AND FINALLY, THE LOUDER THAN WAR NUMBER 1 ALBUM OF 2022 GOES TO…

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AND FINALLY, THE LOUDER THAN WAR NUMBER 1 ALBUM OF 2022 GOES TO…

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ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2022
By louderthanwar -November 28, 20220
Over the course of 2022, here at Louder Than War, we’ve reviewed close to 500 great albums, a mere scratch off the surface of all the wonderful music released this year. We couldn’t cover it all, but we dug out some new gems, discovered new artists, saw one of those we’ve championed from their humble beginnings reach new creative heights and reacquainted ourselves with old heroes.
To put together our Top 100 Albums Of The Year, we polled all our contributors and, for the first time, all subscribers to Louder Than War. Over 200 albums were voted for, representing the diversity of outstanding records released this year and, once again, such a massive variety.
The battle for the top spot was hard fought, with our overall number-one album just edging past the subscribers’ choice in the final days. It was a close call for sure.
We want to take this opportunity to thank all our subscribers for supporting Louder Than War over the last 12 months. We’re an army of volunteers who do this purely for the love of music and the desire to champion as many artists as possible. Your support has been invaluable.
If you want to become a subscriber and have your say in the 2023 poll, head over here.
But here’s what you’ve come for…The Louder Than War Top 100 Albums Of 2022!

ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2022
100. Karen: Karen (Raving Pop Blast)
Perfect, old-school indie guitar pop – from an English variation on the Modern Lovers perhaps. Whatever Karen is – it’s an overwhelming, life-affirming success and just a brilliant album for and by veterans of the Indie-Pop Wars.

99. James Domestic: Carrion Repeating (Kibou/Amok/TNS)
Vocalist with The Domestics took a stride into the unknown and releases his first solo album. As if the gobby mercenary of Suffolk hasn’t said enough already, the results make compelling listening. Carrion Repeating is an album of eleven genre-less observational tracks, documenting our pitiful existence.

98. Moor Mother: Jazz Codes (Anti-)
Encompassing jazz, R&B, hip-hop and more, what began life as a poetry book by Moor Mother, finished as a wonderful in-depth study of Black classical, one that revered the past whilst simultaneously looking to the future.

97. Holy Coves: Druids & Bards (Yr Wyddfa)
Druids And Bards is a powerful album which deserves your time and attention, packed with vocal emotion which sees frontman Scott Marsden letting loose, maybe shaking off the past.

96. Experiment 637: Sleepwalk (Learn Fear)
An astonishing piece of craft that floats along with fractured melody. This album is the drug you need. No side effects, just a shot of spine-tingling numbers that take the worries from life away in the form of nine excellent tracks of pleasure.

95. Armoured Flu Unit: The Mighty Roar (Grow Your Own)
The Mighty Roar is an intense call to arms, pent-up bottled anger that spills over and ignites the frustration within you. There’s an anticipated excitement as soon as the needle hits the wax, and there’s no disappointment from start to finish – all killer, no filler.

94. Kicked In The Teeth: Salt Rocket To Nowhere (Rare Vitamin)
The violence is in the music and songs where it is exorcized. The band is their release for all the pent-up anger, frustration at rage at government, institutions and society. Salt Rocket To Nowhere gives younger hardcore bands something to aspire to musically in terms of concise, match-fit, controlled rage and aggression with no flab or excess.

93. Monochrome Set: Allhallowtide (Tapete)
Monochrome Set were always out on their own, in a class and a hermetically sealed genre of their own. Allhallowtide is the latest in an impeccable catalogue that very few of their contemporaries have matched.

92. The Cool Greenhouse: Sod’s Toastie (Melodic)
The Cool Greenhouse are not a band for everyone. But if you succumb to their charm, you’ll love them to death. They’re geeky and they’re freaky. They’re odd, they’re nuts but they are head and shoulders above the perceived ‘competition’, because they were winners from the start.

91. First Aid Kit: Palomino (Columbia)
While still clearly indebted to the Americana of Gram Parsons, on Palomino, First Aid Kit allowed themselves a freer spirit. They expanded their sound to embrace poppier elements and, in doing so, found new strengths.

90. Mythic Sunship: Light/Flux (Tee Pee)
Maintaining their fresh spontaneity while in search of new ideas, Mythic Sunship continued to explore psychedelic free jazz. The band manage to keep the excitement of improvisation whilst finding room for wonderful melodies.

89. Sylvan Esso: No Rules Sandy (Loma Vista)
No one ever thought that Sylvan Esso had much time for rules in the past, but they have definitely reached full insubordination mode with No Rules Sandy. They even busted through their own conventions for recording an album, finding that the entire pick ‘n’ mix of songs came to them in a three-week period

88. Joel Ross: Parable Of The Poet (Blue Note)
The Parable Of The Poet, the third album by New York-based vibraphonist Joel Ross, is an absolute triumph. Supported by a stellar band, he has created an album that feels both voluminous and intimate at the same time.

87. Anna von Hausswolff: Live At Montreux Jazz Festival (Southern Lord)
For those new to her work, this 2018 performance reveals on another level Anna von Hausswolff’s talent in an electric and soaring performance of her intense gothic drama and epic soundscapes.

86. Michael Monroe: I Live Too Fast To Die (Silver Lining)
One of the greatest ever performers in the world of rock’n’roll backed up by what I consider to be the greatest rock’n’roll band on the circuit, so what’s not to like about that.

85. Collins: Skins (Subexotic)
Often disturbing, often soothing, Skin from Collins is an album of haunting beauty and simple complexity. An album of complimenting juxtapositions that deserves massive exposure. Never a dull moment, Skins is an album of pure genius.

84. Seagull Kinevil: Tolls & Trolls (link2wales)
‘Lost’ album, recorded in 2012, Amlwch psychedelic-psyche nutters Seagull Kinevil are a talent to behold; full of twisted wit and musical mirth. From Amlwch on Anglesey, which explains a lot!

83. Hot Chip: Freakout/Release (Domino)
While lyrically the album explores dark emotions, its sound is deceptively upbeat. With rich and intricate songcraft, Freakout/Release recollects personal experiences of going through and surviving a hard time.

82. Los Palms: Skeleton Ranch (Fuzz Club)
Australia’s Los Palms mine the west coast meets desert psych sounds, mixing swirling feedback with chiming guitar jangles that flow under infectious melodies. Harking back to bands like Los Saicos and up to their labelmates Night Beats.

81. Primitive Knot: Ur-Metal (Phage Tapes/Deathbed Tapes)
Ur-Metal subsumes us in a sea of twisted electronics with a guitar that surfaces like a leviathan from under the waves. The sparse narrative tells us a story about metal itself as it crawls from the primordial ooze.

80. The Shed Project: The Curious Mind Of A Common Man (One Love)
After being championed by Louder Than War, The Shed Project finally released their debut album and it didn’t disappoint. Political, positive, tender and life-affirming, the album was steeped in the sounds of Manchester’s past.

79. Blue Orchids: Angus Tempus Memoir (Tiny Global)
Once you grow accustomed to the mythic near-future or parallel recent-past inhabited by the Blue Orchids on this psychedelic odyssey you soon realise that this probably is the most unique, complete and brilliant album they have made.

78. Scalping: Void (Houndstooth)
Scalping dip their toes so deep into the midway point between the polarities of hardcore and techno that their entire heads have been submerged, unable to even speak of what they have seen. The result of this willing exploration of the abyss is Void.

77. False Heads: Sick Moon (Scruff Of The Neck)
Iggy Pop-endorsed False Heads are band on the rise to watch and their second album, produced by Frank Turner, proved their skill of weaving a blend indie-pop and post-punk sensibilities through big-riff rock.

76. Ulla Straus: Foam (3 X L)
Weird ambient pop unlike anything Straus has created before sprinkled with glistening keys and at times jazz-like guitars, Foam has the ability to wash away the world through its own disconnection as she pushes her voice to the fore.

75. Father John Misty: Chloe & The Next 20th Century (Bella Union)
The aural equivalent of a whisky-scented kiss, with Chloe and The Next Twentieth Century Father John Misty turned in an album to reassure all those who had been waiting for it; a record brimming with all the warmth and openness we have come to expect.

74. Just Mustard: Heart Under (Partisan)
The second album from Irish shoegazers second album was a brooding and yet focused collection. In parts it ramped up the dreamier elements of their sound while still retaining the menace and danger of their debut.

73. Horace Andy: Midnight Rocker (On-U Sound)
A late-career masterpiece from one of dub’s defining voices. With a reworking of his classics alongside new tracks, Horace Andy added a new level of hushed intensity to his compositions, helped masterfully by Adrian Sherwood.

72. Paolo Nutini: Last Night In The Bittersweet (Atlantic)
On his fourth album, Paolo Nutini spread his wings to create a much more diverse record that, with spoken word interludes, maintained the intimacy of his previous work while shifting through indie-rock to more plaintive soul.

71. Aurora: The Gods We Can Touch (Decca)
On her third album, Norweigan singer/producer Aurora crafted an ethereal and spiritually uplifting record that, like her live shows, transports you to another place through her angelic voice and otherworldly compositions.

70. Dana Gavanski: When It Comes (Full Time Hobby)
On When It Comes, Dana Gavinski showcased an eclecticism of sound which at times recalled the impeccably ethereal tunes of Cate Le Bon and the hypnotic indie-pop of The Luyas. One of the most promising emerging singer-songwriters.

69. Reverse Cowgirls: Fortis et Fidus (Self-release)
Despite consistently impressive reviews, The Reverse Cowgirls have never quite broken through to a wider audience beyond garage/punk circles. With this gloriously inventive and emotionally charged album, that may be about to change.

68. Jessie Buckley and Bernard Butler: For All Our Days That Tear The Heart (Virgin)
Who would have even predicted this as a collaboration, let alone one that would make for such elegant simplicity in its composition? Bernard Butler has always had that canny knack for making a tune sing, and Jessie Buckley can’t half deliver a song.

67. Warmduscher: At The Hotspot (Bella Union)
A funky as fuck amalgamation of the first two albums, brewed in a steaming pot of shake-your-arse funk with a difference. The whole album sounds like a concept of some low-down dirty funk club hidden in the back streets of New York coming out of London’s Soho.

66. The Brother Moves On: $/he Who Feeds You…Owns You (Native Rebel)
Part of a powerful lineage of South African protest music, afro-jazz combo The Brother Moves On have created an album of incredible diversity and creativity that feels uplifting and inspirational, enducing moods of sanguinity rather than anxiety. And, by God, we could all do with some of that right now.

65. J. Zunz: Del Aire (Rocket Recordings)
Lorena Quintanilla, on her third album as J Zunz, continued to take her intelligent, avant-garde electronica down even more interesting avenues with Del Aire, especially the magnificent trumpet/electronics interactions. With spacious ambience and a greater focus on a krautrock-meets-shoegaze, the album’s gestating repetition feeds into the kneejerk reaction for further listens.

64. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Cool It Down (Secretly Canadian)
On their fifth album, Yeah Yeah Yeahs set their earlier spiky indie-punk to one side to produce an album that drifts through incisive observations on the modern world. The space allowed Karen O’s vocals to soar with a freshly found tenderness.

63. Dead Cross: II (Ipecac)
On Dead Cross II, Crain, Lombardo, Patton, and Pearson serve up 32 minutes of thrash punk gold that expands upon the immense adrenaline of their debut, whilst taking it to places altogether heavier and more intense, whilst never letting their playfulness slip by the wayside.

62. The Delines: The Sea Drift (Decor)
Americana dripping in characters surviving amidst lost dreams, crumbling beachside towns and the ennui and inertia of lives unfulfilled. As a perfect examination of a love that has hit the rocks, it’s hard to beat All Along The Road, perhaps the Delines finest moment. Recommended for late-night melancholic listening.

61. Clara Engel: Their Invisible Hands (Self-released)
Close your eyes and you’re in the heart of the woods, magic chalk clutched in your sweaty palm. Let the songs transport you to another world; a world so richly painted by the subtle, unhurried instrumentation and Engel’s endlessly evocative poetry.

60. The Shop Window: A 4 Letter Word (Spinout Nuggets)
Across the ten tracks, we find a band who have grown in confidence – the jangly guitars and vocal harmonies are ever present but with renewed vigour all around.

59. The Nightingales: The Last Laugh (Tiny Global)
There are several reasons why this is a brilliant album: the words, the music, the depth and the laughs. And the fact that, after getting a bit more attention and the respect they deserve, the Nightingales music actually sounds more joyful than ever before.

58. TVAM: High Art Life (Invada)
Full of ideas and much more to come from this maverick of film soundtrack songwriting that gives the likes of Mogwai a run for their money. A true talent with innovation and an ear for psych space rock we’ve not heard for a while.

57. Pete Astor: Time On Earth (Tapete)
Every 50-something and above who has enjoyed journeying through punk and indie, country and lo-fi, art and literature and finds great worth and comfort in songs of love and experience, should spend a little time and money on Time On Earth. You will not regret it for one second.

56. Bad Breeding: Human Capital (One Little Independent)
The fourth album from Stevenage’s Bad Breeding is an intense journey pulling together elements of 80s anarcho-punk and thrash with modern hardcore to deliver an analysis of the current ecological and economic crisis that faces humanity.

55. Dry Cleaning: Stumpwork (4AD)
Stumpwork elaborates on the postpunk template, creating everything from conventional tunes with a funky undercurrent to jangly indie melodies and dissonant soundscapes built around electronic noise and avant-jazz.

54. Wonderful Beasts: Magic and Myth (Subexotic)
Powerfully moving, yet consciously understated, Magic & Myth is an album for dreamers and thinkers, for quiet contemplation and deep listening, and a significant addition to the growing catalogues of Knott and Xqui.

53. Yard Act: The Overload (Island)
Yard Act are the latest post-punk gang to have been catapulted from the outside after years of playing in other bands, the spotlight turning on to a wilfully eccentric but oddly brilliant post-punk-pop.

52. The Dry Retch: Operation Uranus (Stalingrad)
Operation Uranus is a collection of classic anarcho-punk cover versions that have been given The Dry Retch treatment. They’ve been garaged, and they sound superb.

51. Loyle Carner: Hugo (EMI)
As soon as the first single, Hate, boomed out of our speakers, we knew that this was next-level Loyle Carner stuff. With searing self-examination on matters of race and parenthood, this level of intensity could descend into Olympic-standard navel-gazing in the wrong hands – not here. We can all find something of ourselves; Carner is an exceptional everyman.

50. Melting Palms: Noise Between The Shades (La Pochette Surprise)
Hamburg-based quintet Melting Palms returned with their second album, Noise Between The Shades, and they were clearly out to stretch your sonic boundaries. With a stunning cascade of noise, emotion, and guitar-based music, this album is ready to set your mind free and take you to places you may have only dreamed of. There is a real sense of catharsis running through the songs in a bid to leave the old behind and focus on the path ahead.

49: Arctic Monkeys: The Car (Domino)
On The Car, Arctic Monkeys pushed their own boundaries, continued to defy expectations, and created an album that deserves to be listened to as one piece, cinematic in theme and scope. Who the fuck are Arctic Monkeys? The answer is clear: whoever the fuck they want to be. Shorn of expectation, they found room to explore more dramatic soundscapes while there were moments that might claw back some of those that didn’t sign up for the space trip four years ago.

48. Metronomy: Small World (Because Music)
Small World may be more stripped-down and more grown-up than anything Metronomy had done previously, but the quality was maintained. It was another change of direction, this time a deviation greater than normal. Despite that, the quality of the output remained consistently high, confirming, once again, that Joe Mount is one of the finest songwriters of his generation. Each and every track on this eclectic jewel brings something a little different to the party.

47. The Mysterines: Reeling (Fiction)
The Mysterines finally arrived with their long-awaited debut album that went straight for the jugular, with thirteen tracks of supreme quality garage grunge fronted by the tantalising hair-raising vocals of future rock star Lia Metcalfe, backed by her band of sonic brothers. They unconsciously tapped into the blueprint laid by Solar Race and produced a debut that deserved to be on repeat for the whole year.

46. The William Loveday Intention: The Baptiser (Damaged Goods)
Barely a year and a half had passed since Billy Childish inaugurated his new Bob Dylan-inspired phase under the name The William Loveday Intention with the release of People Think They Know Me…But They Don’t Know Me. Reworking and rerecording some of his own classics again in this style, covering Dylan himself, and writing new songs, he was no longer stuck in Stuckism, continuing to mine the depths that this newfound freedom has given him. Even for a performer as prolific as he is, he has hit upon a purple period that shows no sign of slowing and his latest album, The Baptiser, continues to delight.

45. Dubstar: Two (Northern Writes)
Two is the second album since Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie reunited in the mid-2010s and is also the first since their albums Disgraceful and Goodbye in the 1990s to be produced by New Order and Pet Shop Boys collaborator Stephen Hague. This reunion with Hague, ushered in a record of full-spectrum mega-pop, swooning synthesised orchestras, acutely observed kitchen sink dramas, and outright bangers. It is a record of bewitching, cinematic scale.

44. Florence + The Machine: Dance Fever (Polydor)
As a songwriter and performer, Florence Welch often walks the line between steely determination and shattering vulnerability. She is the queen of emotional and musical extremes, and it’s these stark contrasts that have helped her to create such distinctive music over the past fifteen years. Dance Fever is an album that is by turns exhilarating, angry, funny, and sad; a worthy heir to its four predecessors. Like its author, it reflects an inner and outer world that is constantly in flux and changing.

43. Bob Vylan: The Price Of Life Ghost Theatre)
When Bob Vylan hit the ears of Louder Than War back in 2020 our own Nathan Brown premiered the news that had gone viral around the punk community and the buzz was on. A big fuck you to racists and a powerful hard hitter which caused a ruckus that year. If you think they’ve mellowed out think again… A startling album that some might say is too short, yet if you link into the lyrics there’s enough in there to keep you waiting for the next angry instalment. Listen up!

42. Anarchistwood: Chiasmata (Ex Gratia)
Punk pranksters and provocateurs Anarchistwood finally release Chiasmata, an album that started back in 2019, but with global pandemics, only recently was fully recorded. Along the way, terrible personal tragedy hit the band, and that they have created a typically uplifting and thought-provoking album is a testament to their resilience and commitment to their artistic creativity.

41. Bill Callahan: YTILAER (Drag City)
There’s so much complexity and beauty in the seeming simplicity of this album. While the music in some ways reflects the places that Callahan has been sonically, there’s a warmth here that hasn’t been present in his previous work. The songs are at once ephemeral with softly played keys and strings, yet grounded with Jim White’s drumming. Callahan’s voice radiates with a kindness that’s unexpected but inviting. Throughout the album, the music is still lyrically driven and a little bit lo-fi, just like you’ve come to expect, but with a kind of mercy, a tenderness.

40. The Smile: A Light For Attracting Attention (XL)
With the two main creative minds of Radiohead, The Smile were always going to sound closest to their main band than any other of Thom Yorke or Jonny Greenwood’s individual side projects. And that it does. But, in typical fashion of the band, the album that explores the sound of Radiohead’s own history is, of course, not a Radiohead album. Teaming up with Sons Of Kemet’s Tom Skinner was the perfect choice as he brings those skittish beats as the pair delve into their unique blend of electro-post-punk-prog with doses of exquisiteness when they bring out the acoustic guitars.

39. Stony Sugarskull: Princess Sugarskull)
LA/Berlin-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Stony Sugarskull’s second album was recorded to analogue tape by UK producer Kristian Bell (The Wytches). Get ready to immerse yourself in a sonic world of wonders -from post-punk-infused spiritual, indie-psych trips to heavenly blends of shoegaze and garage rock, reminiscent of vast, mysterious, desert-like landscapes.

38. The Gentle Cycle: Landside Eyes (Record Recycler)
The Gentle Cycle’s Landslide Eyes stood out as an exceptional release by sheer dint of its warmth and humanity. Despite the grimness of these times, the core creative partnership of Derek See and Roger Brogan succeeded in conjuring up a heady cocktail of ‘90s dream-pop and classic ‘60s psychedelia. Combining the sonic innovation of My Bloody Valentine with the eloquent guitar of Eddie Hazel and heavenly, Byrds-like harmonies, Landslide Eyes is a mesmerising trip stuffed with gorgeous melodies, toothsome guitar and compelling songwriting. Ecstatic music for the mind and body.

37. Xqui: Pieces Part 2 Somewherecold)
The second of three albums from Xqui in 2022 saw Pieces Part 2 rely heavily on manipulated field recordings with vocal contributions from fans and musicians. Includes the accalimed Boundary Fitting which drew comparisons to Coil. The year saw Xqui grow as an artist and remixer working with the likes of Mark Stewart, Vince Clarke and Neil Arthur.

36. Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul: Topical Dancer (DEEWEE)
With their debut album, Topical Dancer, Belgian duo Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul delivered a potent commentary on cultural appropriation, misogyny and racism, all enveloped in a cloak of exuberant electro-pop. As it unravels, it takes you on a fantastic voyage. They created a wonderfully cerebral album that makes us think. But at its heart, Topical Dancer is a fantastic pop record, one that is lyrically unflinching and musically compelling.

35. Gabriels: Angels & Queens Part 1 (Parlophone)
Angels and Queens is a flawless album, one that will rival Kendrick Lamar’s magnum opus, Mr Morale And The Big Steppers, as this year’s finest. Indeed, Gabriels remind me of SAULT in their ability to consistently release music of quite a remarkable standard. And, like SAULT, they also have a semi-mischievous, almost Hitchcockian mastery of suspense. We just know that there’s more to come, because this particular collection is only Part One of Angels and Queens, with Part Two to follow in 2023.

34. Shilpa Ray: Portrait Of A Lady (Northern Spy)
Shilpa Ray is criminally overlooked, the heir to Lou Reed’s mantle of NY street poet. Shilpa Ray is wild, humorous, soulful, vicious and vulnerable. Shilpa Ray’s is the voice that once you hear it, you want more. Portrait Of A Lady is an exploration of the #metoo generation, documenting her own experiences with abuse, taking precision shots at the fallout from the Trump administration and the polarisation in Western countries between those who are standing up and speaking out.

33. Melby: Looks Like A Map (Rama Lama)
On Looks Like A Map, Sweden’s Melby expanded on their indie-pop blueprint with lashings of psych-pop to create an expansive album, pushing themselves into fresh territories to evoke, with each song, a different emotion in the listener. It’s an album that implores you to lie back, soak up the sounds and revel in a cathartic experience. Each listen reveals more layers that, again and again, elevate the songs to a new level.

32. Maro O: L’homme de L’ombre (Plastic Sounds)
L’Homme De L’Ombre is a powerful and evocative debut album which proves beyond all doubt that music is a language all of its own – it speaks for itself whatever your native tongue. Keith Richards has been quoted as saying: “Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones”. So just listen to this album and embrace that thought.

31. tAngerinecAT: Glass (Self-released)
Where else are you going to hear dark electronica punctuated by hurdy-gurdy and driven by an inspiring narrative of survival? It’s lucky for us that the Cheshire-born Chilton crossed paths with Purpurovsky all those years ago as tAngerinecAt really are a singular and near-uncharacterisable talent. The album may be born of suffering yet it’s clear that the duo has only drawn strength from the strife. Glass is a truly astounding, powerful and highly pertinent piece of work.

30. Helen Love: This Is My World (Alcopop!)
Since 1992 Helen and her band have been producing Ramones-influenced, happy hardcore/bubblegum pop indie anthems on a Bontempi organ (possibly), packed with more pop culture references than you can shake a stick at. This Is My World is more straightforward, perhaps more grown up. It’s no less addictive though and doesn’t disappoint. While this isn’t an atypical Helen Love album it’s a welcome one which is influenced by the times we’re living in, in a similar way to Billy Bragg’s A Million Things That Never Happened.

29. Coughin’ Vicars: Ritual Discipline (Arkam)
This should never have passed us by. Like their live shows, this album rips through the time/space continuum and stitches it back together – exhilarating and exciting. As their label states, the album captures ” the cold tones of shattered glass echoing through the brick of stone of this seaport town…Sharp music, rabid; a reflection of the pour-your-own-concrete-and-skate-it attitude of juvenile criminality.”

28. Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band: Dear Scott (Modern Sky)
For most of his career, Head has arguably been the poet laureate of Liverpool in his songs, and an expert in turning the mundane into the magical and Dear Scott is a consistently enervating, uplifting and often moving triumph. Like all works of genuine beauty it may take time to reveal all its wonders, but reveal them it will. The overwhelming feeling you get from this record is that they are no longer the taunting voice of Banquo that haunted even his most inspiring albums.

27. Mush: Down Tools (Memphis Industries)
Down Tools was a more free-flowing and abstract affair than its predecessor, albeit one that continues to captivate with its lackadaisical melodies that lope effortlessly over a swirling mix of psych-garage, art-rock and post-punk. And it in no way means that they’ve left their twisted social commentary behind. Mush are a band that are constantly looking outwards and pushing themselves and their sound and Down Tools is a great album on all fronts.

26. Kendrick Lamar: Mr Morale & The Big Steppers (Interscope)
Musically a wildly eclectic album that switches from electronic sketches to brilliant tension dealing jazz piano drapes, moody Marvin Gaye sonorous strings, moments of classic rap pop, sparse soundscapes but always with the distinctive dense wordplay and brilliant delivery from the main man creating a compelling work that sees hip hop’s most creative main player take a creative swerve that is breathtaking. He retreats from the limelight and turns deep into himself whilst highlighting his own insecurities and beliefs.

25. Jack White: Fear Of The Dawn (Third Man)
Yes, another that slipped through our hands, but one that saw Jack White III lay down some of his most weirdly eccentric music to date. He pushed his excess to the limit to create an album that, while he still slings a six-string, couldn’t be further from the manifesto he laid out with The White Stripes. Gone are the days of stripped-down, three-tone garage blues. Fear Of The Dawn saw White’s muse genuinely explode.

24. narcissus: A Sense Of Place (42’s)
narcissus came up trumps here with an album that built up and burst from their vessels like an open artery released from a tight tourniquet with a splash of dayglo blood to get your funky feet moving. While Working Mens Club and Hello Cosmos brought the dirty disco hip hop electro funk to the masses, narcissus were laying low, knowing they were there first and just waiting for the right moment to strike hard. A great debut from a great group you all need to hear.

23. Hugh Cornwell: Moments Of Madness (Townsend Music)
Moments Of Madness, a call back to his rock roots, is a late-flowering classic from a man who has always known how to write a damn good tune. Hugh Cornwell, by his own admission, may never have been a young man of rock, but he has certainly always created songs of vigour, with a mischievous, youthful glint in his eye. Moments of Madness creates an immediacy, a rock ‘n’ roll rough edge to the songs that generate excitement.

22. Spiritualized: Everything Was Beautiful (Bella Union)
Jason Pierce returned with another blissed-out medicinal slab of everything you’d expect from the ‘if it’s not broken don’t try to fix it’ sound of almost religious status. The magic was still there and the production as polished as ever, considering the army of instruments involved, which is the way of The Spaceman. A celebration of a glittering career from one of the most unique songwriters on the planet. The perfect prescription.

21. Bodega: Broken Equipment (What’s Your Rupture?)
New York’s Bodega come flying back with a multi-faceted near perfect post-punk set that sent pulses racing around the world. It opens with arguably, one of the tracks of the year, Thrown with its taut and angular bassline and takes us a journey of discovery through spiky punk and electronica, before collapsing into the Velvety majesty of After Jane. Expanded version, Xtra Equipment adds another layer, particular on Art of Advertising.
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20. The Orielles: Tableau (Heavenly)
Though many double albums have been released this year, the latest from The Orielles is in the minority that actually warrants the meatier length: the trio stretched themselves as musicians and studio wizards with co-producer Joel Anthony Patchett, resulting in a genuine experimental leap that doesn’t once feel like cynical dabbling. Tableau’s bristling creativity – inherent across Stereolab level improv, well-executed auto-tuned vocals, and superb spoken word – ensures its place as the apex of their varied career.

19. Cate Le Bon: Pompeii (Mexican Summer)
The sixth album by Welsh songwriter and producer Cate Le Bon balances a lukewarm new wave sound against the intensity of emotion. Although its title ostensibly refers to apocalyptic motives, musically this record suggests and intrigues more than the concept. An experienced producer, Cate Le Bon perfectly knows what she aims for in terms of sound. Richly textured, the songs bring up a sense of nature-inspired synaesthesia. Bending synths on Pompeii summon wavering smoke, ascending in circular patterns up in the sky. Even in a lifeless environment, the beating of one’s heart prevails.

18. Björk: Fossora (One Little Independent)
On her 10th studio album, Björk creates a celebration of and elegy for life on earth. She weaves aural threads that grow roots and rely on other voices across the record, like the fungal references across it — tracks like Mycelia, Sorrowful Soil, and Fungal City. Playful notes and rhythms also speak back to traditional song, drawing another reference to ancestral roots. That idea comes full circle at the end of Fossora in Her Mother’s House, a song that speaks both to maternal family connections and to the vaster mother earth. The album emerges sonically from Björk’s body of work, with its otherworldly synthesizer hums coupled with the artist’s ever-ethereal voice.

17. Goat: Oh Death (Rocket)
Their most effective blending of genre yet – 70’s funk included – and sprawling polyrhythmic grooves made Goat’s fourth studio album their best yet. The swerve into Afrobeat inclined parts, and looser, more ambitious structures felt like a return to their jubilant, pre-‘Requiem’ era of massive riffs and tribal experiments. It really showed the band firing on all cylinders and made for a wonderful return from them.

16. Girls In Synthesis: The Rest Is Distraction (Own It/Cargo)
The Rest Is Distraction is the sonic embodiment of all that heart, head, and hostility are pitted against it in the daily idiot-pits. With familiar friends funkcutter, Stanley Bad on violin and horns plus some keyboards provided by ex-Fall recruit Eleni Paulou; the new album rights all wrongs, corrects certain errors, picks up and pushes against where the last laugh left off. There are the elements that exist in a state of creative comorbidity, of intense interdependence. A long player for the casualties of the human condition and its crippling tricks. All ours to extract.

15. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers: Nightroamer (Thirty Tigers)
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers returned with Nightroamer to expand on their biting yet bruised Americana with an injection of defiance on an album that maintained their identity while simultaneously feeling much more expansive than its predecessor. From the outset, wounds are opened, cleansed and, hopefully, healed through cathartic processes in the light of day. When they break from the Americana mould they find a new confidence to delve into a poppier territory. It is a triumphant return and may be the crossover album that they need to reach the audience that they truly deserve.

14. The Vat Egg Imposition: Shop Tones (Alphaville)
Shop Tones feels like an indie-pop album, yet one that’s brimming with psychedelic garage rock and post-punk influences. It has personality and musicianship in spades with gang backing vocals, tight drums and crazily catchy bass lines, guitar parts and keyboard melodies. It’s a wonderfully creative debut without an inch of flab. The album should really be loved by all those lucky enough to hear it. An immensely fun listen and a reminder, in these increasingly stressful times, not to take yourself too seriously. Our advice? You should go and get one.

13. The Bobby Lees: Bellevue (Ipecac)
The Bobby Lees are just too good for the mainstream. Too raw, too wild, too feral… but clever enough to tease the money-men and taste-makers who know there is still a massive potential market for a band like this. This album is magnificent: primal, rural, feral, rock’n’roll. (I wanted to avoid calling it ‘punk rock’ as the term has become so degraded and associated with things like the Exploited playing at Butlins in 2022…) If this is punk rock, it’s that first taste of American Hardcore – DI playing Richard Hung Himself in Suburbia…. crossed with the Sex Beat of the Gun Club and the self-exorcism of Hole.

12. The Battery Farm: Flies (Rare Vitamin)
Loud as fuck gutter punks The Battery Farm finally landed their anticipated debut album which is a dark journey into a freakish world of in-your-face uneasiness with a bitter twist of warped funk. A thrilling debut from a bunch of grafters who are determined to get their music out to the masses. They fit into their own genre and we reckon in a year or so we will see some young guns out there trying to duplicate their sound to create a new wave of groups like history repeating on the beautiful music scene of our times. A one-off unique group of Northern gutter punk bastards…

11. The Black Angels: Wilderness Of Mirrors (Partisan)
The Black Angels know the push and pull of the world around us and that, to confront and take down a system that binds us, we must come together. There is a fire ready to burn within the heart of the band, the embers are still glowing, sparks flickering, ready to ignite in an inferno and burn the modern horrorshow to ashes. Wilderness Of Mirrors straddles perfectly the divide between impenetrable fuzz-punching drive and scintillating psych, reverential to their home city’s musical heritage, a torch passed that continues to light fires.

10. Wet Leg: Wet Leg (Domino)
This confirmed our first impression of Wet Leg: they are ‘doing it because it’s fun’. And it really is the best kind of fun – clever too. The album is a glorious selection of bright ideas, 20-something musings and in-jokes, set to highly accomplished riffs with just enough punk in their indie for my money. If you like your reviews with some neat comparisons, have these: they do that Pixies quiet–loud thing, with Elastica Brit-pop vibes, and 21st-century pop. Moreover, they are uniquely Wet Leggish. Which is, we hear, now a thing. Their humour is at once puerile and arch, but we’re invited in on the joke. Often it’s the rough bits, the weird wonky melodies that you hold on to. “Also, are we having fun?” adds Hester. We really are, cheers Wet Leg!

9. Sea Power: Everything Was Forever (Golden Chariot)
They’ve come a long way since the spiked angular sound of songs like Apologies For Insect Life and Sea Power are surely on the cusp of becoming an institution, one in which all are welcome to hole up and weather out the storm. Their blend of atmospheric indie post-rock continues to develop, ebbing and flowing like a river rushing through their precious and celebrated woodlands. The band are now experts in blending scrawling riffs across expansive landscapes. At times they skirt closer to the orchestration of Sigur Ros, but Sea Power know full well that their power is in something more communally celebratory, closer to the hands of the people than the seemingly untouchable ephemeralness of some of their peers, and they are all the better for it.

8. Osees: A Foul Form (Castle Face)
“I have so many fuzz pedals that if they fell on me they’d probably fucking kill me. They’d find me under a fucking pile of fuzz pedals.” That’s what John Dwyer told us back in 2020. And by God, on this new release from Osees he’s daisy-chained them all together. Right from the first track, the face-melting first single from the album, Funeral Solution, Dwyer and his band are on another planet altogether. The album is a mass of major chord distortion, everything dialled up to ten, not just in the red but bleeding from the mixing desk through saturated smoke-filled and fueled mayhem. On A Foul Form, Osees shredded their recent formulas, incinerated them and conjured something from the ashes that just might be their most brutal creation. It’s a total blast!

7. Gilla Band: Most Normal (Rough Trade)
Gilla Band remain one of the finest groups to emerge out of a generation obsessed with, blessed, and possessed by, a certain raging noise. Entirely their own to build, entirely their own to break. This is their new album, their new name, their new statement – an abrasive diatribe against the Machiavellian, masochistic apparatuses of 2022 that Gilla Band, musically scathing and lyrically speaking cannot help but be troubled by what keeps ticking and chewing on, is forever, unsurprisingly found rolling around in its own digital filth. This is a retort, a response, a rollicking tossing of industrial noise punk that distorts the walls of the shadows that this year, and the year before that, and the year before that, somehow stinks the entire globe out the more it is copied and stretched over.

6. AlterModerns: Side Effects Of Reality (This Could Prove Fatal)
Brazilian via Bristol art-punk garage-psych duo AlterModerns made good on their promise and deliver a stripped-back punch-filled debut album of politically personal declarations. AlterModerns hit our radar full-on nearly a year back when our very own Ged Babey tipped them for cult success. They have quickly become one of his favourite acts of recent years through their intense live shows. On Side Effects Of Reality, Glauco Caruso and Ananda Kuhn gave us rich fruits of their labour. They are a band that live their music, producing songs that reflect clearly their outlook. As a couple, they are slowly but surely becoming an art-punk force to be reckoned with. With more projects on the go, including opening their own art space, as we said back at the beginning of the year, Altermoderns are definitely ones to watch.

5. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Omnium Gatherum (KGLW)
What happens when one of the most prolific bands of our times, one whose previous albums have each followed their own individually defined singularity of style; be it prog, garage, microtonal, blissed-out psych-pop; are finally allowed to meet up again and write together as one unit? Well, the rules go out the window and the building implodes under the weight of their own creativity as they smash down each and every one of their columns to rebuild something that brings all their styles together as one. The key is right there in the title. Omnium Gatherum, a miscellaneous collection; eclecticism order of the day as they pull on every one of their strengths to create what just may be their least defined yet most defining record to date.

4. Déjà Vega: Personal Hell (Paperhead)
For a band with no PR and a mystery to their releases, they are about as DIY as it gets. They give little hints whenever they’re about to release something and this was dropped on our pretty little ears with a bang, not a whimper, to the delight of the hardcore fans. With all the big releases that have popped up early this year, this absolute scorcher of an album set alight the start of 2022 with a sonic bang of pure power that screams along at breakneck speed throughout, one which burns but never crashes. They’re a proper DIY act from the midst of Cheshire that should be getting all the attention they so thoroughly deserve.

3. Ezra Furman: All Of Us In Fames (Bella Union)
All Of Us Flames completes a trilogy of Ezra Furman’s albums which began with 2018’s Transangelic Exodus and 2019’s Twelve Nudes. With rage and hope, this trilogy explores Furman’s critique of how it feels to be transgender/queer in a world where she sees the patriarchy clinging to power with clenched fists. Whilst the first two albums dripped with anger and fear, All Of Us Flames focuses on the resistance, the struggle, and the community of the threatened. Furman says the album is, “a queer album for the stage of life when you start to understand that you are not a lone wolf, but depend on finding your family, your people, how you work as part of a larger whole.” In that sense, the trilogy ends with hope.

2. Fontaines DC: Skinty Fia (Partisan)
Fontaines D.C. returned with their third album in three years and a new widescreen sound. It’s the masterpiece they’ve been working towards from the start. While being recognisably a Fontaines album from the start – how could it not be with Chatten’s distinctive delivery to the fore? – it’s, as the cheesy old ads used to say, basically bigger, bolder and better than before. It’s also filled with surprises. The production is clean and atmospheric, creating a new clarity with the guitars and Chatten’s voice to the fore; and it’s almost as if he is only now beginning to discover his vocal range, experimenting with different registers and styles, finding a new musicality far from the mumbling sprechgesang with which we first discovered him.

…AND FINALLY, THE LOUDER THAN WAR NUMBER 1 ALBUM OF 2022 GOES TO…

1. Suede: Autofiction (BMG)
Ever since their resurrection in 2013, with the first of the trilogy, Bloodsports, Suede have been consistently the best ‘cult band’ in the UK. Although Britpop stars, they retain an outsider quality, yet can sell out tours in minutes and overshadow bands with bigger ‘profiles’ at festivals. A loyal, passionate fanbase and a wider appeal, Suede are in a unique position: veterans and survivors who genuinely seem to be at a second creative peak that has lasted nine years now. Autofiction is every bit as good as you imagined it would be. Better even. The album of the year and an album to treasure for life. It really does contain all the bombast, swells and drama of the orchestral classical music so beloved by Brett’s father, but also an intimacy wrapped up in the intensity.

And here’s a playlist of, pretty much, all the acts on this year’s Top 100 Albums of 2022. But, of course, if you can, buy from the bands you love, the bands you discover, hit up their websites and Bandcamps, get out to your local record shop, support your local live music scene, and lets’ keep the scene thriving for 2023.

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