This smalll list of records is intended to gather some of the albums enjoyed the most by the owner during the year and not to portray the totality of what happened in music during 2022.
I know there are thousand of good albums released last year we could’ve talk about that have been covering most of music magazines and blogs around, but as said it just a small list exclusively based by personal enjoability.
So don’t be too surprise if you won’t find here anything about the impressive dance pop homage on Beyoncé‘s Reinassance or the introspective R&B of SZA on her new SOS.
Moor Mother “Jazz Codes”
Camae Ayewa, alias Moor Mother, is nowadays one of the most talented and interesting artists around, able to expand her creativity over new fields with no boundaries of any kind. With her full discography she always tried different approaches and pushed herself over new visions, soundscapes and “codes” , as the album title suggests.
Jazz Codes is indeed not just a jazz album, but a whole celebration of afroamerican music in a very personal way; The mixture between hip-hop and jazz has always been a trademark of Moor Mother’s music, but it’s always surprising how she’s able to destroy the structures used on a previous album to completely create new ones.
There’s still a strong free jazz connection, but compared with previous works like Circuit City or Black Encyclopedia of the Air it seems to be more intended to accompany the rest of the electronic textures and the nocturnal ambient vibes than leading the whole musical aspect; the perfect accompaniment for an amazing lyric work full of poetry and meaning exploring topics ranging from politics to spirituality. Almost every track sees the participation of at least a guest musician offering a sort of “art collective experience”.
Brutus “Unison Life”
Hailing from Belgium, this trio is with no doubt one of the fresher things happened to hardcore in recent times. After two very well made albums and an ascent success over the heavy music communities, this new record definitely marks an important achievement in terms of artistic maturity, pushing the band’s proposal on an even more balanced and cohesive form.
The emotional and atmospheric component is very close to perfection and offers in a lot of moments the best that genre has to give, from the amazing dramatic vocals to the enthralling drum patterns and the mind blowing atmospheric guitar work that totally embraces the whole sound field even if most of the times there’s only just a guitar line.
Emotionally speaking Unison Life is moving, intense and mind blowing, alternating pure breathtaking songwriting moments with beautiful lyrics about life struggles to more explosive post-rock sections. With no doubt the very best you can find in post-hardcore nowadays.
Charli XCX “Crash”
After being confirmed as the undisputed queen of digital pop with her previous How i’m Feeling Now, Charli came back with a new record, aware of the high amount of interest from the music community on her.
Indeed Crash is definitely not How i’m Feeling Now 2.0, but a strong evolution of her music from an abstract dimension to a more consistent and complete idea pop and the totality of its heritage.
Anticipated by the perfection of the single Good Ones, this record offers dance-like moments, synth driven 80’s tributes, modern hits in a 2000s style and of course internet era music, making the hyperpop diva status absolutely perfect to fit on Charli’s new artistic shape.
Rina Sawayama “Hold the Girl”
As well as Charli XCX, Rina Sawayama has a very similar situation when a following album to her debut was announced to be released.
In a specular way she had a lot of attention on and she also opted for a different and more traditionally pop way to express herself. Many great music arrangements and interesting solutions can be found here, created again over a very complete variety of influences, even if not as crazily various as happened on the previous one.
Hold the Girl is still an excellent example of how to make a good pop album in 2022, picking different approaches here and there and molding them together with strong personality and distinctive songwriting and storytelling abilities.
King Stingray “King Stingray”
With an extremely fresh and genuine record, the Australian rock group King Stingray have released its debut album last summer and it’s definitely a worth to listen one.
This is not just a regular contemporary rock release, but it’s a unique palette full of different influences from indie to folk and funk with a very personal and original approach strictly related to the traditions from the northern territories where the band comes from.
Beside rock indeed there’s a song approaching rooted in aboriginal music and the ancient tradition of manikay (aboriginal songs), which makes this album a totally unique experiment with lyrics in both english and youlnu matha and an overall cheerful mood that make the whole work absolutely enjoyable. A really interesting journey.
In always less inspired times for blackgaze music, it’s definitely not easy to make the difference and avoid to repeat what have already been made by thousand other bands in the last decade; Asunojokei’s second released (follower of Awakening from 2018), is indeed not making a revolution, but it’s undoubtedly shining for its unique take on the genre and provides strong songs with beautiful melodies and highly intense moments.
Envy and Deafheaven are still the main influences of the japanese quartet, but compared to their previous work, which is of course a great album, this record sounds more wonderfully cohesive in terms of sound and emotionally speaking it’s even more powerful, offering breathtaking moments deeply inspired by j-pop solutions and post-hardcore/emo melancholic vibes that gives to the whole record a strong cinematic and stunning approach.
After six years of absence from music scenes, the UK based srilankan rapper and poetess is back with a new work. For the ones not very familiar with M.I.A. needs to be said that she’s always been a very original artist and not a regular rapper, molding her whole style over different types of hip-hop, eastern music, field recording sampling and UK electronic music, proposing a unique formula that in this new Mata sees a delightful contamination with all the modern drifts happened in hip-hop during her years of absence.
Anticipated by the very powerful single The One and its strong trap inspired vibes, Mata is a melting pot of influences and inspirations. seeing M.I.A. still at ease with her traditional marks such as well crafted songwriting, conscious rap and elements of asian music, but also confident with more modern approaches.
Yeule “Glitch Princess”
Follower of one of the most beautiful albums of the last decade (Serotinin II), Yeule’s second work is maintaining their music on a high quality level in terms of atmospheres, sound design, poetry and of course songwriting.
The album is opened by a voice message where Yeule introduces and describes theirself and indeed the whole record in general seems to be very much into this personal exposure compared to their previous music/lyrical approaches; of course still in a cyborg/nihilist personality than a strictly human one, but since their music remain extremely emotional and touching there’s definitely a strong level of empathy with the listener in a pretty much cinematic way i’d say.
In general Yeule’s music is like an open portal to another world, that seems to be an inner dimension that we all have inside, but we all unconsciously tend to hide. On a strictly musical side the direction seems to be less pop driven, but more into the avant-garde/ambient fields with tons of glitches and electronic samples, but still opened to extremely emotional and intense moments. Absolutely beautiful and enchanting, perfect to be listened in the heart of the night.
Domi & JD Beck “Not Tight”
One of the most awaited of the year; Domi & JD Beck have been active since 2018 as a touring act and a project open to collaborate with many well known artists from jazz, pop and hip-hop scenes. They’ve been capturing since the beginning a lot of attentions from music medias, especially for their incredible talent and their young age.
Not Tight is the first full-length album ever released by the duo and contains all the band’s background influences and some really crazy collaborations with some music giants such as Herbie Hancock, Anderson .Paak and Mac DeMarc just to name a few ones. The duo’s music is very fresh even if it set its roots mostly in mid 70’s jazz fusion with several R&B, neoprogressive and old school hip-hop references offering a smooth and delightful atmosphere that doesn’t sound old or already listened even if there is certainly a strong tribute component.
Technically speaking the record is unbelievable, with crazy irregular drum patterns, synth sounds from another world and instrumental virtuoso moments; but it’s not the type of album you can appreciate only if you’re into music theory, it’s definitely an excellent record to put on for chilling and being transported somewhere else by the magic power of the music.
The Comet is Coming “Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam”
London based space jazz ensemble The Comet is Coming doesn’t really need any particular kind of introduction, since they’ve easily become through the years one of the most acclaimed and interesting names around the jazz genre with their unique blend of spacey, sc-fi and futuristic atmospheres molded over free improvisation and nearly psychedelic vibes always opened to other genres contaminations such as electronic rock and funk.
Their last effort still moves over the previous albums path, drifting between synth driven atmospheric moments and more aggressive explosions with King Shabaka wonderful saxophone exploitations.
Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam is a spiritual experience expanded through abstract musical architectures and sound fields to create a listening journey with no boundaries or limits of any kind.