Lots of good stuff this year. Here’s a playlist:
My very favorites
Additionally, here are a few albums and singles I wanted to call special attention to. They’re presented alphabetically becasue I’ve choosen to ditch the “best of” framing I often go with; I’m not writing music criticism here, and I have no editor telling me what to do. I don’t even know how many things I called out, so this isn’t a top-ten list, either! It’s just What I Loved in 2023. Mostly captured for me, but if others get something out if it, all the better.
Album: Animal Collective: Time Skiffs ✅
Their best group of songs since MPP, for my money.
Album: Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You ✅
A rare double record that never overstays it’s welcome, but rather creates a world I want to live inside, not unlike the White Album or Wildflowers.
Album: Destroyer: Labyrinths ✅
After nearly two decades of dabbling, I have finally become fully Bejar-pilled.
Song: Gabriels: Remember Me
If you’re not moved when the full strings kick in at about 2:30, I don’t know what to tell you.
Song/Video: Ghost: Spillways
I have no commentary on this band or their schtick, but I do know a well-written sugary pop-metal jam when I hear it.
Song: Goose: Dripfield
The vapors of this song have seeped into my bones.
Song: Hammered Hulls: Abstract City
We all need a bit of classic Dischord sound in our lives, and this tune checks that box with authority.
Albums: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s entire 2022 output, specifically Omnium Gatherum and Changes
I am intimidated by this band. They are very Extra in the best sense of the word.
Song: Steve Lacy: Bad Habit
R&B from another planet. I dig. A lot.
Album: The Mountain Goats: Bleed Out
John Darnielle is a national treasure.
Album: Aofie O’Donovan: Age of Apathy ✅
I’ve really been enjoying Aofie’s work since I fell down a deep Live From Here well several years ago. She truly brings all of her unique talents as a songwriter, vocalist, arranger and guitarist together on this record. (Related: this Tiny Desk concert is delightful.)
Song: Angel Olsen: Go Home
Album: Beth Orton: Weather Alive
Haunting, but in a different way. So great to have new music from Beth Orton.
Album: Plains: I Walked With You A Ways
This record gave me a lot of reminders of my mom’s early-90s pop country radio phase. (I mean this as a compliment, obviously.)
Song: Maggie Rogers: That’s Where I Am
Another single that grabbed me by the lapels and demanded my full attention from its first notes.
Album: Will Sheff: Nothing Special
I couldn’t describe this record better than Sheff himself did in this wonderful interview with Fluxblog’s Matthew Perpetua:
My experience of art is like the wind in the trees. You blink and you miss it. A little bit of it is like “Did you guys hear what I heard?” It’s a very quiet, subtle thing that gets under your skin.
Album: Sister Ray: Communion ✅
If I had to pick a “favorite” record of 2022, it would probably be this. Those that know me and my tastes will have no problem figuring out why.
Album: Soccer Mommy: Sometimes Forever ✅
A nearly perfect distillation of my late-90s record collection. I mean this as a high, high compliment. Truly another one of my absolute faves on the year.
Album: Spoon: Lucifer On The Sofa
Their best since probably 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. All killer, no filler.
Song: SRSQ: Winter, Slowly
The first time I heard that little whammy-bar vocal effect on the chorus (starts around 0:50), something in my brain slipped loose and my thoughts still aren’t thinking right.
Album: Bartees Strange: Farm to Table ✅
This is truly an Important Record, a call-to-arms, a statement of purpose.
Song: Tenci: Two Cups
Tenci came onto my radar after seeing them open for Hop Along in 2021, and I’m really glad they did.
Album: Sharon Van Etten: We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong ✅
Much like the Destroyer record, this was the one that converted me from “hey, SVE is pretty cool” to a full-fledged fan.
Album: Immanuel Wilkins: The 7th Hand ✅
A gifted arranger who can still layer sheets of sound with the best of them.
(✅ indicates that I’ve purchased the album on vinyl, for accountability’s sake. Support the musicians you love, folks!)
Playlist available on Apple Music, Spotify and Last.fm.