I just found this draft in my notes, figured I’d better put it up before I have to start writing 2024’s.
Back in the day, before streaming services were a thing and when the internet was young and so was I filled with optimism and the joy of discovery, I looked forward to Jeph Jacques' annual summary of the music he dug that year. It’s how I found so many of the bands I loved then, and a few I still love: Blood Brothers, Liars, Errors to name just a few.
Anyhow, in a rudimentary effort to do some of the same, here’s what I really got into in 2023. I’m organizing into categories, but I’m not ranking the music. Ranking is a pointless exercise.
Del Water Gap - I Miss You Already + I Haven’t Left Yet
The album opens with “All We Ever Do Is Talk”, a soft and warm bop seemingly written specifically for moments of sepia-toned intimacy. Every track is solid. In addition to “All We Ever Do Is Talk”, standouts include singles “Losing You” and “Coping on Unemployment”.
Petey - USA
I was into Petey as a comedian, and then one day I was listening to my personal station on Apple Music and heard a song that I dug and it was by “Petey” and the Petey guy in the picture looked a lot like Petey on the internet and it turns out it IS the same guy and he’s not only funny but he writes good music. “I’ll Wait” and “Did I Mention I’m Sorry”.
Royal Blood - Back To The Water Below
Two dudes, two instruments. Maybe a little dancier than previous Royal Blood albums, but the groove is good and it rocks.
Noah Kahan - Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever)
I slept on Stick Season in its original release, but the “Deluxe” version, including a bunch of additional tracks is fantastic. The title has gotten plenty of well deserved attention, and so is “Dial Drunk”. If you haven’t listened to the Song Exploder episode with Noah Kahan on “Stick Season”, do it.
††† - Goodnight, God Bless, I Love U, Delete
A 40-something dude who is into Deftones and Crosses? I’m sure you’re as shocked as I am. Of course I’m 100% here for this album. Chino Moreno and Shaun Lopez worked on this album over the course of something like five years, so it doesn’t capture a specific point in time as many albums do but the feel is cohesive.
Manchester Orchestra - The Valley of Vision
I’d be lying if I said I’ve been into Manchester Orchestra since the beginning. I dug Leave Everything to Nothing but never followed them after. What a massive miss on my part, and what a joy it is to go back and listen to their whole back catalog now! The Valley of Vision is certainly more mellow, evoking the same frustrated confusion that informs so much of their work, but this album reflects a bit more resignation and sadness as opposed to frustration and urgency. A different tone, but one that resonates with our current moment.
The Beaches - Blame My Ex
“Blame Brett” caught me off guard with how catchy and bouncy it is - a modern and straightforward fun rock song. The rest of the album lives up to the promise of the first single. Love it.
Cannons - Heartbeat Highway
The first song I heard was “Loving You” and it’s easily my favorite, dance-y and sultry. The rest of the album brings stronger disco vibes. I dig it and I can listen to “Loving You” specifically indefinitely.
The National - First Two Pages of Frankenstein & Laugh Track
Yes, Dad rock. Sure. But it’s also The National’s best work since Trouble Will Find Me.
Singles & EPs
Kenya Grace - Strangers
This single was all over Car Instagram this year, and I got to be very cool and say “Yeah I was into her before she was big” which was neat. Great song, great voice. Love the vaporwave kind of night-drive feel of the song. It captures that feeling of really not wanting to grow apart from someone but also acknowledging that it’s inevitable.
IDLES & LCD Soundsystem - Dancer
Really looking forward to this album; “Dancer” and the IDLES-only tracks “Grace” and “Gift Horse” are just excellent. Can’t wait to hear more.