2022 felt a whole lot like a thing that I had to overcome to get to something better (hopefully 2023?). It wasn’t as confusing as 2020 or as eternally long and disappointing at 2021. And good things happened… I went to Riot Fest again with Mat (and Curtis and Alex) where we were thrust into crowds (horrifying), drank a ton of NA Riot Pop (satisfying), and got to do tons of Bad Libs (always amazing and hilarious). I also came to the very important realization that I don’t hate music after all, I just need to be careful of who I spend time with. After over a year of doing the enough. podcast (Happy 1 year birthday to us, btw!), I’m carrying a lot of PTSD from the things that happened to me over the years along with all the horror stories of the guests we’ve had on. So I spent a lot of time strengthening my support groups this year so I can feel comfortable moving forward.
I listened to a lot of The Bronx in the car on long drives across the Midwest. I took a lot of photos, almost none of them of bands and almost all of them of molding, abandoned buildings. I met new people. I removed others from my circle. I let a very skilled therapist (who loves Beach Bunny, Kesha, and crappy reality dating shows) poke around in my brain and clear up some dark shit that has been following me for 15 years.
2022 was a year, a year where I didn’t have the thirsty af drive to devour any and all music that came across my desk like I did before. But it was a year where I did listen to music. And while I was putting this list together, I couldn’t help but notice how few straight white men made the cut this year. And if my EOTY list can be 80% non-cis boredom, so can your music festivals. Let’s all aim to be a little more inclusive in 2023. Here we go:
10.) Beach Bunny – Emotional Creature – Mom + Pop Records
I’ve typed it hundreds of times before and I will do it again now – I have loved Beach Bunny from the moment I saw them in a shitty bar’s back room venue to their sold out headlining show at Metro, my last show before the pandemic hit. And I will never not love the band. I was so excited for this new album to drop, especially after Honeymoon was filled with delicate, well-crafted, catchy love songs. Emotional Creature scratched the new music itch for sure, but it just didn’t hit as hard as some of the predecessors from the BB discography. But if you’re on the list, you’re doing something right.
9.) Ricky – Pure Fun – Wiretap Records
When Bad Copy was asked to premiere a new one from Ricky, I said yes instantly. I’ve known Ricky personally for years and always loved whatever he released. When his debut full-length came out, I gave it a listen… but I didn’t feel like I ‘got’ it at first. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time. Maybe (probably) I was just in a weird headspace. But I put it on the side and returned later in the year. And that’s when it hit. HARD. This album is Ricky growing up and stretching his legs in new musical directions. It’s so, so good. And if you don’t think so at first, you’re wrong. Give it another spin and try again.
No album specified, because they didn’t put out an album this year. I just really, really love this band and spent a ton of time blasting them in my car on long drives. They make me feel like I still have some attachment to the Punk scene. They’re on my Must See bucket list for whenever I don’t have to wear 9 masks to shows and be in fear that my sad little immune system is going to fail me.
After their amazing performance at Riot Fest (which also served as my first time seeing them live), I had to do a deep dive into The Linda Linda’s music. This album is great in so many ways. Of course I need to mentioned how talented they all are at such young ages. But this album is so much more. It’s the musical equivalent of watching yourself grow up in real time. While the songs are written by women half my age, there’s nothing in this album I don’t relate to. It’s timeless!
Pinkshift can do no wrong! I actually found out about them while I was editing someone else’s End of the Year post a few years back and have never stopped listening to “I’m Gonna Tell My Therapist On You” since. I was elated when I heard that they would be releasing a full-length and since its release in late October, every single song has been stuck in my head. If you haven’t heard them, now’s the time to dive in, because it won’t be long before they are on headlining nationwide tours.
5.) Timecop1983 – Multiverse – Timecop1983 Music
When the world shut down in 2020, I traded my late night full-time post-work non-paying gig of photographing every Punk band in Chicago for a full-time pre-work still-non-paying obsession of photographing abandoned structures all over the Midwest and East Coast (and a little South too). Because of this, I have been spending countless in my car at 4AM rocketing my Honda through the black vastness surrounding any old highway or county road on the way to my destination. Timecop1983 is exactly what it sounds like. Multiverse is five tracks that make you feel like you’re in a long driving scene in an 80s movie. It’s a vibe which defined my whole year.
Look, if you don’t worship Bev Rage and her Drinks by now, get your shit together. This four piece from Chicago has been gaining popularity with their fun, fast songs and amazing live shows for years now and it seems that the rest of the world is starting to finally catch up. Exes an Hexes is one of those albums that you can listen to cover to cover. It really expands on the band’s sound from the previous efforts, mostly because the lineup is new and more solidified than ever before. I was 100% on board with the marketing for the album too – from the art by Chicago’s Mikaela Jane to the promo pics of the band surrounded by a Ouija board and crystal balls. My prediction? Bev Rage and the Drinks will be playing Fest in 2023.
From the moment I heard the first single off the album, a track called “Baseless,” I was hooked. And then “Birthed By Sleep” was released and I don’t think I listened to anything else for a month. They were the sole reason I wanted to go to Fest this year. This is the sophomore release from the Philadelphia-based band and cycles between faster, more hard-hitting tracks like the two I mentioned, and slower, soulful rockers. It’s a great dynamic and a great release.
2.) Lizzo – Special – Atlantic Records
If Lizzo puts out an album and it’s not on your AOTY list, you’re just not my people. It’s an amazing time for female empowerment in mainstream music and Lizzo is that and so much more. Black empowerment, body empowerment, sexuality acceptance, mental health struggles, learning to love yourself in a world that is going to judge you; it’s all there. And it was so very nice of Lizzo to write the best friend national anthem, “Grrrls,” for me because I would have never been able to properly sum up what a night out with my soulmate Corinne is like until I heard that song.
Did this album actually come out in 2021? Yes. Did a deluxe edition come out in 2022? Yes. Did I only find out about the band in 2022? Yes. That’s my loophole of throwing this absolute banger of hits on here a year late. It’s been awhile since a band has hit me as hard as Citizen has on this release. As I’m getting older (and as I go to bed earlier and don’t stay up, out, and awake for 6 band bills anymore), I’m finding it harder to learn about new music. Don’t age, kids. But, because of that, when I find a band that just hits, it means so much more. I’m sorry to anyone who has heard me play the first two tracks of this song on repeat for 20+ minutes. I can’t stop. I won’t stop.
0.) I will never admit how much of Machine Gun Kelly’s Mainstream Sellout I listened to this year. What started as part joke, part morbid curiosity lead me down a very auto-tuned, very watered down Pop Punk path this year. But since I’ve given up drinking and drugs, I’ll chalk it up to finding a newer, somewhat healthier (?) vice.