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Looking Back: 3 Final Album Picks From 2022

The typical seasons and cycles in music have been slowly rebuilding since the big pandemic disruption in 2020, and 2022 was certainly the most exciting year back so far. With so much incredible music across genres and scenes, it made my job as a seeker of all kinds of music daunting in the best way possible – just keeping up week by week was a challenge alone! Before we get into what’s set to be an even more active year in 2023, let’s take one last look at three albums from last year that I think deserve some attention.

One quarter of the minds behind Grizzly Bear, multi-instrumentalist Daniel Rossen finally gifted us with his first solo LP last year, You Belong There. Not only are his distinguished guitar and vocal abilities in fine form, but he’s picked up strings, woodwinds, and piano for this album. His old bandmate Christopher Bear joins him on drums on compositions spanning from ornately-orchestrated chamber folk, to looser, jazzier zones. Lyrically, the album explores Rossen’s recent fatherhood and rural life scenery change, and the anxieties and vulnerabilities present within. You Belong There is a long-awaited triumph from the accomplished songwriter, released ten years after his first solo EP, and rewards patient, repeated listens to its dense, layered songs.

New trailblazers and veteran luminaries in modern jazz come together under the bandleader-ship of drummer Makaya McCraven on his latest album In These Times. McCraven has been working on this collection since 2015, in the meantime releasing other works including a reimagining of Gil Scott-Heron’s final album. The crew assembled here features many mainstays in the Chicago jazz and improvised music scenes, including guitarist Jeff Parker, violinist Macie Stewart, and vibraphonist Joel Ross, as well as frequent McCraven collaborator Brandee Younger on harp. The sounds the ensemble make flow effortlessly between spiritual jazz, hip hop grooves, orchestral flourishes, and rhythmic workouts, all propelled and synthesized by McCraven’s impeccable composition and production. The group of individuals on this record, frequently featured by its release label, International Anthem, are a vital force in the progression of jazz music as an omnivorous and malleable art form, and McCraven serves as an incredible organizing and creative force to collectively push the music forward.

Finally, another instrumental selection, this time from the Germany-via-Baltimore quartet Horse Lords. This group has been steadily building on their unique sound of just intonation-tuned guitars, multiple percussion, electronics, and saxophone since their recording debut in 2012, like sculptors slowly chipping and polishing away at their creation. Last year brought the clearest vision of that form yet, an album called Comradely Objects. Horse Lords make intensely rhythmic music, constantly weaving around each other in patterns and polyrhythms, always evolving but dedicated to the pulse. Their pieces shift from foot-tapping grooves, to noisy squalls and skronks, to droning expanses, often within the same track. The four musicians of Horse Lords build their musical fellowship on a philosophy of collectivism, and their latest work is their most unified statement to date.

With these final looks back at 2022 in mind, we press on now into 2023, a year that’s set to be even more musically fruitful than the last. I’ll be here ready to receive, and equally ready to pass on some special selections along the way.
Do you have anything you're looking forward to musically this year? Let us know on our social media!

Evan Miller is a percussionist, lover of sound, and is probably buying too many cassette tapes online right now. Evan got his start in radio in 2012 at WWSU at Wright State University, where he was studying percussion performance. He followed through with both endeavors and eventually landed a lucrative dual career playing experimental music at home and abroad, and broadcasting those sounds to unsuspecting listeners Sunday nights on The Outside. Maintaining a connection to normal music, Evan also plays drums in bands around the area, and hosts WYSO's Midday Music show. When not doing something music-related, Evan is most likely listening to podcasts or watching food videos at home with his cat.