I really, really hope this record gets it’s due. Everything is top notch: the lyrics, the melodies, the arrangements, her voice. It’s a perfect indie rock album, from someone who obviously loves really good music and knows how to fold those diverse influences into her songwriting. She deserves to be HUGE.
Jade Lilitri can really write a catchy song. Musically, Oso Oso is equal parts emo and indie rock (think Death Cab crossed with Built to Spill crossed with Taking Back Sunday and a touch of Pinback) with really great lyrics that you just can’t help but sing along with… this album is high quality from top to bottom and has been in steady rotation since release day.
Your Neighbors Are Failures by Bitter Branches (Listen)
With former/current members of Deadguy, Kiss it Goodbye, Lifetime, Walleye, Kid Dynamite, and Paint it Black you can probably imagine what an amalgamation of those bands would sound like and it’s 100% accurate. It’s brutal, chaotic, and at times melodic – and 100% amazing. Definitely my top hardcore album from 2022.
Hammered Hulls is Alec MacKaye (Faith, Ignition), Mary Timony (Helium, Autoclave, Wild Flag, Ex Hex), Mark Cisneros (Make-Up, Medications), and Chris Wilson (Ted Leo, Titus Andronicus) - a veritable supergroup, in terms of DC punk and indie rock. They also put together a total surprise of an album. You’d expect good from this group of musicians, but this is more than good – it’s top 5 of 2022 good. Political, DC punk in an age that NEEDS more of this kind of music. Highly recommended.
The second album from TV Priest is a little more mature and maybe a little more melodic than their debut, Uppers – which was #14 on my 2021 list. They still do the post-punk, The Fall/Nick Cave thing, but in a way that I enjoy more than listening to those two groups. I really, really enjoy Charlie Drinkwater’s voice and lyrics. An underrated band and album for sure.
I don’t know who needs to hear this… by Tomberlin (Listen)
Despite being on a record label (Saddle Creek, home of Big Thief, Hop Along, Cursive, Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes, and Spoon) that I tend to follow, I only discovered Tomberlin this year with the release of her second full length. And wow, what an experience. Well written indie folk music, with really great lyrics. Tomberlin really delivers and I honestly think she’s at a higher level than contemporaries like Phoebe Bridgers and even Taylor Swift’s indie folk albums – both of which I really liked.
If you simply listen to Chaise Longue, you may overlook this band as a joke — but this album is REALLY good. Super catchy and fun. There isn’t enough fun in rock music nowadays and this band really delivers.
Cheat Codes by Black Thought and Danger Mouse (Listen)
Black Thought (from The Roots) is an insanely good lyricist. Danger Mouse is a well respected producer who’s been involved in some great projects (Dangerdoom and Gnarls Barkley to name two.) The combination is divine, especially when you throw in guests like A$AP Rocky, Run the Jewels, Conway the Machine, Raekwon, and Joey Bada$$. It’s my favorite hip hop album of 2022.
Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers by Kendrick Lamar (Listen)
King Kendrick is going to be on a lot of end of year lists, no doubt. And rightly deserved. Kendrick is hip hop royalty and this album delivers the ambitious lyrics, subject matter, and music you’ve come to expect.
Natural Brown Prom Queen by Sudan Archives (Listen)
A blend of hip hop, gospel, R&B, folk, and electronic music, Brittney Parks (aka Sudan Archives) delivers a catchy, off-beat, diverse album that is super interesting to listen to as she sways from one mix of genres to another. Highly recommended.
Mr. Robot and the compounding effect of tiny changes
I just completed a re-watch of Mr. Robot and it stands up (and still very relevant) 7 years later… it’s probably one of my favorite TV series of all time. My favorite scene of the series is one of the last – Elliott’s realization that changing the world requires more than one-off, big interventions:
What if changing the world was just about being here, by showing up no matter how many times we get told we don’t belong, by staying true even when we’re shamed into being false, by believing in ourselves even when we’re told we’re too different? And if we all held on to that, if we refuse to budge and fall in line, if we stood our ground for long enough, just maybe… the world can’t help but change around us.
I can’t help but think of the impact of compounding – whether it’s financial or building habits or any social justice issue. Tiny improvements over a long period of time can equate to big changes on the macro scale. As much as the current state of the world makes me very worried, especially as a parent of two young ladies and a transgender son, I have to believe this is true – for their sake.
For me, it’s a good reminder to double down on that approach in my every day life:
default to kindness, acceptance, and positivity
small daily efforts toward my projects and goals
small, better daily health choices
A little better, each and every day.
Beautiful fall day for a hike at Artpark
My assistant is being a little oppressive today. 🥰
Quicksand and Spotlights last night in Buffalo
Anxious, MAGS, and oso oso last night at Rec Room in Buffalo.