The Alternative’s Best Records of 2022 So Far

Posted: by The Editor

2022 hasn’t been a great year. Between the pandemic still ravaging the planet, the horrific Russian invasion in Ukraine, the Supreme Court’s atrocious decisions recently, including stripping reproductive rights from millions of Americans, corporate price gouging, and a weak world economy, it has been a hard storm for anyone to weather. For a blog like us, it definitely hasn’t been easy. But then again, we don’t do this because it’s easy. We put in the time and energy to create this site and keep promoting all the best music, because we believe in is the power of art both as an escape from troubled times and hopefully as a pathway out.

In that spirit, we’ve collected our favorite albums of 2022 so far. The albums that have gotten us through these tough times, and given us the strength to keep forging on. They are listed alphabetically (we try to save ranking for end of year fun). Each of our staff members has written a little bit about a couple releases and what they think makes them so special. You can also find a playlist at the top of each of the 2 pages with a couple songs from each of the records.

1 last thing. We just want to take a second to thank our Patreon supporters. Especially in a year like this one, we wouldn’t be able to continue on with The Alt without their encouragement and financial support. As you may know, each month 35% of our Patreon income goes toward site upkeep and Patreon rewards, and the other 65% goes directly to the people that contributed to the site for that month. That amount of money allows us contributors to take more time to write, and devote even more energy to making this site the best it can be. But sometimes, there is something even more important than that, so this month we are donating those funds to an abortion fund. If you can afford to donate, we ask that you do the same.

We now present our favorite albums of 2022 – so far.




A Will Away – Stew

The delicious sophomore album from Americana rock band A Will Away, aptly titled Stew, came out hot and ready earlier this year and has since been a staple of my musical diet. Widening the net of songwriting styles since their most recent EP, Soup, A Will Away have embraced indie hooks and experimented with softer tones while maintaining the groove that fans have loved since Bliss. The synchronicity of harmonies is one of the strongest traits of the record, which is becoming increasingly more popular in modern pop and rock. Stew tugs at Gilded Age rhetoric to feign nostalgia as a positive influence, just to peel it away and reveal it as insecurities & hang-ups that we’re supposed to be learning and moving on from. Most definitely a top ten for me already. – Luciano Ferrara

Anxious – Little Green House 

On their debut LP, Connecticut band Anxious crafts an emo influenced sound that echoes the sounds of the ‘90s. The guitar riffs are infectious and hook you in immediately with each track as the punchy drums push through to create a great dynamic. However, the true treasure of Anxious are their vocals. Frontman Grady Allen balances screaming into the mic with some softer vocal delivery in each song. Little Green House is the coming of age record for young adults of the pandemic. The trials and tribulations of managing relationships, friendships, emotions and responsibility are so clearly described in the lyricism and are carried through the instrumentals. Since the release of the record in early 2022, the band seems to have not stopped touring. We can’t wait to see what they put out next. – Sarah Knoll

The Arrival Note – The Arrival Note

Emo as a genre is built on nostalgia. Whether it’s reminiscing on the good times in a relationship gone sour as on American Football’s “Never Meant” or pining for the innocence of youth like Mineral does on “&Serenading” or even the way bands like Joie De Vivre and Algernon Cadwallader took the sounds of the ‘90s and repurposed them for the 2010s, the genre has always relied on some relationship to a better, easier past. The songs on The Arrival Note’s self-titled EP were no different; “Isn’t That a Shame” finds Joshua Howell barking, “We don’t kiss anymore / forgot the taste of your lips,” and when a childhood friend’s house is torn down on closer “Floor” he runs through the good times, and bad, they shared together there. Sonically, the whole thing’s wrapped up in the midwestern sound of ‘90s basements and rec rooms: the drumbeat and riff that open the EP could’ve been pulled straight off The Power of Failing, and the more upbeat crash of “Run” recalls the untethered passion of Static Prevails’ most unhinged moments. But there was a kernel of something fresh there, too. Those Mineral-indebted riffs in “Trajectory” give way to a massive, booming chorus just aching for stadiums, and “Isn’t That a Shame” boasts a roughness that hints toward Howell’s time in metalcore outfits like Point of Contact and Contention. Not unlike Japanese emo luminaries Weave, who update classic warm ‘90s tones with modern sensibilities to create something distinctly modern, The Arrival Note falls in a clear lineage without ever landing in the shadow of its predecessors. It might not necessarily bring you back to the carefree days of your youth, but it’s music to make new memories to. – Zac Djamoos

Bad Bunny: Un Verano Sin Ti Album Review | Pitchfork

Bad Bunny – Un Verano Sin Ti (A Summer Without You)

No doubt the hottest album of the summer, Un Verano Sin Ti is Bad Bunny’s latest hit record. The whole album demonstrates different music styles of the Caribbean, like cumbia from Colombia and salsa from his native island of Puerto Rico. This expansive double LP expresses the pleasure, sorrow, and love Puerto Ricans have for their island. Bad Bunny has always been daring in his politics, and his work on Un Verano Sin Ti is no different. This is especially prevalent in the song “Andrea,” a tribute to a domestic assault victim. Through Un Verano, people of all languages can respect and admire Benito’s letter to his amor, Puerto Rico. – Kim Luciano

Black Country, New Road – Ants from Up There

Black Country, New Road is a band name that I learned immediately after the release of their LP, Ants from Up There. It stuck with me and I thought about it for a few weeks. I finally decided to listen to the album and realized that it was truly something special. The last time an album spoke to me in this way was the first time I heard The National’s Sleep Well Beast. It may not work for everyone, but for me, it feels like having your handheld through dark times, and in the happy times, a celebration of joy and the human experience. As much as I adore vocalist Isaac Woods’ lyrics, the album is equally carried by fantastic performances from the entire band, also known as “The World’s 2nd Best Slint Tribute Act.” If you haven’t listened to it yet, I recommend it as a backing track for a relaxing bubble bath. – Alec Moore

Blushing – Possessions

If you need a record to transport you back to the hazy days of the ’90s, Blushing’s Possessions will do just that. An album created during the pandemic, the group seamlessly blends the feverish environment of the past two years with darker and lighter hues—taking a fearful time and condensing it into something digestible. It’s the present feeling that comes from Possessions that lingers with the listener, giving way to heavier tracks followed by sunnier dispositions that could represent our tumbling minds since 2020. And it’s in that resonating current where Blushing succeeds, making this their best effort to date. – Hope Ankney

billy woods – Aethiopes

billy woods’ Aethiopes is a masterpiece of mind-bending rap. Presenting esoteric and trippy ideas next to stories pulled from memories and the everyday, it’s a record that demands repeat listens. Produced by Preservation, Aethiopes has the feel of a John Carpenter movie (most notably on “Christine”), as the open, cinematic feel evokes the same kind of desolate landscapes and emotions as movies like They Live or Escape From New York. woods is joined by a killer run of guests in the middle of the record, but the record is at its strongest when at its sparsest, with just woods, like the underwater production on “Wharves” under lines like “drums in the hills like sunset / the gun turret swing right to left / African Queen on the ship’s deck / shipwrecked Europeans swimmin’ with the virus / shot out like God’s semen,” or the ethereal “Remorseless,” where woods ruminates on status through material possessions, rapping “in person, these rappers watches look temptin’ / the chain say envy, but PTSD keep me countin’, never spendin’ / my accountant is a head full of bad memories and sad endings / it’s all payment pending / I’m not concerned with generational wealth, that’s its own curse / anything you want on this cursed Earth / probably better off gettin’ it yourself, see what it’s worth.” With so many lines to dig into delivered overtop such unconventional production, Aethiopes is a record that never loses its originality or ability to surprise you no matter how many times you hit play. — Aaron Eisenreich

Camp Cope – Running With the Hurricane

Camp Cope’s power-pop emo sound becomes more power-pop than emo on Running with the Hurricane, and it makes for an easy listen, an album we keep coming back to. Georgia Maq’s intoxicating voice provides us with singable hooks that will carry us into next year. Some might be thrown off by the change in sound and genre, but would anyone really prefer to hear the same record all over again? I for one, am happy with the change, and excited for more great new Aussie tunes. – Anne Hurban

Cave People – Wind Burn

Philadelphia band Cave People have been making solid, breezy indie rock music for years, often flying a bit under the radar. With their latest record Wind Burn, the band stands poised to make a bolder mark, presenting something a little more forceful, a little more defined than anything they’ve put out before. Here, Dave Tomaine’s songs play a little closer to the ears, bursting with louder rock energy on tracks like “Waking” and “I Don’t Want Hope” or building to a more courageous grandeur on wistful tracks like “Helper.” There’s an air of change and transition throughout Wind Burn, the title track swaying with calm acceptance of a new era — “​​and just when I think that you’re finished with me / you come blowing / destabilizing.” If you, like me, are feeling exhausted with the seemingly endless complications of your own character development, then Wind Burn might help you find comfort in all the bluster. — Jordan Walsh

Cola – Deep in View

With Ought, Tim Darcy’s frantic deluge of consciousness and wry detachment satirized everything from numbing consumption cycles to the human psyche, his narration bending abstract imagery in-between ironic confessionals. As we find ourselves in this hellish post-Ought world, Cola’s debut album provides more of the same magic to cling to amidst the modern death rattle. Named after Alan Watts’ anthology of the same name, Deep in View offers a mellowed shade of the jumpy post-punk Darcy and Ought-turned-Cola bassist Ben Stidworthy created in those damp Montréal nights. Tim’s vocals have settled into a gorgeous, laid-back tenor, maturing in a straight line from the twitchiness of his style on the first Ought full-length. Overall, the music is more sure of itself, no longer eternally on the brink of dissolving into noise, but without a dip in excitement or idiosyncrasies. If you had any expectations going into Cola’s debut, raise them. Deep in View is the indie rock AOTY. – Chris Burleson

Eliza & The Delusionals – Now and Then

The early 2000s sound is making a comeback whether you like it or not. Fortunately, Eliza & The Delusionals’ debut record Now and Then acts as a time machine to the best parts of early 2000’s fuzzy alternative rock. Disguising heavier themes with a brighter and dreamier soundscape, the album delves into the complex nature of people and how that affects relationships and communication. The album colors outside of the lines when it comes to the barriers of genre, defying it with a countless blend of sounds that the band makes work with their over-arching musical flair. Lush, introspective, and colorful, Now and Then only feels like the beginning for the band as they chip away at creating their own little corner of the indie music scene. – Hope Ankney

Flight Mode — Torshov, ‘05

Nostalgia is the subject and the medium for Norwegian emo band Flight Mode, their work tracing the musical and personal history of primary songwriter Sjur Lyseid. On the band’s second EP Torshov, ‘05, the songs evoke Transatlanticism and Left and Leaving with a striking self-awareness, Lyseid’s nasal vocals delivering authentic, era-specific aesthetics while also carrying a knowing element of reflection in hindsight. Take the stunning, shimmering “Togetherness” as evidence — the lyrics here kind of work backwards, starting with the kind of summarizing statement that can only crystallize after years have passed (“disappointments spawn togetherness”) and disintegrating from there into the affective, real-time details that compose an experience (“The plain gray fabric of your dress / in the space between my thumb and my index”). Flight Mode are truly masters of looking back, making sense of the past without getting lost in its trappings. — Jordan Walsh

foxtails – fawn

 Another Connecticut band, foxtails’ fawn is a screamo treat. Introducing strings into the band’s post-hardcore instrumentation brings a certain melancholy tone that carries throughout the record. It’s this sadness mixed with the screaming that really drives this record home. The band has pushed their songwriting even further with more complex melodies and breakdowns that really take the listener on a roller coaster throughout. Standout tracks such as “ego death,” “gallons of spiders went flying thru the stratosphere,” and “space orphan” showcase how deep the band pushed themselves in their musicianship to create a diverse LP and build these tracks thoughtfully and meticulously. – Sarah Knoll

Glacier Veins – Lunar Reflection

A forceful “a ha” moment put into an entire album, Lunar Reflection is all about connections, meditations, and yes, reflections. The astonishingly clean audio production fits perfectly with Glacier Veins’ classic blissed-out pop punk sound. The album is largely soft and smooth, and it’s aptly named for a nighttime listen, which is the perfect time for the clear cold cuts of Glacier Veins. Put on this record, pour yourself a nice cold glass of water, and take a breath. – Anne Hurban

Grocer – Numbers Game

Grocer create weird, chaotic music that somehow still gets stuck in your head. Numbers Game is stuffed with strange sounds, loud guitars, and a surprising amount of catchiness. From the dark dissonance of “Be Obscene” to the skronky middle-finger-to-capitalism that is “Calling Out,” Grocer has made one of the most intriguing and spontaneous albums of the year. – Jami Fowler

Hatchie – Giving the World Away

Upping the lyrical ante since past releases with hazey guitar and bass that skulks up on you, Giving the World Away is the natural progression of a dreampop favorite, blending poppier, more danceable tones with lush, dreamlike fuzz. Most artists in Hatchie’s lane lean too hard on one or the other, but she manages to strike a perfect balance. Make no mistake, Hatchie’s matured soundscape is one for the books. – Anne Hurban

Heart to Gold – Tom

Tom scratches the “catchy but loud” itch that I seem to always have. Introspective lyrics with roller coaster riffs are what Heart to Gold are best at, and frontman Grant Whiteoak’s voice is surprisingly magnetic. Stand outs are “Gimme a Call” and “Mary,” but the whole album first-pumping anthem machine that begs you to turn it up. – Jami Fowler

Jeshi – Universal Credit

In a year of stellar debut albums, the east London rapper’s Universal Credit is as much of a statement as any. I first fell in love with this record due to its sheer variety. The beats and instrumentation range from drugged-out UK garage to drill backed by piano, and that’s overly generalizing the scope at play here. Regarding the drug bit, Universal Credit is reality and escapism woven into one. Jeshi omits nothing in his tales of clubbing, poverty, and spent cigarettes, taking aim at both the notion that poor people must live lives of austerity and the hypocrisy of those liable to shame them for wanting to feel good in the face of economic terror. Rounding out this incredible debut is one of the best album covers of the year, featuring Jeshi receiving a government assistance check—another tongue-in-cheek strike against the stigma surrounding social safety nets. Sonically hazy but incisive in its message and musical ideas, Universal Credit is absolutely one of the best albums of 2022… so far. – Chris Burleson

Joyce Manor – 40 oz to Fresno

40 oz to Fresno, the follow-up album to 2018’s Million Dollars to Kill Me, is classic Joyce Manor: short but powerful. Each song is catchy and nostalgic, staying true to the band’s original speedy punk sound and presenting as something to not take too seriously. Joyce Manor is aware that fame isn’t forever, despite their consistency and hustle for over a decade. Longtime fans recognize the signature candid themes, but unlike Million Dollars, there’s less of a lilt to the vocals. 40 oz to Fresno is more intense and in your face. New fans have nothing to fear either, as this seminal punk band will win you over in just under 16 minutes. – Kim Luciano

Cleanse - Album by Joywave | Spotify

Joywave – Cleanse

“Pray for the reboot” – but seriously, society is severely malfunctioning and Joywave is right so please hit the switch already. After releasing their third album the week the world went into lockdown, it was hard to be optimistic when everything you worked for was erased in the blink of an eye. Despite this tumultuous setback, Joywave took this time to Cleanse themselves of their battle scars from life on the road and reflect on the world as a whole. With track one leading you into a daze of synths, you’re already feeling their revulsion at society with lines such as “No help, no help / The world’s gone crazy, it’s on something lately.” After a year and a half of doomscrolling online as each current event unfolded, it’s hard to not let out a sigh in agreement. Continuing their critique on American society, “Buy American” proudly chants “let go of empathy / that’s negativity” preceded by the chorus line “don’t care, buy American / Think less if it hurts more baby”. My favorite track, “After Coffee,” is dead center of the album at track five because everyday I find myself contemplating running away and starting life over while I sit at my cubicle but, like Joywave says, “I’m too scared to jump.” A pleasure of this record that doesn’t go unnoticed is that it clocks in at 35 minutes long. In a world being inundated with excessively long albums in a race to get the most streams, it’s refreshing to hear a ten song album that you can let finish and immediately restart for another listen. This record is no doubt finding its way into my top three favorites this year and I hope everyone gives it a listen. –Kyle Musser



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.