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David’s Favorite Albums of 2023

I’ve listened to a lot of new music recently. In 2021 and 2022, I compiled my favorite projects of the year in list form, archived in story highlights on Instagram. This year, I decided to formalize the list in writing. I hope that’s what you’re here for.


So many wonderful albums came out in 2023 and it was difficult to narrow my choices down to a top 25. But, I realized that I make the rules here, so I added 8 more honorable mentions. Below you will find jazz, shoegaze, hip hop, ambient, electronic, indie, pop and more. Whatever your taste, I hope you take away a few new obsessions.


 

Honorable Mentions


 

Madres by Sofia Kourtesis: Vibrant, nostalgic, colorful dance music.


Heaven Is a Junkyard by Youth Lagoon: A unique, desolate yet hopeful sonic universe.


Vidrio by Titanic: Captivating, intricate, minimal jazz.


My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross by ANOHNI: Simple yet powerful, varied yet cohesive, just incredible.


softscars by yeule: Hyperrock heaven.


Suntub by ML Buch: A lush universe of guitar textures.


EXCELSIOR by Slauson Malone 1: A winding, hypnotic journey


PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE by Christine and the Queens: A progressive, psychedelic pop odyssey


 

TOP 25


 

25: GUTS by Olivia Rodrigo


A perfect screenshot of teenage angst. It’s earnest, catchy as hell, and a cut above much of the pop punk revival crap I’ve come across recently. She knows her age and she acts like it!



 

24: 3D Country by Geese


It’s an odd one. It’s angsty, twangy indie rock. It’s alt country art punk. It’s old school and incredibly fresh, towering with swagger while taking a piss. It’s The Strokes but from Texas, except these guys are actually from New York too, so just vibrationally southern.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

23: The Lamb as Effigy by Sprain


A sprawling record, sharply winding through ear shattering alleys and droning corridors. A tormented cacophony of anguish, it takes you to hell and lets you sit there and think about it.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

22: Space Heavy by King Krule


Steeped in melancholy, this record lives in a desolate world painted with gloomy guitars and scattered saxophones. Though the arrangements are often sparse, there is a thick, alluring atmosphere that holds everything together. One might call it indie soup.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

21: We Fell In Turn by Kalia Vandever


A wistful collection of trombone improvisations. There’s something profoundly moving in its simplicity, lingering like the last days of summer, drenched in hazy nostalgia.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

20: Dogsbody by Model/Actriz


A manic intersection of industrial noise and infectious grooves. It is violently sexual and visceral, often feeling like being forced to dance at gunpoint. Sharp and unrelenting with surprising pockets of softness. My favorite debut of the year and an insane live show.



 

19: Spike Field by Maria BC


A haunting tapestry, flowing through delicate guitar musings and intricate production swells. Folk music that is subtle yet enveloping, silky yet textured, it rewards close listening as much as it does passive meditating. Like getting lost in a magical forest.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

18: Fountain Baby by Amaarae


An irresistible collage of cultures that seamlessly coalesce into a vibrant pop record. It’s as light as it is elegant and as eclectic as it is divine. Be warned, some of these melodies have bounced around my head for days and the only cure is to dance them out.



 

17: Romantic Piano by Gia Margaret


An intimate scrapbook of cozy piano melodies and field recordings. It feels as though it’s been lived in, perhaps a gateway to a simpler place… It’s snowing outside, you’re in your PJs, and you need nothing else to be happy.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

16: SAVED! by Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter


A haunted collection of hymns that sound like an Appalachian folk cult horror movie score. Lofi is an understatement, as the frequent tape manipulation creates the auditory equivalent of a cursed found footage film. Behind the degraded exterior, however, lie stunningly raw performances that floor me on every listen.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

15: Secret Life by Fred again.. and Brian Eno


A hypnotic, dreamlike universe conjured by the godfather of ambient music and a recent electronic music sensation. Thick atmospheres envelop melodies lost in longing. Listening at night feels like falling asleep under a weighted blanket.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

14: Javelin by Sufjan Stevens


An arresting tribute to Stevens’s late partner, reflecting on the weight of love with vivid imagery over lavish folk instrumentals. An honest reflection of grief that remains fragile through graceful vocal swells and electronic flourishes. Absolutely breathtaking.



 

13: How to Sink Slowly by BrokenTeeth


A dreamy shoegaze record with gorgeous guitar melodies and cathartic crescendos. These songs express emotions that are quite nuanced and speak to my soul in a way that’s hard to put into words.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

12: I Killed Your Dog by L’Rain


A psychedelic R&B odyssey that effortlessly ebbs and flows to its own heartbeat. It is lush and hypnotic but remains intimate; Instantly intriguing and rewarding upon returning. A record to get lost in.



 

11: Zach Bryan by Zach Bryan


An album that caught me by surprise and became my favorite country project of 2023. This record bleeds sincerity and makes me reminisce about a small town in Oklahoma I never lived in. Irresistible songwriting, powerful performances and always the perfect balance of delicate and impactful instrumentation. A true rising star.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

10: After the Magic by Parannoul


A wintery hyperrock dream, blurring noisy shoegaze textures with pillowy electronics to create surreal landscapes in the space between reality and fantasy. It is dense, explosive and heartfelt, coated in ice with fire at its core.



 

9: Desire, I Want to Turn Into You by Caroline Polachek


An escape to a sunny paradise soaked in lust and euphoria. Elegant art pop that is sometimes direct and sometimes mystical, inviting you to lose yourself in a love drunk fantasy that feels so real you can almost taste it.



 

8: SCARING THE HOES by JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown


An unhinged hip hop record that is addictive, unrelenting and has the potential to induce severe whiplash. It’s like a fever dream inside a bouncy castle on crack. I’m still trying to wrap my head around some of these samples.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

7: Rat Saw God by Wednesday


The perfect blend of twang and noise. Distorted, shoegazey yeehaw. The most distinctive record yet from one of the most exciting indie bands around. I love pedal steel.



 

6: Girl with Fish by feeble little horse


A shapeshifting collection of lofi hyperrock vignettes. Subtly surreal indie rock that masks its intricacies behind infectious songwriting and disorienting distortion. Homespun bangers from the future.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

5: Census Designated by Jane Remover


My most anticipated album of 2023. A rising digicore star pivots to shoegaze and delivers monstrous, slow burning anthems that are equal parts gratifying and crushing. A steamroller to the heart, body and mind. Read my full review here.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

4: Ichiko Aoba with 12 Ensemble (Live at Milton Court) by Ichiko Aoba


An album that sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it. Delicate, haunting, and overwhelmingly beautiful folk music. Simultaneously intimate and lavishly orchestrated, this record is heaven balanced on a spinning plate.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

3: Again by Oneohtrix Point Never


An intricate journey through the past from one of my favorite electronic musicians. It oozes color and creativity, casually blurring lines between hyperrock and vaporwave, progressive and ambient, etc. Futuristic nostalgia that washes over you in perpetually morphing waves.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

2: Oh Me Oh My by Lonnie Holley


A cosmic story of survival, filled with meditations on Jim Crow era Alabama and ancestral trauma. It is a mesmerizing journey of self understanding that is weary yet defiantly optimistic. The singing is raw and expressive, and with the music becomes spiritual and transcendent. A truly special album that is hard to put into words.



 

1: homeless n***a pop music by Jim Legxacy

The most exciting hip hop album I’ve heard in some time. It is infectious and innovative, seamlessly blending afrobeats and drill with mathy guitars and emo vocals. I’ve had it on repeat all year. It is hopefully a harbinger of a wave of music to come, and is especially inspiring as Legxacy made it while he was homeless.


Listen: Apple Music | Spotify


 

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