Shuffle's favorite Northeast Ohio music of 2022
It was a big year for Northeast Ohio’s music scene, as many bands and artists resumed touring and recording music after nearly two years of pandemic slowdown. Unheard material written during the 2020 lockdown was finally released. Musicians who have been performing at local venues for years dropped debut albums. Bands that have been on hiatus for years emerged with an elevated sound.
There was a wide variety of new music to hear this year. Shuffle’s Amanda Rabinowitz and Brittany Nader each share their favorite local albums of 2022.
Kyle Kidd - “Soothsayer"
Kyle Kidd is an artist that we are so lucky to have in Cleveland. They are beautiful and unique, and I’ve been waiting for this solo music for a long time. You can hear all of the raw emotions and struggle and pain. It's special.
Kidd was inspired by Whitney Houston and Sylvester, which is evident in their big, emotive vocals on this debut release. They worked with bandmate R.A. Washington from Cleveland’s Mourning [A] BLKstar on this album, which served as a release for Kidd during a depressive period. The lyrical content is raw, but the production is really smooth — like a cross between Sade and ‘70s soul.
Wreck Like Me – “Time Goes On"
This album is not only catchy, but the lyrics are very heartfelt and raw, and you can feel her journey right along with her as she was dealing with heartbreak and learning how to let go and move on from a painful breakup. The songs are intricate and show off her vocal range. You can tell she really spent time on these songs and crafted them. This album is a starting point for what could be a long music career ahead for Megan Bouman.
Talons’ – “Pandemic Divide”
Mike Tolan created a perfect time capsule of the pandemic lockdown with this album. I had the pleasure of seeing Talons’ perform a few times in 2022, and one thing I love about his artistry is the often mournful sound of his songs compared to the more lighthearted words he sings. There’s a track on this release, “Tiger King,” and two songs, “Way She Goes” and “Notes,” reference the show “Trailer Park Boys.” But the whole album sounds very somber. The dichotomy to me as a listener shows how we often cope with difficult situations using humor or TV as an escape from real-world darkness.
Who Saved Who – “Sharing the Daytime Moon”
When I really got interested in them was when I saw them live. They put on an energizing show that made me want to explore the album, and it was on repeat for a long time. I think it’s so rare when a band’s live performance sparks an interest in hearing more.
Herzog – “A Hotel In Your Hometown”
This indie-rock band has been active for more than a decade, and their fifth album hooked me right from track one. They’ve said Cleveland is the “backdrop” for everything they do, and you definitely hear the inspiration in these songs. There are lyrics about Cleveland in wintertime, and there’s an interesting contrast between the bleak environment that’s discussed in the lyrical themes compared to the shining melodies and instrumentation. It’s a great album to listen to in Northeast Ohio during the chilly months.
The Baker's Basement – “Wild Wild Sheep”
What most interests me about this band is how quirky they are. Some of their song lyrics are just hilarious. I love how they let the songs flow out of them. They have incredible chemistry, and this was a great discovery for me this year.
JT’s Electrik Blackout – “Self-Titled”
Anyone hip to Akron’s vibrant jazz scene knows this album has been a long time coming. Saxophonist and bandleader Justin Tibbs has been a staple of the region’s music community for years, and the debut release with his group JT’s Electrik Blackout is the perfect mesh of funk, jazz and groovy avant-garde arrangements that make this a super fun listen. —Brittany Nader
I will admit, I'm not a big reggae fan, but I love this album. It fills you with joy, and the arrangements are incredible, exploring rock, funk, blues and gospel. Carlos Jones has been releasing and playing music for some 40 years, but this is just the third studio album from the band and the first since 2009, and it's incredible.
Wesley Bright – “Must Be The Love”
Some may recognize Wesley Bright as the owner of Akron Honey, but longtime fans of his work with the Honeytones know his music is just as sweet. Bright announced a hiatus from singing and performing to focus on family and his thriving small business, but he unexpectedly returned this year with a solid solo album that should not be overlooked. This is a throwback to the golden era of Motown with a dash of soulful Otis Redding here and a pinch of Little Ann there.
1. Kyle Kidd – “Soothsayer”
2. Wreck Like Me – “Time Goes On”
3. Who Saved Who – “Sharing the Daytime Moon”
4. The Baker's Basement – “Wild Wild Sheep”
5. Bethany Joy – “Planet”
6. The Ohio Weather Band – “High Noon Glow”
7. Ray Flanagan – 2022 monthly singles
8. Ben Gage – “Cuyahoga”
9. Chayla Hope – “Damn, Feelings”
10. Carlos Jones and the P.L.U.S. Band – “A New Day”
1. Kyle Kidd – “Soothsayer”
2. Talons’ – “Pandemic Divide”
3. Herzog – “A Hotel In Your Hometown”
4. Portage – “Good Grief”
5. Roid Rage – “Beat Lethal”
6. JT’s Electrik Blackout – “Self-Titled”
7. Wesley Bright – “Must Be The Love”
8. Biitchseat – “Float”
9. Unc D – “MMBLJZZ”
10. Signals Midwest – “DENT”