Top 10 Albums Of 2022

Just like 2021, 2022 had some pretty big things happen, like my second child being born, an extensive vacation, and also moving from Pennsylvania all the way to Arkansas. I was planning on moving but wasn’t expecting it to be as far as Arkansas. However, sometimes things come your way and you take the chance. On top of that, there were some surprise releases by bands I love and more than 10 great releases this year. I will only highlight the 10 below, but it was hard to narrow down this year’s list. As always, my top 10 is based off music released during the year and chosen based on how much I tend to go back to it. I don’t use any streaming service and the list is based on how many times I’ve listened to it on vinyl or through the digital files.

10. The Slackers – Don’t Let The Sunlight Fool Ya

The Slackers - Don’t Let The Sunlight Fool YaThe Slackers have been releasing new music here and there for a few years now, let it be on a 7 inch or just digital, but finally after seven years they released a new full-length album.  That album would be Don’t Let The Sunlight Fool Ya.  A 12 track classic sounding Slackers album that fans would love as much as their other releases.  Some songs, like “Windowland” and “Nobody’s Listening”, have been released, but they fit the tone of the album.  The Slackers are road dogs, and in my mind a seven year wait for a full length makes sense.  The band tours nonstop and to find time to record a full-length album must’ve been the hardest part for them, but they finally got it done and it is a great release.  

Listen To: “Don’t Let The Sunlight Fool Ya”

9. Hidden In Plain View – Tantrums

Hidden In Plain View - TantrumsBefore the pandemic, Hidden In Plain View had teased that they had new songs recorded, but weren’t sure how to release them because of the way the industry is now.  They weren’t sure if it should be just singles or an actual release, etc.  Leading up to their latest EP, Tantrums, they would release some singles, but not say if it would be part of a new album or EP.  However, by August they officially announced Tantrums with a vinyl pre-order handled by Jared Hart’s record label, Mt. Crushmore.  At this time the vinyl should be at my door by next week because there are still vinyl delays.  Tantrums is where Hidden In Plain View left off after Animal.  This EP fits perfectly into their catalog and it is great to hear new songs by them.  I grew up seeing and listening to Hidden In Plain view and I thought they ended way too soon.  I would always go back to their albums no matter what my age was and with Tantrums I am happy to add some new songs into that playlist.  I think fans will love this release and for others that wrote Hidden In Plain View off, I highly suggest given this a listen.  

Listen To: “Temper”

8. The Color Fred – A Year And Change

Color Fred - A Year And ChangeAnother album that was released by surprised was A Year And Change by The Color Fred.  Leading up to this release there were talks of a new full-length album, but nothing was official.  Instead, during the pandemic The Color Fred would release a new song every month to which would make a full-length.  The album as a whole highlights the sounds from all of Fred Mascherino projects.  From Terrible Things to Breaking Pangea, this is the album that if someone didn’t know where to start, I would direct them to this album.  The added bonus to this album is that instead of having just 12 songs that were originally released each month, there are two bonus songs.  Song “Don’t Change” is originally by INXS and each member of the band took a part to show off their vocal talents.  The other song “Save Yourself” is a hard hitting, fast paced, punk infused song that is placed in between the album.  Even though all the songs have been released prior to the full album, it is great to see how they flow all together in this sequence.  The other project Fred took on is starting his own record label, Heading East Records, which hopefully in 2023 we see this album pressed on vinyl.

Listen To: “Attention”

7. Owel – The Salt Water Well

Owel - The Salt Water WellA band that I think needs more exposure, is Owel.  I’ve seen this band multiple times opening for bigger bands, and in most cases, these were just one-off shows.  The crowd always digs them, but most of the time the shows are just around the east coast.  I would love to see them get more exposure all over, but obviously there are probably many factors why they can’t tour.  Regardless, every release Owel has put out has been of the best quality.  They always remind me of Mae and a tour of them and Mae would be great in my opinion.  As for The Salt Water Well, this album may be my favorite by them.  They still have their atmospheric/dreamy sound, but this album sounds like their cover.  There is a loneliness to it, like walking in the woods after it just snowed.  For me it is the perfect soundtrack to traveling around Iceland.  Next time I go, it’s been too long, this album will be playing for sure.  This album was released in January, and I hope people didn’t forget about it, I sure didn’t, and if you haven’t heard it, please take a listen.

Listen To:  “Time Will Make Children Of Us All”

6. American Aquarium – Chicamacomico

American Aquarium - ChicamacomicoAmerican Aquarium doesn’t know how to stop.  Already two years after their last release, Lamentations, they come out with Chicamacomico.  It should also be mentioned in-between these albums they also released two cover albums, Slappers, Bangers & Certified Twangers, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2.  Just a non-stop machine.  For the latest album, it was more on the softer sounding side than Lamentations.  Chicamacomico reminded me of BJ’s solo album Rockingham, where it was much more personal, acoustic driven, and slower than his other albums.  The original album art shows a beach area with a cloudy sky, and that cover really captures the mood of this album.  This is up there as one of American Aquariums best efforts, but all in all, all their albums are worth owning.

Listen To:  “All I Needed”

5. Gregor Barnett – Don’t Go Throwing Roses In My Grave

Gregor Barnett - Don't Go Throwing Roses In My Grave

When it was annonced Gregor Barnett of The Menzingers was releasing a solo album, I was intrigued.  I was curious if it was going to sound like the acoustic album Menzingers did since everyone but Tom May would be playing on his album, but I was wrong.  This album has a completely different feel than any Menzingers album.  The mood presented on this album is much more somber with songs that are Americana, Country, and bluesy sounding.  The Menzingers lyrics were usually based on real life experiences, but for this album I wonder if Gregor dove headfirst into the singer songwriting mentality.  A song like “Talking To Your Tombstone” sounds more like a fictional story, but maybe it is based off a real experience.  Regardless, songs like that and the overall sound of the album keeps this separate from Gregor’s full-time band, which makes this a solid debut album.

Listen To: “Anthem For The One I Love”

4. Audio Karate – ¡OTRA!

Audio Karate - ¡OTRA!Growing up there were a few record labels I loved everything they put out.  Kung Fu Records was one of those labels, and when they signed Audio Karate I was hooked.  Every release they put out on Kung Fu Records was underrated and phenomenal.  Then Audio Karate took a break.  They came back with their third lost album, Malo.  Even though it wasn’t a fully complete album so to speak it was just as great as their previous releases.  Then in 2022 we received a B-side album of sorts called ¡OTRA!  I don’t usually add live albums, re-release albums, or B-side albums to my top 10, but this album flows as if it was recorded as an album.  These are full songs, great sounding quality, and some of the sought-out songs of their career.  Audio Karate is still one of the most underrated band, and I hope they continue to release music.  The last two releases have been songs they had laying around for years, I am curious if their next release will be all new songs.

Listen To:  “Betrayed”

3. Beach Rats – Rat Beat

Beach Rats - Rat BeatBeach Rats formed a few years ago and features members of Bouncing Souls, Lifetime, and Minor Threat.  Their first introduction to the world was their EP on Bridge Nine Records, Wasted Time. The EP was five songs that were fast, melodic, and punk.  As a side project, no one expected a lot to come of the band since the members have other bands that take up a lot of time.  However, 2022 we got a full length album which was a surprise.  The album, just like their EP, is fast, melodic, and just a great album from start to finish.  I think most fans of Lifetime will love Beach Rats since the music is very similar to them and Ari Katz is the lead singer.  His distinct vocals is what will make fans think is this what Lifetime would sound like if they would release new music?  Not to say fans of Bouncing Souls and Minor Threat wouldn’t like Beach Rats, but there is more similarities to Lifetime.  Either way this is an album that should be picked up and then blasted in the car with the windows down.

Listen To:  “Summers End”

2. The Early November – Twenty

Early November - 20It is crazy to think that for 20 years the Early November has been a band, and for all of those 20 years I have a been a fan.  There are a bunch of bands that I started to listen to when they first started and to see their progress is always crazy.  The Early November is one of those bands that had a roller coaster of a career, but now it feels like they are content on where they are.  The album Twenty is a celebration of all their albums.  Even though some of the songs have been released in some form or another, let it be a demo or an acoustic version, the songs would be almost impossible to get.  Twenty however finally makes them official and as a full band in most cases.  It is always up to debate as to what version is better, but for the purpose of Twenty this album shows where the Early November was and currently is.  The album is truly unique and even though some of the songs are new it feels like I’ve been listening to them for twenty years.

Listen To: “Denent”

1. Westbound Train – Dedication

Westbound Train - DedicationThe biggest surprise album of the year was Dedication by Westbound Train.  I’ve known for some time, feels like three years, that Westbound Train was recording a new album.  However, even when I would ask lead singer Obi Fernandez they weren’t sure when it would be released because they were still adding things here and there.  Well in October after 13 years we finally got a new album and it was put out into the world as a surprise.  No lead up or warning, just a surprise release and it was well worth the wait. Westbound Train is comprised of some of the best musicians and right away I knew this album was my number one.  Dedication is Westbound Train, if you like any of Westbound Train’s music you will instantly like this album.  For people that don’t know who Westbound Train is, one listen and you will want to dance and sing along.  Their music is just that enjoyable.  From the ska to the dub you can’t go wrong with this album or any of their other albums.  Again, this album wasn’t released on vinyl, but hopefully it will be in 2023 and maybe some shows.

Listen To: “Rollout”

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