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Best Of 2022: Albums by Artist In Alphabetical Order Through April 30th

Pier Pressure – Aardee – announced with a clever pun in the title (think his home town’s Brighton Pier), and including a very expensive sample (Destiny Child’s “What’s My Name”), the UK rapper has seen his star in ascency for the past coupla years and while the US can’t quite hear it, Aardee has a flow to die for and a pop skill set that is purely brilliant. A major release

Wish For You – Allison Moorer – despite being beautiful and clever, a hit in Americana and Steve Earle’s ex, Moorer has had one of those lives, starting with her parents murder suicide, continuing with her sisters mental illness and concluding with her sons extreme autism. In response to the latter she recorded this album based upon her son, who can’t communicate, humming tunes, Moorer writing the songs, and the book that goes with it. That the EP is first rate Americana is an added plus

Anaïs Mitchell – Anaïs Mitchell – her first album since 2012 is so great that I’ve finally weakened and got a tix for Hadestown which she composed and wrote the libretto for and which is on Broadway. These are simply beautiful Americana singer songwriter confessional’s from the Bonny Light Horseman member and the token girl in indie Americana not named Taylor

Time Skiffs – Animal Collective – the singles suggested this would be one of the art Americana bands better efforts, but from the kick start “Dragon Slayer” it is all killa, wall of sound Americana that emerge as fully formed songs and melodies. As if the collective had reached a place where they weren’t afraid to let themselves be loved. Their best work since 2009 and as great as Panda Bear can be solo

Nobody’s Home – Bakar – the UK indie rocker is better than the signs would suggest, he appears to be another bedroom sadguy but what sadguy has songs as dynamic as “Not From Here” and personal best, the stupendous “GP” (hook? “I keep fucking up”)

Artifacts – Beirut – Beirut played Beirut for the first time in 2014 and Zach Condon must have been welcomed like a visiting hero with his balkan instrumentation bled into worldview baroque pop. This odds and sods takes Zach from his very first song and the trumpet/flugelhorn/ukulele instrumentalist has made it into a huge scope sound even on his loosies

Red Mango – Ben L’Oncle Soul – Ben is a French soul singer and producer who is more than capable of a genius cover, his “Imagine” is better than Sean Lennon’s, his take on the Supremes’ “My World Is Empty Without You” percolates its deep sorrow along with complete reggae vibes, and a song that really should be on the please don’t touch list, “That’s How Strong My Love Is” is a perfect lover’s rock take.

please put me in a medically induced coma EP – carolesdaughter – this is how to do DIY sadgirl with charm and smarts, an excellent and very lively set of terrific and troubling self-portraits

Harold And Maude (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Cat Stevens – Love is better than a song and few things are as good as this movie and the lovely songs Cat provides (plus dialogue excerpts)

Crash – Charli XCX – With Sophie dead, Charli XCX (or as Cardi B called her Charli STD!!) is the standard bearer for hyper-pop, deeply weird sounds and strong, strong beats, and real tunes, and while she takes some getting used to, Crash should be the album to put her over the top. Her most commercial work to date, the title track is masterful dance, the song with Rina Sawayama is already big, and the English woman Charli is a sexpot and an artist

Dissolution Wave – Cloakroom – Indie from Indiana meets sludge meets shoegaze with a side of glammy psychedelia, “Lost Meaning” is a great song to get seriously fucked up to. A friend of mine tried to kill herself the other day and after the miss told me this is she was listening to Bach as she drifted away on a sea of pills and alcohol which failed to do the job. If I decided to off myself today, I would choose this

From a Birds Eye View – Cordae – Cordae is on top of his game on his second album, a hip hop extravaganza while missing the hard, loud rapping of his live act, he still excels on tracks with Weezy and Dr. Dre and whether re-mixing with Eminem, introducing Freddie Gibbs to Stevie Wonder or the album highlight “Chronicles” with H.E.R., or maintaining a featured list worth envying, he does it all correct right here

BETTER THAN YOU – DaBaby, YoungBoy Never Broke Again – An interesting time for musicians who have been cancelled, Morgan Wallen sold out MSG (here), Ryan Adams sold out Carnegie Hall (here) and DaBaby (his deeply offensive and stupid remarks at Rolling Loud certainly deserved rebuke: “If you didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die in two to three weeks, then put your cellphone lighter up,” he told attendees. “Ladies, if your pussy smell like water, put your cellphone lighter up. Fellas, if you ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot, put your cellphone lighter up.” He then doubled down and his career, from the top rapper in the US to invisible, his singles ignored, taken off Gov Ball for one followed, and is struggling to get his footing. Today’s surprise drop of his Better Than You album with YoungBoy Never Broke Again might do it, and if this doesn’t get DaBaby back to the top nothing will: tough, husky, sharp rapping plus Youngboy autotuned and emo-rap, at 33 minutes it doesn’t stop for breath on a minor masterpiece, “Hit” is a great song, so is “On This Line” but you could take your pick here, it is a superb slice of modern pop – A-

Everyday People Change Into Someone We Never Knew – Hodgy – has there between an odder second act than Odd Future members? Hodgy is absolutely brilliant on this EP, and while anybody who loved his Mellowhype duo is not really surprised that he is a seriously musical rapper and a great rhymer (personal best? “Everyday I’m on my grind, like a skateboarder, I’m a G, I’m on my rind, like a shaved orange”

Hygiene – Drug Church – pop punk, with a lot of punk, a loud, clever, melodic sixth album from a great band

The Boy Named If – Elvis Costello And The Imposters – their best album to date, a great set of Attractions like New Wave marinated in Americana

Caprisongs – FKA twigs – the electronic art popster returns with a mixtape – which means there is no hard copy (CDs or vinyl) and therefore is much less expensive than a follow-up album. 2019’s LP Magdalene (in rock nyc’s top five of the year) was terrific and the show wasn’t but I blame a crap seat at King’s Theatre as much as anything (here). The mixtape in easy going electronica featuring the likes of The Weeknd. It isn’t much better than very good though it is very good often, try band in the middle “Papi Jones” to “Jealousy,” from dancehall to hyper pop. In other words, she isn’t the accessory to the rock star, she is the rockstar

27 x 2 – Cosmic Bull – An EP with a song called “Joe Namath Moment” could go either way till you realize that the man behind it is Chicago’s finest songwriter Mark Vickery, then you luxuriat in it s moody sound and brilliant groove on song after song. Time for a tour…

George Formby My Ukulele – George Formby – George Formby was a big time dancehall (I mean UK dancehall, read Vaudeville here), comedian and comedic singer with either the banjo or the ukulele: considered a working class icon, Formby defined the change occurring between the ruling class and the working poor: consider him a principal on the development between Victoria and the collapse of Rule Britannia and though there is only 24 tracks on the hits round-up. Still, oh me oh my there, is “Leaning On The Lamppost” 

DS4EVER – Gunna – “‘This is things I said I was going to do when I got in a position to do it,’ Gunna said. It’s called Gunna’s Drip Closet and it’s the school. It was designed for students who need clothing, shoes, food and even toiletries,” The terrific trap rapper has really given back, an especially good story when so many rappers second as gangbangers. The album is the third and final Drip Season release, and it is the most clearly Atlanta trap around

on to better things – Iann Dior – Dior is definitely more than “Mood” because he not only has a sweet and yet supple voice, he is a king of tunefulness as well as electronic arrangements and his third album in three years is just a wonder of mode, a terrific album no doubt, and even better than El Dorado

JOSE (Deluxe Edition) – J Balvin – The first time I saw Balvin was joining Bad Bunny at United Palace in 2018 (here), and he was better on stage than Benito. That isn’t true anymore though Balvin is certainly not worse. Balvin blew Governors Ball in two last September (here). I have a tix to his Barclay Center gig later this year. Balvin has an album of all bangers reggaeton meets Latin trap all the time from last year, and here he doubles it

Jim Reeves The Home Recordings – Jim Reeves – dead at the age of 40 in a plane crash, Jim Reeves was country lite but the countrypolitan surges on something like “He’ll Have To Go”, The Home Recordings are near his last days (one of them, “Hit Parade” was the last song her recorded,) the home demos feel very close to complete and remind you how wonderful a singer he was

Johnny 70 – Johnny Hallyday – while it is sure hard to imagine from here, Hallyday was one of the most popular singers of all times, the 50s, 60s, 70s and on, were all decades filled with hits. I prefer the late great at his most Presley like and not a chanson d’amour yacht rocker, as he was in the 1970s. But the first album of that decade, Johnny 70, has survived the test of time, and this 29 track album is a wonderful collection of songs from the period, “La Pollution” is exactly what it should be only better

Neon Blue – Joshua Hedley – as traditional as traditional country can possibly get, five years into his career and there is nothing wanting here, sweet, old school, clever and moving and just plain fun, if you love traditionalism there is no doubting this album

The Line Is A Curve – Kae Tempest – my favorite white rapper is the perfect and poetic Kae Tempest -they is also a poet and everything they’ve done has been exemplary with the possible exception of its 2019 The Book Of Traps And Lessons, The Line Is A Curve includes their finest moment, “More Pressure” (with Kevin Abstract) but it is all great, all emotional apocalypse and Brit politics and world horrors with an epigram to live by, “Nothing to prove but bread, Nothing to lose but sleep, Nothing to do but less, Nothing to want but peace”

Toxic Chocolate – Kali – this is the equivalent of a woman centric neo-r&b, think Solange, but way sexier, Kali is behind the brilliant “Mmm Mmm” from earlier this year and a remix appears here… a must hear and the entire EP is fantastic

Donda (Deluxe) – Kanye West – Sometimes I can’t take Ye either, but the problem is not musical. The third take on the album is extended past the two hour mark and I can’t wait for the upcoming part two

Donda 2 – Kanye West – Ye’s songs of break up and misery is another major work from the always major Ye, “Do I Look Happy To You” is the one here

Bad Reputation – Kid Rock – yes, I know he was a rich kid who pretended he was working class, I know he is a moron Trumper, I know he is loathsome. But this is Kid Rock at his very best since, at the the latest, 2007 when he was sampling Warren Zevon. A full of rap, rock record that leaves Limp Bizkit in the dust, “Don’t Tell Me How To Live” is the essence of nu-metal meets classic rock. Nobody likes the dickhead, but this is a terrific album

Slut Pop – Kim Petras – is Kim Petras the biggest transgendered pop performer? Maybe third after Laura Jane Grace and Anohni. I did see Kim once and she wasn’t ready for Radio City at all, but her debut was good and Slut Pop is better, sex songs for deep house fans (plus she has great legs). Only seven tracks? Maybe she’s still dropping songs but so far it is one of the year’s best

Ego Trip – Papa Roach – always a great nu-metal punk band, back in the 90s the best in the business, and 11 albums in this is a terrific album of hard hitting punk, nu-metal, loud brilliance. Trust me, if you like metal you will love i

THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND – Pup – what if Titus Andronicus had a baby with Fucked Up? Yup, that’s the melodic punk set of songs to give up on life with; high melodic quodient yet straight ahead punk rock with every song a solipsistic nightmare

Kingman – Ras-I – the best new rastaman since Chronixx’s sophomore album is a soulful trip to lucky town with an edge, for all its good vibes it is lively and excitable. At a brisk and enjoyable 26 minutes, it could crossover if he got the right rapper on board

Welcome To The Block Party – Rebecca Block – country women are coming into their own and Priscilla Block on her debut is a sexual and romantic set from the one horse town South where heartache is the major entertainment. As first albums go, not bad

MOTOMAMI – ROSALÍA – she may never improve on “Milionària” and still be the best in class adding her Flamenco to Latin Trap and she has been moving steadily to the top of Latin pop, with this being a major pop move,a big one, and if it doesn’t break the USA I’ll be surprised, it even has a spice of hyper-pop and a whole lotta weirdness (what gives with the break on “SAOKO”?), but even The Weeknd feature isn’t the best track though given a week or so in rotation it might sound better; the singing on “BULERÍAS” reminds you what she is capable

Truth Hurts – Regina Bonelli – A nine song march into electric guitar blues, funk and soul glittering prize, it re-introduces you to a singer and a songwriter considered by some (by me) to be the best female blues singer since Etta James.

Chris – Ryan Adams – the best of the trilogy is still a major bummer with resurrection a side note at the end and with a classic rock sound that moves between anthems and alt-country, yet it is a masterpiece of confessional rock. Watching the major music publication ignore it while sucking off Phoebe Bridges is nauseating

Romeo & Juliet – Ryan Adams – just dropped on Monday (here), songs written over the past two or three years that didn’t quite work on the trilogy and don’t quite stand alone, so it is lucky that the standard of songwriting is through the roof

Few Good Things – Saba – one of the most powerful rap albums you’ve heard this year, Chicago’s Saba doesn’t deal in trap, he deals in r&b flavored hip hop as he looks back in bafflement so far. If “a Simpler Time” is a lovely soul track, “Free Samples” is the best opening track of the year. A beautiful piece of work and as Pitchfork noted (here) with the use of zero samples

Dharma – Sebastian Yatra – 2022 could be a US breakthrough year for Colombian producer (think Costello’s last two albums) who is no Latin-Trap come lately hanging onto Bad Bunny’s shirt for all he is worth. On his latest album, , he features Rosalia and Daddy Yankee, sings in English and Spanish, and moves from Latin Pop through Reggaeton all the way to trap and then back. Yatra is on “Encanto” and between everything that is going on, this latest album should put him in the middle of Latin Pop 202

Hetereosexuality – Shamir – Shamir returns with his gay agenda now front and certain on a hip hop productions, synth pop underlining, industrial strength fresh beats and Shamir’s shimmering falsetto album, try the gorgeous “Caught Up”

ALPHA – Shenseea – dancehall singer and crossover to hip hop songwriter uses Megan Thee Stallion better than Megan used Dua Lipa last Friday on “Lick”, meanwhile her solo “Shen Ex Anthem” is just as good and all the assists here (Offset? Check. Tyga? Opener and closer. 21 Savage, Beenie Man? And more) on a terrifically exciting set of first tier pop

Forever On My Mind – Son House – the Black Keys may well be loathsome but if I remember I will try and be gentle in my next review though only because Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound is responsible for the release of the father of the Delta Blues Son House new album, not bad for a man who died in 1988 (don’t feel too bad -he was born in 1902). The album of acoustic guitar blues, recorded but not released a year before his return in 1965, includes some of the best blues you’ll ever hear. If only for including “Preachin’ Blues” (not the Robert Johnson song) it would be the best album of the week, but that is just a highlight during 45 minutes of gorgeous acoustic blues. One of the all time greats, it really gets to you on song after song. I have no idea why it was not released (Tom Hammond would produce his 1965 return, which was great and yet not as great) but I am very happy to have it now

Tell Me What You Miss The Most – Tasha – with all the quiet of In The Wee Small Hours In The Morning, but a different time and a different genre, the Chicago singer bums out over heartbreak and never better than on opener “Bed Song 1” and not as great closer “Bed Song 2” as she starts and ends the album where she began

It’s A Shame About Ray (Expanded Edition) – The Lemonheads – Evan Dando was the heartthrob of the 1990s (he infamously took Juliana Hatfield’s virginity and took a whole lotta drugs), one result was the great 1992 album, his fifth, which stands as very melodic songs about girls and hard drugs… He includes nine demos, which amounts to the same song without the band, and it is fantastic, let’s hope we get Come And Feel The Lemonheads next

Temptations 60 – The Temptations – I am getting sick of hearing how this isn’t your daddy’s (or Granddaddy’s) Temptations. Despite major players like last original Temptation Owen Williams and the highly impressive Ron Tyson, it isn’t The Temptations. But it is. David Ruffin died in 1991 (he left the band in 1968 -which is when they realized they were bigger than even the man who sang “My Girl”), Eddie Kendricks left in 1971 and died in 1992. There is no one stable Temptations the way there is no one constant Drifters, but it is still The Temptations. For their 60th anniversary they have raised a terrific collection of new songs and if only the new Smokey Robinson is breathing the same air as the late 60s Temps, nothing here is even vaguely bad with the exception of the via #BLM, too-sub-Mayfield to matter “Time For The People”- so ignore it and flip over the rest

Charmed Life – The Best Of The Divine Comedy (Deluxe Edition) – The Divine Comedy – Neil Hannon is a genius who isn’t, his super sophisticated, Bryan Ferryish baroque pop should have broken huge in the UK, but just missed. If you wanna catchy up, and you should, start here

Dawn FM – The Weeknd – two days after I reviewed it (here), Abel’s sci fi opera about the radio station (DJ’d by Jim Carrey) you listen to as you transition into the afterlife. If “Here We Go… Again” is Philly soul as post-hip hop r&b, “Sacrifice” is a huge potential smash, “Is There Someone Else?” is EDM as hyperpop and “Gasoline” is the early place setter. Even the artsiest moments, “Every Angel is Terrifying,” deserves its title. And if the spoken word “Quincy’s Story” is one of three complete disasters, that remains three out of sixteen songs. Too early to predict best albums of the year, but Abel will probably be among the top twenty. As I write, The Weeknd has nine out of ten on the Spotify Top 50, and the rest of the songs on the album spotted among the Top 40. This will be humongous for Abel, it is exactly what he needed to do a year after the Superbowl. So from beaten up on After Hours to death in progress on dawn fm -now that’s progress 

Ghost Stories – The Whitmore Sisters – The sisters harmonize very well as you would expect from two of Austin’s mainstays, Eleanor plays with Steve Earle’s band and is married to Chris Masterson, together they perform as The Mastersons. Here the sound of people dying and the sound of folk Americana half the time, country the other, it might make you think of The Roches and kudos to Bonnie on “Hurtin’ For A Let Down”. With Kelly Willis heading for a divorce, place The Mastersons at the top of the alt country married couples list

30th Anniversary Cover Series – Various Artists – When Olympia, Washington was the epicenter of grunge, riot grrrl and all things indie not on Sub Pop, Kill Rock Stars gave voice to everyone from Sleater Kinney to Elliott Smith. Last year Kill Rock Stars dropped covers of their artists catalog featured with a cover from the current roster. Elliott comes off best, he was born to be covered which is why so many people cover him. Not everything here works, Mike Watt is completely wrong for Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl”, still Deerhoof covers Kleenex and Sleater Kinney. then local indie hero Dave Depers covers Deerhoof. If the point is that Kill Rock Star signed a boatload of huge talents, point taken

Fix Yourself, Not the World – The Wombats –– the English satirists have never sustained it through an album till now, this is their finest sustained moments, strong pop rock songs with smartness to burn

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