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Patrick Masterson writesCHIRP Radio’s Best of 2022: Patrick Masterson

CHIRP Radio Best of 2022

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2022. Our next list is from volunteer Patrick Masterson.

Per tradition, this list features Chicagoland acts only. There are a lot of strange absences on here as I look back at what I did (and didn't) listen to, but the great thing about CHIRP's polyphonic Favorite Albums of the Year series is that we can each listen through my gaps via other volunteers' lists together as we roll into 2023. I hope you look forward to doing so as much as I do.







#1 Malign Hex by Meat Wave (Swami)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Meat Wave Malign HexMeat Wave has been doing this a long time — a decade, in fact, if you're going by the self-titled debut recorded wherever The Kitty Box in Algonquin and Joe's garage were in Chicago at the time.

Though the trio has always been great at the kind of gritty, rhythm-forward post-punk at which they've honed their trade, Malign Hex felt more like a spiritually aligned hex coming out on John Reis' Swami imprint.

The ghosts of Hot Snakes and, to a lesser extent, Drive Like Jehu ("Jim's Teeth" breaks five minutes, the first time the band has done so on record that I can recall) really shine through here, and though the pandemic delayed its release, the wait was worth it.

I knew from the from the first play of "Honest Living" that this one would be up there and am pleasantly unsurprised it landed on top. Great cover, too.







#2 Few Good Things by Saba (The Orchard)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Saba Few Good ThingsCare for Me will probably end up being the Saba record people ultimately return to most as it's one of the most intimate rap releases of the past decade, but something about the survivor's guilt on Few Good Things hit me in a way his previous album didn't.

Tahj Chandler's range on this record has expanded to my ears, and the litany of guests he brings along for the ride (Eryn Allen Kane, G Herbo, Daoud, 6lack, Smino, his Pivot Gang cohorts, the list goes on) manage to slot in without disrupting the overall mood of the album.

Put another way: I couldn't tell you how many times I played "Still" this year and that's not even really the highlight here. You'll see when you spin it.







#3 Puredub by Purelink (Lillerne Tapes)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Purelink PuredubComing off the excellent self-released "Bliss/Swivel" 12" you might recall reading about in my 2021 list (but more likely via Philip Sherburne, let's be real), the three members of Purelink delivered on its promise with little delay by releasing Puredub in the spring, right as nature's thaw was starting to take hold.

It is very much a headphones record from a headphones group; listening to it any other way (aside from at a live Podlasie Club set gooned off your rocker... maybe?) simply cannot be recommended.

Immersive and dubbed out in the best traditions of everything that followed Basic Channel, I know Ariel Zetina was (understandably) the talking point of Chicago electronic music this year, but please don't trust an opinion on our city's scene who didn't give this a listen.







#4 Abyss, You Are My Mother by Oui Ennui (self-released)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Oui Ennui Abyss, You Are My MotherIt's distressing how Jonn Wallen's made the notes for his latest single "Matchuline '82" sound, so I'm going to take the more fatalistic view and keep it firmly short here: If you haven't heard Oui Ennui yet, you are missing out on Chicago's most important music producer of the past two years, full stop.

Abyss, You Are My Mother would be an extraordinary feat of fried electronics and glorious, Yellow Swans-type endtimes ambient noise; in Wallen's hands, it is simply his fourth album of 2022 (and, perhaps, among his last).

I don't know how to implore you to listen any more insistently than this, but if you somehow still haven't taken the leap, now is the time. Like, right now. Go.







#5 Dark Humor by Jana Rush (Planet Mu)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Jana Rush Dark HumorYou can't fully trust a Chicago-only list that doesn't have something juke- or footwork-affiliated on it in my estimation, and while I confess I didn't get to as much of it this year as I'd have liked, Jana Rush's mini-album Dark Humor hit in just the right way at just the right time this past spring to stick with me.

What did it was simple: The most Chicago thing I saw in 2022 was the "Lonely" video filmed downtown, dancers twisting to Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" chopped up and drenched beneath orange sodium glow reminding me of every night flight coming in and out of town. Get familiar.







#6 Please Have a Seat by Nnamdï (Secretly Canadian)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Nnamdï Please Have a SeatHere's the one we can all probably agree on. Nnamdï has been working in this omnivorous aural space of indie-rock (but not quite), hip-hop (but not quite) and electronic music (but not quite) that's often attempted but rarely pulled off; the closest thing I can think of to an analog for him offhand is TV on the Radio's pre-Dear Science peak, which I say in the most complimentary of fashions.

Please Have a Seat flies by a lot faster than you realize despite its 14-song tracklist, so you might surprise yourself with how effortless replaying it can be.

I don't have much to add here since he's big enough to not need my co-sign, but just in case you were looking for one more confirmation from some guy with an opinion on the internet: Yeah, it's as good as everyone says.







#7 2 Player Mode by Jeff K%nz (TheGr8Thinkaz)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Jeff K%nz 2 Player ModeThough I read our interview in the spring, I didn't actually get around to hearing 2 Player Mode until late this year. No bother; one third of Mother Nature and a member of TheGr8Thinkaz collective, K%nz's raps are there whenever you're ready to discover them.

Accompanied by Rokmore's production that really emphasizes the low end (perfect for speaker tests in your car; ask me how I know), 2 Player Mode is a confident crystal-aided step forward. There's no doubt he's supposed to be here doing this.







#8 Taking Notes by temp. (American Dreams)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

temp. Taking NotesAnother one I caught wind of pretty late in the year came courtesy Erica Mei Gamble aka temp., a well-known participant (A+E, Dungeon Mother, Sarica) and documenter of Chicago's DIY scene for some time now.

Though she'd previously put music to tape, this is her first proper full-length out on Jordan Reyes' trusted American Dreams, and it's a low-key beauty with some unexpected samples (hello, Pokémon games and Rae Sremmurd) that somehow still manages to subtly unite them.

This may be her first album, but the years of listening and absorbing really show in the finished product.







#9 Vulnerable by Stander (The Garrote)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Stander VulnerableAs you might expect from a slow-burning instrumental three-piece out of Chicago, it's taken Stander a while to get here. But the band's work in a familiar mode reminiscent of fellow city dwellers Pelican and Russian Circles, plus earlier names in the post-rock tree of life like Rodan and Slint, has really come into its own via photographer Josh Ford and Brian Barr of Aseethe's new label The Garrote.

I haven't often found myself listening to this type of thing these past few years, but once again, fortuitous timing meant I heard Vulnerable at exactly the right time and it stuck with me for the duration of 2022.

If heavy music or just straight up good guitar playing is your jam, you'll want to investigate further what Stander's doing.







#10 Great News! by Daddy's Boy (Drunken Sailor)

BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Daddy's Boy Great News!It's difficult to articulate why I ended up liking this record so much when I hardly ever listen to hardcore, but also: It was the kind of year where I found myself listening to a lot of talkative punk bands of various stripes, so maybe there was just something in the wind.

The record release show was the last I saw at [redacted] (at least for now), so there's something a little bit special in that experience, too. Ultimately, though, it's the elder millennial sarcasm that feels familiar, it's the dirty guitar tones, it's the furious drumming, it's the title "Deacon Bruise" (a great band waiting for its members to form). It's great, is what I'm saying.

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2022

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