2022 was a solid year in music. Like always, I couldn’t write about all the releases but tried to keep up with the various Korean Indie Spotify playlists. There were a lot of standout releases and a bunch of new artists who popped up in my different feeds.
Here are my favorite releases this past year.
hathaw9y : LOVE
hathaw9y‘s LOVE is a collection of all of the band’s releases up to this point. Each individual release had a different flavor adding to the overall signature of the band. In this full length form, you get a great set of tracks including a bonus song. I like everything the band releases; this is the ultimate way to hear what they offer.
Pictoria Vark : The Parts I Dread
What can I say about Pictoria Vark? The Parts I Dread is a multilayered and dense listen disguised as a standard indie rock album. You hear a journey throughout the album and direct growth between the different songs. It’s an album that doesn’t scream “this is a 2022” album, instead captures a moment in time that doesn’t define the year.
Various Artists : THE POST-ROCK
Hippytokki did something that’s definitely missing from Korean music – compilation albums. With so many different bands, some of who don’t release official tracks or releases for a long time, it’s hard to find younger bands. Hippytokki’s THE POST-ROCK is a compilation album featuring some newer and older bands who play a genre that sits beneath the surface of mainstream attention. This is the first album you should listen to if you like the post rock genre.
DONNA : Dreamy Dream
DONNA‘s Dreamy Dream is similar to hathaw9y’s LOVE. It’s a collection of older singles with some new songs. Her older singles are some of my favorite songs of the past couple of years. The electronic-backed pop foundation dips into other genres like R&B and pop punk, giving Dreamy Dream a good variety. It’s not trend-chasing and leaves an open door to new styles in her music.
WinningShot : REMINISCENCE
REMINISCENCE by WinningShot is one of 2022’s best punk rock albums. Why? Because it’s nostalgic and new simultaneously. Even though it keeps to the natural genre standards, the album is never boring and keeps upbeat energy throughout its 32 minutes. Punk rock in South Korea is often ignored by most media, but the bands that keep the genre alive continually impress with each release.
Seoul Magic Club : Bless
Seoul Magic Club’s Bless is a dark, brooding, and overwhelming EP. It’s a companion to the Peace and serves as the opposite side of the spectrum. This is where Seoul Magic Club flexed their abilities to explore and consume the post rock and shoegaze genres. It’s four songs at 40 minutes. It will blow your mind.
Orange Fang Fang Boys : MERAKI
Orange Fang Fang Boys‘ MERAKI is a strangely compelling instrumental plus occasional vocal band. The majority of the album is a mix of different instrumental tracks pulling influences from what I hear as video game soundtracks, chiptune-style bands, and punk. But “READY TO” shows that the band has this whole other side that hasn’t been explored enough.
HUNJIYA : KHAMAI
HUNJIYA continues to be an artist that’s missed by so many people. Following her journey for years, each time she has a new release, it’s a giant step forward. KHAMAI really shouldn’t be as good as it is, but HUNJIYA delivers a sound that’s nostalgic, familiar, and polished while ripping your hearts out with the emotion she puts through every single verse.
Seaweed Mustache : Bombora
Go into Bombora with the least amount of information. Its overall genre is rock, but there is so much more that happens throughout the eight songs on the album. Seaweed Mustache returns with their second release after 2016’s The Whistle. This is all you need to know. Experience this sonic masterpiece.
Byung : Humid Memories
It took some time before I actually listened to Byung‘s Humid Memories. I knew it was a release that I would review, but I pushed it back a few times. Then once I started listening to it, I realized that it’s one of those albums that fit perfectly into specific moods. Humid Memories is composed with precision to give the low moments just as much notice as the big flourished highlights. It’s unfortunate that most media won’t give this EP the attention it deserves.
Nuclear Idiots : NCLRIDITS
As much as I like deep and insightful music, sometimes I want to listen to music that is aggressive with overpowering instrumentals. Nuclear Idiots offer that and more on NCLRIDITS. With influences from nu-rock, rap/rock, metalcore, alternative rock, electrocore, and more, this album keeps giving over and over. It’s a guilty pleasure that I love listening to.
Mohho Project : Sauce, Kite, Lake
Indie rock tuned into folk is my comfort music. There are a lot of different artists in the space, but many of them lean toward the pop side of the genre. Mohho Project sits in that perfect music space when I want to sit back and really enjoy the quality of the composition, arrangements, and recording. Sauce, Kite, Lake is solid from start to finish and continues to show how she’s evolving over time.
Dongyang Gozupa : KYUL
The Korean traditional instrument hybrid genre is slowly growing with a lot of bands. Jambinai is the most well-known internationally, but there are other bands that took traditional elements and made something new. Dongyang Gozupa’s KYUL is a churning ocean of sound that demands your attention. In my opinion, it’s a deeper dive into the use of traditional instruments to find an adaptive use for creating something new.
hanbee : odd one out
hanbee‘s odd one out is a polished electronic pop EP. She’s got that sound that attracts a younger demographic, but she’s not simply following generic social media trends. Her music is light and melodic and you really can just enjoy every track without needing to deep dive. She’s got an additive style that can go far and I’m curious about what she presents on her follow-up Seashell Cassette.