EditorialFor the love of music


For when you’re feeling social


Craig Clemens

December 19, 2022

As much as this past year was a time for reflection, it was also a time for growth. A look back at 2022 shows a period of learning and experimentation, as our favorite musicians pushed their craft forward with new sounds, collaborations, and approaches. We heard some of the most daring productions of the decade, as artists pushed genre boundaries and released some of their most ambitious work to date. We heard more singles than album-length offerings, as the streaming era continues to shape the way we consume music. We heard the rise of some of the most exciting new stars on the scene, while veteran acts continued to redefine themselves. Most importantly, we heard music that felt both timely and timeless, connecting us to different moments in time while still sounding fresh and exciting. From R&B to rock, hip-hop to country, this past year was one of the most varied and exciting in recent memory — and one that will remain in our hearts and minds for years to come. – Craig Clemens, Head of Music

Best Ambient Album

7. Loraine James – Building Something Beautiful for Me

6. Pye Corner Audio – Let’s Emerge!

5. Pan•American – The Patience Fader

4. Whatever the Weather – Whatever the Weather

3. Szun Waves – Earth Patterns


1. Burial – Antidawn

Burial’s ambient sound collage EP Antidawn which came out in early 2022 was a testament to how many of us felt in the often-isolating years of 2020-2021, with a depression bonus round being the case in late December 2021-January 2022 due to a certain variant disrupting our return to normalcy. Burial presents overwhelming soundscapes with washed out synths, distortion, and bass notes that feel like they drone on forever. Mixed in are hauntological fragments of songs of the past and present – often familiar but too fuzzy and differently pitched to fully name or recognize. It evokes the feeling of isolation, with random memories of better times fleeting in and out of your mind – romanticized and perhaps not remembered how they really took place. Antidawn has a notable absence of percussion – with tracks feeling like more of shroud as you keep still than anything that would get you moving. While things are (mostly) looking up since those recent dark days, isolation and loneliness are still largely present feelings – with Burial offering Antidawn as a soothing accompaniment. – Michael Primiani


Best Art Pop Album

7. Cate Le Bon – Pompeii

6. Stromae – Multitude

5. Walt Disco – Unlearning

4. Sudan Archives – Natural Brown Prom Queen

3. Jockstrap – I Love You Jennifer B


1. Weyes Blood – And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow

In 2019, Weyes Blood released what was then her fourth studio album ‘Titanic Rising’, to critical acclaim. It was the first installment of a trilogy of albums. The second chapter, ‘And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow dropped on November 18th on Sub Pop. Produced by Ben Babbitt, Jonathan Rado and Weyes Blood (Natalie Merling) herself it’s been described by Merling as a response “to being in the thick of it”. It’s a beautiful and modern take on Chamber Pop – blending stings and horns with folk-rock instrumentation, creating orchestral landscapes that hearken back to Brian Wilson’s masterpiece ‘Pet Sounds’ that Merling then paints over with her lush vocals which call to mind Joni Mitchell and Sarah McLachlan.  On the first single, ‘It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody’, she sings ‘Living in the wake of overwhelming changes/We’ve all become strangers’ – an accurate way to describe the current re-imagining of social norms in a (post?) pandemic world. The whole album examines the struggle of letting go of what’s been lost, through a prism of hope for what new connection may lie ahead.  Weyes Blood has moved from one to watch into one to be reckoned with; tour dates in support of And in The Darkness, Hearts Aglow begin in Europe early in 2023.  – Ben Birchard 


Best Country Album

7. CMAT – If My Wife Knew I’d Be Dead

6. Plains – I Walked With You a Ways

5. MJ Lenderman – Boat Songs

4. Orville Peck – Bronco

3. Zach Bryan – American Heartbreak

2. The Sadies – Colder Streams

1. Angel Olsen – Big Time

Olsen’s sixth album is totally blissed while maintaining a maturity fitting of one of our generations most accomplished songwriters. Finding a whole new power with her pivot toward country, this record is a testimonial to the experience of going through hell and coming out the other side. Heartbreaking, spooky, and full of life-affirming emotions ‘Big Time’ is a record focused and stunning example of vulnerability. If this is your first exposure to this record it is best explored in a pair of headphones, alone, in the dark to really explore the intricate instrumentation and the fluid, musical dynamics. Also take time to read the lyrics. This is a bittersweet album, and fully absorbing the content intensifies this experience. At its heart, this is a country album, tied up in the ribbons of Olsen’s trademark flourishes, it is as personal and as intimate as a diary. – Craig Clemens


Best Electronic Album

7. Daniel Avery – Ultra Truth

6. Ibibio Sound Machine – Electricity

5. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – The Harvest

4. PVA – Blush

3. Shygirl – Nymph

2. Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul – Topical Dancer

1. The Soft Pink Truth – Is It Going to Get Any Deeper Than This?

Soft Pink Truth, the alter-ego of electronic music producer Drew Daniel, presents his latest album Is It Going To Get Any Deeper Than This?, a stunning showcase of his signature blend of ambient, techno, and experimental sounds. It’s the kind of album that makes colors brighter, food tastier and smells more potent. There’s a sense of uplifting airy openness that calms the brain and energizes the listener simultaneously. Tracks like “Wanna Know” and “Moodswing” strike a more groovy chord while “Sunwash” and “Now That It’s All Over” blend dreamy and ambient harmonies together. There’s a liberating tone to the album as the listener is taken on a mysterious ever-flowing journey into the abyss. With breezy melodies and hypnotic beats, this album personifies the mastery of sound and feeling.  – Lindsay Bell


Best Folk Album

7. Tomberlin – i don’t know who needs to hear this…

6. Jake Blount  – The New Faith

5. Hurray for the Riff Raff – LIFE ON EARTH

4. Noah Cyrus – The Hardest Part

3. Alex G – God Save the Animals

2. Florist – Florist

1. Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

A masterful collection of songs that showcase the band’s diverse range of influences and styles. From the gentle, dreamy opener “Not” to the raucous, rousing “Love in Mine”, this album is packed with a variety of sounds and emotions. The lyrics are full of imagery and emotion, and Adrienne Lenker’s voice is the perfect vehicle for the band’s message. Her voice is strong, yet delicate, and the band’s instrumentation is gentle and intricate. Big Thief are adept at blending folk, rock, and pop elements in a way that feels both familiar and fresh. The album is full of surprises, and each listen reveals something new. Overall, this album is both emotionally engaging and musically rewarding. Big Thief have crafted a beautiful, complex collection of songs that will stay with you long after you’ve stopped listening. – Craig Clemens


Best Hip Hop Album

7. Black Thought & Danger Mouse – Cheat Codes

6. JID – The Forever Story

5. Conway the Machine – God Don’t Make Mistakes

4. Bob Vylan – Bob Vylan Presents the Price of Life


2. Denzel Curry – Melt My Eyez See Your Future

1. Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

The highly anticipated fifth studio album of the great Kendrick Lamar is a deep dive into the rapper’s sentiments towards himself and the current state of the world. It’s a provocative piece that personifies Lamar’s inner turmoil, dealing with themes of race, sexuality, and generational trauma. On “N95,” the listener is exposed to Lamar’s distaste of society’s mask that keeps up appearances but distracts from reality. Whereas “Auntie Diaries” and “Mother I Sober” are more introspective works that immerses the listener into Lamar’s inner conflict and self-reflection. This album masterfully blends sharp, thought-provoking lyrics with tight beats and catchy hooks to create a truly memorable experience for the listener. – Lindsay Bell


Best Indie Pop Album

7. Katy J Pearson – Sound of the Morning

6. Phoebe Green – Lucky Me

5. Florence + the Machine – Dance Fever

4. Peach Pit – From 2 to 3


2. Hippo Campus – LP3

1. Wet Leg – Wet Leg

Wet Leg’s debut album was one of the year’s most delightful surprises and easily the most attention-grabbing indie rock record in recent memory. Consisting of late-twenty-something college friends Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, Wet Leg’s strength lies in its refusal to take itself too seriously. The effect is both ecstatic and sobering; with its shade-throwing, detached lyricism and explosive choruses, each deceptively sugar-coated song evokes modern ennui in a packed 37 minutes. This is the sound of mindlessly scrolling to distract yourself from anxiety and disassociating at family events, though the album manages to be an absolute blast. Teasdale’s above-it-all tone and wry references to boring parties, woke culture, and screen addiction resonate more than Wet Leg sound like they intended to, and an undercurrent of joking to downplay the messiness of one’s twenties lends the album a humility that makes it easy to root for. The sordid and undeniable single “Chaise Longue”, a viral cover by Harry Styles, and widespread radio airplay created the perfect conditions for an album as unexpectedly buzzy as any this year. – Matt Lipson


Best Indie Rock Album

7. Body Type – Everything Is Dangerous but Nothing’s Surprising

6. Spoon – Lucifer on the Sofa

5. Wunderhorse – Cub

4. Porridge Radio – Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky

3. Julia Jacklin – PRE PLEASURE

2. Dry Cleaning – Stumpwork

1. Soccer Mommy – Sometimes, Forever

One of the most exciting voices in Indie Pop found her stride in Sometimes, Forever. Rich and varied, with a modern production that never overreaches its core influences, this LP tells the story of its creator’s continued survival. The listener is never alone because contained within these 11 tracks is a reminder that you need never be without hope. Certainly, an LP that deals in extremes – it’s highs climaxing with catchy pop hits and the lows plumbing the depths of barren ruins of depression – but each moment is translucent, transient, and leads directly and seamlessly into the next thrilling rush. This shows a growth for an artist who previously dipped their toes into the somber and sacrilegious, this time around Sophia Allison dives headfirst, leaving us hanging on every single vulnerable and impeccable word. – Craig Clemens


Best Pop Rap Album

7. Mykki Blanco – Stay Close to Music

6. j-hope – Jack In the Box

5. BROCKHAMPTON – The Family

4. Lizzo – Special

3. Megan Thee Stallion – Traumazine

2. Sampa the Great – As Above, So Below


Vince Staples returned this year with a deeply vulnerable portrait of his home turf. His upbringing in Ramona Park has always been a throghline for Vince, loaded with pride, romance, resentment, and danger. On his fifth album, he looks over his shoulder with a twinge of melancholy for the place that saw too many of his friends succumb to far worse fates than his. It’s a deeply personal and individual tale, told with regret and disillusionment; there’s no glorifying the struggle here. Conveyed with his most mature bars and beats to date, Staples does away with the minimalism and sharp angles of Summertime ’06 and Big Fish Theory and the experimentation of FM! in favor of softer palettes for a more introspective tone and a fitting goodbye to his old neighborhood.  – Matt Lipson


Best Psychedelic Album

7. Aofie Ness Frances – Protector

6. Fantastic Negrito – White Jesus Black Problems

5. Goat – Oh Death

4. Kikagaku Moyo – Kumoyo Island

3. Daniel Rossen – You Belong There

2. Spiritualized – Everything Was Beautiful

1. Beach House – Once Twice Melody

Once Twice Melody might be Beach House’s magnum opus. Consisting of four chapters (and effectively working as a double album), this expansive work sees Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally at their most dark but also most tranquil. While “Pink Funeral” sounds like it could score a new A24 horror movie (why was the theme song for the Tim and Eric Bedtime Stories Halloween special the closest Beach House has come to a horror movie score??) while “Through Me” is a track that can wash over my entire body and soul and bring me to my knees. Beach House is a band that does carry the same dream pop/chamber pop to each release, but with enough nuance to make every work feel like its own world. I noticed that through this album, Legrand really shows off a range in her vocal chops – from brooding passages, to putting her voice through filters and high dreamy falsettos that call to mind dream pop titans like Julee Cruise and Elizabeth Fraser (of Cocteau Twins). At over an hour and 20 minutes, there’s enough Beach House greatness to last us a long while. – Michael Primiani


Best Rock Album

7. Halestorm – Back From the Dead

6. Just Mustard – Heart Under

5. Alexisonfire – Otherness

4. Nova Twins – Supernova

3. Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

2. Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There

1. Fontaines D.C. – Skinty Fia

Combining their post punk style with a bit of 90s grunge, Fontaines D.C. is back with an album that feels like a breath of fresh air for rock and punk music fans. Songs like “Jackie Down the Line”, “Roman Holiday” and “Big Shot” I could see having a music video on MTV back in the day. It invokes that kicking around in a small-town malaise best reserved for the fuzzy filters of camcorders of yesteryear. However, this is no tribute act to the past. The group’s unique Irish style is on full display, as well as Grian Chatten’s heavily accented vocal chop and spoken word bits. While their previous albums (especially their first – Dogrel) had more of a jangle pop and uplifting vibe (Sha Sha Sha, anyone?), Skinty Fia (which translates to “the damnation of deer”) takes on a more serious, gritty and darker tone. There are no “Sha Sha Shas” to be had here, but this made for a more complex and engaging album so I don’t miss them much. One of the best rock releases of the year. Bonus: Fontaines D.C. in Toronto this past February marks my first concert since the pandemic, feels good to be back to seeing live music! – Michael Primiani


Best Singer-Songwriter Album

7. Keeley Forsyth – Limbs

6. Ethel Cain – Preacher’s Daughter

5. Kevin Morby – This Is A Photograph

4. Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band – Dear Scott

3. Kathryn Joseph – for you who are wronged

2. Florist – Florist

1. Nina Nastasia – Riderless Horse

Nina Nastasia’s 2022 release is a beautiful, haunting collection of songs that speaks to the listener in an intimate and meaningful way. The album is informed by a dark history of 25 years of abuse from her partner, and the grief and guilt following his suicide, which makes its themes of resilience and recovery resonate that much deeper. Nastasia’s songwriting is exceptional, and her delicate, folk-tinged music is a perfect complement to her lyrics. With its sparse instrumentation and carefully crafted vocals, Riderless Horse is an album that invites its listener in, never making them feel like an outsider or an intruder. Its is a stunningly beautiful and powerful record, with a delicacy and fragility that feels genuine and honest. This essential listening is a powerful testament of the human spirit. – Craig Clemens


Best Trap Album

7. Flohio – Out of Heart

6. Tombs – Ex Oblivion

5. Megan Thee Stallion – Traumazine

4. Central Cee – 23

3. Digga D – Noughty By Nature

2. Leikeli47 – Shape Up

1. Earl Sweatshirt – SICK!

An impressive collection of thought-provoking and cleverly crafted tracks. With an impressive 24 minutes of music, the album packs in a lot of content and shows Earl’s growth as an artist. Reflecting on pandemic life with his witty metaphors and gritty honesty, his masterful lyricism is on full display, showcasing his skill as one of the best rappers in the game. His beats are wonderfully produced, pushing the boundaries of traditional cloud rap. His flow is smooth, and his bars are tightly packed with clever wordplay and references. A thinking person’s rap album, SICK!, is a must-listen for any fan of Earl Sweatshirt or hip hop in general. It’s a brief but rewarding journey that’s sure to leave an impression on any listener. – Craig Clemens


Album of the Year

10. Cate Le Bon – Pompeii

9. Jockstrap – I Love You Jennifer B

8. Wet Leg – Wet Leg

7. Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

6. Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There

5. Angel Olsen – Big Time

4. The Weeknd – Dawn FM

3. Fontaines D.C. – Skinty Fia

2. Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

and.. the best Pop, R&B and Album of the Year is….

1. Beyoncé – RENAISSANCE

This album should come with an addiction warning because I genuinely have not stopped listening to RENAISSANCE since it came out. Beyoncé has once again claimed her title as the Queen of Pop, producing yet another masterful work of art. This time, the 28 time Grammy award winning artist steps out of her usual soulful balladry and into the deep-eclectic world of house music. RENAISSANCE is jam-packed with infectious beats and ethereal melodies that transport the listener into a cathartic trance. Tracks like “PURE/HONEY” and “ALIEN SUPERSTAR” demonstrate an edgier side of Beyoncé with industrial beats and boisterous lyrics that bolster the ego. While “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA” and “CUFF IT” are laced with uplifting and groovy sensibilities. With over an hour of uninterrupted dance excellence, Beyoncé is here to remind everyone that she’s that girl. – Lindsay Bell