Bob Nanna’s (Braid, Hey Mercedes) top 10 albums of 2022

We’ve been asking artists what their favorite albums of 2022 were, and here’s a list from Bob Nanna of Braid, Hey Mercedes, The City On Film, Lifted Bells, and more.

Since 2011, I’ve been hellbent on keeping up with as much new music as I possibly can. It began with a personal pledge to my newborn nephew – to keep him up to date with the cool new hits of HIS time, as opposed to forcing Fugazi, Jawbreaker, Bob Dylan etc upon him. It developed into a weekly podcast that I do called Bob’s Top 5 where I share the best 5 new songs I’d heard that week. And it culminates in a big top 30 list that i force upon my social media followers whether they like it or not.

The podcast only focuses on songs but I’ve kept a mental note of the actual full albums that impressed me as well. Often times, it’s hard to pick one song to feature because the thing deserves and demands to be listened to as a whole. Here are my 10 favorite albums of 2022. Listen to them start to finish for maximum enjoyment.

10. Titus Andronicus – The Will to Live
I’m walking home from the gym. I started going there most days after my stint as a Stranger Things store manager ended. It’s almost 2 miles there and back but I have music to listen to and it’s a beautiful day in Chicago. Right around the oddly specific named Athletic Field Park is where this album made its impact on me. To be honest, it was already halfway through the album, at the song “Dead Meat.” The lyrics became more discernible and I started paying real attention. And then the songs got catchy. And the journey began.

Favorite track: “All Through The Night”

9. Chat Pile – God’s Country
I’m driving on the Kennedy. I’ve already listened to a few songs. It’s not my usual thing but I’m appreciating the rawness of it, the slow pace, the patience. I’m thinking yeah I’ll probably mention this on the podcast. And then comes “Why” – a song that made me chuckle at first at its dry questions about people living outside. By the end I was so shaken and moved, I definitely said “holy shit” in my car to no one. My favorite song of that week and my 14th favorite song of the year.

Fave track: “Why”

8. Bill Callahan – Reality (backwards)
Bill Callahan is consistently writing some of my favorite songs. The albums Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle and Apocalypse are lousy with them. Every last one. Despite flowing nicely in succession on the album, to me, those were songs that could equally be enjoyed on their own or in the middle of a playlist. The latest records are the opposite. They seem like full narratives to me. That’s what this album was. Put it on and experience the whole thing. I couldn’t pick one song out to feature on its own for my year end countdown but my fave track came close.

Fave track: “Coyotes”

7. Tim Kasher – Middling Age
This is the first of three albums on this list by frontpersons of other bands. In the summer I’d walk laps around the nearby park and just take in all the new music of the week. I remember hearing this album and almost being afraid of where it was going to head. The lyrics are so confessional and real it’s hard not to let them draw you into them. Putting you into posh parties or getting scolded by life coaches.

Fave track: “What are We Doing”

6. Spoon – Lucifer on the Sofa
Spoon has this hypnotic way of making you walk in sync with the music. It happens every time. Sometimes it makes you forget about the content of the songs, to be honest, so you finish a song and immediately put it back on because you missed the whole thing while you were just coolly enjoying it. That’s how I felt about this entire album and that’s why I recommend listening to this as a whole. And walking to it.

Fave track: “Wild”

5. Soak – If I Never Know You Like This Again
I’m at the airport. I’ve had some wine. It’s so expensive there. I’m going to Dallas for another Stranger Things thing. And I’m listening to this album and I’m kind of losing it, right there at Chilis or whatever. Again, the confessional, heart on sleeve lyrics about love or lost love just hook me every time. Especially on songs like “Last July” which are just bangers. I texted like three people about it right then and there.

Fave track: “Last July”

4. Ludovico Einaudi – Underwater
I had been familiar with Einaudi’s film scores and his album Divenire so I was surprised when this latest album completely passed me by. It had been out for months before I knew of its existence. I guess I need to have my finger better planted on the classical pulse or something. This is a gorgeous album. I love his compositions because, and I know this is going to sound dumb but, they are catchy. There are hooks. It’s sad and beautiful but there’s always a recurring theme in there almost as if it were a pop song.

Fave track: “Luminous”

3. Anthony Green – Boom. Done.
Surprise! More lyrics that might make you a little uncomfortable or fear that the singer is saying too much. I particularly enjoy Anthony’s solo work when I can really hear the lyrics and the nuances timbre of his voice. This was such a joy to listen to – there’s heartbreak and pain but there are also big, rousing moments with Sunny Day or Shudder to Think level operatics. And horns.

Fave track: “Trading Doses”

2. Smidley – Here Comes the Devil
Wow, I am so impressed with this. I loved the last Smidley album too but this one is far and above. The clever production is key here – sometimes you’re unsure if the next song has started, or if he’s actually pulling off a vocal without effects. Dynamics for days. Whispers and yells and all the while, hooks and heavy lyrics.

Fave track: “I’m Breaking My Own Heart”

1. Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
Probably on a lot of top album lists for its sheer audacity. And the fact that for a 20 song album, there isn’t a dud on the sequence. It was difficult to have this on in the background, which is what I did at first, foolish me. It demands to be heard – to the point where I couldn’t even hold a conversation during it because I had to stop so often to say “woah did you hear that?” I don’t see how they can top this one. It’s a statement. I’m still working on my statement album. It’ll never be done.

Fave track: “Simulation Swarm”

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