Top 5 Local Albums of 2022

It’s only fitting that the first full year “past” the pandemic found Ionia native, turned international bluegrass superstar Billy Strings returning to West Michigan for a triumphant sold-out show at Kalamazoo’s Wings Event Center this fall. Fresh off opening for Metallica at Lollapalooza among other high profile festival slots, and even collaborating with Post Malone, Strings shared the love with the community that gave him his start as a teen, proving that even in the most unexpected musical landscapes anything can happen.

Perhaps following in his footsteps, GR standout Patty PerShayla (and her band the Mayhaps) officially relocated to Nashville this year, after she spent part of the year touring with Traverse City’s The Accidentals, and gigging all over with the Rush cover band YYNOT.  Far from the only artist in our area to make that trek in recent years – Jason Singer of Kalamazoo indie rock band Michigander also moved there this year – PerShayla, and others, may help continue to pave a pathway between West Michigan and Music City.

With the pandemic hopefully behind us, 2022 saw an absolute abundance of amazing releases right here, with the return of Grand Rapids rapper Ajax Stacks (on From The North), Wuzee and Dusty Fingerz’ 100 Summers, and Last Gasp Collective’s Our Daily Bread, showcasing the ever growing versatility of hip-hop here in West Michigan, while mainstay rock favorites Desmond Jones (Rays of Light and Stardust) and Nathan Walton & the Remedy (Daybreak) issued flat-out classic albums that stand up alongside their iconic influences. 

Needless to say, selecting a shortlist of our favorites became quite a challenge, so forgive us if this list omits anyone also deserving as the range and raw talent of performers seems to have only gotten stronger as we’ve entered something of a local music renaissance since re-emerging from the era of COVID-19.