Luke Nuttall (Editor / Writer)
The Callous Daoboys – Celebrity Therapist
Okay sure, it cooled a bit over the last few months, but there’s no denying how vital Celebrity Therapist still is, or how The Callous Daoboys continue their ascension up the hardcore and mathcore ladders at Mach speed. Here, you’ve got all the angularity and viciousness of The Dillinger Escape Plan mixed with an undeniable scene sensibility, jamming them in a way that’s certainly not for everyone but hits that sweet spot like a truck when it connects. As far as thrills go—the kind where the band clearly want to lunge out from the speakers and drag you in just to batter you over the head extra hard—this is a proper gem.
Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There
Maybe some of the buzz was dampened by vocalist Isaac Wood’s departure mere days before its release, but Ants From Up There is nothing close to a sophomore slump. It was still the recipient of widespread acclaim after all, and rightfully so given how it takes Black Country, New Road’s propensity for drawn-out, unspooling anti-opulence (in a good way, of course), and does so much more with it. It just feels fascinating to peel through, in DNA strands of post-punk and jazz and experimental rock that form something far more immersive and immense than their debut. It’s no small feat, especially with only a year between them, and with it, Black Country, New Road are now two for two in terms of art-rock’s most gripping form.
Petrol Girls – Baby
Somehow, Petrol Girls just continue to exceed any preconceived expectations from them. They’ve always been great, but Baby is on another level entirely, through channelling their riotous, revolutionary energy down a punk lens that’s tighter and more focused than ever. The result is the sort of album that wears its scars openly and dishes out its own, as Ren Aldridge continues to assert herself as one of the primary firestarters in punk today in her caustic attacks on violence against women and systemic inequalities that she sounds as though she could rip down all herself. Rarely do punk albums feel this electrified on every level, a testament to Petrol Girls’ vigour to fight the good fight, and come out swinging.
Nervus – The Evil One
Once again, a new Nervus album has flown under the radar for pretty much everyone, in a depressing trend that they shouldn’t be forced to shoulder at this stage. Maybe condensing things down on The Evil One isn’t as auspicious a move as they come on paper, but in clearing the stage for Em Foster’s excellent songwriting and rapier wit, and a sense of melody that’s second-to-none within their indie-rock space, it speaks for itself in how great this is. It’s as no-nonsense as all Nervus albums are, only with the melancholy and openness placed in full view, without a drop of artifice to be seen. That’s what makes this so potent, as Nervus move on their own path completely unhindered, and unwilling to compromise in their vision whatsoever. The Evil One might just be the keenest example of that to date.
The Wonder Years – The Hum Goes On Forever
So, The Wonder Years continue to be excellent—what else is new? Maybe not quite to the level of their last couple of albums, but The Hum Goes On Forever is a firm reinforcement of how this band continues to grow and evolve in the most fulfilling way possible. The pop-punk is sparing, now more garnish for older, weightier emo and alt-rock, washed over by the anxiety of raising a family in these ever-turbulent times that Dan Campbell delivers a masterclass in selling. And when, like always, the bangers never let up and the songwriting continues to lodge The Wonder Years among the best in the business, it’s another jewel in a crown that’s blindingly bright at this point. The fact that even a comparatively ‘weaker’ album ranks among the best of the year should say it all.
Deaf Havana – The Present Is A Foreign Land
What is it about Deaf Havana albums that just continue to grow and resonate, almost without fail? The Present Is A Foreign Land is their latest in a pretty long line of those, mostly tied to the bone-deep weariness of James Veck-Gilodi, once again laying himself and his demons bare in a way that eschews all over-styled prostration, for pure honesty. And when he can do that alongside yet another collection towering hooks, and brushes of poppier production that lend such a monolithic alt-rock core its own individual sense of melancholy, the field is having a hard time catching up. Maybe Deaf Havana aren’t going to have a real smash on their hands, but it’s clearly not deterring them from putting it all out there and vaulting over all expectations for Britrock by a factor of miles.
Ghost – Impera
In the midst of any discussion around Ghost that remains between an unstoppable force and an immovable object, it’s good that they’ve yet to kowtow to those who couldn’t care less about the actual music, and instead simply don’t think it’s ‘metal enough’. Rather, Impera shows how high Ghost can soar when holding fast to their poppiest impulses. Aside from the obvious dud of Twenties, this is without question their finest work to date, bellied by a swirling classic rock backdrop that couldn’t be more irresistible if it tried, and home to a collection of hooks and melodies that rip every single time. That’s the beauty of Ghost—they’re a band for whom the image and pageantry could easily swallow them up, but there’s such a loving way of interlocking it with music that’s great on its own merits, and just reaping the rewards from there. Yet more fantastic stuff from a band who’ve been delivering it nonstop.
Alexisonfire – Otherness
Who would’ve thought that the first new Alexisonfire album in thirteen years would be this good? Well, considering they’re one of post-hardcore’s shining lights throughout the 21st Century, there’d be no reason not to assume that, though Otherness surpasses even that in just how vast it feels. In the extended interim, filled with other projects and sonic sources thrown into the pot, the Alexisonfire of 2022 is a much different beast, for the better. There’s a viciousness to how deliberately it all plays out, stacked to the gills with tension and attritive force, anchored in a career-best performance from Dallas Green when it comes to making these songs sound as colossal as possible. And when that’s across the board, and the selection comes drenched in bone-deep emotion and ageing that’s entirely the right furrow for this band to plow, you’ve got something truly special in Otherness.
Polyphia – Remember That You Will Die
If ever there was a way to royally top yourself, this is it. Polyphia have always been cool, and responsible for some of the more interesting ideas and fusions in modern prog, but Remember That You Will Die is the full banquet borne out of previous morsels of intrigue. Between a hyper-focused guitar style, the trap flourishes that are blended and warped around better than ever, and a fearlessness when it comes to diving headfirst into further-afield waters in the name of standing out, it’s Polyphia’s most fully-formed, fleshed-out and infinitely entertaining work yet. Others in this instrumental prog sphere have been following their cues for years; now, their status as the trailblazers that implicates them as is carved in deep.
Ithaca – They Fear Us
For all the bands hitting a stride in 2022, and building on their past efforts in spectacular fashion, to say anyone has done it better than Ithaca would just be plain wrong. As a metallic hardcore band, they were regularly strong and occasionally great; on They Fear Us, they’re in a league of their own. And indeed, there have been many singing the exact same praises of this album, for how rich the expansion is and how, particularly in its last leg, there’s a spark that transcends typical views of ‘hardcore’ altogether into something tremendous. It’s the iciest of takes you can offer, but that’s only because it’s 100% true. They Fear Us is all of those things and more, a righteous mission statement that keeps delivering time and time again, held together by unbridled passion and creative wherewithal that no one was able to top this year. It’s what makes this so thrilling even many months later, and why Ithaca’s place in the annals of heavy music is set in stone for years—maybe decades—to come. If this were the last thing they ever did as a band, it’d be a bona fide classic; as it stands right now, it’s Ithaca’s grand step in true untouchability.
Georgia Jackson (Deputy Editor / Writer)
Charli XCX – Crash
Self-dubbed her ‘major label sellout album’, this year’s Crash is Charli’s most straightforward album in a few years, but that still puts her lightyears ahead of most other pop stars. Her encyclopaedic knowledge of pop is still present but this time in the form of references, be it interpolations of Robin S and September or seamless blends of all forms of dance-pop and synthpop. Add in the gargantuan choruses that make almost every song impossible to exorcise from your brain and it’s a no-brainer of a record for any pop fan. Main pop girl energy suits Charli XCX ridiculously well, and while the more experimental side of her is certain to make a return sooner rather than later, Crash’s is certainly a vibe she’d be welcome to fall back on.
Frank Turner – FTHC
2022 was the year of Frank Turner’s return to storming pop troubadour form, following his last two records, the stripped-back, pop-dabbling Be More Kind and thematically controversial, musically unremarkable No Man’s Land. FTHC was born from a time of discovery and adjustment for Turner; he was diagnosed with anxiety, began to reconcile with his estranged father following her transition to living as a woman and was a musician during a worldwide pandemic that shut down the touring industry through which he makes his livelihood. It’s all delivered with the classic Turner brand of earnestness, but has the punk vigour and contagious joy that we’ve felt the absence of in the last few years.
Carly Rae Jepsen – The Loneliest Time
TikTok fame aside, this year Carly Rae Jepsen has continued her reign as pop’s favourite unsung hero on The Loneliest Time. On the whole it’s more low-key than Jepsen has been in a while; the fun factor is reinvented but very much still present in tracks like the funky Joshua Tree and breezy Sideways. There’s always a sweetness to whatever the singer brings to the table, so hearing that juxtaposed with flamboyant disco, moody bass lines and Solar Power-esque nature fairy songs alongside the usual pop bangers is an interesting window into growth not seen to this extent on her records before now. Carly Rae Jepsen’s knack for a hook and the charisma she presents them with will always keep fans hanging on her every word, but the extra layers on The Loneliest Time that beg to be dug into make “I’m coming back for you, baby” an evergreen statement.
Ethel Cain – Preacher’s Daughter
Ethel Cain’s debut record Preacher’s Daughter provided the best narrative of any album this year. It follows the story of a young, disillusioned teenager who leaves her American deep-South religious family and meets a grisly end at the hands of a cannibalistic lover. Songs often drift over five, six or seven minutes, Cain’s voice ethereal, tricking you with its beauty before dealing killer blows left, right and centre over and over again. It’s mapped out to the finest detail, dabbles in country, folk, industrial metal mirroring emotional climaxes in the overarching story. It’s a daunting, heady listen to take on, but so rewarding if you dive in deep.
Deaf Havana – The Present Is A Foreign Land
After a pivot to pop and teetering close to the end of their days as a band, The Present Is A Foreign Land marked a return to top Britrock form for Deaf Havana. They’re always reliable when it comes to crafting songs that make your heart swell with pure joy and lyrics that make you feel seen on your darkest days, 19dreams, On The Wire and Kids instant inductees into the band’s hall of fame. Changing things up with horns or dabbles with their synths of old (Someone/Somewhere an interesting hint of where they could go next) adds another dimension too, one that sustains fans even past the emotional peaks and valleys. Sometimes, you just need an old faithful you can count on to make music that always hits the beats you need, and we’re so glad Deaf Havana are still around to do just that.
The 1975 – Being Funny In A Foreign Language
A 1975 album is usually an exercise in rambling excess, a scattered attempt to verbalise all of the thoughts going on in Matty Healy’s head through any and all genres, something that often results in too many misses alongside the hits. This year though, Being Funny In A Foreign Language streamlined things, seeing The 1975 stay closer to the signature guitar pop they’re known for and trim the fat off their tracklist, sitting at a lean 11 songs rather than nearing 20 like their previous albums have. It’s also a more optimistic record on the whole, and the soppiness suits everything the band has going on to a tee. It’s the least experimental record The 1975 have ever put out but also their most likable and cohesive, something we hope to see more of in the future.
Harry Styles – Harry’s House
2022 was the year of Harry Styles, and one listen to Harry’s House makes it more than clear as to why. It’s a record that feels instantly timeless, harking back to The Beatles, Beach Boys and ‘80s synthpop, but still feeling cutting edge and ahead of the curve in a way that not many huge pop stars do at the moment. Styles feels more fully realised as not just an artist but an auteur than ever, every inch of this record seeped in buzzing creativity and personality, be it the effortless dancefloor cool, kitchen-heart-to-heart vulnerability or life of the party joy. Harry Styles has proved himself on records prior to this, but the personality of Harry’s House makes it his most hopeful, exhilarating album to date.
Nina Nesbitt – Älskar
The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change was a necessary album for Nina Nesbitt. A pop-to-the-core career-defining album, it showed her songwriting prowess to the world after she was dropped from her record label and renewed her faith in her career as an independent artist. On this year’s Älskar, she scaled back all of the grandeur, acoustic backgrounds and intimate, more mature songwriting themes making all of her strengths even more clear. The few truly pop momentsfeel more personal and PMA-focused than before, while other highlights Older Guys, When You Lose Someone and Dinner Table (the latter the loveliest song the singer has ever written) are slices of Nesbittian wisdom, which all feel tailor-made to be shared around a fireplace with a select few closest friends.
Foxes – The Kick
Making music on Zoom was the new normal during the Covid pandemic, and for Foxes, the ‘80s called, turning up the bright, blaring synths the only way to truly capture her emotions in isolation. It sounds like textbook Future Nostalgia-blueprint, but Foxes uses this new medium to accentuate her heart-on-sleeve songwriting rather than springboard to choreographed, uber-polished pop princess. There’s a euphoria at the heart of this record, whether it’s unashamedly front and centre, heading up pop bops Sister Ray or Absolute or it’s slowly enveloping you on something more tender like a warm hug, and Foxes is a great puppet master, guiding listeners through her meticulously-produced tracks and the curated emotional journey the album takes you on. A record doesn’t necessarily have to centre around the most profound and complex aspects of human nature to be great, and The Kick does the tried-and-tested, whole-lotta-heart synthpop thing so so well.
Taylor Swift – Midnights
Another year, another Taylor Swift masterclass. An exploration of “13 sleepless nights” throughout Swift’s life, it makes sense that Midnights record feels cherry-picked from musical eras she’s called home before, but it has its own set of characteristics that set it apart. Although it retreats back to the pop lots of her biggest songs come from, much of Midnights shies away from spectacle, shrouded in atmospheric hazes and melodies that sometimes aren’t as cut-and-dry as usual. For a pop album of hers, it’s also a complete level-up on the lyrical side of things too. While 1989 was focused and fun and Lover dealt with earnest rose-tinted declarations, Midnights is drenched in wit and precise details that place you exactly in the champagne-soaked limousine victory lap Karma invokes or the apartment home to the rollercoaster lovers in Maroon. This record has the unique sense of maturity that comes from someone looking back at their past while also keeping all of the qualities we expect, know and love from a Taylor Swift record, and long may her winning streak continue next year.
Holly Royle (Writer)
Devin Townsend – Lightwork
Diverging down a new path with his musical direction, Lightwork brings a compelling collection of soundscapes and progressive creative offerings. A dreamlike quality encompasses each song, and this effect feels fitting for the past two years which in many ways still seem so unreal.
Slipknot – The End, So Far
This release certainly brought some unexpected elements from the masked giants. The more extreme experimentation along with inherently darker and more dissonant sounds, are aptly befitting of the album’s title. Slipknot still deliver their sound—catchy hooks remain a part of their composition, along with vocal harmonies and thundering guitars. There’s something more, an eerie intangible element.
Fit For An Autopsy – Oh What The Future Holds
The deathcore outfit’s 2019 full-length, The Sea Of Tragic Beasts, caused an epic storm. The new album then, was always going to face scrutiny on whether it could live up to its predecessor, and thankfully, Oh What The Future Holds shows Fit For An Autopsy’s incredible growth. There’s musical development, explorations into experimental realms and the band’s renowned aggressive brutality.
Ghost – Impera
It’s interesting how this band seem to divide opinion with many in the metal scene either loving or hating Ghost. The new album brings further developments in their sound with Twenties bringing the dark and heavy, with catchy chorus hooks galore unleashed through the likes of Call Me Little Sunshine and Watcher In The Sky.
Charlotte Wessels – Tales From Six Feet Under Vol. II
Following on from Vol. I released last year, Vol. II delves into heavier realms but more importantly showcases Charlotte’s compositional progression. The album is an eclectic mix including pop, electronic, rock and metal influences, and yet each track retains a recognisably Wessels character. Drawing upon a number of art and literary references, Vol. II explores the intriguing and darker sides of human nature.
GAEREA – Mirage
Mirage is a stunning album the draws on progressive, cinematic and gothic aspects all woven into an epic tapestry. The quality of the composition and production is just incredible and gives a distinctive new twist on black-metal. It’s powerful but they understand how incorporate changing dynamics and create authentic moods across the album.
Lorna Shore – Pain Remains
Lorna Shore have taken the deathcore scene by storm with their latest offering. The band’s incorporation of orchestral instruments infuses the entire album with a dark and ethereal atmosphere. When the first single Sun//Eater dropped, the power metal-esque guitars were rather unexpected, but their ingenuity across this track, and the album as a whole, is great to see. Lorna Shore have developed a fascinating compositional edge and of course, it is utterly brutal.
Casket Robbery – Rituals Of Death
Rituals Of Death is an exquisite heavy offering. Drawing primarily from death metal, but also sees dynamic technical elements present throughout the album. It’s gruesome (see the ghastly sound effects of Post-Mortem), horror-fuelled, ludicrously heavy. Vocalist Megan unearths nightmarish demons with sheer relentless power. Casket Robbery bring a compelling act through their sound and image combined. It’s not for the faint hearted and yet, despite the horrors, you’ll find yourself wanting more.
Oceans Of Slumber – Starlight And Ash
Starlight And Ash is a thrilling addition to Oceans Of Slumber’s discography. Deeply emotive and powerful vocal performances from frontwoman Cammie are accompanied by exciting and progressive instrumentation. Now using the descriptor ‘southern gothic’, Oceans Of Slumber are enhancing and fully embracing their distinctive edge.
Borders – Bloom Season
The band continuously push the boundaries of the metalcore subgenre bringing in an array of other genres and styles to produce an epic, high-impact sound. Delivering on the catchy chorus hooks and ludicrous breakdowns, it’s everything you could ask for in a heavy release. Including a number of collaborations on the album, Borders showcase multiple sides to their sound while complementing their guests. Easily, Bloom Season is a new favourite.
Elliot Burr (Writer)
Charli XCX – Crash
Disclaimer: it’s Chaaaarli, bayybeee! I could leave the review as just that, but it would undermine the futuristic superstar’s convergence of every sweet thing that pop has delivered for decades. Only esteemed legends like Charli and Beyoncé could rejig Robin S’s legendary house classic Show Me Love (this year, they both did!). In fact, Used To Know Me is perhaps the most run-of-the-mill that Crash gets for its icon-borrowing—Charli has continuously asserted herself as an icon in her own right. Besides, there’s the powerful boom-pow intro track; the ultimate hyperpop hydra of Charli, Christine and Caroline Polachek on New Shapes; introspective A.G. Cook-produced ballad Every Rule; it’s anti-lovey dovey foil Yuck; two-step garage featuring Rina Sawayama; and titular repeatable earworm Constant Repeat. Eras come and go, and so do each of Charli’s, but she’s always signing off one step ahead of the pack with a cheeky bubblegum-pop and a wink.
Cloud Rat – Threshold
With grindcore’s throttling nature—feral raccoons on drums, gloomy guitars full of uppers and downers and screams so high or low it seems inhumanely possible—isn’t exactly a ‘popular form of music’. But by extending its ferocious wings into other melodic areas, exploring other sounds that make people tick beyond punching walls, it can be extraordinary. Michigan’s Cloud Rat are more than technically proficient, genre-hopping their way around the musical spectrum in a way their lazy rodent namesakes cannot. Brandon Hill’s blasts shift through gears without stalling and Madison Marshall’s shrills pinpoint oppression and paranoia with aplomb, while searching the tranquillity of water for more spiritual meaning. Similarly fluid, Rorik’s guitar licks capture everything from post-punk to ambient to doom, without seeming like a black sheep amid the chaos. Grind is going to new realms of artistic merit aside its bones ‘n’ all trainwreck sound recently, with Cloud Rat’s textured, vibrant noise seeing them bursting through this high-set Threshold.
Kehlani – blue water road
It’s been a stellar time for modern R&B, wearing a camouflage jacket of its early noughties chart incarnation just a little, off the shoulder. Ari Lennox and Ravyn Lenae are just a couple bringing the style back into fashion in 2022, and SZA remains the genre’s modern tastemaker, but Kehlani’s latest effort acts as the most repeatable selection of seductive, powerful and poppy performances. The back to back of melt, its title’s fluid nature mirrored by lyrics about overlapping skin, and tangerine with its mentions of sickly foodstuffs, is the year’s most sensually nauseating moment. Kehlani’s voice, high in the mix over luscious minimalist beats, is the star. Even the short shooter interlude packs her tale so tightly that every line deserves a video backstory, and the Bieb gets a runout on up all night – completely irresistible to dance to. The breezy flow, the full-blown mainstream curveballs, the command the singer has over their vocals, everything. An outstanding package all round.
Birds In Row – Gris Klein
Screamo, skramz, post-whatever: at its zenith, it’s masterful. France’s Birds In Row have been displaying themselves as central figures in a new phase for emotionally charged rage; while still rumbling in the underground circuit, their three major releases have gradually manifested into a fully realised form. Gris Klein, where post-metal ambience brushes alongside chaotic hardcore, features dynamic shifts as vibrant as the art-centric song titles themselves. Bart Hirigoyen, the sole remaining founder, rasps with intent at the state of the crumbling modern world; Noah’s take on corporate greed merges gloriously with Cathedrals, featuring a huge blow to the senses in its squealing guitar effect breakdown and heaps of vitriol like “I’m drooling, I’m sweating, I’m pissing, I’m shitting my feelings on green carpets of love in your Eden of teeth”. Blimey. With so many nuanced layers and metaphors to unpack in this gem, it bleeds passion and intensity that’s far beyond your usual shouty music.
Alex G – God Save The Animals
It’s Alex G’s religion album! The bedroom-indie cult legend ponders the bigger questions in God Save The Animals—Miracles sees Giannascoli praying for children, sinners and animals too—and it serves as a thematic device for him to shroud the straightforward in cryptic mystery as he so often does. Not just lyrically, either. Vocal manipulation and synth experiments have seeped into his singer-songwriter basis across the past decade, but not quite this bombastically. No Bitterness filters hyperpop tastefully, similar autotune serves to emphasise Cross The Sea’s confident and reassuring love letter, as well as Immunity’s swelling druggy build, the whispery Blessing is a bit gothic-industrial, and S.D.O.S is weirdly scary with a deeply voiced Alex saying “Naked in my innocence, tangled in my innocence” over screeching strings. He sounds happier here than usual, somehow. The man has a Midas touch for making random music trials sound intentional, and given his success rate, it probably is.
Kendrick Lamar – Mr Morale & The Big Steppers
At this point, Compton rapper King Kenny is as worthy of his royal epithet as any hip-hop maestro in the canon, of such merit that his Pulitzer Prize winning album DAMN. is often downplayed compared to its critical darling predecessors. He had us pulled by the earlobes with The Heart Part 5, the introductory piece to the unfurling, self-exploratory Mr Morale & The Big Steppers. Often bereft of major dancefloor bangers (with even the stonking N95 rather an insight into the state of the world), the record deals with the protagonist holding a mirror to himself through therapy. Critical of past faults and actions, apologetic to himself, his family, and his fans, the assumedly intentional missteps displaying his ongoing self-awareness are all there to bear. Surrounded by beautiful arrangements, production smarts, varied features, vivid lyrical content and peerless vocal dexterity, his final Top Dawg Entertainment effort rightly proves why any drop from the auteur is a cataclysmic event.
Drug Church – Hygiene
If every facet of nostalgic grunge guitar sounds and fun-loving ‘90s attitude can be summed up in one person, it’s Nick Cogan. His and Cory Galusha’s punchy melodic power chords make head bopping riffs seem like a casual saunter over to the local skatepark. The former’s ringing leads, bathed in reverb, cut like a surgeon’s knife. In fact, every part of Drug Church’s colossal peak Hygiene is an act of skilled butchery, a meaty offering of catchy post-hardcore where the only fat remaining is the powerful bass tone. The rhythm section punches under mounds of feedback and Patrick Kindlon’s quarter sung / quarter talked / half bellowed observations of living under rocks in year-best Tiresome, reckoning with his own position as an artistic spokesperson on Piss & Quiet, or recounting school knife fights in bouncy ripper World Impact. Topping 2018’s Cheer as a concise piece of modern punk seemed impossible, but this outfit has honed their intuitive songwriting to the nth degree. It’s just a shame it’s only ten tracks.
Chat Pile – God’s Country
Waxing lyrical about this morbid, satirical take on Americana has been easy this year, especially for fans of things morbid and satirical, further laced in dreary filth. That may do it a little disservice; the musicality here is heavily considered. Chiming guitar leads collide with a swampy bass tone and drums that act as a rumbling train to evoke the tirade of tales about paranoia, blood, semen, and electricity. Vocalist Raygun Busch approaches societal disparagement in the face of homelessness (“I’ve never had to push all my shit around in a shopping cart, have you?”) and has an infernally bizarre take on capitalism: being led to drastic measures during an anxious spliff session with a purple corporate mascot. It’s harrowingly told, with either tongue-in-cheek humour or general disdain becoming more ambiguous by the second, all played by a tight-knit group of post-punk and sludge aficionados. They’ve taken each genre to new realms of grotty perfection with God’s Country.
Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
There is no better way to snuggle you in than Change. The stripped-back delicate chords and makeshift drums are two incredible things, Adrienne Lenker’s sung similes another. It sets an enveloping atmosphere for a 20-song tapestry of Big Thief’s cosy, startling, bizarre take on indie-folk. Straw-in-mouth bluegrass number Spud Infinity finds Lenker linking potatoes and aliens, washed out deliciousness makes up Heavy Blend and its following masterpiece Flower Of Blood. Simulation Swarm’s lyric sheet is genius, and Little Things feels like a band layering improvisations over each other with no concern for the result. A result that is, magically, one of the most coherent messes put to tape. Recorded in various States and studio sessions, each mood is captured by drummer / producer James Krivchenia crisply while maintaining its innocent, free-wheeling nature, much like the campfire animals adorning its childlike cover. It’s a wonder that they’ll be able to top this, but for a band well into their element, it’s a high likelihood.
Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems
Straight out of the Philly basement comes Soul Glo: a hardcore punk trio that rip-roars its way through societal issues with all manner of on-the-nose realism and humour. Not that it’s easy to make out what the hell is happening beyond the now-legendary “WHOGONBEATMYASS?!” refrain. Pierce Jordan’s screamed raps are like holding your breath underwater for longer than 90 seconds, matching the intensity of TJ Stevenson’s bruising work behind the kit and GG Guerra’s string-based riffage does more than speed run its way along with those two; Gold Chain Punk’s opening melody sounds all cheery next to a bong rip before the disorientating damage ensues. Driponomics and GODBLESSYALLREALGOOD are outrageous trap-based stonkface bangers, merging hip-hop and punk and featuring a range of underground talent. With both genres serving to combat prejudices with thoughtful pinpoint accuracy, it’s a winning combination for a band with their fingers on the pulse, all while bringing the most fresh, outrageous, blood-rushing game changer of a sound to a relatively ‘samey’ genre. No group has made more jaws drop in 2022.