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Album of the year 2023

Cover Image for Album of the year 2023

Coming out of a blogging slumber, I simply cannot skip posting a list with my favourite albums of the year. In particular because there were many new albums that I liked particularly well. It's also the first year (if memory serves) where the same band appears twice on the list, and in first and second place no less!

Early 2023, I saw KGLW live for the first time, kickstarting a listening binge of their entire discography. Despite (re)discovering some greats from their long list of releases, this year's PetroDragonic Apocalypse topped everything they produced thus far. It's the record Metallica has been wanting to make for decades. Every track is catchy and metal as hell, but all are uncompromisingly King Gizzard.

Their second outing, The Silver Cord, hits in a completely different way. This Kraftwerk-esque electronic jam is very much new territory for the band, but they mimic styles like these so well that it feels like they've never been a different band. Still with this amount of, let's call it inspiration from other artists, plenty of KGLW specific quirks shine through. It might not stick as a highlight of their discography, but it's certainly an audio adventure and I'm always in for those.

Other notables on the list are Gorillaz, who never made a bad album but were certainly capable of adding some filler. This one doesn't have that problem, every track sticks, and most of the collaborations feel meaningful. Some notable ones include Thundercat, Tame Impala, Stevie Nicks and Beck.

After that, it's much (much) lesser known artists that simply hit gold this year. HMLTD is an indie rock band that is not afraid of (a) switching abruptly from listenable indie to uncontrolled audio chaos, and (b) embracing a rock opera of sorts describing a worm devouring feudal England. Quite the ride! Monika Roscher and her Bigband, unknown to me just some months ago, produce a record reminiscent of the great Diablo Swing Orchestra. It swings, it rocks, and it sounds like it could have been made by patients of an asylum. Closing off the list is Corto.alto, a solo jazz project that hit the particular right spot for me personally. Though nothing groundbreaking, it excellently blends several flavours of jazz, including some snearing saxophone that wouldn't misfit in a metal track, with clean beats and even some ambient-like piano work.

All in all, it was a year with many positive surprises, big and small. One shout out needs to go to Spotify and their Discover Weekly algorhithm, which has uncovered many hidden gems, including some on the list below. It's a welcome relief between sites and apps who want to reinforce the already popular thing, to hear the most obscure stuff recommended to me which I would have loved to discover myself, but am certain to have missed.

  1. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation
  2. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - The Silver Cord
  3. Gorillaz - Cracker Island
  4. Kelela - Raven
  5. HMLTD - The Worm
  6. Christine & The Queens - PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE
  7. Monika Roscher Bigband - Witchy Activities and the Maple Death
  8. Puma Blue - Holy Waters
  9. ANOHNI & The Johnsons - My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross
  10. Corto.alto - Bad With Names