My 2022 in Music

eric boam
9 min readJan 12, 2023

If you happen to find the right song in the right moment that describes the thing swirling around inside your head it’s nirvana

Daniel Johnston’s piano, guitar, synthesizer, and trinkets

Punk music was the narrator for what swirled in my teenage mind — not selling out, a perceived hard life, angst towards adults, over-confidence, and who was or wasn’t punk enough. As those topics gave way to teenage crushes, emo music recounted those early experiences with love and rejection. Then life started getting more complicated — I left home, went to college, started learning new things, and meeting people who weren’t like me. My soundtrack started to change and diversify to match my evolving life experience.

There had been one area on the map of possible life experiences that I had avoided up until 2022 — death. My dad passed away from Covid in early 2022. Just like my teenage self, I felt seen through music as I grappled with close loss for the first time.

When Matt Berninger and Justin Vernon sing The grief, it gets me, the weird goodbyes,” in the chorus or when Berninger sings alone in the bridge “I keep goin’ back and forth, I think now I’m about to see, Didn’t know how sad it’d be” in Weird Goodbyes, it provides words for my new, foreign feelings. Or when I re-listen to my friend Paul’s song about losing his brother to cancer, the last verse sums up the change I feel inside. “I remember when we were kids, All the grownups’ swollen-eyed faces. I wondered what they were crying for. I don’t wonder anymore.Or when Adrienne Lenker sings about death as a “door to a place we’ve never been before,” I now have a description for the journey I was on in 2022.

My Ten Favorite Albums of 2022

  1. Boat Songs by MJ Lenderman — On tour, MJ Lenderman sells a giant poster of the Michael Jordan Jumpman logo with the word “LENDERMAN” written underneath in bold letters. It’s ridiculous. It’s flippant with a hint of veneration. Like all good subversive art, there are layers to this poster. He’s from North Carolina, just like Jordan. His initials are MJ, just like Jordan. Okay so maybe not that many layers. But he does have a song on this album about Michael Jordan called “Hangover Game”. That is my favorite song on the album. It is also a bit flippant towards the great Michael Jordan. It shouldn’t work to write country-fried woozy guitar songs about the legend behind one of Michael Jordan’s most famous games — but it does for MJ Lenderman. (Songs on the album that I like: Hangover Game, You Have Bought Yourself A Boat, Tastes Just Like It Costs)
  2. MOTOMAMI by ROSALÍA — In September, I visited Barcelona for the first time. Part of the trip required me to give an inspirational talk and I decided to base it around a musician from the area. Rosalia was an obvious choice. In preparation, I spent a lot of time learning about her ambition to be a pop star as a kid and her journey to success. Early on she faced numerous difficult setbacks, including a disastrous performance on a singing competition show where she was told to “display some character” and that she was “regularly off-key during the song”. Those setbacks led her look deep inside, return back to the music she grew up with, and embrace the fullness of who she is. Those lessons show up in many ways in this album. In the beats, her singing, the music, but none more obvious than this lyric in “BIZCOCHITO”: “No base mi carrera en tener hits. Tengo hits porque yo sente la base.” Loosely translated to “My career isn’t based on having hits. I have hits because I laid the foundations.” (Songs I Like: LA FAMA, BIZCOCHITO, DESPECHÁ.)
  3. Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You by Big Thief — I love the guitar solo in “Simulation Swarm.” It is an Adrienne Lenker masterpiece — woozy, fuzzed out, rambling, and yet it is the perfect compliment to the droning pulse of the rest of the song. It rocks live, acoustic, on the Late Show, and in Levon Helm’s studio. (Songs I Like: Change, Certainty, Simulation Swarm, Little Things)
  4. Diaspora Problems by Soul Glo — I saw this album on so many mid-year best album lists that I couldn’t ignore it. I put it on while driving to the grocery store and immediately pulled over to take in the enormity of what I was hearing. It only took 30 seconds of the first song I heard to know why it was on all the lists. And then I texted everyone I knew who would care about this album and most texted back immediately with the same reaction I had. (Songs I Like: Gold Chain Punk, Driponomics, Jump!!)
  5. Lucifer On The Sofa by Spoon — Britt Daniel moved back to Austin from LA early in the pandemic after living away for nearly ten years. I can feel the influence of the city seeping back into their music. It’s looser, raucous, diverse. The song Lucifer On The Sofa is littered with Austin specific references. “Now you’re thinking ‘bout Dale Watson, Thinking ‘bout turquoise, All along West Avenue, While those black birds make their noise” (Songs I Like: Wild, Held, My Babe, The Devil & Mister Jones, Lucifer On The Sofa)
  6. God Save The Animals by Alex G — This album snuck up on me over and over and over this year. Every song starts out sounding like an amalgamation of 7 other songs I already like. I love that Alex G can take disparate sounds and pull them together into catch pop-esque songs. And he always seems to add some part that pushes the envelope. Like in the outro of “Runner” when he sings “I have done a couple bad things” over and over while changing his singing style and adding vocal effects. (Songs I Like: Runner, S.D.O.S., Miracles, No Bitterness)
  7. Natural Brown Prom Queen by Sudan Archives — This is the album that I could see Sudan Archives making when I fell in love with the debut EP in 2017. The beat in “NBPQ” mixes a dance beat with the African string sounds that made the debut EP so intriguing to me. “Selfish Soul” has a different mix with a pulsing beat and then violin flourishes throughout. (Songs I Like: Home Maker, NBPQ, Selfish Soul)
  8. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot The Unified Theory of Everything Version by Wilco — The legend of the making of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot has loomed as large as the album since its release. Up until the release of the Super Deluxe version of YHF, the only way to get deeper into the evolution of the songs was through documentary footage and interviews. But now there are recorded versions (multiples!) of the songs that are scratched into my soul. When I listen to the tracks, what stands out is the things that are missing. All the little details that have made Yankee Hotel Foxtrot so enduring over the years. “Kamera” is full of fuzz and missing the acoustic guitar. “War on War” is driving and jangly, missing the weird synth sounds. “Jesus Etc.” is mostly the same but it doesn’t have the strings yet. “Heavy Metal Drummer” doesn’t have the drum machine intro. You get the idea. (Songs I Like: Kamera, Remember to Remember, Poor Places, I’m The Man Who Loves You)
  9. I Walked With You A Ways by Plains — Katie Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee albums had been mostly indie rock sounding for the first 10 years or so. I loved them. When Saint Cloud came out in 2021, it was a new sound that embraced folk and country. It worked perfectly for her voice and it became one of my favorite albums. This album by Plains (a collaboration between Katie Crutchfield and Jess Williamson) feels like an extension of Saint Cloud, soaked in the same inspiration. This time, there are incredible harmonies that accompany the sound. (Songs I Like: Hurricane, Problem With It, Abilene)
  10. Cheat Codes by Danger Mouse & Black Thought “Strangers” has verses by Black Thought, A$AP Rocky, El-P, Killer Mike (the A$AP verse is my favorite, I love the way he raps “one fish, two fish, red whip, blue whip”). Every other song has a collaboration or a sample that keeps each song fresh and surprising. Like the Kid Sister chorus in “The Darkest Part” or when Black Thought raps “My words should be studied up in Berklee and Juilliard, All my bars is hard as solid gold bullion” in “Aquamarine”. (Songs I Like: Strangers, Belize, The Darkest Part, Aquamarine)

Other music worth mentioning

Home Is Where (the EP was a 2021 release but whatever — the first two songs fit together so well), Kevin Morby (“This Is A Photograph” is an excellent song and there’s a great Song Exploder episode about it), Bill Callahan (If I had given this album more time it might be a top 10, “Natural Information” rules), Beyonce (This album is pure joy), Meridian Brothers (not part of the Bad Bunny/ROSALIA/Rauw Alejandro Spanish Music Revolution, but still revolutionary in its own strange way), Sylvan Esso (I dug the “Your Reality” and “Sunburn”), NNAMDÏ (continuing to make some of the most interesting music out there, love “Touchdown”), Alvvays (I love Molly Rankin’s voice and they always manage to write dreamy pop music behind her singing, case in point “Pharmacist”).

Concerts Attended in 2022

Soul Glo at The Parish on 7/23/2022

Hiss Golden Messenger w/ Alexa Rose 2/12/2022 at Scoot Inn
Jeff Tweedy w/ Claire Roussay 3/3/2022 at The Paramount
Bon Iver w/ Dijon 4/2/2022 at Waterloo Amphitheater
Porches w/ Alaska Reid 4/9/2022 at Scoot Inn
Japanese Breakfast 4/20/2022 ACL Taping
The Weather Station 6/21/2022 ACL Taping
Soul Glo 7/23/2022 at The Parish
The National, Fleet Foxes, Mogwai, and Perfume Genius 8/26/2022 at All Points East in Victoria Park
Kevin Morby w/ Cassandra Jenkins 10/7/2022 at Scoot Inn
Spoon 10/19/2022 ACL Taping
Plains w/ MJ Lenderman 11/1/2022 at Scoot Inn

Other Things That Inspired Me in 2022

Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk — The heart and soul of one of my favorite bands, Low, passed away from cancer in 2022. Mimi Parker sings and plays the drums and writes some lyrics. She is also married to Alan and they have kids. I was always inspired by both the music they made and their personal life. I was saddened when she passed but also impressed with how they handled such a difficult situation.

Taylor Hawkins — The longtime drummer for Foo Fighters passed away tragically in 2022. Seeing his son come out and play “My Hero” at the tribute concert was such an emotional moment, even via YouTube.

Everything Everywhere All At Once — I don’t even know where to start describing this movie. So I’ll just say that it is amazing. Everything about it is funny, thoughtful, perfect, weird, and emotional. Give the Daniels the keys to the MCU mutliverse. Give Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan the Oscars.

Station Eleven — I did not want to watch a TV series about a post-pandemic apocalypse world in the middle of a real life global pandemic. But I did and I am so glad I did.

Daniel Johnston exhibit at The Contemporary Austin — This show featured a ton of Daniel Johnston’s drawings, many of his hand drawn cassette covers, and then his piano and guitar. It really brought his art to life to see so much of it in one place.

Daniel Johnston’s hand drawn cassettes

Seeing my kids ski — I grew up riding snowmobiles and going snowboarding. And then I moved to Texas and left that behind. Until this year. We ended up in Utah in March and I took my older two kids to Sundance for some spring skiing. Seeing them pick it up and get excited about something new and something that I still love was unforgettable.

Park Güell — I studied Gaudi in school and loved his work. I had no idea the size and scale of Park Güell. The way it spills up and down the hill. The endless discovery of new little nooks. All the detail. The crafts and care put into the placement of every stone.

Park Güell

Nevia PavleticAn amazing artist that I discovered through my friend Aric’s newsletter about art, You Should Own Art. Nevia’s art is tedious, intricate, and unlike anything I have ever seen. I love the shapes and colors and textures.

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