Hideous Mag's Top Albums of 22'.
As we lift ourselves into the murky waters of 2023, it's only fair we take a brief minute to look back upon the offerings we have been ever-so-gratefully forced to consume over the year of two thousand and twenty two.
Followed, In no particular order, are our carefully selected 'top' albums of 2022, hand-picked by the writers here at Hideous Mag:
Automatic - 'Excess'
Release date: 24th June 2022
Label: Stones Throw Records
Highlighted Track: New Beginning
Excess is the futuristic, alienated dreamscape of LA-based all-female trio Izzy Glaudini (synths, vocals), Halle Saxon (bass, vocals), and Lola Dompé (drums, vocals). The product of LA’s DIY music scene in 2017, the trio’s second album combines monotonous droning vocals with aloof robotic synths, a pulsating drum beat, and sleek playful basslines. The album is a slow, modern, methodical call to arms whose unwavering metallic riffs and detached lyricism construct an all-female, bass-led utopia and scathing critique of capitalist consumerism. It’s the sexy, unbothered, and kitschy daughter of the new wave; intoxicatingly addictive and seductively liberated.
Chose by Natalia Q
Khruangbin, Leon Bridges - 'Texas Moon'
Release date: 18th February 2022
Label: Columbia Records
Highlighted Track: B-Side
Texas Moon is the delightful second collaboration of Khruangbin and Leon Bridges. Much like their first five-track EP Texas Sun, Texas Moon plays tribute to both artists’ home state in five mesmerizing tracks. The Khruangbin trio of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar and Donald “DJ” Johnson on drums, known for their psychedelic soulful RnB, is beautifully complemented by the soothing neo-soul vocals of Grammy award-winner Bridges.
As the title suggests, the EP has a darker, moodier and more laid-back sound than its predecessor. It starts slowly with the deep mystic tune and twangy guitar notes of “Doris” followed by the more up-beat and most-recognisable track of “B-Side”. “B-Side” is a catchy synthesis of playful guitar riffs and dreamy melodies. Bridges’ seductive vocals are impressive throughout the EP but are the star of the slower track “Chocolate Hills” and the closing memorable groove “Mariella”. Creating a pure, hypnotic spacey atmosphere, Texas Moon is one of the best collaborations of 2022..
Chosen by Victoria Nicholas
Honeyglaze - 'Honeyglaze'
Release date: 29th April 2022
Label: Speedy Wunderground
Highlighted Track: Burglar
Very rarely is an album so good you find yourself listening to it back to back after just the first listen. What Honeyglaze shared with us in spring 22, their self-titled debut album, is just that. From the ‘start’ the london-based three piece manage to share, what feels to be, their entire life experiences in 11 tracks of intricate, yet free flowing melodies, held together at the core by the impeccable rhythm section of Yuri Shibuichi and Tim Curtis and leaving just enough playful room for an effortless delivery from vocalist and guitarist Anouska Sokolow. This album is a true hidden gem - I say hidden, as although signed to cult label Speedy Wunderground and making truly impactful ripples through the U.K and wider music scene, it's undeniable that this band has a dangerous amount to give, and it seems they’re not slowing down anytime soon.
Just as an album should, ‘Honeyglaze’ reaches its most impactful when being played back as a whole. This three-piece have delicately threaded this album to flow ever-so seamlessly.
If you’re yet to catch Honeyglaze live, we highly recommend doing so in 2023, before it inevitably costs more than a Sunday roast to see them.
Warmduscher - 'At the Hotspot'
Release date: 1st April 2022
Label: Bella Union
Highlighted Track: Wild Flowers
A Warmdsucher album; not too dissimilar to a Warmduscher live show - both hard hitting performances, packed full of filth and exuberance. ‘At The Hotspot’ is the fourth studio album from the Brixton based heavy weights and this latest offering proves to be of just as high quality as their prior three.
Made up of Clams Baker, Mr Saltfingers Lovecraft, Quicksand, Whispers and The Witherer AKA Little Whiskers, the South London supergroup have created another standout album from a standout band, and another one to catch live when you can.
Black Country, New Road - 'Ants From up there'
Release date: 4th February 2022
Label: Ninja Tune
Highlighted Track: Concorde
Although released in Feburary, my appreciation for the complex masterpiece that is Ants From Up There, the second album by Black Country New Road began during the autumn of this year. As rainy days became more frequent, this album accompanied my own seasonal reflection through solem sounds to nurse the upcoming winter blues.
Black Country New Road have never shied away from theatricality, however AFUT strongly resembles a protagonists descent into turmoil. The highs and lows of said character, each being at the peak of their extremities. The crescendo so beautifully built up through strings, (Georgia Ellery) wind and brass (Lewis Evans) begins as a slow burner which is then launched into a wild frenzy by Charlie Wayne (drums).
Isaac Wood’s poetic lyricism, poignant in For the First Time, remains, however has turned inwards into a cathartic and solaced yearn for the past, encapsulating fears of ephemerality, an example being “Bread Song”. In comparison to FTFT, the lyrics, though stricken with anguish are directed externally towards social criticism with consumeristic themes exhibited in “Sunglasses”.
The sophisticated sonic development, in only one year is remarkably impressive. From what has previously described as “pre-rock” with heavy jazz influences transforms into classical symphonies. Ellery and Evans presence dominates AFUT, notable songs include “Marks Theme”, and “Chaos Space Marine,” their ascendancy has matured the bands sound into classical masterpieces. Whereas, Luke Mark’s (guitar) dominance over “FTFT” provided harsh riffs that transcended the album into a sci-fi sounding symphony. What has been consistent throughout both albums, is the call and response, which Black Country New Road have perfected through improv exploration. This call and response between Evans and Mark is most notable in “Basketball Shoes”, which makes you hold your breath. This is undoubtably the most impressive song off the album and my personal favourite. As the band persists as a six piece, without the presence of Wood’s, I have no doubt that they shall continue to strive in their mastery.
Chosen by Angelika May
Kendrick Lamar - 'Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers'
Release date: 13th May 2022
Label: Interscope Records
Highlighted Track: N95
Five years after the release of DAMN, Kendrick Lamar has released his fifth studio album, Mr Morale & the Big Steppers. The double sided album is made up of 18 songs and over 73 minutes of music [78 minutes with bonus track “The Heart Part 5”] and his final release on Top Dawg Entertainment. Throughout the album Kendrick Lamar practises an intimate form of storytelling for which he is best known. He describes Mr Morale as the catalyst of his self expression and uses the record as a stage on which he boldly confronts his own transgressions. This process of emotional exhumation, Lamar confessed, was so difficult that Mr Morale & the Big Steppers almost was not released at all. Described most effectively as “messy and honest” the album prompts our own personal excavation. We are made to feel ugly and fraudulent and we question our affinity for material possessions as well as our adoration of figures like Kendrick himself. It is raw, confessional and possesses an openness that contrasts the current culture of insincerity in popular music. As put by Dr. Christopher Driscoll, assistant professor of religion, Africana, and American studies at Lehigh University, “very few artists across genres have the skill and the willingness to be so responsibly honest.”
The album’s minimalist production complements the intensely personal themes that Kendrick Lamar explores and helps in large measure achieve the sense of rawness that the record evokes. The production is the perfect match for this emotional unearthing with Duval Timothy’s piano playing that feels as penetrating as Lamar’s lyrics. Mr Morale & the Big Steppers is deeply referential and collaborative. A notable sample of the Funkees “Break Through” underpins “Worldwide Steppers” and a collaboration with Portishead’s Beth Gibbons on “Mother I sober” gave us haunting lines such as, “I wish I was somebody Anybody but myself.” Of course, the album is not without its contradictions. A feature from controversial rapper Kodak black seems in conflict with Lamar’s Glastonbury proclamation “Godspeed for women’s rights” and the song “Auntie Diaries” has sparked both applause and criticism for its handling of trans liberation and acceptance. Although Lamar’s comparison between racial and homophobic intolerance to such a large audience, in a genre of music where trans issues are seldom centre stage, is undoubtedly powerful.
Mr Morale & the Big Steppers is the product of a truly phenomenal creative process and is a massively impactful piece of work. With his traumas and coping mechanisms Kendrick Lamar has borne his soul and although Lamar confesses that he “didn’t save the world, my friend” he certainly did release one of the best albums of 2022.
Chosen by Katie Eyo
Gilla Band - 'Most Normal'
Release date: 7th October 2022
Label: Rough Trade Records
Highlighted Track: Backwash
Punishing, pummeling, and putrefying but peculiarly more accessible than any of their previous efforts despite what the band might say of the album themsleves.If you can survive the delightfully drilling torture of first track “The Gum” thenrest assured that you’ll know this album is for you. It’s almost as if Gilla Band (formerly known as Girl Band) placed it there as a test to their audience, both new and old. Not only are you rewarded for your efforts with the same defiance of playing “rock” music in any conventional sense that the band are known for but some of the most hilariously abstract lyrics of the year. Stranger still is how all these musical contradictions make you want to move. Leaning more heavily on their electronic and dance influences such as The Chemical Brothers everything becomes four to the floor driving rhythms despite all the experimentation and contortions of sound. The band’s production has always been a technical marvel but this is certainly their magnum opus in that regard, everything is as tight chicken wire wrapped around a drum.
One thing that is definitely true about the hodge podge of influences though is how this album swaggers about with confidence. It commands your attention and deserves it more than any other album this year.
Chosen by Scott Curtis
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