By Will Louderback
Besides writing and drawing, a favorite pastime of mine is listening to music. It’s funny, I can only play, like, four songs (“Happy Birthday” included) on ukulele, (not even brushing upon my horrific experience with keyboard lessons circa fourth grade) but music itself is something I’m drawn to from both an analytical and purely enjoyment-based perspective. Therefore, with this tumultuous year fast approaching the watery red lights of the finish line as Mariah Carey inevitably blasts from the radio, I find it quite appropriate to begin my own personal year in review, for the albums that truly made my 2022 experience.
Believers Never Die: Greatest Hits Volume One – Fall Out Boy, 2009
I want to start with a quick snap back to post-Christmas 2021, back when there were maybe two less Christmas songs and a strong incentive to mask indoors. My uncle gifted me this particular little album, and I have to say, I got so much more than I expected. Not only did I get the satisfaction of listening to a quiet CD while watching a Christmas rainstorm, but also I got the opportunity to enjoy a plethora of bonus content, consisting of four whole songs, including an oddly appropriate Christmas special. It’s complicated, but FOB is already a part of my Christmas tradition, and I have to say that the ‘essence of emo kid’ starter album was just what I needed to start the promising, and sometimes heartbreaking year of 2022.
Favorite tracks: “Sugar, We’re Goin Down,” “From Now On We Are Enemies,” and “Alpha Dog”
Future Hearts – All Time Low, 2015
It’s oddly appropriate that I discovered this ex-garage band from Towson, Maryland while I was cleaning my own garage (which, by the way? Still awful). I really liked Future Hearts at first because of something I couldn’t quite place, but it’s definitely there. If I could qualify it in any way, I’d direct you to Midnight Radio from ELcomics, not that you’ll necessarily agree with me in any capacity. Still, despite the controversy due to self-harm referencing lyrics misinterpreted as glorification, “Kids in the Dark” is a straight-up gem, full stop.
Favorite tracks: “Kids in the Dark”, “Cinderblock Garden”, and “Old Scars/Future Hearts”
The All-American Rejects – The All-American Rejects, 2002
For some reason, the battered jewel case at a beautiful markdown price seemed like the perfect item to snag on my way out of Rasputin. The first time I went and didn’t pick it up, I kicked myself, so I had to go back for it later. It’s a great fall sort of album overall, despite the fact that I listened to it in, like, maybe February, it perfectly encapsulates the classic pop-punk feel. Also, bonus points for a sweet trailer and go-cart.
Favorite tracks: “Swing, Swing”, “My Paper Heart”, and “The Last Song”
Give Me the Future – Bastille, 2022
I’m not going to say I know Bastille from the meme, but I avoid that statement only because I actually heard it first from a friend in elementary school. Andrew Dai, if you’re reading this, hello! Needless to say, I was quite happy to see Bastille rise once again with a great album. And though it’s different, for sure, I like the stylistic change (which will be a theme for me). And, though incessant pop-culture references remind me of something I write and forget to edit, I think the constant nineteen-eighties inserts really make the album special, especially for any Gen-Xers in the audience. So shout out to the generation of MTV and ‘but first, wine’ signs made from repurposed barn wood, to be adorned on literally anything and everything.
Favorite tracks: “Shut Off the Lights”, “Distorted Light Beam”, and “Club 57”
Human – OneRepublic, 2021
Thanks to my music teacher, Mr. Ward, for being one of the two Mr. Wards I know, and also for introducing me to the band of the singular republic. That’s right, y’all know what we played on recorders, “Counting Stars”. And, though at first I wasn’t quite sure with all the media buzz surrounding it, I’m really glad I gave Human a try. The band’s attitude towards religion and social issues has always taken a backseat and acted as a vessel and nothing more, and Human is a perfect example. Songs like “Preacher” delve into religious backgrounds of the members without ever seeming on-the-nose like Hozier’s “Church,” for example, (another masterpiece I will scream my lungs out to every time it is played). Human is a perfect chill album for an evening following a long day, and it gets my approval stamp right off the bat.
Favorite tracks: “Someday”, “Preacher”, and“Distance”
Last Young Renegade – All Time Low, 2017
When I first listened to LYR on the way home from school, I was struck with two thoughts: ‘huh, I didn’t know that single’ and ‘I guess it’s pretty good.’ My second listen treaded more along the lines of ‘wait, it’s an album?’ and ‘I need this in my life.’ Moving past the title track, “Good Times” is a late-night anthem if I’ve ever heard one, and the discussion of this album inevitably leads me to the spring of this year, when age finally caught up with my grandmother, or ‘Nana,’ and I found myself going from a short visit to a funeral in a matter of a week or two. So, on a dark road somewhere in Georgia, I found myself quiet, crying only on the inside in the back of a cramped rental Mini, courtesy of ATL airport, and I had found myself tired of the creepypasta stories I’d been listening to as a way of passing the time. You know the type, “I’ve Been A Small Town Cop For 13 Years. One Case Still Scares Me,” was its name. As the sun came up on our 4am drive, I decided to listen to music instead, to conserve data, which is when I was hit with the double punch of “Drugs and Candy” (hope I’m allowed to say that) and “Nightmares.” They honestly were… just what I needed to hear right then, especially the latter, (which is one of the four aforementioned ukulele-able songs I know). I did actually give the others a listen later on, but didn’t really appreciate the others until a second go, aside from “Ground Control”, which was instantly amazing and actually nearly got me in trouble once, when I played it too loud at school 🙁
Favorite tracks: “Good Times”, “Last Young Renegade”, “Life of the Party”, and “Ground Control”
Riot! – Paramore, 2005
Alright, let’s take this album from the top, I know Black Parade is more iconic but this comes in hot, it was a matter of time before I got to this album, especially when I bought it all the way in Victoria, Canada. Wow. Okay. I could only do that for so long. I’m in Scouts. And this Summer, as we have done every four years, pushed back by one due to COVID, we braved the wilderness of the Oakland Airport to fly to Washington, then sail to Canada. (Sailing can be on a Port Angeles ferry, right?) So, while in downtown Victoria with a couple of friends, frenemies, and ‘I-Don’t-Even-Know-What-To-Call-You’ types, having accidentally ditched our adult, we reached a small record store. My credit card screamed in frustration from my wallet as I stopped. So Vessel and Riot! cost me like 25-ish Canadian dollars total, but it was totally worth it. And the adult leaders seemed to approve of it more than another younger scout’s attempted purchase of… an anime book of the category which rhymes with ‘try’
Favorite tracks: “That’s What You Get”, “Misery Business”, “For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic”, and “Fences”
Viva Las Vengeance – Panic! At The Disco, 2022
I was pretty startled when the website ‘Shut Up and Go to Bed’ set up, as a teaser to the new Panic! album. With the only time on the website’s sole alarm clock displaying 6:01, our eyes were set on our calendars extensively marked June first, which just so happened to be my first day back to school after a weeklong slog of COVID. The first single was incredible, I found “Middle of a Breakup” underwhelming, (perhaps due to the misconstrued excitement of a possible All Time Low collaboration,) but “Local God” absolutely killed it. The album dropped right as I got back to school, releasing in full on August ninth, and, while not my favorite of all time, I certainly prefer it to the just ‘pretty good’ Pray for the Wicked, and I’m glad to see the new direction of this Queen-inspired glam rock album.
Favorite tracks: “Star Spangled Banger”, “Viva Las Vengeance”, “Sugar Soaker”, and “Say it Louder”
Generations – Scratch21
So, this one is a bit awkward. Blink-182 influenced skate punk band Scratch21 only has a singular, five-track album to date. However, as of late, they have been working on an album set to release sometime next year. They have been saying that since 2015. Still, the viewing party that dropped during the Renaissance Festival those with a memory beyond a month will remember had my full attention, and I celebrated on the way home as “Enough” released on the same day as “Edging” by Blink, a seemingly intentional moment of stars colliding. Aside from Area 51 raid inspired Ayleeyuns in 2019, it is the only official song to have released so far. Still, two songs out in seven years is better than some projects I’ve started. So good on you, Scratch, sorry COVID halted your album another two or three years.
Favorite tracks: “Ayleeyuns” and “Enough” (currently the only two songs)
Vices and Virtues – Panic! At The Disco, 2011
Finally, I’d like to look back on an underrated album I myself overlooked for quite a while, an album that seemed to showcase a fight between Hymn-like Victorian composition and pop-punk, (which I’m just absolutely certain y’all are surprised by at this point~) between the sides of the jewel casing. The organ music gives me an excuse to play it on Halloween, and if you know me… well, Halloween is when our house, over the course of a month, receives its most serious makeover, and I’m counting that time we ripped out the garage plumbing in my equation, this is bigger. For Christmas, par exemple, we put up a few wire trees and string up some lights, boom- yard done. For Halloween, we literally make plans in August. August. So, yeah, Vices and Virtues… that’s right! We’re talking about music! Whoops. Ah, y’know, V&V is a good fall album, like The All-American Rejects (the album), but it’s really more Halloween-y. Although seriously, I’ve listed other albums right here that have songs which wormed their way into my mega Halloween playlist, which might be something to publish officially next year.
Favorite tracks: “Hurricane”, “Memories”, “Turn Off the Lights”, and “Ready to Go”