2022 Albums of the Year

Album cover images. (CURATED BY COLIN MIKESELL)

Album cover images. (CURATED BY COLIN MIKESELL)

Colin Mikesell

It seems like after every year I take a look back at what releases came out and think about how I just lived through a great year of music filled with lots of memorable and unique albums. 2022 was particularly memorable, because I really started caring about music. I was able to experience the releases of some of my favorite albums of all time this year, and discovered some of the most unique, nuanced, and unforgettable works I have had the pleasure of listening to in a long time. I decided to narrow my list down to just 10 albums, all of which I heavily recommend to anyone who is looking for some of the most interesting music of the year.

10 – Crest Bladee and Ecco2k collaborated to release one of the best albums of the year that sounds exactly like its cover: childishly enchanting and playfully vibrant. The lazer-sounding and colorful keyboards, a staple of cloud rap music, are splattered across this entire project and Bladee’s and Ecco2k’s vocals are as catchy as ever. Contrary to every other album on this list, Crest is an album that I revisit purely out of its “ear candy” aspect, meaning I just think this album sounds nice to the ear and that’s the full appeal to me. I couldn’t tell you what a single song on this album is about but I am bound to put it on any time I want to mindlessly enjoy a collection of solid songs. 

9 – Come On In! – A few weeks after seeing Nick Maurer live at a local coffee shop, he released Come On In! and I immediately fell in love with his blissfully adolescent, yet occasionally haunting, genre-less album. With only one song exceeding three minutes, this 19-track album has playful folk songs to stomp your feet to, mysterious haikus that leave you craving more, and mystical storytelling that all combine for a pleasing, suspenseful, and adventurous listening experience that reminds the listener that everything will be ok.

8 – “…on reflection” – Upon first listen, “… on reflection” marked itself as one of my favorite ambient albums of all time and an undeniable standout in terms of 2022 releases. William Basinski and Janek Shaefer collaborated on this project and found the perfect balance between traditional ambient music and field recordings with its fantastically mesmerizing soundscapes backed by the chirping of birds and swooning of the wind. This album has helped me persist through long vocab lists, blank lab reports, unfinished chapters of The Great Gatsby, and countless other homework assignments this year and I have that to thank it for. 

7 – Being Funny In A Foreign Language – I cannot believe this album is on my list, let alone number 6. While I have nothing against pop music, and I do personally enjoy lots of music of the genre, I would not have expected a 2022 pop album to beat the albums I mentioned previously; yet The 1975 did just that. Being Funny In A Foreign Language is vulnerable, sometimes to the point of discomfort, and shows that pop music doesn’t always need to be joyful. I love the beautiful chamber-eqsuqe compositions on this project and how well the album flows despite lots of diversity in lyrical content and emotion. 

6 – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You – While I love all the albums on this list, there is a mentionable gap between my top 5 and bottom 5 albums for this year. Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You by Big Thief comfortably made it into this top five, and on a good day, I would probably place it higher. Adriane Lenker’s comforting folk accent and childlike, mindless lyricism combined with the DIY sound of Big Thief‘s music made for one of the most enchanting, touching, and nuanced projects of the year, perfect for that time when it’s transitioning from winter to spring.   

5 – i’ll be okay – i’ll be okay is the debut album from slowcore artist sign crushes motorist and, with the exception of my #1 album on this list, this album has been most important to me, even if it’s not my favorite. This album, on top of being a heavy inspiration to the music I make, came at a time in my life when I really needed it. The slow instrumentals and drowsy vocals provided such comfort to me, and as it became the soundtrack to the late fall period of my life I grew very emotionally attached to this project. I can’t say I will be revisiting this album very often (I hope) but can say that I owe a lot to this project. 

4 -Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and LavaKing Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are one of, if not the most eccentric bands around right now. With nearly 30 albums, 4 of which came out this year, King Gizzard has tackled so many different musical styles and succeeded nearly every time. Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms, and Lava was the band’s response to being separated by the lockdown thus it is filled with long, collaborative, and complex jams that, due to using Aeolian and Lydian scales, is filled with uncanny and electrifying melodies. 

3 – HellfireHellfire by black midi was one of my most anticipated albums of the year and from my first listen at midnight on July 15th I knew this album was special. While it took a few months for this album to fully grow on me, I now definitely think it is the band’s best record, which is saying a lot considering the praise I have for their previous two albums. This avant-prog record features what I think is the band’s single best song “The Race Is About To Begin”, and it is filled with theatrical performances paired with extremely impressive musicianship from the most progressive band of this generation, black midi.

2 – Blue Rev – After years of hoping, I had finally come to accept that Alvvays was not going to be releasing any more music, so when they announced a new album in June I was excited having been a fan of theirs since junior high. To my immediate disappointment, I found the album moderately unmemorable and did not revisit it a ton besides a few singles. In recent months, however, I have grown to admire this album and have noticed so many things I never did before. Molly Rankin’s singing is better than it has ever been, and the 2 new band members provide a much wider sound than what was capable before. On Blue Rev, Alvvays finally landed upon a sound that fits them perfectly and draws influences from shoegaze, dreampop, Scottish folk music, and more. The beautiful soundscapes and soundful experimentations on this project solidified Blue Rev as my second favorite album of 2022 and the best Alvvays album to date.

1 – Ants From Up There – Since March of 2022 I have not even considered any other album for the number one spot on this list. On a good day, this is my favorite album of all time and on any day it is my favorite album of the 2020s. I have not gotten tired of any part of this album and even the sections I didn’t like initially, I have grown to love. The passionate vocals and creative lyricism of Isaac Wood clash perfectly with the classically inspired playing of pianist May Kershaw and the virtuoso saxophonist Lewis Evans. This makes Ants From Up There such a refreshingly new sounding album. Black Country, New Road is undeniably my favorite band of all time and this album shows every member at their absolute best. Not to mention the genius concept behind this album, which depicts a diminishing sunk-cost relationship depicted with unexpected symbolism and genius storytelling. This album really was everything I could have ever asked for from the band. If there’s any album on this list I would recommend the most it is this one.


Honorable Mentions: 

Crash – Charli XCX
Guitar Music – Courting
သ​ေ​မ​င​်​း​တ​မ​န​် – desert sand feels warm at night
Aethiopes – Billy Woods
Midnights – Taylor Swift
Florist – Florist
Forfolks – Jeff Parker
Rough and Beautiful Place – Mydreamfever
The Last Thing – Say Sue Me
Stalled Flutes, means – Asian Glow
The Loneliest Time – Carly Rae Jepsen
Dariacore3…At least I think that’s what it’s called? – c0ncernn
Changes – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Sons of – Sam Prekop
bogdanraczynski​.​com​/​sweet​-​98 – Bogdan Raczynski
Boyhood – Birthday
Oldstar – Oldstar
GOLD – Alabaster DePlume
I Love You Jennifer B – Jockstrap
caroline – caroline