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By KZSC Rock Director

At the end of 2022 KZSC’s Music Department and various DJs collaborated to make a year-end list of our favorite albums. Here are some of our favorite releases of 2022 in alphabetical order <33

The 1975 – Being Funny in a Foreign Language

BFIAFL is all the things you love about the 1975 with a fresher, positive, and more mature take. When put together with their previous 4 albums, you really feel like you are coming of age with the band members themselves. Instant classic. -DJ Cherry

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Bringing together drum and bass, and atmospheric jungle, ALFAXYSM creates a unique sound and incredible art direction. With drum breaks, synths, and hints of PlayStation sound effects, CRYSTALLOMANIA (Ver. 1​.​0) feels like plugging into a clear, crisp world full of energy. -Dynamyc (Digital Librarian)

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Alvvays – Blue Rev

As the resident Alvvays fanatic and historian, this was my most highly anticipated album of the year. Blue Rev is the Canadian band’s most varied and exploratory record to date, embracing fuzz, synthesizers, and lo-fi recordings (see “Pomeranian Spinster”). The constant juxtaposition of low and high fidelity recordings might have resulted in their least sonically consistent album, but this is made up for in spades with expert songwriting and vocals. Listening to this album front to back feels like a 39 minute rollercoaster. Fast and slow, loud and quiet, bitter and sweet, Alvvays deliver an excellent record that might give you whiplash. -DJ Double-A (Music Director)


Beach House – Once Twice Melody

Each song feels like it’s own experience, but pieced together through the dreamy vocals and synths of Beach House. Wonderful. Spectacular. -DJ Slug Smooch (Loud Rock Director)

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This album is unlike any other this year. It draws from genres such as house, R&B, rap, techno, pop, disco, dancehall, funk, and even hyperpop, among others. From start to finish it’s filled with feel-good, highly danceable tracks, which often include extreme uses of bass, percussion, and synths. Beyoncé utilizes all of this energy to pay homage to the clubs and music created by Black women as well as queer and trans people. RENAISSANCE is truly a celebration of the Black queer roots of dance music, and incorporates references of the past and present to do so through its production, samples, and features. This album is exceptionally cohesive and feels like a dance floor – nothing like it has come out in 2022. -girl interrupted (RPM Director)

Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

Oh, man. What is there to say about this thing? It’s fuzzy and piled-on (see the endorphin-rush noise of “Little Things”), but often rings with startling clarity (see lead singer Adrianne Lenker’s trancelike solo performance in “The Only Place”); it’s tender and delicate (see “Dried Roses,” an acoustic ballad as fragile as its namesake), but also loud and chaotic (see “Time Escaping,” an off-kilter banger that doesn’t sound quite like anything else on Earth); it’s a piece of shattering vulnerability (“Certainty,” “Promise is a Pendulum”), but also infectious joy (“Spud Infinity,” “Red Moon”). Created in collaboration with four different producers, Dragon New Warm Mountain is an atlas of everything Big Thief is currently capable of — rooted in their strange, thrilling, heart-meltingly beautiful sound, which whispers as often as it roars. -Kalamity Kyle

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Nora Brown – Long Time To Be Gone

Nora Brown is THE artist to watch in the world of Americana. Rooted in traditional Appalachian traditions, with mentors like John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers, 16 year old Nora Brown from Brooklyn is a force to be reckoned with. Brown takes traditional banjo folk tunes and gives them a new life with a haunting effect and and her soulful raw voice. She expertly fingerpicks classics like Shortnin’ Bread and Coal Creek March in this 15 track album of just Nora, no features, no embellishments, just pure passion and love for traditional music and the places I know she will take it. -DJ Slizzy (Folk/Country Director)


Coco & Clair Clair – Sexy

Coco & Clair Clair are back with their dreamy genre bending sound, and this time in full album form. Combining elements of bedroom pop, cloud rap and more in a way that only they can pull off, the duo relishes in their airy and openly vain lyricism, which results in effortlessly catchy melodies that you’ll find yourself singing softly throughout the day without really remembering where they came from. Songs like “Bad Lil Vibe” and “TBTF” embody all that makes Coco & Clair Clair one of the most fun projects out there right now. -DJ Fodderstompf


Curren$y & The Alchemist – Continuance

Earlier this year, Curren$y and The Alchemist released their third collaborative album, Continuance. Since their previous album’s release in 2016, the rapper-producer collaborative duo have independently matured in their respective crafts, which is made apparent in songs such as “Reece’s Cup” and “Signature Move”. In a time period where hip-hop is smothered with excessive layers of production and lack luster raps, Continuance strips hip-hop to its bare flesh and bones and offers its listeners entertaining storytelling and lyrics over masterful instrumentals. For those who are unfamiliar with Curren$y or The Alchemist, this album will introduce you to music you never knew you needed. I strongly recommend listening to the album front to back, but if you need to listen to hear a song or two before you dive into this project, I would listen to Reece’s Cup, The Final Board, or Endurance Runners. -DJ Lucky


Karen Dalton – Shuckin’ Sugar

While Shuckin’ Sugar is not a new album in the sense that it was composed and recorded in 2022, this album, a compilation of previously unreleased Karen Dalton – many with Richard Tucker – live recordings from 1963/1964 is undoubtedly one of my top releases from the year. Many of the tracks on Shuckin’ Sugar are new to her discography, while some like “Katie Cruel” and “Ribbon Bow” are new versions of classic Karen tracks. This album has more of an old-timey sound than some of her other releases, and feels particularly raw. Her voice is a shooting star, proclaiming “I’m the queen of everything” on one of my favorite tracks off the album “If You’re a Viper”, a jazz tune she masterfully reworked into a folk standard. And she is! Karen’s sweet songs of getting high, immigration, religion, and everything in between are enough to bring a tear to the toughest listener’s eye in the classic to be, Shuckin’ Sugar. -DJ Slizzy (Folk/Country Director)

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Sam Gendel & Antonia Cytrynowicz – LIVE A LITTLE

LIVE A LITTLE is a cloudy and effervescent collaboration between LA off-kilter jazz composer Sam Gendel and his partner’s younger sister. 11 year-old Antonia Cytrynowicz brings a unique youthful perspective to the world of obscure ambient jazz with simple contemplative lyricism and a voice that is unmistakably juvenile. Shiny chorus-drenched keys and vocals with the occasional appearance of Gendel’s fluttering saxophone evoke an overcast elementary school recess sitting alone on the swings. -DJ Double A (Music Director)

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Hatchie – Giving The World Away

In a glittering showcase of pop-shoegaze mastery, Hatchie’s sophomore album Giving The World Away is a wondrous and colorful joyride. This album is a caffeinated take on dream pop (emphasis on “pop”) with a Cocteau Twins level shimmer and hooks that swirl between your ears. Fav track: The Key 🔑  -DJ Double-A (Music Director)

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Marina Herlop – Pripyat

On her first album with the ever experimental PAN record label (Eartheater, Amnesia Scanner), Pripyat by Marina Herlop showcases perhaps the most innovative use of voice in 2022. Stretching her classically-trained voice to its absolute extremes by applying extensive manipulation to non-lyrical vocals, and accompanied by both acoustic and synthesized instrumentation, Pripyat sounds like the folk music of an alien civilization. Think “My Singing Monsters” meets 21st century avant-garde. DJ Formicidae 

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Horsegirl – Versions of Modern Performance

The first album from Chicago trio, Horsegirl, Versions of Modern Performance is a 12 song sequence of beautiful indie punk. The album ebbs and flows from fuzzy guitars accompanied with gorgeous, melodic vocals like in “Homage to Birdnoculars” and “Anti-glory” to more experimental symphonies of noise like in “Electrolocation 2” and “Bog Bog 1” While proudly announcing their influences in the song “World of Pots and Pans”, paying homage to The Pastels and The Jesus and Mary Chain, the album itself builds on these sounds and puts their own unique spin on it. Lovely album. -Polly Gone (Librarian)

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Iceblink – Carpet Cocoon

Flutes, synthesizers, saxophone & guitar melodies collide in this minimalist sound collage album. Oakland-based, Lynn Avery’s project, Iceblink, has been one of my favorite local music discoveries of the year and is now out as an LP! -DJ Drought


Julia Jacklin – PRE PLEASURE

I was on my way to go see Julia Jacklin perform live during my first listen on the day of the release, and it perfectly describes the inner-workings of what it feels like to drive through your hometown after being away from so long in your adult life. Lyrically stunning. -DJ Slug Smooch (Loud Rock Director)

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Jaron – it’s so hard to see color [When You’re So Impossibly Far Away*] 

Nineteen year old Jaron released his debut album it’s so hard to see color [When You’re So Impossibly Far Away*] in February of 2022. While both innocent and bold, Jaron’s unique style of bedroom electro-pop writes on the difficult and complicated emotions that come with growing up in the digital post-pandemic age, while also sharing the loneliness/longing of an important long-distance relationship. It’s cutesy, it’s loud, it’s young and innocent… but blinding. There are colors you can hear, colors you can feel, but colors too bright to see. -DJ isø

Jid The Forever Story

JID – The Forever Story

As far as rap albums go, The Forever Story covers all of its bases. It has incredible lead singles, fantastic heavy hitters, sweet ballads, potent storytelling, and best of all, smooth smooth flow from track to track. JID is unstoppable on this album and he really shows his true potential as an artist across the board. -DJ Heartbeat


Jockstrap – I Love You Jennifer B

This album was shown to me by fellow KZSC DJ, DJ Shove It and I was obsessed the minute I heard it. The range of this album is incredible with everything from the techno-dance masterpiece “50/50 – Extended Mix” to the gorgeous, more indie-rock leaning “Glasgow.” The concoction of Georgia Ellery’s vocals and Taylor Skye’s production has made for a beautiful album that exceeds the bounds of genre. -DJ Polly Gone (Librarian)

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“A STAR IN THE HOOD” is a beautiful and horrifying slurry of earthy noise, ambient synths, layered pitch-shifted vocal samples, and looped piano. Klein’s unusual fusion of serialist composition, r&b style vocal runs, noise, sound collage, and ambient music creates an enveloping swirl that I have not been able to pull myself out of. No one is doing it like Klein! -DJ Double-A (Music Director)

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Kokoroko – Could We Be More

Kokoroko’s Could We Be More pulls from West African and jazz influences to create a clear narrative throughout the album, calming its listeners, and telling them to just lay in the sun for a little while. Everything will be okay. -DJ Juuj (International Music Director)

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La Luz – The Instrumentals

An instrumental version of La Luz’s self titled album, this lets the listener appreciate all of the beautiful instrumentation behind the gorgeous vocals featured on the original release. Their producer, Adrian Young, guided La Luz to experiment with classic electronic instruments like the mellotron and the theremin which are highlighted in this version of the album and take La Luz into new sonic territory. While it is wonderful to be able to hear the instrumentals of songs that I loved off their self-titled album, this release certainly can stand on its own as a beautiful instrumental release. -DJ Polly Gone (Librarian)


Lady Wray – Piece of Me

Piece Of Me is potentially the best album of this year. From “Through It All” (shoutout to KZSC Alumnus Lux for the recommendation) to “Piece Of Me” to “Melody”, which Wray’s daughter sings on, the whole thing is beautiful. I discovered her music through a compilation album of different artists on the same label, and was immediately blown away. I’m super sad I learned about this album after her tour for it ended, but hope to see her perform sometime soon. Fun fact: she was born in Salinas! -DJ Shove It


Steve Lacy – Gemini Rights

Steve Lacy’s Gemini Rights is 10 tracks worth of summery, synth-y, funky songs that encapsulate the sunny months that are associated with the Gemini birth period that guitarist and producer extraordinaire Lacy falls under. Despite the viral success of certain undeniably catchy tracks such as “Bad Habit”, Gemini Rights offers listeners some other looks into Lacy’s vibrant sound such as the bossa-nova influenced “Mercury” and possibly his poppiest track yet “Sunshine (feat. Fousheé)”, a beautiful and airy tune that highlights Fousheé’s ethereal vocals against the danceable, groovy backdrop of Lacy’s guitar. Gemini Rights shows off Lacy’s knack for combining his different musical influences such as R&B, indie rock and soul while also serving as a launching point for crafting his own auditory world. -DJ sk8

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Philou Louzolo – African Gold

DJ and producer Philou Louzolo has been working his way through the international dance and house scene for ages now, releasing 10 EPs that finally led to his debut album this year, “African Gold”. The album features 18 different African artists, showcasing a wide range of hard hitting sounds and themes throughout. If you’re looking for an eclectic mix of house, electronica and general dance music, check out “African Gold”. DJ Fodderstompf

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Leyla McCalla – Breaking the Thermometer

Breaking the Thermometer by Leyla McCalla is an ambitious and rewarding project that intersects music, politics, journalism, and personal history. A vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, McCalla was born in New York City to Haitian emigrant activist parents and later lived in Ghana for two years. She’s now settled in New Orleans. For this album, the focus is on Radio Haiti and the journalists who risked and lost their lives working for democracy and justice for four decades beginning in the 1960s. McCalla writes in the liner notes: “Haiti was the first independent Black nation in the western hemisphere. Its very existence was and remains a threat to colonial power. At the same time, it symbolizes a lot about injustice and oppression around the world.” -John Malkin

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Makaya McCraven – In These Times

McCraven’s newest album follows his typical heavenly jazz / electronic / hip-hop fashion. Part of a new wave of jazz, he collaborates with many folks that he has brought on previous albums. There is a sort of ethereal flow to the album, adorned with sax solos, the dreamy harp, and a sort of rhythmic experience you would get hearing it live. -Dandelion (Jazz/Blues Director)

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Mdou Moctar – Niger EP Vol. 2

Niger EP Vol. 2 is smaller body of work from Mdou Moctar, but still does an amazing job of showcasing their skill as a group. Influenced by psychedelia and Tuareg folk guitar technique, this EP was recorded entirely in Niger, their home country. It takes tracks from early recording sessions and compiles them to create a mix that appeals to all. -DJ Juuj (International Music Director)


Meechy Darko – Gothic Luxury

The album Gothic Luxury, by Brooklyn rapper Meechy Darko, was spawned from the tour-less days of the pandemic, and signifies not a departure from Darko’s music group, the Flatbush Zombies, but a personal adventure into the mind, life and cinematic imagination of Demetri Simms, aka Meechy Darko. From the flamboyant and unapologetic lyrics he’s known for, on “LÄVI$H HABiTS”, “Never Forgettin”, and “Get Lit Or Die Tryin’”, to critiques of the government’s treatment of black Americans on “Kill Us All (K.U.A.)”, and more personal songs, including “On God and Lost Souls”, that touch on the loss of his father and other friends and loved ones — Gothic Luxury is a beautiful compilation of emotion and visual expressionism, not to mention repeated themes of villainy, dark imagery, and hellish symbology. This debut solo album from the gravelly voiced Brooklyn native includes notable features from artists like Denzel Curry, Busta Rhymes, Black Thought, and Freddie Gibbs, and ends with the most beautiful song of the album, the slow and beautiful “BLK Magîc”, an absolute masterpiece of a song. -DJ Waterbear

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Bruce Molsky – Everywhere You Go

Eleven finger style guitar tracks. New arrangements of songs and tunes from worldwide traditions, including African, Scandinavian, Malagasy, Scottish, Irish, American. -DJ Wrangle


Naked Flames – Miracle in Transit

With waves of drum beats and synths, Naked Flames takes the listener on a journey through a new sound of electronic and house. Still bringing those lo-fi and lo-bit aspects from the Previous album 247 365, Miracle in Transit offers a finer sound while keeping a jumpy and high energy throughout the album. A consistent sound and style has nearly all songs blending comfortably with one another. -Dynamyc (Digital Librarian)

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Ojerime – Bad Influence

Ojerime’s fifth album is a perfect addition to her smooth, 90’s-esque R&B sound. Featuring nine tracks that seamlessly weave together, she tells a story with with strong lyrics and a variety of different instrumentals and beats. She gets somewhat experimental, which is typical for her music, while keeping her voice in the traditional R&B style. Released later on in the year, this was definitely my favorite album of 2022. It has a timeless sound, and is something to turn to for pretty much any occasion. -Dandelion (Jazz/Blues Director)


RLGN – Drunken Master

RLGN (alongside fellow techno producers Any Act and Locked Club) put out a truly hypnotic techno album for the ages with this one. Balancing overblown acid bangers like “Wounded Cowboy” with almost comical sample heavy techno tracks like “Papa Carlo”, RLGN creates a soundscape in only 10 tracks that leaves the listener begging for more hard hitting tracks. RLGN is apart of the UK record label “Don’t Recordings”. -DJ Fodderstompf

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The Smile – A Light for Attracting Attention

Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood make music without the pressure of releasing under Radiohead. It’s fun and lighthearted, with Thom’s off-kilter beats and Jonny’s winding, layered riffs merging to create an energetic record at just under an hour. -Henry Merry


Smino – Luv 4 Rent

Smino’s Luv 4 Rent is a fun lighthearted rap album for those who enjoy music just as much if not a little more than the lyrics. I would describe it as groovy and joyful, with blues and 90’s hiphop influences. Smino artfully incorporates features and samples from Fatman Scoop, J. Cole, Doechii, and Ravyn Lenae, and Lil Uzi. Every feature is a welcomed addition and diversifies the album with their unique flows and techniques. Luv 4 Rent is my top album of 2022 because it always pumps me up. -Aanya

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Sorry – Anywhere But Here

On the follow-up to their 2020 album 925, UK band Sorry present an energetic, dark, theatrical, and thorny indie-rock record with a post-punk lilt. The vocal and lyrical delivery are equally sweet and wry. “Anywhere But Here” runs sonically dryer and crunchier than the more atmospheric recordings of 925. Though the dreariness of their previous output is revisited on several tracks, songs like “Let The Light On” and “There’s So Many People That Want To Be Loved” introduce a new brightness and electricity to their sound. I cannot get “Key To The City” out of my head!!! Easily my song of the year. -DJ Double-A (Music Director)

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TSVI & Loraine James – 053

A rare yet incredible fusion of harsh breakbeat and ambient sound collage, 053 showcases the distinct styles of both TSVI and Loraine James at their best. Coming in at just under 19 minutes in length, 053 packs in a dynamic listen of simultaneous chaos and calm. Under glitchy hi-hats lay soothing piano; and over deconstructed drums float celestial choral passages. As if one were to stumble upon a rave being held at medieval church, 053 explores unexpected sonic symbiosis, in effect creating something truly beautiful. -DJ Formicidae

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Tomu DJ – Half Moon Bay

I was first introduced to Tomu DJ when my partner showed me the track “Dula Peep” on her previous album “FEMINISTA.” I felt an instant connection with her for naming a track after a Wendy Williams television faux pas. Half Moon Bay draws from house, ambient, and IDM to create a dance record that is tender, sentimental, and at times a little scary. Soft round synths are set against sharp clear breakbeats as the Bay Area producer conjures an engaging yet meditative auditory depiction of the California coast. -DJ Double-A (Music Director)


Viagra Boys – Cave World

Chunky, unhinged, and infectious. This album is filled with certified bops built using their unique bass-heavy punk style. It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you dance. It’ll make you question the sanity of the human species. -ZAQ

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Weyes Blood – And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

I <3 Weyes Blood. The ethereal imagery of this album paired with the melodic, tender vocals made it one of my favorites this year. It’s hard to follow her 2019 album Titanic Rising, but this album served as an honest, heartfelt, and beautiful example of her musical progression. My personal favorite song off the album is Twin Flame! -DJ Shove It