The Alt’s Top 50 Albums of 2022 (Page 3)


PAGE 1 (#50 – #31) – PAGE 2 (#30 – #11) – PAGE 3 (#10 – #1 + Playlist & Award Winners)

10. Caracara – New Preoccupations

New Preoccupations arrived at a time where live shows were just coming back around, but few were making music with touring in mind. As usual, Caracara broke the mold. Caracara’s lyrics are cathartic and complex, begging to be screamed out, and their post-emo sound is splashed with electronic bounce on New Preoccupations. It was not just refreshing and innovative, but emblematic of a moment in music history not to be forgotten. Hearing the breakneck opening of “Hyacinth” for the first time live had me riding a week-long high. You’d be remiss to miss the four-minute buildup of “Monoculture,” each conquering guitar riff, and everything else this ecstatically juicy album has to offer. —Anne Hurban

9. The Wonder Years – The Hum Goes On Forever

Believe it or not, The Wonder Years started out as a pop-punk DIY band who made songs with breakdowns about pirates going to prom and the Kool Aid man being cheated on. While many enjoyed that early material (myself included), and the basement posi punk that came after it on albums like The Upsides, those sounds seem a marathon away from where The Wonder Years are now. The Hum Goes On Forever is a pure rock record, and sees the further evolution of songwriter and vocalist Soupy Campbell’s novel-esque lyrics. While the band is still securely in the pop punk sphere, with songs like “Wyatt’s Song” they are now as close to a conventional rock band as ever: somewhere right in the center between The Starting Line and The National. For all those fans that have followed TWY since the beginning it is still the pop punk they grew up on, but like them, it has aged and matured. —Henderson Cole


What’s it like to grow into a version of your self that’s unapologetic about who you are and unafraid to explore what that means? On MUNA, MUNA just does that. Released at the height of the summer, the record balances high-intensity pop, like in “What I Want,” with slower moments of sweet sounding introspection and vulnerability (“Handle Me”).  As any queer person knows, becoming fully yourself is a lifelong process and can be full of sadness and heartbreak. But even while recounting these sad moments, the band views life through an optimistic lens, detailing what its like to work through complicated emotions. The record as a whole is encapsulated by the chorus in “Kind of Girl”: “yeah, I like telling stories but I don’t have to write them in ink / I can still change the end.” —Lindsy Carrasquillo

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

This album is a masterclass in songwriting. The post-rock outfit Black Country, New Road have created lightning in a bottle on Ants From Up There. With the departure of vocalist and songwriter Issac Wood this album has even deeper significance. The album is littered with themes of nihilism in the fashion of a tale as old as time: the break-up. The narrative structure of the record creates an earworm of tragedy and regret with each track building upon the next. The amount of instrumentals on this record would feel overwhelming but somehow all blend together into this concoction of beautiful sounds. Each has its place, whether subtle or in your face, like “Chaos Space Marine” or “Place Where He Inserted the Blade.” Tracks such as “Bread Song” truly showcase how the band has worked together on letting the words and instruments show the story rather than tell it. It’s a beautiful masterpiece that unfortunately will never be played again, as the band has stated that they will be moving on to new music since Wood’s departure shortly after the record came out. But that’s the beauty of music: it’s a relic of a record with a stamp that will last a lifetime. —Sarah Knoll

6. Viagra Boys – Cave World

I was pleasantly surprised to see Viagra Boys’ Cave World in the running for our top Album of the Year. I discovered the Swedish group’s lead single “Ain’t No Thief” on alt-rock radio, and was immediately taken with the chugging dance-punk groove and absurd lyrics about a stolen jacket with a shrimp on the back. Cave World’s twelve tracks satirize the psyche of total losers: the kind of guys who get sucked into the QAnon hole, alpha males, and people posting long paragraphs on Facebook that the vaccines are full of adrenochrome. Lead singer Sebastian Murphy is throwing himself into the bit, and he’s pulling it off—the music videos and live performances that accompany this album are even more evidence of that. A bit of post-punk, a bit new wave, with a few saxophone solos thrown in for good measure, Cave World is weird, funny, and incredibly danceable. It’s one of the most fun album experiences I’ve had this year. —Madison Van Houten

5. Ethel Cain – Preacher’s Daughter

Ethel Cain’s Preacher’s Daughter is a fully realized album blossoming with ambitious ideas, carefully crafted lyricism, and a wide range of production that draws the listener into the world she’s created. Every track just brings one deeper into the story of the album, and it’s in her effortless feel as a songwriter and a developing artist that brings that dense yet intricate story to life. It’s one of the most ambitious albums I listened to this year—if not in a long while. It deserves the praise it receives, and Ethel Cain deserves the swirling momentum Preacher’s Daughter evokes going forward in her career. —Hope Ankney

4. MJ Lenderman – Boat Songs

Boat Songs is warm and creaky, raucous and familiar, a house party where everybody knows everybody. On first listen, it can sound like More Americana-Influenced Indie Rock: slack tempos, jammy grooves, twang, lyrics about seeing Dan Marino in a South Carolina Harris Teeter. It’s dusty and unassuming in exactly the ways it means to be.  It is also, in my estimation, the best album of the year. Nothing I heard this year put as much heart and humor into every line, as many sauntering riffs, as much gentle profundity. He’s not trying to be clever, but he is clever. “Jackass is funny / like the earth is round,” he intones on the album highlight “You Are Every Girl to Me.” When we arrive at the triumphant conclusion it feels like every line, Jackass included, led up to this moment: “Bought you a shirt from the local merch at the airport / Gave it to you and screamed ‘You are every girl to me.’” It feels like I’m overplaying the lyrical content here when there’s so many sick riffs and woozy grooves to talk about, but I can’t stop thinking about the way Lenderman starts with a simple, true observation and winds his way around to a single line that glimmers and follows you around after the song is over. But maybe all you need to do is play the first song, “Hangover Game,” an absolute shit-kicker, and let it get to the part where Lenderman sings, “Yeah, I love drinking too / I love drinking too.” Hell yeah, brother. Exactly. Keegan Bradford

3. Pool Kids – Pool Kids

As someone on the internet once said: “This album is all killer, no filler!” And they would be completely right. Florida indie-rockers, Pool Kids, self-titled record is a masterclass in math and art-rock. It is a powerhouse of raw heat and angst, flittering between post-hardcore guitars, pop sensibilities, and tangy vocals. Blending the raw ecstasy of indie-rock with emotional growth that weaves in and out of the record’s runtime, Pool Kids know exactly what they’re doing here, and with this strong effort it proves it’s only up from here for the band. —Hope Ankney

2. String Machine – Hallelujah Hell Yeah

In the early 2010s, there was a ubiquitous kind of folk music that ran a spectrum from quiet coffee shop soundtrack to stomp-clap of Mumford. It became shorthand for forced sincerity and heavy-handed emotional bombast. Hey. Ho. String Machine takes the raw materials of this kind of folk, filters them through ambitious indie rock, and alchemizes them through some combination of family and friendship and lush arrangements and the peculiar gravitas of lead singer David Beck. It’s indie folk replete with strings and horns and vigorously strummed acoustic guitars, but that’s all it has in common with the stomp-clappers of yore. It’s fucking gorgeous, defined by grace and restrain. The word I’m looking for is “mature” but that undersells the movie-credits-rolling beauty of it all. I’ve heard some comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel and the Microphones, and while the sonics aren’t an exact match, the expansiveness and grandeur absolutely are. The bouncier numbers like “Touring in January” and “Soft Tyranny” keep turning corners into unexpectedly tender melodies before building back, but the real highlights are when the album slows down and spreads out. If there’s any justice in the world, String Machine will soon be playing stages as big as these songs. —Keegan Bradford

1. Alvvays – Blue Rev

Alvvays’ Blue Rev is a dream of an album sonically but also in terms of its extremely high quality. It incorporates everything good one could wish to find in an Alvvays album or alternative music in general. You can tell right from the start of the first track that Alvvays is on another level and has crafted a selection of songs that are noisier, fuzzier, and looser than they’ve ever been. Not to mention that they have jam packed the record’s 34 minute run-time with a selection of hooks and catchy solos. The band have clearly grown over their past couple of releases and now have completely found their stride, pushing into that 4th and 5th gear that few people realized they had. Jangle-pop, shoegaze, indie-rock—there’s just enough experimentation alongside the blips of sonic familiarity that makes Blue Rev a refreshing and exciting outing for the band while highlighting the varied talents they’ve always possessed. —Hope Ankney



Alvvays – Blue Rev


Pool Kids – Pool Kids


Greet Death – New Low


Caracara – New Preoccupations


Anxious – Little Green House


PAGE 1 (#50 – #31) – PAGE 2 (#30 – #11) – PAGE 3 (#10 – #1 + Playlist & Award Winners)

The Alternative is ad-free and 100% supported by our readers. If you’d like to help us produce more content and promote more great new music, please consider donating to our Patreon page, which also allows you to receive sweet perks like free albums and The Alternative merch.