Happy year six of this weird thing I do and happy end to 2022, y’all! As we say goodbye to another year packed with Russian invasions, the rights of American women being stripped away just in time for the Republican party to embarrass itself (again) without the help of its former Cheeto-in-Chief, dying queens and a promising step forward in our battle against cancer, we must also take time to reflect on the great music of the year. Just like it has been every year since I started this thing, this will be a three-part series where I follow in the footsteps of my favorite music blogs and present my favorite music of the year. As per usual, it will be broken down into three parts: 5 Favorite New Releases of 2022, 5 Favorite NOT New Releases That I Rocked Hard in 2022 and 5 Songs I Made My Ears Bleed With — Both New and Old — in 2022. I’m including a handful of honorable mentions where applicable and, of course, all three sets are presented in no particular order unless otherwise noted.
Part 1 of 3
TOP 5 NEW RELEASES OF 2022
The Interrupters – In the Wild
Release Date: August 5, 2022
My Favorite Tracks:Raised by Wolves, In the Mirror, Kiss the Ground
I was introduced to the Interrupters through a cover song I talked about last year. I dug into their discography from The Interrupters (2014) and Say It Out Loud (2016) to 2018’s Fight the Good Fight but it was their live album Live in Tokyo! (2021) and their Live in the K! Pit (tiny dive bar show) performance that really made me a huge fan. Something about live ska makes the genre just even more powerful than it already is and the Interrupters bring the energy! And it’s POSITIVE energy! They do not shy away from the hardships of life, often singing about what it means to be low and living with no other choice but to persevere. On In the Wild, lead singer Amy Interrupter works through a devastating past that included emotional, physical and even sexual abuse at the hands of her step-father. These are situations that many cannot claw themselves out of without the use of substance or other equally dark solutions, yet Amy stands proud, belting out her lyrics confidently, defiantly and with tremendous amounts of pride seeping through her persistant rasp. And lyrical content aside, Amy is joined by husband and guitarist Kevin Bivona along with his twin brothers Justin (bass) and Jesse (drums) to make a form of ska that’s undoubtedly third-wave ska/punk with strong nods to two-tone, trad ska, blues, soul and even doo-wop. I’ve always been a fan of ska and will always be a fan of ska but In the Wild has reignited my passion for the genre. The Interrupters are one of the best bands performing.
Soul Glo – Dispora Problems
Release Date: March 25, 2022
My Favorite Tracks: Gold Chain Punk (whogonbeatmyass?), Fucked Up if True, Driponomics
Listen to Soul Glo for more than just a few seconds and most would immediately want to draw parallels with Bad Brains or Death Grips. But what Pierce Jordan, GG Guerra and TJ Stevenson have done with their record Dispora Problems transcends such limited comparisons. Is it hardcore punk with strong metal and hip-hop influence? Sure. But to take this record at face value is to not understand it at all. In fact, the guys identify more with WAR than any hardcore or punk band. They have gone on record to say their style of music is simply emotional rather than political or overly social in nature and there’s no better way to describe it. The screams and screeches about life, mental health and dissatisfaction with much of the culture the songwriters feel pigeonholed into permeate every sonic inch of this record and it’s incredibly powerful. Highlights for me include the challenging exclamation of Gold Chain Punk “Who gon’ beat my ass? Who tha fuck gon’ beat my ass?” as well as the aggressive hip-hop beat that underlies Driponomics. And while the band distances themselves from the easy nature of political punk, they bring the heat on We Wants Revenge — “I’m so bored by the left, protests and the reluctance to militarize; No one’s left blind by eye-for-an-eye unless you make the same mistake twice.” Ever since the day D*n*ld Tr*mp took office, I said it was time for good punk music to come out again … I just wasn’t prepared to come in the form of Soul Glo. These guys go HARD and you feel every single bump in the road.
Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell
Release Date: April 22, 2022
My Favorite Tracks: Return to Grave Valley, Devil’s Bell, From Darkness
I introduced this blog to Audrey Horne when I did my [5-5-5] of 2020 Part 1: New Releases post two years ago. Since then, I’ve kept their live record Waiting for the Night on steady circulation and was so hyped to find out they released a new record in 2022! Devil’s Bell is Audrey Horne’s whopping SEVENTH studio album since their formation in 2002. And as per usual, the guys have accomplished two incredibly impressive things: putting their Black Metal roots aside to express their love for classic rock and packing every single song with dueling guitars that shred harder than Leatherface in the basement. One of the things that grip me about Audrey Horne is how they can simultaneously get you to sing along, pump your fists and feel as though you belong to something greater all while generally uplifting your spirits in a way that is only possible with the help of good, old-fashioned rock-and-roll! With that in mind, Devil’s Bell is stacked with song-after-song of riff-laden anthems that bring all the elements of thrash, arena rock, glam and power metal that made us all fans of metal from the beginning to the forefront. Standout moments include the dramatic buildup present on album opener Ashes to Ashes, the running bass line on Animal, the clear Maiden homage on instrumental track Return to Grave Valley and the layered guitar intro on title track Devil’s Bell (feat. Frank Hammersland). The music world is packed with inconsistencies and malfeasance and these transgressions are no more clear than in the reality that this record by such an incredible band was only able to chart in Germany (19) and Switzerland (16). But I guess as much as I want these guys to get the notoriety (and paychecks) they deserve, I selfishly like feeling as though I’m in on something the rest of the world is sleeping on.
Zach Bryan – American Heartbreak
Release Date: May 20, 2022
My Favorite Tracks: Happy Instead, Younger Years, Cold Damn Vampires
Zach Bryan is a 26-year-old Oklahoma boy who dedicates much of his music to his late mother, whose father was in the Navy, who himself was a Petty Officer Second Class in the Navy and plays country music. He’s basically a conservative Southerner’s wet dream. And typically such an all-American backstory results in fierce eye rolls from me, I can’t help but love this guy’s music. For starters, his style of Country music is actually Country music more along the lines of singer-songwriter Americana and Folk than the confusing cross-over country that has dominated the airwaves for the last 20 years. On top of that, Bryan’s record American Heartbreak is his major-label debut (he self-released two albums prior to this) and it dominated on the charts, hitting number 5 on the Billboard 200 (the highest debut for a country album in 2022) and hitting number-one on the US Folk, US Country and US Rock charts. Did I mention this is a TRIPLE album? American Heartbreak boasts a staggering 34 songs that follow a winding road through fields of acoustic simplicity and busy intersections of anthemic rock songs. Bryan also does an incredible job of telling stories, something I feel is a must for Country music to reach its full potential. Songs like Younger Years and Happy Instead tell stories that are not only entertaining and beautifully written but are relatable. By the time you’re done with this record, you’re going to be left with either a feeling that Zach was writing about your life or that he’s one of your old buddies singing about moments you were there to witness with him.
Scene Queen – Bimbocore
Release Date: April 29, 2022
My Favorite Tracks: Pink Panther, Pink Rover, Bring It On
Oh. My. God. Kerrang! wrote that Scene Queen’s mashup of metalcore, trap beats and hyper-feminism could draw fans of both Ghostmane and Kesha … and there’s no better way to describe it. There’s so much going on with Scene Queen that I love — her music is definitely heavy with djent guitars, incredibly heavy metalcore breakdowns and ultra-violent lyrics that usually victimize creepy men. Her boisterous image and message is one that is intended to make a male-driven industry feel uneasy while simultaneously paving the way for women to stretch their creative limbs in the same chaotic arena. She’s open about her ADHD, Bipolar disorder and bisexuality, reaching out to make those audiences feel seen (scene?) and heard. And despite her oft-grotesque lyrics and heavy music, her aesthetic is highly inspired by Paris Hilton and her ilk (her followup album Bimbocore Vol. 2 recently dropped with the song Ping G-String admitting “Paris, Britney, Lindsey – that’s my Holy Trinity”). This all comes together to form what she has dubbed Bimbocore — a highly feminist metalcore subgenre that I think is brilliant. The Bimbocore album is six tracks coming in at just over 13 minutes but it’s packed with over-the-top sexuality and violence wrapped up in a Pink Bubblegum wrapper. If you dig hearing about a superhuman artist splitting sex offenders and toxic masculinity open with a rusty ax while boasting a powerful sexual confidence, Scene Queen is your girl. More about her later this week!
- Munly & the Lupercalians – Kinnery of Lupercalia; Undelivered Legion (May 13, 2022)
- NOFX – Double Album (December 2, 2022)
- Ghost – Impera (March 11, 2022)