Top 10 Albums 2022

December 14, 2022

Another year, another amount of music consumed. A few notable(?) developments this year:

  1. I didn’t purchase a single physical music recording. No albums, no CDs, no deluxe reissues of things I already own, no nothing. Overall… it felt fine? My record player isn’t in a particularly used room of the house. There is no CD player in the house and only 1/2 of our family cars even have one. Buying CDs & records has always been important to me, but these things are just taking up space. I decided to take a year off and see how I felt about it, and I think I’ll continue. Obviously, artists aren’t making any money off my streaming, so this year I’m planning on buying 15-20 albums (digitally) on Bandcamp this year. Artists get more money, less plastic is used, less stuff in my house. Maybe I’ll buy a physical release or two a year going forward.
  2. Regular concert attendance is back for me, and it’s the best! I think I made it to about a show a month this year. Some highlights: The Beths (and especially opener Rosie Tucker) at The Duck Room, MUNA at Delmar Hall, Illuminati Hotties at the Duck Room, Bright Eyes at the Pageant, etc. I also saw a couple shows at “The Factory” in Chesterfield this year. I do not like this place. Still haven’t made it to Off Broadway since COVID and I am furious with myself about this, but I’ll be seeing Cursive there in a week.
  3. My father (my primary role model for musical appreciation) has always encouraged me to listen to more country music. This year, I think that 3 albums on this list qualify, but I worry it’s not the right type of country music to impress my father. You can try to figure out which 3, I guess.
  4. If you listen to your Spotify Release Radar and favorite things you like every week, you’ll find new bands to listen to. The vast majority of this list (8/10?) are bands that I wasn’t familiar with a year ago, and some of them are pretty obscure (less than a few thousands streams on some songs of the album), so here’s one small data point that new artist discovery is possible through Spotify.

I listened to 50 or so new albums this year and 20 of them were in serious contention for this top 10 list. My #1 album this year came out in February, and I pretty much knew it right away. The rest of the list is a bit soft in the order. Anyway, let’s dive in!

10. Momma – Household Name

(Listen on Spotify)

When I was a youth, I would get to shows hours early to get a great spot. As a father of 2, I put my children to bed and attempt to arrive to a show in time to see the last 2 songs of an opener’s set. Shows with two openers… keep me up too late, and I generally get a little cranky about them.

BUT. Momma, who was the 2nd opener at Snail Mail was incredible, and a demonstration for why my attitude towards openers is bad/wrong. Momma was great, and their album Household Name is also great.

9. 2nd Grade – Easy Listening

(Listen on Spotify)

This band has been bouncing around my Spotify infinity playlists for a bit (song: Velodrome) but this is the first album I’ve given much time to. Great power pop fun, a la vintage Fountains of Wayne.

8. Chloe Kimes – Chloe Kimes

(Listen on Spotify)

I was lucky to spend the month of July with my family in Michigan this year. For the 2nd year in a row, one of our favorite parts of the trip was following Chloe Kimes from brewery to distillery to state park. Chloe is from Michigan but lives & works as a musician in Nashville for most of the year. But each summer she comes up to Michigan for a bit.

We stumbled across her performing at Stormcloud Brewing in 2021, and saw her two more times in the coming weeks. We were thrilled that our times in Michigan were overlapping again in 2022 and this time we saw her 4 times! She put out her debut full-length album this year, and it’s great. The songs all contain wonderful songs & stories. Here’s a picture of her with the Becker Family

7. Deer Scout – Woodpecker

(Listen on Spotify)

This begins a block of 3 albums with pink/purple album art by artists that I know nothing about. This is the whisperiest, bed-roomiest album on the list. Tender & nice & beautiful.

6. Annie Blackman – All of It

(Listen on Spotify)

Another Spotify Release Radar stumble-upon. Based on the play count, I’d guess that “Glitch” was the song that got me hooked, but it’s a strong release from start to finish. Also, she writes a fun newsletter.

5. Lilito – Happy Horse Lamp

(Listen on Spotify)

I love this album. It’s fun & quirky and filled with joy. I tried to do some googling, and didn’t learn much, but the lead singer’s dad is in Taking Back Sunday, and that’s cool. Listen to the first song, Waning, and I think you’ll know if it’s your jam or not.

4. MJ Lenderman – Boat Songs

(Listen on Spotify)

The first song of this album is about how Michael Jordan was badly hungover (rather than having the flu, or food poisoning) during his famous “Game 6” NBA finals performance.

“It wasn’t a pizza & it wasn’t the flu.
Yeah, I love drinking too.”

I’m not into NBA lore enough (at all) to know if this story holds any water, but it makes for a great song. There are lots of great stories & great songs on this album.

3. Plains – I Walked With You A Ways

(Listen on Spotify)

When Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) does a music project, I pay attention. Her 2020 release St. Cloud made my list, and when I heard her voice on my Release Radar I thought “What’s this?” She teamed up with Jess Williamson (Someone I am not currently familiar with) and recorded a country album… and I love it! A lot of things on this list came out in the first half of the year, and this one came out more recently and has really been eating up the last month or so.


(Listen on Spotify)

I didn’t know much about MUNA before Silk Chiffon, and TBH I still haven’t spent a lot of time digging into their back catalog. So there’s some room to grow on my end. But I saw them live this year, and what an incredible experience. Would recommend 100% for anyone who likes having fun.

This is the danciest album on the list and maybe the only one that makes substantial use of drum machines?

1. Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

(Listen on Spotify)

Big album name, big album length (20 tracks, 80 minutes) not a single wasted second. This is a dynamic album with ups & downs, fasts & slows, gorgeous haunting lyrics. The 3rd most popular song on the album (my current favorite), Simulation Swarm… is the 17th track! This one dominated my listening this year, with I think 4/5 of my Spotify Wrapped songs being from it. One (Certainty) even made it into the coveted “Sing this to my daughters at bedtime” rotation.

So, that’s the list. I’ve got a mix of some of my favorite tracks from these albums as well as 16 other albums that didn’t make the list, so take a listen.

Also, here were the albums that almost made this list:


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