Noise Floor’s Best of 2022
Looking back on the year with some favorite records, photos and gigs.
It’s time…for another long-winded year-ender post. Maybe not that long-winded this time. Every year I nearly back out of doing one of these, or making a best-of list, but I think I have to keep at them for accountability’s sake.
As years go, 2022 was actually a pretty good one around these parts. Things are more or less back to “normal” in the world of live music, and I had a full year’s schedule of shows to cover for the first time since 2019 – around 150, plus a handful of festivals, in total. And plenty of them I did right here. 2022 was undoubtedly Noise Floor’s biggest year as an independent music publication/digital entity, which is something I’ve wanted for a long time. “We” were all over Boston and on the road, covering huge tours, small shows, local gigs, festivals…everything from Rammstein’s pyrotechnic extravaganza to the Pavement reunion, Mercyful Fate’s first U.S. tour in decades, the final Gulch shows and Kraftwerk at Radio City. And that’s just the stuff that made it to the blog.
I did a good amount of freelance work I’m reasonably proud of too, working with Bowery Boston on the opening of Roadrunner, joining a small festival team for Nice A Fest’s expanded second year and dipping my tow back into some more “professional” writing with The Boston Globe. I even managed to go to some shows just for fun, absent any responsibility and making photos simply because I wanted to.
Relatedly, I shot an insane amount of film, too; more rolls on stage and off than any prior year of my life for sure. I took a film camera to nearly every gig and came away with a lot of grainy and imperfect results, but the process has remained satisfying, and I think helped me stay connected with why I want to photograph and document in the first place. I failed to keep the recurring analog feature running here (they only made it to Instagram), but bringing that back feels like a tackleable new year’s resolution.
Things obviously haven’t been perfect in the live music ecosystem in 2022 (Ticketmaster debacles, another year waiting for Great Scott 2.0, no one will use front light at The Sinclair anymore, many venues way too cold for some reason), but it’s felt good to be really, properly back, with every week bringing at least a show or two I wanted to catch. And for all the bad news that development has wrought, there are still signs of new growth in Boston beyond the mega-venues. The Crystal Ballroom/Rockwell team has had an incredible year bringing shows to Davis Square, and Allston has had a packed schedule at O’Brien’s in addition to new locally-focused nights at the Sil and Notch Brewery. Monday nights at Charlie’s are even not-sucking again! Whereas much of last year still felt like a tentative post-lockdown fog, this one actually offered some optimistic glints. I had missed those.
Readjusting to shooting so much live music strangely pushed me a bit out of touch with new releases this year. That’s not to say I didn’t hear a lot of things (250-ish new records), but my ear felt less adventurous – ultimately more drawn to comfort listens. Joyce Manor’s effortless 40 Oz. to Fresno was likely my most-spun of the year, while Black Country, New Road’s Ants from Up There was the emotional knockout that immediately topped my list. I also (am in the minority of people who) loved the new Arctic Monkeys, and found it a strong year for death metal in the form of very-different-from-one-another-but-all-very-excellent releases from Undeath, Worm and Dream Unending.
There’s lots of predictable stuff elsewhere among my picks (who knew I’d be all in on the big Radiohead side project?), which makes me feel a tad guilty. But a list that honestly reflects what I was listening to beats compiling one to look more critically tuned-in than I really am. I think these things function best as snapshots anyway, and to that end, maybe this first year of my thirties is the preamble to my music taste freezing in carbonite. Or maybe I’ll get deep into digital hardcore in the new year. Only 2023’s list can say.
Anyway, find my usual, loosely ranked top 50 below with a playlist, followed by 60 favorite live photos from throughout the year. Hear something new perhaps, and relive a great concert moment. Thanks for reading and see you in the pit.
Favorite records of 2022:
- Black Country, New Road – Ants from Up There
- Joyce Manor – 40 oz. to Fresno
- Arctic Monkeys – The Car
- The 1975 – Being Funny in a Foreign Language
- The Smile – A Light for Attracting Attention
- Alvvays – Blue Rev
- Fontaines D.C. – Skinty Fia
- Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
- Undeath – It’s Time…To Rise from the Grave
- MJ Lenderman – Boat Songs
- Worm – Bluenothing
- Special Interest – Endure
- Destroyer – Labyrinthitis
- Drug Church – Hygiene
- Yard Act – The Overload
- Black MIDI – Hellfire
- King Hannah – I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me
- Dream Unending – Song of Salvation
- Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems
- Alex G – God Save the Animals
- Spoon – Lucifer on the Sofa
- Gilla Band – Most Normal
- Chat Pile – God’s Country
- The Mountain Goats – Bleed Out
- Bonny Light Horseman – Rolling Golden Holy
- Wilco – Cruel Country
- Palm – Nicks and Grazes
- Weyes Blood – And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow
- Knoll – Metempiric
- Animal Collective – Time Skiffs
- The Beths – Expert in a Dying Field
- Dazy – OUTOFBODY
- Rachika Naya – Heaven Come Crashing
- Horse Lords – Comradely Objects
- Cult of Luna – The Long Road North
- Nnamdi – Please Have a Seat
- Beach House – Once Twice Melody
- Horsegirl – Versions of Modern Performance
- Blood Incantation – Timewave Zero
- Pup – The Unraveling of Puptheband
- The Comet is Coming – Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam
- Spiritualized – Everything Was Beautiful
- Bartees Strange – Farm to Table
- Panda Bear / Sonic Boom – Reset
- Death Cab for Cutie – Asphalt Meadows
- Mizmor / Thou – Myopia
- Cave In – Heavy Pendulum
- Ylayali – Separation
- Birds in Row – Gris Klein
- Kal Marks – My Name is Hell
60 Favorite Live Photos: