2022 has been one hell of a year for music, and much like last year, I’m prone to blaming the Covid-19 pandemic for this. Last year, bands had written music out of the frustration that was born of the mental trauma that being isolated from one another can bring. This year is due to the fact that things are back to a more or less normal state of being and the excitement that being around one’s bandmates can bring, not to mention the inspiration that follows. So, with that, here is the countdown of my top 10 preferred psych rock albums of 2022 … so far.
10. King Buffalo – Regenerator
Years Active: 2013 – Present
Release Date: September 2, 2022
Personally, I’m not into King Buffalo much anymore, but it’s hard to mistake their talent for anything less than what it is. Their songwriting is unmistakably them, and you know it’s King Buffalo once any of their tracks begins to play. I dig the bass and drum work, and their guitar tones are some of the best the genre has to offer. That and I find that this album is the best of the trilogy that started just over a year ago with The Burden of Restlessness.
Standout Track: “Regenerator”
9. Telesterion – An Ear in Silence Reaped
Release Date: June 16, 2022
Years Active: 2022 – Present
While this isn’t necessarily your standard psych, it does incorporate the same vibes, just mixed with post-metal, sludge, and shoegaze. The band name and album concept are as follows: “The Telesterion (ca. 435 – 421 B.C.) was a sacred hall at Eleusis used for the annual initiation ceremonies for the cult of Demeter and Persephone known as the Eleusinian Mysteries.”
I found this knowledge a big part of the attraction to what Telesterion does, and then the music finished me off nicely.
Standout Track: “Things Said”
8. Some Pills for Ayala – The Crows that Sing
Release Date: June 21, 2022
Years Active: 2021 to Present
“Some Pills for Ayala is the solo project of the Chilean musician Néstor Ayala. Some Pills for Ayala is a psychedelic experience, one replete with astral travel, the use of medicinal drugs that transcend consciousness, space, and freedom to use music as a tool to experience sensations and states of mind. You can enter a trip on each song.” No better description of a band has ever been written, but I didn’t write it; it’s posted on their Bandcamp profile and fits what this project does to a tee! The music is indeed trippy and sounds nothing like a one-man project; that’s how good Néstor is as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter.
Standout Track: “The Crows that Sing Part II”
7. AAWKS – Heavy on the Cosmic
Release Date: June 10, 2022
Years Active: 2019 – Present
AAWKS isn’t your dad’s psych; this is more like your cool Uncle’s music. You know, the one with all the tattoos and the badass battle vest? Yeah, that’s him, and he loves AAWKS’ mix of heavy, fuzzy riffs and psych tendencies. This album is barely in the psych genre, as it employs a much heavier vibe than bands like King Buffalo or Whitebeard.
Standout Track: “The Electric Traveler”
6. Betty Benedeadly – The Adventures of Mabel and Carter
Release Date: February 2022
Years Active: 2021 – Present
Betty Benedeadly falls under several genre labels, including psychedelic folk, desert rock, western, and more. She employs a style influenced by Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western film soundtracks and a connection to nature while remaining heady enough to create a psych vibe. This is the second of a trilogy of solo EPs from the Sheverb band member, and I look very forward to hearing how she concludes things.
Standout Track: “The Voice of the Fire”
5. The Black Angels – Wilderness in Mirrors
Release Date: September 16, 2022
Years Active: 2004 – Present
This was the first time that I had heard The Black Angels, but it will not be my last. I enjoy how they blend psych with fuzzed-out guitars that help keep the momentum going. Add in excellent vocal work, a fantastic sense of melody, and stellar musicianship, and you have the ingredients that make up this excellent record!
Standout Track: “El Jardín”
4. Problems with Dragons – Accelerationist
Release Date: June 23, 2022
Years Active: 2007 – Present
This band has done nothing but improve over time, and Accelerationist is them at the peak of its powers thus far. I’m unsure how to describe this album’s excellence, but I can tell you that the riffs, the psych vibe, and the songwriting are all super tight.
Standout Track: “Dark Times (for Dark Times)”
3. Obiat – Indian Ocean
Release Date: July 4, 2022
Years Active: 1999 – Present
Obiat is back after a 13-year gap between albums! Indian Ocean is one of the strongest records to come out in 2022, exhibiting all the eclectic sounds for which the band is known. The dynamic aspects that Obiat incorporates into their music are second to none, as they are masters of using heavy and light sections to climb to lofty peaks that dive into deep valleys of lush soundscapes.
Standout Track: “Eyes and Soul”
2. Whitebeard – Dust on Dust
Release Date: September 30, 2022
Years Active: 2022 – Present
This isn’t an album I could imagine people using as a soundtrack for household chores, as it requires the listener to lay back and absorb what they’re hearing. Whitebeard uses many tactics to create an atmosphere, be it a guitar, synth, bass, drums, theremin, or even the reportage used in “Prince of Oblivion”, Whitebeard uses whatever is needed in order to convey his point. So, kick back, smoke a joint, and enjoy this fine psych album.
Standout Track: “Molten Staar”
1. Sun Voyager – Sun Voyager
Release Date: October 7, 2022
Years Active: 2014 – Present
Sun Voyager has been on my radar since their 2018 debut, Seismic Vibes, which is a fantastic record, but this, their first album for Ripple Music, is far superior. Everything about it is top-notch garage psych, from the riffs to the tones acquired to how they put their songs together; Sun Voyager is here to supply your soundscapes!
Standout Track: “God is Dead II”
What’s Still Coming Up
Now that you’ve read my Top 10 so far, you may be wondering what’s coming in the remaining two months of 2022, so I’ll tell you a couple that I think you should be on the lookout for.
Sammal – Aika lualla
This one isn’t out until the middle of November, but after hearing a bit of the promo (Returning Rivers, to be exact), I can compare it to what King Buffalo did on their Dead Star album. Psych with an edge that comes from some of their heavier riffs.
Black Space Riders – We Have Been Here Before
This one is out on October 21st, and the little bit I’ve heard has me super stoked about hearing the rest of the album. Cool riffs, excellent psychedelic elements, and Crawling (DownWithEverything) have a perfect driving rhythm with a sweet groove.
Let us know what albums you think we missed and be sure to share any recommendations you might have for the rest of this year!
This article was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.