2022 was a pretty memorable year all things considered but still seemed to flash by in the blink of an eye. Maybe that’s down to our own advancing years. Despite all that, we will never tire of saying that yet again our home-grown talent knocked it out of the park. From old favourites returning to the fold to young artists exploding out of the gates, it was another busy year.
We already whittled down thousands of tracks into a shortlist of 50 (Singles: 50 -26 and Singles 25 – 1) so we thought it was only appropriate to do take a stab at full length releases this year too. For the first time we are including EPs as well as albums in this list. If you missed part one which features releases 25 through to 11 you can revisit it here.
But without further ado, let us unveil our ten favourite albums and EPs from 2022.
Words by Aaron Cunningham, Ben Magee & Robert Brown
10 ► Junk Drawer – The Dust Has Come To Stay
Combining a myriad of alternative influences into a cohesive project has seen Junk Drawer come into their creative own on this release. Equal parts cynical, bitter, funny and personal, with previously rough edges fully smoothed out in the song writing. A top quality release. BM
9 ► Joshua Burnside – Late Afternoon in the Meadow (1887)
Ahead of selling out the Waterfront Hall, Burnside returned with a new EP. The subject matter is often bleak, touching on lives without opportunity or relationships in crisis but Joshua always delivers it in an intimate and forgiving manner. Delve into the darkness and there is plenty of beauty to admire. RB
8 ► Ciaran Lavery – Another Night at the Self Indulgence Hotel
Abandoning the guitar in favour of the piano, Lavery’s latest feels familiar in spirit but fresh in direction. Channelling Sufjan Stevens on standout tracks like ‘Communion’, Lavery continues an avenue of creative exploration that’s producing some of the best records of his career. BM
7 ► Niall McDowell – It Was An Honour To Be Nominated
Undoubtedly the crooning artist’s best work to date, further carving into McDowell’s own niche. The songwriting across these five tracks is exceptional, there’s an intimacy that cuts close to home from the opening fingerpicking of ‘Brokeback’ to the building intensity of the musings on grief on the title track. AC
6 ► Thom Southern – Plaza
Thom rarely fails to deliver and his debut solo record is case in point. On Plaza, Southern swerves into shoegaze territory and the results are tremendous. Between the fuzzy guitars and sugary sweet vocals, the record is laced with a joyous nostalgia that kept us coming back for more. RB
5 ► ROE – That’s When The Panic Sets In
A long anticipated full length, delivered in two parts, that bears the marks of the journey ROE took in its creation. The final result is an album of new songs with emotions and self reflection worn on the sleeve. There’s colour and tempo in the upbeat moments, melancholy in its slower piano led moments and genuine heart throughout. AC
4 ► SOAK – If I Never Know You Like This Again
The 3rd album from Bridie Monds-Watson aka SOAK marked an intriguing change of direction. Recording as a full band led to a new riff focused, mid-90s inspired sound that takes a few cues from Broken Social Scene and Pavement. Nostalgic, self aware and poignant; a remarkable record from an artist who contains to surprise & impress us. RB
3 ► Hannah Peel & Paraorchestra – The Unfolding
Peel has never been shy of lofty aspirations, and her latest release is no different. Reaching for the heavens with unorthodox mixtures of neo-classical and electro-acoustic arrangements, Peel has the full strength of the Orchestra at her disposal and wields it wisely. BM
2 ► Clara Tracey – Black Forest
There’s magic gladly strewn throughout this debut album, with sensuality, humour, emotion and theatre all finding their place. References to Jane Birkin, Irish stained glass artists and more build up this colourful world, all illuminated by Tracey’s vibrant musicality that romps and dallies in varied directions. AC
1 ► Robocobra Quartet – Living Isn’t Easy
Their most accomplished album yet, Robocobra Quartet missed no stops when completing their latest. Beyond picking up the award for best album at the NI Music Prize last year, the post-punk, jazz-rock, alternative-whatever group have been lauded for the destructive creativity captured in their newest EP. Cynical, witty, battering music takes you by the wrist and does not let you go. BM