Albums of the Year- 2022
It’s all about time, right? Moderate Rock is a small site, the smallest of sites, and will never have the time to listen to every new release of any year. Not ever. So I make space and I make time for some records, some music that I’m pretty sure I know I will love, and often that turns out to be the right call as the records turn out to be great. But then, every single year, something special happens- other albums appear from nowhere, brought to me by the almighty algorithm or by maybe something more mystical, and they demand… time.
Sometimes that’s at the expense of new work by some of my all-time favourite established acts (like that incredible Cult of Luna album that almost certainly would have been on the list below if only I had more time with it), often it entirely justifiably bumps middling legacy releases off my speakers, unexpected greatness trumping good will. Every time, it’s a thrill.
It’s one reason why I’ve always noted at least one album from each previous year that I discovered too late. One that would’ve made the list last time out, if time was ever on my side. This year that’s 2021’s excellent, ethereal Aeon Station record. And while we’re talking about taking notes, my favourite EP of this year was ‘Permanent. Radiant’ by Crosses, but then I would happily listen to Chino Moreno sing his shopping list.
So many of 2022’s new releases were worthy of your time- KEN Mode’s caustic fury, the epic return of Cave In, Jess Webberley’s rebirth– but of the albums I spent time with this year, below are the chosen few. These are the albums that slowed things down, or sped things up, that soothed some pain, or made the pain worth experiencing. As I feel compelled to say every year, these are not the best albums of the year. Instead, these are the albums that earned my time. Or in some cases, took my time, stole it, and didn’t look back. Time to read on.
11 because Spinal Tap.
11. Haress- ‘Ghosts’
No other album has been more aptly-titled this year. This sounds like a primordial spirit, or like it’s been dug, perfectly preserved, out of some ancient peat bog.
10. Yoo Doo Right- ‘A Murmur, Boundless to the East’
This album is something else. It takes a hypnotic psych-rock sound that Yoo Doo Right developed early on and makes it feel like it could last forever. It gives it weight and significance and, I want to say, permanence. This album is going to be rediscovered in a million years time and worshipped. Really powerful stuff. But it’s still a silly band name.
9. Pilot to Gunner- ‘Hail Hallucinator’
30 minutes of clever, catchy punk-influenced indie rock, the kind that has always made my heart beat faster. ‘Hail Hallucinator’ is reminiscent of what Pilot to Gunner have done before but blessed with a new, widescreen kinda feel.
8. Drug Church- ‘Hygiene’
‘Hygiene’ is entirely fat-free and laser-focused, a hyper-concentrated volley of high-quality punk rock made to smash and grab your attention.
7. Holy Fawn- ‘Dimensional Bleed’
A vast, epic, atmospheric record featuring earth-scouring gloom, beautiful doom, and the kind of sounds that get received as alien messages in sci-fi films.
6. Russian Circles- ‘Gnosis’
More top-tier tectonic rock from a trio still finding new ways to expand their powerful sound. I don’t think any other band is quite as capable of writing riffs that sound beautiful and brutal at the same time.
5. Caroline- ‘Caroline’
Essentially a brilliant post-rock record by a young British band. But actually meteorological rock, Midwest emo, micro music, and cinematic sounds composed by a compelling collective with a punk rock ethos and then compiled on an album that sounds different almost every time I listen to it.
4. Rolo Tomassi- ‘Where Myth Becomes Memory’
A blistering and beautiful and neatly balanced record that feels like a soft fog or a ten ton comfort blanket one minute, and crashing waves or maybe even collapsing buildings the next. Perhaps the one thing it doesn’t feel like, is the end.
3. Spice- ‘Viv’
This is the sound of Spice’s superb debut left out in the sun to weather and warp and change in wonderful ways. This is punk rock with the rules broken over and over again.
2. No Devotion- ‘No Oblivion’
No Devotion might be operating at new depths surrounded by gloomier darkness but, despite everything that’s been thrown at them, this band refuse to die. The end is not nigh. Oblivion ignored. Future secured.
1. Mildred- ‘Mildred’
This record came out of nowhere and cornered me. It stopped me in my tracks and froze me to the spot. I don’t even remember how I first heard it now, but it’s perhaps the one album released in 2022 that I can’t stop listening to. In fact, at this point, to me, it hardly feels like an album at all- it feels like an experience. It’s a journey. It’s a swirling, whirling work of art.
If you’ve heard any of these albums, I hope they worked wonders for you too. If you have’t heard any of them, I hope you are inspired to listen. I hope you find something to spend your time with. Most of all though, like every year, I hope you find something to love.