Staff’s Q2 Playlist 2022

Published: July 05, 2022

2020 | 2021

2022 :: Q1 | Q2 | Q3 | Q4

Sputnikmusic Staff’s Q2 Playlist 2022

Welcome to the second installment of our 2022 quarterly playlist! Feel free to jam the playlist below while reading what our writers had to say about each selection. Tell us what your favorites are in the comments, as well as any new artists you may have discovered here — or, alternatively, tell us what we missed! Thanks for reading/listening.


Artificial Brain – “Celestial Cyst”
Artificial Brain

Unsurprisingly, the eponymous third chapter from Long Island’s singular dissonant machine stands as one of the finest death metal albums to come out in the first half of 2022. The first single, “Celestial Cyst”, with its dense psychedelic(ish) slow-paced section, is not only Artificial Brain‘s most iconic moment, but also epitomizes its unforeseen emotional weight. –TheNotrap

Asian Glow – “Look Close, Nose the Reflection”
Stalled Flutes, means

The biggest and bestest track on Asian Glow’s tangled knockout of a new album might just be the most impressive thing to come out of the whole of 5th wave emo. It is momentous; it is ambitious, perhaps a little too much so; it is maudlin yet you can almost dance to it; it has best bits and they don’t last forever. It’s a huge track about nothing lasting forever. It ends the moment it hits its peak, but if its whirl of lofi and indietronica palettes ain’t enough to make that journey worthwhile, you’re in the wrong ballpark. –JohnnyoftheWell

Bartees Strange – “Wretched”
Farm to Table

One of Bartees Strange’s strengths is his genre hopping, but when songs like “Wretched” come along, it makes you almost wish he would just stick to this style. A song that can only be described as a banger, “Wretched” is a glorious synth pop cut. I can’t imagine a better chorus will come along in 2022, but I welcome it if it does, because anything better than this would have to be one of the choruses of the decade. –dmathias52

Bloc Party – “If We Get Caught”
Alpha Games

The gradual but heartbreaking Kele-isation of Bloc Party has resulted largely in some limp music fuelled by truly head-scratching vocal takes and lyrics. On Alpha Games, new arrival Louise Bartle (drums/vocals) uses her undeniable skills and chemistry with guitarsmith Russell Lissack to drag them back towards tolerability, but only “If We Get Caught” truly touches the kind of greatness the band used to effortlessly pump out. A quiet melancholy tinges even the lightest moments of this pop tune with bittersweetness, recalling the all-time classic “I Still Remember” even as the band are clearly 20 years older and that far removed from their heyday. Still, if they could only re-bottle that lightning for the touching dual-vocal chorus of “If We Get Caught”, it’s better than never doing it at all. –Rowan5215

Blut Aus Nord – “Chants of the Deep Ones”
Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses

Once again, Blut Aus Nord have given voice and sound to darkness by crafting a Lovecraftian sonic vortex that is both haunting and beautiful. Its grandiose overture, “Chants of the Deep Ones”, is the invisible hand that pushes us into the void; the perfect (eerie) host for one of 2022’s most surrealistic journeys. –TheNotrap

Cave In – “Floating Skulls”
Heavy Pendulum

I adore this sludgy-spacey continuum that permeates Heavy Pendulum, but sometimes I crave a straightforward rocker, and the bruising “Floating Skulls” fits perfectly as a nostalgia bomb (as do “Amaranthine” and “Careless Offering”). The album’s production is superb — as expected from Kurt Ballou — with stunning layers of guitars and a molasses-thick rhythm section. As Rowan’s excellent review noted, Caleb Scofield’s passing is a tragic void, but Nate Newton’s contributions reinforce the band’s perseverance. –Jom

Club d’Elf – “Lalla Aisha in Jhaptal”
You Never Know

You wanna hear a song from an album heavily influenced by Gnawa music from North Africa (trance, but not that trance), a near-death experience in the Peruvian Amazon, with namedrops regarding influence spanning from Miles Davis to Frank Zappa? Surely you wouldn’t spend so long reading these pithy wee blurbs if that weren’t the case. Here, try one out that has someone called Mister Rourke going buckwild on the turntables before some Jhaptal scatting blitzes through the mix. –MiloRuggles

Daniel Rossen – “Unpeopled Space”
You Belong There

If you’re a fan of classically leaning avant-folk (think Fleet Foxes’ Crack-Up), then Daniel Rossen’s solo work is something that you won’t want to miss. “Unpeopled Space” is a clear example of why, with its intricately picked, beautifully discordant acoustic guitars and meandering-but-not-lost progression. This is one of the most daring and magnificent pieces that the Grizzly Bear frontman has ever composed. –Sowing

Darkher – “Immortals”
The Buried Storm

The wait for Jay Maiven’s follow-up to her 2016 debut had me thinking I would have needed indeed immortality in order to make it. One gets old, and time is of the essence, folks — I’ve already assumed I’ll never play Dark Souls 6, but that is alright. “Immortals” is half calming, half damning, an ode to the sea where Maiven’s spellbinding voice carries you like waves until it splashes the rocky coast leaving just doom and desolation. Just like aging itself. –Dewinged

Death Cab for Cutie – “Roman Candles”
Asphalt Meadows

Here is a song that is as sonically engaging as it is overly earnest. Here is Death Cab for Cutie reminding us what made them so great in the first place. –BlushfulHippocrene

DIR EN GREY – “13”

Phalaris came pretty close to being a tier below their best works, but alas, they couldn’t quite maintain the quality during the tracklisting’s midsection. Nevertheless, where The Insulated World failed to deliver any songs that stood out, Phalaris does have a number of legitimate highlights under its belt, with “13” being one such song. Kyo has a lot of iffy moments on this album that hinder the weaker tracks, but “13” fires on all cylinders and hears Kyo bringing an eclectic range of ideas to the table that captures the glorious fire of their best works. It’s a pithy entry that gives you exactly what you need in its runtime, with plenty of brutal moments as well as beautiful symphonic ones. –DrGonzo1937

Dreamcatcher (KR) – “MAISON”
Apocalypse : Save Us

Dreamcatcher have pursued a path of their own in Kpop, including darker concepts and distorted guitars into their output. While softer at the edges when compared to previous singles, “MAISON” delivers catchy vocals and smooth pop rock grooves. Also, a Kpop song talking about the environment is something else. –insomniac15

Ebi Soda – “Pseudocreme”
Honk If You’re Sad

Worth the price of admission for drummer Sam Schlich-Davies’ performance alone, “Pseudocreme” adroitly integrates breakbeat influences in Ebi Soda’s eclectic genre-hopping sound. The song’s closing minute is a psychedelic fever dream, which is just a small taste of the wide array of styles the Brighton-based jazz quintet puts on display. See also: the buoyant “Christmas Lights in June”, album centerpiece “Chandler”, and the shape-shifting “Tang of the Zest”. –Jom

Ethel Cain – “Ptolemaea” and “A House in Nebraska”
Preacher’s Daughter

I won’t spoil Preacher’s Daughter‘s plot for anyone who hasn’t followed along to the album with lyrics in-hand yet, but “Ptolemaea” is the tipping point in a thrilling storyline. It’s a brooding, disturbing moment with a chilling atmosphere and a flawlessly delivered knockout blow. Preacher’s Daughter is an album brimming with emotion, but this track in particular elevates the entire experience and helps to shape/define what makes it so incredibly dark and twisted. –Sowing

I’m an absolute sucker for songs about unrequited love and there aren’t that are many better than Ethel Cain’s “A House in Nebraska”. There is a moment about five and a half minutes in where, after a perfectly paced growth of reverb, backing piano, and impassioned vocals, just about everything drops out as Anhedönia softly, brokenly sings, “But God, I just hope you’re doing fine out there, I just pray that you’re alright.” I want to say its one of the most genuine, moving moments I’ve ever heard in music, but I can’t even confidently saying it’s the most moving moment on the song itself, which just goes to show how emotionally impactful “A House in Nebraska” is. It’s haunting, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s human. –dmathias52

Gospel – “Deerghost”
The Loser

Consider yourself lucky, because you’ll be able to tell your kids you have been in the presence of a miracle. Not only have Gospel returned to the fold, but they have done it with a monster of a record. I could have chosen any cut from The Loser, but “Deerghost” does a wonderful job in showcasing that the progpostcore four-piece haven’t lost a slice of their mojo. –Dewinged

Harry Styles – “As It Was”
Harry’s House

Much as he loves to tout his ’70s album-rock influences, “As It Was” finds Harry Styles far closer to the wry observationalism of ’90s britpop, mourning a dissolving relationship with the same glassy-eyed detachment Damon Albarn pioneered on Parklife. Sure, it may carry itself with less gravity than previous Styles megahits like “Sign of the Times” or “Adore You”, but that lightness proves a feature rather than a bug, as it allows the instrumentation to slip into more understated, neutral shades to ground all the drama and keep the song from wallowing. Lyrically, “As It Was” is on the verge of a breakdown; musically, it’s business as usual. What’s more British than that? –Kompys2000

Hatis Noit – “Angelus Novus”

Are you a bad listener? I worry I am sometimes; a worrying proportion of the time, my music consumption is a soundtrack for Other Things, or a canvas of projection for what Paul McCartney termed the aimless rambling amongst the canyons of your mind. Well, not when “Angelus Novus” is on, that is. Hatis Noit is quite simply a better singer than I am a daydreamer or multitasker, and this attention-subjugating masterclass of abstracted a capella gets both ears pricked every time without fail. What a sound; what a marvel. –JohnnyoftheWell


I’m a sucker for “GNOSTIC FLESH/MORTAL HELL”‘s hip-hop beat; it has an undeniable swing to it, with plenty of breathing room for you to feel the unfettered pounding of the song’s drum kicks. Outside of this groove, there’s a lot going on, from Backxwash’s ice-cold flows, to Ho99o9’s haunting incantations. There’s plenty of excellent moments to be found on [i]Disco4[/i]’s closing chapter, but this song has so much to unpack, and it’s all fantastic. –DrGonzo1937

Heilung – “Anoana”

Northern collective Heilung have been reawakening forgotten echoes for some time now, unveiling soundscapes where men, nature, and magic coexisted as a single, almost indivisible entity. The latest single, “Anoana”, follows up on their ritualistic concept, focusing on the European migration period and its mystical incantations. And in a time when we’re divorcing from nature, these echoes take on special relevance. –TheNotrap

Jenna & the Janes – “Through the Bluffs”
Earth Dog Year

Earth Dog Year is a fairly simple but heartfelt album exploring themes of loss and renewal. The record’s whole conception comes together, as it should, with the closer “Through The Bluffs”. At once both a gut-wrenching emotional punch and an irresistible anthem, it’s a near-perfect track, and one that I probably would’ve fallen for even without losing both parents in recent months. As it is, fuhgettaboutit… –Sunnyvale

Macaroom – “Yakan-Hikou”
Inter Ice Age 4

Macaroom’s latest record is an understated amble through ambient pop soundscapes seldom seen in such grace or detail, but boy oh boy when this group decide to make straight pop, there’s no-one that can touch them. “Yakan-Hikou” is a delightfully airy banger drawn from a crisp beat and a handful of choice vocal melodies, the gloriously simple development of its pre-chorus-into-chorus standing as one of this year’s strongest hooks. It’s a worthy addition to the group’s top shelf. –JohnnyoftheWell

Magna Carta Cartel – “Darling”
The Dying Option

Despite their last LP being in 2009 and relative silence since an EP and standalone singles across 2017-2018, MCC’s reputation for developing ethereal, cinematic soundscapes remained steadfast on The Dying Option. “Darling”‘s keys weave to-and-fro like a hypnotist’s watch, and I’m an immense sucker for well-mic’d hi-hats and bass kicks (especially while wearing headphones), as heard in the track’s pensive bridge. Martin Persner’s soaring “You’re lost somewhere / Where are you now?” vocals are another resplendent highlight. For those looking for a heavier side of MCC, “Savantgarde” is the quintessential choice, with emphatic keys, robust guitars, and an immersive final chorus. –Jom

Meshuggah – “Phantoms”

While the first half of “Phantoms” is impressive for reasons that have theorists frothing from orifices that might not ordinarily froth, it’s the stately and stupid semitonal breakdown that provides the finest moment of Meshuggah’s latest album-length exercise in doing the same thing slightly differently again. The difference in this particular instance is the way that Haake finesses his way through the maelstrom, weaving stoopid and silly fills in places where nobody else would dare think to. –MiloRuggles

Moon Tooth – “Deathwish Blues”

Every song on Moon Tooth’s new album is good and worth many dozens of listens, and the explosive breakup anthem “Deathwish Blues” is STILL a clear-cut playlist candidate, the kind of blood-pumping heavy metal that can actually win over folks with little taste for headbanging or circle pits. MT’s inimitable chops are put to great use on the most seamless tempo shifts I’ve heard all year and a pulverizing main riff, but the “GOT ME CAVIN’ IN” refrain is sugary-sweet enough to satisfy parents, coworkers, and kiddies alike. –Kompys2000

My Chemical Romance – “The Foundations of Decay”
The Foundations of Decay

Leave it to My Chemical Romance to still find a way to surprise us all. Their second life after nearly a decade gone had begun to feel like a reunion that would just fizzle out, but not so. “The Foundations of Decay”, dropped with no warning or fanfare, plants both its feet to stare the listener straight in the eye and remind us how fun this band can be when we leave our expectations at the door. A noisy, unwieldy monster with Gerard Way’s iconic voice mixed ghostlike in the background, it sounds more like a matured take on I Brought You My Bullets… than anyone could possibly expect. Let it serve as a reminder: never lay odds on this most predictably unpredictable of bands. –Rowan5215

Old Nick – “Ghost of Sourdough Bread and 2% Milk” [stream]
Ghost O’Clock

Every now and then, an album comes along that seems deliberately designed to shake up your preconceptions about a given genre. Old Nick’s Ghost O’Clock is just such an album, and this, its sprawling grand finale, takes black metal to heights more kooky and colorful than I ever thought possible. By the time the band let off the gas pedal for a gentle marimba coda, corpse paint will be the last thing on your mind. –Kompys2000

Orville Peck – “Hexie Mountains”

While there could be an argument here for just about any song off of Bronco, the song that I’m consistently coming back to is “Hexie Mountains”, the most understated moment on the album. The melody is immensely hummable and the instrumental portions call to mind the best of Dolly, Denver, and Dylan. The fact that it remains restrained also allows Peck’s voice, his strongest asset, to shine. Simply put, “Hexie Mountains” is just an incredibly pretty song. –dmathias52

Patrick Watson – “Little Moments”
Better in the Shade

The centerpiece of Patrick Watson’s diminutive new album, “Little Moments” takes the singer-songwriter’s typical emotive beauty in the direction of a delirious fever dream. The results are completely mesmerizing. This is a tune which inevitably draws me entirely under its sway, emerging from a record that works best as (unusually great) background music and then just as quickly dissolves again. –Sunnyvale

Porcupine Tree – “Dignity”
Closure / Continuation

Remember when Porcupine Tree could create and convey genuine emotions in a way that felt like actual human beings were behind the p r o g ? I think I do, a vague memory of days gone by with the likes of “Feel So Low” and “Heartattack in a Layby”, before Steven Wilson became preoccupied writing concept albums about the downsides of Xbox. “Dignity” isn’t just the best song from Closure / Continuation, it’s the first time in more than a decade that Porcupine Tree’s music has stirred up those kind of feelings in me. For that reason alone, full marks, lads: but that cheeky little riff is fun too, yeah? –Rowan5215

Prince Daddy & The Hyena – “Curly Q”
Prince Daddy & The Hyena

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a punk song like “Curly Q”. The Brian Wilson-esque melodies plant you firmly in the warmth of summer, and the gorgeous guitar solo at the end is so soulful and eloquently delivered that one can’t help but be moved by it. It’s one of the smoothest and most purely enjoyable songs of the year, and it almost single-handedly made a Prince Daddy fan out of me. –Sowing

Rammstein – “Adieu”

Taking out of the equation the minor debate on whether this song is a send-off for the band or not, Rammstein’s “Adieu” is a colossal anthem backed by Till’s emotive hues and soaring power. It’s a fantastic closing number, but it’s also one of the best anthemic tracks in the band’s discography, as it masters the effectiveness of scuttling electronics, rumbling bass and those crisp piano keys segueing into the grandest of choruses. If it is their last track, it’s an extremely poignant one; if it’s not, it’s a damn fine track to add to the portfolio. –DrGonzo1937

Sasquatch – “Save the Day, Ruin the Night”
Fever Fantasy

Sasquatch are back with an album you can tear down walls with. It’s something you would expect from them by now, and between those tracks are some serious grab-yer-dancing-shoes rockers. “Save the Day, Ruin the Night” is a cool, swinging hard rock track for you to dance to this summer. –insomniac15

Say Sue Me – “To Dream”
The Last Thing Left

I’m not sure if “To Dream” sounds like summer or if I wish summer felt the way “To Dream” sounds. That said, I am sure that this song is one of the most relaxingly beautiful things to have come out this year. If this doesn’t make you want to drown in the sparkly shimmer of a sea of sweet strawberries… sue me. –JesperL


I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled across “EMPATHY 4 BETHANY”, only that I was immediately enamoured. Enamoured by its overlapping arpeggios; its catchy, washed-out chorus; its trumpet and piano, the way they’re woven into and out of the song’s background, its landscape. Hard not to be enamoured by a song that I barely remember, though which I cannot seem to — have not — stop(ped) listening to. –BlushfulHippocrene

Sullii – “Distant”
Wake Up Next to Me

You’re thinking it, I’m thinking it, we’re all thinking it: staff mixtapes need more disposable zoomer sadboi-core. Sullii delivers. While the artist has been embracing more organic instrumentation (read: pop punk) on his recent album, “distant” presents a break from the intensity with its simplistically contemplative melodies, heartfelt lyrics, and Sullii’s stupidly smooth vocals. –JesperL

The Smile – “Thin Thing”
A Light for Attracting Attention

I had no idea that the two guys that people can actually name from Radiohead had formed a new outfit with Tom Skinner until the digital fates cast this intricate track before me. In a chance meeting of ignorance and predictability, those head-spinning guitar patterns sent neurons down pathways previously only lit up by the suave leather jacket brand confidence found in “The Numbers”, only this time the track is so propulsive and nimble that even these three legends struggle to piece it together live; full compliments, team — I hope you’ve got it down by the time I miss the one show you’ll probably never play in Aotearoa. –MiloRuggles

Tomberlin – “tap”
i don’t know who needs to hear this…

A frankly magical song elevated further by some of the loveliest folk production I’ve heard since Adrianne Lenker’s last. –BlushfulHippocrene

Vansire -“Next Time in New York”
The Modern Western World

While Vansire have been at the top of the (very short) dreamjazzhopgaze food chain for quite some time now, the dissonant synths of “Next Time in New York” add some exciting new flavours to the duo’s formula. It’s as explicitly vibey as ever, but this time you’ll find yourself attempting to hum along to every overlapping melody at once while contemplating the significance of a coffeeshop employer looking like Erlend Øye. Relatable stuff. –JesperL

White Ward – “False Light”
False Light

Allow me to sabotage this playlist with 14 minutes of jazzy black metal just because. You might have seen the beautiful Ukrainian city of Odessa in the news recently — for all the wrong reasons, too. As these sons of Odessa were finishing up their new album, Putin (not Russia) decided it was a good time to go down in history as a buffoon and a butcher. When I think we were a missile away from never listening to “False Light”, my soul burns, but here we are. –Dewinged

Wilco – “Country Song Upside-Down”
Cruel Country

I threw in a one-word description of “Country Song Upside-Down” as ‘magical’ in my review of Wilco’s latest album, and there’s really not much more to say about it. It’s the type of tune that feels inherently timeless, dwelling in its own self-contained world. Decades along, one of indie’s biggest names still have a few tricks up their sleeves. –Sunnyvale

Wo Fat – “Overworlder”
The Singularity

One of the highlights of Wo Fat’s latest massive LP, “Overworlder” is pretty much a ZZ Top tune sandwiched between scorching progressive tinged hard rock riffage. It’s groovy, heavy and fun. –insomniac15

Participating staff writers:

BlushfulHippocrene | Dewinged | dmathias52 | DrGonzo1937 | insomniac15 | JesperL | JohnnyoftheWell | Jom | Kompys2000 | MiloRuggles | Rowan5215 | Sowing | Sunnyvale | TheNotrap

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