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15 Great Albums From 2023 (Review)

Andrew Bordner
Best Music of 2023: A&E writer Andrew Bordner shares his favorite albums of the year.

Like the last three years, 2023 produced a great selection of music. While it’s easy to talk about the Taylor Swifts and Hoziers that dominate the pop music charts, it’s a journalistic duty to shine a light on quieter voices with just as much to say ranging from a wide variety of genres. To talk about every great album from this year would take a long string of articles. Each album discussed is not meant to be ranked above the others and more importantly, this article is an opinion piece.  Every entry could easily be argued as the best or even the worst, but every album listed at least does something interesting or stylistically unique. 


Swans – The Beggar (experimental rock, goth rock, sound collage) 

After a four year hiatus, legendary experimental rock group Swans return with another thoughtful, dense epic. The album touches on existential worries, many of which could tie to the absurdist events during the global pandemic where a future remains largely uncertain. Like most of Swan’s work, each song takes time to build, but the listener’s patience is rewarded through rich lyricism and euphoric crescendos. That being said, good luck sitting through the forty minute sound collage, “The Beggar Lover (Three)”. 

Favorite song: “Michael Is Done” 

Least Favorite: “Ebbing” 


Avenade – Our Raging God Unknown To Us (noise rock, grunge, shoegaze, alternative metal) 

Releasing music since 2018, Matt Hawkins, sole member of Avenade, records another rock album inducing 90s nostalgia from nearly every music fad at that time. The main problem with this record is its lack of originality, but Hawkins avoids being derivative by taking sounds from multiple different bands and sharpening the production to make a song. Each guitar riff is played with the strength of a lumberjack driving a saw into the side of a tree going against Hawkins’ gentle vocals call back to bands like Radiohead. This one is definitely an album for 90s alternative rock fans looking for newer, more modern music.

Favorite song: “Hauntless”

Least favorite: “Judgement Day” 


Genesis Owusu – STRUGGLER (funk, post-punk, dance) 

Genesis Owusu never failed to entertain on his last album, Smiling With No Teeth, and his new one is no exception. He musically blends together Prince and Gang of Four with lyrics based on the writings of Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, and Soren Kierkegaard. The album is a concept album about a cockroach suffering God’s wrath, trying his best to rationalize his existence while trying his best to survive. It’s catchy, fast, and above all, fun. 

Favorite song: “What Comes Will Come” 

Least favorite: “See Ya There” 


Sadness // abriction (shoegaze, emo, ambient) 

Surprisingly, this is not the only album released by his year. More surprisingly, it’s Sadness’ tenth this year. But Sadness didn’t accomplish this achievement by recording a lot of music, most of their releases this year have been split albums such as this one. And this one happens to be the best. Sadness and abriction evoke a melancholic longing for summer, for warmer days wrapped by their blanket of distorted guitars only to be ripped away by ambient divinity. What makes this music even more unique is the blend of shoegaze, a genre of alternative rock characterized by dense distorted guitars evoking an intoxicating feeling, black metal screams, and rapid strumming, creating a style more commonly known as blackgaze.

Favorite song: “please…” 

Least favorite: “her summer morning sky”


alëce iΩic  – Trhä (black metal, ambient, shoegaze) 

Like Sadness, alëce iΩic have had an eventful year with fifteen albums being released in 2023. That’s one and one fourth of an album written, recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered every month. Possibly as a con from this rigorous work ethic, there’s not a whole lot to say about the album other than pointing out the contrast between the beautiful passages of ambient synth and blistering tear of black metal guitars. If someone ever wanted to hear the bizarre child of Brian Eno and Burzum, this is the album to listen to.

Favorite song: “limatu◊ën

Least favorite: “tëmana olh qëtën colvënna bé’jar lhëlh tun lhaja enΩëjëda£ehan inqom”


Lana Del Rey – Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd (baroque pop, singer-songwriter, slowcore) 

Ignore the statement at the top of the article for a moment about major pop icons and take in the beauty that is Lana Del Rey’s latest album. Del Rey’s voice brings out the deepest sorrow in the listener from her wistful stream of consciousness lyricism to her weeping soprano voice. She takes the best parts from her previous albums and turns them into something new and exciting in a way that doesn’t alienate her older fans. While that could be a bad thing in alternative music, in pop music, it shows skill for an artist to experiment successfully and maintain their status.

Favorite song: “A&W” 

Least favorite: “John Batiste” 


Jessie Ware – That! Feels Good! (disco, funk, soul) 

Like Bruno Mars, Jessie Ware takes inspiration from Motown and soul classics and refines them with modern pop production in anthemic bursts of warmth and energy. Ware never fails to write a good hook, providing a more than adequate soundtrack to many summer parties and days spent having fun. One of the best parts about this album is that its awkward moments and lines are covered by a catchy hook that pulls back the excitement.

Favorite song: “Pearls”

Least favorite: “Freak Me Now”


Reverend Kristen Michael Hayter – SAVED! (Hymns, folk, singer-songwriter)

Months before this project was announced, Kristen Hayter announced her retirement from her previous project, Lingua Ignota, for reasons largely revolving around her desire to move on from past trauma directly linked to the project’s content. Hayter’s trauma is still present in her latest album, but what makes this album different from her work before is that it’s about the long and lonely walk towards healing rather than wallowing in misery to create catharsis. Even with a softer instrumentation than before, SAVED! is still just as unsettling and somber as previous works with tape loops cutting into church hymns and piano arrangements as heavy as tears.




Lankum – False Lankum (Irish folk music, ambient, gothic country)

Imagine being alone on the bleakest winter morning on a hill overlooking the cold waves of the ocean hitting the rock of the land. Lankum is the musical equivalent of that exact moment. Barren soundscapes of the old country are seen through the lens of shanties and stories modernized by Lankum’s use of droning ambience. There’s not a song on this album that can’t be simply summarized by the word “haunting”.

Favorite song: “Go Dig My Grave”

Least favorite: “Fugue II”


Sufjan Stevens – Javelin (indie, folk, electronic) 

Javelin and Carrie and Lowell are likely Sufjan Stevens most personal albums because Stevens is a reclusive celebrity, not revealing much about his personal life unless it’s in the context of his work. What ties these two albums together is the death of someone very close to Stevens, his mother and his lover, Evan Richardson. Obviously, the music is very sad and heavy, it calls back to his previous work on The Age of Adz with electronic experimentation but keeping the folk sound of Carrie and Lowell. The music is beautiful and yes, the album is good, but there’s a strong feeling of unease throughout the listening of this album because it somehow feels wrong to take pleasure from Steven’s pain. 

Favorite song: “Goodbye Evergreen” 

Least favorite: “Everything That Rises”


Jeff Rosenstock – Hellmode (pop punk, power pop, indie rock) 

After over ten years of solo material, it’s safe to say that Jeff Rosenstock is a master of songwriting. He’s like a modern Elvis Costello. Rosenstock finds a way to capture a tender, gentle sound amid the sounds of punk rock, something he always flirted with since his start. On much of this album, Rosenstock rides on dejected undertones on top of bright pop chords, humanizing his music in a beautiful way. 

Favorite song: “DOUBT”

Least favorite: “HEAD”


ANHOHNI – My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross (soul, singer-songwriter, art pop)

Anhoni Hegarty never fails to draw tears with the volume of his voice, regardless of the content she sings about. This album sounds like a stylistic cross between Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear and Lou Reed’s Coney Island Baby. “Sliver of Ice” is actually based on a conversation between Hegarty and Reed weeks before his passing. Hegarty’s earlier work focused largely on identity, My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross deals with themes of the natural world, finding beauty in nature and environmentalism. That isn’t to say the album is an environmental piece, there are personal songs woven into the outsides of the album. With her angelic, soothing voice, Hegarty continues to be one of the most impressive characters in pop music. 

Favorite song: “Sliver of Ice”

Least favorite: “Rest” 


slowthai – UGLY (post-punk, hip hop, dance)

Lyrically, UGLY has been accomplished by Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition. A lot of this album is comparable to Danny Brown’s opus, but the destructive perspective of a twenty eight year old slowthai is different from Brown who was in his mid-thirties when he wrote Atrocity Exhibition. slowthai’s perspective is much angrier, letting the punk parts of his style in hip hop dominate the album in a tragic album about a downward spiral into addiction.

Favorite song: “Selfish” 

Least favorite: “Feel Good”


Slowdive – Everything Is Alive (dream pop, shoegaze, ambient) 

Slowdive are a rare band in a genre oversaturated with My Bloody Valentine and Velvet Underground soundalikes. In their last two releases, Slowdive have matured their sound, making their songs more sparse and ambient but keeping the pop sensibility of their older recordings. For some people, their shift may seem boring, but when given the proper chance, there’s beauty in their newer spaced out sound.

Favorite song: “andalucia plays” 

Least favorite: “kisses”


Queens of the Stone Age – In Times New Roman… (alternative rock, stoner rock, glam rock) 

After ten years, Queens of the Stone Age’s trilogy of albums comes to an end with their newest release. This album came from a series of extreme ups and downs in singer-songwriter Josh Homme’s personal life, delaying the album from being made for a number of years. Homme’s dysfunctional life could be a reason for In Times New Roman… feeling scattered at times. In a way, this quality helps to better understand the material on the album. Like all Queens of the Stone Age albums, it’s got a lot of great songs and even more infectious guitar riffs that stay true to Homme’s style from over twenty years ago. 

Favorite song: “Emotion Sickness” 

Least favorite: “What The Peephole Say” 

Honorable Mentions 

-Raven by Kelela
-Zach Bryan by Zach Bryan
-Mercy by John Cale
-Make Them Beg For Death by Dying Fetus
-No Highs by Tim Hecker, Desire, I Want to Turn Into You by Caroline Polachek
-PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and The Beginning of Merciless Damnation by King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
-softscars by Yeule,
-The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We by Mitski
-We Buy Diabetic Test Strips by Armand Hammer, billy woods, and E L U C I D
-Maps by billy woods
-Jenny From Thebes by The Mountain Goats
This Stupid World by Yo La Tengo
New Blue Sun by André 3000

Disclaimer: Articles designated as “Review” represent the views, opinions, and recommendations of the author, not the 2023-2024 Periscope staff, CHS/CASD administration, or the CHS student body.

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About the Contributor
Andrew Bordner
Andrew Bordner, Staff Writer
Andrew is a senior at CHS, this is his first year in  Periscope. He participates in the Coffeehouse program. In his free time, he likes to write music, read, and watch movies.
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