Belwood Music Awards 2022

As the time for ringing in the new year draws ever closer, let’s take a moment for one last glance back at the past twelve months. The music that most defined our 2022, that provided the soundtrack of our summer and kept us company on the long winter nights. Without further ado, here are our awards for the most noteworthy releases of the year.

Album of the Year: The Family Crest – The War: Act II

A fantastic follow-up that exceeded all my expectations. Grand, playful and ambitious. Every track expanding on the band’s lush orchestral sound, constantly bringing something new to the table without ever losing themselves in the progress. Easily one of the most vibrant and spirited records of recent years. (Full Album List)

EP of the Year: Of Monsters And Men – Tíu

Arguably the band’s most interesting and consistent collection of songs since their debut, containing their most sure-footed experiments outside the indie folk that made their name. An exciting taster of what the next era of the band might entail. (Full EP List)

Song of the Year: Gang of Youths – In The Wake of Your Leave

One of the highlights of Angel In Realtime, that has since become the highlight of their magnetic live sets. The opening riff that takes on a life of its own, the driving rhythm and elegant strings, the ‘top of your lungs’ chorus; A magnificent example of how the band manage to make sorrow sound triumphant. (Full Song List)

Video of the Year: Porcupine Tree – Herd Culling

Some gorgeously animated landscapes interspersed with flashes of menace. The final chase sequence set piece is such a rewarding pay-off, and one that is executed faultlessly. It could simultaneously take the award for best first person horror experience. (Full Video List

Album Cover of the Year: Weyes Blood – And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

The kind of simple and striking design that jumps out at you from a record store shelf and compels you to buy the album based on the artwork alone. (Full Artwork List)

The White Feather Award for Disappointment of the Year: Muse – Will of the People

At this point in their downward spiral, I can excuse Muse releasing a record bereft of ideas that sounds like a parody of themselves. I cannot, however, excuse fanning the flames of swivel-eyed anti-mask conspiracy theorists – whether intentionally or through sheer bumbling tone-deaf ineptitude.

The Forgotten Gem Award: Sigrid – How To Let Go

By no means an obscure or overlooked record this year, but one that I feel hasn’t got its dues on the blog all the same. Life got in the way when it first came out, and other releases climbed up my to-do list, so it never got a proper review. But its highlights were nonetheless a big part of the soundtrack to my year, and so it wouldn’t feel right not giving Sigrid a well-deserved shout out! 

The Spotlight! Award for Best New Artist: Ber

Just a couple of songs was all it took to make Ber my one-to-watch from this year’s Barn on the Farm, and as a result her brilliant debut EP And I’m Still Thinking About That became one of my most listened to releases of the year. What’s more, she then followed it up with a couple of equally charming new tracks and endearing videos. With another EP already on the horizon, she’s clearly hit a superb creative streak, and I’ve no doubt her star will be shining bright in 2023. 

Band of the Year: Gang of Youths

Seeing them live twice in 2022, on two separate UK tours no less, not only pretty neatly bookended my year, but also provided me with some of the best damn live music experiences of my life. Euphoric and life-affirming in ways that will stay with me for a long time. If you’ve made it this far then my words must carry some weight with you, so heed this: go see this band if you ever get the chance!

Best Male Solo Artist: Sam Ryder

What an incredible year he’s had! From being the UK’s best Eurovision entry in a generation, to performing at the Queen’s last jubilee, to singing with Queen at Taylor Hawkins’ tribute concert at Wembley Stadium. He’s done it all, and everywhere he’s gone has been with infectious smile and a joyful spirit, spreading happiness wherever he treads.

Best Female Solo Artist: Maggie Rogers

Her stunning sophomore album was home to some of the most electrifying tracks of the year, and catching her live on the first date of The Feral Joy Tour was another highlight of what’s possibly been my best ever year for gigs. Maggie’s wild uplifting energy is just undeniable, and in 2022 it seemed to burn brighter than ever. 

Discovery of the Year: Novo Amor

It’s been a busy year, and there’s so many new releases that I haven’t been able to find the time for, never mind finding the time to dive into back catalogues. The one exception has been Novo Amor. After stumbling across him last year through Life is Strange: True Colors and loving what I heard, I made time to explore his records deeper whenever I could.

Soundtrack of the Year: Everything Everywhere All At Once

Traditionally this award goes to a more conventional “music movie”, but this is the only film-adjacent award I have at my disposal, so obviously I’m gonna give it to the best film I’ve ever seen. An incredibly well choreographed action flick, a laugh-out-loud absurdist comedy, a mind-melting sci-fi caper, a touching teary-eyed romance, an affecting family drama, and a thought provoking rumination on life all at once. And when you think about it, a score that can handle all that is more than worthy in itself.