Almanac Music: The Best Australian Albums of 2022




2022 was another excellent year for Australian music. So much diversity, so much breadth of talent. I listened to upwards of 60 Australian albums in the year just past. Because there was so much music that I enjoyed immensely, it became an increasingly difficult task to narrow down the picks of the crop into a list of the best ten. Despite that difficulty, for me there was one clear standout which made it simple to select the best of the best.



Smokie’s Australian album of the year for 2022: angel in realtime by Gang of Youths



  1. Gang of Youths – angel in realtime

It is a big call from a music fan such as me, but this is an album of such majesty and beauty that I consider it not only the best Australian album of 2022, but one of the best I have listened to in the past decade. Many of the tracks reference the passing of lead singer David Le’aupepe’s father, and the family secrets which were subsequently uncovered. But to call this a “concept” album would be doing it an injustice. The themes of family, grief, remorse, and belonging never once stray to the mawkish, for not a musical note – nor a lyric – is wasted; as such, the songs possess a depth which most artists could only dream of producing. There are choirs, samples of Indigenous Pacific Island recordings, and strings. It is grandiose without being overblown. And how could anyone not be moved by the story told in the wonderfully sparse Brothers? An album that is sure to resonate down the years from a band which promises still more to come.



  1. Midnight Oil – Resist

I was fortunate enough to see the Oils live on twice in 2022, and on both occasions I was left dumbfounded that a group of blokes in their late 60’s could put on such an energetic show. Similarly, I am amazed that a band almost half a century(!) into its existence could produce an album as powerful as Resist. Garrett and co no longer yell at us from the musical pulpit, here they are urging us to consider the damage being done to our planet and be a part of the change. Tracks such as Nobody’s Child are as strong as anything the Oils have ever recorded. Guitarist Jim Moginie wrote or co-wrote ten of the twelve tracks, proving again that he is the brains behind the brawn. Yes, I am unabashed Oils fan, and approached Resist tentatively, but this album really grew on me with each listen. If this is indeed the denouement for Australia’s greatest ever band, it sure is a hell of a way to go out.



  1. WAAX – At Least I’m Free

Lead singer Maz DeVita is as raw a performer as I heard on record this past year. And on occasion, her anger fairly spits out of the speakers at you. Unlike Amy Taylor of Amyl and The Sniffers, DeVita has no time for tongue-in-cheek lyrics: near on every word cuts straight to the point. She is a force of nature who wears her heart on her sleeve. And the songs themselves? Absolutely top shelf. This is a tight punk-rock outfit at the very top of their game. I cannot wait to see them live. The quality of this album was the most pleasant of musical surprise of the year for me.



  1. King Stingray – King Stingray

Such was the hype surrounding this record that, prior to my first listen, I was dreading the thought that I may not like it. But I need not have worried given the sonic ride on which King Stingray takes the listener. Labelled ‘surf-rock’ by some pundits, I was stunned at just how assured the band sounds on rockers such as Let’s Go and Camp Dog, and on Milkumana they even veer into dance territory. Of course, I do not understand the lyrics sung in their Indigenous tongue, but that does not matter in the slightest such is the power of the music – it has you singing along regardless. I cannot wait to see where this band goes.



  1. Mansionair – Happiness, Guaranteed

This genre of music is so far outside my wheelhouse that I really had no business enjoying this album. But I loved it from the first time I played it. With laid-back and atmospheric electronic beats, front-man Jack Froggatt’s silky vocals tend to wrap you up and drag you into a track. An excellent second album from this trio.



  1. Eliza and the Delusionals – Now And Then

I will admit I knew nothing about this Queensland band prior to listening to this album. But it immediately got its hooks into me, and I played it regularly throughout the latter part of the year. An excellent crop of tracks, with singer Eliza Klatt proving to be an honest and powerful front-woman. The synths have a tinge of 80’s retro feel about them, but it all comes together beautifully. Definitely another band to keep an eye on.



  1. Sly Withers – Overgrown

As always with Perth’s Sly Withers, most of the tracks on this collection are stonking rockers, but there is much more heart this time. It is their most mature outing yet, and it finds them addressing life, love, marriage, future plans. Having two lead singers in Jono Mata and Sam Blitvich, who possess distinctly different styles, also gives the band an interesting point of difference. Standout tracks such as Old Enough, Tongue and Stoopid are prime examples of a band knowing exactly how to convey a message in a beautiful, heart-felt way.



  1. Meg Mac – Matter of Time

I keep banging on – with good reason – about how blessed this country is for female performers, and Meg Mac is right at the top of the pile. An album written largely in lockdown, it was heavily promoted upon its release. The strength of the song-writing and arrangements is most impressive, and remain memorable for the personal subject matter and catchy hooks. Meg’s passion cannot be faulted. Her voice sounds a little like Missy Higgins at times – in a very good way.



  1. Phil Jamieson – Somebody Else

It is a shame that this album seemed to pass by with little fanfare, appreciation, or acknowledgement. The former Grinspoon singer displays a surprising amount of versality in this strong collection of tracks, best described as power-pop. Many of the lyrics address mortality, and Jamieson displays a sense of maturity that I found most enjoyable. The only criticism of this album is its brevity: just over 26 minutes of music is nowhere near enough!!



  1. Xavier Rudd – Jan Juc Moon

From the glorious opening track I Am Eagle through to the closer Joanna, Xavier Rudd’s first album in four years is a wonderful collection of diverse songs. It is a superb listening experience from beginning to end. From folk, to roots, to rock, the listener is taken on a journey of twists and turns which continually surprises. Rudd is nothing if not heartfelt and passionate, with every word and sound containing meaning.



The best of the rest:


Camp Cope – Running with the Hurricane,

Body Type – Everything is Dangerous, But Nothing’s Surprising,

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever –Endless Rooms,

William Crichton – Water and Dust,

Sons of the East – Palomar Parade,

Colin Hay – Now and the Evermore,

ThornBird – ThornBird,

Lisa Mitchell – A Place to Fall Apart,

Luke Steele – Listen to the Water,

Stella Donnelly – Flood,

Chris Cheney – The Storm Before the Call,

Spacey Jane – Here Comes Everyone,

Beaudelaires – Tilt,

Foals – Life is Yours,

Ben Lee – I’m Fun,

Press Club – Endless Motion,

Julia Jacklin – Pre Pleasure,

Flowertruck – Partly Cloudy,

Felix Reibel: Everyday Amen,

Ruby Gill: I’m Going to Die with this Frown on my Face,

Smith Street Band: Life After Football,

Ball Park Music – Weirder and Weirder,

Hermitude – Mirror Mountain,

Stand Atlantic – f.e.a.r.,

Ocean Alley – Low Altitude Living.



International album of the year: First Aid Kit – Palomino.



You can read more from Smokie HERE.


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About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. I love these lists you compile, Smokie.
    Maybe you and Crackers could start a Margaret and David routine?

    In this age of streaming and information overload, where do you source new music?
    How many listens does it take before you decide you won’t try it again?

    The winds of popular acclaim blow strangely.

  2. Excellent Smokie. I’m with you on Gang of Youths and think that ‘majesty’ describes them well. Have also listened to Stella Donnelly lately and enjoy her engaging mix of gentle melody and sometimes acerbic lyrics. Flowertruck sound interesting! Thanks.

  3. Not sure if this made it across you radar – but another Aus 2022 album I’ve enjoyed lately:
    “Second nature” by Ninajirachi

  4. Thanks Smokie

    Agree with ER there…. to have have you and Luke put together your lists is an absolute treat each year. And it is not easy exploring or keeping up with new music and artists so to have some pointers is such a bonus.

    Saw Oils x 2 this year too, not particularly because they’re a favourite, but by opportunity. Brilliant live especially at Mt. Duneed – under that fine and misty rain, their show was incredible.

    Plenty of new music to explore on your list. Angel of 8th Avenue – a definite fave of mine this year.

    Well done.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Wonderful list Smokie. Like you, I find it really difficult to narrow down the albums for an annual list, many of yours were considered for mine. What a sign off Resist was for the Oils, I’m still giving it a regular listen.

  6. Thanks for your comments, all.

    Much appreciated.

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