5 min read

Best music of 2023

Gonerfest 20, Memphis, TN
The Exbats, Gonerfest 20 Memphis, TN - 09.29.2023

It’s another year where music led me to unexpected places. I enjoyed finding out about new bands/sounds via the internet, as always, but even more so in person, thanks to amazing music festivals like Gonerfest in Memphis, which I finally got to attend (just needed someone cool enough to see new bands with me!), and T1Fest in Chicago, and while I’ve been there seemingly 100s of times, it was my 2nd favorite city I visited this year. I need to add more thoughts and images to this post, but for now…

The best

  • ANOHNI and the Johnsons “My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross” - just… wow
  • Bass Drum of Death “Say I Won’t” - saw them live this year, top 5 live show this year, so fun
  • CIVIC “Taken By Force” - saw them live at Gonerfest 20, heavier live, reminding me of Fugazi
  • Indigo De Souza “All of This Will End” - saw the video for Smog and I was hooked
  • Do Nothing “Snake Sideways” - the snarl of The Fall, but with more… elegance?
  • Electric Chair “Act Of Agression” - I needed this, I really did
  • Four Tet “Live at Alexandra Palace London, 24th May 2023” - one of my favorite current electronic acts, along with Tycho
  • Fruit Bats “A River Running to Your Heart” - just nice, light-poppy stuff
  • The Hold Steady “The Price of Progress” - saw them live (again) in Chicago at the new/caverous Salt Shed
  • Hotline TNT “Cartwheel” - along with the new Slowdive, this is the new shoegaze we needed
  • MJ Lenderman “And The Wind (Live And Loose!)” - saw him play guitar with Wednesday live this year, here he steps out and up to the mic, this kid is going to be big
  • Mandy, Indiana “I’ve Seen a Way” - actually from Manchester (so much to answer for), and a really cool/unique sound. This year’s Just Mustard in my book
  • North Americans “Long Cool World” - some days I need something calm
  • Pain Of Truth “Not Through Blood” - upstart NYHC band introduced to me by a Pissed Jeans playlist they made of their favorites of the year
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto “12” - RIP, an amazing Japanese artist
  • Single Mothers “Roy” - finally a new SM album, but better yet, saw them live at Red Flag, and Drew did not disappoint. One of my favorite hardcore bands today
  • Sleaford Mods “UK GRIM” - jason and andrew are heros of mine, they’re of my vintage and are clearly having the time of their lives
  • Slowdive “everything is alive” - will see them live this year, first time, and I’ve been a fan since 1991
  • Sonic Youth “Live In Brooklyn 2011” - there are few bands I miss more than Sonic Youth, like another, Fugazi, they never overstayed their welcome but were always growing. I was lucky enought to see them a few times and they were amazing live, so to have this offical version of one of their last US shows ever is so sweet, and this is no normal show, deep, old cuts that they hadn’t played in a long time. Legends. Speaking of, this next band started in the same No Wave scene in NYC at the same time, in fact Thruston was briefly in the band…
  • Swans “The Beggar” - will see them live this year, and I’m kind of bracing for it tbh
  • Sweeping Promises “Good Living is Coming For You” - saw them live 2x this year; Off Broadway and Gonerfest 20
  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra “V” - slept on his show, but this is good stuff
  • Víkingur Ólafsson Bach “Goldberg Variations” - new classical pianist from Iceland that I’m obsessed with
  • Wednesday “Rat Saw God” - saw them earlier this year
  • Yard Act “Where’s My Utopia?” - where indeed, another sharp release buy these chaps
  • Yo La Tengo “This Stupid World” - after so many years they can still put out killer albums (think I first saw them live in 1989)

Honerable mentions

Nothing wrong with these releases, they either didn’t hit me the same as the ones above, or they haven’t hit me yet.

  • Black Belt Eagle Scout “The Land, the Water, the Sky”
  • Black Country, New Road “Live at Bush Hall”
  • Black Thought & Leon Michels “Glorious Game”
  • Blur “The Ballad of Darren” - heard huge things, but again, it hasn’t hit me yet
  • Daughter “Stereo Mind Game”
  • Iris DeMent “Workin’ on a World” - saw her years ago, obviously her first 2 albums are classics but happy to see her still recording
  • En Attendant Ana “Principia (Trouble in Mind)” - my favorite French band continues to improve with each release
  • Fucked Up “One Day”
  • Gorillaz “Cracker Island” - that leadoff title track is hot
  • PJ Harvey “I Inside the Old Year Dying” - still wish I’d love her as much I did in her hey-day, but glad she’s still around and I will try this again later
  • Ibex Clone “All Channels Clear” - saw them live at Gonerfest 20
  • Lydia Loveless “Nothing’s Gonna Stand In My Way Again” - maybe unfair but I’m not sure she’ll ever top “Somewhere Else” (Bloodshot, 2014)
  • Lucero “Should’ve Learned by Now”
  • The Murder Capital “Gigi’s Recovery” - this is a great band, would love it if they toured this side of the pond
  • Pile “All Fiction” - I have to say, not the band I loved earlier, I have it here so I’ll give it another go later
  • Quasi “Breaking the Balls of History” - saw them live this year and it was such a fun show, Janet is still a hero of mine, Sleater-Kinney will never be the same
  • shame “Food For Worms” - strong work here
  • U.S. Girls “Bless This Mess”
  • Youth Lagoon “Heaven is a Junkyard” - slept on this one, still don’t regret missing him live… but think this album is special

This year life has taught me to never say never, and gave me my current motto; don’t look back. Dig in!