Generally people flood your inbox or timelines with Top “X” of the Year lists at the beginning of the month. I’m even guilty of this for movies this year. But for music, I’ve never been able to take on that tall task and narrow down a list like that.

Music is different I guess. I adore music - it is incredibly important and meaningful to me. To create a best albums of 2022 list would not only be impossible, but also unfair to all the artists and musicians I haven’t had a chance to listen to. Instead I’m going to try something else and provide a list of albums that I couldn’t get out of my head last year, why they were on repeat, what format I listened to it in, and anything else I feel like sharing. The kicker? They don’t have to be released in 2022.

2022 was a great year for me music wise.

  • It was the first year my wife and I really ventured out post-pandemic to experience the Austin music scene. We attended several concerts around the Austin area, went to ACL Live tapings, and attended our first Austin City Limits Festival.
  • I challenged myself to listen to things I wouldn’t normally to, and I discovered artists such as Gilberto Gil, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Scary Pockets, and Daniel Johnston (to name a few).
  • I also kept exploring my favorite genres of classic country, rock and alternative rock, blues and blues-rock, folk, and Americana. This is what I grew up with and what I will always return to.

Without further delay, here is the music that shaped my 2022.

Tai Verdes: One of the non-headliners my wife and I were most excited to see at ACL Festival. Tai Verdes is an upbeat R&B singer whose songs are incredibly catchy and dance-able. But behind the lyrics you can get find deeper meaning, but also inspiration. His album TV is my favorite, but he also released HDTV in September 2022. If you are looking for a feel good time with a surprising theme every now and then, I can’t recommend him enough.

Jamestown Revival: Longtime favorite of mine is the duo that is Jamestown Revival. They fit in the singer/songwriter or folk genre. Young Man was released in January 2022 and was one I had preordered on vinyl (I own all of their albums on vinyl). Any time I put one of their records on, I find myself with a sense of wanderlust and wish that I was on a mountain or around a campfire with friends. Another “feel good” artist that I find myself navigating towards.

The Arc Angels: I hadn’t heard of the Arc Angels before 2022, but I am a sucker for good blues and they are what you’d call a blues “supergroup”. They began playing shows again in 2022 and I saw them live here in Austin. The talent on that stage was breathtaking - to be expected from members of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s and Bob Dylan’s bands. I found myself lost in guitar solos and medleys all night. They played almost every song off their one and only self-titled album, but Sweet Nadine stole the show. Many blues and blues-rock artists today were influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band, and I’m thankful these guys got back together to continue the tradition of great blues in Austin.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never really given classical music or composers a chance in my listening rotation. At the end of the year I discovered Ryuichi’s album async, a unique, mind bending display of sound. He distorts and creates sounds in interesting ways. I started with async and have had 12 on as I write this. If you enjoy famous composers from films or people who can manipulate sound, give him a shot. He’s also part of Yellow Magic Orchestra which I have yet to dive into.

Zach Bryan: I discovered Zach Bryan in spring of 2022 through a radio station here in Austin. He became my most listened to artist and album of the year, and instantly one of my favorite artists. Some people will say his songs all sound similar, or that he’s not modern country enough - I can see why they might think that. But what they are missing is the incredible songwriter that he is. To me, Zach Bryan’s music is raw and real, as if he is speaking directly to the listener. I connect to his music in different ways each and every time that I listen. The album American Heartbreak is simultaneously a reflection on my own youth and past, as well as my future and what I still want to do. You won’t find the modern “pop country” Nashville sound in Zach’s music. In fact, he is actively against that establishment and the other establishment that is Ticketmaster. Instead, I hope you will find something refreshing amidst the typical Nashville sound of trucks, beer, and girls. Yes, there is some of that, but you will also find songs about heartbreak, losing a parent, life and growing up, and everything inbetween. The latter is what is missing from modern country - Zach Bryan is trying to change that, and I love his music because of it.