As 2022 begins to wind down, we take a look back at some of my favorite albums that made a huge impact on me this year. There were many worthy candidates, including Harry Styles magnificent 3rd album, "Harry's House". Deep, introspective efforts like Joshua Bassett's "Sad Songs In A Hotel Room, and big returns from The Mars Volta and their self-titled effort as well as Arcade Fire and their new one "We". Whatever your musical genre of choice is, there was a little something for everyone this year and this year's rundown of the top albums of 2022 reflects the wealth of musical diversity abound. Here is my rundown of my favorite efforts of the past year:
Harry Styles - Harry's House
It was a whirlwind year for Harry Styles as the former One Direction frontman released his third solo effort "Harry's House". The effort further delved into Harry's remarkable and diverse psyche, with unbelievable tracks that furthered his musical resolve, and cemented his status as one of the premiere pop stars of our time. Standouts from this one include the inescapable and reflective "As It Was", the irresistible and catchy earworm hooks of "Music For A Sushi Restaurant", and the cool and mellow "Late Night Talking". Whatever your flavor of Harry was, you certainly got your fix and there will be plenty more from him in the years to come.
Key Tracks: "As It Was", "Music For A Sushi Restaurant", "Late Night Talking"
Minka - Oops! All Bangers
From the streets of Philadelphia comes the pop/R&B laced hooks of Minka. Fronted by the bearded and incredibly beautiful Dick Rubin, the band made their presence known with inescapable melodies that might leave you scratching your heads at first, but over time you will dance into their stratosphere with this mind bending collection of tracks. Some standouts from this one include the infectious and insatiable "Conquistadors". The alluring and sleek vibe of "Alizae", and the drop dead sexy and intimate vibe found in "When U Miss My Body". He may not wear much clothes on the cover of the album, but he can give you plenty of joy and satisfaction underneath.
Key Tracks: "Conquistadors", "Alizae", "When U Miss My Body"
Dune Dogs - After A While
Local Newburyport, MA surf rockers Dune Dogs released their debut EP to the masses this past year titled "After A While". The effort from the high school rockers reflected the fellas transition to college life, and all the things that matter most to them in life including music, surfing, and communing with nature and humans outdoors. It's all those things that conjugate together that make this effort such a breath of fresh air, and one that you'll be playing back for quite some time. Highlights include "River Road", the booty shaking, dance ready romp of "Funky Wah", and the breakneck surf inspired rhythms of "East Coast Gnar". These guys are guaranteed to make a perfect accompaniment to your warm weather adventures.
Key Tracks: "River Road", "Funky Wah", "East Coast Gnar"
Joshua Bassett- Sad Songs In A Hotel Room
Disney star Joshua Bassett released his highly anticipated sophomore EP this past year "Sad Songs In A Hotel Room". The star of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series was always destined for greater things outside of the confines of the TV show, and this effort cements his place as a musical tour de force capable of anything that he sets his mind to. Highlights from the effort include the aforementioned title track, the smoky and introspective "Smoke Slow", the poignant and heartfelt "Lifeline", and the all encompassing "All In Due Time". It's great to see Joshua excel in something that he feels comfortable at, and we're only just beginning to see a star in the making.
Key Tracks: "Sad Songs In a Hotel Room", "Lifeline", "All In Due Time"
The Mars Volta - The Mars Volta
Prog rockers The Mars Volta made their long awaited return this year after a decade with their brand new, self titled release. The collection finds Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez teaming up once again to return the group to a more realistic and terrestrial musical setting, and deviate from the sound that made the group what it is. It's a refreshing change of pace, and gives us a different snippet of the group that we haven't had the opportunity to see before. You can feel the cultural influences on tracks like "Blacklight Shine", the eerie and hypnotic "Graveyard Love", and the swerving and alluring "Vigil". These boys came back, only this time with a slightly different bang.
Key Tracks: "Blacklight Shine", "Graveyard Love", "Vigil"
Boston Manor - Datura
The delightful lads from across the pond in Blackpool, U.K. Boston Manor continue to elevate their sound on their brand new effort "Datura". This effort constantly challenges everyone in the band to step up, and took themselves in a bold direction that will make them longer resonating as a result. Some highlights include the dreary "Shelter From The Rain", the frenetic "Foxglove", and the cathartic "Passenger". These guys are the preeminent emo-rock heroes of the moment, and this time there's no stopping them.
Key Tracks: "Shelter From The Rain", "Foxglove", "Passenger"
Lone Tree - Refuge
Direct from Kenya comes the classic-rock leaning vibe of Lone Tree and their debut effort "Refuge". Refuge was the old name of the group before switching to Lone Tree as they felt that their new name more accurately reflected where they were at this stage of their musical lives. The collection features a number of highlights including Teresa's confident vocals on "Come Back to You", her brother Patty's mesmerizing guitar licks on "Woman", and everybody getting their opportunity to shine on "Brother, My Friend". These guys are growing and planting their roots as a collective that are gearing for something special down the road.
Key Tracks: "Come Back to You", "Woman", "Brother, My Friend"
Hanson - Red Green Blue
Hanson made their return on devoted fans this year with their brand new effort Red Green Blue. The effort is essentially three distinct solo albums from Isaac, Taylor, and Zac that showcase them as individual and shining beacons that are constantly striving to make a difference for all their fans that have supported them all these years. Among the many highlights include the heartfelt "Child at Heart", the folky romp of "Rambling Heart", and the pop sentiment of "Write You A Song". After 30 years, Hanson still have a place in fans' minds and hearts.
Key Tracks: "Child At Heart", "Rambling Heart", "Write You A Song"
Arcade Fire - We
Indie rockers from our neighbors to the north in Montreal, Arcade Fire make a welcome return with their spectacular effort "We". The band have always had a booming, orchestral quality to their indie rock sound, and this effort further accentuates their hallmark sound with a more modern sophistication to it. Among the many highlights include the billowing "Lookout Kid", the fiery "Age of Anxiety", and the sprawling "End of The Empire". It's great to see Arcade Fire haven't lost their step one bit, and are eager to deliver to the masses once again.
Key Tracks: "Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)", "The Lightning I,II", "End of The Empire"
Hope For Rain - Modern Age Heartbreak
Local Boston rock outfit Hope For Rain made their mark on listeners with their brand new effort "Modern Age Heartbreak". The effort from these local newcomers is guaranteed to make your heart grow even fonder for these outstandingly talented gentlemen who know how to deliver both on record and on stage with electrifying performances that make you get involved. Some highlights include the anthemic "Good Days", plus the sleek and sophisticated "Room 265". This is only the beginning for these talented musical heartthrobs.
Key Tracks: "Good Days", "Room 265"