As another year comes to a close, the extended KHOL family of DJs, staff and board members have taken the time to reflect on and appreciate all the amazing music released in 2022.
From glam rock to neo R&B, banging tech house to sample-laden hip hop, heart-wrenching folk to psychedelic disco and everything in between, here’s a taste of the music that kept our synapses firing, our emotions high and our dancing shoes broken in.
Though our tastes are complex and varied, a few albums stood out as favorites among the KHOL crew: Big Thief’s modern-folk classic Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You, art-punk pioneers Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ comeback special Cool It Down, Beyonce’s house music-infused RENAISSANCE, Danger Mouse and Black Thought’s head nod-worthy Cheat Codes, Kevin Morby’s wistful and rousing This Is A Photograph, Panda Bear and Sonic Boom’s adventurous and ear worm-filled Reset and Fontaine D.C.’s flinty Skinty Fia, to name a few.
Take a spin through the playlist below to listen to 2022’s standout tracks, and read about individuals’ best-of picks further down. Here’s to a sonically epic 2022, and the prospect of even more amazing music discovery on KHOL in 2023.
Jump to your favorite DJ’s picks:
KnewJack | Emily Cohen | Eli Bernstein | Garth Gillespie | Kevin P | Itai | Danielle | Lash | Fondue | Big E | Mark D | DJ Echo | Fuel Economy | Lauren Chase | Rachel | The Western Gem | b3plyr | Werner | DJ Bloo | Mark B | Studebacher
KnewJack (Jack Catlin), Music Director | Host of “The Heavy Warmup” (Weekdays 8 – 10 a.m.)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cool It Down
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are back and we are all better for it. After nine long years, their fifth album, “Cool It Down,” is a slow and exhilarating burn featuring production from TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek. The collection of tracks utilizes piano, strings and heavy bass to establish a deliberate, cinematic and compelling dreamworld that has less of the frenetic angst of their earlier work but just as much gravitas and whimsy. The lead single “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” featuring guest vocals from artist Perfume Genius, is a classic YYY power ballad in which singer Karen O’s adorable snarl combats the fear of a seemingly inevitable climate disaster. The real standout for me personally is the dance-punk homage to the mighty ESG on “Fleez,” where Karen bounces atop the deep grooves and pulsing rhythm provided by guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase. All in all, “Cool It Down” is a rock-solid return to form for the beloved band, a return that finds them comfortable in their late-career skin with the ability to capture that same powerful magic that hooked us in the first place.
Danger Mouse & Black Thought – Cheat Codes
Producer-extraordinaire Danger Mouse has always created intriguing and unique soundscapes beginning with 2004’s “The Grey Album,” his mashup of vocals from JAY-Z’s “The Black Album” with the instrumentals from the Beatles’ “The White Album.” Black Thought has been ripping mics apart with scalpel-sharp wit and bruising charm for over 30 years as the frontman of Philadelphia’s The Roots. The two artists have had a cerebral connection for years and attempts at creating a project together were many but fleeting and without fruition. They finally joined creative forces on the impressive full-length, “Cheat Codes,” chock-full of ridiculous rhymes, mind-bending samples and raw, unfiltered hip-hop. The album feels both modern and vintage with exhilarating moments, like a posthumous jaw-dropping verse from MF Doom on “Belize” and British songwriter Michael Kiwanuka singing about standing up for what you believe in on “Aquamarine.”
Greentea Peng – GREENZONE 108
I can’t stop listening to this record! London-based neo-soul singer/rapper Greentea Peng’s music is intoxicating in so many ways. The up-and-coming artist melts her musical influences of R&B, reggae and psychedelic rock together on her second mixtape, “GREENZONE 108,” while exploring the idea of originality, overcoming self-inflicted obstacles and paying homage to a lost loved one. Flowing naturally between the confident and sassy to the stripped-back and mellowed out, the mixtape captures Aria Wells making a fully realized artistic statement and I can’t wait to see what Greentea Peng does next.
Emily Cohen, Executive Director
- Beyonce – RENAISSANCE
- Bjork – Fossora
- Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
- Santigold – Spirituals
- Taylor Swift – Midnights
- Sudan Archives – Natural Brown Prom Queen
- Sylvan Esso – No Rules Sandy
- A Far Cry & Shara Nova – The Blue Hour
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cool It Down
- Lola Kirke – Lady For Sale
A Far Cry & Shara Nova – The Blue Hour
As I was compiling this list it wasn’t lost on me that all of the artists on my top ten list are female — or at least fronted by female vocalists. This wasn’t intentional but on a subconscious level, these voices clearly are resonating. I’d like to call out one album — “The Blue Hour” — that maybe not everyone’s heard of (since otherwise some of the albums on my list are the pop-iest of the pop). “The Blue Hour” is a five-composer collaboration that includes Pulitzer Prize-winning Caroline Shaw, and is gorgeously realized by A Far Cry, a Boston-based chamber orchestra. The lyrics are sourced from Carolyn Forché’s poem “On Earth,” tracing a woman’s journey from life through death and exploring the beauty, pain, and fragility of human life from a collective female perspective.
HAIM – Lost Track
On heavy rotation this year was the single “Lost Track” by the trio of sisters, HAIM. It was an early release in 2022 but has stuck with me throughout the months and not just for its airy cyclical wind chimes or soft vocals. The song is about doing something drastic to get out of a situation you don’t want to be in. Who can’t relate to that, even if it’s just a fantasy?
Animal Collective – Live in Concert (Bozeman, MT)
And for this final shout-out, I’ll break the rules a bit and speak to my favorite concert of the year. Animal Collective’s “Time Skiffs” wasn’t on my list of top albums but seeing them live in Bozeman this past summer makes it into the highlight reel of epic concert experiences — sonically mind-blowing and something that to this day I ask myself, “What happened there?”
Eli Bernstein, Deputy Director | Host of “Left Of The Dial” (Tuesdays 9-11 p.m.)
Orville Peck – Bronco
2022 was the year that I got into country. I didn’t take the most conventional path to getting there, as this album from the masked, enigmatic South African crooner Orville Peck was my gateway. Peck takes the tried-and-true tropes of the American West — self-discovery, loneliness, the search for kindred souls, regret — and updates them through the gaze of a queer singer who creates his own, unique cowboy legend.
Panda Bear and Sonic Boom – Reset
This collaboration between Animal Collective member Panda Bear and erstwhile Spaceman 3 founder Peter Kember is like the perfect Pixar movie: A bounty of simple joys that can be beloved by kids, but layered and sophisticated enough for adults. The songs on “Reset” can take the repetitious form of nursery rhymes and lullabies, but their catchiness serves to suck you into Panda Bear and Sonic Boom’s bubbling and whimsical soundscapes.
Anxious – Little Green House
This is an album about catharsis. The pop-punkers from Connecticut sound out all their feelings — about growing up, about the end of relationships, about the ennui of modern suburban life — across 10 tracks stuffed with shout-along vocals and enormous guitar hooks. Don’t mistake this for moping, though; “Little Green House” is a car-windows-down, feel-good time.
Garth Gillespie, Board Member
Top 20 albums
- Fontaines D.C. – Skinty Fia
- Skullcrusher – Quiet the Room
- Makaya McCraven – In These Times
- Loyle Carner – hugo
- Brutus – Unison Life
- Nifufer Yanya – Painless
- King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava
- Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cool It Down
- The Smile – A Light for Attracting Attention
- Elder – Innate Passage
- Kae Tempest – The Line is a Curve
- Widowspeak – The Jacket
- Sorry – Anywhere But Here
- Interpol – The Otherside of Make Believe
- Deadletter – Heart EP
- The Orielles – Tableau
- Dry Cleaning – Stumpwork
- Just Mustard – Heart Under
- The Black Angels – Wilderness of Mirrors
Kevin P (Kevin Pusey) | Host of “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” (Sundays 4-7 p.m.)
North Mississippi Allstars – Set Sail
This album came out at the very beginning of 2022. With a new lineup, the North Mississippi Allstars set the bar for their Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album. The soothing vocals of Lamar Williams Jr. and the guitar work from Luther Dickinson, make this the kind of album you can listen to a couple times in a row. There is a reason Duane Betts chose Luther and Cody Dickinson to be in his band that played on top of Snow King this past summer. Check out “See the Moon”!
The Infamous Stringdusters – Toward The Fray
The Stringdusters came into the KHOL studio this past spring for an interview with me, and we talked about this album. It was new and fresh. The album eventually got nominated for a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. I find the album to be one of their best to date. Precise, tight, aggressive, and poignant, this album was written during the COVID shutdown, and reflects the bands feelings in a precise way. Check out the title track, “Toward The Fray”!
Tedeschi Trucks Band – I Am The Moon
This album is actually four installments/discs (24 songs) that reflect on loneliness, isolation, connection and despair. Similar to the Eric Clapton album “Layla,” this album represents one long unrequited love song. The difference is that this album is from the woman’s point of view (Susan Tedeschi). Each of the “albums” comes with an accompanying film. Pretty cool. Check out “Circles ‘Round The Sun” or “Pasaquin” (a 12-minute instrumental)!
Itai Boneh | Host of “Psyca-Deli” (Sundays 10:30 p.m. – Midnight)
- Masayoshi Takanaka – TAKANAKA ALL TIME SUPER BEST ~SELECTION
- Charli XCX – CRASH
- Automatic – Excess
- Momma – Household Name
- Peggy Gou – I Go
- Claire Laffut – MDMO
- Joav Ben Moshe – סליחה על מה
- Momma – Speeding 72
- Tyler Donovan – Insomniac
- Bomba Estereo – Ojitos Lindos
Charli XCX – Crash
I saw this tour live and the only word I have for it is sexy. The dancers and choreography really did it for me. I’m sure you will hear seductiveness in this record.
Masayoshi Takanaka – TAKANAKA ALL TIME SUPER BEST ~SELECTION
Takanaka is a musical genius that very few people know of. It was time to take all of his music, spanning from 1976 to now, and put into a greatest hits album. This is fantastic way to introduce people to Tanaka’s brilliance.
Momma – Household Name
I know the lead singer, Alegra, from a night out I had during Mardi Gras of 2019. Its amazing to see how her band has developed over the years and garnered fame. This popularity has led itself to the creation of “Household Name,” a great album with great bangers.
Danielle Carozza | Host of “The Ebb and Flow” (Mondays 7-9 p.m.)
Beyonce – RENAISSANCE
This album was my soundtrack to the second half of 2022. It was the answer to all my musical prayers. Beyonce gifted me with ENERGY every time I put it on. Piazza dance party? “Break My Soul” was there. Feeling down? “Church Girl” brought me release. Mid-afternoon slumps? RENAISSANCE in its entirety was my saving grace. This album is the gift that keeps on giving. There were no close seconds.
Lash (Delya Shock) | Host of “Easy Street” (Mondays 9-11 p.m.)
Pahl (Alex Blackwelder) | Co-host of “The Fondue” (Tuesdays 5-7 p.m.)
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio – Cold As Weiss
This album has all the feels for any setting or soundtrack of your day. This is soul music at its core, and familiar grooves typical of an organ trio. However, drummer Dan Weiss shines as he holds the beat right in the pocket keeping it simple and tight.
Lettuce – Unify
Lettuce brought the heat out for this one, solidifying their reign as modern funk pioneers and purveyors of positivity. Unify was definitely the right message for this year!
Danny Gatton & Buddy Emmons – Redneck Jazz Explosion
While not a new album, it is a new discovery for me. The live 1978 album features world-class country-jazz guitar and pedal-steel riffs that with take you on a ride. Studio musicians like Danny Gatton and Buddy Emmons often don’t get the spotlight, but had this show been aired live in this day and age something tells me more folks would know their names.
Big E (Robert Emerson) | Host of “Blues With A Feelin’” (Wednesdays 5-7 p.m.)
Jeff Dale – Blood Red Moon
Jeff is the real “blues” deal — he and his band, The South Woodlawners. I talked to Jeff on the phone about the album and he was very smitten to have KHOL featuring him and the boys.
Tomislav Goluban – 20 Years on the Road
Tomislav Goluban, who is Croatian, has played pure blues harmonica for the past 20 years. A testament to blues being loved and played around the world
John Primer – Hard Times
John Primer is one of the last few living blues legends. I have played every song off this album on my show, “Blues With A Feelin’.”
Mark D (Mark DeOrsay) | Host of “Heavyweights of Jazz” (Wednesdays 7-9 p.m.)
Tom Waits – Nighthawks at The Diner
I revisited this 1975 release when I picked up a mint copy of the double album on vinyl earlier this year. Waits, just 25 years old, already had two successful albums under his belt but they had failed to catch his charm and showmanship in front of a live audience. Producer Bones Howe put together a backing band of jazz musicians and created a jazz club inside The Record Plant Studios complete with a bar, tables, chairs and potato chips in bowls. They invited their friends and recorded the album live over two evenings with two sets each. The result is an atmospheric, smoke-filled recording of a beatnik raconteur telling stories from the seedy yet romantic underbelly of late-night Los Angeles.
Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares For Me
Another vinyl disc I picked up this year (at The Jackson Hole Book Trader) was Miss Simone’s first studio recording ever. Backed by jazz musicians, Jimmy Bond and Al “Tootie” Heath, a 25-year-old Simone introduces us to a voice that would become an icon over the following decades. She arrives on the scene as a complete musician; with classical training of her contralto voice, formidable piano playing, and the arrangement of all of the songs here on this recording. Standout tracks at the time of release were “My Baby Just Cares For Me” and “I Loves You, Porgy” but Nina connects to her audience with an intimacy and intensity emblematic of her character throughout the album.
Miles Davis – ‘Round About Midnight
This is another album that I have loved for many years and this year purchased an original copy of the 1957 release. Producers, Aram and George Avakian signed Miles to Columbia Records after witnessing his performance of Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955. However, Miles had a contract with Prestige Records to finish up before he could release anything with Columbia. In just two recording sessions at The Van Gelder Studios in Englewood, New Jersey, Miles and company produced what would become known simply as “The Prestige Recordings”; four phenomenal albums released over the next couple of years: Cookin’, Relaxin’, Steamin’ and Workin’ with The Miles Davis Quintet. The band was considered the first of Miles’ “great quintets” with an unknown John Coltrane on tenor sax, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and “Philly” Joe Jones on drums.
At the same time, the quintet was recorded at the Columbia studios in New York City. The result is “‘Round About Midnight.” Miles had been a founding member of both the Cool Jazz and Hard Bop genres. “‘Round About Midnight” would prove to be a pivotal album in Miles’ cannon as it foreshadowed the next change he would bring to the jazz world- the Modal style introduced on “Kind of Blue” released in 1959. This is a lyrical collection of elegant standards highlighted for me with “Bye Bye Blackbird.” The sweetly muted trumpet captures the softness of the melody in a way that only Miles could do.
DJ Echo (Brandon Whitesell) | Host of “Dimensional Sound Groove” (Thursdays 5-7 p.m.)
Kerri Chandler – Spaces and Places
This album was recorded over the last year in numerous clubs throughout the world as Kerri was touring all year. The sound of each song has its own club identity.
Bonobo – Fragments
Bonobo’s new release crossed boundaries with his electronic and classical approach. I saw him perform most of the songs off this new album at Royal Albert Hall in London and it was a special show I will never forget.
Moodyman, Gangsta Boo & NEZ – Freaks
Banger. Enough said.
Fuel Economy (Cole Mogan) | Host of “The Long Haul” (Thursdays 7-8:30 p.m.)
Lauren Chase | Host of “Dance Odyssey” (Thursdays 8:30-10 p.m.)
DJ Koze, &ME, Sophia Kennedy – Drone Me Up, Flashy (&ME Remix)
This track was first introduced to me by my brother, Matt, who went to see DJ Koze in 2019 and heard him play this mysterious song. Three years of many failed Shazam attempts and Reddit searches trying to find the track ID went by, and finally this year it was released into the wild. The thunderous bass line and eerie vocals create a powerfully memorable track that I’ll keep on repeat for years to come.
Rachel Cohn | Host of “Rolling Heads Named Dave” (Thursdays 10 p.m.-12 a.m.)
The Western Gem (Zoe Curran) | Host of “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” (Fridays 9-11 p.m.)
Octo Octa – Resonant Body
First listenings of “Resonant Body” evoke a sense of exploration. Themes of identity, release, bodily freedom and self-love make appearances in Maya Bouldry-Morrisons’ genre-bending album. The track “Can You See Me?” reigns supreme: emotive, visual, fresh, transcendental. This album creates a magnificent space to experience the liberation only dance music and hot breaks can provide.
Fred Again.. – Actual Life 2
Fred Again.. has continued to pioneer diary-like songwriting in this release. Sonic snippets of his daily life appear as words of friends, comrades, and fellow artists, forming the backbone for tracks and acting as the album’s special sauce. Live performances of “Actual Life 2” have deeply connected with crowds, generating explosive reactions to Fred’s personal and touching musical style. This album is euphoric and intimate and changed my life in 2022.
Dusky – JOY
Dusky has THE SOUNDS! These absolute gods of tech house deliver consistently throughout their years-long discography but shine brightest on “JOY.” When I think of a tech house sound, and the sound I want for my DJ mixes, I think of Dusky. Their album doesn’t shy away from big breaks and drops and displays mastery of the new-age house music sound. Range and variety for both small raves and cavernous clubs, the sounds of JOY are for every gig, and were on repeat for me this year!
b3plyr (Andrew Clark) | Host of “Cellar Door” (Saturdays 4-7 p.m.)
Danger Mouse & Black Thought (feat. MF DOOM) – Belize
Everything about this song is wonderful with dreamy production and buttery raps by both Black Thought and MF DOOM. I have repeated this track so many times, I have it nearly 100% memorized.
Alt-J – U&ME
Alt-J does it again with a really memorable music video. This song is also super smooth with great lyrics (“Happiness is between two buns”). If this song isn’t used in a movie soundtrack sometime soon, I will be shocked.
Silk Sonic – 777
A wonderful throwback album that came out at just the right time, “777” is a severely underrated track behind the big singles of “Leave The Door Open” and “Smoking Out The Window.” There is so much funky energy in this song, it’s almost criminal.
Mike Werner | Host of “The Desert Grind” (Saturdays 7-9 p.m.)
DRUIDS – Shadow Work
I rarely put albums on repeat as I am always looking down the rabbit hole for new heavy rock bands from around the world. These guys are a huge surprise hailing from Des Moines, Iowa. On par with Tool, but still themselves. Excellent for those who love heavy melodic rock.
Caustic Casanova – Glass Enclosed Nerve Center
I cannot describe or put their music into a genre. This band and all their albums clicked with me right away. Maybe closer to Queens of the Stone Age than Sabbath, but amazing vocals and guitar licks. I believe this band is having a lot of fun and it comes out in their songs.
The Same River – Weight of the World
This band and their album “Weight of the World” caught me by surprise. They are from Greece which is probably in the top three regions of the world producing amazing desert/stoner and heavy psych rock. If you like Pink Floyd or France’s SLIFT, you are going to love this group. Clean vocals, beautiful guitar work and just the right amounts of psych and heavy riffs. The Same River is a band for music-lovers.
DJ Bloo (Evan Ballew) | Host of “Rocket Sauce” (Saturdays 9-11 p.m.)
Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
It’s rare for a double album to feel as cohesive as this one. The range of sonic textures painted by the band feels vibrant in every chord. I’ve cycled through numerous songs from this record on my show “Rocket Sauce” when trying to find a nexus or the perfect song that ties the rest of my show together.
Fievel Is Glauque – Flaming Swords
Every song sounds like a warm hug.
Elephant Jake – Goodness to Honest
Old homies from Philadelphia continue to level up on each release. I’m stoked to witness their creative evolution and the technical mastery of their respective instruments. Elephant Jake is undeniably a band with a bottomless tank of “Rocket Sauce.”
Mark B (Mark Byall) | Longtime DJ
- Sister Cookie – In The Blue Corner
- Monophonics & Kelly Finnigan – Sage Motel
- King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Omnium Gatherum
- Pusha T – It’s Almost Dry
- Ibibio Sound Machine – Electricity
- GYASI – Pronounced Jah-See
- El Perro – Hair of El Perro
Sister Cookie – In The Blue Corner
This album gives a taste of the classic R&B sound mixed in with a new-school flavor. Comprised of all original songs written by Sister Cookie, the album flows seamlessly from start to finish. Songs like “Crucify,” “Ain’t No Good” and “Can’t Get It When You Want It” showcase the character and grit Sister Cookie brings to the table.
El Perro – Hair Of
The debut album from El Perro is a refreshing blend of heavy psychedelic guitar licks with strong percussion elements added to the raspy vocals of lead singer-songwriter Parker Griggs. Strong, face-melting guitar solos are prevalent throughout the album but don’t obstruct the underlying tempo. The songs that got the most playtime in my library off this album are “O’ Grace,” “Take Me Away,” “The Mould” and “Crazy Legs.”
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Omnium Gatherum
The prolific Australian rockers continue to impress with their ever-expanding catalog of styles and sounds. Omnium Gatherum is another addition to their enormous gallery of original music that creates a diversity of tracks within the album reminiscent of the days of Ween. The whole album from start to finish is solid but the tracks that got the most attention from me this year were “Sadie Sorceress,” “The Grim Reaper” and “Magenta Mountain.”
Studebacher (Bill Helm) | Longtime DJ
- Eliane Elias – Qietitude
- Julian Lage – A View with a Room
- Eliane Elias/Chick Corea/Cucho Valdes – Mirror Mirror
- Ron Carter – Finding the Best Notes
- Conrad Herwig – The Latin Side of Mingus
- The Hot Sardines – Welcome Home
- Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – Una Noche Con Ruben Blades
- Christian McBride Big Band – For Jimmie, Wes and Oliver
- Quinn Sullivan – Wide Awake
- Graham Dechter – Major Influence
Quinn Sullivan – Wide Awake
This young man is the subject of the documentary “The Torch.” Keeping the blues alive is one of Buddy Guy’s passions and this young man’s sophomore album is a tour de force of emotion, spectacular musicianship and all from a 22-year-old, if I’ve done my math right. A must-listen album.
Graham Dechter – Influences
Not often does one come across an artist like Dechter. His influences are very identifiable and poignant. The compositions reflect his mentors and influences beautifully and his prowess on the guitar is remarkable.
Eliane Elias – Quietude
This album combines and showcases the compositional and arrangement prowess of this veteran pianist. Recently I had the opportunity to hear her perform live and must say that the songs that the quartet performed from “Quietude” were the high point of the set. Her voice and the intimacy of the compositions (think sensual bossa nova) elicit raw emotion. Another must-listen for any fan of Brazilian or Latin music.