Image by Callum Abbott, photos via Getty Images

The 38 Best Rock Albums of 2022

From Alvvays’ panoramic anthems to Chat Pile’s scorched-earth sludge, Soul Glo’s bruising hardcore to Wet Leg’s wily indie rock, these are the rock albums that stood out this year.

In 2022, the best rock music sought to expand the borders of the genre. Breakthrough bands like Soul Glo and Chat Pile made thrashing, thrilling records that never stayed in one place for too long, while elusive lifers like Destroyer’s Dan Bejar and Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser returned sounding more mystifying and hypnotic than ever. Indie favorites Big Thief and Weyes Blood upped their ambition for records that sprawled like epic, feature-length films, while power-pop quintet Alvvays and death-doom duo Dream Unending crafted immersive headphones listens tailor-made for the chilly seasons. Below, check out some of the year’s most essential releases.

Listen to selections from this list on our Spotify playlist and Apple Music playlist.

Check out all of Pitchfork’s 2022 wrap-up coverage here.

(All releases featured here are independently selected by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, however, Pitchfork may earn an affiliate commission.)

Dirty Hit

The 1975: Being Funny in a Foreign Language

In 2018, the 1975’s Matty Healy admitted that emotional deflection can be a temporary balm on a song called “Sincerity Is Scary.” But on their fifth album, the British quartet embraces the discomfort that comes with being direct. Atop stripped-back arrangements befitting 11 tracks consumed by matters of the heart, Healy reckons with his tendency to sabotage his own happiness. “I got it/I found it/I’ve just gotta keep it,” he sings of love midway through the record, psyching himself up. Loving—and living—may be a daunting pursuit, but the 1975 sound more than ready to try. –Quinn Moreland

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


40 Watt Sun: Perfect Light

Before he made gutting, gorgeous, pitch-perfect slowcore under the name 40 Watt Sun, Patrick Walker was a member of the doom metal band Warning, whose 2006 album Watching From a Distance stands among the high water marks of the genre. Just like that cult classic, Perfect Light is destined to be passed among fans of immersive mood music meant to soundtrack our lowest moments. In another era, “Behind My Eyes” might be the centerpiece of a winter-doldrums-heartbreak mixtape, slotted between, say, Codeine and Galaxie 500. In 2022, it feels like a transmission from another time, the nostalgia pre-loaded in every slow-motion refrain. –Sam Sodomsky

Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Alex G: God Save the Animals

From breakbeat to grunge-pop, God Save the Animals integrates Alex G’s impish genre-muddling into folkish songwriting buffed to a pearlescent sheen. On his most elegantly produced album, Alex Giannascoli welcomes disparate ideas with ease, with images that wiggle like iron filings drawn to a magnetic pole. In mantra-like phrases, he conjures a criminal at confession, the hard-won relief of domesticity, or a seafarer holding onto the fragile hope of love on dry land. As one of indie rock’s great empaths, Giannascoli crafts his songs’ characters with a care that hits poignantly close to home. You feel that the record’s title is no accident, given that humans are animals too. –Owen Myers

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Polyvinyl / Transgressive

Alvvays: Blue Rev

Alvvays writes songs about what lasts, what fades, and what young pains resurface in the slipstream of memory. On their third album, the Toronto band returns like one of the old flames in their songs, ready to shatter your every defense. Blue Rev is a crinkled collection of small dramas—a run-in at the pharmacy, a drive-thru break-up over milkshakes—with panoramic feeling. Although Molly Rankin and co. have ascended into the wiser terrain of their 30s, they still summon the dizzying emotions of your rookie years, when the sense of paralysis and betrayal seemed so acute; in their world, college is a bore, pedantic poetry sucks, and solace is that one good song on the radio. This is an album to come home to, with squalling arrangements and melodies so immediate and sublime it’s like you’ve been singing them your whole life. On Blue Rev, Alvvays prove they were the ones all along. –Cat Zhang

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify


Animal Collective: Time Skiffs

With Time Skiffs and its accompanying tour, Animal Collective—for years in the 2000s, the most interesting and unpredictable band in indie rock—made yet another transformation into something they’d never quite been before: an actual indie rock band. Burbling samples and chantlike vocals still abounded, but here too was a bass guitar, a full drum kit instead of the usual collection of floor toms and electronic triggers, a set of songs that follow familiar contours of chorus and verse. The relatively straightforward setup seemed to rejuvenate a band whose recent albums tended toward knotty inwardness, shaking loose the sense of exuberant discovery that animates their best work. –Andy Cush

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Arctic Monkeys: The Car

“I’m keeping on my costume,” Alex Turner croons halfway through The Car, “and calling it a writing tool.” A string quartet does its stately dance behind him; a ghost of a backing vocalist appears and then flickers away. That lyric could be a mission statement for the Arctic Monkeys in 2022, spinning rock albums as elaborate genre fictions. If Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino echoed J.G. Ballard’s Vermilion Sands stories, chronicling disaffected characters at an interstellar resort, The Car is more like Concrete Island or High-Rise: science-fiction of the present. The arrangements are sumptuous to the point of being uncanny; the lyrics filled with jet skis, simulation cartridges, and spies. Beneath the artifice and deception lies naked yearning: For Turner and company, donning a costume reveals as many truths as it obscures. –Andy Cush

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal


Beth Orton: Weather Alive

Each track on Beth Orton’s eighth album—the first one she self-produced—feels prompted by a forecast: One a warm, rainy night; another a rocky coastline socked in by fog; or a gray countryside bracing for snow. Funded by a personal bank loan Orton took out after she was dropped by her label, Weather Alive’s slow-moving atmospheric systems carry her memory back to times of grief, solitude, and unhealthy self-medication. (Orton summed up her album nicely: “It’s heavy as fuck.”) Amid a palette of muted trumpets, hushed drums, and dampened piano, Orton’s voice crackles and pops out of these songs, like little orange embers. Nothing feels forced out or jammed together; it’s perfectly sturdy, and just a little creaky. –Jeremy D. Larson

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


The Beths: Expert in a Dying Field

The Beths’ third album is less a relationship autopsy than a painstaking vivisection: a razor-sharp scalpel dissecting a love that’s slowly fading out on the operating table. Songwriter Liz Stokes throws caution to the wind, daring to archive every messy detail and new discovery—emerging doubts, backslide fantasies, leering regrets—with near-scientific honesty and hypermelodic abandon. Trading in their last scraps of punk to hone their newfound instincts for lean, clean power-pop, the band turns the painful clarity of post-breakup anguish into one addictive headrush after another. –Phillipe Roberts

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

Big Thief have always been defined by the interplay between folksy singer-guitarist Adrianne Lenker and her expansive, improvisatory group. In 2019, they released a pair of albums, U.F.O.F. and Two Hands, that seemed to map the range of their sound, from airy and ethereal to ragged and visceral. Three years later, the 20-song double album Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You brings all their breathless styles together, and then some: Consider it contemporary Brooklyn indie rock’s answer to the Beatles’ White Album or Prince’s Sign o’ the Times. Stretching into cracked trip-hop, country hoedowns, and something involving icicles as percussion, Dragon suggested that the limits to what they could do within this framework have yet to be glimpsed. –Marc Hogan

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Ninja Tune

Black Country, New Road: Ants From Up There

It’s almost too apt that the making of an album so fixated on departures ended with its focal creator giving notice to the rest of the band, as singer Isaac Wood did just days before Black Country, New Road released this sophomore triumph. Wood makes the most of his grand finale, packing this sprawling canvas with sorrowful, often bitterly funny musings. Over carnivalesque post-rock as dense and cathartic as his prose, he sings each regret as if he’s Hamlet addressing Yorick’s hoisted skull. Now that’s how you make an exit. –Evan Rytlewski

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Rough Trade

Black Midi: Hellfire

As Black Midi’s compositions have grown ever more demanding and unhinged, so have the characters that guide us through them. Barely a moment of Hellfire passes without a virtuosic time-signature change or jarring orchestral interjection. Vocalists Geordie Greep and Cameron Picton spend much of their third album berating ostensible lessers: “idiots,” “nonentities,” people “as useless as lids on a fish’s eyes.” But Black Midi’s real sympathies clearly lie with the objects of their narrators’ imperious disregard. The bludgeoning absurdism of the music evokes a world where fresh debasements lie around every corner, planted by the indifference and contempt of those with real power. And the lyrics—shouted exhortations from a maniacal ship captain, a media-obsessed murderer, the literal devil—add up to a critique that implicates even the band members themselves: Never trust the man with the microphone. –Andy Cush

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Run for Cover

Camp Cope: Running With the Hurricane

On their third album, Running With the Hurricane, the Australian trio stand firm at the center of a storm, confident in their strength and in a sound that crosses their punk roots with a soft twang. On tracks like “The Mountain” and “Caroline,” they exude tender openness and discover newfound resolve. “There’s no other way to go,” Georgia Maq sings on the title track. “The only way out is up.” –Quinn Moreland

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Rough Trade

caroline: caroline

In the mid-’00s indie scene, drunk on Sufjan Stevens, Belle and Sebastian, and university-level quantities of beer, it sometimes seemed like no band was complete without at least seven members, a violin, and a glockenspiel. The lowercase UK eight-piece caroline revived that pre-Great Recession period’s beautifully doomed optimism on their self-titled debut album, which calls to mind the post-rock intro from Los Campesinos’ “You! Me! Dancing!” in its vast instrumental stretches, along with the cathartic grandeur of Black Country, New Road in its quavering team vocals. Colored by pensive Midwest emo and creaky British folk, it’s a sprawling testament that, no matter how much may have changed over the past few presidential administrations, a collective imagination can still achieve transcendence. –Marc Hogan

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Mexican Summer

Cate Le Bon: Pompeii

Faith gets people into all kinds of trouble across Pompeii, the lockdown-era excavation by Welsh seeker Cate Le Bon. The heavens’ inscrutability sends her out of her mindno relic can hold her painGod’s routine is good for nothing, and iconography is a con. (Not that she ever stood a chance in the first place: “I was born guilty as sin to a mother guilty as hell,” she sings on “Cry Me Old Trouble.”) To dodge these disappointments, Le Bon suggests, we must learn to embrace ambiguity and to “trust in love, just as you are,” as she intones in the album’s opening words. Pompeii is spectral and sensuous, playful and ruined, like Roxy Music performing “Avalon” on a flickering black-and-white television set—majestically open-ended art rock that exerts an unyielding grip. –Laura Snapes

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

The Flenser

Chat Pile: God’s Country

God’s Country might be unbearable if it weren’t so funny. Oklahoma City sludge-noise band Chat Pile’s debut album deals in extreme bleakness: tales of violence and societal collapse, riffs that sound like they’re on the verge of throwing up. Still, there is something sly—and even a little silly—about these songs that somehow heightens the album’s urgency even more. It’s most obvious in “grimace_smoking_weed.jpg,” where the purple McDonald’s mascot appears as a hallucination during a drug-fueled suicidal episode. But it’s also there in “Why,” the album’s most straightforward political critique. “Why do people have to live outside when there are buildings all around us?” asks singer Raygun Busch, his exaggerated matter-of-factness underscoring one of the album’s major themes: America’s oppression and neglect of its most vulnerable residents isn’t just cruel, it’s absurd. –Andy Cush

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Positive Jams / Thirty Tigers

Craig Finn: A Legacy of Rentals

Plenty of songwriters have attempted to wrap their heads around the pandemic—its grand, unifying effects and its incalculable damage. But has anyone hit as close to home as Craig Finn with “The Year We Fell Behind”? The highlight of the Hold Steady frontman’s fifth and finest solo album, it’s a beautiful, heartbroken portrait of two people locked in a dimly lit apartment and a cycle of repetitive, dead-end arguments: “I was trying to bring up any other topic,” he sings, just before giving in. Throughout A Legacy of Rentals, Finn leads us through these familiar scenes of desperation—not to preach or point a way out, but to remind us that we’re never as alone as we may feel. –Sam Sodomsky

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Destroyer: Labyrinthitis

Dan Bejar has long been a master of dislocation, and on Labyrinthitis, his 13th album as Destroyer, his songwriting hits some profoundly chaotic new peaks. On “June,” a six-and-a-half-minute disco-rap odyssey, his cast of characters includes an idiotic snow angel and a Cubist judge. “Tintoretto, It’s For You” reimagines the Italian painter as some sort of skulking creature of the night. Then, on “Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread,” he describes a conversation between dogs before unleashing a put-down for the ages: “Everything you just said/Was better left unsaid.” It’s all deliberately obscure, and in that obscurity lies beautiful clarity. –Sophie Kemp

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

20 Buck Spin

Dream Unending: Song of Salvation

Song of Salvation stands as one of 2022’s most daring metal albums and one of its most rewarding psychedelic experiences. On one level, you can listen for the expert songcraft of guitarist Derrick Vella and drummer/vocalist Justin DeTore, who shift gracefully from gloomy post-rock to guttural death-doom to their ghostly, depressive vision of jazz fusion. Or you can surrender completely to the music, losing sight of its moving parts and becoming part of its swirling landscape—a corner of the universe that now belongs entirely to these two artists. –Sam Sodomsky

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Double Double Whammy

Florist: Florist

The fourth album from understated indie rockers Florist lands like two decks of hand-crafted playing cards being lovingly shuffled together. One half is a collection of quietly grand folk songs, the other is a stack of ambient fragments sneakily loaded with magnetic, microscopic details that resembles frontwoman Emily A. Sprague’s solo releases. When they dovetail, acoustic reflections sidle up against tiny electrical currents crackling through nature, like fireflies in a humid forest. –Steven Arroyo

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Rough Trade

Gilla Band: Most Normal

If you’ve ever seen Gilla Band live, you know that silence is a warning sign. The Dublin quartet, touted as post-punks with noise proclivities, structure its songs more like EDM sadists. On their latest album Most Normal, bassist Daniel Fox and guitarist Alan Duggan stretch their instruments to distorted and squealing extremes, shaping colossal slabs of racket. Then they tear it all down to reveal Adam Faulkner’s clacking, elemental snare. Dara Kiely—who rants like a self-appointed prophet teetering on a high ledge—is the rare vocalist who understands that he isn’t always the star of a song. On “Capgras,” his screams are devoured by surges of static. On opener “The Gum,” he sounds more like a malfunctioning machine being dismembered by Duggan’s shrapnel guitar pulses. It’s as if Gilla Band have created a trapdoor to some festering industrial hell—and they know just when to open and close it. –Madison Bloom

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Dead Oceans

Mitski: Laurel Hell

Has exhaustion ever sounded as horribly seductive as it does on Mitski’s sixth album? Laurel Hell was the record that Mitski didn’t want to make: In 2019, she was spent by the success of Be the Cowboy and withdrew from music. But it was the only record she could make, a wearily gorgeous work of dark synth lines, droning guitars, and semi-industrial noise. The album centers around the remarkable one-two punch of “The Only Heartbreaker” and “Love Me More,” two songs so alive with pop zest they seem to have arrived from the hit parade of a parallel universe 1986. –Ben Cardew

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Dear Life

MJ Lenderman: Boat Songs

On a sonic level, no rock album in 2022 felt quite as cozy as Boat Songs. Everything at Asheville, North Carolina singer-songwriter MJ Lenderman’s disposal—his electric guitar tone, his distorted vocals, those thwacking snare drums—blends into a satisfying whole, like a particularly crunchy bite into a grilled cheese sandwich. But what makes Boat Songs transcend mere indie-rock comfort food is Lenderman’s songwriting, which weaves together poetic hallucinations with unglamorous imagery of daily life. When he sings that the food at a recent dinner with friends was great, “if only for being homemade,” you know he means it. In fact, you can almost taste it. –Sam Sodomsky

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

AD 93

Moin: Paste

Each song on Paste, the latest album from the forward-thinking post-hardcore trio Moin, has the structure of a bold, hand-crafted collage. Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead, also known for their work as electronic duo Raime, neatly tear vocal samples from ’80s spoken word albums in place of traditional singing, and then stick those fragments onto craggy guitar passages. They splice in atmospheric synth presets while drummer Valentina Magaletti colors around the outlines with splashy percussion. Paste is a composite of such layering; some edges sound rugged and ripped, others cleanly trimmed. Like painters energizing a piece with a sudden slash of color, Moin can calibrate a song’s tone with one meticulously selected detail. –Madison Bloom

Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Nilüfer Yanya: PAINLESS

Time follows feeling on Nilüfer Yanya’s second album: The urgent arpeggios on highlight “stabilise” match the manic all-nighter the British singer-songwriter details in its lyrics, and by the time the drums drop out on the bridge, she’s practically flying. There are whooshing heartbreaks propelled forward by sharp breakbeats, and languid ones that slink alongside alien synths. All the while, Yanya keeps the album’s steady pace with her virtuosic guitar and coolly disciplined vocals. When she finally sinks into the relaxed comfort of closer “anotherlife,” it’s akin to a runner’s afterglow—an elevated heartbeat melting into a deep stretch, as she takes in the marathon she just finished. –Arielle Gordon

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Northern Spy

Office Culture: Big Time Things

Office Culture are adept students of the cerebral-but-heartfelt school of pop, building on the legacy of romantic sophisticates (or is that sophisticated romantics?) like the Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout, and Destroyer circa Kaputt. Their third album, Big Time Things, is their plushest yet, lacquering the Brooklyn quartet’s ambient ECM synth-pop with strings and horns. But it’s also their tenderest and most intimate: “Baby, no more games of telephone/Saying coded things in whispered tones,” sings Winston Cook-Wilson (a former Pitchfork contributor), and yet those are exactly the structured forms of play he’s up to, slipping his twisty melodies through a hushed disquiet that’s as piercing as it is cryptic. –Marc Hogan

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Triple Crown

Oso Oso: Sore Thumb

On Sore Thumb, Jade Lilitri offers a nonstop sugar rush of power-pop melodies, suggesting that even downtrodden emo kids deserve Gatorade-fueled hangs where you laugh so hard you cry. Oso Oso use every tool at their disposal—multi-tracked harmonies, tinkering piano, acoustic guitar fit for a Sugar Ray song—to give songs like “computer exploder” and “father tracy” that warm, fuzzy feeling. “Some days a sound mind sounds like high maintenance,” Lilitri sings, spinning the negative into a positive. Happiness can be hard work, but Sore Thumb posits it doesn’t always have to be. –Nina Corcoran

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Saddle Creek

Palm: Nicks and Grazes

Are you sick and tired of hearing the same time signatures all the time? Are simple chord changes dragging you down? Palm fight the tyranny of the familiar-sounding with Nicks and Grazes, a wigged-out psych-rock album made almost entirely of zigs and zags. The band’s language descends loosely from Liars or Frank Zappa—noisy, proggy, zany—but hearing Palm just talk amongst themselves is part of the fun. Every sound feels like its DNA has been rearranged either digitally or physically (or both) for the sole purpose of being anything but boring. If it seems incredibly bewildering at first, spend some time with the record, give it a little patience: It might just become regular bewildering. –Jeremy D. Larson

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify


Plains: I Walked With You a Ways

Vocal harmony is at the heart of I Walked With You a Ways, the first album from Katie Crutchfield and Jess Williamson under the name Plains. “People always react to harmony as a listener, but for anyone who sings, the most satisfying feeling on Earth is to sing harmony with somebody,” Crutchfield explains. Bonding over their love for country music and the twangy stars of their youth—among them Shania Twain, the Chicks, and Trisha Yearwood—the pair trades off heartfelt songs of hope, heartache, and redemption with warm, easygoing melodies. Together, they crafted an album that makes the best of their mutual interests. –Allison Hussey

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Sharon Van Etten: We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong

As wildfires scorched the landscape around her Los Angeles home in 2020, Sharon Van Etten became overwhelmed. The weight of climate disaster, the pandemic, parenthood, and life in a precarious music industry had left her wondering about the accumulated outcomes of her life’s choices. As she sifted through answers, she started work on We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong at her home studio. Throughout her sixth record, she plunges into the unknown, with cavernous instrumentation that reflects the depths of her anxieties. Instead of collapsing beneath the mayhem of modern times, however, We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong reaches out of the darkness and toward a more tranquil way of being. –Allison Hussey

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


The Smile: A Light for Attracting Attention

The Smile’s debut resembles a dossier of the sounds and themes favored by Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood throughout their more famous band’s long career, but recording under a different moniker seemingly allowed the pair to escape the paralyzingly high expectations of a new Radiohead album. There’s the familiar doomsaying about contemporary society and those spectral melodies that suspend and fall like snow illuminated beneath a streetlight, but also a conceptual playfulness, like “You Will Never Work in Television Again”’s sneering kiss-off to famous perverts. Coming from a different point of view, Yorke and Greenwood find renewed urgency—and seize upon it like young men who’ve never once been burdened with their own reputation. –Jeremy Gordon

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Loma Vista

Soccer Mommy: Sometimes, Forever

From her very first bedroom recordings, Sophie Allison has wrung every ounce of feeling out of her Stratocaster with minimal adornment, the reverb on her vocals emanating outward like a ghost floating through empty space. But where earlier albums found a woman drowning in her own emotions, Sometimes, Forever reveals that Allison has learned how to swim. She writes the hell out of a hook, whether while holding a candle in the dark (“newdemo”) or aiming a double-barrel at a lover (“Shotgun”). And even though she’s traded in her bedroom for a multi-million-dollar studio and an assist from synth sorcerer Oneohtrix Point Never, she's retained her signature acerbic wit. Against richly textured arrangements that have swelled to match her ambition, she's never sounded more sure of herself. –Matthew Ismael Ruiz

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Epitaph / Secret Voice

Soul Glo: Diaspora Problems

Hardcore is the sound of mortal urgency, of one band dodging obstacles only they can see, at a speed no one could possibly maintain. Part of what makes riotous Philadelphia band Soul Glo’s Diaspora Problems so powerful is how raw and real those obstacles are—cyclical poverty, emotional abuse, the ever-present threat of institutional violence—and how completely vocalist Pierce Jordan turns himself inside out in response, howling and screaming and rapping about generational trauma and the harrowing realities of life as a Black American in a militarized police state. Despite the subject matter, Diaspora Problems feels celebratory, not grim: a scream of pain that testifies, above everything else, to an ironclad will to live. –Jayson Greene

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Rough Trade

Special Interest: Endure

The tradition of punks making unvarnished pop is vast, but no one has done it like Special Interest, tying in technoise textures, pop-house vocals, and rap cadences while putting hooks inside of screams. On its astounding third full-length, the New Orleans band polishes and chisels its once-blistering sound into a force more palatable and anthemic, but also much more confrontational. Endure is a fiercely original experiment, a world where pleasure and fight entangle into a liberationist menage of club fog, Telfar bags, and discomfiting truths demanding that we “burn it down to build it again.” –Jenn Pelly

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Sun’s Signature: Sun’s Signature EP

Starting with her influential albums as frontwoman for Cocteau Twins in the 1980s and on through her scattered appearances as a solo artist, Elizabeth Fraser’s voice has stood for otherworldly elegance. The lush psych-rock on the debut EP from Sun’s Signature, her duo with romantic partner Damon Reece, is still plenty spacey and stately, but it is also endearingly earthy. Just listen to that iconic voice, warmer and more approachable now, nestled with waltzing timpani, harp, and calliope-like keys as Fraser sings, “Daughter, I kiss you.” Heaven or Las Vegas? Here, the destination is more like a fairy cottage in a misty Scottish moor. –Marc Hogan

Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Undeath: It’s Time... To Rise From the Grave

Come for the punishing death metal, stay for the sick jokes. Rochester quintet Undeath’s second album It’s Time... To Rise From the Grave is teeming with brutal kick drum and saw-toothed guitar riffs. But listen closely to vocalist Alexander Jones—who sounds like he’s gargling with gravel—and you’ll also notice nightmarish nursery rhymes (“D-e-a-d, with them I procreate”), etiquette tips for dining on human remains, and a section dedicated to corpse-based arts and crafts. On the scorching “Human Chandelier,” he growls about a serial killer-cum-interior decorator who spends his evenings delicately joining filaments and bone sockets to fashion a hanging trophy. Undeath have a sense of humor, albeit a morbid one. –Madison Bloom

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Wednesday: Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ’em Up 

Wednesday’s covers album, Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ’em Up, has no business being so great. Across nine tracks, the Asheville group run through tributes to their influences, from frontwoman Karly Hartzman’s woozy hound dog rendition of Gary Stewart’s “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin Double)” to guitarist MJ Lenderman’s sludgy take on Smashing Pumpkins’ “Perfect.” With nods to Southern rock legends Drive-By Truckers and rising New York shredders Hotline TNT in between, Wednesday expand on their sound without sacrificing their own magic. –Quinn Moreland

Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Wet Leg: Wet Leg

As the unofficial torchbearers of the 2000s blog-rock revival, Wet Leg relish in succumbing to the digital realm, with its deadpan sarcasm, meme accounts, and inside-joke-filled DMs: “It feels nice/I’m scrolling, I’m scrolling,” the UK duo confess on their debut LP. Wet Leg is rife with glitzy post-punk spirals (“Angelica”), washed-out fuzz (“Being in Love”), and disco-indebted drumming (“Wet Dream”). But as detached as their Mean Girls references and keyboard commands sound, their music is conversely spirited, summoning a collective burst of energy akin to the one toddlers get just before bedtime. By the time they let out an eardrum-shattering scream on “Ur Mum,” it couldn’t be clearer: Wet Leg stopped giving a fuck a long time ago and so should you. –Nina Corcoran

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Sub Pop

Weyes Blood: And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow

How do you mourn the loss of what we’re all still living through? Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering has spent the last few years wrestling with difficult questions about the human species’ slow descent into climate apocalypse, writing tender ballads that situate individual melancholy within a larger politics of collective grief. The second in a series of three albums dedicated to this theme, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow wades further into the lonesome nostalgia that has long been among the songwriter’s strengths, finding moments of near-religious ecstasy at the depths of her despair. It’s a eulogy for a dying world, born from a hope that the next one will be better. –Rob Arcand

Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal