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South Sound's Favorite Albums of 2022

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Albums collage

As we wrap up another year, South Sound is reflecting on the things that helped make it better. Crucial, of course, is the entertainment we consumed in our spare time. We asked our editorial staff members to share which albums, TV shows, podcasts, and books they most enjoyed this year for our last issue of 2022. Read on for an eclectic music mix by no means meant to be a definitive “best of” list for the first chapter of our inaugural "year in A&E" series.

Motomami by Rosalía

The unpredictable Spanish popstar’s followup to her brilliant (if fraught) breakthrough LP, the 2018 concept album El Mal Querer, is her most adventurous and sonically thrilling body of work to date. As she energetically pinballs between genres, her mischievous gem-capped grin almost audible, it’s abundantly clear the album’s array of tried-on styles will never wear Rosalía. She puts them on with the swaggering certainty that she will make them indelibly her own. — Blake Peterson, digital content manager

Chaos in Bloom by Goo Goo Dolls

The problematically titled Dizzy Up the Girl was one of my favorite albums in high school. My teenage passion was reignited this summer when friends gifted me tickets to see the Goo Goo Dolls live at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville. After hearing some of their new songs alongside their classics live, I was inspired to buy an album for the first time since the early aughts — and I wasn’t disappointed. The LP’s lead single, “Yeah, I Like You,” is instantly infectious; the following tracks catchily embody the social consciousness and careful optimism that have long helped define the Dolls’ signature style. — Joanna Kresge, managing editor 

El Renacimiento by Carla Morrison

After a five-year break, Mexican singer-songwriter Carla Morrison came back this year with the excellent El Renacimiento. This album’s sound marks a conspicuous evolution from her unusual pop-folk approach. Remaining, though, is the emotional resonance of her work. On El Renacimiento, Morrison ruminates on her experiences with depression, loss, and self-doubt while also underlining the strength she’s uncovered in the process. — Stephanie Quiroz, staff writer/designer

Heartmind by Cass McCombs

McCombs has for so long been one of his generation’s great songwriters that, as Pitchfork noted in its review of Heartmind, its subliminity feels almost casual. Guided by grief (the album is dedicated to three collaborators McCombs lost in close succession over the last three years), the LP's eight tracks mournfully but by no means gloomily wax rhapsodic largely about life dedicated to art and creativity. Perfectly deployed guest stars include Danielle Haim and Wynonna Judd. — BP

Preacher’s Daughter by Ethel Cain

Something of a musical counterpart to a long-forgotten horror movie, Cain’s droning, dripping-with-atmosphere concept album follows a young woman who runs away from home and tragically gets romantically involved with a killer. But even without that slant guiding your listening, the album is regardless among the year’s most musically singular projects. A kind of cross between Chelsea Wolfe’s Gothic horrors and latter-day Lana Del Rey’s great American novel ambitions, the album best hits the ear in full. But sans context I particularly love the hallucinatorily creepy “Ptolemaea” and the nearly 10-minute “Thoroughfare,” which evokes the misguided early hope of a lovers-on-the-run movie. — BP

Nobody Knows You by Hellbound Glory 

Thrice knocked off that horse and now back on it again, my old friend Leroy Virgil (& Co.) returns with another near-perfect record. Despite past tours with Kid Rock, Buckcherry, and ZZ Top and collabs with legends like Tanya Tucker, and despite raves from LA Weekly, The Washington Post, and CMT, the LP has somehow flown under the radar. I find each slice-of-Americana song on Nobody Knows You inexhaustible; I can’t get enough of Hellbound Glory’s autobiographical, low-key storytelling. — Jeff Burlingame, editor-in-chief of 425 Business and South Sound Business 

5SOS5 by 5 Seconds of Summer

5 Seconds of Summer started out as a pop-punk teen band. As the years have gone by, though, this Australian quartet has developed a more mature sound. With its introspective love songs and melancholy melodies, the group’s fifth studio album, 5SOS5, is a testament to its evolution as musicians and lyricists. High points include the self-destruction anthem “Me, Myself, & I” and the affecting, somber duet “Older,” on which member Luke Hemmings is joined by his singer-songwriter fiancée Sierra Deaton. — Kimberly Quiocho, intern 

The Light for Attracting Attention by The Smile 

The debut album from this Radiohead offshoot was pieced together during early quarantine. Its phantasmic, on-edge songs — many of which surprise-premiered at the 2021 Glastonbury Festival — feel like musical manifestations of the multifaceted anxieties of modern life, which frontman Thom Yorke makes explicit in his characteristically unsettled, spectrally sung lyrics. — BP

Humble Quest by Maren Morris 

Country star Morris’ latest is her best yet. Though colored by darkness — it was made as she was finding her way out of the haze of postpartum depression and after tragically losing longtime ​​collaborator Michael Busbee to cancer — Humble Quest largely, perhaps therapeutically, revels in life’s joys, appreciating the too-good-to-be-trueness of her marriage (“The Furthest Thing,” “I Can’t Love You Anymore”), new motherhood (“Hummingbird”), and the long-but-worth-it journey toward success (“Circles Around This Town,” “Humble Quest”). — BP 

A Very Backstreet Christmas by the Backstreet Boys

I like to think of myself as a closet Backstreet Boys fan, though if you asked my high-school friends they’d probably tell you the boy band has always been a not-so-secret guilty pleasure for me. It’s been a long-standing personal disappointment that rival boy band ‘NSYNC has a Christmas album when BSB doesn’t, so I was excited when the guys at last dropped a holiday album in October. Those expecting the up-tempo bubblegum pop of “I Want It That Way” may be disappointed, though: this is a mature work that leans into smooth, barbershop-style harmonies. — JK

Not Tight by Domi & JD Beck

After years spent leaving audiences aghast with astonishing live performances with no album behind them, jazz prodigies Domi & JD Beck — respectively just 22 and 19 years old — finally committed their freakish gifts to wax earlier this year with Not Tight. Featuring nothing-to-sniff-at guest stars like Thundercat, Anderson .Paak, and Mac Demarco, this dynamic mix makes the case for this duo as worthy descendants to the likes of Weather Report and Herbie Hancock (who makes a mid-album appearance) while forging new ground that feels distinctly Gen Z. — BP

Kingdom Book One by Kirk Franklin and Maverick City Music

If you’re partial to gospel and/or contemporary worship music, chances are good you’ll appreciate Maverick City Music and Kirk Franklin’s collaborative live album Kingdom Book One. Recorded in a Florida prison yard, the album looks to bring awareness to the systemic injustice of mass incarceration as it innovatively melds a traditional gospel sound with flourishes of modern R&B and funk. — SQ

Chloë and the Next 20th Century by Father John Misty

Fans of Josh Tillman, who performs under the moniker Father John Misty, were largely lukewarm on his surprising pivot into old Hollywood-style torch-singer mode. But I find Tillman’s voice particularly lovely when packaged inside this album’s cinematic vignettes. — BP 

Renaissance by Beyoncé

Conceived in part as a tribute to her late Uncle Johnny, Beyoncé’s first solo album in six years is also her most sonically cohesive, electrically paying homage to the club sounds of the 1970s through the present with the seamlessness of a painstakingly curated DJ set. A much-speculated-on tour is being much-anticipated by me. — BP 

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