments an increasingly privatized culture in danger of going the way of the extinct Irish giant deer.”
#7. Kendrick Lamar: Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
As a collector, you’ll likely get the question as to whether vinyl sounds better. There isn’t really a good answer, aside from “it depends.” I can point to some records that sound notably worse than their digital counterpart. With others, there’s no difference. Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers is noticeably better, at least when it comes to my pressing, which is the Target Exclusive on silver vinyl.
While not as monumental as his 2017 endeavor, DAMN, there’s a lot to herald in this album, from openers “United in Grief” and “N95” to the pair he performed on Saturday Night Live, “Father Time” and “Rich Spirit.” Then again, Kendrick Lamar has shown time and time again that he is among the best lyricists and rappers ever so none of this should be a surprise.
Where DAMN. seemed outwardly focused on cultural narratives, societal projections, blanket generational traumas, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers sees Lamar looking inward. Both are incredibly personal, but the introspection in his 2022 album sets it apart in in a much more vulnerable way.
#6. Kae Tempest: The Line is a Curve
I went on quite the hip hop deep dive this year, and was quite surprised when nothing by Kendrick Lamar or Billy Woods or even classics like Deltron 3030 entered my top 5 artists or songs of the year. One that caught my eye a bit more recently is spoken word and Kae Tempest, who released their first album in 2022 since coming out as non-binary. Their record The Line is a Curve features other artists like Grain Chatten of Fontaines DC, Confucius MC, Kevin Abstract, and more.
You can dig further into my thoughts on the album in my album review and in my vinyl unboxing video below.
#5. Belle And Sebastian: A Bit Of Previous
I’ve said it a few times at this point, but I firmly believe A Bit of Previous is Belle And Sebastian’s best new music since 2006’s The Life Pursuit. I believe I said it around my unboxing video of this, my Rough Trade Exclusive Retailer pressing on clear vinyl, and I’ll say it again today. I love this album, and I think it won’t just stand the test of time, but many on it have the potential to grow into career favorites.
When it comes down to it, A Bit of Previous is the album I’ve been waiting for Belle And Sebastian to make for over 15 years.
#4. Spoon: Lucifer On The Sofa
Similar to the previous release by Belle And Sebastian is Spoon’s Lucifer on the Sofa. In a way. What’s different, is that I feel Lucifer on the Sofa actually surpasses all other studio LPs Spoon has released to date. It’s something I said when I originally covered the record here, and it continues to hold true today. That’s a monumental statement, given I’m a big Spoon fan and have all their records dating back to Kill the Moonlight form 2000. At this point, I doubt you’ll change my mind on the topic.
#3. Built to Spill: When The Wind Forgets Your Name
If you checked out my recent video on The Smashing Pumpkins and how Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness really was pivotal in sparking my passion for discovering new music, then hear this. I have been a fan of Built to Spill since the 90s. In particular, Perfect From Now On and The Normal Years really took passion and expanded it beyond the mainstream.
Their 2022 album When the Wind Forgets Your Name is phenomenal, and truly among my favorites of the year. Beyond the three tracks Built to Spill hyped, all on the A side, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with “Alright” and “Comes A Day” from the B.
Additionally, “Fool’s Gold” is possibly my favorite music video of 2022. It’s also, quite possibly, the first time anyone has seen frontman Doug Martsch without a beard in decades.
#2. Kevin Morby: This is a Photograph
The title track to Kevin Morby’s 2022 LP This is a Photograph was my #1 song of the year, according to Spotify Wrapped, followed by “A Random Act of Kindness” off the album. Over the past several years Morby has crafted somewhat conceptual albums that center around a theme, predominantly surrounding life and mortality.
Here’s a statement pulled from a piece on Vinyl Me Please:
In January 2020, Kevin Morby watched his father collapse in the middle of family dinner. That night, still gripped with shock, Morby waited to hear more. He passed the time in the basement of his childhood home, flipping through old family photographs, images that resonated with him more in this moment than they could have on any ordinary day. One particular photo grabbed him: his father as a young man, posing shirtless, looking invincible, roughly the same age as Morby was in that moment. Just hours earlier he had watched as the same man was hauled away by an ambulance, his future uncertain. It was a contrast that jolted Morby and stirred questions about growing up, getting old and staring down the concept of mortality.Kevin Morby’s Reflective, Life-Affirming New Record, Vinyl Me Please Interview
For someone like myself — fully cemented in midlife now that I’m in my 40s, a truly introspective introvert with a penchant for personal growth and philosophy — it is in these topics where I find home. Additionally, I had a similar experience this year after my father collapsed. While I wasn’t there to see it first hand, the fear and anxiety surrounding the potential loss, and frustration surrounding his nonchalant response to having not just one but two mini strokes made This is a Photograph all the more impactful.
This is a Photograph builds upon 2020’s Sundowner, but the musicianship is larger, fuller, more robust. In many ways, I struggled to decide whether this was #1 or #2 for me this year. It’s close and tomorrow or even 10 minutes from now, I may look back and say, nope, Morby should have been #1.
#1. Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain, I Believe In You
Dragon New Warm Mountain, I Believe in You is Big Thief’s 2022 offering, an explorative double album packed with 20 songs that weave through somewhat uncharted territories for the band.
From folksy with tinges of country to exploding into space dreamy, stripped down and minimal to expansive, Dragon follows the path of the most ambitious double albums around… The White Album by the Beatles, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by Smashing Pumpkins. Those albums saw the bands that released them stepping in new directions, exploring new pathways, and creating albums ground breaking, forward-thinking, and timeless. To me, Dragon New Warm Mountain joins those ranks, and I think this will go down as an all time great, at least for me.
That’s it, folks! My top 22 albums and records of 2022. I’d love to know what some of yours were. Do any of mine align, or is your list packed with records that vary greatly from my list? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to check out the full countdown on YouTube.