Favorite Albums of 2023
Favorite Albums of 2023
1. First Two Pages of Frankenstein - The National
Every time I listen to The National, I think they might be my all-time favorite band. Over the last few albums, it seems I like each one even more than the one before. I’m leaning into my sad dad stereotype with this one but this was not only my favorite album but also the one I returned to the most. Pair it with their B-Sides album, Laugh Track, and you’ll see why they were my most-listened band in 2023. Standout tracks are Once Upon A Poolside, New Order T-Shirt, and Send for Me.
2. GUTS - Olivia Rodrigo
I loved Rodrigo’s debut album in 2021 but think her follow up is even better. Here, she’s beginning to move away from straight-up pop to include rock, punk, and alternative, weaving it all together into something that feels both new and very familiar. (Here’s Jay Caspian Kang on why Gen-X dads can like her.) Standout tracks are Ballad of a Homeschool Girl, Get Him Back, and All American Bitch.
3. Good Riddance - Gracie Abrams
I love Aaron Dessner’s production and I love sad songs (see my first pick) so I was predisposed to like new artist Gracie Abrams. While it at times can sound similar to the Taylor Swift Dessner-produced albums, Abrams’s music feels darker (?). Standout tracks are I know it won’t work and Best.
4. Past // Present // Future - Meet Me @ The Altar
This was easily my album of the summer. In high school, I listened to a lot of pop-punk but only rediscovered the genre early in the pandemic. It’s been fun to re-immerse myself in this angsty, loud, aggressive world and find it more inclusive, diverse, and fun than when I was a kid. Meet Me @ The Altar is proof of that and dominated my headphone as summer began. Standout tracks are Kool, TMI, and Thx 4 Nothin’.
5. Javelin - Sufjan Stevens
I’ve been listening to Sufjan Stevens since I was in high school, following him from experimental folk artist to the electronic-era The Age of Adz and into the mournful singer-songwriter Carrie and Lowell. His new album follows in the vein of Carrie and Lowell, with a profoundly moving set of songs about love and loss. Standout tracks: Goodbye Evergreen, Will Anybody Ever Love Me?, Everything that Rises.
6. Secret Life - Fred again… and Brian Eno
I’m late to the Fred again… train but am now fully a fan. This collaboration with Brian Eno seems to be getting mixed reviews but I’ve found myself returning to it often, drowning in the soundscapes, especially early in the morning as the day is just getting started. It strangely feels both suited for summer and winter. Standout track: Cmon.
7. Heavy Heavy - Young Fathers
Young Fathers is a Liberian/Nigerian/Scottish hip-hop trio that put on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen in San Fransisco nearly ten years ago. They’d seemingly gone dark the last few years so I was exicted to learn news of a new album. On this tight ten-track album (only 32 minutes), we find the band mixing heavy, dark lyrics with something new: joy. Standout tracks: I Saw, Geronimo.
8. Paradise Crick - M. Sage
Most mornings, I’m listening to ambient and experimental music (before moving to louder, more energetic music in the afternoon) and this new-to-me artist, M. Sage, has been a favorite this year. Mixing natural sounds, ambient instrumentation, and drone, it’s exactly the kind of ambient music I love the most. Standout tracks: Stars Hanging Shallow, Evenin’ Out.
9. Blowout - John Carroll Kirby
John Carroll Kirby is a new-to-me artist but this funk/jazz/synth album was the perfect soundtrack to my summer: I’ve had it on repeat working in the garden, cooking on the grill, and hanging out by the campfire. I’m looking forward to spending more time with his discography this coming year. Standout tracks: Vertigo, Oropendola.
10. In Electric Time - Jeremiah Chiu
I might be biased because Chiu composed the new theme music for Scratching the Surface but I found this new solo album to be a knockout: it’s blippy, textured, energizing, and layered. Recorded in just two days and edited two days after, the entire album was made using analog synthesizers at the Vintage Synthesizer Museum in Highland Park, Los Angeles. Standout tracks: ElectroComp 1010, In Electric Time.
- Compositions - Deathprod
- Nocens - Thme
- Dissolution Grip - KMRU
- White Rabbit - Vince Clarke
- No Highs - Tim Hecker
- No Joy - Spanish Love Songs
- Heaven Is a Junkyard - Youth Lagoon
- Formal Growth in the Desert - Protomartyr
- MICHAEL - Killer Mike
- Games of Power - Home Front
A Spotify Playlist
As I do every year, here’s a playlist of the new songs I loved the most this year. This year’s — as of this writing — clocks in at 97 songs or 6 hours and 54 minutes. Over on my spotify profile, I also have monthly playlists of the songs I listened to the most throughout the year. Enjoy!