2023 Listens

Top Listens 2023

All you Spotify listeners out there, I get it. But I’m an Apple Music guy. I like my ecosystems, and there is none better than Apple. My computer (both work and home). My phone. My watch. My life. Anyway, Apple has stolen some of the better parts of Spotify and put them into play. This year, I’m looking at what Apple calls Replay ’23. It does all the usual stuff, and I’m not surprised by most of it. Other than the fact I can’t seem to quit The Strokes for some reason.

Top Artist Listens of the Year

10. Wednesday. I’m not gonna admit to the fact I burned out their one album in a three-day binge of epic proportions. I don’t love country music, by the way, I’m just a slacker Californian who appreciates slack music.

9. Militarie Gun. This one honestly snuck up on me. I think it’s because one of my first big listens of 2023 was their 2022 album. Plus they put out a new album this year. The combo pushed them into the top ten, despite the fact I feel like I couldn’t discern the difference between the tracks on the two records. But apparently I’m a cool Gen-Z post-hardcore guy now.

8. Interpol. I’m a ride or die Interpol guy. But, again, they had a 2022 album that I reviewed in early 2023. Which probably caused me to just crank through their discography with reckless abandon. I will not apologize.

7. Grandaddy. I’m predictable, I’ll admit that. But, to be fair, Grandaddy had an odds and sods album come out in 2023, and there was no way I wasn’t taking that one for a spin.

6. Spoon. Jesus, I’m old. I think this middle-aged man music was in a mix I put on when we had adult company. With COVID in the rearview, I must have put on this “chill” mix a lot, and Spoon is nothing if not chill.

5. Spiritual Cramp. I admittedly overplayed their record late in 2023. Thing is, they also had a single earlier in the year I also played the crap out of, “Nah That Ain’t It.” It’s an earworm, this stuff, and I really hate the term earworm. So you know I must really like it.

4. October Drift. Finally, a band that I can’t be shamed into skipping. But one that is a little weird amongst theses venerable Gen-X faves (save Wednesday). This shit is a banger — as the kids say.

3. The Breeders. A real surprise this high in the list. I was never a real fan, but I re-discovered an album of theirs after listening to a pod about Steve Albini and couldn’t stop listening to it. So, less re-discovered and more discovered. But they are underrated in the post grunge era machismo.

2. The Dirty Nil. Is it a guilty pleasure if I don’t feel guilty for listening to them? Yes, these Canadians love old school heavy metal music, but they also just plain rock. And roll. I can’t get enough of the energy and north-of-the-border enthusiasm. It makes me feel young again!

1. Death Cab for Cutie. My account is attached to several Alexa devices in my house and I feel like someone got ahold of one and put DCfC on a loop or something. It’s not that I dislike them or anything — and at one point in my life was real into them — but there is no way in hell this is real. Stupid algorithms. Or whatever.

Top Album Listens of the Year

Know What You’re In Until You’re Out

10. Gladie: Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out

I’m still disturbed by her out of focus image on the album cover. It feels like a mistake. As I mentioned in my review, this is a super-random choice. But, hey, it also turned out to be pretty cool. Thank you random robot overlords!

Laughing Gallery

9. Ruth Ruth: Laughing Gallery

Why in the hell would this old-ass record be in my top 10 for 2023? Well, I was determined to review it because it’s one of those albums that always seems to lurk in my subconscious. I’m assuming it’s the disturbing images on the cover that have caused this long-term psychosis, but I had to listen to the album on repeat to make sure.

Mission Control

8. Burning Airlines: Mission Control!

I only reviewed this album in 2023 after listening to it one trillion times since 1999. I’m wondering if it still would have been in my top 10 even if I didn’t review it? We’ll never know.

Spiritual Cramp

7. Spiritual Cramp: Spiritual Cramp

I first became aware of this band when the lead singer joined for a Rancid episode of a podcast I regularly listen to. I took away from the pod that their band sounded like Rancid. It does not. But it’s something different, poppier and filled with great hooks and an addictive listen. So addictive, in fact, it broke into the top ten toward the end of the year.

Goodnight Neanderthal

6. Gee Tee: Goodnight Neanderthal

This one is a surprise. I did review this record, and perhaps it’s due to its extremely short songs, but I think maybe I left it on repeat and/or was interrupted during my review listens and it just got boosted accidentally. It’s certainly not my favorite of the year, but it’s entertaining.

All Roads Lead to the Gun

5. Militarie Gun: All Roads Lead to the Gun…

This album is fire. On fire? Anyway, it’s a high-energy affair that tempers some of the hardcore, but cares less about melody than you’d think a catchy album would. I was clearly intrigued enough to make this my number 5 (despite it coming out in 2022). It’s okay, I’m still me.

Breaking the Balls of History

4. Quasi: Breaking the Balls of History

It had been a minute since I’d listened to Quasi. But this album kind of brought it all back. I can’t say they were ever a major player in my listening habits, but I did definitely listen to this one a few times through just to reconnect with my electric piano-led rock bands.

Title TK

3. The Breeders: Title Tk

I somehow overlooked this album when it came out. But (re)discovered it this year, and really dug the Steve Albini of it all. Perhaps this record was more popular than I knew back in the day, but it was sorely overlooked in my own history.

Free Rein to Passion

2. The Dirty Nil: Free Reign to Passion

This is somehow in my top two despite not garnering a review on the site. Must just be me listening pleasure and not for work. Not as if this site is “work” per se. I have to feed children, after all. But this is fun stuff to put on when you want to feel good about rock ‘n’ roll. And Canada.

I Don't Belong Anywhere

1. October Drift: I Don’t Belong Anywhere

Can post-hardcore be catchy? Sure it can. Because when you call absolutely everything post-hardcore, some melodic stuff like this October Drift record will slip in. It verges on a little too mainstream at times, but retains enough of an edge to make this a super-compelling listen. Enough so to snag the top spot.