Jawbox members J. Robbins and Zach Barocas list their favorite albums of 2022
We've been asking artists what their favorite albums of the year are as 2022 comes to a close, and today we're sharing lists from two members of post-hardcore legends Jawbox, who continued their reunion with more touring this year and also put out The Revisionist EP, which features new versions of two songs from their 1991 debut LP Grippe and a cover of Wire's "Lowdown." Below, you'll find a list from vocalist/guitarist J. Robbins, which includes music, film, a podcast, and more; as well as one from drummer Zach Barocas, whose jazz side project New Freedom Sound (that J. Robbins also plays in) released the new album Eight Freedoms this year.
J. Robbins Top 10 Things of 2022
1. FINOM (formerly Ohmme) - Fantasize Your Ghost
2. Failure - Wild Type Droid
3. Clutch - Sunrise on Slaughter Beach
4. John Cale - “Nightcrawling” single
5. Tropical Fuck Storm live (I saw them at Primavera Sound, but I imagine if I had seen them anywhere they’d still be on this list)
6. “In the Black Fantastic” - Afro-Futurist art show at Hayward Gallery, London
7. The Dawn of Everything - book by David Graeber and David Wengrow
8. Men - film, dir. Alex Garland
9. The Viewing - Panos Cosmatos-directed episode of Guillermo DelToro’s Cabinet of Curiosities
10. “A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs” - podcast by Andrew Hickey
The Failure record was released right at the end of 2021 so I reckon that’s not too far out of bounds. But I have to put the FINOM record on here because even though it was released in 2020, I first heard it (and proceeded to wear it out) in 2022. Same goes for Dawn of Everything - it was a 2021 release but it made a big impact on me in 2022.
Zach Barocas' Top 10 Albums of 2022
Devin Daniels - Trio Exposition
I came across this record while researching the Pan African People’s Arkestra earlier this year. Wonderful, assertive playing from the whole group but it’s Daniels’s leadership and passion that keeps things focused and confident. Spiritual jazz of a sort, devoted more to jazz than I’ve been hearing lately. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is exemplary.
Emily Wells - Regards to the End
Not sure how I found this record but I don’t know anything else quite like it. It draws from a seemingly wide set of sources whose names no doubt vary depending on one’s own set of references. At my age and from my experience, there are elements of Peter Gabriel, PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Björk, Bad Seeds, chamber music — Wells makes a personal, powerful music from all of these things, or better put, all of her things, send the result is hypnotic, synthetic, rapturous, and despairing. “Love Saves the Day” contains multitudes.
I Am - Beyond
A creative music swarm of exploration is the unifying characteristic of Isaiah Collier and Michael Shekwoaga Ode’s playing here. Incantation, reeds, and percussion align in this session to great effect, owing as much to their individual mastery as to their shared spirtiual dynamism. Free jazz, more or less, to free minds.
Tom Skinner - Voices of Bishra
I’m not familiar with Tom Skinner outside of this record but will no doubt remedy that in the near future. I’ve only been living with Voices of Bishra for a month or so and love its self-referential shambling jazziness. On the surface, it feels pretty loose, but give it a scratch, and there’s all kinds of deliberation in these tracks. “Voices (of the Past)” is a favorite, and falls apart while it’s taking shape. “Quiet As It’s Kept” strives for unity. Wonderful stuff.
Rosa Brunello - Sounds Like Freedom
Bassist Brunello put together a marvelous set of compositions with rhythm at the fore. These tracks started with improvisations by a notable international group of players on several acoustic and electric instruments, and were completed in post-production, a technique close to my heart, to extraordinary effect. Opening track “Jubiabá” will reel you in.
Zoh Amba - Bhakti
Tenor saxophonist Amba appeared to be everywhere at once this year, and wherever she is, she is worth a listen. Bhakti stands out, however, for its extended title piece, which give Amba room to stretch out even further than she does on her other sessions. Maestro Tyshawn Sorey is the drummer on this record, and brings typical thoughtfulness to his playing as well.
Abel Selaocoe - Where Is Home / Hae ke Kae
South African cellist Selaocoe (“Se-lau-chay”) lives in the UK but keeps his homeland very much in mind. Drawing from from European composers (Bach, Platti) and his native traditions, he gathers a seemingly spontaneous group of collaborators and performers (his own family and Yo-Yo Ma among a host of others) to create a suite of profound passion and beauty. “Lerato / Love” is a standout.
Jessica Pavone - When No One Around You is There but Nowhere to be Found
This collection of music for viola and voice explores a full range of performance, composition, improvisation, and effect. The title piece is especially compelling but it’s all worth repeated listening.
Carlos Simon - Requiem for the Enslaved
Commissioned by Georgetown University, this work memorializes 272 people who were sold into slavery in 1838 to save the university from bankruptcy. Written for small orchestra and voice, this powerful and vibrant work makes skillful and compassionate use of Black American music history, including gospel, jazz, hip-hop, and more. “Light Everlasting” shimmers.
Zach Barocas New Freedom Sound - Eight Freedoms
Would I be aggressive to include my own release or remiss to exclude it? It seems worth including here at least to mention my awesome collaborators: multi-instrumentalist Mark Cisneros, cellist Gordon Withers, keyboardist/recordist J. Robbins, and oboist Lenny Young. Also, if you’ve read this far, you might enjoy what we put together.