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Best Albums of 2022: the Colorado Sound Staff Picks

What a fantastic year! At least in terms of the music – what we heard, who we saw live, what we shared with our friends, family, and communities. And speaking of sharing, members of the Colorado Sound staff have put together lists of their personal favorite albums released in 2022.

Wherever you are, we hope you, too, had a year full of great music. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you in 2023!

Stacy’s Top 10 Albums + Extras

 Artist NameAlbum TitleQuick TakeDescription
1Broken BellsInto the Blue  Dream PopJames Mercer and Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) offer up a wonderfully diverse collection of tunes that range from stripped back folk to trip-hop, while maintaining cohesion – a perfect pop melancholia mix.
2DestroyerLabyrinthitis  MoodyDestroyer (Dan Bejar) delivers another mind melting, trippy musical journey filled with nuance and unexpected musical choices… an oddly satisfying listen.  
3The SmileA Light for Attracting Attention  Ambient CoolBy recording under The Smile, Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood can ignore the expectations of a new Radiohead album and be free to experiment without the pressure. There is some familiarity to the spectral sound but with a renewed playfulness.
4Nilüfer Yanya Painless Ethereal VocalsA dynamic showing on her sophomore release, British singer/songwriter/guitarist Nilüfer Yanya, showcases heartbreak and triumph in a manic but coolly controlled release.
5Rosalía Motomami Attitude!I took notice of Catalan pop sensation Rosalía after seeing her Zane Lowe interview…she is such a musical force to be reckoned with.
6Wet LegWet Leg FunAfter being in and out of other bands, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers formed the duo Wet Leg. Their quirky, debut single “Chaise Longue” quickly gained millions of streams, but the rest of the album proves these ladies to be more than a one-hit novelty group.
7 Phoenix Alpha Zulu Oui!  Phoenix’s seventh release is everything you’d hope from the French pop phenoms.  A totally fun romp through synth pop fantasy land.
8Steve LacyGemini Rights  Summer Jam Steve Lacy’s Gemini Rights defies genres as it combines R&B/funk/indie/shoegaze all in one rawkish romp. The album details heartache and triumph, at times cartoonishly forlorn, but all together refreshing.
9Yeah Yeah Yeahs Cool It DownHaven’t lost a Beat  Karen O hasn’t lost her edge. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ first full-length release in nine years delivers all the angst, intuitive lyricism and drive you’d hope for.
10Maggie RogersSurrenderTransformative  What a tremendous leap from that NYU video with Pharrell to her sophomore release Surrender. Maggie is magnificent.


Spoon‘s Lucifer On The Sofa is devilishly good. And for a change of pace, check out Lucifer on the Moon, a remake of the Spoon album by legendary U.K. dub producer Adrian Sherwood.

Ron’s Top 10 Albums

 Artist NameAlbum TitleQuick TakeDescription
1Lee FieldsSentimental FoolOld-school soulThere are artists who try to capture that soul sound of the 60s.  Lee does it because he LIVED it in the 60s!  And what a show he put on at the Bluebird this year! 
2Beach HouseOnce Twice Melody DreamyI’ve always been drawn in by the ethereal sounds of this Maryland group. 
3Bartees StrangeFarm to TableSurprisingly rockin’Seeing him open for the National showed me there was A LOT more to Bartees than what we get on record. It caused me to hear this album in a deeper way.
4Johnny MarrFever Dreams Pts 1-4Layered guitarsJohnny made a name for himself with The Smiths.  But he’s never stopped working, playing with dozens & dozens of acts.  All that practice has only sharpened his chops, which I love!
5Drive-By TruckersWelcome 2 Club XIIIA throwbackDrawn in by my love of the DBT sound, they’ve paused their reflections on the world and instead turned the spotlight on the band’s own history. It’s still that wonderful Hood & Cooley sound!
6Wet LegWet LegA GREAT debutit can be hard to come out of the gate with a style that tells the world who you are, not simply sounding like others. Maybe you did this the 1st time you heard Wet Leg…I looked at the speakers saying, “WHO IS THIS?!?!” And the rest of the album makes me keep doing it.
7Mavis Staples & Levon HelmCarry Me HomeFrom the vaultsIf you’re a fan of an artist, it can be hit-or-miss when the label pulls something unreleased out of the archives. But if it’s Levon Helm AND Mavis, well, you just pour a drink then sit back and enjoy it. Taped in 2011 (6 months before Levon left us), this album shows Mavis’ singing and Levon’s drumming still had plenty of punch!
8Mdou MoctarAfrique RefaitWorld music todayIt’s primitive. It’s tribal. It’s basic. The music from Africa has been in our souls for millennia. Here, Mdou’s Afrique Victime album gets the remix treatment from other African artists.
9Craig FinnA Legacy of RentalsJust great storytelling  Like many others, I, too, became a Craig fan through his band the Hold Steady. But it’s his solo efforts (this is his fourth in seven years) that allow his deep storytelling to really get its groove.
10Bonnie RaittJust Like ThatA true treasureLong before the Nick of Time GRAMMYs, I got pulled into ‘Bonnie World’ by her thoughtful songwriting and emotive covers. Somehow she’s only elevated the observations she and other songwriters make.

Margot’s Top 9 Albums

 Artist NameAlbum Title
1Brian EnoForeverAndEverNoMore
2CalexicoEl Mirador
3Charley CrockettThe Man from Waco
4Hermanos GutiérrezEl Bueno y El Malo
5Kevin MorbyThis Is a Photograph
6The SadiesColder Streams
7Mountain GoatsBleed Out
8Tigram HamasyanStandard

Ben’s Top 10 Albums

 Artist NameAlbum TitleQuick TakeDescription
1Death Cab for Cutie Asphalt Meadows Nostalgia I will always love Ben Gibbard’s voice. This album feels very classic Death Cab, and I love every minute of it.
2 Spoon Lucifer on the Sofa Consistent Spoon might be the most consistent band of all time. Not sure they’ve ever made a bad album. Lucifer on the Sofa is some of their best work in years.
3 Metric Formentera Post-ApocalypticThis album is so good. Metric has been around forever and still sound great. Emily Haines’ voice fits so well with the guitar/synth driven music of Metric. Songs like “All Comes Crashing” and “What Feels Like Eternity” are great earworms.
4 Wet Leg Wet Leg CatchyEvery song on this album is a catchy tune. I’m excited to hear more from these ladies. They rock, and this album is so much fun.
5 Leon Bridges & KhruangbinTexas Moon SmoothThis album is such a groove. Leon Bridges and Khruangbin need to become a band already. They’ve made two EPs and both are awesome. Leon’s smooth voice with Khruagbin’s instrumentals fit so perfectly the world needs more.
6Tears for FearsThe Tipping Point ComebackRoland and Curt prove they haven’t lost their touch. Very emotional album from an iconic band.
7Beach HouseOnce Twice Melody WowThis double album is some of the most creative work from the duo Beach House. This album is so easy to listen to.
8PhoenixAlpha ZuluEnergyPhoenix is back and as good as ever. Channeling their inner pop stars, this album will have jamming to some songs and dancing to others.
9Gang of Youths Angel in Realtime EmotionAngel in Realtime is like one long emotional story. An incredibly moving album.
10Black Country, New RoundAnts from Up ThereUniqueThis album is unlike anything I’ve ever listened to. Isaac Wood’s unique vocals might not be for everyone, but this album is a work of art.

Kurt’s Top 10 Albums + Extras

I heard a ton of great music this year – some hit me immediate (Kevin Morby and Danielle Ponder, I’m looking at you), others took some time to sink in. The Tyler Childers album (a set of eight songs done three different ways) I’m still digesting – bold move, and I love that he took chances. SUSS is beautiful ambient country, while Kikagaku Moyo (a band I only got turned onto this year) is a wild ride. I can’t get the Yeah Yeah Yeahs out of my head – nor the awesome country songs of Gabe Lee, Kaitlin Butts, and Ian Noe. I threw in some extras, too, because I couldn’t help it. Avi Kaplan, man, what a voice! And like all the music from SUSS, Recordings from the Åland Islands is quiet, complex, and beautiful. I’m also digging the latest from Colorado bands Wovenhand and Gasoline Lollipops. And if country’s your thing, don’t pass up on 49 Winchester.

Artist NameAlbum TitleQuick Take
1Kevin MorbyThis Is a PhotographBeyond the surface
2Tyler ChildersCan I Take My Hounds to HeavenTaking chances
3SUSSSUSS Ambient country
4Hurray for the Riff Raff Life on EarthTake me places
5Danielle PonderSome of Us Are BraveHer voice!
6Kikagaku MoyoKumoyo Island Into the beyond
7Gabe LeeThe Hometown Kid Honky tonkin’
8Kaitlin ButtsWhat Else Can She Do Longing
9Ian NoeRiver Foots and Mountain SaintsThose songs
10Yeah Yeah YeahsCool It Down Sharp and satisfying

First Aid Kit, Palomino
Zach Bryan, American Heartbreak
49 Winchester, Fortune Favors the Bold
Danger Mouse & Black Thought, Cheat Codes
Angel Olsen, Big Time
Wovenhand, Silver Sash
Avi Kaplan, Floating on a Dream
Gasoline Lollipops, Nightmares
Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer, Recordings from the Åland Islands
Wax Machine, Hermit’s Grove

Dawn’s Top 6 Albums + Extras

 Artist NameAlbum TitleDescription
1Fontaines D.C.  Skinty FiaTheir melodic punk-rock aesthetic, along with their brash obstinance, is infective.
2Bear’s DenBlue HoursThis duo from across the pond write beautiful, lyrical songs that stick in your head in the best way.
3First Aid Kit  PalominoOur favorite Swedish sisters weave harmonies like no other, well, maybe like their countrymates, Abba, but that’s a compliment!
4BeyonceRenaissancePeople throw around the ‘masterpiece’ moniker for this one, but the Beyhive call all her albums a masterpiece. Others can debate that, but what I love about this album is how it harkens back to my favorite disco records of the 1970s. It’s so danceable that I must be careful listening in my car!
5 PlainsI Walked with You a WaysThis combo (Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee and Jess Williamson) is a once-in-a-lifetime pairing. What I love most are the stories they paint with their lyrics.
6Yeah Yeah YeahsCool It DownCheck out the Showtime documentary, Meet Me in the Bathroom, to see the beginnings of this great band, led by the incomparable Karen O. “Burning,” from this new album, is one of those songs you remember where you were when you first heard it – so good! 
Other good stuff I like this year:

PhoenixAlpha Zulu
So infectious and a great video, too!

Lost LeadersJealous Sun EP
Lost Leaders is Byron Isaacs, who we know from The Lumineers, and Peter Cole. “Long Way Down” sounds like summer to me.

Boy and BearJust to Be Kind
One of my favorite bands from Australia released this song as they headed out on tour. Hopefully there’s a full album coming soon.

St. Paul & the Broken BonesThe Alien Coast
One of the best from Birmingham, Alabama, delivering yet another fun, danceable, and lyrically cool album.

Amanda ShiresTake It Like a Man
A woman at the height of her powers. This album is a revelation.

Khruangbin & Leon BridgesTexas Moon
This record is cool no matter what but check out the video for “B-Side.” Inspired by spaghetti western films, it’s just well, cool as hell.

Amythyst KiahChained to the Rhythm
Covering Katy Perry’s song on her latest EP, Kiah’s voice is simply stunning.

Chris K’s Top 10 Albums

 Artist NameAlbum TitleDescription
1Charley CrockettThe Man from WacoFrom the first time I saw him perform as an opening act at Red Rocks, I knew I had fallen into something special.  If they were still alive today, I could see Hank Williams and Woodie Guthrie sitting around a fire with Charlie, trading stories, trading songs, drinking whiskey out of old tin cups, and eating hobo stew. The songs on this record would be Charlie’s contribution to the party.
2Emily Scott RobinsonAmerican Siren– I got introduced to Emily late in the year, a full year after American Siren was released.  The Telluride resident and winner of the 2019 Telluride Troubadour Award wrote the songs for her debut on John Prine’s Oh-Boy Records during the COVID isolation of 2020.  Relying on minimal and effective instrumental arrangements allows Emily’s smooth voice and her story telling to shine through.   It earns my pick for Colorado Americana-Country album of the year. #COmusic
3King Cardinal“Runaway”OK, it’s just a single, but I’ll admit that I’m a Steely Dan fan and apparently so is King Cardinal founder and songwriter Brennan MacKey.  Now if only it was part of an album. #COmusic
4MaryLynn GillaspieSecret LanguageA GRAMMY nominee with the Boulder-based vocalese band Rare Silk in the ’80s, MaryLynn also earns my Colorado Comeback Artist of the Year pick after a 25-year absence. Then she goes and writes lyrics to Herbie Hancock’s Dolphin Dance and covers King Crimson in the same breath. Nice.  It also earns my pick as Colorado Jazz Album of 2022. #COmusic
5Mike Clark and the Sugar SoundsMoon RockThe alter-ego of Mike Clark’s acoustic roots band The River Arkansas, the Sugar Sounds explore psychedelic rock and soul ala 1968. Just in time for folks to explore both the music and the fungi (legally). #COmusic
6Monday MichiruENSOI have no idea why I got on a vocal jazz and world music kick late in the year, but discovering ENSO made it all worth it. The Japanese/American jazz vocalist is a legend in her native Japan, where she’s regarded as a pioneer in Japanese club music.  ENSO swings easily between jazz, soul, spoken word, rock, and Brazilian rhythms.
7N3ptune/Rusty SteveRenaissanceThere’s a term bouncing around the radio world called Urban Alternative. If this album doesn’t define that term, I don’t know what does. Ruggedly polysexual and at times crossing into politically aggressive language, Denver’s N3ptune makes the boldest lyrical and musical statement of the year in Colorado.  Rusty Steve adds the kind of guitar styling that speaks to the gods of shred. #COmusic
8Robert Plant & Alison KraussRaise the RoofMost sophomore albums seem to not rise to the level of a debut. Their debut, Raising Sand, earned five GRAMMY Awards. This one “raises the roof” a bit for me. Is there a better vocal pairing in the Americana universe?
9SpoonLucifer on the SofaI’ll bet nearly every rock fan has listened to this album at least once. I have listened to no other rock record more than this in 2022. If it were vinyl, I would have worn out two copies already.
10Tedeschi-Trucks BandI Am the MoonA four-disc set of Susan’s voice and husband Derek’s slide? Oh, hell yes. Most bands are lucky to have one album worth of songs for an album every few years. This is 24 original songs. Front to back, it’s a two-hour listen. Frankly worth every bit of 120 minutes.

Related pages:

The Colorado Sound Music Awards – meet the 2024 nominees

Top 850 Cover Songs – see the complete list of songs based on your votes

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