2022 lists

Country-Pop surges, even as Shania Twain and Margo Price stare January down. And as beleaguered as culture yearns for the Next Great Consensus, the variety feathering so many different year-end lists, and figures like Rosalia and Brei Carter tell of renewed curiosity across genres. Call it the spoils of a global pandemic. 


Adjusted for inflation and late entries. Or: maybe Courtney Barnett, Kacey Musgraves, and Kelly Willis leave too big a hole to fill. King Princess opened for Musgraves back in March, though, and she’s a star.

Nikki Lane, Denim & Diamonds (New West)
Sunny Sweeney, Married Alone (Aunt Daddy)
Kelsea Ballerini, Subject to Change (Black River Entertainment)
SZA: SOS (Top Dawg/RCA)
Tenille Townes, Masquerades (Sony)
Angel Olsen, Big Time ( Jagjaguwar)
Callista Clark, Real to Me (Big Machine)
Brooke Eden, Choosing You (This Is Hit)
Soccer Mommy, Sometimes Forever (Loma Vista)
Morgan Wade, Wilder Days (Ladylike)
Rosalia, Motomami (Columbia)
Alvvays, Blue Rev (Celsius Girls)
Brei Carter, Brand New Country (no label)
Lizzo, Special (Atlantic/Nice Life)
Mary J. Blige, Good Morning Gorgeous (300/Mary Jane Productions)
Beyoncé, Renaissance (Parkwood/Columbia)
King Princess, Hold On Baby (Zelig/Columbia)
Lainey Wilson, Bell Bottom Country (BBR)
Ashley Cooke, Already Drank That Beer (Big Loud)
Joan Osborne, Radio Waves (Womanly Hips)
Built to Spill, When the Wind Forgets Your Name (SUB POP)

AHEM, not to mention:

Ingrid Andress, Good Person (Warner Music Nashville)
Ashley McBryde, Lindeville (Warner Music Nashville)
Elle King, Come and Get Your Wife (RCA)
Amanda Shires, Take It Like a Man (ATO)
Reigning Sound, Memphis in June (Merge)
Willie Nelson:,A Beautiful Time (Legacy)
Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope, 2CD)
Miranda Lambert, Palomino (Vanner/RCA Nashville)
Alana Springsteen, History of Breaking Up (Part Two) (Warehouse West Entertainment)
Stephanie Quayle, On the Edge (Big Sky)
Jo Smith, Wyoming (Cherokee Rose)

Rollovers (from last year)

Alison Kraus, Robert Plant, Raise the Roof (Rounder)                                                                      Connie Smith, The Cry of the Heart (Fat Possum)
Laci Kaye Booth, Laci Kaye Booth (Big Machine)
HunterGirl, One Day (Hunter Girl)                                                                                                  Weyes Blood, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow (SUB POP)                                                      Carly Pearce, 29: Written in Stone (Big Machine)

On Our Radar

Todd Snyder
Adeem the Artist
Little Simz
spill tab

Base Hits 

Tasty Television cover from Luna: “Marquee Moon”
“Hey Cola: the Strokes called, they want their ri!s back.” 


Classical still outsells jazz, but the peaking sub-subset of string quartets remains inexplicable: how many yobs seek out competing editions of Beethoven cycles, or Schubert’s Quintet in C major, or follow these players live? The constants prove uncanny: Haydn still counts as the space’s crowbar composer. The Quatuor Psophos Haydn disc, Opus 54, has hijacked my attention as strongly as any Haydn release since the Jerusalem Quartet’s Opus Op 20, 34 and 54 (Harmonia Mundi) over ten years ago. The detail work animates Papa Joe’s larger curves: shapely dynamics, directional phrasing, and keenly felt ensemble—the act of listening feels palpable. (More conductors need to play chamber music.) The group adopted its name in 2016 from Pythagoras, the philosopher who believed music brought inner calm; “Psophos” is Greek for “noise.”

Quatuor Psophos, Haydn String Quartets Opus 54 (Tuor Psophos)
Lars Vogt, In memoriam (Warners Classics), Janacek: Piano Works (Ondine)
Igor Levit, Tristan (Sony)
Quatuor Van Kuijk, Mendelssohn: Complete String Quartets, Vol. 1 (Alpha)
Jubilee Quartet, Schubert: String Quartet in E-Flat Major, D. 87 & String Quartet in G Major, D. 887 (Jubilee)
Herbert Blomstedt, Gewandhausorchester, Schubert Symphonies Nos. 8 “Unfinished” & 9 “The Great” (Deutsche Grammophon)
Leif Ove Andsnes, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Chrstiane Karg, Matthew Truscott, Joel Hunter & Frank Guthmann, Mozart Momentum—1786 (Sony)
Alisa Weilerstein, Inon Barnatan, Beethoven Cello Sonatas (PentaTone)
Pavel Haas Quartet, Pavel Nikl, Boris Giltburg, Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34; String Quintet in G major, Op. 111 (Supraphon)
Lisa Batiashvili, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin & Giorgi Gigashvili, Secret Love Letters (DG)
Paul Lewis, Brahms Late Piano Works, Opp. 116-119 (Harmonia Mundi)
Ádám Fisher, Danish Chamber Orchestra, Brahms Complete Symphonies (Naxos)
Peter Sheppard Skærved & Daniel-Ben Pienaar, Mozart: The Palatine Sonatas, K. 301–306 (Athene)*
*friend of a friend

Classical Reissues

Warner Classics has launched a series celebrating Walter Gieseking, the French-born German pianist best known for his glittering Debussy. These include sets of Mozart, Grieg, Schumann, and Ravel, with a handsome catch-all. Don’t overlook his winning Bach box from 2017 (DG).

Pop/Rock Reissues/Singles/Etc.

We act like there’s a paradigm because there is one, it’s just not the only one. David Bowie’s Chuck Berry cover makes the perfect choice for this androgynous unicorn, and would have grounded PinUps if he ever gave a damn about context. Also, the “Changes” demo here runs atop deep undercurrents. And pieces of Madison Square Garden’s roof are still falling back to earth from Springsteen’s 1979 No Nukes show. Forget that neutered Gentleman Soul lounge act.

David Bowie, “Almost Grown” from A Divine Symmetry: The Journey to “Hunky Dory” (ISO/Parlophone)
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts (Sony)

Lou Reed, Words & Music, May 1965 (Light in the Attic)
Ride, Vapour Trail (Vapour Mix), featuring Robert Smith (Eat Your Own Ears)                    Patricia Rushen, Straight from the Heart (Elektra)
Plainsong, In Search of Amelia Earhart (Elektra)
Rolling Stones, Live at the El Mocambo (Polydor)
Beach Boys, Sail on Sailor deluxe (Capitol Catalog)
Various, Summer of Soul ( …Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised): A Questlove Jam [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (1969, Legacy)
The Beatles, Revolver [Super Deluxe] (Universal Music)
Sonic Youth, In/Out/In (2000-10, Three Lobed)
Prince and the Revolution, Live (1985, NPG/Legacy)
Pavement, Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal (Matador)
Neil Young, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion 1971 (Reprise)
Creedence Clearwater Revival At the Royal Albert Hall, April 14, 1970 (Craft)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 (Legacy/Experience Hendrix)

Pop/Rock Compilations

The Toytown Pop Sound compilation, implacable proof that Paul McCartney need not exist, also seeded music with more punch and verve when it sprouted “power pop.” 

Various, Climb Aboard My Roundabout! The British Toytown Pop Sound 1967-1974 (Grapefruit)
Various, John Sinclair Presents Detroit Artists Workshop (Strut Records)
Various, Gotta Get a Good Thing Goin’: Black Music in Britain in the Sixties (Strawberry Records)
Various, Miles Out to Sea: The Roots of British Power Pop 1969-1975 (Grapefruit)
Various, Biff Bang Pow! Better Life: Complete Creations 1984-1991 (Cherry Red)


Lenny Kaye’s new history shakes up the R&R paradigm as much as Dan Charnas’s Dilla Time rattles Rap’s. Dilla Time brought that rare fervor of accessible music theory to the mainstream, where the music thrives, and whenever a musicology title hits the bestseller list, a choir of angels gets a new tour bus.

RJ Smith revives Chuck Berry’s charmed persona while meticulously deconstructing his perversions. Greil Marcus updates his Real Life Rock capsules, which count for as much of his thought as any of his longer works, and his folk book skates atop hushed revelation. Like all the best criticism, these writers complicate their subjects.

Lightning Striking: Ten Transformative Moments in Rock and Roll, by Lenny Kaye (Ecco)
Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, The Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm, by Dan Charnas (MCD)

Chuck Berry: An American Life, by RJ Smith (Simon and Schuster)
One-Hit Wonders: An Oblique History of Popular Music, edited by Sarah Hill (Bloomsbury Academic)
Playing With Fire: The Story of Maria Yudina, Pianist in Stalin’s Russia, by Elizabeth Wilson (Yale)
Perfect Sound: A Memoir in Stereo, by Garrett Hongo (Pantheon)
Folk Music: A Bob Dylan Biography in Seven Songs, by Greil Marcus (Yale University Press)
More Real Life Rock: The Wilderness Years 2014-2021, by Greil Marcus (Yale University Press)
The Running Kind: Listening to Merle Haggard, by David Cantwell (University of Texas Press)
My Pinup: A Paean to Prince, by Hilton Als (New Directions)
This Is What It Sounds Like, by Susan Rogers and Ogi Ogas (Norton)
Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions, by Francesca T. Royster (University of Texas)

Rollovers (from last year)

Woody Guthrie: An Intimate Life, by Gustavus Stadler (Beacon Press, 2020)
Someone Who Will Love You in All your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Knopf, 2019)
Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy, by Adam Tooze (Viking, 2021)
People Love Dead Jews, by Dara horn (W. W. Norton, 2021)
Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, by Harald Jähner (Knopf, 2021)
My Body, by Emily Ratajkowski (Metropolitan Books, 2021)
No one Is Talking About This, by Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead Books, 2021)
Looking For the Good War, by Elizabeth Samet (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021)
High Conflict, by Amanda Ripley (Simon & Schuster, 2021)

Newly Relevant

Surviving Autocracy, by Masha Gessen (Riverhead Books, 2020)
Iron Curtain, by Anne Applebaum (Knopf Doubleday, 2012)
Red Notice, by Bill Browder (Simon & Schuster, 2015)
SPECIAL MENTION: Timothy Snyder’s The Making of Modern Ukraine, YouTube and podcast


“Revered hip-hop producers, fearing they’d been left behind, went back to the drawing board; drummers relearned their instrument; bass players and keyboardists had to rethink their phrasing and chord progressions; critics tried and are still trying to puzzle out the mysteries of the J Dilla sound…”Francis Gooding on Dan Charnas’s Dilla Time, London Review of Books

“The album’s title track, co-written with Olsen’s partner Beau Thibodeaux, is joyous, even carefree—easily the most fun she’s had on record to date. Its bliss deepens the grief that threads the more downcast songs, rather than contradicting it….”—Sasha Geffen on Angel Olsen, Pitchfork

“The No paranoia about being turned into a kitchen appliance here, though; it’s all about love and bodies and other squelchy stuff.”—Richard Foster on Ride, The Quietus, prompting a tweet, “how does this revival swing so much harder than some others?”

Milo Miles on Jerry Lee Lewis’s Live in Hamburg, Rolling Stone (2002)
RJ Smith on Wattstax, Los Angeles Times
[No Author] On Get Back’s 1969 production crew, Sound & Vision
Raphael Bob-Waksberg on TV, Rolling Stone
Michael Wood on Nope, At the Movies in the London Review of Books
Ben Sisario on Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in the New York Times
Jon Caramonica on Rap Quoting History in the New York Times