The 20 best alternative albums of 2022. This is the music you’ve been looking for!

Shopping for vinyl records best alternative albums of 2022

20 Best
Alternative Albums
of 2022

2022 was a wild and rewarding year of music! Alternative country was at the vanguard of experimental sound, female singer-songwriters dominated across genres and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were relevant again! Most notably, pandemic-delayed music continued to flood into record stores and onto music websites. In fact, selecting the best alternative albums of 2022 was only complicated by the awesome scope of releases. Kids, there is SO. MUCH. MUSIC.

Picking the best alternative albums of 2022

So…a few rules of the road.

First, my basic measure of a great album. It isn’t influence or buzz or length. It’s a release that I can honestly say — YES — I’ll come back and listen to this record over and over in years to come. Second, I love albums that are full and cohesive musical statements. Those are weighted heavily on my list over simple collections of songs. Finally, I try my very best not to posture as cooler than thou. Some of these bands you will know; some you may not have heard about; they all belong on my list because I genuinely love them. Nothing is here for show. In fact, some of it may be damning.

I like what I like.

I’ve tried to provide two songs for every album that you can stream straight from this page. Read, listen and disagree. And by all means, tell me what I missed!

Best alternative albums of 2022: Counting down from 20 to 11

It was harder choosing the order in the second half of this list than those at the top.

Only one of my top 10 (foreshadowing) wasn’t part of my mental list of “best alternative albums 2022” for several months. However, it was a little harder to sequence from 11 to 20 for some reason. Any of these records could easily be another person’s favorite of the year, and all deserve your time.

20. Weyes Blood – And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow

Best albums of 2022:  Weyes Blood - And in the Darkness, Hearts Glow

I didn’t hear Weyes Blood’s 2021 Titanic Rising to compare to this year’s And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow. The first 5 or 6 tracks are magical, though I think Hearts Aglow lags a bit near the end. If she resisted the comparison at first, it really is hard not to hear Karen Carpenter in Natalie Mering’s vocals. Not a little Jeff Lynne happening here too!

19. Mañana El Espacio – Casi Nada Es Para Siempre

Best albums of 2022:  Mañana El Espacio - Casi Nada Es Para Siempre

What more can I say? Loved this indie pop band from Venezuela.

Band leader and song writer Ricardo Vergara now writes from Medellín, Columbia, known as the City of Eternal Spring. You’ll feel that kind of renewal in these songs that range from garage rock to a bit of psychedelic jangle. Pedals and indie hand claps included at no extra charge.

Check it!

Did you hear all the Spanish-language jangle pop released in 2022? You’ll fall in love with these songs!

18. Orlando Weeks – Hop Up

Orlando Weeks' Hop Up was a top alternative album of 2022

I deliberately place Hop Up here, not least of all because Orlando Weeks deserves it. Also because Weeks’ sincere family delight is anathema to jaded music critics, who cannot tolerate simple, unironic joy. The album pulses with late-Roxy Music vibes and a little XTC.

“Hey You Hop Up” – Orlando Weeks (Hop Up)
“Big Skies, Silly Faces” – Orlando Weeks (Hop Up)

17. The Boys With the Perpetual Nervousness – The Third Wave of…

Top albums of 2022:  The Boys With the Perpetual Nervousness - The Third Wave of...

TBWTPN collaborate across Europe on sunny indie pop songs, Gonzalo Marcos in Spain and Andrew Taylor in Scotland. However most of the hooks have the lightest touch of sweet jangle somewhere between The Byrds and Teenage Fanclub. The Boys With the Perpetual Nervousness present musical elation of the highest order!

Mary Lou Lord guests on the sweet duet, “Isolation.”

16. Spiritualized – Everything Was Beautiful

2022 favorite albums: Spiritualized - Everything Was Beautiful

There’s a Spiritualized formula AMIRIGHT? Like Guy Garvey basically has a formula for Elbow? The answer is yes, and I’m here for every second of it.

Tell me if there has been a greater payoff than the Brian Wilson swell at 2:25 on Spiritualized’s “Always Together With You?” Like, ever in the history of music? Possibly exaggeration, but it’s my damn list. I feel like I could have dropped Spiritualized in my Top 10 without an ounce of regret.

Listen to J Spaceman only if you want to experience total exhilaration.

15. Panda Bear and Sonic Boom – Reset

2022 Best Albums: Panda Bear and Sonic Boom - Reset

It seems appropriate, if unintentional, putting Spacemen 3 alum side-by-side.

More Panda Bear than a Spacemen throwback, Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) and Peter Kember (Sonic Boom and Spacemen 3 founder) are nevertheless kindred spirits. Lennox may never return to the sublime heights reached on Person Pitch. Still, Reset lives in a nearby gentrified zip code.

Hey you! Looking back is good..but 2023 has already produced some great songs. CHECK THEM OUT here!

14. Fontaines D.C. – Skinty Fia

Fontaines D.C. topped my list of best alternative albums of 2022

Skinty Fia could have been a Top 5 album but for a couple of stinkers (“Bloomsday,” I’m looking at you). Irish brogue, pedals, driving backbeats combined with the rich ferocity of Catherine Wheel. A sure hit on any list of best alternative albums of 2022.

13. Naima Bock – Giant Palm

Best of 2022: Naima Bock - Giant Palm

Naima Bock’s patient arrangements frequently echo soft 70’s (“Instrumental” could be a lost TV score). Bock is formerly of Goat Girl and I love her airy, rounded voice.

Weyes Blood sounds like her emotive and high-maintenance younger sister. Aldous Harding is Bock’s spirit animal.

12. The Silent Boys – Sand to Pearls, Coal to Diamonds

Best alternative albums of 2022:  The Silent Boys - Sand to Pearls, Coal to Diamonds

Jangle pop veterans from Richmond. We’re getting dangerously close to my Top 10, and just about every one of these songs is pop perfection. Somewhere, God bless Pat Fish’s departed soul, The Jazz Butcher is listening with a smile.

11. Arlo Mckinley – This Mess We’re In

2022 best alt country: Arlo Mckinley - This Mess We're In

Until July 15, 2022 I had never heard Arlo Mckinley’s name. His show in Salt Lake this year was my favorite by not a little. What do we have to do to get Arlo a date on Mountain Stage?!

Serious Lynyrd Skynyrd energy in the best, most unironic way.

Arlo was my favorite show in 2022 by a country mile, pun intended. Check out his set and pics from SLC!

Best alternative albums of 2022: Number 10 to #1 (Casey Kasem voice)

I personally don’t think you can go wrong with any of these Top 10 releases. Each is choice from beginning to end, and a highlight from the best alternative albums 2022 offered to music lovers.

For the most part, the top 7 or 8 albums were swirling in my head as Best Album for much of the year. It wasn’t until late November or so that I changed my #1, which I thought for sure would hold all year. For whatever reason, I over-indexed on alt country in my Top 10, for which I make no apologies so stop interrogating me like a common criminal.

10. Aurora – The Gods We Can Touch

Best albums of 2022: Aurora - The Gods We Can Touch

I have zero concern for damaging what little street cred I have by including in my Top 10 albums Norway’s Aurora, for whom I am clearly not the target demo. Get over yourself and listen to what Aurora has done!

Much of The Gods We Can Touch is ethereal and intimate, and then by turns challenging and defiant. And the gothic overtones give way to a couple of unapologetic synth pop bangers. Aurora channels the chamber pop and early confidence of Kate Bush.

And I want to say this.

In the year 2023, when a 26-year-old woman is the President and Chief freaking Executive Officer of her personal brand, positively influencing tens of thousands of younger women — we need to honor that.

“Everything Matters” – Aurora (The Gods We Can Touch)
“A Place Called the Moon” – Aurora (The Gods We Can Touch)

9. Alvvays – Blue Rev

Alvvays' Blue Rev was a top album of 2022

Alvvays’ Blue Rev might have more pop hooks per song than anything else I heard this year.

After their October show in Salt Lake, I remarked they felt like a band making a new leap of confidence. You can’t say enough about the cool stage presence of Molly Rankin and Alec O’Hanley and the perfect, desultory voice Rankin gives to songs like “Many Mirrors” and “Lottery Noises.”

So did you get to see Alvvays in 2023? I did — and they were amaze. Read about their SLC set here!

8. The Highwater Marks – Proclaimer of Things

2022 best alternative: The Highwater Marks - Proclaimer of Things

Gleeful jangle that ranges from power pop to fuzzy garage – even a tasty bit of cow punk.

Nearly every song on Proclaimer of Things is a windows open-wide singalong. Hilarie Sidney of Elephant 6 collective and Apples in Stereo and husband Per Ole Bratset share songwriting and vocals. This may explain why shimmering chords alternate with sludgier guitars.

Among the best alternative albums of 2022, this record was absolutely bursting with singles.

“Jenny” – The Highwater Marks (Proclaimer of Things)
“The Devotee to the Chemist” – The Highwater Marks (Proclaimer of Things)

7. Sharon Van Etten – We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong

Top albums 2022: Sharon Van Etten - We've Been Going About This All Wrong

We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong is an album of mini-epics, which I am a sucker for. Sharon Van Etten begins each song with the calmest of strums and finishes in tremendous crashing things with giant, earned emotion. She sings with such beautiful, deep tones.

This has been on repeat for me all year.

6. Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up Here

Best alt country 2022: Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up Here

Black Country, New Road are doing something new under the sun. At one moment, they pervert Van Morrison on “Concorde.” In another they descend into free form jazz cacophony on “Snow Globes.”

Without their heat-seeking sensibilities of melody, BCNR would just be a discordant band only music critics love. But they deliver the hooks in another brilliant experiment. Just one example, the 14 second full stop inside “Mark’s Theme” that only improves the resolve.

A triumphant sophomore album.

DUDE I SWEAR these are 22 songs you need to listen to! Click here and start streaming!

5. Aldous Harding – Warm Chris

The best alternative albums of 2022 included Aldous Harding's Warm Chris

So many memorable, infectious songs on Warm Chris, each stamped with Aldous Harding’s eccentricity. Harding isn’t just a blithe oddball, she may also music’s most elliptical lyricist. Also can someone PLEASE help me with “Coming Round the Mountain?” I swear that keyboard samples a movie score that I just can’t place.

4. Beach House – Once Twice Melody

Best alternative: Once Twice Melody by Beach House

I ended the year where I began, Once Twice Melody by Beach House near the very top of my favorite albums list. Chapters I and II came out in late 2021…while III and IV completed the release by February of 2022.

Of any record I listened to this year, no question, Once Twice Melody touches the stars most often.

Spiritualized played a September show in The Caverns, the renown venue in Grundy County, Tennessee. Can you even imagine hearing Beach House playing songs there like “Sunset?” I seriously might die.

3. Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

Best alternative: Big Thief's album Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

It is difficult to understate the scope of what Big Thief has done on Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You. Because when we say, “what Big Thief has done,” we really mean “what Adrianne Lenker has done.” No matter how democratic Big Thief may be, Lenker is the center of their universe.

That Big Thief originally produced NEARLY 50 SONGS whittled down (with no little pain) to 20 songs, defies creative description. This is a mature brand, as we say in marketing. At the same time, Big Thief are still becoming something fearless and new.

Dragon New Warm Mountain toggles seamlessly between casual hootenanny, psych folk and esoteric indie hooks. Although not streamed here, the holiest moment may be the simple harmony between Lenker and bandmate/ex-husband Buck Meek on “12000 Lines.”

Whoa STOP RIGHT THERE! Check out the alternative country you missed in 2022!

2. Angel Olsen – Big Time

Best of 2022: Big Time by Angel Olsen

For reasons I can’t exactly articulate, I was deeply affected by Big Time. I was visiting my childhood home in West Virginia as I streamed Angel Olsen’s cathartic album. In that way, it will be inextricably tied to my return home, the way great music attaches itself to a place and moment in time.

“Go Home” has been voted Most Likely to Make You Cry in an Unguarded Moment. In it, Olsen sings:

I wanna go home,
Go back to small things.
I don’t belong here.
Nobody knows me.

I am the ghost now,
Walking those old scenes.
How can I go on?

Forget the old dream.
I got a new thing

An album of aching beauty. Olsen’s voice is unrivaled, shouting down the mountains and, in turns, an intensely vulnerable, quaking vibrato.

1. Jockstrap – I Love You Jennifer B

The best alternative albums of 2022 topped by Jockstrap - Jennifer B I Love You

What has become of me, that I herald a band called Jockstrap? Me, perpetual critic of stupid band names.

Jockstrap (I can’t believe I continue typing that word) are Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye, London art school students. Ellery is also violinist for Black Country, New Road. Her wild vocal range drives the arrangements of Jennifer B I Love You.

Let’s not forget that, at the end of the day, rock and roll should be fun. Or it should evoke equally deep emotions of despair, anxiety or elation. If you haven’t heard of Jockstrap, allow me to introduce you to Jennifer B. Sprawling decade-defining albums are one thing. It’s another to adroitly stitch 1,000 musical ideas inside a taut 40 minute statement, some which continue to reveal themselves on listens 6, 7…12.

Is it synth pop? Post-pop? Is that even a word? Does it matter?


“Concrete Over Water” – Jockstrap (I Love You Jennifer B)

Best alternative albums of 2022: Super cool albums not in my Top 20

Records that were really good but not quite in my top tier, wherein I try to impress you with my broad musical taste. I bought and listened to each of these. They are good stuff!

Top alternative albums of 2022, more albums Part 1:

  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Cool It Down)
    Karen O has never sounded better, now singing about motherhood!
  • Big Joanie (Back Home)
    Darkwave, riot girrrl mashup gave me all the feels
  • Porridge Radio (Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky)
    Waterslide sat just outside my Top 20 all year
  • Dehd (Blue Skies)
    Chicago 3-piece knocked it out of the park. Recommended track: “Bad Love”
  • The 1975 (Being Funny in a Foreign Language)
    I thought this was a great pop record honestly
  • Kiwi Jr. (Chopper)
    Slacker rock closer in quality to their Pavement-y debut Football Money
  • Wet Leg (Wet Leg)
    Frankly I discounted this record based on their listless Salt Lake City show

Best alternative albums of 2022, more albums Part 2:

  • Belle and Sebastian (A Bit of Previous)
    Nothing I didn’t like about B&S’s return to form
  • Infinity Knives and Brian Ennals (King Cobra)
    My Top 20 list doesn’t include rap — I’m not deep enough in the scene
  • Young Guv (Guv III)
    Ben Cook’s positively delicious guitar pop. Every track, but try: “Lo lo lonely”
  • Rush to Relax (Misli)
    Look, this jangle pop is sung in Macedonian. It is worth the effort!
  • Just Mustard (Heart Under)
    How they notch Katie Ball’s vocals inside this dark, gazey noise is a marvel
  • Father John Misty (Chloë and the Next 20th Century)
    Maybe this is shtick, but it is still lovely

Here are the songs you missed on the too-little-loved EP format. I bet you find something you really dig!

2022 best alternative EP’s

Before I post some favorite songs from 2022 or rank my top albums, let’s spend some time with the little-appreciated category of EP’s.…

Keep reading

Fave alternative albums of 2022, more albums Part 3:

  • Torres Satélite (Mundos y Estrellas)
    I swooned over some of these songs. Check out: “Carl Sagan”
  • Ian Noe (River Fools & Mountain Saints)
    More from my year as an alt county evangelist
  • The Linda Lindas (The Linda Lindas)
    If Green Day were 15-year-old girls
  • Best Bets (On An Unhistoric Night)
    I’ve said a lot about Best Bets. Buy this record!
  • Wild Pink (ILYSM)
    At times Lambchop-y, I thought John Ross sounded best on the more structured songs
  • Beth Orton (Weather Alive)
    Confused Beth Orton and The Beths for most of this year. Weather Alive is a grower!
  • Castlebeat (Half Life)
    Late add from Spirit Goth Records. Josh Hwang produces these arch Joy Division melodies in his garage

Best alternative albums of 2022, more albums Part 4:

  • Crows (Beware Believers)
    A near Top 20 for me, play only at ear-damaging volume levels
  • Northern Portrait (Swiss Army)
    Danish indie pop throwback that I just loved. Listen to: “Long Live Tonight”
  • Artsick (Fingers Crossed)
    If you buy just one lo-fi garage band album this year, buy Fingers Crossed
  • The Smile (A Light for Attracting Attention)
    Another late add, you have five or six terrific songs here!
  • Eades (Delusion Spree)
    Cheap Trick fans unite! I feel like I should have re-evaluated Eades for my Top 20
  • Cuco (Fantasy Gateway)
    Bedroom pop of the highest order. Cuco plays the 2023 Kilby Court block party

Best alternative albums of 2022: Not feeling these

Disappointing alternative albums of 2022

I started the year on kind of a tear, buying a few releases without sampling. We all do this, right? Like I’ll buy on faith about anything Elbow or Sloan put out. It’s a trust relationship. Became a little too trusting this year and bought some CD’s (yes I mostly still buy physical media) that didn’t live up to reputation. And then a couple of stinkers just generally.

  • Cate Le Bon (Pompeii)
    Hey I like weird, I like eccentric. At the end of the day you have to produce songs people actually like
  • Kendrick Lamar (Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers)
    Boy, this has really divided opinion. Mark me down for a giant No. Also, half as long next time please
  • Animal Collective (Time Skiffs)
    It’s not NOT good. But it’s a far cry from the Merriweather days
  • Mitski (Laurel Hell)
    What the hell with Laurel Hell. I was expecting more
  • A Place to Bury Strangers (See Through You)
    You know what I wasn’t thinking last year? “I’d like to hear Oliver Ackerman sing a ballad”
  • Spoon (Lucifer on the Sofa)
    I think I’m mostly alone on this one. I thought Lucifer was pedestrian
  • Oliver Sim (Hideous Bastard)
    The shame here is I think the XX founder had some good musical ideas. It never punched through
  • Sloan (Steady)
    Initially slated my favorite Canadians’ album as an honorable mention. Now it’s feeling routine

Listen to these 22 essential alternative songs in 2022. Because 2,022 songs will take way too much time

old people dancing

A bit more than a baker’s dozen, here are 22 alternative songs in 2022 out of a few thousand that I listened to this year. Most have streams of the full songs that you can play right from your phone. I hope you fall in love with them and buy them!

First things first, these are in no real order other than what I can readily find on my Best Songs list on Evernote and scrolling through downloads or discs I’ve already bought. It’s a mess, frankly, but I’m going to try and bring some order to the chaos. And for you, that means curated top shelf listening. Most, not all, are not from albums that will end up on my Top 10 or 20 list. But they’re all amaze.

These 22 alternative songs in 2022 are numbered, but just help me keep track of when I get to 22 tunes. They are not in order of preference or awesomeness!

1. “Wild” – Spoon (Lucifer on the Sofa)

Alternative songs in 2022: Spoon delivers one of the best with "Wild"

How many bands can compare to Spoon, album for album, for almost 30 years? It’s rarified air. Having said that I liked, didn’t love, Lucifer on the Sofa. Several bangers, and Spoon remain an American original. Here is early single “Wild,” which I cannot be on drugs, is an absolute straight-up tribute to INXS.

I can’t imagine a better way to start a list of the best alternative songs in 2022.

Buy Lucifer on the Moon from Spoon’s website.

HOLD ON A SECOND BUSTER! Check out these top songs already out in the New Year…you’ll love them!

2. “(Wishing I Had) Tickets for Saint Etienne” – The Photocopies (Holiday Romance EP)

Listen to (Wishing I Had) Tickets for Saint Etienne by The Photocopies

Michigan-by-London songwriter Sean Turner has released probably 100 songs as The Photocopies since the start of the year. They come in batches of singles, b-sides, EP’s, full-lengths and remixes.

I’m feeling guilty enough not including the Holiday Romance EP among my favorite EP’s of 2022 — an oversight — that I want to highlight “Saint Etienne” from that EP. Fuzzy jangle pop without fuss or needless ambition. Just a perfect pop song, like almost everything Turner does.

Have a listen to everything The Photocopies have published in 2022!

3. “Wrong Side of the Sun” – Best Bets (On An Unhistoric Night)

Alternative songs in 2022:  Best Bets' "Wrong Side of the Sun" may be the most catchy song of the year

Voted by me the #1 song to see live in 2022, I present Best Bets‘ “Wrong Side of the Sun.” They must call the riot police and water cannons when the kids hear this insanely catchy chorus. Growing out of New Zealands’ Transistors, Best Bets rockin’ On An Unhistoric Night belongs on the shelf of every post punk fan of The Ramones or Replacements.

Has to be one of the catchiest alternative songs in 2022. Hit play and rock.

Release your inner 19-year-old with Meritorio Records’ “On An Unhistoric Night.

4. “Dressed in Black” – Ezra Furman (All of Us Flames)

Transgender artist Ezra Furman

I ultimately didn’t put All of Us Flames on my list of records to buy this year. You can’t own everything.

But I love this musky 60’s love song, “Dressed in Black.” Transgender woman Ezra Furman’s lyrics throughout reflect darker tensions of love, sex and gender. The album is sometimes distorted and menacing but still frequently reinterprets AOR.

You can buy All of Flames and Ezra Furman T’s at her website.

5. “End of the Empire IV (Sagittarius)” – Arcade Fire (WE)

Arcade Fire delivers in 2022 again with the song "End of the Empire" from WE

Arcade Fire’s 6th album WE adds to the Montreal legends’ nearly 20-year legacy since the influential Funeral, Neon Bible and The Suburbs. It will also inevitably be conflated with the allegations of sexual misconduct by founder Win Butler. When looking for top alternative songs in 2022, WE has moments, if not the consistency of their early records.

The instrumentation and art rock arrangements, like the 4-part “End of the Empire” sound very much like The Flaming Lips here.

“End of the Empire IV (Sagittarius)” – Arcade Fire (WE)

Get your copy of Arcade Fire’s WE.

OBVIOUSLY you need to critique my Top 20 albums of 2022. Listen, comment and disagree!

6. “Old Picture of Ourselves” – The Boys with the Perpetual Nervousness (The Third Wave of…)

The band you've never heard of and need to know about.  The Boys With the Perpetual Nervousness

Next, a multi-continent jangle pop supergroup of sorts, The Boys With the Perpetual Nervousness may actually end up on my best album list. But I had to share one of their songs from The Third Wave of… TBWTPN are Scotland’s Andrew Taylor, also in Dropkick…and Spain’s Gonzalo Marcos, who plays in El Palacio de Linares. (Note to self: check out El Palacio de Linares.!)

For fans of Teenage Fanclub and lovers of all things jangle.

Do you dig it?! Buy The Boys third album from Bobo Integral Records!

7. “Sick of Everything” – Gorgeous Bully (Am I Really Going to Die Here)

Gorgeous Bully song "Sick of Everything"

Daniel Johnston, exemplar of melodic sincerity to Kurt Cobain and Yo La Tengo, grew up in West Virginia and is revered in many circles as an Appalachian prodigy. An acquaintance of mine actually gave him a place to live in the late 80’s. This was either before or during some of Johnston’s drug use and increasing mental health struggles, which eventually saw him committed.

Does Manchester’s Gorgeous Bully mimic Johnston’s arch low fidelity cassette recordings? Mostly, no. GB builds more traditional song structures of bedroom pop. The lo-fi soundscapes and lyrics are relatively dynamic compared to Johnston’s arrested development.

And Thomas Crang recognizes a pop hook when he finds it. “Sick of Everything,” originally a 2021 single, is a cleaned-up version of Gorgeous Bully that leads off 2022’s Am I Really Going to Die Here. Just 90 seconds makes it one of the top alternative songs in 2022.

Johnston and GB do share a bit of the same strumming DNA that you can hear in some of Johnston’s touching live performances. Also you can watch the excellent The Devil and Daniel Johnston on Amazon.

Buy “Am I Really Going to Die Here” by Gorgeous Bully.

Okay kids HERE THEY ARE: The very best songs from summer 2022! Listen and tell me I’m wrong!

8. “Watercolours” – Neil Brogan (Things Keep Getting in the Way)

Listen to indie pop wonder Neil Brogan sing "Watercolours."  Guaranteed to make your day!

Irish musician, host of this year’s new music podcast Brogan’s Run and former Sea Pinks lead Neil Brogan writes perfect, economical guitar pop on his new album Things Keep Getting in the Way. Brogan will take you back to pristine 90’s indie pop like The Lucksmiths and Trash Can Sinatras.

Download your ray of sunshine from 2022 with Neil Brogan’s Things Getting in the Way.

9. “Our Songbird Has Gone” – The Chesterf¡elds (New Modern Homes)

Alternative songs in 2022: Possibly my favorite song of the year...The Chesterf¡elds' "Our Songbird Has Gone"

Let’s stay in this tasty indie pop space for a moment so that I can share one of my very favorite songs of the last year.

Cult favorites The Chesterf¡elds reunited in 2022, despite the untimely death of their band mate Davy Chesterfield in 2003. This delightful tribute to Chesterfield namechecks and evokes everything about C86 bands that birthed The Chesterf¡elds nearly 40 years ago.

Clearly one of the best alternative songs in 2022. I have probably sung the chorus to “Our Songbird” in my car more than any other this year.

Buy New Modern Homes by The Chesterf¡elds at Bandcamp.

10. “Pana-vision” – The Smile (A Light for Attracting Attention)

Radiohead side project The Smile kill with single Pana-vision

In the winter and spring of 2022, I bought a clutch of new releases by well-known artists sight unseen. I rarely do that — I sample almost everything. However, a few artists I will buy on faith. As it turned out, I was unimpressed by many of them…including The Smile’s A Light for Attracting Attention.

This summer, a friend persuaded me to revisit The Smile and some of my other impetuous purchases. I can report, of the 4 or 5 discs, I was most glad to return to The Smile. I had listened to Attention probably a half dozen times on earbuds. This is a terrible way to consume dense production, particularly a Radiohead side project.

In the end, however, the sum is less than the parts.

Thom Yorke is one of the two or three most influential songwriters of the last 50 years, so I think it’s fair to hold him to a high standard. Attention is front-loaded and musical ideas are hit or miss after the first five tracks. Attention reminds me of Yorke’s debut solo The Eraser in some ways. Tom Skinner’s complex syncopation is a revelation and it is rewarding to hear Jonny Greenwood playing guitar again for God’s sake.

Ironically, though, my favorite songs are keyboard numbers…”Open the Floodgates” and April single “Pana-vision.”

Add The Smile to your Radiohead collection!

11. “No End to Love” – Orlando Weeks (Hop Up)

Why haven't you listened to Orlando Weeks' alternative album Hop up and the song "No End to Love?!" You can hear it here

Don’t let the absence of blog coverage of Maccabee’s singer Orlando Weeks dissuade you from buying his second solo, Hop Up. Brimming with the joys of fatherhood and watching his young son emerge as a new personality, it is far too loving and un-ironic for beat hipsters to tolerate. The album has been criminally ignored.

Light as air and irrepressible with new life, it is impossible not to hear Roxy Music’s Avalon on songs like “No End to Love.”

“No End to Love” – Orlando Weeks (Hop Up)

You can buy Hop Up from large retailers worldwide.

12. “I Wish I” – Arlo McKinley (This Mess We’re In)

Listen to a song from my favorite concert of the year.  "I Wish I" from Arlo Mckinley's This Mess We're In

It has been a damn fine year for alternative country. New music by Wilco and genre-defining releases by Big Thief and Angel Olsen…what a time to be alive!

My favorite show of the year, not even close, was Cincinnati’s Arlo McKinley playing This Mess We’re In at Salt Lake City’s Urban Lounge. One of several highlights was “I Wish I,” as McKinley narrated the eternal tension between the comfort of known things and the progress of growing old.

“I Wish I” lyrics

Thinking about settling up,
Kicking off the dust,
Removing all the rust that keeps me still.
I think it’s my time to go.
Say goodbye to everyone I know
And I hope someday I’ll be forgiven
For the bonds that I broke

I wish I could take you with me,
But this road I must walk alone.
I gotta get out of the city.
Good God,
I gotta lose myself just to find my way back home

Every song, like “I Wish I,” on This Mess We’re In is genuine and moving.

This may be another album that creeps into my Top 20 of the year. Indulge your inner Southerner this Christmas with This Mess We’re In.

SPOILER ALERT! Arlo McKinley (above) gets more love in my top 7 alt country albums of 2022 (:

13. “Teeth” – Perfume Genius (Ugly Season)

Alternative songs in 2022: Perfume Genius song "Teeth" from Ugly Season

I’m a little late to the Perfume Genius party but was quite enthralled by his 5th album, 2020’s Set My Heart on Fire Immediately. For fans looking for relatively simple song structures after that album, Ugly Season may not satisfy. The album is a score to the dance performance The Sun Still Burns Here. Much of it reflects the abstraction of dance.

I try to post only audio streams but here you’ll need to rely on the video. The brittle melody and especially Mike Hadreas’ delicate falsetto are a marvel that place it among the top alternative songs in 2022.

Ugly Season, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately and other Perfume Genius items are available to buy at his website.

14. “Windowpane” – Aluminum (Windowpane EP)

Some shoegaze for your 2022.  Aluminum sing "Windowpane"

San Francisco’s gazey power pop outfit Aluminum released the Windowpane EP about two months ago. Their guitar pop and electronica is smartly interspersed with pedals worthy of My Bloody Valentine. For examples, listen to “Solar” and early single, “Windowpane.”

Get a vinyl version of the Windowpane EP from Oakland’s Dandy Boy Records.
You can buy the cassette from SF’s Discontinuous Innovations.

15. “Celebran Por Nosotros” – Mañana el Espacio (Casi Nada es Para Siempre)

Don't miss out on some of the best alternative songs in 2022 because you don't speak Spanish.  Listen to "Celebran Por Nosotros" by Mañana el Espacio

How have I gotten this far into my list of alternative songs in 2022 without a Spanish language tune? This is like my signature thing now, and I speak barely a word of Spanish beyond “carnita.” Stupid American.

This year I’ve absolutely fallen in love with bands like Mañana el Espacio (South America) and Torres Satélite (Spain). It is so connecting and universal — and something needed right now — to know that Mañana singer Ricardo José Vergara is creating these pop gems, possibly raised on the same Sonic Youth records as you and me.

“Celebran Por Nosotros” lyrics

Ricardo is a gifted lyricist and has been kind enough to send the translation for his lovely album Casi Nada es Para Siempre. He plans to post them on Musixmatch and Spotify as well. The translated opening of “Celebran Por Nosotros”…

We watch the stars mutliply.
The city looks peaceful from here.
The moment is unforgettable
But I’ll have to wake up.

Color gets all over our faces.
I’m sure better times will come
And meanwhile,
I ask myself,

Do they celebrate for us?
Is that why they’re lighting the city up?
Or is it my imagination?
Is that why they’re lighting the city up?
Or is it my imagination?

Okay I’m going to cheat on my 22 songs and drop an extra Mañana song here, because they range way outside of shoegaze to the most delightful indie pop. Check out the crazy flanged guitar at the end of “Yo No Ma Haces Falta,” (“I Don’t Need You Anymore.”)

Buy Manan’s Casi Nada es Para Siempre from Bandcamp. ¡Es excelente!

Did you love that jangle from Mañana el Espacio?! WHO WOULDN’T?! Click here for more Spanish indie pop!

16. “Dreamin of the Past” – Pusha T (It’s Almost Dry)

Alternative songs in 2022 include Pusha T's "Dreamin of the Past"

Kids I have to tell you.

As I wind into my 50’s, it is harder to find hardcore bands or rap music that I authentically connect with. Possibly, just possibly, I’m not the target audience. But I did find a few hip hop releases that I liked which specifically DID NOT include Kendrick Lamar. Both Radiohead and Lamar could publish 50 minutes of fax noise and the bloggers swoon.

I did super enjoy Pusha T’s “Dreamin of the Past,” which he did on Fallon in the spring. Hiphopdx recounts Pusha T’s story to Charlamagne Tha God about how he persuaded Kanye West to let him release Ye’s beat on King Push’s It’s Almost Dry instead of last year’s Donda.

“I begged for the beat,” he said. “It was just one of those ones that I kept going back to and was like, ‘Listen, man, I need this. I need this record.’ And I was like, ‘You know what? You should be on the record too.’ That’s the compromise.”

Here is “Dreamin of the Past” featuring a few bars of Kanye at the end as “the compromise.”

You can buy “It’s Almost Dry” from just about any store on Earth.

17. “Coke Jaw” – Infinity Knives and Brian Ennals (King Cobra)

Listen to Infinity Knives and Brian Ennals on this list of 22 top alternative songs in 2022

Let’s establish up front that by posting two hip hop songs in a row, I am in no way implying I have street cred in urban music. But I really did sample a good bit of rap this year. Infinity Knives & Brian Ennals is one I want to spend a little more time with before the end of the year for my favorite albums list.

These guys have all the buzzy descriptions, experimental hip hop…fusion. It’s a bit hard to categorize but I kind of dig it. Infinity Knives (NPR’s Tariq Ravelomanana) provides the electronics and Baltimore’s Brian Ennals brings the rhymes. If there is a bridge too far, it is incorporating Infinity Knives’ orchestration into the album and not hearing them simply as interludes.

“Coke Jaw” is a good example of the mashup that makes them so different.

Get a digital copy of King Cobra and learn more about Infinity Knives and Brian Ennals from the Phantom Limb label.

18. “Doers” – Bodega (Broken Equipment)

Brooklyn's Bodega sings "Doers" from 2022's Broken Equipment

“Doers” is the maddeningly catchy portrait of modern life by Brooklyn punks Bodega. I bought Broken Equipment early in 2022. It was such a joy to come back to it tonight and hear the ramped intensity in “Doers,” the extension beyond sprechgesang.

If “this “Doers” doesn’t encapsulate work life in 2022, I don’t know what does:

“Doers” lyrics

Ten minutes : calendar
10 minutes : Bandcamp
Ten minutes : wiki browse
10 minutes: planning my next ten minutes
It’s all about auto bio of Benjamin.

Ten minutes: Ted talk
10 minutes: Notepad
Ten minutes: Amazon
10 minutes : planning my next ten minutes
To thine own shelf be true.

This city’s made for the doers. The movers. shakers. Non-connoisseurs.
This city’s made for the doers. The humors. Tubers. entrepreneurs.

You didn’t know you needed Bodega until you heard “Doers.” An angry song for angry times, as we explore the best alternative songs in 2022.

Finish your fiscal year working for the man listening to Bodega’s Broken Equipment.

19. “Backseat Politic” – Eades (Delusion Spree)

A little-heard gem...Eades post punk "Backseat Politic" from Delusion Spree

Can we give a song one minute to build in 2022?

Look, I’m not entirely crazy about the arrangement on “Backseat Politic” but behold Mike Ness fans, the locomotive of fun that Leeds’ post punk bank Eades creates on Delusion Spree. Give them just. one. minute. and dig the groove. More mathy than Social Distortion but HOLY CATS what a churning beat on that chorus!

Buy Delusion Spree at Bandcamp!

It is a CRIME AGAINST MUSIC if you haven’t checked out these songs! Hear some music I bet you missed!

20. “Shotgun” – Soccer Mommy (Sometimes, Forever)

The best alternative songs in 2022 include Soccer Mommy's "Shotgun" from Sometimes, Forever

Sophie Allison checks all the boxes.

Her songs are indie perfect, cagey and cynical. On Sometimes, Forever she has sharpened her hooks and her knives. Both “newdemo” and “Shotgun” show off the singer-songwriter who has emerged since 2018’s Clean. “Shotgun” also displays Allison’s sweeping hooks and Soccer Mommy at her most accessible.

Your Soccer Mommy superstore is here.

21. “Fatal Folly” – The Silent Boys (Sand to Pearls, Coal to Diamonds)

Listen to the stream of Richmond, Virginia's The Silent Boys' "Fatal Folly" from "Sand to Pearls, Coal to Diamonds"

A late entrant on my best music dashboard this year, Sand to Pearls, Coal to Diamonds came out November 4. Richmond, Virginia indie pop veterans The Silent Boys’ ninth album is getting tons of recognition that it rightly deserves. A little twee, a lot of jangle, The Silent Boys hit on just about every song here.

If you don’t fall in love with the simple joy of “Fatal Folly,” then we have nothing further to discuss.

You can buy the digital release from the band or get the disc from French label Too Good to be True Records.

Listen to EVEN MORE top alternative songs from around election day! 2022 was SUCH a great year!

22. “Velvet Sun” – Semiwestern (single)

Semiwestern's remix of "Velvet Sun" is probably my #1 alternative song from 2022

Finally, my last song for you is a bit of a cheat. I found out this weekend it was originally released a decade ago.

Still, I could listen to this November single by Semiwestern 1,000 times and still feel teary about it. The haunting guitar on the chorus to “Velvet Sea” hearkens to Dean Wareham’s post-Galaxie 500 luminaries Luna. The transcendent line hits at 1:15. It is guaranteed to be the best five minutes of your 2022.

That said, I learned from The Google that this is a remix of an earlier “Velvet Sun” released in 2012 by Austin’s The Vliets. Semiwestern is the new incarnation of The Vliets (pronounced VLEETS).

I’ll touch on two things. First, by any measure this remix is a superior, more mature and elegant version of the original. BUY IT! Second, ten years later, it begs the question: Why now? Should we look forward to a longer release from Semiwestern soon? No word yet from California lo-fi label Spirit Goth but I will let you know!

A boy can dream, can’t he?

These 7 albums defined the year in alt country 2022

West Virginia country road creek

I would like to personally nominate alt country 2022 as one of the recent best for a catalogue of moving and profound music.

This list won’t be authoritative for many reasons, not the least of which is that I’m not an authority. Another disadvantage, I’m writing this on a plane and can’t see everything I’ve listened to this year. Also the smell of the lavatory is making me woozy and the flight attendants are drunk with power.

A couple of caveats. First, I struggle at times with the “alt country” moniker, but for the most part that’s the canon I’m writing about here. I think most people get the broad genre. Second, a reminder that one man’s country is another man’s bucolic folk. Are these all definitively country? It’s my damn website, so I’ll call them whatever I want. They’re just labels, and lines are blurred.

Just enjoy the music, by whatever name you call it.

1. Angel Olsen – Big Time

More than anyone else, Angle Olsen defined Alt country 2022 with her album Big Time

Whenever someone asks me where I grew up, I always answer in the same way, “I’m from West Virginia of all places.” I don’t know exactly why I say that. I guess I like being the subject of curiosity. But I’m proud of my home. It was a great place to be a kid.* Last fall I returned to the land of my peoples for the first time in 20 years.

I was swooning over Angel Olsen’s sixth album, Big Time, while driving through the woods and neighborhoods where I was raised. There is NO BETTER WAY to listen to Angel Olsen than when accompanied by forest scenery and melancholy memories of childhood.

Olsen’s dewy voice and the rich production make Big Time not just a great listen but an immersive, emotional experience. She wrote Big Time in the shadow of the death of both parents, literally three weeks after her mother’s funeral. You hear the tragedy throughout.

The way Olsen hints at the triumphant chorus in the first seconds of “Go Home” is a marvel. She seems to write of her loss and a new identity as a gay and bereaving daughter:

“I wanna go home
Go back to small things.
I don’t belong here.
Nobody knows me.
How can I go on
With all those old dreams?
I am the ghost now,
Living those old scenes”

You can buy Big Time from just about any streaming service however I recommend Bandcamp.

HINT HINT – Angel Olsen played a big role in my Top 20 albums of 2022. Do you agree where I ranked her?!

2. Sharon Van Etten – We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong

Sharon Van Etten

Last year Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten collaborated on a tremendous song after circling around each other for many years. I personally think the video is pretentious and goofy but the song itself, “Like I Used To,” is an epic duo. These two need to record an entire album STAT! The collaboration also serves as a perfect transition to Van Etten’s 2022 album We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong.

Van Etten ranges through quite a bit of stylistic territory on this release, as I noted previously. She moves easily in and out of rural soundscapes: But guitars grind and dancing happens on We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong. Many of the songs start simply enough but they build into mini-epics that are incredibly rewarding. Just today, Van Etten released “Never Gonna Change,” the first of two new tracks that will appear November 11 on a deluxe edition of this year’s album.

Add the deluxe edition of We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong to your list of alt country 2022 favorites.

3. Arlo Mckinley – This Mess We’re In

Alt country 2022:  Arlo Mckinley - This Mess We're In

Arlo Mckinley is a more traditional country performer, a little honk in his tonk. He is unapologetically country, rather distinctly not alternative. DO NOT LET THIS FOOL YOU.

This Mess We’re In, Mckinley’s third album, is an unadorned, roaring locomotive of country jam. He is at the very top of the list of singers I want to scream my lungs out with in person in 2022. And wouldn’t you know it, he plays October 26 at SLC’s Urban Lounge. Mark the date on your calendar.

Until October 26, here is album closer “Here’s to the Dying.” Country artists seem to specialize in album closers AMIRIGHT?! I encourage you to scream your lungs out along with Arlo at home.

I’m not crazy, there’s a little Lynyrd Skynyrd in there, right? But in the best and most un-ironic way. Billy Powell back there pounding the keyboard accompaniment like it’s 1973. I can’t believe I typed the words Lynyrd Skynrd. Woah there, I did it again. Buy This Mess We’re In before Mckinley arrives!

Arlo Mckinley was my TOP SHOW in 2022, by not a little. Check out my review!

4. Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

Okay, on now to a couple of heavy hitters. I’m not doing this in any kind of perfect order; just trying to stay organized drinking bad airplane coffee.

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You will be many people’s #1 album of the year. Country is just a starting place for Adrianne Lenker and Big Thief. Their fifth album is at once wildly broad and yet perfectly comfortable in every arrangement of bluegrass, 70’s folk, psychedelia and straight ahead indie. It is hard to believe Big Thief can maintain it across 20 tracks. But they do, and without misstep.

Here’s an example of that kind of mashup of psych folk, country and a little funky blues guitar (or is it bluesy funk?)…all in the span of 4 minutes and 12 seconds on “Simulation Swan.”

Buy Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You from Big Thief.

5. Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There

Very alt country 2022:  Black Country, New Road

Black Country, New Road will also top many people’s favorite albums this year. Their second release, Ants From Up There, bends the genre more than any of the others catalogued on this list. Country freakout and jazz are standard parts of Black Country’s presentation. They can be a challenging listen but well worth your time.

I do not have Black Country’s first album to compare Ants to, however more than one person has marveled that the group only improved after their breakout debut. I personally find Black Country, New Road similar in their raw aesthetic to New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus. Is that a strange comparison?

Decide on this alt country 2022 yourself. Here is the wild country noise of “Snow Globes.”

Black Country, New Road can be beautiful and terrifying at the same time and that’s okay. Try Ants From Up There yourself.

2022 was a great year, I admit it. BUT DUDE 2023 is starting out great! Check out these tunes!

6. Maggie Rogers – Surrender

Maggie Rogers - Surrender

If Black Country pushes the edges of authentic country on the experimental end, Maggie Rogers does it on the pop end. Rogers is the girl who smells colors. Vogue Magazine also released a video of her skin care routine. LOOK I DON’T MAKE THE RULES. I only listen to the music. And Surrender is 100% top-shelf artistry; the songs are not pop candy.

Surrender rocks at times, and at other times has the lilt of the sweetest folk harmonies. But there is a country through line for the album’s duration, even if Rogers’ vocals are at times affected. On early single “That’s Where I Am,” Rogers sounds very Sheryl Crow-y, in a way that is not representative of the rest of the album. For instance, “Want Want” could be a Grace Jones track.

Before you get all judgy, treat yourself to the marvelous “Begging for Rain.” Sit through the full four minutes for the angelic harmonies that are the song’s walkaway.

Maggie Rogers – “Begging for Rain” (Surrender)

You can buy the entirety of Surrender here. For added yuks, spend a few minutes with Rogers call-in line at 844-WANT-WANT.

7. Wilco – Cruel Country

Did you know that Columbia, Missouri fancies itself the adopted home of alternative country? It’s true.

Wilco forbears Uncle Tupelo had to put some miles on their van to get out of the shadow of Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Illinois to find fans. They played frequently 140 miles west in Columbia and found airplay on Mizzou radio station KCOU. This was a few years before I lived in Columbia in the late 90’s. Nevertheless Jeff Tweedy continued to play Columbia’s Blue Note after achieving fame in Wilco, which is when I saw them. One of my fondest rock memories is Tweedy fearlessly crowd-surfing while shrieking Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song” in the richest irony. Just goofing with the crowd and having fun.

Wilco was always more alt than country. But they bring all the feels with album #12 Cruel Country. The most country our alt country favorites have ever recorded. Many Wilco listeners from the last ten years have been drawn to the delicate slow burn of “Many Worlds.” But here I encourage you to listen to Wilco exploring its roots a bit more on “Hints.”

It’s difficult for me to imagine Adrianne Lenker NOT listening to Wilco (or maybe a better guess, Son Volt) among her other stated early influences. It’s also hard not to hear the breadth of Cruel Country as a reflection of Big Thief, whom Tweedy has gushed over.

The first physical media of Cruel Country becomes available in 30 days. Order yours from Wilco’s website.

2022 blew me away with amazing indie songs and groundbreaking albums. Check out my fave songs here!

Year in alt country 2022: Three more names to watch

Most of my favorites are not super obscure, or may already be on your To Buy list. The last three may not be. I’m still exploring them myself. One was just recommended to me last weekend!

Orville Peck – Bronco

The masked crusader Orville Peck has released a new album. On Bronco, Peck sounds like some cross-pollination of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Dick Dale.

Peck’s high camp has graduated from cult status as he starts to cut through to the mainstream. Shania Twain appears on album #2. Check out “Daytona Sand.”

Ian Noe – River Fools & Mountain Saints

Ian Noe released his second album, River Fools & Mountain Saints, in March. Sometimes sounding like John Prine and other times like Dylan, the Kentuckian hits all the right notes for me. He is a fast up-and-comer and is already on my shopping list. Unfortunately he is only touring the Southeast U.S. at this time.

Here is the sublime “River Fool.”

Ian Noe – “River Fool” (River Fools & Mountain Saints)

Alt country 2022 live: Anthony D’Amato

I had the pleasure of seeing Anthony D’Amato perform a couple of numbers at West Virginia’s Empty Glass after playing on Mountain Stage last Sunday. Little did I know I’d travelled 1,845 miles to see D’Amato play, though he recorded with Joshua James in American Fork, Utah! The joyful hootenanny “Long Haul” is the first single from his upcoming album.

At First There Was Nothing releases October 21 but you can preorder now.

*If I need to demonstrate my bona fides as a child of the country, the top photo in this post is an image of the creek and west entrance to my childhood subdivision in West Virginia.

Photo courtesy: Me

November indie music: Vote for these songs!

Tampered ballot evidence

Was democracy REALLY on the ballot, or was it some diabolical plot to trap us in political season until Christmas? Never you mind…I have just the tonic to wake you up from this political fugue state. Here is a bunch of terrific November indie music you can read about and listen to all in one convenient, non-partisan package.

Let’s do this!

“Ricochet” – Preoccupations (Arrangements)

November indie music:  Preoccupations

It is an indisputable law of physics that rock and roll suffers from a lack of drum solos. At what time have you ever heard someone rage on the kit and thought, “well that was loud and excessive.” NEVER, that’s when, because drum solos are self-justifying. They don’t need your permission.

Calgary’s Preoccupations, née Viet Cong, released Arrangements in September. It includes a mad percussive walkaway on the shimmering “Ricochet,” not unlike Terry Chambers violent hammering on XTC’s “Travels In Nihilon.”

Buy Arrangements from Bandcamp.

Click to listen to more of my favorite songs from earlier this year

Top indie songs of 2022: soundtrack of summer! (Volume 1)

All things considered, summer 2022 is still miles ahead of 2020. No corona…just a divided country, peak anxiety and climate change. Good times! So, for the balance of July and the torpid month of August, here are some of my top indie songs of 2022 to bump until Labor Day.…

“Carl Sagan” – Torres Satélite (Mundos y Estrellas)

November indie music:  Mundos y Estrellas

How could I let more than 2 or 3 weeks go by without another love letter to Spanish-language indie pop?!

I haven’t tracked down a ton of information about Spain’s Torres Satélite. Their latest, Mundos y Estrellas has been on my “Must Buy” list since I heard it last month. At the least, here is a review of 2020’s La Ventana Discreta when Torres Satélite first popped onto the scene with the Discos de Kirlian label. And who needs much more background? Everything you need to know is wrapped inside the 2 minutes and 52 seconds of pop bliss that is “Carl Sagan.”

Download Mundos y Estrellas and follow Discos de Kirlian today!

“The Sir Tommy Shovell” – Robyn Hitchcock (Shufflemania!)

Robyn Hitchcock Nashville

A couple of things about Robyn Hitchcock.

First, he is British rock royalty. Robyn isn’t David Bowie but he is absolutely an extension of the same conversation. Why haven’t I heard of him, then?” you ask. Fair question. He came of age in the late 70’s leading The Soft Boys, whom you also haven’t heard of. I honestly can’t recall if I’ve actually bought the Soft BoysUnderwater Moonlight, so I guess we’re all in the same boat. Suffice it to say, 22 albums later, REM and bunch of other musicians you enjoy today grew up listening to his eccentric catalogue.

Second, I had the occasion to meet and be gently accosted by the legend. Hitchcock, Billy Bragg and REM played NPR’s “Mountain Stage” in 1991. I don’t have a super clear memory of seeing REM that day, so I don’t recall if I was manhandled by Hitchcock after that show or a later concert. But the story goes like this: I was holding and possibly reading from a textbook at an afterparty. Hitchcock grabbed the book from me and began reciting from it and embarrassing me/secretly delighting me. Also I will never forget looking up at him, he must be seven feet tall.

Shufflemania! came out about three weeks ago and includes this delightful song you need to hear today, “The Sir Tommy Shovell.”

Add Shufflemania! to your Robyn Hitchock collection today.

Side Note: The sometimes enigmatic Billy Bragg

Finally, have you forgotten where you know the name Billy Bragg? He revises the lyrics of “The Great Leap Forward” about every two years, not always to great effect. The shared humanity is in the audience sing-a-long with the chorus. Here is the post-performance of “Leap Forward” on Mountain Stage in 1991 after the national broadcast has ended. Michael Stipe makes a cameo.

“Ships in the Night” – Anthony D’Amato (At First There Was Nothing)

November indie music:  Anthony D'Amato

Let’s stay on this Mountain Stage theme, shall we?

Two weeks ago, Anthony D’Amato released At First There Was Nothing. D’Amato had moved from New York to Utah to record his fifth album with Joshua James. He appeared on Mountain Stage in October, where I got to see him in an after-show performance at Charleston’s Empty Glass pub.

At First There Was Nothing is a collection of disparate styles from folk to soft rock and, a little strangely, 70’s Blue Oyster Cult-style AOR. Here is D’Amato at his strongest, in the straight-forward American folk tradition of “Ships in the Night.”

Recorded at American Fork’s own Willamette Mountain, you can buy At First There Was Nothing here.

“Neon Memories” – Death’s Dynamic Shroud (Darklife)

Computer AI

We’re still following a thread here, even if it isn’t obvious. I picked up on Death’s Dynamic Shroud out of Los Angeles as a recommendation from the kids at my college radio station in October. Kids these days.

I didn’t get all the way with September’s Darklife, but enjoyed the warm harmonies and Panda Bear theater-of-the-mind of “Neon Memories.”

November indie music for all ages!

Get your copy of Darklife from Death’s Dynamic Shroud!

“(Herman’s) House” – Special Interest (Endure)

November indie music:  Special Interest

We’re at that point of the night where I could just keep going and going. Need to bring this home.

What November indie music post would be complete without a review of the first week of blog buzz about Special Interest?! The New Orleans group has earned band-of-the-moment status with the terrific no-wave Endure. They’re like an angry B-52’s but with darker, roiling political statements. Original single “(Herman’s) House” tells the story of Black Panther Herman Wallace, who died three days after decades of solitary confinement for a crime he claimed he did not commit.

If it only sounds like house music (pun intended, sorry not sorry), don’t be deceived. “(Herman’s) House” is an angry song for angry times.

Get Endure today from Rough Trade.

“Greatest Hits” – Jockstrap (I Love You, Jennifer B)

Dark eyeliner tips

Yes, I understand this band decided to name itself Jockstrap. I need to write an entire post on awful band names. But suspend disbelief for this delight.

London’s Jockstrap are Taylor Skye and violinist Georgia Ellery, who have been putting out music since 2018. Ellery in particular keeps busy. Besides finishing art school, she also performs with Black Country, New Road and Goat Girl.

Their full-length debut is I Love You, Jennifer B, on which Ellery layers sung and whispered PG-13 lyrics over the top of a fairly complex concoction of ambience, EDM, and jazz. If challenging, it is more accessible than the neurotic, halting beats of earlier Jockstrap experiments like 2018’s “Charlotte.”

Standouts for me are “Greatest Hits” and first single “Glasgow.”

Buy I Love You, Jennifer B at Bandcamp.

“Dressed in Black” – Ezra Furman (All of Us in Flames)

November indie music:  Ezra Furman

How about some wistful American glam rock as a closer?

“Dressed in Black” by Ezra Furman has all of the things you want from a girl group condensed into a torchlit piano ballad. Her August album All of Us in Flames is a slow burn but gets better with each spin. Furman has been at this for 15 years, but at least not on my personal radar. Furman reached greater audiences as she expanded from her solo work to the soundtrack for Sex Education on Netflix.

Here is “Dressed in Black,” and the 50’s love songs it updates in such a muscular and confident way. Love this.

You can still buy Furman’s music bundled with merch at her website!

The election is still going, and so is a great month of November indie music

delicate arch utah

The Republic will survive and at the end of this long year you’ll want to appreciate the best she has to offer. Spend a little money, love your kids and listen to the best music mankind has ever produced. It gets better year after year, if you only have the patience to find it.

November indie music is just the latest chapter….maybe we’ll do this again before the new year and another election cycle!

Arlo Mckinley in Salt Lake City: Show Review

Arlo Mckinley in Salt Lake City

When I returned home to the South earlier this month, Arlo Mckinley’s third album This Mess We’re In was one of my soundtracks as I wound my way through old haunts and fond memories. Seeing Mckinley at SLC’s Urban Lounge was like a brief reunion with my peoples.

Also he brought down some serious country jams.

Mckinley in Salt Lake City for the first time

Not only was this Arlo’s first time stopping in Zion, he told the crowd it was his first voyage west of the Colorado River. And he made every minute of it. Mckinley’s music is alt country without the alt; I hate to say southern rock because that sounds so Marshall Tucker Band-y, but it’s honestly not an INAPPROPRIATE label. Arlo absolutely has a Lynyrd Skynyrd thing going, and it’s amaze.

McKinley’s ballads are good but he is strongest when the band opens up and tears into the rock riffs. He brings all the guns: four guitars, including a pedal steel and slide guitar. When the pedal kicked in on opener “We Were Alright” from 2020’s Die Western, it was positively divine.

As the show started, Mckinley looked every bit a 200 South busker in a knit cap and hoodie, which he gradually shed to maintain body temperature. He played for fully 90 minutes on Wednesday. At times the show was tight and practiced, at other times oddly raw with elongated pauses between songs while fumbling with equipment and tuning guitars. He is sweet in his absence of guile, making ribald jokes and explaining to the audience this was his last song, “unless you make me play more. I guess that’s up to you.” It was an older, more subdued audience but they got him out for an encore.

Alvvays in Salt Lake City: Show Review

Alvvays in Salt Lake City played a bang-up show Tuesday. Toronto’s rising stars played songs from their 2014 self-titled debut and more…

Arlo plays the hits + more!

Arlo Mckinley's new album, This Mess We're In

Besides “We Were Alright,” highlights from his current album included “I Wish I” and “To Die For.” He also performed a bluesy, whiskey-soaked cover of Sinéad’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” and John Prine’s “Storm Windows.” The band gradually abandoned Arlo later in the show for several solo numbers then rejoined him for closer “To Die For.”

Thanks to his prompting, the crowd was able to coax him back onstage for two encores. This included the night’s highlight, a barnstorming eight-minute version of “Rushintherug.” It really showed off the power of the four guitar front including a blistering slide guitar solo and welcome graduation of driving percussion. Absolutely the top song performance I’ve seen all year. 5/5 stars would recommend.

Here is the studio version of “Rushintherug.”

Mckinley in Salt Lake City, a man of the people

If the audience was more subdued, it wasn’t hesitant to buy shots for Arlo and he wasn’t hesitant to oblige. After an hour and a half of drinking, playing and singing, Mckinley still spent time after the show shaking hands with fans and taking group photos. It really was sweet. It’s not every night you see someone willing to set aside the rock god persona to share laughs and hugs with the audience one on one.

Maybe it was my Southern bias, but I was smitten by his innocence. Look — I spend so much money on music, I NEVER buy merch. But it was Arlo’s first trip out West and I wanted to help pay for his trip home. So I bought an overpriced t-shirt, and you can too right here. Buy a shirt or a lid, definitely download This Mess We’re In and support an American original. Arlo’s upcoming tour dates after some photos.

Arlo Mckinley in Salt Lake City

Arlo Mckinley playing in Utah for the first time

Band supporting Arlo Mckinley

Arlo Mckinley and band

Arlo Mckinley's pedal steel

Arlo McKinley in Salt Lake City

Arlo Mckinley meets fans in Utah

Arlo Mckinley takes pictures with fans in Utah

Arlo Mckinley tour dates:

  • 10/27 – Garden City (Boise), ID – Visual Arts Collective
  • 10/29 – Whitefish, MT – Remington Bar
  • 10/30 – Spokane, WA – Lucky You Lounge
  • 11/3 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
  • 11/4 – Seattle, WA – Tractor Tavern
  • 11/5 – Bend, OR – Volcanic Theatre
  • 11/8 – San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
  • 11/10 – Los Angeles, CA – Gold-Diggers
  • 11/11 – San Diego, CA – Voodoo Room at House of Blues
  • 11/13 – Pioneertown, CA – Pappy & Harriet’s