Punk & Hardcore

Most Anticipated Local and National Albums of 2022

click to enlarge Jack White has two albums dropping in 2022. - DAVID JAMES SWANSON
Jack White has two albums dropping in 2022.
David James Swanson
Are we still amid a global pandemic? Yes. Is it still a profoundly unsettling and confusing time? Of course. But is there also some tiny semblance of "normalcy," especially if you love new and live music? Yes. So, let's mark that noticeable shift toward the good and not outwardly depressing by celebrating the one consistent amid all this: a stream of great music. This year sees a slew of artists, both local and national, releasing great new albums spanning the sonic spectrum. So whether you like indie pop, stadium rock or a dash of experimental music, there's something for everyone. So, here's to 2022, where the music is enjoyable and the world's a slightly smaller dumpster fire.

Secret Attraction, Replica (February 18)

Derek Wise was savvy enough to maintain a steady flow of releases amid COVID-19. That includes 2020's Strawberry and 2021's True Love EP and Sensitivity/Drifting all of which encapsulated Wise's retro-leaning brand of shimmery synthpop. Now, Wise kicks off 2022 with his second full-length, Replica, which includes the lead single "Trust/Forget." And based on that track alone, Wise is mining the same vein of lush, '80s-inspired sounds, albeit with more of a focus on bigger soundscapes over traditional pop structures. It's not so much a leap forward as a steady foot into the future for an exciting young artist.
Astrologer, Legerdemain (R) (March or April 2022)

Andrew Cameron Cline (formerly of Weird Radicals) used 2021 to release some powerful music. That includes the excellent Legerdemain (L) EP, which contained standouts like "Tomorrow" and "Mania." This spring, Cline returns with its companion EP, Legerdemain (R), which he described as "warmer, more bright and fun, more pop," with influences of bubblegum rock and The Ramones. And once more, Cline's not alone, as the EP features contributions from Don Bolles, Wyatt Blair and Taylor Graves (Thundercat, Flying Lotus, among others). Like the name suggests, Legerdemain is the slyest kind of rock 'n' roll magic.

Band of Horses, Things Are Great (March 4)

The name alone is confounding, especially since the last Band of Horses album (from 2016) was called Why Are You OK. (Like, do they even read the news?) But as frontman Ben Bridwell noted in a recent statement, lead single "Crutch," and perhaps the 10-track LP by extension, is about "when nothing goes right and you still have to carry on." Press for the record also describes it as a kind of "reaffirmation" as they hone their emotionally diverse brand of alt country, with an emphasis on "anthemic choruses and windswept grit." OK, maybe things aren't that great, but new BoH music is always reason to celebrate.
Rex Orange County, Who Cares? (March 11)
click to enlarge Rex Orange County performs in Phoenix in January 2020. - ANDREW MARSHALL
Rex Orange County performs in Phoenix in January 2020.
Andrew Marshall
Young singer-songwriter Rex Orange County released the excellent Pony in late 2019, embarking on a world-spanning tour in support. Aside from a live EP in September 2020, he's mostly used COVID to lay low and prepare for what's next. And that latest step is Who Cares?, an album whose title alone captures both our current moment and perhaps the singer's own thoughts on his "absence." But don't let the title fool you, as the LP is a great extension of County's brand of pop, and includes the excellent lead single "Keep It Up" as well as another collab with Tyler, the Creator, "Open A Window." Keep it up, indeed.
I Am Hologram, Nui Loa (March 18) and Working Class Weirdo (May 16)

It's going to be a busy year of releases for Richard Nihil, who performs as I Am Hologram.

On March 18, he'll unveil that project's 13th album, Nui Loa, a fully improvised set recorded in November 2021 at Phoenix's 1227 Tap Room. Nihil says that LP's 10 tracks are "mellow and meditative," inspired in part after he had survived a car crash earlier that month.

Then, on May 16, Nihil will unveil the project's 14th album, Working Class Weirdo. This collection of acoustic recordings is the sequel to 2016's Idiot Savant, with a heavy emphasis on psychedelic folk and "strange sound art in between tracks."

With both projects, Nihil is building new layers to his patchwork style of rock music.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Unlimited Love (April 1)

Fans of Red Hot Chili Peppers had enough reason to celebrate when, in October 2021, the band announced a massive stadium tour for this summer and fall. Now, there's even more good news, as the band in April will release Unlimited Love, their first new album since 2016's The Getaway. (Need more positive developments? The record features guitarist John Frusciante, who rejoined the band in 2019.) Lead single "Black Summer'' exemplifies the mood of this "era" of RHCP, as the band released a statement emphasizing how the album's sessions left them "enrapt ... by sounds, rhythms, vibrations, words and melodies." Turns out there's just a lot to be excited about these days.
Jack White, Fear of the Dawn (April 8) and Entering Heaven Alive (July 22)

The release of one Jack White album in a calendar year would already be the highlight of any rock fan's 2022. But this year we get two from the legendary rocker and frontman of The White Stripes and The Dead Weather. Fear of the Dawn, which lands in the spring, is White's fourth studio solo record, and spans 12 tracks to include a collaboration with Q-Tip. Then, in July, White drops album No. 5, the 11-track Entering Heaven Alive. No word yet on the connection between the records, but the first begins with "Taking Me Back" while the second ends with "Taking Me Back (Gently)." Rock fans, 2022 is going to be one for the books.
Warpaint, Radiate Like This (May 6)

We last heard from Los Angeles' own Warpaint with 2016's Heads Up, which saw the foursome add in more R&B and electronica into their brand of evocative indie rock. It seems that's the same sort of course the band has charted for their first album in six years, Radiate Like This. Case in point: The 10-track album is led by the familiar sounding "Champion," which the band described as exploring the fragility of life and how it's "too short not to strive for excellence in all that we do." So even if they're not breaking down any new barriers, we can expect more poignant rock from Warpaint — and that's clearly more than enough. The Black Moods, Into the Night (May 20)
click to enlarge The Black Moods return with a new LP this May. - JIM LOUVAU
The Black Moods return with a new LP this May.
Jim Louvau
Tempe rockers The Black Moods hit a career high with 2020's Sunshine, which saw their brand of swagger rock reach all-new levels of depth and intensity. Now, some two years later, they are set to tentatively return with Into the Night on May 20. We heard one album track in last November's "She Gets Out," which serves as the "sequel" to Sunshine's title track. And more music will arrive in late February with another new single, "Saturday Night." Based on those two tracks alone, The Black Moods are striking while the iron is hot with more punchy alt rock that they've been expertly cultivating over the last 10 years.
Coheed and Cambria, Vaxis II: A Window Of The Waking Mind (May 27)

If you haven't kept up with Coheed and Cambria, they're in the midst of their "Amory Wars" saga. The previous chapter of the five-part story came with 2018's Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures. The direct follow-up, Vaxis II: A Window Of The Waking Mind, should be more of the same prog rock goodness as the band adds to the story of "a couple on the run from tyrannical forces and their mysterious new addition." Don't let the nerdy vibes overwhelm you, though, as based on lead singles "Shoulders" and "Rise, Naianasha (Cut The Cord)," Coheed continue to bring the sound and fury in equal parts.
Snailmate, Stress Sandwich (October 2022)

The last non-single release from Snailmate came with February 2018's Existential Anxiety EP. But in addition to playing shows everywhere, including a forthcoming tour, the duo of Kalen Lander and Bentley Monet have been at work on a new LP. Stress Sandwich runs 11 tracks of what they describe as "synthpunk grindcore pop nerd rap goodness." And based on the two singles already released "I Know What You Want" and "Donuts in the Rain" — the LP delivers on that kooky mix of sounds and then some. Expect a few more singles in the coming months before Stress Sandwich arrives sometime in October.
The Deadbeat Cousins, Old Habits (Fall 2022)

Local blues rockers The Deadbeat Cousins have been at work on their sophomore LP since at least July 2021. There aren't too many new details, except for a title (Old Habits) and a tentative release date (fall 2022). At least the band's already released a handful of singles, including "Reverse Engineer" and "Enough," which double down on the influences of Jack White and The Black Keys. They are clearly happy to rely on music over hype, telling New Times, "We're loud, and we try to just let the music talk." Based on what the band's had to "say" so far, that's clearly been a solid formula for success.
Violet Choir/MRCH, TBD (Sometime in 2022)
click to enlarge Violet Choir is the latest project from the members of MRCH. - JAKE HINES
Violet Choir is the latest project from the members of MRCH.
Jake Hines
Before they launched Violet Choir in early 2021, Mickey and Jesse Pangburn played in the band MRCH (not to mention the equally great The Prowling Kind). Both acts create sleek, electronically tinged pop bands, though MRCH tend more toward ethereal dream pop compared to Violet Choir's robust synthwave. This year, the pair will return to MRCH with a new EP, which was in pre-production as of late January 2021. While the record is currently without details, the Pangburns did say the project is "the best representation of our music yet." Consider that all the incentive you'd ever need for whenever this EP drops.

Breakup Shoes, TBD (Sometime in 2022)

Breakup Shoes recently earned their status as a true touring band, hitting the road for a big national outing with Summer Salt. Now, they’ve come home and are ready to record a follow-up to 2021’s Narratives EP (and their first record since 2019 full-length So Money, Baby. The foursome are still early on in the process, as they told New Times recently they're without a "title, release date, or even format." But if it’s anything like their recent output, it’s going to be heartfelt, deeply catching indie pop made for endless dancing. So keep your ears opened — and fully prepared — for when more details emerge.

Talia Roya, TBD (Sometime in 2022)

Singer-songwriter (and former New Times cover star) Talia Roya has been at work on a new EP for months. While there’s still no title or release date set beyond sometime likely this year, Roya did confirm her two previous singles, "Ripe" and "Keep Talking," would appear. A third single and music video, called "Bite My Tongue," is set to debut in the spring. Every new offering proves that Roya is a dynamic talent, and she continues to marry the worlds of pop and rock with a real grace and commitment. This new EP will not only further reclaim her career prospects but also open Roya up to brand-new audiences.
Asphalt Astronaut, aurora (Sometime in 2022)

Even if Jessica Tanner (aka Asphalt Astronaut) hails from Tucson, she certainly has captured hearts and minds in Phoenix. After back-to-back albums 2021's andromeda and 2020's antares — Tanner's latest album, aurora, could drop later this year. Tanner told New Times that the LP, which is likely to become a proper full-length, is "melancholy and a little delicate," with "lots of layered vocals, soft piano, music-box type styling, and even some guitar." If it's at all like its predecessors, aurora is going to be heartfelt and poignant, and more proof why Tanner's talent transcends all ZIP codes.