With so many musical releases that empowered me, drew tears, inspired singalongs, and soundtracked many a day on the front porch, I find it impossible to choose a single "Album of the Year", so instead, I'm going to highlight just a few of my favorite albums from 2022. Also, be sure to check out the Red Chuck Radio 2022 playlist full of the tracks I loved most this year (on Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and YouTube Music).
Partner- Time Is A Car
I guess it's technically an EP, but what is time? Partner is...definitive. They vary consistently and constantly, yet somehow remain 100% "Partner" through it all. I'm not sure I've encountered a set of musicians who can so consistently, simultaneously defy genre and yet also be entirely who they are. They never vary, yet somehow deliver variety. It's a feat. It's magic. It's Partner, & I love them for the journey and for the adventure they've taken me on. Join the journey.
Favorite tracks: the eponymous opener which may or may not be inspired by a Pixar character, Rest Stop interlude (which sort of feels like that last friend or two at the end of the night, sharing a nightcap w/ some love & hopes for the future), & Fear That Closes The Heart
Zach Bryan- American Heartbreak
Bryan released no shortage of music in 2022. Between EPs and numerous singles, my new music notifications seemed to be hitting constantly with his take on...country...Americana...outlaw country? Whatever. I don't really care what you call it. There wasn't a bad song in the bunch, and that's saying something for not only all of the small releases from Zach Bryan, but also considering his major label debut, American Heartbreak, was a two-hour plus, 34-track triple album. Did I mention there wasn't a bad song in the bunch?
Favorite tracks include: Something In The Orange, Highway Boys, a wonderful rendition of You Are My Sunshine, and the heart-wrenching Billy Stay.
the rutabega- leading up to
I said much about this album already in my interview with Josh and Garth of the band for Leader Publications. Also, I'll be writing more for Leader in a new culture beat in the new year, in case you're into that kind of thing or are just into shameless plugs. the rutabega is just such a wonderful, heartfelt band and it could only be driven by two such genuine and beautiful humans. Buy that album on Bandcamp already!
Favorite tracks: unsilent, gone, mulch
Apollo Brown & Philmore Greene- Cost of Living
Apollo is a genius of sound, delivering beats and rhythms that stand alone as a commentary on life. And then he unites with any number of other amazing artists to bake together reflections, deliberations, and calls to action. This time, he connects with Philmore Greene, an artist I'm sad to say I had no previous experience with. Philmore is a philosopher of the struggle, questioning the evolutions we've built upon the struggles of history. Together, they've created a Midwestern dream of hip-hop innovation. Get it now.
Favorite tracks: Nice To Meet You, Just Imagine, and the beautiful and epic Immaculate
Jens Lekman- The Linden Trees Are Still In Blossom
The personal journey of Jens Lekman takes us on in his music is one of love, heartache, nostalgia, and growth.
This album renews previous tracks of Lekman's and packages them into a journey that reminds us all to appreciate not just the peaks of life, but the valleys from which we must climb.
Favorite Tracks: A Postcard To Nina, If I Could Cry (it would feel like this), Kanske Är Jag Kär i Dig, Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death, and the title track.
Other favorite albums you don't need to hear me talk about but should check out if you somehow managed to miss them: Lizzo's Special, Taylor Swift's Midnights, Bartees Strange's Farm To Table, Drive-By Trucker's Welcome to Club XIII, Bruce Springsteen's Only The Strong Survive.
Seeya next year!