By: JoAnn Snavely
2022 was a phenomenal year for music. It was the first year back in full swing post-COVID, and the industry was beyond ready to get back to normal. For many musicians, it was their first release in multiple years, and for others, they just came with fresh pieces new to the industry. Records were broken, Spotify subscriptions were up 15%, and over 4 million songs were released this year. It’s safe to say that this year was one for the books, and I am so excited to look back and talk about some of the top albums/releases over the past 12 months as we have a music year in review.
January: The Wombats – Fix Yourself, Not the World
January was a relatively menial month for music; there were some OK releases like Dawn FM by the Weeknd and CAPRISONGS by FKA Twigs, but nothing remarkable. One notable release would be an iconic release for the indie world: The Wombats released their 14th studio project titled Fix Yourself, Not the World. The Wombats- composed of Matthew Murphy, Tord Øverland Knudsen, and Dave Haggis- are one of the most iconic indie bands to have ever existed. Their debut album Proudly Present…A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation (Special Edition) was released in July of 2007. In the 15 years since that release, the trio has released countless albums and singles and have been nominated for 6 awards, having won 1. This album comes after their 2019 album B – Z Sides (2003-2017) [In Rough Chronological Order] which was a compilation of all of their prior musical releases. It isn’t by any means a ground-breaking album, it carries much of the same themes as their prior releases, but it recreates the type of music they do best. The reviews of the album have a conclusive theme–it’s an average album from The Wombats but is still a must listen for fans of the Kooks, Two Door Cinema Club, or the indie genre as a whole.
February: Mitski – Laurel Hell
February was definitely a solid month for music; Beach House released Once Twice Melody, Korn released Requiem, but my holy grail from that month was Mitski’s 6th studio project titled Laurel Hell. You may know her from her hit singles like Washing Machine Heart or First Love/Late Spring, or from the controversy that sprung from her opening for Harry Styles earlier this year, but, regardless, she is one of the most iconic female musicians of our time. This album was extremely anticipated with her last release Be The Cowboy being released mid 2018. The Grammy nominated musician received a lot of praise on this album and it was without a doubt one of the most iconic releases this year. Its reviews are very overwhelmingly positive describing this gutwrenching album. Mitski is the type of artist who no matter what she releases, her fanbase adores it, and rightfully so. This album is a must-listen for fans of Lucy Dacus, Snail Mail, or Faye Webster.
March: Wallows – Tell Me That It’s Over
This release was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and without a doubt one of my favorites from 2022. This was Wallows’ sophomore album but 4th studio project coming 2 years after their COVID-EP Remote. Since their debut in 2017, they have been consistently evolving, coming up with new, fresh ways to excite the indie-rock scene. Tell Me That It’s Over is a tale through relationships in their 20s; they reflect upon the failures and successes of their individual relationships. Those emotions produced one of the most exciting albums of the year. With their lead singles like “I Don’t Want To Talk” and “Especially You” that are insanely fun ballads about being in love. We also got songs like “Permanent Price” and the solemn “Guitar Romantic Search Adventure,” throughout the album it has the elements that Wallows fans have always loved and newer components that tie together to create the perfect-indie rock album. The band has been nominated for 3 awards and this album without a doubt helped pave the way for the future ahead of them.
April: Wet Leg – Wet Leg, The Regrettes – Further Joy
April was one of the most groundbreaking months for me as far as musical releases, so I will be spotlighting 2 albums that were released this past year. Wet Leg is a newer band that released their debut, self-titled album. The now Grammy nominated band is nothing short of iconic. It seems that they are curated to go viral, with many of their songs breaking the internet by the likes of TikTok and Instagram. It seems that the British band has grown overnight out of nowhere, and I’m so glad they did. They’ve taken a fresh perspective on the indie genre and produced a cohesive piece from start to finish. The Regrettes are not a new name to the Herald – I actually did a comprehensive breakdown into their debut album a couple years back. This album came after their sophomore album How Do You Love? which debuted in mid-2019, this piece comes as a more matured version of The Regrettes that almost seems like their reflecting on their prior musical themes, and the issues they discussed. It seems to be the band’s way of coping with the issues mentioned in the prior album and is truly beautiful from its opening “Anxieties (Out of Time)” to its closer “Show Me You Want Me.” Both of these albums are great pieces in the alternative-music world, and are worth checking out.
May: Kendrick Lamar Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, Harry styles – Harry’s House
I’m gonna be honest, none of these albums were ones I’d recommend, but they were the top albums of this past year. Both of these albums were huge releases in the music world and even more anticipated. Kendrick’s album was the first release in 5 years, coming in hot after his critically acclaimed and Grammy WINNING album DAMN. Being his 8th album, he has built a fanbase making him one of the most famous rappers of his time and with collabs with musicians like Baby Keem and Summer Walker, this album was built for success. It’s a complex album that tells a beautiful story. Harry Styles’ album was also an extremely anticipated album. The One-Direction star turned soloist has become one of the most popular musicians of our time, his third album was without a doubt his most famous yet. The global sensation that is Harry Styles released this album that is genuinely nothing short of the epitome of pop. It’s a solid album and generated a lot of excitement around songs like “As it Was” and has remained popular throughout the past year.
June: The Greeting Committee – Dandelion
Contrary to the month that precedes it, June’s releases were truly understated. There were some really great releases and even some that are perfect. The Greeting Committee is a band that I hold near and dear to my heart, with tales about growing up and dealing with love, insecurity, and simply living. Dandelion is their sophomore album that comes after their well-received debut This Is It that was released in 2018. Dandelion represented their growth since 2018 and their mature sound is quite enjoyable as well. They even included a collaboration with Briston Maroney, which is a sweet ode to the loss of someone you care about (in any interpretation of that). The rest of their songs on this project tell a love story in a way that addresses many of the issues (both menial and gargantuan sized) that occur within a relationship. This album is an elevation of their sound in This Is It and I cannot wait to watch them as they continue to grow through their music.
July: Steve Lacy – Gemini Rights, Beabadoobee – Beatopia
July had a good bit of music released. In the peak of the year it is a prime time to release new music, and these albums were just perfect for the heat of the summer. Steve Lacy’s 3rd album Gemini Rights has taken the music world by storm, even gaining Lacy 4 Grammy nominations this past year. This indie album took social media by storm. With viral trends being made to the songs off the album like “Bad Habit” and “Static” have officially made Lacy one of the most influential musicians of our time. Regardless of your stance on Lacy and his recent tour, he has become without a doubt one of the biggest musicians of the year. Lacy isn’t necessarily new to the industry though. His debut single “C U Girl” came out in February of 2015, and his most recent album prior to Gemini Rights was The Lo-Fi’s which came out towards the end of 2020. Beabadoobee is one of the most essential female indie artists of the late 2010s. Her debut album Patched Up was released in December of 2018 and since then she has released a handful of singles and 4 studio albums – her most recent being Beatopia. This album came as an embodiment of Bea and her sound. She created the ultimate cafe music that sounds like if Jake Johnson created music in 2022 and was a woman. It is a really great album that had phenomenal composition. For fans of Taylor Swift, you may even be able to catch her opening for Taylor on a few stops of her The Eras tour.
August: Kiwi Jr – Chopper
There were a lot of great albums released in August, we got albums from Omar Apollo, Pale Waves, and even The Goo Goo Dolls but the album I will be touching on is Kiwi Jr’s 3rd studio album Chopper. The understated indie band released the 10-song masterpiece that played as really fun critiques upon pop-culture and just a genuinely well-rounded indie album. It is a staple of the year and one you should definitely check out.
September: Alex G – God Save the Animals, Djo – Decide
September got albums from Bjork and Kid Cudi, but my holy grails of this month were also released: Alex G’s God Save the Animals and Djo’s Decide. God Save the Animals is Alex G’s 9th studio album, with a discography beginning as early as 2010. It is a beautiful piece reflective of his love for animals and society’s appreciation for it. His slightly auto-tuned sound paired with his instrumentalism create a really beautiful project. It is a classic album from Giannascoli that is perfect for his loyal fanbase and I absolutely adore it. Djo is quite newer than Alex G, with a discography that began in 2019. The name Djo acts as an alias for Stranger Things Star Joe Keery. His one-man-band is creating sounds familiar to the hailed 80s pop with synths and vocals reminiscent of it. There is also an element of the indie-rock genre he resides in. This album is one that I have been hooked on since its release. Both albums are vital for music lovers.
October: the 1975 – Being Funny in a Funny Language, The Backseat Lovers – Waiting to Spill, Noah Kahan – Stick Season
October was without a doubt, the most iconic month for music. We got albums from Taylor Swift, Arctic Monkeys, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, and so many more musicians. It was extremely difficult to pick my favorite, so I did 3. To begin, The 1975’s 5th studio album came extremely anticipated. It is a beautiful composition and is starkly different from their albums pre-2018. I discussed it more in-depth in last week’s article, but it is without a doubt one of my top albums of the year earning itself a spot in the top releases of October. The Backseat Lovers are one of my top bands ever (even being number four in my Spotify wrapped this past year). Their newest album Waiting to Spill is their third studio project. It comes as the more solemn, slightly more mature younger brother to its more electric predecessors. It is a perfect rendition of The Backseat Lovers and their sound, with some really enjoyable songs created seemingly for the fall season. Noah Kahan released his third, and by far most successful album this past October. Coming off his viral single “Stick Season,” this album featured many singles about the cold (metaphorically and literally) winters in the northeast. The tales of loneliness, loss, and love told with an acoustic guitar are so beautiful and made Kahan the future of the industry he resides in.
November: Brockhampton – The Family/TM, Phoenix – Alpha Zulu
November 17, 2022 was a sad day for BROCKHAMPTON fans. The coveted rap collective released their final albums in November as a farewell to the past 7 years of music. After redefining the industry, they announced their retirement earlier this year. They then announced The Family in late October before sporadically releasing TM alongside The Family. It was a bittersweet goodbye, but definitely not a forgettable one. Phoenix is one of the most pivotal indie bands in the 2000s, Alpha Zulu came 5 years after their album Ti Amo. This new album acts as a rebirth of sorts for the band as it created a fresh start establishing them once again in the 2020s, as they go into their second decade of music, the band seems to be constantly evolving, and doing so in a way that remains fresh consistently. Both albums come from classic musicians for their respective genres and are pieces that are unforgettable in their own respects.
December: SZA- SOS
In writing this article, there haven’t been too many releases thus far. SZA’s 3rd studio album has become one of the most anticipated albums of the year, with fans desperately wanting new material after her sophomore album Ctrl, released in 2017. This album is a perfect SZA album with really amazing pieces primarily about the loss of a romantic relationship, and the feelings associated with it. It is already one of the most popular releases of the year and is one you need to check out.
2022 was great for music, a gleaming reminder of how bright the future will be. As we welcome new musicians and celebrate those who paved the way for the musicians of today, get excited. The coveted music industry is ever-changing and I can’t wait to witness it grow.
Want to check out all of the albums listed? I created a Spotify playlist that features a few of my favorites from each album.
I hope all of the Herald’s readers have a safe and happy holiday season and I look forward to writing more about music and everything else I can in 2023 as I round out my final year at the Heritage Herald!