As of today, 2022 is already halfway into the history books. While you let that fact sink in, look on the bright side: it's been an incredible year for music so far. To mark the occasion, we asked our trusty Townsend Music team which albums have triumphed on their turntables and dominated their Top Tracks so far this year.
Laura Barrett: Junior Account Manager
Harry Styles – Harry's House (Buy Here)
I am admittedly - and unashamedly - a die-hard Harry Styles fan, so of course, this album has been on heavy rotation since it dropped in May. The themes on the album ensure that it's by far his most mature record yet, with funky basslines thrown in with synth sounds and catchy lyrics.
I find myself stuck with a different song off the album most days. The album has got tunes - including my favourites 'Cinema' and 'Satellite' - that make you want to shake your hips, go on a road trip with your best pals or sit in your room and sob your heart out (not speaking from experience on the latter!) What more could you want from this northern heartthrob?
Beach House – Once Twice Melody
I have talked about this album in our March Staff Picks blog, but Once Twice Melody has remained a firm favourite for me this year. I've been lucky enough to see them a couple of times in 2022 and hear some of the tracks from the new record and it was every dreamy dose of celestial, cinematic perfection that I hoped it would be. Check out 'Superstar' and 'New Romance'.
Nic Staffa: Account Manager
Wilkinson – Cognition
Cognition is such a great album. I love Wilkinson's music, and this third solo studio album from Mark (Wilkinson) does not disappoint. The mix of different styles of DnB includes vocals from Becky Hill and techno remixes. It's five stars from me!
Post Malone – Twelve Carat Toothache
A long-awaited album, three years since Post Malone's last and it doesn't disappoint. This album is a different side to Posty, you get a small insight into his life with heartbreaking tracks.
Of course, the album has some upbeat tracks but the majority of them are deep, for example, 'Love/Hate Letter to Alcohol', 'Lemon Tree', 'Reputation', and especially 'Euthanasia'. Awesome album!!!
Lucy Price: Account Manager
Wet Leg – Wet Leg (Buy Here)
Working on this campaign was super exciting; it was amazing to see this band shake up the industry with their raw songwriting style and humorously honest lyrics. With all the over-the-top production dominating the charts these days, it’s been refreshing to hear a classic band line-up with quirky guitar riffs and a story to tell. A debut album at number one when you’ve barely played to more than 200 people isn’t too shabby either!
Rhian and Hester have nailed it - and they are the coolest gals around.
Foals – Life Is Yours (Buy Here)
I’ve never been big into indie music, but the singles from this album have been hard to resist. Some serious earworms.
I’ve found myself waking up with the riff of '2AM' going around and around my head. The perfect soundtrack to summer, with super chilled vibes all around.
Bethany Turner: Customer Service Advisor
BTS – Proof
BTS's Proof was the best album of the year to me because I found BTS at the beginning of the year when I was going through a tough time in my life. Their music really resonated with me; not only have I come out of my shell and made new friends, who are part of the fandom, but I discovered something I can be passionate about!
This album was an accumulation of their favourite past work since their debut and also a release of three new songs, saying goodbye and thanking their fans for staying by their side as they go into a break for a couple of years.
James Smith: Account Manager
Fontaines D.C. – Skinty Fia (Buy Here)
Fontaines D.C. returned this year with their follow-up to 2019's BRIT and GRAMMY-nominated album A Hero's Death. Being hooked on the band since their debut release Dogrel, I couldn't wait to hear new material when it was announced last year but at the same time, I worried the album would stray too far from the band's post-punk routes that first drew me in.
The third album has certainly not disappointed and demonstrates a clear evolution in sound from their previous releases, with the opening track 'In ár gCroíthe go deo' being an example of this shift in the band's sound, showcasing a much more mature side. Notable standout tracks on the album for me are 'Jackie Down The Line' and 'Roman Holiday'.
What's more, as well as the Official Store's Red Vinyl edition, I was lucky enough to get myself a copy of the limited edition Blood Records Zoetrope Edition, which has to be seen to be believed!
Ben James: D2C New Business Manager
Arcade Fire – We (Buy Here)
Not taking huge steps out of my comfort zone here, with my two albums of the year thus far both being produced by the same man: Nigel Godrich. Nigel doesn’t normally stray too far from wherever Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood require him, but he was let off the leash to man the desk stateside for Arcade Fire’s Lockdown album We.
Their sixth studio album is one-half Covid paranoia and introspection leading off with 'Age of Anxiety I', and one-half hope and euphoria as the world opens back up with 'The Lightning I/II'. They even bring Peter Gabriel along for the ride on 'Unconditional II'. Their best and most rewarding Album since The Suburbs.
The Smile - A Light for Attracting Attention
Nigel’s next contribution is with his old pals Thom (Yorke) and Jonny (Greenwood) with their new project The Smile, where they are joined by Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner. The first listen of single ’The Smoke’ and its classic modern-era Radiohead feel, could easily be something from In Rainbows.
Greenwood's recent wonders in the film soundtrack world are in evidence on the likes of ‘Pana-Vision’ and ’Open The Floodgates’. Listening to ‘Free In The Knowldge’ you could close your eyes and see Thom Yorke with an acoustic guitar on a big open-air festival stage, strutting his stuff out front to ‘You Will Never Work In Television Again’ as the band build into a crazed frenzy. There’s even a song on the album called ‘A Hairdryer’. What’s not to like?
Lucas Barr: Business Development Manager
Pusha T – It’s Almost Dry
Pusha’s back! After 2018’s Daytona’s seven tracks over 21 minutes left us wanting more, Pusha waited four years to drop this worthy follow-up. It’s Almost Dry is twelve tracks of lyrical prowess from “cocaine’s Dr. Suess” over production from Pharrel and Ye, who take six tracks each.
Despite the distinction between their studio styles, the layered production is interwoven between tracks and sewn together by King Push’s distinct delivery. Similar to Kendrick Lamar’s return on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, Pusha is in a reflective mood, covering his career and former beefs while looking to the future and how fatherhood has changed him. When you have one of hip-hop’s greatest rappers plus two of its greatest producers, it can only equal an instant classic. Standout Tracks for me are 'Neck & Wrist' and 'Let The Smokers Shine The Coupes'.
Bonobo – Fragments (Buy Here)
This is an album that rewards repeated spins and I have had it firmly in my rotation all year. Derided in some circles as “easy listening”, it seems to me that sometimes easy listening is exactly what we need... especially when this landed in a dreary January!
The tracks like 'Shadows' and 'Age of Phase' have a richness in the production and softness in the vocals that is almost meditative, whilst remaining engaging and hooky enough to linger in your eardrums long after listening. Sure to glisten in the summer sun before brightening up winter, I can’t see this record being out of reach for the remainder of 2022.
Simon Walsh: D2C Campaign Manager
HEALTH – Disco4: Part II
Disco4: Part II is a more coherent follow-up to 2020’s Part I, featuring an array of well-placed guests including Nine Inch Nails, Lamb of God, Ho99o9, Poppy, Perturbator, and more.
The album runs a gamut of feelings and styles, starting very bleakly before becoming increasingly aggressive and violent, yet somehow ending feeling quite dreamy and almost, dare I say, upbeat. Unless HEALTH happens to release something else this year, it’s undeniably the ‘industrial-synth-metal-hip-hop-noise’ album of the year.
Pusha T – It's Almost Dry
This is a very, very razor-close second in my albums of the year thus far. Pusha’s trademark flow comes to the fore over some incredible production from Pharrell and Ye, who split those duties equally across twelve tracks.
It’s one of those albums where everything sounds exactly like it should: Pharrell’s piano-led work and a few bangers he might have wished he’d held back for an N.E.R.D reunion; Ye’s high-pitched soul samples; Pusha delivering customary tales of drug deals and lavish excess. A very satisfying listen.
P Barney Barnes: Head Of Digital
Carpenter Brut – Leather Terror
Following 2018's Leather Teeth, the dark king of synthwave returns with Leather Terror, the middle third of a trilogy of soundtracks to an imaginary series of slasher films. This time around, the album is accompanied by a bona fide crossover single, the pounding ‘Imaginary Fire’, featuring hardcore legends Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato, a track that sounds as much at home next to a Nine Inch Nails single as alongside Brut's genre-forebearers such as Kavinski.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown; the French producer's opening salvo of EPs (released later as Trilogy) arguably redefined an entire genre and it's safe to say that the shadow they cast has been challenging to crawl out from under. On Leather Terror Carpenter Brut has managed just that, staking out new commercial ground while building upon the sound other artists have since made a career of emulating. The return-to-form mid-album salvo of ‘Day Stalker' into 'Night Prowler' feels like a challenge to pretenders to his throne: “yes, you can copy that, but can you do this?”
Los Bitchos – Let The Festivities Begin
Los Bitchos describe themselves as “riding shotgun with a Tarantino heroine”, as that’s as good a visual image of their groovy, cinematic surf-rock as any. Taking the twangy guitars and Latin beats that Khruangbin have made their calling card, then adding a helping garage rock and girl-gang cheer, this truly global group of ladies have harnessed the same kind of energy, joy and playfulness that has made Wet Leg's debut such a cause célèbre this year.
Across the eleven tracks of their very own debut (the aptly named Let The Festivities Begin), Los Bitchos demonstrate an ear for songwriting and arrangements that ensures each of these instrumental tracks wields at least one sharp little melodic hook to bury in your brain. Easy-listening, yes. But very, very cool!
George Douglas: Account Manager
Oumou Sangaré – Timbuktu (Buy Here)
My first campaign to see through from launch to release here at Townsend Music is an accessible West African rock album that has introduced me (and my Spotify’s algorithms) to loads of cool World Circuit Records international music.
It’s as groovy and bluesy as anything on The Black Keys’ return, but with more interesting instrumentation and Oumou's heartfelt and soulful voice. I’ve no idea what she’s singing of course, but then I don’t need translation to have liked Candlelight Records’ Cage Fight record either.
Logic – Vinyl Days
I'm just a couple of weeks into digesting the 30 tracks, but it’s already up there for the year. Dexterous rapping with clever wordplay and biting punchlines over old-school Madlib/J Dilla-esque beats is how I like my hip-hop.
Logic's lyrical disdain and derision for modern mumblers is still as amusing as it was pre-retirement and this throwback/homage even samples some of my favourite Beastie Boys and Wu-Tang Clan tracks with Funkmaster Flex hyping throughout to create a classic mixtape vibe.
Paul Barton: Head Of D2C+
Feeder - Torpedo (Buy Here)
Another Townsend Music D2C+ record that also happens to be amongst my most heavily on rotation this year. Torpedo lives up to its name and is heavy! And heavy Feeder is always good... Speaking of heavy, special mention for Earthless: Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons. Three songs, 61 minutes long, not a vocal to be heard, riff after riff after riff after riff after riff after riff...
Sea Power - Everything Was Forever (Buy Here)
For me, this is the best album that Sea Power (formerly British Sea Power) has ever done. It was a pleasure to work on this campaign and help to get this music out to the world. Check out 'Transmitter' on the Townsend Music Staff Spins Playlist right away if you haven't yet had a taste of this record.