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Yr Welcome's favorite albums of 2022

Junior Boys
Junior Boys

Yr Welcome hosts Beau and Kellen share their favorite vinyl of 2022.

August 2022 saw the 10-year anniversary of The Spy airing on KOSU. We at Yr Welcome celebrated all year long by only playing songs from our favorite artists. Many of those musicians graced us with new material this year. Fittingly, most of our list contains new albums from old favorites with the addition of a very special new favorite from Oklahoma City’s finest.

10. Panda Bear & Sonic Boom – Reset

Easily indie’s official dynamic duo, SB & PB had a tall order when whispers of their latest release began to take form. Luckily for all of us, Reset delivers all the weird, cool, and crafty compositions we can handle. Lead single “Go On” is the perfect mix of manic and calming (accompanied by a very dope video) that brings out a little crazy in all of us. Here and there, you can find little tastes of obscure records that beg for broader appreciation. Perhaps the biggest triumph of Reset is both artists’ ability to work around one another to craft something wholly unique rather than trying to play sidekick to the other’s ideas. This approach pays off in spades as one of the more interesting releases of 2022 was made just that much more exciting. ~Kellen

9. Hot Chip – Freakout/Release

What is it about Hot Chip and their ability to consistently release solid records with unforgettable singles? With Freakout/Release, the album’s more darker and mature thoughts are flanked by the band’s trademark unshakeable groove that makes you want to jerk your shoulder to the beat. There’s something at play, however. When the layers are peeled back, band leader Alexis Taylor is wrestling with thoughts of where his life outside of music may lead him. For now, we can only count ourselves lucky to be alive in the era Hot Chip has us dancing in. ~Kellen

8. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Fire Doesn’t Grow on Trees

I’ll be brief: Spiritualized came out with a new album this year, and I liked Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees more.

Really though? Best album cover of 2022.

Really, really though? This was the year Kellen taught me Black Rebel Motorcycle Club came from Brian Jonestown Massacre. I may have been late to the BJM party (it took a recent second viewing of the great music documentary DIG! to finally dig in), but at least the party is still in full swing. ~Beau Brady

7. Nilüfer Yanya – PAINLESS

You might recall we had quite the obsession with Nilüfer’s debut album Miss Universe in 2019. An album that felt like an undeniable AOTY meant Yanya’s sophomore album had the unfair task of simply following in its footsteps. PAINLESS sort of side-steps the weight of expectations by dialing back the grandiosity and focusing on Yanya’s technical brilliance. If you liked the big payoffs of Miss Universe, you might feel slighted by this follow-up. If you simply loved Yanya’s inventive guitar and vocal abilities, you might like PAINLESS more than Miss Universe. Even if she didn’t necessarily swing for the fences on PAINLESS, tracks like “midnight sun” and “stabilise” prove that Yanya can still craft a perfect song. ~Beau Brady

6. Preoccupations – Arrangements

They’re still trash at naming albums, but I suppose it’s because they spend every ounce of energy creating their songs. We at Yr Welcome Headquarters will ALWAYS pay attention to Preoccupations due to two of its members' involvement in making one of the best indie rock records of the century (Women - Public Strain). On their fourth album, Preoccupations return to the urgency of their 2015 debut record, while integrating the moments of spaciness explored on their two albums in between. The result sounds like a perfect combination of their strengths distilled down to perfect… arrangements. Maybe they nailed the album title after all. ~Beau Brady

5. Beach House – Once Twice Melody

It’s easy to forget that the first four songs of this album were released in November 2021. Beach House chose a creative way to unspool their eighth album, by releasing clusters of songs as chapters each month leading up to its February 2022 “release date.” In doing so, Beach House didn’t just release a winter album. They released an album across the entire winter season. Kellen & I have always celebrated records that feel influenced by or benefit from their seasonal release date. Beach House already chose to go above and beyond by releasing a double album. By releasing it across an entire winter with visual accompaniment for every song, they managed to prove they’re still one of the greatest bands of the 21st century. ~Beau Brady

4. Arctic Monkeys – The Car

Arctic Monkeys will never again put out a record like Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not. That should be music to your ears. The Car promptly sticks its nose up to everyone that didn’t understand Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino with its lead single “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball”. Let’s be bold here: this is likely the best song the band has ever written. This behemoth single gives way to a tracklist that’s equally brilliant and cheeky (“Jet Skis On The Moat”?!) with plenty of hits that are sure to be fantastic in a live setting. It may not be the record die-hard fans of their early work were hoping for, but Arctic Monkeys have delivered a classic, whether you believe them or not. ~Kellen

3. Chat Pile – God’s Country

This is not on the list simply because Chat Pile are an Oklahoma City band. They’re on this list because an Oklahoma City band made an album so incredible it resonated worldwide. Chat Pile get bonus points for releasing their debut album on the same day as Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE. In my music circles, God’s Country was all anybody was talking about on July 29; a day the members of Chat Pile will never forget. What we the listeners will never forget is this painfully accurate portrayal of modern-day America made from four guys trapped in the belly of the beast.

God’s Country single “Why” best illustrates this portrayal by pointedly questioning why the homeless population living beneath I-44 in Belle Isle couldn’t take the nearby Valliance Bank tower elevator to stay in the top floor empty offices left abandoned by advertising agency Ackerman McQueen (I might be reading into the song a little too deep). Nevertheless, Chat Pile’s melding of influences (Pere Ubu and Korn for starters) is what really made them stand out as the creators of this truly unique musical experience. God’s Country is not for everyone. It is about everyone. ~Beau Brady

2. Phoenix – Alpha Zulu

If there is one word you could use to describe Phoenix’s achievement of an album, Alpha Zulu, it would be “lean.” Versailles’ favorite sons holed away in the bowels of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs during lockdown in search of something special. What emerged is an album that’s longed to be listened to all year long.

The immediate hits are obvious: “Tonight” soars and “Alpha Zulu” struts. When you think you’re about to hit a lull in the belly of the album, “After Midnight” is there to make sure you’re still ready to party. Of all of their records, it’s deeply impressive how listenable every single song on Alpha Zulu is. Nothing is out of place, and everything has a purpose. Give this album time to marinate, and we guarantee you’ll still be going back to it for multiple summers to come. ~Kellen

1. Junior Boys – Waiting Game

All you need to know about Junior Boys’ sixth album is written on the vinyl packaging sticker: “A quiet album in loud times.” We’ve been listening to Junior Boys since 2006 and this is the first time an album of theirs has left us asking so many questions: Why is it called Waiting Game when it’s the shortest album in their discography? Why are a third of the songs either instrumental or pitch-shifted vocal exercises? Where are the dance jams? Why do we discount albums that don’t aim for maximalism? Can maximalism be achieved through minimalism?

The lack of answers made this mystery of an album all the more intriguing. One unspoken answer was obvious: this record was designed for winter nights. All of these factors instantly made Waiting Game a standout in Junior Boys’ discography. Which begs the final question: Will Waiting Game prove itself as a classic in time? Guess we’ll have to wait and see. ~Beau Brady

Listen to Yr Welcome, every Friday night at 9 p.m. on The Spy on KOSU.

Beau Brady hosts the all vinyl radio show Yr Welcome every Friday at 9 p.m.
Kellen is the former co-host of Yr Welcome.
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