Music Spotlight: My Top Album 2022

The hype is real. I only recently wrote last years, so I bet your hype is nonexistent but for me I was writing that knowing full well there were some bangers waiting to be unleashed in this year end review!

If you hadn’t read my previous post for 2021 the link is at the bottom:

The winner was “KANGA - You and I Will Never Die”

The album pool

As always the criteria:

And the albums are…

2022’s playlist (+ 2 albums from bandcamp not on Spotify):

The Top 5

In alphabetical order:

Carpenter Brut - Leather Terror

Some metal infused synthwave, Carpenter Brut managed to release a catchy and heavy banger of an album. Featuring a few guest performers, each of these tracks are unique and catchy in what I would consider a very “same-y” genre. It’s nice having an infinite supply of retro synth tracks to drive to, but sometimes it’s hard for one to really break through into “oh shit yes!”. Typically, Starcadian is the one to do that for me, as they add an extra layer to their tracks through their music videos (each track being an “ear movie”).

Throughout the year I found myself coming back to a few tracks over and over - especially when I was showering or doing some other short activity and I just wanted something upbeat and fun as heck!

Some call out featured songs are The Widow Maker featuring Gunship, Imaginary Fire featuring Greg Puciato, and Lipstick Masquerade featuring Persha. I looped these three songs quite a bit. But there are quite a few more to checkout.

Favorite Track

This is tough, as I looped those three songs quite a bit - each bringing their own unique energy. So I’ll pick all three - my list my rules:

Special Commendation - Non Stop Bangers

You throw this album on and it hits you with just banger after banger. I can’t keep myself from dancing. Even as I listen back as I write this gemlog I am grooving in my chair! Like Kanga last year, this is just a series of tracks that just make you dance.

Album Link

[spotify] Carpenter Brut - Leather Terror

Elder - Innate Passage

I toot’d a bit about this album, a later release in the year, this took this year end review and flipped it on its head. I thought it was wrapped up already with a separate release this year, but this makes the decision so hard.

Elder came at us with what feels like a return to form. Having previously released Omens in 2020 and a collaboration album in 2021, Innate Passage takes the best parts of those two albums and builds on-top of more “classic Elder” albums like Lore. Elder has carved out their own niche in the genre making a blend of psych rock and stoner metal, with each release leaning harder and harder into psychedelic realms. Innate Passage has this almost ethereal feeling - especially in their opening track Catastasis.

I think, however, they’ve left the doom and stoner metal behind. Dead Roots Stirring and Elder (self titled) were certainly “Doomy” and in that “doom/stoner” metal overlap. Lore, Reflections of a Floating World are both still very “stoner metal”. But is playing psychedelic-metal with a big muff automatically stoner metal? I think since Omens they’re probably, as a band, firmly outside of the stoner metal field - and more soundly in some psychedelic/prog metal genre?

They introduce themselves as such in their website actually!

genre-pushing rock band that melds heavy psychedelic sounds with progressive elements and evocative soundscapes.

“Merged In Dreams - Ne Plus Ultra” is the track that flips this whole argument on its head and shows that regardless, they’re still very much a metal band and one that you’ll absolutely be head banging too, horn up \m/.

Favorite Track

I think “Merged In Dreams - Ne Plus Ultra”. A nearly 15 minute track that has everything in it you expect from Elder.

Special Commendation - Excellent Vinyl Record Cover

I LOVE their record covers when they do the circular inserts. You can display this vinyl with having 3 separate views through the port, which while purely aesthetic - it’s very nice!

The quality of the vinyl release was great, though I find any non-black Vinyl has a 33% chance of being slightly warped upon arrival. I am going to stick to traditional black vinyls from now on sadly. It’s too freaking often

Album Link

[spotify] Elder - Innate Passage

Emma Ruth Rundle - EG2: Dowsing Voice

Her second album in her “Electric Guitar” series - Emma Ruth Rundle (ERR from here on out) has released “Dowsing Voice” a haunting follow-up to last years Engine of Hell. Holy holy HOLY hell, this album is an impactful, artistic, just WOW. It’s hard to describe. I was listening to it for this review and my partner, sitting behind me relaxing, said “What the hell are you listening too, this is scary!”. And scary, emotional, and difficult it is. ERR stretches the use of the “electric guitar” title, as the focus here is the additional layers and voices added on-top of the main tracks.

An experimental release that, at this time is only available on bandcamp, is one I don’t put on frequently, but when I do am fully captivated. If you like artistic records - please check this out.

Favorite Track

Probably: Keening into Ffynnon Llanllawer - I love the guitar(?) part and the wailing/vocalization. It’s haunting. As a recording is amazing.

Though “In the Cave of The Cailleach’s Death-Birth” is the /best/ track. Put some headphones on and give this a listen! Just amazing.

Special Commendation - Album Art

This album, IS ART, but the album art is just… really suiting the music.

Album Link

[bandcamp] Emma Ruth Rundle - EG2: Dowsing Voice

Jay Hosking - Celestial spheres (and various other releases)

This is an interesting pick. Having released JUST in time for this year, this is an album I have been engaging with in many, many ways. Firstly, I am a patron of this performer via Patreon. They make music videos (audio only performance videos of the songs) that they compile into albums. Last year’s album is probably my actual favorite and likely SHOULD’VE snuck into the top 5 because of the final track alone, which was an emotional and just epic banger of a track (Linked at the bottom of this review).

Celestial spheres is a compilation of 8 synth jams. Jay bills these as semi-improvisational, and while the YT channel is a synth nerds dream of these informative performances, the songs stand on their own. This one is no exception. Using various different pieces of hardware synths, grooveboxes, drum machines and traditional instruments - each track is unique while still carrying this /energy/ and style. It’s so easy to hear Jays tracks and know it’s him.

I’ve been following him for years and really enjoy the music he makes, and the community he’s built up around his music. Due to the disconnected nature of the singles (releasing effectively as YouTube videos prior to the album drop) it’s difficult to ultimately rate these in these lists since I don’t get a chance to really enjoy them /as an album/ until the end of the year (the past two times happened like this where they came out around the end of the year). And on my playlist “Future, Tense” is present as it’s a “2022” album according to Spotify, but was out on bandcamp in 2021, and that’s when I was gifted it by Jay.

So yeah - this whole section is like “disclaimer disclaimer” but if you like groovy, typically instrumental synth music - check it out.

The various other releases

This year Jay released a few albums actually which I didn’t want to include separately. If you enjoy this album (which was mostly comprised of 2022 music, so was the primary focus) check out the other albums:

Favorite Track

Without out a doubt it’s Nychthemeron. It’s truly a wild track, with so much happening in it. I suspect it was his favorite too since he made an actual music video for it:

[youtube] Jay Hosking - Nychthemeron (Official Music video)

Special Commendation - Each track has a live performance attached to it!

If you enjoy videos - these each have a corresponding YT video linked at the bottom of the bandcamp page.

Album Link

[bandcamp] Jay Hosking - Celestial spheres

Tina Dickow - Bitte Små Ryk

Tina Dickow (sometimes credited as Tina Dico, depending on the release) is a fantastic Danish singer songwriter. Since her first solo album she’s really found a way to elevate what is just folk indie pop. Her songwriting, arrangements, and performances are always so rich. She knows when to strip the song back - like Chefen Skal Ha' Fri - while, has certainly a lot happening beneath the lyrics - mixes them back a bit to let the layered vocals cut through as the song builds. Each song has so much to listen to! Picking out various instruments, layers, yet every song would work performed just her and her acoustic guitar. I find her style of pop music to be very engaging for that reason. I don’t often listen to this style of music, but the production behind each track is so good it hooks me in. That and her beautiful voice - which drew me in first.

It’s a bit harder to talk about this album given the language barrier (I do not speak Danish!) Which is a shame, since her lyrics are often what I love about some of her previous albums. I’ve read the translations and done my own as a learning exercise, but there is a layer missing which is a shame given how strong this album is as whole.

I’ve spoken about Tina before in two previous gemlogs (Music Spotlight: Awesome EPs and 5x5 Playlists (both gemini:// links)) and is one of my absolute favorite artists of all time. I’ve been slowly collecting her entire discography, which can be tricky, given a lot of copies are out of print and the remaining stock/used copies are often in Europe. (And that 5x5 playlist is very telling given most of those artists have been featured in my top albums lists and were winners! Is this foreshadowing?!)

Favorite Track

I shouldn’t have introduced this section - it has been so hard each time! I think the title track, Bitte Små Ryk. It’s got everything there, and is representative of the albums sound.

Special Commendation - Lovely

This whole album is lovely. There is emotion here too, and while I don’t speak the language its often very clear. But I love Tina and her music. It’s lovely and hits this spot in me thats just warm.

Album Link

[spotify] Tina Dickow - Bitte Små Ryk

My Top Pick

This year has been especially hard, since I spent so much time listening to 2021s releases which are some of my favorite of all time. And between 2021 and 2022 (and mentioned in my 2021 spotlight) nearly every one of my favorite artists released an album. So I have been blessed with a lot to listen to.

Anyone following me on mastodon may have seen Tina Dickow just owning my entire wrapped campaign, but with Elder releasing their album after the data collection stops for wrapped, that certainly isn’t telling the whole story.

And it wouldn’t be a top album list if I didn’t mention Starcadian being consistently in the top 10 year after year, just narrowly missing the top 5 - though technically, this release was in my 2020s list, as it was available then, but had since been pulled, and was released “officially” in 2022. Looking at what I can see it’s the same tracklist, but the “inspired by” credits are entirely gone from the 2022 release.

Elder - Innate Passage

Each year picking the winner is hard. Part of the reason I do this is I don’t really add stuff to the list I don’t like. A LOT of music comes out each year, and I add what I listen to. I don’t listen to music I don’t like - so by nature of the process - each album is a “top album” for me.

But the top 5 is usually a mix of “omg obvs” and “yeah turns out I threw that on way more than I expected” (Carpenter Brut). But its really always a fight between those “obvs” - this year was Elder and Tina Dickow. Their releases were seriously top tier and repeat listens.

Tina came in with the advantage of releasing in April, and Elder JUST released theirs at the end of November. But I did some math on my mastodon breaking down the comparison. Elder came at us with a longer albums, under half as many tracks, and over 2x the average song length (about 10min/track).

They didn’t waste a single second (neither did Tina) but just being such an accessible album - just direct pure energy and power - BOOM! It was great.

This should’ve been a tie

Honestly, I was ready to call it a tie. I am actually writing this minutes before posting it, because that’s how undecided I am and how close this is.

Tina Dickow deserves the number one slot any other year, and both her and Elder’s albums I hope to see more of in the next few years! Both are classic albums in their discographies (both albums of which I own and spin regularly). I forced myself to pick, and just knowing me, my tastes, and all the stuff I said above - I went with Elder. But seriously, listen to this record - Tina manages to pack so much musicality in carving out a unique sound and just amazing style. I love her <3 :)

And if her music isn’t your jam - check out her guest tracks on the Zero-7 stuff - angelic voice.


I am REALLY disappointed I had to choose between Elder and Tina Dickow this year. Similarly, last year I had Raised by Swans, ERR, and Kanga! And our winner in 2020 was Bell Witch. These ARE my top six favorite musical artists currently active.

I’ll talk about music trends and my tastes later on. But I just wanted to emphasize how much of a banger these last 3 years have been musically and I am grateful I get to share these with you here.

I am really excited for 2023!

This year’s playlist (2023)

[spotify] senders' Releases 2023 Playlist


If you use gemini:// you can check out my previous posts (until/unless I decided to port those over too)

Thanks for reading! I don’t always crosspost - I am trying something out :)