Anxious vocalist Grady Allen discusses his favorite albums of 2022
Anxious made one of our favorite albums of 2022 (and our #2 punk album) with Little Green House, and now vocalist Grady Allen has told us about his favorite albums of the year. He picked five, and had a lot to say about each one. It's not ranked, but he mentions that his favorite album of the year is Praise's All In A Dream (which he sings on), and Praise also included Anxious on their list. Check out his full list below.
Grady Allen's Favorite Albums of 2022
Absinthe Father - Moving Forward
This is the debut record from Bay area project Absinthe Father. I started following this record as soon as the singles started releasing and I have been completely hooked ever since. To be honest I have a hard time placing exactly where this record sits influence wise- at times it feels very in line with pop rock of the 1990s like The Cranberries or even Blake Babies but at other moments it feels far more intimate and soft with a certain quality I just can’t quite put my finger on. There are also interesting layers of percussion, synth, and other various instruments* that push the songs into another echelon, separating it purely from the bland term of “guitar music.”
Lyrically this record is fantastic. Haley Butters (Absinthe Father) completely exposes her relationship with grief and reflects on the ambiguity of the human experience, both in life and in death. The words feel painstakingly genuine and I envy her ability to be so transparent as a lyricist. Moving Forward is cathartic and painful yet also feels sentimental, warm, and even slightly celebratory at times. I love this record. Everyone should listen if they haven’t already.
*I like the banjo on the song "Harvest Moon." More people should write songs with banjo parts.
Camp Cope - Running with the Hurricane
I’ve been a Camp Cope fan for a couple years now. I discovered their first two records, Camp Cope (self titled) and How to Socialise and Make Friends, during the pandemic and they quickly became the soundtrack of my life during that time. The band has such a knack for writing catchy anthemic songs and I’m a massive fan of Georgia Maq’s observational, straightforward, and blatant approach to writing lyrics. When I saw late last year that they were slated to release a new record in 2022 I was instantly excited to listen to it. A few weeks later I was even lucky enough to secure an advance copy from Run For Cover (thanks Bryan) and have been listening religiously ever since. I can safely say that Running With the Hurricane is my favorite record from the band. It is definitely different from their previous offerings, but it manages to maintain the original pieces of what makes the band so special. Musically speaking, the band slows the pace way down on this record. The driving rock tempo of self-titled and HTSAMF is exchanged for a languid rolling pace. The lead single, "Blue," even kind of has a tumbling bluesy/alt country feel to it. Despite this, the band manages to keep things interesting and in line with their previous material. Bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich is still delivering melody-laden bass leads and Georgia Maq’s vocal parts, while somber, are still just as fun to listen to.
What I think I enjoy most about this record is the lyrical content. Running With the Hurricane sees Georgia Maq at her most introspective and vulnerable; coming to terms with the soaring highs and crippling lows of love and romantic relationships. The tracklist almost serves that “high versus low” analogy as well. The song "The Mountain" sees Maq emphatically professing her love towards a person. She describes how the feeling is intense, passionate, and even irrational: “You'll see how gentle I can be…you'll see all the love in me.” The song is a declaration that Maq’s love will overcome all hardship, no matter how big. The following track, "Say the Line," serves as a defeating response to the previous song. It acts as a harsh yet realistic reminder that one person’s love is often just not enough and focuses on how damaging this lack of reciprocation can be. “I remember the way I loved but I lost it,” says Maq, “Staring back at me from the dark, keeping me honest.” This back and forth of optimism versus reality creates for a heart wrenching listening experience that can’t help but leave the listener reflective about their own relationship with love.
If I had more time I would go on forever about this record- but I don’t so I won’t. Definitely go check this record out, it’s incredible.
Momma - Household Name
Almost everyone I know has this record on their “best of 2022” list. I think what I enjoy about this album is how cohesive every piece of it is. From the artwork to the music videos to the songs themselves, every piece of it feels intentional- something that I can personally attest to the difficulty of when putting together a record. It was very fun to watch the rollout of this record and see all the pieces come together. The music itself feels very referential to '90s alt rock- things like Nirvana, Hole, The Breeders- all of these bands feel like apt comparisons. The production is as slick as Hole’s Celebrity Skin and some of the melodies definitely feel like they could appear on The Breeders' Last Splash. But I think what sets Momma apart from the seemingly infinite mass of '90s grunge/alt-rock rehash bands is that although the music is referential, it never feels like blatant recreation. It feels contemporary and thoughtful. Yes, like I said there are melodies that sound like The Breeders- but there are also sections that feel fresh and distinctly Momma’s own DNA. The bridge section of the song "Medicine," for example, is pop music perfection. It’s the sort of melody you hear on contemporary pop radio and think “Goddamn how did they create something so catchy??”. "Household Name" exists in exactly the right space: songs that are carefully referential to the bands Momma loves but written in a contemporary and fresh way that makes them anything but boring. You can tell that Momma are true students of the game- but they aren’t bound to any textbooks.
Wicca Phase Springs Eternal - Full Moon Mystery Garden
So I think this technically qualifies as a mixtape and not an LP BUT I like it way too much to not talk about it. A few weeks ago Wicca Phase released Full Moon Mystery Garden, a project featuring twenty brand new songs. There are so many things that stand out to me about this project. For starters, it’s so diverse sound-wise. I probably don’t have all the correct reference points to speak about it eloquently- but you can tell that Adam (Wicca Phase) is making a conscious effort to expand into new territory he doesn’t typically get to get into with WPSE. Songs like "I Was on a Back Road by Myself" and "Tonight I’m in Love on My Own" have a more frantic energy than we normally see with Wicca Phase. "Tumblr Moon" is just an excellent rock song. There are even tracks like "On a Mountain Under Full Moon" or "I See the Moon and See a Meaning" that, although aren’t explicitly “happy” songs, feel upbeat and playful. The diversity of all these songs is further highlighted by the list of artists featured. Artists like Fantasy Camp and Fish Narc feel distinctly in line with Adam’s sound- but artists like 8485 and Swan Lingo feel like an interesting step outside. Lastly, Adam does a good job of keeping the whole record dynamic by keeping all the songs short. Most of the songs don’t break the 2:45 timeframe and almost always leaves you wanting more. It leaves you no choice but to just listen to the songs over and over and over. It’s awesome.
So yeah, the record is undeniably and apologetically dope. You should listen to it. Anyone who likes good music will find something on it that they’ll love (all of it).
Praise - All In a Dream
This is my favorite record from this year. I’d like to begin by detailing that Praise is a massively important band to me. Their first two LPs, Lights Went Out and Leave it All Behind, were absolutely critical to me as a young person getting into hardcore. Musically they play one of my favorite brands of hardcore- deeply melodic in the vein of Dag Nasty, Samiam, or 7Seconds- but what I’ve always really connected with about Praise is Andy Norton’s lyrics. Andy’s lyrics tend to focus on a lot of issues I often find myself struggling with: existential dread (is my life going to fall apart?), immediate dread (is my life ALREADY falling apart??), anxiety about the passing of time, and the deterioration of relationships. All of these topics are emotionally heavy and easy to be weighed down by, so I have always admired Andy’s ability to speak about them so transparently. Anyway, 2022 saw the release of Praise’s third LP, All In a Dream, their first new release in six years. Musically the record is Praise at their most melodic: the guitar riffs and leads are shiny and will be rolling around in your head for days. The harmony-filled bridge/ending of "Life Unknown" is perfected to have you humming it for WEEKS. But again what stands out most to me about this record is Andy’s lyrics. Similar to their past records, there are songs focusing on dread, anxiety, and disappointment, but what is different on All In a Dream is Andy’s seeming refusal to let these emotions get the better of him. The record is full of lines that inspire those to stand strong in moments of defeat: “I’ve seen the wrong and I’ve seen the right, but through the darkness I choose to see the light.” Even the last song on the record, a cover of Hüsker Dü’s "Keep Hanging On," echoes this sentiment. The song focuses on the importance of having a positive outlook despite the constant changing and unnerving nature of life. All In a Dream proves that the hard questions around the human experience- “Am I doing the right thing,” “Are the best pieces of my life behind me?,” “Are the people I care about changing for the worse?”- are valuable to ask, but horrible to be plagued by. We must stay resilient and not give into the more depressive elements of life.
I feel lucky to call Praise my friends. Their band means a lot to me. They were even nice enough to let me sing a small part on the record! Go listen if you haven’t already. In my opinion it is the most special record that came out this year.
Anxious are also gearing up for a 2023 tour with Drug Church, Prince Daddy & the Hyena, and Webbed Wing.