Staff Picks 2022

“Oddinary,” Stray Kids from Emma Rogers, Assistant News Editor

I’ll be fully honest, I did in fact stay up until midnight on release day to listen to this album the moment it came out, sitting in the tables outside Tepper underneath the strings of lights that appeared sometime during second semester last year. “Oddinary” also held four of the top five spots in my Spotify Wrapped this year. What can I say? I’m a fan. This album stood out to me because it was Stray Kids’ signature “noise music” but through an EDM lens instead of their traditional pop and rock influences. The combination of unique vocals and top tier samples in the title track and B-sides scratch the brain in just the right way, and the intros to “Venom,” “Freeze,” “Charmer,” and “Maniac” will always remain among my favorites from the group (yes, I’m aware I just named half the album as my favorites). The only thing better than the album itself has to be when they perform the songs in concert (because yes, the choreography is equally top tier).

Yellow Crocs TikTok Duet Chain from Kaylin Li, SciTech Editor

I couldn’t find anything released this year that I liked for more than a few weeks, so I chose something that came out in 2021 that I found this year: a TikTok duet chain called Yellow Crocs. It begins with a rap from someone who found his little sister in bed watching TV instead of going to class. At the end, he dances in his yellow crocs, hence the name of the resulting creation when a drummer, a singer (Stacey Ryan if you know her), and a bunch of other instrumentalists duet the song. The song is so catchy and so random and very fun to sing in the shower. 10/10 would recommend looking up a compilation on YouTube.

“Typical of Me” by Laufey, from Jennifer Bortner, Forum Editor

Laufey is a contemporary jazz artist who writes these stunning songs which are typically about love. This EP feels like sitting at a sunny window - it is simply wonderful. While it came out in 2021, I listened to it a ton this year and it was my own form of meditation. Laufey’s voice is so calming and the images in her songs speak to my little, hopelessly romantic heart. My favorite song on the EP is also the corniest: “Like the Movies.” Laufey’s integration of instrumentals combined with such a gentle voice creates this fairytale-esque song which just melts your heart. A close second was “I Wish You Love” which has this almost bossa nova beat to it which just makes listening to it such an experience as she utilizes lyrical breaks in a fun and sonically interesting way. Overall, this EP is just a 10/10 and I encourage everyone to listen to Laufey!

“How To Be A Human Being” by Glass Animals, from Anna Cappella, Pillbox Editor

This was a hard pick, but out of all of my favorite albums, this is the one I could listen to over and over no matter what kind of mood I’m in. I feel like everything about it just celebrates life in such an aggressively arms-open way; every song feels like running down the middle of an empty street in the cold while the sun is setting. I love Glass Animals in general - their sound is the kind of indie pop that I don’t ever find boring - and I think this album is their best work for sure. My favorite song off the album (maybe my favorite song ever) is “Life Itself” which is a stunning, musically perfect piece that actually genuinely brings me to my knees every time I hear it. Don’t listen unless you’re ready for your life to literally change. “Poplar Street” is a close second, followed by “Agnes.” Everything on “How to Be A Human Being” is so cohesive and real, with lyrics focusing on concrete items and events, which is something I really appreciate. This is a volume-all-the-way-up type of listening experience and I love every second of it every time I decide to throw it on.

“All Quiet on the Western Front” (2022), from William Curvan, Staffwriter

This is arguably the best movie Netflix made this year, possibly ever. Although the plot bears little resemblance to Erich Maria Remarque’s 1928 book of the same name (besides the fact that the protagonist is named Paul Bäumer), it still tells a story as compelling and tragic as its namesake. The common adage may tell us “there’s no such thing as an anti-war film,” but this comes pretty close. The combat scenes are as disturbing as “Saving Private Ryan” without valorizing warfare, and the production feels as accurate as “1917” without the happy ending. The inclusion of a B-plot involving the German delegation to the armistice was interesting, but ultimately worked well. However, I would have liked to see Paul’s visit home, as that scene in the book contain some of Remarque’s most important messages. Overall, it’s a grim, upsetting look at the Great War where (spoilers) our protagonist dies a pointless death mere seconds from the armistice taking affect. If you have Netflix, I highly recommend it.

“Knives Out” (2019), from Haley Williams, Staffwriter

Oh my god, where do I start with this movie? I am so deeply in love with “Knives Out” and everything about it, and I have been ever since I saw it in theaters way back in the olden days of 2019. I have obviously never pirated content in my life, but even if I had I still would’ve paid to own this movie. I entirely depleted all of my summer savings to get a very large tattoo tribute to this movie permanently put into my kneecap. It’s a perfectly ridiculous, over the top murder mystery, that’s both immaculately put together and incredibly self-aware. The plot follows Detective Benoit Blanc and the Thrombey family as they navigate the twisty-turny investigation of Harlan Thrombey’s suspicious ‘suicide.’ Complete with a star-studded ensemble cast, a delightful score, and a mystery that will have you dusting off your Clue skills, “Knives Out” is the perfect movie to watch again and again, and every single time you can notice something new. I have seen this movie so many times that I can essentially recite the script from memory, and I have one friend who thinks I’m insane for it, and another that genuinely believes I hold the Guinness World Record for Most Times Watching “Knives Out” (2019). I wouldn’t be shocked if that was true, and as long as I have free will I will continue increasing that count and forcing others to watch along with me and experience the glory that is Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out.”

“Pastlife (Deluxe Version)” by Day Wave, from Cole Skuse, Editor-in-Chief

First of all, Day Wave is my favorite artist, and I was so, so excited when he announced “Pastlife.” I was even more excited when he announced the deluxe version late this year. The album is quintessential Day Wave and is everything I love about his work — a mix of chill indie and indie rock. The contrasting vibes of “We Used to Be Young” and “Great Expectations” showcase Day Wave’s talent. His collaborations with KennyHoopla and Hazel English highlight his capacity to work with other artists and produce great songs. I personally like the collaborative “See You When The End’s Near” more than the original version that was in the deluxe version of the album, which furthers this point. The deluxe version of the album added three songs, and I LOVE “Cold Like Me.” If you have any interest in indie, Day Wave’s “Pastlife” is a must.

“For Emma, Forever Ago” by Bon Iver, from Dylan Rossi, Staffwriter

This album is literally a masterpiece, straight bangers start to finish with NO SKIPS. Your feels become inescapable and you intensely vibe for 40 minutes, which quickly cascades into your entire day. Then at night you stare at the ceiling and listen again because holy shit this album is a masterpiece (look up the story around it too).

The works of Philip K. Dick, from Zachary Gelman, Pillbox Editor

Philip K. Dick is a genius whose hundreds of stories showcase creative concepts that get brilliantly executed. He works on the theme of the fleeting nature of reality with protagonists that are frequently trapped in social or scientific constructs. I love how willing he is to write stories that use so many conceptually different and unique ideas that a lesser writer could write a whole series on, and simply use them once or twice, all the while having thematic through lines of paranoia that make any of his works instantly recognizable, and seemingly greatly predictive. His use of speed (meth) is relatable for many modern college students, and serves to write astounding books. His later works are just as exceptional. To highlight just a few favorites, I recommend without reservations: “The Man in the High Castle,” an alternate history chronicling an Axis victory during WW2 that is much deeper and has much more interesting themes than my description suggests; “Time out of Joint,” my first exposure to Dick, and a novel that plays with form in a way I haven’t seen elsewhere; “Confessions of a Crap Artist,” which shows that Dick’s novels are much more than just sci-fi, and that even when he writes an at the time modern-day story, the paranoia and questions about reality are still there; and most importantly “Ubik,” described by Time magazine as one of the 100 best novels of the past 100 years, his masterpiece, and possibly my favorite book. Multifaceted, and the culmination of early Dick’s ideas, readers are in for a deeply unsettling masterpiece that also includes a door that threatens to sue protagonist Joe Chip after he refuses to pay five cents to open it. This is the door to his own apartment. Noticing the similarities to modern day is an exercise to the reader of this article.