Every time I’ve tried to sit down and write my end of year column I’ve found myself trying to write a full review for each record on my list. And that’s basically what the following lists are; records I would have written about if I had the time (or if someone were paying me). But I’m defending my dissertation this semester, and I just don’t have the time for that, unfortunately. So without too much preamble, here are my lists of favorites from last year. Our ACL end of year lists are always culled solely from records we reviewed on the blog that year, so I won’t mention any records that already appeared on the ACL 2022 lists.

ACL 2022: Sound Propositions


Backwoodz Studioz

I first got hipped to Backwoodz back in 2017, when billy woods & E L U C I D were featured on a Bandcamp daily article. I checked out Known Unknowns, woods’ collab with Blockhead (at least as evidenced by my iTunes library) but to be honest it didn’t make much of an impression at the time. I probably didn’t give it the attention it deserved. And then when my man GENG released a cassette version of Armand Hammer’s 2018 masterpiece Paraffin my ears perked up again, as the producers that Backwoodz has gathered at the label really resonated with me. Like many others, I had many people telling me to tap into Hiding Places, woods’ solo record produced entirely by Kenny Segal that saw the label getting serious mainstream attention. But again, I was preoccupied and didn’t take the time to really dig into the back catalog. But that all changed in 2020 with the release of Armand Hammer’s Shrines and billy woods & Moor Mother’s BRASSeach of which I wrote about in my 2020 end of year column. Those records feature production from Messiah Musik, August Fanon, Nicholas Craven, Kenny Segal, Navy Blue, Earl Sweatshirt, Steel Tipped Dove, Andrew Broder, Earl Sweatshirt, Willie Green, Olof Melander, Preservation, and Child Actor. That’s a murderer’s row of talent right there. 2022 saw Backwoodz release two stellar full-lengths from woods, E L U C I D leveled up in a major way on I Told Bessie, ShrapKnel gave everyone a run for their money on Metal Lung, and AKAI SOLO made his Backwoodz debut with a killer EP and LP combo late in the year. And still we’ve got every reason to believe that 2023 will be even better. In an industry that’s so often driven by vacuous pop trends and Peter Pan syndrome, it’s been amazing to watch a crew of true artists continue to get better with age.


Child Actor

Child Actor’s beats were among my favorites on BRASS, having previously just had one placement on woods’ Terror Management (2019), and “Charms,” one of the standout tracks on Shrines (and one of the greatest videos of 2020). Child Actor is the duo of Max Heath and Natalie Plaza Carballo, and while ethereal vocals are prominent in much of their music, what really sets their production apart is the lack of loops and repeated patterns. According to an interview with the Next Movement podcast, Heath plays freehand, giving his beats a unique feel. In 2022, Child Actor’s productions could be heard on records by AKAI SOLO, SharpKnel, Serengeti, Open Mike Eagle, and, most especially, four beats on E L U C I D’s I Told Bessie.

we don’t cover vocal music at ACL but I’m seriously thinking about starting a hip hop column

billy woods + Preservation, aethiopes
billy woods x Messiah Musik – Church
E L U C I D – I Told Bessie
AKAI SOLO – Body Feeling / Spirit Roaming
IBLSS  – raja’s sun
Boldy James and Nicholas Craven – Fair Exchange No Robbery
Quelle Chris – Deathfame
Fatboi Sharif x noface – Preaching in Havana
Moor Mother – Jazz Codes
Open Mike Eagle – Tape Component System with the Autoreverse
Ka – Languish Arts / Woeful Studies
RAP Ferreira – 5 to the Eye with Stars
Black Thought & Danger Mouse – Cheat Codes
ShrapKnel – Metal Lung
Pink Siifu x Real Bad Man – Real Bad Flights
Brian Ennals & Infinity Knives – King Cobra
Serengeti (produced by Child Actor) – Ajai 2
DJ Preservation – 1974

records from some of my favorite artists that might have slipped under your radar

Dakim – The Sorcerer’s Way / if you can hear me
Cole Pulice – Scry
Koray Kantarcioğlu – Loopworks 2
Norman W. Long – Return and Recovery (line)
Chance Images  – “So Inept”
Chris Williams – Live
various artists – Free Percussion/Water (tsss tapes)
Fred Moten / Brandon López / Gerald Cleaver – Moten/López/Cleaver
Giuseppe Cordaro – XIII Rumori Santi

records from artists who I always check for

Giuseppe Ielasi – The Prospect
Valerio Tricoli – Say Goodbye To The Wind
Siavash Amini & Eugene Thacker – Songs for Sad Poets
Mai Mai Mai – Rimorso
Vladislav Delay – Isoviha / Ripatti Deluxe
DJ Stingray 313 – FTNWO
The Bug – Absent Riddim
Sam Prekop – Saturday Sunday
William Basinski & Janek Schaefer – “ . . . on reflection”
claire rousay – everything perfect is already here


GENG PTP – Slowness as the Vehicle – PORTISHEAD FOREVER


Derek Bailey – Domestic Jungle / Domestic Jungle DAT

godspeed you black emperor! – all lights fucked on the hairy amp drooling


Caltrops Press

Next Movement Podcast

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