2022 Look Back

by John Wohlmacher

Who would have thought we’d end up here by the start of the year, huh? 2022 was packed with plot twists, apocalyptic left turns and a palpable sense of upheaval and renewal. The present seemed to catch up to the past, in a spiral of personal and collective “well, I didn’t see THAT coming”-moments that contrasted a new generation of aesthetics. This sounds complicated, but in effect it’s people digesting the past two years through the lens of yet new crisis, while at the same time facing both with a newfound sense of spiritual, physical and ideological liberty. We need new ideas to face an era that is proving quite fundamental realities of broken systematics. Yes, now is the time of monsters! – and I’m still here. Up yours, woke moralists!

And so how to better face this year’s end blurb than to write a lengthy text analysing all this, peppered with my usual sharp sense of politics and flawless taste??


This year, we are doing things a little different. Facing an onslaught of good music, iconic experiences and hot takes, I’ve decided to approach 2022 a little different, in a new – likely short lived – format of annoying self-aggrandization and delusional structure. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to


It’s Christmas in Beats-City, and we’re going to hand out golden statues like candy in a variety of categories, all chosen and defined by no other person than me. Buckle up, because we are getting started…


2022 had so many good records, our top 50 excluded a whole bunch of records that, in any other year, could or would have made the top 10. So let’s honour a few of the best that you might have missed with a quick write up.

Animal CollectiveTime Skiffs

After a decade of rough material, AnCo have returned with a vibrant and pleasant record that interpreted their trademark psychedelic sound in a borderline acoustic fashion. It feels inspired by the gloomy haze of 2010’s Lo-Fi nostalgia and Chillwave era, without ever coming across as stale or neurotic. In a discography defined by cult favourites and outsiders, Time Skiffs remains a grounded and inviting entry that’s as great as any of the quartet’s hypnotizing masterpiece.


The Japanese trio’s best album in years was a dynamic soundscape as nuanced and emotionally riveting as any of their widely appreciated masterpieces. Mixing Shoegaze, Dub and Ambient, the record felt like a missing link between the band’s doom laden minimalist albums and their Dream-Pop oriented releases. Likely too divisive for the metal-loving fanbase of the group, the record fell by the wayside, but it’s music unlike anything else around at the moment.

Cities AvivWorking Title for the Album Secret Waters

A staple of online Cloud Rap circles for a decade, Cities Aviv abstract, hazy vibes has never been better than on the two releases he dropped this year. The better of the two albums is an abstract, psychedelic affair not dissimilar to Some Rap Songs. It’s as colourful and creative as Hip Hop can be, with a warm, earthy sound that creates endearing visions of late night bedrooms and 70s B-movies. Had 2022 not been packed with incredible Rap, this would be the genre’s album of the year.

Fontaines D.C. – Skinty Fia

It’s exciting to watch the Dublin musicians grow into a more confident version of themselves with each release. Here, on their third album, their blend of jagged Post-Punk and gothic Indie Rock leads to a memorable tone somewhere between The Smiths and The Fall. In ten catchy songs, Fontaines D.C. find clever observations of the strained dynamics within countries, cultures and generations, full of comfort and anxiety. With time, Skinty Fia will grow  as a lasting statement.

Imperial TriumphantSpirit of Ecstasy

Probably the most exciting metal band in a whole generation of strange new transfigurations of the genre, the New Yorker trio have outdone themselves, again! Cleaning up their sound, but indulging in even more suggestively nightmarish energy, Spirit of Ecstasy generates a cinematic experience that is both spellbinding and breathtaking. Swinging between lovecraftian horror and Art Deco decadence, it feels like a dark reminder of the unseen powers enslaving our minds.

Petrol GirlsBaby

Mirroring last year’s failure to notice the album by Lil Ugly Mane, Baby flew by all of us. Inexcusable, really! This energetic, angry and LOUD feminist Punk band is better than most of what  mainstream publications have been hyping. The sheer brevity to call your lead single “Baby, I had an abortion” deserves praise, but this fiery album has much more to offer than sloganeering, constantly bursting with ideas, melodies, statements and noise. 


On their fourth album, the Canadian Post-Punk group managed to reverse the slight slump of New Material and delivered an energetic update to their familiarly menacing style. Showcasing some of their strongest work (“Ricochet” is in our songs of the year-list), Preoccupations opened up their sound with at times anthemic compositions, simultaneously losing nothing of their brutalist grit. Nocturnal, pulsating music that demands attention and deserves burning love.

Daniel RossenYou Belong There

Possibly the best singer/songwriter album of the year, the debut album of the Grizzly Bear guitarist and Department of Eagles co-lead feels like a gentle reminder of Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Love and Hate. There’s an incredibly romantic energy in the melancholic compositions of Rossen, with pain glimpsed through the lens of incredible beauty. The strange, dark textures here, comprised of  droning Jazz experimentation duelling orchestral elements, is truly breathtaking. A masterpiece!

SpoonLucifer on the Sofa

Hiding in plain sight, Lucifer took a little while until noticed. As usual with Spoon, the album was better than first reactions let on, slowly sneaking its way into personal recollections of recent moments and finally blooming as one of the year’s best. Britt Daniel remains the coolest vocal John Lennon sibling, delivering killer performances with “On the Radio”, “Wild” and “Satellite”. It’ll take a year or two, but people will recognise Lucifer as a highlight down the road.


What  happened here? After some solid but unhurried reunion albums, the golden age Brit-Pop band came back with their possibly best album in 15 years, an almost Punk statement of unvarnished Rockers that rejuvenated their sound and felt as vital as their earliest work. At the same time, Autofiction is never adolescent. It feels urgent, filled with longing and defiance to the idea of ageing. Their next album is supposedly a late-Talk Talk-like venture – let’s fucking go!!


For filmmakers, it was a year of particularly dark and brooding stories, which seemed to question our perception of preconditioned ideas, highlighting the failure of those who attempted to find ways to fix the system from within. In a way, it was a year where we saw heroes fail – but from this blossomed a new sense of understanding, and the start of something new. With this modus in mind, three films stood out in particular…

Barbarian updated a Hitchcockian setting for  21st century sensibilities. Similar to Brian De Palma’s Passion, it introduces a world where humanity had lost trust in itself and violent cycles of gender dynamics repeat to the point of horrifying absurdity. The monsters here are all too realistic to not scare us, as even the police can’t be trusted to care about your wellbeing. A study of current day ideological impotence, it’s an incredibly suspenseful, darkly comical and beautifully shot nightmare that reveals new layers and valid interpretations with each subsequent viewing.

Possibly the sexiest Batman film in the entire franchise, Matt Reeves entry to the realm of the caped crusader feels like a nod to David Cronenberg and Ridley Scott. Uniting fan service (a serial killer Riddler, a black Catwoman and an italian mobster Penguin all in one go-round) with incredible inspiration (Selina’s milky nails and bisexual demeanor, Pattinson’s grunge-loving Goth Wayne), Reeves finds physical scars as the lead motive for the trauma that keeps Gotham – and its inhabitants – in a constant state of suspended decay. The Batman observes life as a liminal space, where the most interesting state is the in-between of things and finds a passionate Punk Rock energy within (something the Nolan films only got right with The Dark Knight). Now that DC has moved to resign to a new Gunn-verse, its Blade Runner meets Videodrome gloom is likely the closest we’ll get to the auteurial vision of a Zack Snyder or Ben Affleck in a long, long time.

Crimes of the Future is a masterpiece that feels like it can only exist in a dream. The lurid, strange vision of a dystopian future where artists perform live-operations on themselves to exorcize newfound organs is marked by contrasts of suspension with violent explosions. Shipwrecks and graffiti mark the landscapes, while Viggo Mortensen’s lead is shuffling around draped in bandages. Facing his own mortality – he recently los both his wife and sister, who collaborated with him as editor and costume designer – Cronenberg finds solace in the constant evolution of all things. He imagines revolution as evolution, the process of dying as an act of performance art. As always, nothing is quite what it seems, with hidden powers pushing their own agenda. But Cronenberg finds hope in this wasteland – as in Cosmopolis, maybe the ending of a story is just the beginning of a new dawn.


It’s interesting to see the evolution of shows throughout the year. From my first gig out (a fantastic set of Suede playing Coming Up and selected cuts), there seemed a gradual evolution, with people that would slowly begin to move and finally exploding into aggressive crowds halfway through the concert. People really DID miss the euphoria, but it’s also clear they’re not quite there yet.

The musicians I’ve seen perform, meanwhile, seemed even thirstier for adrenaline: I’ve not seen a single bad concert. If it was the acoustic solo outings of Michael Gira and Ichiko Aoba, or the full blown energy of Black Midi and Protomartyr, it had become clear that the last two years really had musicians reflect on the tone and quality of stage performance. Maybe it was the long absence, but I often felt like crowds gazed in almost religious awe towards the stage, somewhere between frenzied madness and frozen shock.

It also marked a very strange surreal realization: this year, I saw (for the first time) Iggy Pop, Bauhaus, Crass and The Cure perform live – all of them acts I could have seen forty years ago, in 1982, if I was around back then. And even tho I wasn’t, and most would argue this marked the individual heyday of their careers, those concerts were all among the very best I’ve ever attended, leaving me in a daze after the front would turn into a moshpit at every single one of these. 

But my concert of the year came quite unexpectedly: GILLA BAND.

Booked for a venue notorious for lacklustre live mixing, the band entered with an armada of strange tech, producing incredibly clear and nuanced soundscapes. Draped in toxic green or constant strobe flashes of red, blue and white, the Irish group conjured a commandeering energy that is hard to describe if you’re not in the middle of it. It’s the type witnessed at concerts of Deerhunter and Swans, Slowdive and Daughters, the sort of pandemonium that transforms time and space. In my blurb for our best albums list, I compared the experience of witnessing them live to what it must have been like to shuffle into a concert of Wire in the 70s in terms of sheer brutality and sonic innovation, and that’s honestly still my impression weeks later. Astonishing!!



From the nightmarish visions of awkward British repression to the poignant metaphor of Concorde as both a person and an experiential state (fame), to the mix of lonesome Folk-Ballad a la “Desperado” with Beach Boys aesthetics, “The Place where he inserted the Blade” dominated my air- and brainwaves in 2022. It’s a deeply affecting study of failure and isolation – both in romantic relationships and when dealing with overwhelming artistic pressure. It’s an anxiety attack framed as breakup letter, but at the same time it’s also an emancipation, a confession, and an attempt to finally, somehow, cure that wound, heal those broken bones. Yet in the end, it all returns back to the beginning. And in the end, that’s it. Vocalist Isaac Wood was gone from the band by the time the record was officially released. The pressure was just too much. Sometimes, the darkness wins, but then sometimes, this process creates incredible beauty. Good morning



There is few artists these days that manage to transform their persona convincingly and effortlessly with each new project. That’s especially transparent in rap, where so much of a creative success depends on the audience’s perception of the artists. And yet Denzel Curry has somehow mastered the skill of chameleonic like few in the scene ever managed to. If Kendrick Lamar is the Bob Dylan of modern Hip Hop, then Curry is its David Bowie, constantly challenging his audience and himself in the process of finding new forms of genre expression. On  Melt My Eyez, See Your Future, Curry casts himself as wandering outlaw who observes the world passing through. Over its course, he imagines himself as lawless gunslinger (“John Wayne”), Han Solo (“X-Wing), masterless Ronin and traveling Samurai (“Sanjuro” and “Zatoichi”). 

But Melt My Eyez… isn’t just  defined by costumes, it also presents itself as a psychedelic journey through Rap’s history. There’s gangster Rap (“John Wayne”), Horrorcore (“The Last” with its brief Texas Chainsaw Massacre sample), Conscious Hip Hop in the vein of Digable Planets (“Mental”), Trap (“Sanjuro”), Jazz Rap a la A Tribe Called Quest (“The Ills”), Grime (“Zatoichi”) and a passionate MF Doom hommage (“The Smell of Death”). This colourful spectrum allows Curry the opportunity to further inquire his own soul and take accountability for his demons – but also finding comfort in how far his journey has taken him. Always open about his own struggles, Curry expanded during the album’s release cycle that he often found himself in dark places, pondering suicide and wrestling with depression. After therapeutically battling the darkness with his last projects, he finally sounds happy on  Melt My Eyez, See Your Future, fashioning his own private Sgt. Peppers, a psychedelic work to stand the test of time and arguably the best Hip Hop record of the year.



Big Thief somehow manage to constantly, lastingly, transform with each new album into a new iteration of themselves. After the elemental contrasts of the their last two albums, Dragon New Warm Mountain is a kaleidoscopic journey through physical and temporal space. Experimenting with genre conventions, recording techniques and sonic textures, its scale mirrors that of the legendary White Album, cleverly framing every “flaw” as a unique mark of life and document of the moment a song was recorded in – like Terrence Malick’s insistence to use random incidental shots of contained beauty instead of pre-written dialogue segments.

I’ve praised Adrianne Lenker as the greatest Rockstar of her generation before – yeah, as a fellow cancer with a tendency for head wounds I need to affirm the very small club we reside in – but here she truly grows as an artist, even more so than her transformations on U.F.O.F. She effortlessly transforms from her own self, singing autobiographically (“Simulation Swarm”) to Country Siren (“Red Moon”) and Lo-Fi spectre (“Blurred View”) or Neil Youngian Rockstar (“Love Love Love”). Often using magical realism to extend her narratives and allow her unique gaze to roam, she is a beacon of honesty and emotional clarity in an age where fashion dictates post-humanism as the thing.

Those who know me personally know how much I abhor Hippies and their often passive aggressive demeanour. Big Thief could potentially drift towards the danger zone of this territory, but what makes the difference is the authenticity of their craft and lack of delusion. Their mythologies and romanticism is wholly their own, poetry contained in amber. Even when things get a little simplified, they’re flooded by childlike optimism rather than willingly defensive posturing. Big Thief’s world is that of waking up at 4am in a summer day, walking outside and realising how beautiful the sight of blowing tree seeds in the golden first rays of the sun is. It’s transformative and somewhat spiritual. It’s very cancerian. It’s really, very me, and my album of the year.

OH, so, yeah, that’s it. Thank you for reading all of this. Below are my top 50 albums and songs – in order – and as a thank you, a playlist of my favourites. Thank you for being along for the ride: I love you.


1. Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
2. Denzel Curry – Melt My Eyez See Your Future
3. Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There
4. Gilla Band – Most Normal
5. Imperial Triumphant – Spirit of Ecstasy
6. black midi – Hellfire
7. Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
8. Burial – Antidawn
9. Chat Pile – God’s Country
10. Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems
11. Boris – W
12. billy woods – church
13. billy woods – aethiopes
14. Duster – Together
15. Interpol – The Other Side of Make-Believe
16. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cool Your Bones
17. Spoon – Lucifer on the Sofa
18. Dry Cleaning – Stump Work
19. The Smile – A Light for Attracting Attention
20. Nilüfer Yanya – PAINLESS
21. Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul – Topical Dancer
22. Cities Aviv – Working Title for the Album Secret Waters
23. Weyes Blood – And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow
24. Animal Collective – Time Skiffs
25. Florist – Florist
26. Preoccupations – Arrangements
27. Daniel Rossen – You Belong Here
28. Cate Le Bon – Pompeii
29. Alex G – God Save the Animals
30. Ghais Guevara – There Will Be No Super-Slave
31. Kali Malone – Living Torch
32. Suede – Autofiction 
33. Julia Jacklin – PRE PLEASURE 
34. Sudan Archives – Natural Brown Prom Queen
35. Scarcity – Aveilut
36. Petrol Girls – Baby
37. Alvvays – Blue Rev
38. Taylor Swift – midnights
39. Fontaines D.C. – Skinty Fia
40. Shit Narnia – Cloudbelt
41. Earl Sweatshirt – Sick!
42. Melody’s Echo Chamber – Emotional Eternal
43. Soccer Mommy – Sometimes, Forever
44. The Comet is coming – Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam
45. nouns – While of Unsound Mind
46. FKA Twigs – Caprisongs
47. Björk – Fossora
48. SZA – S.O.S.
49. Jockstrap – I Love You Jennifer B
50. Conway the Machine – God Don’t Make Mistakes


1. Black Country New Road – The Place where he inserted the Blade
2. Big Thief – Simulation Swarm
3. Denzel Curry – Mental
4. Kendrick Lamar – Mother I Sober
5. Boris – Invitation
6. Gilla Band – Post Ryan
7. billy woods – Remorseless
8. Chad Pile – Grimace_Smoking_Weed.jpg
9. Burial – Antidawn
10. Duster – Sad Boys
11. Interpol – Mr Credit
12. Preoccupations – Ricochet
13. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Spitting off the Edge of the world
14. Florist – 43
15. Imperial Triumphant – Tower of Glory, City of Shame
16. Petrol Girls – Fight of our Lives
17. Soul Glo – Jump
18. Spoon – Satellite
19. Nilüfer Yanya – midnight sun
20. Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul – It Hit Me
21. Daniel Rossen – Unpeopled Space
22. Cities Aviv – Slave Play
23. Black Midi – Eat Men Eat
24. Taylor Swift – Would’ve Should’ve Could’ve
25. Alvvays – Belinda Says
26. Julia Jacklin – Love Try Not to let go
27. The Smile – you will never work in television again
28. FKA Twigs – Oh My Love
29. Animal collective – Prester John
30. Oliver Sim – Hideous
31. Sudan Archives – Loyal
32. billy woods – fuchsia & green
33. Weyes Blood – Children of the empire
34. Ghais Guevara – Mimicry of the Settlers
35. Alex G – Runner
36. Dry Cleaning – Stumpwork
37. Soccer Mommy – Shotgun
38. Bill Callahan – First Bird
39. Björk – Ancestress
40. Ka – Ascension
41. Cate Le Bon – Moderation
42. Fontaines DC – Jackie Down the Line
43. Melody’s Echo Chamber – The Hypnotist
44. The Mars Volta – Blacklight Shine
45. Deathcrash – Wrestle with Jimmy
46. Cloakroom – A Force at Play
47. Earl Sweatshirt – 2010
48. Destroyer – It’s in your heart now
49. Shit Narnia – Flooded World
50. Skullcrusher – Sticker