WLUW’s Favorite Records Of 2022

2022 is officially behind us, but we at WLUW would not want to go into the new year without paying homage to our favorite releases of the year past. DJ’s and staff of WLUW all chipped in to share their personal highlights from the wild musical year that was 2022.

Fontaines D.C.Skinty Fia

Fontaines D.C. delivered their third album, Skinty Fia, this year, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Released in the rainy month of April, Skinty Fia delivers a moody exploration of the band’s move from Dublin to London, leaving behind home in an effort to expand their opportunities as musicians. The sound is grimy, with heavy drumming from Tom Coll and cathartic vocals from lead singer Grian Chatten. Conor Deegan III, Carlos O’Connell and Conor Curley kick in quickly after, with gloomy riffs and mystical backing vocals. The album is thematically cohesive while still retaining an individual sound and story on each track. The title track “Skinty Fia” is hard-hitting and aggressive while the album’s single “Jackie Down the Line” feels melancholic and far away. It’s the perfect album for thinking deeply or getting out of a bad mood while still wanting to tap your foot along.

-Josie Stahler

Emmaculate feat. Kaye Fox – “Do It” (Kenny Dope Remix)

“Do It” featuring Chicago’s own Kaye Fox was Emmaculate’s debut release on Terry Hunter’s T’s Box Records in 2017. The record served as a great introduction and reached the Top 10 Soulful House chart on Traxsource. Now, one of the Masters At Work himself, Kenny Dope, gives the song a new life with this remix that bangs in classic KD fashion! When this record was released in 2017, I was immediately drawn to it because it had a phat and slick texture, a rolling bassline, a funky groove, and traces of a 90s aesthetic. I often felt like I was teleported back to the 90s and rematerialized inside my favorite swanky London club, Bar Rumba. I also felt like the vocals fit perfectly with the track. Fast forward to 2022, when Kenny Dope reveals on an Instagram reel that his remix was in the progress. I already knew that this would be a monster jam and patiently waited to get a copy.

Released on Mirror Ball Recordings – a subsidiary of T’s Box, the remix added another dimension, taking the track to another level. The project contained the original 90s flavor but with a distinct drum pattern that gave it a rich and warm sound. My wish came true when Kenny Dope dropped it in his set at Defected Croatia. I got behind the remix the same way I did with the original release. Now my support of it is to the extent that I am hoping to see a vinyl release soon, featuring all of the original release versions by Emmaculate and Terry Hunter along with the Kenny Dope remix versions. I believe the vinyl junkies worldwide would have a field day with it (myself included).

-DJ Purple (Reggie Davenport)

Dry CleaningStumpwork

Dry Cleaning released their second album Stumpwork this year. The London band has an incredibly unique and experimental sound. It’s post-punk, new wave, and lead singer, Florence Shaw’s spoken word style carries what I can best describe as diary rock. The whole album acts as a window into the mind of Shaw. This was my top album of the year purely because you do not hear music like this often. I feel Dry Cleaning is riding the margin of so many genres, which always makes their music an experience to listen to. The album starts with the track “Anna Calls From the Attic.” There is an insistent knocking sound in the background–giving a feeling of anxiety and excitement. I knew I would dig this album when Shaw sang, “I like it when you can see inside houses, from a car, its cozy.” A monologue and collage of Shaw’s thoughts, Stumpwork is a slight departure from their previous records, but they still keep their funky and off-kilter sound. My favorite track on the record is “Gary Ashby.” The song is about losing a family turtle–it’s brighter, funny, and so fun to listen to. Shaw’s “shoop, shoops,” whispers, and droning voice carries this album. Stumpwork feels like a collection of inner thoughts. Shaw lets out all of the sounds, attitudes, droning, and weird commentary one wants to say but gets stuck in the throat. If you’re looking for an album and band that carries a feeling one does not typically get from music Stumpwork is the place to be. 

-Kora Elms Fleming

Death’s Dynamic Shroud Darklife

The anticipation for Death’s Dynamic Shroud’s newest record had been building for years. Their first release to feature all three members of the band since 2017’s seminal Heavy Black Heart, the world was ready for new Shroud, and we got just what we needed. The listening experience this album brings is transcendent and unforgettable. Every time I return to Darklife I discover new and mysterious colors and textures I did not hear before. The moments of hectic chaos colliding with the peaceful and glimmering serenity create a cohesive and gripping journey. The power and addictingness of singles like “Judgement Bolt” and “Messe de E-102” still hold strong, and the beautiful and striking pair of tracks “Rare Angel” and “Perfect Angel” cement the record’s melodic tenderness as well as its ability to create highly experimental and innovative moments of catharsis. Insane sample chopping, extremely thoughtful composition, and sheer technological mastery all come together to create what I hear as the sound of the future of music.

-Erik Anderson

Sports TeamGulp!

Hailing from the raucous music scene in London, Sports Team dropped their sophomore album this year with a bang. Gulp! is an animated force, utilizing rhythmic guitar riffs and basslines you could eat. Tracks like “Dig!” are especially unique with the inclusion of a children’s choir under frontman Alex Rice’s vivacious lyrical performance. From this album it’s obvious that band members Rice, Rob Knaggs, Al Greenwood, Oli Dewdney, Henry Young and Ben Mack function like a singular unit to deliver colorful lyrics and danceable tunes. It’s been fun watching the band promote the album in addition to listening to it, from threatening to sue Primark for making sweatshirts that say “Sports Team” to running around the country in a hand painted van performing for anyone who will listen. The band is just as spirited as their music. Tracks to check out off the album (besides all of them) are the thrilling “Kool Aid” and the more reflective final track, “Light Industry.”

-Josie Stahler

Terry Hunter Presents – “T.S.O.C.” (feat. Common, Mike Dunn, Deon Cole, Chantay
Savage, Coldhard, AM7, Jamie Principle)

Terry Hunter assembled a cast of Chicago all-stars to bring you a legendary collaboration that was sure to be the song of the summer of 2022: another installment of Terry’s Imagine No Music project. I was honored to be selected as the opening deejay at Terry Hunter’s listening party for “T.S.O.C.” (The Sound of Chicago). As a longtime fan, I anticipated another stone-cold jam to add to his roster of mega hits. I took stock of all the talent that was featured: Common, Coldhard, AM7 (of Crucial Conflict) representing Hip-Hop. Mike Dunn representing Hip-Hop, House, and Hip-House. Chantay Savage, a legendary vocalist representing House and R&B. Jamie Principle, another legendary vocalist of House classics such as “Your Love” and “Waiting On My Angel.” Deon Cole, an actor, comedian, and media personality.

My only ‘expectation’ was to hear a cross-pollination of various dance music flavors. Would it be a Hip-House record, a House record with rapping, a House record with R&B textures, or all of the above? The record exceeded my expectation – while being very clever. “T.S.O.C.” was nothing more than a modernized imagining of a classic record that dominated the Chicago airwaves on the hot mix shows, “T.S.O.B.” (The Sound of Brooklyn) – performed by Master Jay and Michael Dee. While the tempo, melody, and cadence of everyone’s parts are much like the original song the lyrical content of “T.S.O.C.” is totally CHICAGO. Terry Hunter took the elements of the original song and created a modern Chicago anthem. It’s a summertime jam that can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

-DJ Purple (Reggie Davenport)

Happy New Year from the whole WLUW team!

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