Rosy Overdrive’s Top 100 Albums of 2022 (25-1)

Here it is! Rosy Overdrive’s 25 favorite albums of 2022, revealed today along with albums 50 through 26, and coming a day after albums 51 through 100. Needless to say, these are all great records. You simply can’t go wrong with any of them. It was a three-record race for number one; I’m satisfied with the one I ended up choosing, but all three of them occupied the top spot at various points. Once again, thank you for reading.

See also:
Part One (100-76)
Part Two (75-51)
Part Three (50-26)
Playlist with all albums (Spotify link) (Tidal link)

25. Kevin Dorff – Silent Reply

Release date: September 16th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: 90s indie rock, singer-songwriter, folk rock
Formats: Vinyl, digital

Kevin Dorff is a Brooklyn-based, Des Moines-originating singer-songwriter and playwright whose debut record, Silent Reply, is a thematically heavy one. A meditation on death and those left behind, every track on the record is about a friend or acquaintance of Dorff’s who died between 2010 and 2015. The darker moments on Silent Reply are tempered by Dorff’s pleasing 90s indie rock, alt-country, and folk rock-indebted sound, and a writing style that declines to focus solely on these lows. Every track on the seven-song record contains an entire world, appropriate for capturing a life. (Read more)

24. Lou Turner – Microcosmos

Release date: September 2nd
Record label: Spinster
Genre: Folk rock, alt-country
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital

Microcosmos is Styrofoam Wino Lou Turner’s third solo album since 2017, and it’s absolutely the work of a skilled songwriter at the peak of their output. The album’s title is, for Turner, an attempt to give a name to the feeling of attaining adventure and motion in the domestic and fixed world (“a constellation of microcosms”) that is a (in fact, the) theme of the record. This is reflected in the way Microcosmos sounds like a contented, laid-back 70s folk-rock record, even as Turner’s lyrics and subjects probe and roam within their contexts. Microcosmos is, true to its title, a record that reveals both its ambition and its success in realizing it with closer and repeat listens. (Read more)

23. Upchuck – Sense Yourself

Release date: September 30th
Record label: Famous Class
Genre: Garage rock, garage punk, hardcore punk
Formats: Vinyl, digital

Upchuck is a fierce five-piece band that hails from Atlanta, and their debut full-length record, Sense Yourself, is a fully-developed look at the group’s heavy but unique take on southern garage punk. The group show off their talents throughout the record, jumping from hardcore punk to zippy post-punk to slow, grunge-y tracks, and songwriter and vocalist KT manages both hardcore-esque barks and more “classic punk rock” sing-speaking with gusto. Upchuck are confident enough in their abilities throughout Sense Yourself to let these songs stretch out to five or so minutes, a rarity in this type of punk rock–and their belief is well-placed. (Read more)

22. First Rodeo – First Rodeo

Release date: April 15th
Record label: Forged Artifacts
Genre: Alt–country, country rock
Formats: Cassette, digital

First Rodeo is the duo of Nathan Tucker and Tim Howe—the former makes experimental pop music as Cool Original, the latter plays No Depression country rock in Vista House. Their self-titled debut record together is a wellspring of excellent folk rock/alt-country songs, with Tucker and Howe’s songs sounding both fun and noticeably deep. Tucker’s singing injects a playfulness into songs like “Pucker Up, Amelia”, while Howe’s drawl gives tracks like “Didn’t It Rain Last Night” and “Patience” even more heft.

21. Bellows – Next of Kin

Release date: March 23rd
Record label: Topshelf
Genre: Indie pop, indie folk, art pop
Formats: Vinyl, cassette, CD, digital

The latest album from Bellows, the project of New York’s Oliver Kalb, has grandiose ambitions, but Next of Kin seems equally concerned with not losing the plot at the record’s sturdy core. Kalb’s songs are dressed up in colorful, brimming palettes throughout the record, but his vocals are breathy and impassioned even in Next of Kin’s busiest moments, which preserves the songs’ intimacy. It’s an important wrinkle for Next of Kin, an album that sits with losses that are felt from the slight-remove of the title on down. (Read more)

20. Good Grief – Shake Your Faith

Release date: March 8th
Record label: Everything Sucks/HHBTM
Genre: Indie punk, punk rock, 90s indie rock
Formats: Vinyl, digital

Good Grief are quite adept at making loud, punk-influenced hooky rock music that’s immediately familiar and recognizable to fans of 90s indie rock, and their long-awaited debut record (practically a decade in the making) reflects this. The Liverpool trio are extremely open Bob Mould disciples, songs like “The Pony Remark” could’ve come straight from Superchunk’s On the Mouth, and there’s a heart-on-sleeve earnestness that puts them into Samiam/Knapsack-esque emo-punk territory. No matter how many older groups Shake Your Faith evokes, it all sounds remarkably fresh and present.

19. Dogbreth – Believe This Rain

Release date: August 5th
Record label: Phat ‘n’ Phunky
Genre: Jangle pop, alt-country
Formats: CD, cassette, digital

The fifth album from Tucson, Arizona’s Dogbreth (formerly of, at various points, Phoenix and Seattle) is a sincere, starry album that’s equal parts desert country and classic jangle pop. Believe This Rain takes inspiration from vintage college rock (think names like Tommy Keene and Teenage Fanclub), but there’s also a wide-openness to these songs’ sound that befits their Arizona home and distinguishes them from their influences. Tristan Jemsek’s songwriting gets dressed up in gorgeous jangly ballads, cinematic heartland rock, and amped-up fuzz rock throughout Believe This Rain—barely crossing the half-hour mark, the record feels more than full enough. (Read more)

18. Gordon M. Phillips – Seasonal

Release date: July 22nd
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Folk rock, singer-songwriter
Formats: Digital

On his debut full-length solo record, Gordon M. Phillips does not attempt to recreate the baritone-guitar-led, cinematic emo sound that his band, Downhaul, has chased recently. Seasonal was recorded entirely by Phillips on a Tascam 4-track, and it’s subsequently a sparse-sounding album. While it’s certainly pared-down, Seasonal isn’t all quietness, either—songs like “Tarmac” and “The Fall” strain against their acoustic foundations and show Phillips’ penchant for big choruses.  The record remains decidedly Phillips-sounding, whether he’s evoking the country-ish material he recorded with Maxwell Stern in “April” or the moodiness of the most recent Downhaul record with “At, At”. (Read more)

17. The Trend – Sgt. Pepper II

Release date: August 26th
Record label: Good Soil/Yellow K
Genre: Power pop, jangle pop
Formats: Vinyl, digital

The Trend hail from the Maryland panhandle and have been around since the early 2000s—their Bandcamp page lists four and a half members, but their latest record Sgt. Pepper II was written and recorded entirely by two of them: Kenny Tompkins (aka Mr. Husband) and Brian Twigg. Sgt. Pepper II is squarely in the realm of 90s alt-rock-flavored power pop, legitimately earning a Blue Album-era Weezer comparison with grunge-influenced amp-cranking, wild catchiness, and Beach Boys-esque harmonies in songs like “Come Home” and “If Yr Leaving”, and also containing shades of other fuzzy, poppy alt-rock bands like Superdrag and Sloan. (Read more)

16. Jim Nothing – In the Marigolds

Release date: September 15th
Record label: Meritorio/Melted Ice Cream
Genre: Jangle pop, Dunedin sound
Formats: Vinyl, digital

Christchurch, New Zealand’s Jim Nothing are a guitar pop trio whose latest record certainly recalls plenty of music from the original wave of Dunedin groups that put New Zealand on the map for indie rock—In the Marigolds pulls from the breeziness of The Bats, the haziness of The Clean, the fractured pop of Chris Knox, and the prominent violin from vocalist Anita Clark reminds me of music from Alastair Galbraith and the Jefferies Brothers. Most of the 28-minute record settles into breezy, jangle pop, although rockers like “Never Come Down” and “Yellow House” also showcase the band’s strengths. (Read more)

15. Norm Archer – Flying Cloud Terrace

Release date: August 9th
Record label: Panda Koala
Genre: Lo-fi indie rock, power pop
Formats: Digital

Norm Archer is the new project of Portsmouth, England’s Will Pearce, and his debut record under the name, Flying Cloud Terrace, is a reflection of his recent interest in home-recording and one-man-band status in service of lo-fi pop music. Pearce cites many Rosy Overdrive-approved bands as inspiration for Flying Cloud Terrace—there’s Guided by Voices in the Who-indebted prog pop of “South Parade”, among other tracks, and there’s a lightly psychedelic haziness that recalls Flying Nun Records, even as plenty of these songs have a revved-up, indie punk tempo.

14. Mike Adams at His Honest Weight – Graphic Blandishment

Release date: September 9th
Record label: Joyful Noise
Genre: Power pop, pop punk, indie rock
Formats: Vinyl, digital

The latest record from Bloomington, Indiana indie rock lifer Mike Adams and his backing band is a pretty undeniable, really-going-for-it pop rock album with a compelling personality at its front. Graphic Blandishment’s ten songs feature full-sounding but simple enough instrumentals that serve Adams’ huge choruses about…well, a bit of everything, really. Titles like “Arrow & Asa in the Year 3000” and “Tie-Dyed & Tongue Tied” deliver hooks that bely their wordy titles, not to mention the aw-shucks power pop of “How’s the Messes” (which turns “It doesn’t take a lot of shame to make a mess like the one I’m in,” into a kind of anthem).

13. Mo Troper – Mo Troper V

Release date: September 2nd
Record label: Lame-O
Genre: Lo-fi indie rock, power pop
Formats: Vinyl, digital

Not only does Mo Troper V (aka MTV) continue Mo Troper’s foray into lo-fi, self-made recordings that began with last year’s Dilettante—it’s a full embrace of the inherent messiness by the Portland power pop musician. At its extremes, the fuzziness of MTV results in straight-up noise pop, although the majority of the record strikes a balance between in-the-red distortion and pop hooks: spare acoustic tracks sit unapologetically alongside disorienting, thornier songs. MTV is something of a dispatch from the world of Mo Troper—and there’s more going on there than ever. (Read more)

12. 2nd Grade – Easy Listening

Release date: September 30th
Record label: Double Double Whammy
Genre: Power pop
Formats: Vinyl, digital

The third album from Philadelphia’s 2nd Grade, Easy Listening, may “only” have sixteen songs (as opposed to the twenty-four on 2020’s Hit to Hit), but the five-piece band make the record feel like 2nd Grade’s most diverse yet. Bandleader Peter Gill’s vocals are delicate and melodic as he steers 2nd Grade through amp-cranked, glam-influenced power pop, shining, effortless pop rock, and hissing lo-fi recordings. The crop of musicians Gill has assembled is effectively a supergroup ,comprised of members of Friendship, Remember Sports, The Fragiles, and Ylayali, among other acts, and they all help Gill realize the full potential of his excellent songwriting. (Read more)

11. Cheekface – Too Much to Ask

Release date: August 2nd
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Garage rock, post-punk, Cheekface
Formats: Vinyl, digital

Cheekface’s third album picks up the thread where last year’s Emphatically No. (not to mention their 2019 debut, Therapy Island) left off; Greg Katz’s monotone vocals and flung-at-a-cultural-dartboard lyrics pared with pop-friendly instrumentals that are nonetheless somewhat hard to pin down musically yet again abound. On Too Much to Ask, however, the Los Angeles trio also show some willingness to stretch their sound, like the band speeding everything up on opening track “When Life Hands You Problems”, Katz absolutely shredding his vocals in the chorus to “I Feel So Weird!”, or the Cheekface-as-dance-music banger “Featured Singer”. (Read more)

10. Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires – Old-Time Folks

Release date: August 5th
Record label: Don Giovanni
Genre: Southern rock, country rock, folk rock
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital

Lee Bains III + The Glory Fires may slow things down, comparatively speaking, on their fourth record, but the fiery southern rock band has no intention of going “smaller”. Old-Time Folks doesn’t abandon the scope of 2017’s Youth Detention (which is on the shortlist for album of the last decade), nor do they forget that they were once the band that made 2014’s fuzz-fest Dereconstructed, as rockers “Done Playing Dead” and “Caligula” show. Still, Old-Time Folks embraces more acoustic guitars and elevates Bains’ vocals higher in the mix than they’ve been in their last couple of records, really helping out with the impact of songs like the breathtaking “Rednecks” and the massive “God’s A-Working, Man”.

9. Friendship – Love the Stranger

Release date: July 29th
Record label: Merge
Genre: Alt-country, folk rock
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital

Friendship may have been reduced to a four-piece band for the first time with Love the Stranger, but, if anything, the Philadelphia band’s fourth record is as full-sounding as they’ve been yet. Songs like “Hank” and “Ugly Little Victory” have surprisingly driving tempos for a band that has justifiably referred to itself as “ambient country” before, and Love the Stranger also has time for synth-based experiments (“Alive Twice”) and dramatic alt-rock (“Ryde”). Still, there’s no mistaking Love the Stranger for anything but a Friendship record—Dan Wriggins sounds just as in his element singing about ramekins with grape jelly remnants and red-tailed hawks over these instrumentals as any others.

8. Perennial – In the Midnight Hour

Release date: February 1st
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Post-hardcore, dance punk, garage rock
Formats: Vinyl, CD, cassette, digital

The second album from New England’s Perennial feels like a completely inhibition-less rock record, where thrashing post-hardcore, expanded-palette art punk, and catchy garage rock all combine to make something unforgettably attention-grabbing. Vocalists Chelsey Hahn and Chad Jewett trade off their taunts and howls on pretty much every song on In the Midnight Hour, Jewett’s guitar and Wil Mulhern’s drums slice and punch through each track, and the entire Christ Teti-produced record sounds great. Perennial are pretty much always “on”—forget breather tracks, the only respites in In the Midnight Hour are a few tapering-off outros. (Read more)

7. Sadurn – Radiator

Release date: May 6th
Record label: Run for Cover
Genre: Alt-country, indie folk
Formats: Vinyl, cassette, digital

Philadelphia’s Sadurn make a very intriguing and attention-grabbing version of alt-country—it’s sincerely devoted to the “country” aspect of the genre, but they still sound quite accessible and built to emphasize frontperson G DeGroot’s songwriting. Sadurn started as DeGroot’s solo project, but the full band that they’ve assembled for their debut record is an asset throughout Radiator, and it’s rarely guilty of overplaying. For every shuffling roots-rock anthem like opening track “Snake”, there’s something like the unflinching relationship analysis of “Icepick”, in which drum machines and synths are DeGroot’s main accompaniment. (Read more)

6. Ex-Vöid – Bigger Than Before

Release date: March 25th
Record label: Don Giovanni
Genre: Jangle pop, power pop
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital

There has been a lot of music to come from of the former members of Joanna Gruesome after the Welsh band broke up in 2015, but the debut album from Ex-Vöid might be the strongest single record from them yet. Bigger Than Before is the full-length reunion of Joanna Gruesome singer-songwriters Alanna McArdle and Owen Williams— they released an EP together under the Ex-Vöid name in 2018, and Williams has also been playing in The Tubs lately. Bigger Than Before is a big, hooky, indie pop record that’s got just a bit of an edge to it. It’s power pop at its wistful best, with McArdle and Williams’ harmonies being shot through with just enough noisiness to punch the songs up a tad.

5. MJ Lenderman – Boat Songs

Release date: April 29th
Record label: Dear Life
Genre: Alt-country, country rock
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital

At 34 minutes, Boat Songs is the most substantial album to come out of MJ Lenderman’s recent flurry of activity. In what has become a much-deserved breakout record for the Asheville alt-country musician (and member of Wednesday), Boat Songs should immediately grab any curious new listeners with the roaring country rock opener “Hangover Game” and the mid-tempo southern groove of “You Have Bought Yourself a Boat”. The rest of the record is a showcase for all of Lenderman’s talents, from the lo-fi fuzz-fests of “SUV” and “Dan Marino” to the affecting wrestling-themed ballad of “TLC Cagematch” to the “how-does-he-do-it” genius of “You Are Every Girl to Me”. (Read more)

4. Joyride! – Miracle Question

Release date: April 15th
Record label: Salinas
Genre: Power pop, pop punk, indie rock
Formats: Vinyl, digital

Joyride! come from San Francisco, and they’ve been around for a decade or so, but I only heard of them after they released their fourth album, Miracle Question, earlier this year. But they’re quickly becoming one of my favorite new discoveries of 2022. Miracle Question is a classic 2010s lo-fi power-pop-punk album at heart, even as polished as it sounds at points (chalk it up to experience). Joyride! get all of this done in under a half hour, with most of these songs making their impression both musically and lyrically (there is a lot going on beneath the surface on Miracle Question) in about two minutes or so.

3. Emperor X – The Lakes of Zones B and C

Release date: April 10th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Folk punk, electro-folk, experimental rock
Formats: Digital

The first Emperor X album in a half-decade is certainly more than worth the wait. The Lakes of Zones B and C delivers on pretty much every front that Chad Matheny has explored over his career as Emperor X –surging modern folk anthems, quieter electronic explorations, and beautiful acoustic ballads. The Matheny that grappled directly with the last few years of chaos in 2020’s United Earth League of Quarantine Aerobics EP and last year’s “Sad React” single is present in highlights like “False Metal” and “Communists in Luxury”, as is the more pensive version of his songwriting in vaguer (but no less substantial) tracks like “Freeway in Heaven” and “The Crows of Emmerich”. And this isn’t even taking into account how The Lakes of Zones B and C finds some genuinely new areas for Emperor X to probe in its last few songs, ending with the pure catharsis of “Stars”.

2. Zinskē – Murder Mart

Release date: February 14th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: 90s indie rock
Formats: Vinyl, digital

Everything’s tight and in its right place on Murder Mart, the debut album from Philadelphia’s Zinskē. It’s a sleek, well-put-together record that reminds me both of austere, controlled post-punk and mid-tempo 90s alt-rock. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Chris Lipczynski’s low, dry, and stoic vocals stick out throughout the record, as do Emily Cahill’s prominent and frequently melodic basslines. There’s a “sharp dullness” to Murder Mart—the songs might seem opaque at first, but there’s too much going on underneath the surface to ignore. Lipczynski and the band perform this balancing act of being a subtle band that yet always sounds animated by something—even in the lyrics (hell, whole songs) on Murder Mart that I can’t quite parse. (Read more)

1. Mister Goblin – Bunny

Release date: April 22nd
Record label: Exploding in Sound
Genre: Post-hardcore, alt-rock, indie folk
Formats: Vinyl, digital

The third record from the Maryland-originating, Indiana-based Mister Goblin is the first to feature a full-on backing band–Sam Goblin is joined by bassist Aaron O’Neill and Options’ Seth Engel on drums. Mister Goblin was already one of the best under-the-radar indie rock acts of its time—if you’ll recall, 2021’s Four People in an Elevator and One of Them Is the Devil placed highly on last year’s list—but the upgrade to a three-piece gives Bunny a full-throated sound that adds another dimension to their sound. The band really go for it in the Brainiac post-hardcore opening track “Military Discount” and turn in invigorated versions of the Mister Goblin/Two Inch Astronaut sound in “Good Son/Bad Seed” and “Holiday World”, and (just as importantly) the trio still find room for Sam Goblin’s songwriting to breathe in the largely-acoustic final three songs on the record. Four People in an Elevator… was a big step forward for Mister Goblin from a songwriting perspective; Bunny matches it song for song while, at the same time, taking just as large of a musical leap. (Read more)

Honorable mentions:

Click here for:
Part One (100-76)
Part Two (75-51)
Part Three (50-26)

2 thoughts on “Rosy Overdrive’s Top 100 Albums of 2022 (25-1)

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