Home Read Features Rewinding 2022 | Tinnitist’s Top Albums (Part 1: A-M)

Rewinding 2022 | Tinnitist’s Top Albums (Part 1: A-M)

It's far from perfect, but it's the best I can do.

The older I get, the harder it is to put together a year-end list. Not because I’m getting more musically discriminating in my dotage. Quite the opposite. Every year, I find countless new (and old) artists and albums and genres to add to my ever-expanding playlist — and it becomes increasingly difficult to narrow down my choices to anything approaching a reasonable number. This massive two-part list is as close as I could get this year. It’s far from perfect, but it’s the best I can do. To read more about these albums, click on the cover art or check out the Tinnitist TV page, where I interviewed plenty of these acts. See you in 2023.



MY TWO CENTS: Proggy and psychedelic, moody and melodic and much more, the post-hardcore vets’ first LP in 15 years stands as a triumphant return on their own uncompromising terms.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “A continuous thread through the fabric of Alexisonfire is the state of otherness. Otherness drew us all to spaces where a band like this could be formed. We attract the type of individuals that have all felt the sensation of being strange or unique. Perceived or otherwise, otherness has followed us through childhood, adolescence, and into our adult lives. It drives our tastes and proclivities. It bonds us with ourselves and others. And make no mistake, even at our most domestic and mundane moments, we are true outliers.”


Sudan Archives
Natural Brown Prom Queen

MY TWO CENTS: African rhythms, hip-hop / R&B grooves, elegant violins, electronic loops, thoughtful lyrics and plenty of attitude — the maverick artist’s sophomore album has it all.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Fittingly for a record named for a homecoming event, Natural Brown Prom Queen is all about home — both Sudan Archives’ adopted hometown of L.A. and Cincinnati, where she was raised. The album takes in themes of race, womanhood, and the fiercely loyal, loving relationships at the heart of Sudan’s life with her family, friends and partner. Over 18 tracks spanning hip-hop, disco-influenced R&B, Afrocentric soul, and much more, Sudan gets into character as Britt, the girl next door from Cincinnati who drives around the city with the top down and shows up to high-school prom in a pink furry bikini with her thong hanging out her denim skirt.”


Brendan Benson
Low Key

MY TWO CENTS: The Raconteurs‘ other singer-guitarist goes it alone again (naturally) on his eighth solo album — and crafts another set of impeccable pop-rock, with a nifty Gerry Rafferty cover to boot.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Not every two-year period measures out the same, noted Brendan Benson, the 51-year-old Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and co-founder of The Raconteurs. Benson had just finished his well-received seventh album Dear Life in 2019 when his world came to a stop. “I was rehearsing for South By Southwest and gearing up for a tour and had a band ready and then, of course, the world shut down,” he says. The lockdown then began to reroute lives, societies and ambitions worldwide. “Everything changed. I went to work on some songs so I’d have new material when things opened up.” Low Key, says the Nashville artist, was his chance to explore how lives and relationships changed during the lengthy isolation from everyday life. “The lockdown afforded people the opportunity to cut ties — or maybe it caused people to do that,” he said. “Whatever the case may be, a lot of people fell out. But then relationships ending is one of my favourite topics for songwriting,” he adds with a laugh.”


Big Thief
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

MY TWO CENTS: Encompassing everything from trip-hop & country to songs about potatos, the indie folk-rock quartet’s magnificently wild fifth album is every bit as sprawling as its title.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You is a sprawling double-LP exploring the deepest elements and possibilities of Big Thief. To truly dig into all that the music of Adrianne Lenker, Max Oleartchik, Buck Meek and James Krivchenia desired in 2020, the band decided to write and record a rambling account of growth as individuals, musicians, and chosen family over four distinct recording sessions. In Upstate New York, Topanga Canyon, the Rocky Mountains and Tucson, Big Thief spent five months in creation and came out with 45 completed songs. The most resonant of this material was edited down into the 20 tracks that make up DNWMIBIY, a fluid and adventurous listen. The album was produced by drummer Krivchenia, who initially pitched the recording concept for DNWMIBIY back in late 2019 with the goal of encapsulating the many different aspects of Adrianne’s songwriting and the band in a single record.”


The Black Angels
Wilderness Of Mirrors

MY TWO CENTS: Austin’s beloved psychedelic rockers boldly expand their sonic horizons — while simultaneously focusing their lyrics — on their topical sixth full-length studio effort.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The best music reflects a wide-screen view of the world back at us, helping distill the universal into something far more personal. Since forming in Austin in 2004, The Black Angels have become standard bearers for modern psych-rock that does exactly that, which is one of many reasons why the group’s new album, Wilderness Of Mirrors, feels so aptly named. Says vocalist/bassist Alex Maas, “a big focal point of this record is just the overall insanity that’s happening. What’s true? What’s not?” Adds guitarist Christian Bland, “We leave our music open to interpretation, but our topics are always universal themes — problems mankind has had since the beginning of time. You can relate them to any period.”


Black Country, New Road
Ants From Up There

MY TWO CENTS: The future may be uncertain for the British indie-rock outfit, but their sophomore album is a stunning triumph that melds post-rock, chamber-pop, roots and more.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Black Country, New Road’s second album Ants From Up There arrives almost exactly a year to the day from the release of their acclaimed debut For The First Time — and days after singer-guitarist Isaac Wood quite the band. The band (Lewis Evans, May Kershaw, Charlie WayneLuke MarkTyler HydeGeorgia Ellery and Wood) have clearly harnessed the momentum from that record and run full-pelt into their second, managing to strike a skilful balance between feeling like a bold stylistic overhaul of what came before, as well as a natural progression. With For The First Time, the band melded klezmer, post-rock, indie and an often intense spoken word delivery. On Ants From Up There, they have expanded on this unique concoction to create a singular sonic middle ground that traverses classical minimalism, indie-folk, pop, alt rock and a distinct tone that is already unique to the band.”


Black Lips
Apocalypse Love

MY TWO CENTS: If this truly is an ode to cataclysm, the shape-shifting garage-rockers are going out with a bang on this aggressively weird, wild and woolly set of unhinged psychedelia.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:The Black Lips’ 10th studio effort Apocalypse Love arrives scorched with their trademark menace. It cryogenically mutates all recognised musical bases; it spins yarns about vintage Soviet synths, Benzedrine stupors, coup d’etats, stolen valor and certified destruction, all set against a black setting sun. Since the turn of the decade, the band have transformed from austere country pioneers into Lynchian surrealists, hellbent on recalibrating the history of rock ’n’ roll. Singer and saxophonist Zumi Rosow muses, “It’s a weird dance record; one that reflects the moment that the world’s in right now.”


Black Midi

MY TWO CENTS: Gleefully obliterating the fine line between genius and insanity, the maverick U.K. trio unleash a chaotic cyclone of shape-shifting sound on their maximalist third album.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Hellfire is the third studio album from Black Midi, the U.K. trio of Geordie Greep (guitar, vocals), Cameron Picton (bass, vocals) and Morgan Simpson (drums). Written in isolation in London after the release of last yearʼs Cavalcade, Hellfire builds on the melodic and harmonic elements of its predecessor, while expanding the brutality and intensity of their debut Schlagenheim. As Greep describes it: “If Cavalcade was a drama, Hellfire is like an epic action film” that delves into overlapping themes of pain, loss and anguish. It is their most thematically cohesive and intentional album yet. Whereas the stories of Cavalcade were told in third person, Hellfire is presented in first-person and tells the tales of morally suspect characters. There are direct dramatic monologues, flamboyantly appealing to our degraded sense of right and wrong. Youʼre never quite sure whether to laugh at or be horrified.”


Against The Odds 1974-1982

MY TWO CENTS: Get behind the hits with this revealing collection of outtakes, demos & other rarities from the long-running pop outfit fronted by the charismatic Debbie Harry.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “What the seven members of Blondie set to tape over their first eight years remains among the most timeless music of its era, or any era. This is not hyperbole. Walk into a grocery store and Rapture fills the air. Spend an hour with any classic rock, ’80s throwback, easy listening, or rockin’ oldies station and you will rediscover Heart of Glass. Watch any given documentary on the birth of punk or hip hop, read any “Best Albums of All Time” list, and the stark three-color imagery of Parallel Lines will undoubtedly flash by. Visit any sports arena in the world and count the moments before you hear Call Me. Blondie have transcended the realms of mere bands, evolving out of pop and punk to become a vital strand of American music’s core DNA. Let this box set serve as a map of the genome.”


The Bobby Lees

MY TWO CENTS: Sam Quartin continues to exorcize (and exercise) her demons with unhinged intensity — while her young charges keep pace with their unbridled, propulsive garage-punk — on the Woodstock foursome’s dark, dynamic and dynamite third studio full-length.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Proudly outspoken and riotously loud, The Bobby Lees have just dropped Bellevue, featuring 13 tracks of uninhibited punk and garage-fuelled rock ’n’ roll. Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Henry Rollins; these are just a few of the punk icons who have shown support for Woodstock’s Bobby Lees. Sam Quartin (vocals, guitar), Macky Bowman (drums), Nick Casa (guitar) and Kendall Wind (bass) — make music that is punk in spirit and soul; unfettered and resolutely honest. To say their sound is wild and untethered is an understatement. It’s the kind of aural exorcism any listener can tap into, something that struck a chord with Rollins, who brought them to Ipecac Recordings, where Mike Patton and Greg Werckman signed them. As feverish and nihilistic as the music can at times seem, there’s always a glimmer of hope at the core of each song. “I named the album Bellevue because when I listen back, I hear someone going through that stuff, who is now able to laugh about it and have fun retelling the stories,” says Sam. “It’s a reminder for me that the most painful and intense things I go through end up being the most rewarding creatively.”


Cancer Bats
Psychic Jailbreak

MY TWO CENTS: Neither advancing age nor the pandemic nor the loss of an original member can deter the Canadian harcore stalwarts from kicking your ass yet again.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Psychic Jailbreak is the seventh studio album from Canadian hardcore punk heavyweights Cancer Bats — and their first to be written and recorded by the current lineup of Liam Cormier (lead vocalist), Jaye Schwarzer (bass and guitar) and Mike Peters (drums), following the departure of founding member and guitarist Scott Middleton. The followup to 2018’s critically acclaimed, commercially successful and Juno-nominated album The Spark That MovesPsychic Jailbreak sees the beloved metal stalwarts stepping up their game once again, eagerly pushing themselves both musically and lyrically beyond what they have achieved as a band to date — and creating a record that is destined to invigorate fans with its punishing drum patterns, memorable riffs and infectious choruses.”


Elvis Costello & The Imposters
The Boy Named If

MY TWO CENTS: If Elvis Costello has made a bad album, I haven’t heard it. And I’m pretty damn sure I’ve heard them all.

Having said that, it’s true that not all Costello albums are created equal. Some are serious and some are playful. Some are softer and more sophisticated. Others flirt with country, soul, hip-hop, jazz or even classical. I dig them all. But most of all, I love the ones where he cranks up, cuts loose, lets his hair down (figuratively speaking) and rocks. That’s why I love The Boy Named If. As always with Costello, pretty much every song is smart and sharp, snappy and superbly crafted. But most of all, these cuts also pack the punch, potency and propulsion of a lot of his earliest and strongest work. The drums are earthy and loose, the guitars sting and sear, the keyboards are rich and often rollicking, Costello’s vocals are delivered with gusto, and the whole thing has the sort of urgency and vitality that grabs you from the first song and holds you until the last. It’s a keeper. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Elvis Costello and The ImpostersThe Boy Named If is a new album of urgent, immediate songs with bright melodies, guitar solos that sting and a quick step to the rhythm. Says Costello: ”The full title of this record is The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories).’ IF is a nickname for your imaginary friend; your secret self, the one who knows everything you deny, the one you blame for the shattered crockery and the hearts you break, even your own. You can hear more about this Boy in a song of the same name.” Produced by Sebastian Krys and Costello, the album is a collection of 13 snapshots “that take us from the last days of a bewildered boyhood to that mortifying moment when you are told to stop acting like a child — which for most men (and perhaps a few gals too) can be any time in the next 50 years,” as Costello put it. “Whatever you take out of these tales, I wrote them for you and to make the life of these songs a little less lonely, if you should care to dive in a little deeper.”


Dead Cross

MY TWO CENTS: Galvanized and united by personal crisis and their anger at our current dystopia, the hardcore supergroup unleash an incendiary sophomore set that takes no prisoners.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “When Dead Cross released their self-titled debut in 2017, Mike Patton said “I’m not some young tough guy trying to prove a point anymore. For me to make a record like this, it’s entirely a musical adventure. I just think it’s fun, and it makes me smile a lot.” Visually, and audibly, Dead Cross are a snarling beast from some of music’s most experimental and dare we say, hardcore, musicians: Dave Lombardo (drums), Michael Crain (guitar), Justin Pearson (bass) and the aforementioned Patton on vocals, but ultimately theiry’re a group of friends having fun, paying homage to the music they love and asking music fans to come along for the ride. It’s that very friendship that brought the band members back together once again and gave us II. Musically, II finds the band in top form. Whether it’s the speed-metal sound of the first single Reign Of Error, the wailing guitars on Impostor Syndrome or the haunting chants of Love Without Love, the sound of destruction marches firmly onwards over the nine tracks. The message is still in the music, with Pearson pointing to Christian Missile Crisis, a song the bassist says “takes an obvious jab at organized religion, NRA-holes who clearly compensate for their lack of masculinity by fixating on gun ownership and gun ‘rights,’ and the fact that a large enough amount of Americans have the inability to negotiate peace and prefer oppressing others.”


Alabaster DePlume

MY TWO CENTS: Melding jazz, folk, dub, spoken-word poetry and more, the Mancunian multi-talent’s boldly adventurous double album inhabits a shape-shifting, fascinating dreamscape.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Gus Fairbairn, aka Alabaster DePlume, has a pocketful of phrases that he uses all the time whether he’s walking down the street or holding court with musicians and an audience. For a long time the Mancunian would tell anyone who’d listen that they were doing very well. More recently, it’s another phrase which has a similar effect and which belies his unwavering commitment to personal vulnerability and collective politics: “Don’t forget you’re precious.” A process that is people-first not product-first ensures that the music is unique; often gem-like. DePlume’s songs are built on sonorous circular melodies and luminous tones that transmit calmness and generosity in warm waves — unless they’re raging against complacency and the everyday inhumanity of end-times capitalism. Most importantly, he brings a valuable transparency to his work. “This is what I’m really doing,” he says. “I want to talk about why I’m doing this, and how I’m doing this.”


The Dream Syndicate
Ultraviolet Battle Hymns and True Confessions

MY TWO CENTS: For album No. 8, Steve Wynn‘s post-psychedelic alt-rockers fold some mesmerizing Krautrock grooves, ambient Eno textures & U.K. glam into their VU-inspired sound. And it is good.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “On their eighth studio album — and fourth release since reuniting a decade ago — post-psychedelic alt-rockers The Dream Syndicate have moved well past their early Velvet Underground influence and taken on British glam, German prog, and plenty more. Featuring singer, songwriter and guitarist Steve Wynn, drummer Dennis Duck, bassist Mark Walton, lead guitarist Jason Victor and their newest member Chris Cacavas (from the 1980s L.A. band Green On Red) on keyboards, Ultraviolet Battle Hymns and True Confessions features guest appearances from Stephen McCarthy (of The Long Ryders) and Marcus Tenney’s expressive sax and trumpet work.”


Drive-By Truckers
Welcome 2 Club XIII

MY TWO CENTS: Written and recorded on the fly, the southern indie-rockers’ 14th studio album leaves politics at the roadside as they take a late-night drive through their chequered past.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “On the title track to Welcome 2 Club XIIIDrive-By Truckers pay homage to the Muscle Shoals honky-tonk where founding members Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley got their start: A concrete-floored dive lit like a disco, with the nightly promise of penny beer and truly dubious cover bands. “There were no cool bars in town and Club XIII was the best we had — but it wasn’t all that good, and our band wasn’t particularly liked there,” says Hood, referring to the singer-guitarists’ former band Adam’s House Cat. “From time to time the owner would throw us a Wednesday night or let us open for a hair-metal band we were a terrible fit for, and everyone would hang out outside until we were done playing. It wasn’t very funny at the time, but it’s funny to us now.” The 14th studio album from Drive-By Truckers looks back on their formative years with both deadpan pragmatism and profound tenderness, instilling each song with the kind of lived-in detail that invites bittersweet reminiscence of your own misspent youth.”


Steve Earle & The Dukes
Jerry Jeff

MY TWO CENTS: The hardcore troubadour pays tribute to another fallen mentor with this deep dive into the idiosyncratic, joyful and off-kilter songs of the late, great Jerry Jeff Walker.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Last June, Steve Earle traveled to Luckenbach, Texas, about an hour away from where he grew up, to play an outdoor concert celebrating the life of Jerry Jeff Walker. Walker – the colorful cowboy troubadour whose ballad Mr. Bojangles marked a new era of imaginative folk songwriting — had died at 78 from throat cancer. His wife Susan threw a party for his fans, with Emmylou HarrisRamblin’ Jack Elliot and Jimmy Buffett all singing Walker’s songs and telling stories. “At one time, many of us thought we would live forever,” said Susan, who married Walker in 1974. “At least we acted like it. But not one of us thought Jerry Jeff would.” The event transported Earle back to his teens, when “I wanted to be Jerry Jeff Walker more than anything else in this world,” he said. Earle, 67, first heard Walker when he was 14 years old. His high school drama teacher gave him a copy of Mr. Bojangles. He was staging The World of Carl Sandburg, a play of Sandburg’s poetry and prose, and wanted Earle to sing Walker’s classic ballad about an unforgettable character he met in a New Orleans jail (Sandburg was an avid song archivist). The album was a revelation.”


Fantastic Negrito
White Jesus Black Problems

MY TWO CENTS: Inspired by the defiant love story of his seventh great-grandparents, the acclaimed singer-songwriter delivers his most ambitious and personal masterpiece to date.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The story of White Jesus Black Problems begins roughly 270 years ago, when a white indentured servant from Scotland named Elizabeth Gallimore fell in love with an enslaved Black man whose name, like so much else, had been stripped away from him by his captors. The pair lived in the colony of Virginia, where interracial relationships were not only taboo, but legally forbidden, and their romance put their very lives in danger. The same laws that prevented the two from ever marrying, however, also affixed their offspring’s legal status to that of their mother, meaning that after seven years of their own indentured servitude, Gallimore’s children would be granted their freedom, as well. And so the unlikely couple begot a generation of free African-American children, who in turn begot another generation of free African-American children, who in turn begot another generation of free African-American children, on and on down the line until the birth of their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson, Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz. Or, as you most likely know him, Fantastic Negrito. “I remember learning all of this for the first time last year and it felt like the room was spinning,” says Negrito. “I’d never heard anything like it. These two risked an incredible amount of pain and suffering all in the name of love. They took on white supremacy in the 1750s, and now I’m here as a result. I had to write about it.”


The Flatliners
New Ruin

MY TWO CENTS: It’s the end of the world as we know it — but the Toronto punk vets are determined to go down swinging on their uncompromisingly powerful, pointed and polished sixth LP.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The followup to 2017’s critically praised full-length Inviting Light, New Ruin is a shot of pure adrenaline from a band striking out at outdated institutions and ideologies via “impeccably” crafted pointed lyrics. Featuring their heaviest songs to date, New Ruin sees The Flatliners attacking each new track with a ferocity and intensity that will surprise even long-time fans. From the monstrously discordant hits that open the album through the de facto thesis statement of Heirloom, it’s clear that The Flatliners are angry in a way we’ve never heard before. At the same time, they’ve never been more in control. Produced by singer-guitarist Chris Cresswell and the rest of the band, songs like Performative Hours and Recoil boil with wiry post-hardcore energy while Souvenir and Big Strum offer a more tightly coiled aggression that hints at the band’s anthemic punk past. Recorded at Toronto’s Noble Street Studios and Genesis Sound with long-time friend and engineer Matt Snell, the album sounds both open and immediate, the cumulative effect of two decades performing together.”



MY TWO CENTS: Armed with vintage gear and old-school songcraft to match, the bass-free Boston trio branch out beyond their blues-bar roots on their second LP of original material.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “GA-20 are clearly on to something big. It’s a movement, a new traditional blues revival. The dynamic, throwback blues trio are disciples of the place where traditional blues, country and rock ’n’ roll intersect. “We make records that we would want to listen to,” says guitarist Matt Stubbs. “It’s our take on the song-based traditional electric blues we love.” Stubbs, singer-guitarist Pat Faherty and drummer Tim Carman have been at the forefront of this traditional blues revival since they first formed in 2018. On Crackdown, GA-20’s third full-length, the band create an unvarnished, ramshackle blues that is at once traditional and refreshingly modern. Expanding on their previous releases (2019’s Lonely Soul and 2021’s Try It…You Might Like It! GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor), GA-20 find inspiration on the edges of the genre. With tight, propulsive performances and a brevity and punk energy, Crackdown is rowdy and fun, filled with instantly memorable and well-crafted songs.”


Get the Fuck Outta Dodge
It’s Not Our Fault That Your Boyfriend’s Stupid

MY TWO CENTS: Cut in one day, the Sheffield noise-punk fiends’ latest drops 10 songs in 14 minutes — and still delivers more riffs and hooks than most bands generate in a double album.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Prolific punk noisenics Get The Fuck Outta Dodge have just released their new slab of aural thuggery on an unsuspecting public. The 10 track onslaught It’s Not Our Fault That Your Boyfriend’s Stupid was recorded on Nov. 21 by Sheffield music stalwart Alan Smyth (Arctic Monkeys, Pulp65 Days of Static) at his legendary 2Fly Studios. Showing a marked progression from their sophomore release Buzzkill, the songs on INOFTYBS are tighter, fuzzier, louder and more in your face than ever. Their music is still making people say stuff like…”messy, but cool AF”….”god damn! sick punk music, man I’m hyped! and “I’m a fan.”


KEN mode

MY TWO CENTS: After more than 20 years of intense power-trio purity, the prairie noise-rockers expand their sound with horns and keyboards on their eighth and most daring full-length.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Recorded and mixed by Andrew Schneider (Cave In, Unsane), Null is KEN mode’s followup to 2018’s acclaimed Loved. Frontman Jesse Matthewson proclaims Null to be “a direct psychological reaction to the collective experience of the last two and a half years… a documentation of trying to not fall apart.” In Matthewson’s words, “the album exposes the emotional core of combating mental illness when one’s fine-tuned coping mechanisms have been involuntarily stripped away.” Null is also the first KEN mode release to feature collaborator Kathryn Kerr as a full-fledged member of the band. With Kerr on saxophone, synth, piano, percussion, and backing vocals, the album features a new palette of No Wave and industrial-tinged sounds, infiltrating some of its tracks. The band’s well-honed attack — “defined by the Venn diagram of adventurous hardcore (Converge, Deadguy) and noise-rock (Today Is The Day, Brainbombs),” as a writeup once put it — is strengthened now by shades of Swans and Einsturzende Neubauten.”


Kid Kapichi
Here’s What You Could Have Won

MY TWO CENTS: On the followup to their explosive 2021 debut, the Hasting indie-rock foursome raise their game by simutaneously streamlining and turbocharging their hard-hitting sound.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The 11 songs on Kid Kapichi’s sophomore album Here’s What You Could Have Won are an excellent showcase for the Hastings quartet’s bigger, punchier, ‘beat punk’ sound, co-produced with Dom Craik from Nothing But Thieves. A behemoth of a band on and off stage thanks to the local scene that nurtured them, their songs explore racism, in-work poverty, mental health, violence, frustration and all-consuming love with honesty and humour. Their music is studded with barbed wire hooks, bristling with the juddering shock of lived experience, the cathartic thrill of a balled-up fist relaxing into an air punch. “The title Here’s What You Could Have Won sums up the feeling of missed opportunity,” frontman Jack Wilson says. “Being dragged right at a junction when you know you should be going left or screaming at the TV whilst someone picks the wrong answer on a game show. It looks inwardly at the U.K. and the decisions that have been made and how they have affected us.”


King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

MY TWO CENTS: Five long years in the making, the Australian psych-prog eccentrics’ fifth and final full-length of 2022 takes a mellow, groovy turn into synth-soaked, soulful ’70s R&B.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “For half a decade, Stu Mackenzie and his prolific atom-splitting polymaths King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have been haunted by one elusive conceptual project that had bested their every attempt (of which there had been several). They first conceived the album back in 2017, a busy year for the group. Within a mere 12 months, they recorded and released five albums of new material, but the band had intended to see out the year with a different album. That album was called Changes, and it’s finally arriving now. “I think of Changes as a song-cycle,” says singer-guitarist and chief songwriter Mackenzie. “Every song is built around this one chord progression — every track is like a variation on a theme. But I don’t know if we had the musical vocabulary yet to complete the idea at that time. We recorded some of it then, including the version of Exploding Suns that’s on the finished album. But when the sessions were over, it just never felt done. It was like this idea that was in our heads, but we just couldn’t reach. We just didn’t know yet how to do what we wanted to do.” But the concept of Changes did not go gently into that good night. “We really have been tinkering with it since then,” Mackenzie adds. “It’s not necessarily our most complex record, but every little piece and each sound you hear has been thought about a lot.”


King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms And Lava

MY TWO CENTS: On the third of five new albums that arrived this year, the prolific Aussie psychedelic prog-rockers convert shapeshifting, freewheeling jams into mindbending groove-fests.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Before Stu Mackenzie and his bandmates had even completed work on their recent mammoth double album Omnium Gatherum, they’d started sketching out this next record. For this new album, however, the group wouldn’t be bringing in any pre-written songs or ideas; instead, they planned to cook up all the music together in the studio, on the spot. “All we had prepared as we walked into the studio were these seven song titles,” says Mackenzie. “I have a list on my phone of hundreds of possible song titles. I’ll never use most of them, but they’re words and phrases I feel could be digested into King Gizzard-world.” Mackenzie selected seven titles from his list that he felt “had a vibe,” and then attached a beats-per-minute value to each one. Each song would also follow one of the seven modes of the major scale: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian. Over seven days, the group recorded hours and hours of jams, dedicating a day to each mode and BPM. “Naturally, each day’s jams had a different flavor, because each day was in a different scale and a different BPM,” Mackenzie says. “We’d walk into the studio, set everything up, get a rough tempo going and just jam. No preconceived ideas at all, no concepts, no songs. We’d jam for maybe 45 minutes, and then all swap instruments and start again.” The group ended each day with four-to-five hours of new jams in the can. Mackenzie auditioned those jams after the sessions were done, stitching them together into the songs that feature on the King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s 21st studio album Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms And Lava (the initials of the title spell out a mnemonic for the modes).”


King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Laminated Denim

MY TWO CENTS: Laminated Denim, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard‘s 22nd release, is cut from the same cloth as Made In Timeland, an odd little album they put out earlier this year. Like that release, it consists of two shapeshifting outings that last precisely 15 minutes each: The Land Before Timeland (which is kind of an obvious hint) and Hypertension. Turns out the title Laminated Denim is actually an anagram of Made In Timeland, which I’m slightly ashamed to admit I did not notice.

Given that, you might expect a couple of meandering, who-cares jams. But you’d be wrong. One of the reasons I love King Gizzard is that they almost never half-ass it, even for what is essentially a toss-off release. The Land Before Timeland is an intricately intertwined, flowing creation that seamlessly toggles between 5/4 and 4/4, hitting the sweet spot between Yes and The Grateful Dead with its arsenal of layered guitars, flute and harmonica, and gentle falsetto vocals. Its kettle-drum ending bleeds into Hypertension, which fits the title with its darker vibes, faster groove and tighter, crisper arrangements. The only thing that could make them better: Hearing them playing over the PA between sets at my next King Gizzard show.


King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Omnium Gatherum

WHO ARE THEY? The insanely prolific, creatively restless Australian sextet whose sound encompasses everything from indie rock, psychedelia and prog to country, metal and electronica, depending on what mood they happen to be in that week.

WHAT IS THIS? Their 20th studio album in a decade (I told you they were prolific), first double album, and second release of the year, following last month’s more experimental and conceptual outing Made In Timeland and last year’s keyboard-driven Butterfly 3000.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? A little bit of everything. And anything. In keeping with its title, the 16-song set covers the band’s musical waterfront, delivering everything from blazing guitar-rock flights and metallic post-punk blasts to soulful grooves, funky jams, catchy indie-pop, ’60s flute-folk and more — along with tons and tons of gong.


Kevn Kinney
Think About It

MY TWO CENTS: The leader of southern rock vets Drivin N Cryin welcomes members of R.E.M., Drive By Truckers and others for his first solo outing in a decade — and his most intimate release in longer.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Think About It is Drivin N Cryin frontman Kevn Kinney’s first solo record in more than a decade. Featuring R.E.M. co-founders Peter Buck and Bill Berry, as well as Brad Morgan of Drive-By Truckers, Laur Joamets (Drivin N Cryin, Midland, Sturgill Simpson) and more, the star-studded album has its roots in the introspective solitude of the pandemic and the passing of Kinney’s old friend, the iconic oddball musical / improvisational genius and lighting-rod philosopher Col. Bruce Hampton. Recorded in indie-music mecca Athens, Ga., and helmed by ex-Sugar bassist and sought-after producer/engineer David Barbe (Drive-By Truckers, Lee Bains, Son Volt), Think About It showcases just about everything Kinney excels at, while also revealing some new facets of an artist who never stops reflecting, evolving and chasing his muse.”


Kula Shaker
1st Congregational Church Of Eternal Love And Free Hugs

MY TWO CENTS: After going home six years ago, Crispian Mills and co. return — and go big with this ambitiously theatrical collection of ’60s-style rock, searing guitars and grand themes.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:“Yea, though we walk through the valley of dark shadows … and though there is a famine of supercharged, spirit-jangling, fractal protest rock, there are good tidings. The battle has not been lost to average digital earworms; the zeitgeist has gone into a spin and Kula Shaker have been called forth to deliver their most inspired album in years. 1st Congregational Church Of Eternal Love and Free Hugs is a firebrand double-album, energised and purposeful in a way that few guitar bands currently manage. It spills over with blazing songs (15 in total), cross-genre sonics and a renewed super confidence in its wish to joust into the big themes: Love vs. fear; Lucifer vs. St. Michael; freedom vs. autocracy; colonials vs. Indians; the empire vs. the rebellion.”


Kendrick Lamar
Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

MY TWO CENTS: The Compton rapper’s long-awaited fifth release continues his artistic and emotional evolution, going deeper and getting personal with tracks about aging, grief and family.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “I spend most of my days with fleeting thoughts,” says Kendrick Lamar. “Writing. Listening. And collecting old Beach cruisers. The morning rides keep me on a hill of silence. I go months without a phone. Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family. While the world around me evolves, I reflect on what matters the most. The life in which my words will land next. I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years. The Struggles. The Success. And most importantly, the Brotherhood. May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. There’s beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I’ve prayed for you all.”


Larkin Poe
Blood Harmony

MY TWO CENTS: With the help of their touring band and producer / family member Tyler Bryant, the Lovell sisters craft their strongest, earthiest and most fully realized album to date.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The latest full-length from Larkin Poe, Blood Harmony is a whole-hearted invitation into a world they know intimately, a Southern landscape so precisely conjured you can feel the sticky humidity of the warm summer air. In bringing their homeland to such rich and dazzling life, Georgia-bred multi-instrumentalist sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell fortify their storytelling with a blues-heavy sound that hits right in the heart, at turns stormy and sorrowful and wildly exhilarating. Rooted in the potent musicality the Nashville duo brought to such widely lauded work as 2018’s Venom & Faith (a Grammy nominee for Best Contemporary Blues Album), Blood Harmony affirms Larkin Poe as an essential force in shaping the identity of Southern rock, breathing new energy into the genre with both forward-thinking perspective and a decidedly feminine strength. In a departure from the self-contained approach of past albums like 2020’s Self Made Man, Larkin Poe co-produced Blood Harmony alongside Texas-bred musician Tyler Bryant (also Rebecca’s husband). With Megan handling harmony vocals, lap steel, and resonator guitar and Rebecca on guitar and keys, Larkin Poe also enlisted members of their longtime live band, including drummer Kevin McGowan and bassist Tarka Layman. Mainly recorded at Rebecca and Tyler’s home studio, the result is an electrifying body of work that fully harnesses the fiery vitality they’ve shown in touring across the globe.”


Mickey Leigh’s Mutated Music
Variants Of Vibe

Let’s just get it out of the damn way right off the bat: Yes, Mickey Leigh is the little brother of Johnny Ramone. Yes, their voices sound similar. And yes, there are a couple of songs on his new album Variants Of Vibe that would not be out of place on an LP by his late sibling’s band.

But what else would you expect? After all, Leigh was basically the fifth Ramone. He was in a teenage combo with Johnny and Tommy long before Joey came along. He sang backup on The Ramones’ first album. He was the band’s roadie for years. And he contributed to plenty of Ramones songs over the years. So if anybody is fully entitled to carry that particular torch, it’s him. But here’s the rub: Leigh is no one-trick pony. No coattail rider. And Variants Of Vibe is no Ramones tribute. If anything, this raucous and rambunctious album — which combines new songs with recently recorded versions of songs culled from his long and varied career — is a tribute to the music he (and Joey) listened to, learned from and loved. In keeping with its title, its 14 songs will also appeal to fans of The StoogesThe Who? And The MysteriansThe MonkeesThe Dead BoysSuicideJohnny ThundersBilly Idol, Jim Carroll and even Tom Petty and Simon and Garfunkel. Mostly, though, it will appeal to anyone who wants to hear timeless rock ’n’ roll played the way it oughta be: Fast, loud, loose and with plenty of attitude. That’s why Variants Of Vibe is an album that both defies and exceeds your expectations. And an album might finally help him get out of the long, tall shadow of you-know-who.


Eamon McGrath
Bells Of Hope

MY TWO CENTS: With his most diverse and expansive album, the prolific Toronto singer-songwriter cements his status as the greatest Canadian artist most people have never heard.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In these trying times, we could all use a little hope. Continuing on a path first forged by 2018’s critically acclaimed Tantramar album and even more lauded followup Guts in 2019, Eamon McGrath unveils Bells Of Hope, the third in a trilogy of releases defined by an ever-evolving and maturing sound by the road-hardened, working class Canadian musician. Tantramar and Guts saw McGrath move away from the trademark bombastic and savage rock ’n’ roll of his early years into a new era of growth, celebrating and embracing new sounds, atmospheres and textures. Moving past the tarnished and primal Neil Young-meets-Black Flag approach of his early twenties, the complementary albums found McGrath channelling inner darknesses, turning somber and harsh experiences into moments of beautiful noise.”


The Murlocs

MY TWO CENTS: Frontman Ambrose Kenny-Smith (also a member of King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard) draws on his own troubled youth to create a darkly powerful concept album — and the Australian psych-rockers’ most daring and ambitious disc.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The sixth full-length from The Murlocs, Rapscallion is a coming-of-age novel in an album form, populated by an outrageous cast of misfit characters: Teenage vagabonds and small-time criminals, junkyard dwellers and truck-stop transients. Over the course of 12 hypnotic and volatile rock-and-roll songs, the Melbourne five-piece dream up a wildly squalid odyssey partly inspired by frontman Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s own adolescence as a nomadic skate kid. The most magnificently heavy work yet from The Murlocs, the result is an endlessly enthralling album equally steeped in danger and delirium and the wide-eyed romanticism of youth. Self-produced by the band in the early stages of the pandemic, Rapscallion was recorded remotely in the home studios of Kenny-Smith (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Callum Shortal (guitar), Matt Blach (drums), Cook Craig (bass) and Tim Karmouche (keys). In a departure from the effusive garage-rock of 2021’s Bittersweet Demons, the album’s musical DNA contains strains of stoner-metal and the more primitive edge of post-punk, thanks largely to Shortal’s influence as the primary composer on Rapscallion. But despite that darker and more formidable sound, The Murlocs instill every track with the freewheeling energy they’ve brought the stage in supporting Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees.”