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Music I loved in 2022
A year-end recap of the music I listened to.
I made a concerted effort last year to discover new music. Although I am a creature of habit and routine, I try to push myself to keep exploring, trying new things, and expanding my comfort zone. I don't want to prematurely limit the set of music that I enjoy, for example.
In Algorithms to Live By, Brian Christian and Thomas L. Griffiths argue that the artificial intelligence concept of an exploration-exploitation tradeoff is a useful framework for thinking about decisions we make out of habit. For example, Los Angeles has more good restaurants than I could try in a lifetime. But when I go out to breakfast, chances are that I'm going to one of my four favorite breakfast spots. I’ll be happy with my meal, but if these remain more or less the only four breakfast places I go to in Los Angeles, I'll likely miss out on places that I would like even more, and I'll lose the pleasure of variety.
So, back to music. Taking my cue from President Obama, who puts out an annual list of music he has been listening to, here are the best finds from my year of listening:
Sources of music discovery
Music I liked that was released in 2022
(Ordered alphabetically, with favorites asterisked. Genre labels courtesy of the RateYourMusic.com community):
*Alvvays, Blue Rev [indie pop / shoegaze]
*Dry Cleaning, Stumpwork [post-punk, indie rock] — notably "Kwenchy Kups" and "Gary Ashby"
Alex G, God Save the Animals [indie rock] — notably "Runner"
Arcade Fire, We [art rock / indie rock]
Bartees Strange, Farm to Table [indie rock] — notably "Wretched"
*Bear's Den, Blue Hours [indie rock]
Big Thief, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You [indie folk]
Billy Eilish, Guitar Songs [singer-songwriter, contemporary folk]
Black Country, New Road, Ants From Up There [art rock, post-rock]
Carly Rae Jepsen, The Loneliest Time [dance-pop]
CASTLEBEAT, Half Life [dream pop / hypnagogic pop] — notably "Looking for Something" and "Research"
Florence and the Machine, Dance Fever (Live at Madison Square Garden) [indie rock] — notably "King"
How to Be Dead, Inersophobia: The Fear That Everything Will Stay Exactly the Same [Midwest emo / indietronica] — notably "100 Things to Say Before You Die"
Kurt Vile, Watch My Moves [folk rock]
Metric, Formentera [alternative dance / indie pop]
Of Monsters and Men, Tíu [indie rock / indie pop] — notably "Visitor"
Pinegrove, 11:11 [indie rock / alt-country]
Regina Spektor, Becoming All Alone [chamber pop]
Shannen Moser, The Sun Still Seems to Move [contemporary folk]
Soccer Mommy, Sometimes, Forever [indie rock] — notably "Still"
Men I Trust, "Billy Toppy" [post-punk]
*The National feat. Bon Iver, "Weird Goodbyes" [indie rock]
Other artists discovered
Anais Mitchell [folk pop / Americana] — notably the original cast recording of Hadestown
Another Michael [indie pop] — notably "New Music"
Billy Strings [progressive bluegrass]
Bonny Light Horseman [Americana / contemporary folk]
Brambles [ambient / modern classical] — notably Charcoal
Broken Social Scene [indie rock / indie pop] — notably "1972" and “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl”
Car Seat Headrest [slacker rock / indie rock] — notably "Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales" and "Sober to Death" from Twin Fantasy
Clem Leek [ambient / modern classical] — notably Rest
Emperor X [singer-songwriter / slacker rock] — notably "Erica Western Transport"
Frightened Rabbit [indie rock / indie pop]
Katie Pruitt [singer-songwriter / contemporary country] — notably "Expectations"
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard [psychedelic rock] — notably "Magenta Mountain"
Phoebe Bridgers [singer-songwriter / indie pop] — notably "Killer + The Sound"
Sam Fender [heartland rock / indie rock]
Silver Jews [indie rock / slacker rock] — notably "Random Rules" and "How to Rent a Room"
Silversun Pickups [indie rock / alternative rock] — notably "Panic Switch"
Snail Mail [indie rock / indietronica] — notably "Headlock" and "Madonna"
Talking Heads [new wave / post-punk] — notably "Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)"
Taylor Swift [pop rock] — notably "exile (feat. Bon Iver)"
The Beths [indie rock / power pop] — notably "Expert in a Dying Field"
The Mountain Goats [indie folk / singer-songwriter] — notably "This Year"
The Smiths [jangle pop / indie pop] — notably "There is a Light That Never Goes Out"
Throwing Muses [indie rock / alternative rock] — notably The Real Ramona
*Wheat [indie rock / slowcore] — notably "Don't I Hold You" and Hope and Adams as a whole
Widowspeak [dream pop / indie rock] — notably "Plum"
Young Jesus [indie rock / art pop] — notably “Pattern Doubt”
Old favorites rediscovered
Adrianne Lenker [singer-songwriter] — notably "anything"
Fleetwood Mac [pop rock] — notably Rumours, "Landslide", and The Dance
Jimmy Eat World [alternative rock, emo-pop] — notably Clarity and Integrity Blues
Neko Case [alt-country, singer-songwriter] — notably "Hold On, Hold On"
Pink Floyd [progressive rock] — notably "Comfortably Numb," which used to be my pre-race pump-up song before cross-country and track races.
Third Eye Blind [alternative rock], A Collection — notably "Blinded (When I See You)" and "Motorcycle Drive By"
Other frequent listens
Ben Howard [singer-songwriter / indie folk], Collections from the Whiteout
Bon Iver [art pop / indie folk], notably Bon Iver, Bon Iver but really everything
David Ramirez [singer-songwriter / Americana], We're Not Going Anywhere
Future Islands, As Long As You Are [synthpop / indietronica] — notably "I Knew You" and "Hit the Coast"
Message to Bears [ambient / post-rock], Folding Leaves
My Morning Jacket [indie rock], "One Big Holiday"
Son Volt [alt-country], "Windfall"
Strand of Oaks [indie rock / indie folk], "Weird Ways"
The Killers, Pressure Machine [heartland rock / alt-country] — notably "Quiet Town" and "Pressure Machine"
The New Pornographers [power pop / indie pop], "The Bleeding Heart Show"
The War on Drugs [heartland rock / indie rock], I Don't Live Here Anymore (notably "Occasional Rain" and "Change") and Live Drugs (notably "Pain," "Under the Pressure," and "Eyes to the Wind"), but really all their work since 2017's Lost in the Dream
Vallis Alps [ambient pop / indietronica], "Fading" and "Serity"
Watchhouse (f.k.a. Mandolin Orange) [Americana], Some Jubilee, "Next to Nothing," "New Star"
Ryan McCarl is a founding partner of Rushing McCarl LLP and the author of Elegant Legal Writing (forthcoming, U. Cal. Press 2024). He is also an adjunct legal writing professor at LMU Loyola School of Law and former research fellow in AI Law and Policy at the UCLA School of Law. Second Stage is his personal blog.
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