The Best Albums Of 2022
It’s December. We’re lighting candles, celebrating the return of the light and rockin’ around the Christmas tree. In just a few days we bid farewell (or good riddance depending on your perspective) to 2022 and usher in a new year. That means it’s time for lists. Instead of a review of one record on Dizzy Spins, your Open Air hosts, Noah Bran-Linsday, Danielle Kelly, and Dave Jackson are excited to weigh-in on our favorite albums of 2022.
The Noah List (host: The Folk Show and Open Air)
From twangy singer-songwriter ballads to driving indy-electro, my tastes stand squarely with one foot in each camp, and there was a lot that fit that bill in 2022.
LP - Churches
Celebrating all things non-binary with a vibrant and crisp cast of characters–so fabulous!
Lane 8 - Reviver
Coloradan Daniel Goldstein aka Lane 8, serves up tasty, resonant, thoughtful beats. We turned up the studio monitors loud when we received it.
Tears for Fears - The Tipping Point
Pleasantly in-depth, listenable and fresh, and still evocative of their heyday in time and music.
Amanda Shires - Take It Like a Man
Her 2022 masterpiece. Surprising, sharp-witted and musically infused with some of the best in the biz, I can't get enough. She sounds bold, sassy, confident. We love it! Her best effort yet.
Marcus Mumford - Self-Titled
This solo release drips of the confident English-American's brand of folk rock, in all the right ways. (Also on DK’s honorable mention list)
The Lone Bellow - Love Songs for Losers
Combining the best of production, songwriting, soulfulness and catchy riffs, The Lone Bellow's latest is simultaneously crunchy and slick . Eminently listenable.
Highasakite - Mother
Musicianship, storytelling, beats, lush production and pithy writing abound. Soaring vocals and tight execution make this a must-listen.
Declan O'Rourke - Arrivals
Dubliner Declan O'Rourke's Arrivals arrived early in the year, recorded late in the last, and felt fitting for the dreary season of its release due to its pleasing strumming, heart and lilt.
Punch Brothers - Hell on Church Street
Out-banjoin' and mandolinin' just about any would-be old-timey musician, this excellent production is an ode to Tony Rice's 1983 album of the same name.
Sophie & the Broken Things - Delusions of Grandeur
Crunchy country with tight songwriting, fatalistic stories, and an appearance by Logan Ledger.
The Danielle List (Host: Open Air)
I am a sucker for dance inducers or earworm “sing-alongers” so for those reasons, these are a few of my top favorite albums from Open Air for 2022 (in no particular order):
Wild Rivers, Sidelines; Nicki Bluhm, Avondale Drive; Alt J, The Dream (on DJ’s honorable mention list); Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder, Get on Board; Craig Finn, A Legacy of Rentals; Wilco, Cruel Country; Andrew Bird, Inside Problems; Lettuce, Unify; Avi Kaplan, Floating on a Dream; Caamp, Lavender Days; Mt. Joy, Orange Blood; Color Green, Color Green (also on DJ’s honorable mention list), Maggie Rogers, Surrender; Jack Broadbent, Ride; Jake la Botz, Hair on Fire, Marcus Mumford, Self Titled; Larkin Poe - Blood Harmony, Caitlin Rose, Cazimi.
Lucius - 2nd Nature
Has me dancing around the car, house and radio station every time with an infectious 70’s club groove and feel-good, self-love messages woven throughout. It’s girl power amplified by some backing vocals from Brandi Carlile.
Florence and the Machine - Dance Fever
She again managed to incorporate heavy, universal human experience into anthemic bangers that had me steering wheel drumming along to the builds of every chorus.
Black keys - Dropout Boogie
I’ve never wanted to play a game of kickball in my life. Now I do, with Dan Auerbach as team captain of course. Fun, stompy, repeatable choruses.
Sylvan Esso - No Rules Sandy
More synth-based, loopy goodness as always.
Joanne Shaw Taylor - Nobody's Fool
Another instant favorite for me. This is not a debut album, but like the 12th for this British blues soul guitar rocker. Support on this album from the likes of Joe Bonamassa. I’m grateful to OA for putting this one on my radar.
Bonnie Raitt - Just Like That
Songwriting queen still reigns supreme. The lead off-track, Made-Up Mind, felt like a well worn classic the moment I heard it. I love that she included a cover of the California Honey Drops song of Here Comes Love. It had Dave and I scratching our heads at first trying to figure out whose guitar and whose vocal riff was whose.
Paul Cauthen - Country Coming Down
Expanding on his tongue in cheek humor and sarcasm. Upbeat songs making fun of himself and pop country culture.
Goose - Dripfield
Jammy goodness that stuck to the back of my mind for hours after each listen, some tracks moody, some more party, all on repeat. (Also on DJ’s honorable mention list)
Bonobo - Fragments; Ry X - Blood Moon; Adrian Quesada - Jaguar Sound; Abraxas - Monte Carlo.
These albums are perfect for zoned out daydreaming with a great beat.
Kurt Vile - Watch my Moves
Kurt shared his lockdown imagining and playtime with his kiddos on this album, full of quintessential Vile quirkiness.
Dope Lemon - Rose Pink Cadillac
Hard to put my finger on why, but Angus Stone’s solo project title track adds a new favorite pet name to my arsenal. Groovy, toe tapping weirdness. (Also on DJ’s honorable mention list)
Seth Avett - Sings Greg Brown
Melts me to hear one of today's pop folk stars breathing new life and awareness to one of my all-time favorite veteran folk heroes Greg brown. Poet Game makes me tear up and You Drive me Crazy gives me a silly grin. (Also on DJ’s honorable mention list)
The Dave List (Host: Open Air, Music Director - Rhythm and News)
Of the over three hundred albums we added to the JPR Music Library in 2022, I found about 24 that could be considered my favorites.
Honorable mention: Alt-J, The Dream; Dope Lemon, Rose Pink Cadillac; Goose, Dripfield; Adrian Quesada; Boleros Psicedellicos; Color Green, Color Green; Tami Neilson, Kingmaker; Jake La Botz, Hair on Fire; Brennen Leigh (w/Asleep at the Wheel), Obsessed With the West; Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway, Crooked Tree; Beth Orton, Weather Alive; Seth Avett, Seth Avett Sings Greg Brown; Yates McKendree, Buchannan Lane. Late arrivals I’m still absorbing but may otherwise make the list -- Larking Poe, Blood Harmony and Rayland Baxter, If I Were a Butterfly.
Andrew Bird – Inside Problems.
The violin-playing wordsmith returned with his signature wit and clever insights set to infectious grooves that borrow from Beethoven and songs that celebrate the life and work of author Joan Didion. (Also on DK’s honorable mention list)
Seth Walker – Hope I Know.
The title track borrows from a Hawaiian poem on this Jano Rix (The Wood Brothers) produced album. Like many albums written during the pandemic, it is quieter and introspective and rewards us for really tuning in.
Jake Blount – The New Faith.
An award-winning banjo player and musical scholar, Blount released an album of Afro-centric, post-apocalyptic spirituals set in a world destroyed by climate change. Based on old gospel mixed with a touch of rap and the occasional electric guitar, it imagines how these future climate refugees would worship and what that might sound like.
Melissa Carper – Ramblin’ Soul.
It’s heartfelt, humorous and dabbles in classic country, rock-a-billy, Texas swing and even a little old school jazz. It makes me smile every time. We’ll have a JPR Live Session with her in January.
Some we agree on:
Tedeschi Trucks Band – I Am The Moon I-IV.
(DJ) I’m calling it one album. From the concept through to the final product, this 4-LP series started with an ancient poem and parallels between TTB and the Derek and the Dominoes album Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs and features the 12-piece band at their musical and creative best.
(DK) Duh. Sufi poem woven into stellar horn lines, guitar riffs and melodies from one of our in-house all-time favorites.
Coffis brothers - Turn up my Radio
(DK) Santa Cruz band I’d love to see live. It’s their goofy rhyming for me: “Holy toledo I think it's pretty neato”
(DJ) The Coffis Brothers, worked with Tim Bluhm of the Bay Area band Mother Hips. They have a classic California sound reminiscent of The Byrds and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Jennifer Hartswick – Something in the Water.
(DJ) Trumpeter and vocalist Jennifer Hartswick is an original member of the Trey Anastasio Band. She is joined by Christian McBride on bass on her latest release – a jazz/pop/rocker showcasing her skills as a multi-faceted musician and performer.
(DK) Funky band and sassy, commanding vocals from the girl who was an og member playing trumpet in the Trey Anastasio Band as a teen.
Vieux Farka Toure’ et Khruangbin – Ali
(DK) The merging of the Malian and Texan desserts and a tribute to the late Ali Farke Toure' proved to be otherworldly.
(DJ) When I first heard that Vieux Farka Toure’ joined forces with the Texas psych-funk trio Khruangbin, I got chills. The result, a tribute to Vieux’s father, the late Ali Farka Toure’, withstood the high expectation with room to spare.
John Craigie – Mermaid Salt.
(DJ) Written and produced during the lockdown, it has an elegant DIY sound showcasing Craigie’s masterful lyrics and dark humor. The mysterious ghost story, Helena, featuring haunting backing vocals by the Shook Twins, is, if I had to choose, my favorite song this year.
(DK) Beautiful stripped-down Craigie songwriting, akin to Sean Hayes on Lowlight, going a little more introspective as well as electronic.
Charley Crockett – The Man From Waco.
(DJ) Who doesn’t love a handsome man singing authentic Americana from the standpoint of someone who’s been there? Crockett checks all the boxes on this record, one of a couple he released in 2022, the other being an album of classic country tunes.
(DK) What Dave said.
Thanks for listening. The three of us couldn’t enjoy sharing music with you more. We look forward to seeing what’s ahead in 2023.