At the conclusion of every year, Radio UTD asks themselves the same question: What albums win entirely arbitrary categories, for which there are no possible metrics to truly measure by? 2022 is no different; with categories and winners chosen and written for by members of Radio, we’ll make a case for each of our picks. With this year eventually seeing the full effect of post-pandemic live events following Omicron and monkeypox scares, the year in context of our past and future feels like a transitionary period; a stepping stone, though whether that stone leads up, down, forwards, backwards, or elsewhere is yet unknown. For better or worse, here’s the year’s music summed up in our album superlatives.
Worst Album to Study To
Hudson Mohawke — Cry Sugar
As we close out the year, the name Hudson Mohawke might strike fear into the hearts of a few of our chronically online readers. Through our FYPs and addictions to Reddit text-to-speech videos, Glasgow-born maximalist electronic producer Ross Birchard was thrust into our collective consciousness by the thrusts of a man whose story terrified and intrigued us all. This new wave of Mohawke fascination drew attention to his recently released full-length album Cry Sugar.
The project is a diverse collection of tracks that showcases Mohawke’s wide range of production talent. Danceable bangers like “Intentions,” a dense, crisp, and meticulously assembled song that hooks you with an infectious Imaani vocal chop, contrast nicely with more grandiose and cinematic tracks like “Stump” that sound as if the synths are washing over you. If you thought that was range, add a third axis to that scale for the more experimental cuts like “Bow,” a song that features vocals from Clarence Coffee Jr. and the wonkiest drums you’ve ever heard. This album is an experience that demands your full attention with the life that every track exudes. Even as I write up this blurb with the album playing in the background, I repeatedly get sucked back into listening to this wild project.
— Henry Jones
Best Album to Release Your Pent-Up Frustration at the World To
Will Wood — In Case I Make It
Emotional release through aggressive bursts can be effective, but sometimes it’s not enough. That, or you’re on the second floor of your complex and can’t violently rage without receiving noise complaints. Initially planned to be called In Case I Die, Will Wood’s In Case I Make It is one of the most dynamic albums I’ve listened to this year. This album doesn’t impart a traditional post-hardcore thrash session. Instead, its catharsis comes from soaking up the lyricism, erratic melodies, and Will’s voice. There’s at least one song in this collection that will resonate with you. There’s a song for a myriad of aesthetics or moods, including:
- Crying on the kitchen floor at 3AM
- Hopeful stargazing
- Vampire Tango
- Screaming into the void that is your own reflection
- Error 404 Breakdown, clowncore edition
- Intrusive thoughts and anxiety overload
- Defeated, worn and weary
- Rat army fantasy dreams
- Holding hope and confusion hand-in-hand
- A single instrumental titled: Big Fat Bitchie’s Blueberry Pie, Christmas Tree, and Recreational Jell-o Emporium a.k.a. “Mr. Boy is on the Roof Again” (Feat. Pasta by Sneakers McSqueakers) [From the Motion Picture ”B.F.B.’s B-Sides: Bagel Batches, Marshmallows, and Barsh-mallows]
Featuring stunning lyricism such as:
“Is there cheese in the great beyond? / Rinds of parmesan”
“Let all my red flags fade to white, yeah I give up”
“Sober, but still so much hangs over”
“I want to believe / That you’ll remember me / When you’re just memory”
Will Wood wanted to put his most authentic self out there with this album — raw, unhinged, and vulnerable — in case he died. A little doomer, but he was balancing psychiatric health issues, sobriety, and anxiety about becoming the newest member of the 27 club — not to mention it was the middle of a pandemic. Will gained a following from living as someone he survived being, and now is engaging through difficult, rigorous internal work to become who he wants to be. Fighting to escape your past-self is intense, uncomfortable, and eye-opening — a great concoction of feelings and memories to craft an album from, and one of the best to take-in and release your own pent-up emotions to.
— Amanda Maceda
Worst Album to Introduce to a Child During Their Formative Years
Destroy Lonely — NO STYLIST
Destroy Lonely is, without a doubt, an incredibly talented artist with impeccable taste in every sense. His discography has countless no-skip songs, produced by underground geniuses F1lthy and Clayco, to name a few. His unique style of dress, characterized by dark, baggy silhouettes from elite fashion houses such as Balenciaga and Rick Owens, is widely known and recognized to be a part of his image as an artist.
NO STYLIST was released on August 12th, 2022. This was a highly-anticipated album that was announced two years prior to its actual drop date. Similar to fellow Opium artist Playboi Carti, all releases from Destroy Lonely are rarely on time, nor are they given any promotion, or an official release date in advance. Most songs are leaked or deleted altogether, which delay finalization. Regardless of such issues, NO STYLIST became a critically-acclaimed mixtape, debuting at #91 on the billboard 200 during the chart week ending of August 27th, 2022. An incredible feat for an underground artist.
Indeed, NO STYLIST is beautifully produced and written, with its title track and opening lyrics reminding you that Destroy Lonely is great at dressing himself. In fact, a majority of this album discusses different brand names and fashion houses, living a life of immense luxury and suspense, and being a vamp. If you know, you know. Anyways, NO STYLIST is a no-skips mixtape for adults who have their own income. Any time I listen to a song off of this release, I am tempted to indulge in poor financial decisions, which include spending all of my paycheck on a piece from the current season of Rick Owens or Margiela. Similar to how younger children this year were making unauthorized purchases off of their parents’ credit cards for Fortnite skins and Vbucks, teenagers would be influenced by NO STYLIST to make their first SSENSE purchase using their parents’ credit cards. Not ideal when a recession is underway. At least the fit is fresh though.
— Katya Zakar
Best ‘F**k My Ex’ Album
Megan Thee Stallion — Traumazine
Megan Thee Stallion wanted to end our “hot girl summer” this year with a project that would give any listener a confidence boost. Traumazine is her most intimate album, not only going deeper into the artist’s daily struggles, but also how terrible men are and how amazing she is. Track three, “Not Nice,” Megan goes on to throw a middle finger to any man who wouldn’t recognize her worth: “I’m done with bein’ humble, cause I know that I’m that bitch.” “Her” will remind you that you are better than whatever gas-lighting, lame-ass, broke ex wasted your time. If you ever feel like caving in to missing your ex, Traumazine is the cure.
— Malu Yitages
Best Album to Drunk-Text Your Ex To
Nanpa Básico — HECHO M13RD4
I came across Nanpa Básico the summer of 2019, and I became bewitched enough for Spotify to name him my “Most Listened To” of the year. After the mania, his music was a constant in my liked tracks, but not my favorites. It was until this early September, that I fell infatuated once again, when HECHO M13RD4 was born for the world.
I remember vaguely clicking on the album’s intro song, expecting to walk home to an upbeat reggaeton-inspired rap, but I was stunned to hear Nanpa’s voice in a state of despair, lamenting the pieces in his life that displaced everything. From the beginning, HECHO M13RD4 showed a deep understanding of heartache’s turbulence, but gave much emphasis to the importance of picking up the pieces. HECHO M13RD4 is gratefully bitter of its origin; audacious in challenging pain in songs like “Me Da lo Mismo,” but indebted to the thorns that healed Nanpa in “Quiéreme Así.”
Because of the album’s ample ways to grieve a breakup, it is easy for any listener to connect to Nanpa’s contrasting feelings of inadequacy and sufficiency, especially if an empty red wine bottle sits next to you. Whether you are begging to be loved, or running away from a lover, Nanpa holds your hand in the blizzard of drunken emotions, as you whirl, typing “I miss you,” fifteen before 3AM.
— Zoé Marin
Worst Album to Play at a Wake
The Garden — Horseshit on Route 66
You’re at the wake of your seventh cousin, eight times removed. He was a squishmallow farmer, and everybody is too saddened by his loss to do anything about the music choice. You come to the rescue with The Garden’s Horseshit on Route 66. The album starts by getting everyone in the mood to mourn with spooky ghost noises and stories of haunted houses. Ol’ cousin may be dead, but he always had a sense of humor. Then the bangers commence! High-energy drumming and vocals plus catchy melodies ensure that all family members in attendance can mosh and scream their sadness away right in front of the dead body. The Shears twins have really done it again. Guaranteed to get you kicked out of the funeral home and uninvited from the next family reunion!
— Ethan Cabrera
Best 23rd Album
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard — Changes
It’s no secret that many bands can run past their prime, releasing album after album that misses the mark of what made them great all those years ago, but King Gizzard escapes this trope handedly with their 23rd album Changes. This is the last of the five official releases (so far) and was their third album of their “Gizztober” releases (the other two being Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava and Laminated Denim).
Changes has been in the works since 2017, the year that set their “five albums in one year” record, which can definitely be seen through some of the songs having a similar sound to the ones in “Gumboot Soup.” The last little quirk of this album is that the songs create the acrostic “Changes” with their titles: “Changes,” “Hate Dancin’,” “Astroturf,” “No Body,” “Gondii,” “Exploding Suns,” and “Short Change.” As King Gizzard continues to release albums, the list of essential albums can’t grow much more. Although Changes may not make that cut, it is still an excellent collection of psychedelia that any easy-listener should give a chance.
— John Lawler
Most Thematic Album
Metro Boomin — HEROES & VILLAINS
Another addition to Metro Boomin’s hot streak, HEROES & VILLAINS takes delight in contrasting dim shades of trap production. Whether through the usual suspects for a Metro record (21 Savage, Travis Scott) or new faces in the picture (Young Nudy, Don Toliver), the album allows for the rap features to take their choice: good guy or bad guy? It’s often clear which is which, as with Future’s verse on “Superhero” (“Drankin’ dope turned me to a superhero”), or 21 and Nudy’s sinister performances on “Umbrella” (“Wet ‘em, umbrella / Clutchin’ glizzies with the fellas / Money, violence go together”). As with any good superhero story, however, the line is often blurred, as with the ambiguous lyrics on “I Can’t Save You.”
Of course, the real star of the show is Metro Boomin, as per usual with his track record. His dark production choices on this album are captivating, perfectly playing into the theme of the record. In bringing together the vocal members of the record to contribute conceptual verses, Metro adds a sequel to NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES in his stellar collection of cohesive and thematic projects.
— Enrique Cardenas III
Biggest Red Flag Album
SZA — SOS
Returning after a five year hiatus, SZA doesn’t skip a beat, picking up right where she left off with SOS. Being her most intimate and vulnerable release to date, SOS offers an honest insight into SZA’s very complicated and troubled love life. While showcasing her signature sass throughout the record, SZA delivers many heartfelt emotional ballads that will undoubtedly serve as breakup anthems for years to come. With all that being said, if someone you’re interested in is basing their whole personality off of this album, run. Run far, far, away. SZA portrays herself to be a very unhealthy and toxic lover, so if someone is claiming to find that extremely relatable, run away and don’t look back. You might get the temptation to entertain them. You might be telling yourself, “Hey, they couldn’t possibly be that messed up.” You’re wrong. Think again. If someone is wholeheartedly screaming the lyrics “I fuck him ‘cause I really miss you,” they can indeed be that messed up. Wake up sheeple; SZA for R&B is what Future is for Hip-Hop. You don’t want to get involved with a Future stan, do you now? This holiday season, let’s all make a vow to stay far away from SZA stans and enjoy a very peaceful and stress-free break.
— Sai Vaddavalli
You’re Scaring the Hoes
Björk — Fossora
Sonic palettes ranging from subterranean to extra-terrestrial populate the latest studio album from the Icelandic queen of idiosyncrasy, Björk. The artist’s trademark poetic wailing floats over harsh electronic beats one moment, and hypnotic orchestral arrangements the next. The album’s chaotic instrumentation is grounded by its strong thematic composition; isolation and grief are major players here, inspired by the COVID-19 lockdowns and by the death of Björk’s mother in 2018. However, the album is just as much a celebration of human tenacity as it is lamentation, offering the hope and reassurance we all need in such uncertain times. Just… make sure to turn it off once the hoes show up.
— Caleb Jenkins