Top Five Albums of 2023 From Our Staff
Reader writers recommend a musical melange
This year, in the spirit of spreading the love, we decided to gather opinions from all of our regular album review writers on what they believed were the best albums produced in 2023. The results are a smattering of selections spanning genres from hyperpop to singer-songwriter, ambient to punk, hip-hop to psychedelic folk and more, which give a real taste of the tastes of the Erie Reader. This online version of the article contains a custom playlist made from the favorite tracks off of each album selected by our writers. Happy listening!
Nathaniel Clark (Contributing Writer)
1. Sufjan Stevens // Javelin
After the traumatic loss of a partner, Sufjan Stevens returns to the musical aesthetics of his masterworks for comfort — crafting an album equal to that level.
2. Jessie Ware // That! Feels Good!
Jessie Ware presents a pop album with no fat — just illustrious bops as far as the eye can see.
3. JPEGMAFIA, Danny Brown // SCARING THE HOES
Two of experimental hip-hop's most creative acts come together for a lean and mean thrash.
4. Jane Remover // Census Designated
Leaving their hyperpop roots, Jane Remover journeys into post-rock and shoegaze with astounding success.
5. Yves Tumor // Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)
Yves Tumor and company return from a short hiatus with another batch of catchy and explosive psychedelic synth rock.
Aaron Mook (Contributing Writer)
1. Youth Lagoon // Heaven is a Junkyard
The nostalgic sounds of the ups and downs of childhood that follow us into adulthood, and the literal sound of a singer-songwriter finding his voice again.
2. Sufjan Stevens // Javelin
Amidst personal turmoil, the beloved indie songwriter returns with one of his most kaleidoscopic and emotional records — one that time may prove to be his best.
3. 100 gecs // 10,000 gecs
The king and queen of hyperpop return to their polarizing throne, doubling down on infectious pop-rock, grimy nu-metal, and all things poor taste.
4. Suzanne Ciani & Jonathan Fitoussi // Golden Apples of the Sun
Suzanne Ciani, a pioneer of synthesizer music and pinball scores, delivers a new-age ambient masterpiece that makes you feel like you're living in an early MMORPG.
5. Sigur Rós // Átta
Nearly 30 years into their career (and a decade since their last album), the Icelandic post-rock icons have released an expansive soundtrack to accompany the way the world has changed, equal parts beautiful and devastating.
Erin Phillips (Managing Editor)
1. Palehound // Eye on the Bat
Not a single bad track from start to finish, Palehound's catchy, melodic, cleverly written, and tightly packaged songs (often working in everyday themes like plants and cats) makes this a forever favorite.
2. Jeff Rosenstock // HELLMODE
Jeff Rosenstock writes music the way I want music to sound: loud, fast, and unpretentious with superbly well-thought out lyrics that are somehow both funny and upsetting.
3. We Are Only Human Once // Every Dog On Earth
(Shout out to Nick Warren for putting me on to this ultra-indie band) A little bit fuzzy grunge, a little bit singer-songwriter, these songs are touching, interesting, not overly produced — just perfect.
4. A Giant Dog // Bite
Part rock opera, part concept album, all unmistakably A Giant Dog — it took the group five years to write this album and that was exactly the necessary amount of time.
5. AJJ // Disposable Everything
The classic self-deprecating, Neutral Milk Hotel-esque, indie-pop-rock sound of AJJ but on a global scale — we're all doomed, but let's sing some catchy songs about it!
Melissa Sullivan Shimek (Contributing Writer and Comic Artist)
1. Facs // Still Life in Decay
Remember back in 1991 when you saw Jesus Lizard open for Gang of Four at the Euclid Tavern?
2. Brooks Nielsen // The Circle
You're sitting barefoot at an AA meeting in a dimly lit basement with Neil Diamond, Lee Hazelwood, Scott Walker, and Iggy Pop.
3. Big Thief // Vampire Empire
Like watching a wild carrot grow up from the asphalt against a chain link fence every day as you walk to work.
4. Various Artists // Asteroid City Soundtrack
Want to get a peek at the small notebook wrapped with a golf score pencil in a rubber band you imagine Wes Anderson keeps in his breast pocket?
5. Rick Dietrich // The Unguitarist Complete Works
You got your John Fahey stuck in my Bob Ross! You got your Bob Ross stuck in my John Fahey!
Nick Warren (Contributing Editor)
1. Corinne Bailey Rae // Black Rainbows
This experimental, often caustic record from the neo-soul songstress is ambitious, angry, and everything I want in an album.
2. Indigo De Souza // All of This Will End
The Ashville indie artist weighs trauma and self-worth through unforgettable melodies in her third album.
3. Ratboys // The Window
Another addictively listenable blend of punk and alt-country from the Chicago quartet that adds to their nearly perfect catalog.
4. Mitski // The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We
A refined and intimate record from the best artist of her generation, its sparse instrumentation lets the listener focus on Miyawaki's lyricism.
5. Hannah Diamond // Perfect Picture
Shimmering pink bursts of bubblegum brilliance are around every corner in this hyperpop explosion for the British singer's sophomore release.
Larry Wheaton (Contributing Writer)
1. Twin Temple // God Is Dead
This is what happens when Motown meets the Manson Family. Marketed as "Satanic doo-wop," Twin Temple is a Satan-worshiping band that your parents can listen to, too.
2. Matt Berry // Simplicity
Pour a glass of cognac and dim the lights, because this actor/comedian has been putting out the most heady and relaxing psychedelic folk you haven't heard for over a decade.
3. Queens of the Stone Age // In Times New Roman…
Long live the Queens! With rock and roll taking a backseat to other genres, this record proves there is still room for steady beats, blues grooves, and guitar solos in the roaring 2020s.
4. Dave Lombardo // Rites of Percussion
The metal drummer releases his first solo record, proving that he is a master behind the kit. This album is far closer to Buddy Rich, Tito Puente, and Fela Kuti than it is to Slayer.
5. Danny Brown // Quaranta
These songs express what it's like to live in a forgotten Rust Belt town — relatable to anyone who has lived paycheck to paycheck, while still finding the time to let loose on the weekends.