As we near the end of 2022 (already, somehow), new album releases start to dwindle in anticipation of the holiday doldrums—not to mention year-end list season. Let none of that distract you from the fact that October was one hell of a month for music, with career-best new records from Alvvays, Wild Pink and Dry Cleaning leading the pack. Swan-dive into Paste Music’s favorite albums of October 2022 below.
Listen to our Best Albums of October 2022 playlist on Spotify here.
Alvvays: Blue Rev
Perhaps the single biggest no-brainer on this list is Blue Rev, the first album from dream-pop standard bearers Alvvays since 2017’s immaculate Antisocialites. The summer release of its lead single and opener “Pharmacist” set an expectation the band’s third album has since paid off, delivering the most challenging, yet characteristically intoxicating music of the Toronto quintet’s career. Where previous Alvvays albums resembled precious gems the band dug up fully formed and placed on pedestals with care, Blue Rev feels more as if we’re stepping into their world and excavating alongside them. Molly Rankin’s halcyon vocal melodies are layered alongside synth and guitar textures more compelling and explosively spontaneous than any the band have crafted, with Grammy-winning producer Shawn Everett (The War on Drugs, Kacey Musgraves) helping to warp Alvvays’ sound into thrillingly topsy-turvy forms. Listening to Blue Rev is like seeing a beautiful face in a funhouse mirror—good luck looking away. —Scott Russell
Babehoven: Light Moving Time
When Maya Bon and Ryan Albert met with their future label Double Double Whammy for the first time, they brought a collection of plump, homegrown tomatoes for the occasion. That pastoral touch mirrors what the duo accomplish in their music as Babehoven. As practitioners of homespun indie rock, there’s a picturesque quality to their work that renders each listen multi-sensory. The Babehoven sound has a cooling texture, a verdant visual, an organic taste. But over six EPs in four years, the duo presented diverse approaches to cultivating those sensations, including soft, frank rock on Demonstrating Visible Differences in Height, haunting tape manipulation on Yellow Has a Pretty Good Reputation and molasses-slow folk on Sunk. The duo combine each of these styles and more on Light Moving Time, their long-anticipated debut LP. On Light Moving Time, Babehoven are not in a rush. Relaxed tempos are central to their discography. Babehoven are Duster superfans and their shared preference for DIY recording gives the music its contemplative, hand-hewn texture. Their music rests at the intersection of the observant lyricism of Roy Orbison and the rhythmic creativity of Dear Nora. The resultant artifact is as crisp and pensive as the undulating Appalachian foothills. —Devon Chodzin
Bill Callahan: YTILAER
There is a patience to Bill Callahan’s work, even when the tempo is upbeat. On his forthcoming album, YTILAER, it’s no different, a wise sense of humor seeming to permeate the veins of his songwriting. In the two singles released thus far, Callahan falls in line with the patterns of the world around him, developing his own connection to reality, and allowing the listener to join him as he sings, “They say never wake a dreamer / Maybe that’s how we die / I realize now that dreams are real.” On lead single “Coyotes,” he weaves dream material in and out, telling the story of his sleeping dog, sweetly explaining, “In her dreams she is coyotes / Which of course is what she used to be / A dream of a coyote / Watching over you and me.” And recently released track “Natural Information” provides the perfect counterbalance to the steady, reliable “Coyotes”—there is a rush to the acoustic guitar that feels natural, not disturbing your body but riling it up all the same. Callahan works with a full band setup on this one, somehow always delivering the perfect picture that’s never too much. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski
Courtney Marie Andrews: Loose Future
The sometimes difficult transition to autumn is made gentle by the embrace of Courtney Marie Andrews’ new album, Loose Future. It’s the kind you want to put on to add a little extra warmth at any time of day—the walk to work through newly brisk air, making dinner with friends, those moments just before you drift off to sleep. It’s easy to convince yourself there might be an extra something tucked into Andrews’ voice just for you, making it an album you can share secrets with. The production of her Americana sound makes it soft on your ears, easily strummed guitars and light shakers fuzzing out the edges of her songs, a change from some of the sharper, more volatile songs of her past. You move toward Andrews’ voice like a moth toward a light; she manages to just sound kind, imbuing the hops and skips of her voice with the right amount of nostalgia and sadness, even rolling in little bits of humor. “You and I in the corner of a room / At an awkward party / Where no one was talkin’ / As you were mocking the disaster,” she sings, almost laughing at herself before singing, “I still hold space for you / Even with all you put me through.” It’s an easy album to listen and give yourself over to, fully. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski
Dawn Richard and Spencer Zahn: Pigments
On last year’s acclaimed Second Line, Dawn Richard animated her electro-pop autobiographies with the spirit of her native New Orleans. But on Pigments, she casts her vocals in a radically different light, reuniting with her People of the Dawn collaborator Spencer Zahn to create one continuous composition, structured into three distinct movements. Multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer Zahn conjures classical, jazz and ambient electronic soundscapes that fill meditative tracks like “Coral,” “Indigo,” “Opal” and “Cobalt” entirely, but Pigments is at its most potent when Richard’s vocals wander these sonic thickets, journeying in search of love and understanding. “Dreamer / I wanna love like you / I wanna see the world through your eyes,” she croons through autotune on “Sandstone,” bass notes, woodwinds and piano keys swirling around her, while on “Vantablack,” she cherishes her (lover’s) color, asking, “Can I fall in? / Brown skin.” “Can you save me the last dance?” Richard implores on “Saffron,” before the pulsing beat of “Umber” ends the album by doing just that. Richard and Zahn paint Pigments with every color on their palettes, and the result is a celebration of art’s infinite possibilities. —Scott Russell
Dry Cleaning: Stumpwork
“I don’t want to go on about it / But we’re back in business / Just a sweet, natural start / We will flower,” Florence Shaw declares on “Anna Calls from the Arctic,” the first song on Dry Cleaning’s sophomore album Stumpwork. She’s true to her word: The LP’s tone-setting opener heralds a subtler, stranger new era for the U.K. quartet, emboldened by the universal acclaim for their full-length debut New Long Leg. The band’s jangling guitar-rock grooves persist, but as the exception, rather than the rule—they are increasingly keen on marching down unexpected sonic avenues, complicating the instrumentation that underpins Shaw’s sometimes-spoken, sometimes-sung vocal mosaics. Stumpwork has enough in common with its predecessor so as not to throw fans for a loop, but is very much its own moody, nuanced animal, an expressive and expectation-defying showcase of Dry Cleaning’s blossoming sound. —Scott Russell
Julianna Riolino: All Blue
On her full-length debut All Blue, the follow-up to 2019’s J.R. EP, Toronto-based singer/songwriter Julianna Riolino (of Daniel Romano’s The Outfit) melds rock, pop and country sounds into a charming, introspective set, colored brightly by her bubblegum vocals. Recorded in August 2020 and produced by Aaron Goldstein (Cowboy Junkies, Ducks Ltd., Le Ren, Kiwi Jr.), the album has the lively energy of ace musicians getting together to do what they do best, bringing Riolino’s reflective songwriting to upbeat life. That’s true even as Riolino looks back on her past and tries to fashion a future from the person she’s become: “I get a picture of you in my head / I get a picture that I just regret,” she sings over the honky-tonk piano and saxophone of lead single “Lone Ranger,” which she originally wrote as a teenager. All Blue leaves room for those lingering, rueful feelings, but finds Riolino processing them through exactly the kind of warm Americana best suited to soothing her blues. —Scott Russell
Knifeplay: Animal Drowning
There is a landscape on Animal Drowning that Knifeplay are not so much building as revealing to you, bit by bit. The songs are wide and desperate, with their sonic world coming into patient existence on album opener “Nobody” and burning hard on tracks like “Promise.” The music is a way for the shoegaze artists to attach themselves tangibly to the world, as frontman TJ Strohmer writes about his loss of identity, singing, “I am nobody / But everyone I’ve ever met.” The world that he shows you is a terrifying one, full of disillusionment with our modern society: “There’s no such thing as growing up,” Strohmer sings, “Where the evil returns and repeats / Where rivers meet in lakes of mud / And the animals sleep through heat.” And yet the intricacy and empathy conveyed in the musical arrangements allows you to fully indulge in this place for a while, with carefully layered walls of guitar meeting orchestral arrangements, creating a rich, surrounding headspace of sound. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski
Sorry: Anywhere But Here
A lot has happened since March 2020, when North London’s Sorry released their full-length debut 925. For the band’s Asha Lorenz, that meant that she “just did what everyone else did, I went a bit mad.” She and her best friend Louis O’Bryen—joined in Sorry by Lincoln Barrett (drums), Campbell Baum (multiple) and Marco Pini (electronics), and on the album by producer Adrian Utley (Portishead)—work through that inner deterioration on the band’s sophomore album Anywhere But Here, 13 tracks of dark pop-rock that press materials describe as “Diazepam dream pop.” Lorenz and O’Bryen purposefully modulate their give and take, and the album ends up feeling like a torn-out heart, expanding and contracting with each beat. Hooky dance-punk opener “Let the Lights On” gives way to “Tell Me,” which feints towards an intimate O’Bryen-led ballad before revealing its true form as a dynamic rock duet. “Key to the City” backs Lorenz’s wandering, perhaps lost lyrics with neon-streaked guitar-pop, then steps aside to make room for the pseudo-blues shuffle of “Willow Tree.” Later, “Screaming in the Rain” strips almost everything but heartbreak away as Lorenz yowls like a gentler Karen O. If Anywhere But Here is what madness sounds like, then perhaps there’s hope for us all. —Scott Russell
Wild Pink: ILYSM
Singer and songwriter John Ross sounds reborn on ILYSM, Wild Pink’s follow-up to their 2021 breakout A Billion Little Lights. In a way, he was: Ross had already started writing the band’s fourth album when he was diagnosed with cancer, a battle that threatened to derail the LP, only to instead infuse it with urgent purpose. Ross pushed forward through the dark alongside a community of collaborators, co-producing the record with Justin Pizzoferrato (Pixies, Body/Head, Speedy Ortiz) and Peter Silberman of The Antlers, and enlisting contributions from J Mascis (“See You Better Now”), Julien Baker (“Hold My Hand”), Ryley Walker (“Simple Glyphs”), Yasmin Williams (“The Grass Widow In The Glass Window”), Samantha Crain (“St. Beater Camry”) and Ratboys’ Julia Steiner (the title track, among others). The songs they made together vibrate with wonder, as befitting of any pursuit that comes on the heels of an existential threat. The album is dreamy in a way that feels less like an escape and more like an adventure, as if Ross is seeing his world—and the people who populate it—through new eyes. —Scott Russell
Listen to our Best Albums of October 2022 playlist on Spotify here.