top of page
  • Writer's pictureMichael Bless

Plastic Lizard's Top 50 Tracks of 2023

When you compile a list of 50 songs, you slowly start to see connections and make assumptions about people’s years and your year based on the music that you consumed. While there are a lot of catchy, lighthearted songs on this list, it seems as if a vast majority of these artists were thinking about much deeper things rather than creating pop songs. Looking back, either I gravitated to every song released this year that had apocalyptic feelings and reflective thoughts, or these were two topics at the forefront of everyone’s mind. That’s what I love about compiling and creating these lists. Although this is a small sample pool, these 50 songs in some way represent the thoughts of people over the past couple of years. In turn, that means that your thoughts are also on this list. Given the events of the past few years and how long it takes to release a song, it makes sense that there would be remnants of these end-of-times thoughts and deeper reflections of self-worth.

These are the 50 songs that meant the most to me in a year that felt normal, but also very unusual at the same time. Before anyone asks 'why aren’t (insert popular Indie Band here) on this list?', here are my ground rules when it came to compiling the list. I am not a strict person, but I take this site and the music I write about and promote on it pretty seriously. The rules are as follows: 

Bands and artists must have under 100k monthly listeners on Spotify. 

This rule exists because I want to promote ‘smaller’ acts on this website. We all know the heavy hitters from 2023. One of my biggest gripes as a music fan while looking at year-end lists is that there are a lot of recycled names that I’ve already seen on every other publication's list. What I try to achieve by only allowing bands under 100k monthly listeners is the opportunity for you, the reader, to see some names you are familiar with, but also to promote people that I think are flying under the radar. If you pay attention to music, there are still some VERY recognizable names on this list, but there are a lot of small artists on this list who you may not have heard of. Overall, I hope that this list helps you explore more music.

All singles on this list are featured on one of my ‘Best of 2023’ Playlists.

This one is more of a note than a rule, but I digress. Unfortunately, the way my life is, I don’t get to review albums as much as I’d like to. There is just not enough time in the day for me to check out a track off of over 60+ albums, whittle those down to songs that I like (about 10 on average), and then listen to each album to see which one I want to write about. Essentially, I put all of the songs that I like into one of 10 playlists, reflecting the genre of music that they best represent. From there, at the end of the year, I relisten and rate each song that was on each playlist. What you are seeing is the final 50 songs from a list of 300+ tracks, all from different artists, that I deemed good enough to be on my playlists. Does anyone listen to these playlists besides me? I'm not sure. But that’s okay. It helps me stay organized and it’s cooler and more reflective of my tastes than Spotify Wrapped is, so, I’ll continue to do it. 

Hopefully, that long explanation gives you a little bit of a look into my process. Now I present to you the list: 

50. Before Breakfast- Chosen

Before Breakfast has been a group that I’ve been keeping a close eye on ever since I started this blog. I love their string arrangements and their delicate placement of harmonies as a duo. On ‘Chosen’, the group explores the dual nature of being a woman. On one hand, women are told to be independent and self-sufficient. Yet, on the other hand, society expects women to pursue being lovable/enough/etc. and expects them to follow these norms to gain acceptance. The duo weaves this complex narrative throughout the song with such grace, making the song that much more thought-provoking. 

49. DZ Deathrays- Tuff Luck

One of Australia’s leading Heavy Alternative bands, Tuff Luck finds the band back in their element, with their catchy choruses and heavy riffs that they have become known for by their fans. 

48. Gabe ‘Nandez- Risk

When I pressed play on ‘Risk’ by rapper Gabe ‘Nandez, I was wholly unsure of what to expect. The track starts with this very tinny, almost music box-esque beat, and I was unsure how someone was going to rap over the top of it. What Gabe ‘Nandez and Radamiz do on this track, flipping this beat into something oozing energy, is truly special. ‘Nandez's references on this one reflect his upbringing, growing up in various countries throughout his life, making the listener guess what he is going to reference next on the track. ‘Nandez kept my attention and his style alone is enough to place him on this list.

47. Nicole Yun- Lost Keys

Making a straightforward Indie Rock banger is harder than it seems, but Nicole Yun has found perfection with ‘Lost Keys’. Everything about this track scratches listeners' brains in all of the right ways, with pleasing vocals and jangly guitars meeting each other perfectly. It’s the type of track that feels simple on the surface but takes so much songwriting know-how to properly achieve.

46. Marina Herlop- La Alhambra

‘La Alhambra’ is a transcendent experience. The Catalonian artist uses her diverse musical interests to weave us through this song, taking elements from electronic, avant-folk, and pop music to enrich the track and its lyrical content. The track, when translated from Catalonian, seems to be about the entanglement of man and the spiritual realm, and Marina uses both cosmic and natural elements to create this very abstract narrative throughout the song. It’s a track that feels spiritual, even if you don’t know what it’s about, and will leave an impact on you even months after you’ve experienced it.

45. Moon Blue- All I Know (Is That)

Incredibly dreamy, this track can garner a certain emotion that other groups trying to mimic the sound of a particular Australian band cannot. When people try to make a psychedelic indie song in modern times, it feels more aesthetic-based and less emotion-based. What makes ‘All I Know (Is That)’ work is the authenticity of that emotion. It's a song about the feeling of being in love, with all of the good and regrettable things that come with that feeling. There are incredible highs shared between two lovers, but there’s also the uncertainty of what the people will mean to one another in the future. This track, with its high falsetto vocals, can capture that emotional range perfectly.

44. Prewn- Perfect World

There’s a moment on ‘Perfect World’ in which I went from thinking ‘Oh, this is a cool song! I love it!’ to ‘What on earth am I listening to?’ Yet when one of the lyrics is ‘It’s a perfect world and I’m murdering my children’ I suppose that’s bound to happen. The track is an alt-folk song about someone who has a lot of power in the world and they drink the blood of babies for their benefit, not thinking about anyone else around them. While they harness this power though, something inside of them feels very empty. It’s a song with very ominous subject matter performed in a very profound way, and that’s what gets it on this list. Also- no, I didn’t have ‘A song about a billionaire who harnesses power and youthfulness by drinking the blood of children’ on my Top 50 Songs of 2023 bingo card either, but hey, here we are.

43. Megafauna- Capsize

The Heavy Rock outfit from Austin, TX is known for their epic tracks, but I’d argue that none are as monolithic as ‘Capsize.’ A great guitar riff propels this track from start to finish and the vocals on this particular track make the listener feel as if they are watching a movie about a monster destroying an environment, only to be defeated by a higher power. The track creates such a vivid visual in the listeners’ head and at no point does this track feel like it overstayed its welcome. That is a true testament to Megafauna’s compositional know-how.

42. Iguana Death Cult- Pushermen

I’m a sucker for dusty-sounding Garage Rock bands and this fits the bill perfectly. A song about the absurdities of living in the current time, Iguana Death Cult does a great job painting a picture to their audience while keeping the perspective somewhat cryptic. This gives listeners something to chew on while listening to a killer track in the process. I love the guitar work on this one, again, with its simple chug, along with the slacker/talk-singing vocals, reminiscent of Parquet Courts (I went there, I try not to reference other bands, but I did it!)

41. Lanterns On the Lake- The Likes of Us

It’s not very often that I have a hard time figuring out what to say about a song or an album on one of my lists, but Lanterns On the Lake may have stumped me. Not because there is nothing special about ‘The Likes of Us’ of course, it is the opposite. This track is so texturally rich that there's almost too much going on in my head as I listen to it. The production feels so warm as if the song is wrapping my brain up in a warm fresh towel. Vocalist Hazel Wilde’s vulnerable, yet hopeful tone gets paired with percussion from Radiohead’s Phillip Selway, and the result is this lush intricate track that feels so so alive.

40. Josephine Foster- Haunted House

Intertwining the worlds of Experimental and Folk music, Josephine Foster’s music has always felt both familiar and otherworldly. ‘Haunted House’ is no different. The track is simple instrumentally, with a light guitar backing and gorgeous vocals by Foster, but what gets me are the moments that add rich layers to the track. For example, Foster blows into a low-quality microphone to mimic the sound of the wind, pitches up her ‘ooohs’ and layers them above her voice to create a ghostly choir to back her vocals, and records bird chirps to add to the overall environment of the song. All of these elements prove that you don’t need to add tons of instruments to a track to achieve a full sound, and depending on what you are trying to do with a song, you can create something more memorable by utilizing alternatives like field recordings.

39. Les Imprimes- Falling Away

Typically, I do not go to Norway to get my fix of Soul Music, but Les Imprimes is an exception to this. The track feels as if I’m stepping into a Portal into a 1960s bar where smoke fills that dimly lit room and a mysterious band is on stage. ‘Am I in a dream or is this real life?’ I ask myself as the band performs on stage. I love the light organ-sounding synths that feel like elegant footsteps on a cloud keeping us floating throughout the track. Les Imprimes proves that in a place so cold, even they need to create music that feels as sensual and dreamy as this track does.

38. Faerie- virgo sun

Bursting with vivid imagery, ‘virgo sun’ is a swelling indie-folk song about the changes we see in people that we once knew so well. New York-based singer-songwriter Faerie is a master of composition: starting with an unassuming, acoustic guitar-backed instrumental line, and vocals that feel as if they are out of a fairytale. Quiet moments are met with loud musical changes, featuring psychedelic instrumentals that grow and emphasize the overall mood of the song. ‘virgo sun’ is a track that feels warm, yet mysterious at the same time, and I am here for it.

37. The Cowboys- The Sultan of Squat

This year, I valued songs that maybe had a bit more emotion and meaning to them. That’s not to say I don’t value less emotionally layered songs, but meaning and what artists do with that meaning are important when coming up with a list like this. ‘The Sultan of Squat,’ however, is not a song that carries a lot of meaning, at least not in my opinion. This is a goofy, 1960s pop-inspired garage rock song about the happenings at a baseball game that takes under 2 minutes to complete, and you can't help but tap your foot along to it. The Cowboys are one of those bands that could probably make a song about any topic and make it something that the listener won’t soon forget.

36. Kicksie- You’re On

With a dose of sugary Indie, Kicksie is sure to instantly put a smile on your face with its guitar-driven sound. ‘You’re On’ feels like a song you should be hearing on an Alternative Rock Station in the summer with your friends all shouting the lyrics way too loud as the sun is setting. Ultimately, this track is another case of a band perfecting their sound, making something that feels effortless and catchy in the process.

35. BAT BOY- Decoder Ring

Right off the bat, you know this song is going to take you for a ride. With its loud guitars and attitude-filled vocals, it feels like BAT BOY is channeling a bygone era of bands. A song that feels like it would be right at home with grunge songs from the '90s, BAT BOY uses this vigor but gives it a little bit of a pop edge, just to make sure they don’t cave heads in too much on this track.

34. Dirty Nice- This is Gonna Hurt

This song, despite its title, never fails to put me in a good mood. I think there’s a certain warmth to the recording, something that feels very nostalgic about it that I cannot put my finger on. I love the Indie Pop sensibilities here, the bright vocals mixed with the plucky piano playing is a combination that creates so much serotonin for me. Pair that with a super cute music video featuring crudely rotoscoped cute critters interacting with people giving them pets, and you have a match made in heaven and something that I definitely need on a "best songs of the year" list.

33. Katie Dey- Dawn Service

Any song that experiments as much as Kaite Dey does on ‘Dawn Service’ is a shoo-in for one of my lists. I love the distortion that can be found throughout this track, as it gives so much life to what Kaite is trying to create here. Some moments feel so accessible at one moment then transform into these really noisy chaotic moments throughout. Being able to create that in a song such as this is quite special.

32. PHONY- Chinatown

Another track that we’ll put in the category of ‘catchy Indie-Punk’ is this one by PHONY. I love the overall sound on this one. I have used the guitars on tracks like this as a talking point, but I think what makes this track stand out is the vocal performance. There’s something that feels different about the vocals here versus other similar songs that we’ve talked about on this list... almost like I can sense a desolate longing even if the vocal performance does become angrier as the track progresses.

31. LAWN CHAIR- Sunset Heartbreak

The attitude-filled German band gave me a great first impression with this track. I love the overall energy that these guys play with and the groove on this song is absolutely genius to boot. The band can go from calm riffs to absolute chaos at the drop of a pin, and I have an immense amount of respect for anyone who can do that with the same amount of effortlessness as LAWN CHAIR.

30. Single Mothers- Sad Dumb Game

I associate Canada with a lot of really killer Indie-Punk outfits. Hailing from London, Ontario, Single Mothers is another one of those Canadian groups that kill the particular sound that they are going for. I love the bouncy guitar work showcased here and I also really appreciate the canter and cadence that the lead singer offers to propel the track forward.

29. Dragon Inn 3- I Can’t Stop

With their infectious synth-driven sound, Dragon Inn 3 captivated me with their fun sound on ‘I Can’t Stop’. I haven’t been able to not have a smile on my face when I queue this song up. As I said, the synth work on this is super enjoyable and I love the dreamy delivery we get vocal-wise. Of course, how can you not love a song that ends with a sweet sweet saxophone moment? With this track from their sophomore record, the Kansas City band proves why they are one of the most fun groups in the business and I just could not get enough of it this year.

Note: I’m not going for the low-hanging fruit here and saying ‘I Can’t Stop’ listening to this track because I have more self-respect than that.

28. Joey Nebulous- Joey’s Tour

If I were doing an awards show this year, I would name Joey Spumoni Creamy Dreamy Party All The Time as my vote for the most memorable album title of the year. There’s something about it that is a little goofy, charming, and just funny to me. ‘Joey’s Tour’ has that same effect, maybe because it is a song that features a super high vocal range that I find quite endearing. The song is a simple pop song about Joey’s boys all across the USA. With the unforgettable lyric ‘Alabama, Mississippi, you’re the one I wanna kiss me’ you can tell that this is going to be a simple, yet fun pop song. I love the overall simplicity and catchiness of Joey Nebulous’ music, and cannot wait to dig into more of their sweet sweet sounds in the future, because it’s right up my alley.

27. Factor 50- Factor 50

Ah yes, the classic song named after the band... how is a top 50 list complete without one of these in it? In all seriousness, I love the bright nature that the Bristol-based band plays on this track. Yes, they are a British Post Punk band which is kind of a dime a dozen nowadays, but they do it with a much more positive sound, which is a refreshing twist to a genre that has been getting a little stale over the past few years.

26. Spencer Cullum- Betwixt and Between

Sounding straight out of the 70s, there’s a certain eeriness found on ‘Betwixt and Between’ that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in any other song that came out in 2023. It’s a sound that feels very lived in, due to it leaning into the tropes of 70’s folk music. Adding to its ghostly feeling is the song's lyrical content, as ‘Betwixt and Between’ follows the story of a soldier who leaves his home to go to war, but knows that he will not return. It's the sort of song that will put a shiver down your spine once you hone in on what is going on lyrically. If you love the warm folk sounds found on this track, do yourself a favor and listen to Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection 2 right now. I don’t care if you don’t finish this list because of this recommendation, just do it!

25. McKinley Dixon- Tyler, Forever

Plastic Lizard’s Top 21 of 2021 alumni member, McKinley Dixon had a year in 2023, finally getting the credit that he deserved with the release of Beloved! Paradise! Jazz?. Although still a member of the underground rap scene, people fell in love with McKinley’s beat selection and lyricism, and ‘Tyler, Forever’ is a great example of Dixon’s strength as a musician. The beginning of this track features an epic horn introduction that leads Dixon into a verse that sounds very bombastic. In the middle of the track though is where we see a change. The music begins to slow down, featuring a delicate piano. This is where you see the genius of McKinley Dixon come to life. Tyler, Forever, is a celebration of life for one of McKinley’s close friends. The song examines the feeling of trauma and explores how one moves forward after an experience that causes so much pain. It’s a song that makes a big statement and leaves a huge impression on its listener.

24. Gorgeous- Elbow Stress Rash

If you love your music disjointed like I do, you are going to love this track by the Brooklyn-based experimental rock group. There is so much going on in this song, and the compositional shifts are what make this track exciting to me. It feels as if the listener is on a ship while listening to this song, and the music represents a stormy sea, rocking the listener from one side of the ship to the other. It’s one of the more enjoyable and chaotic experiences that I had with music this year, and for that reason and many others, it ends up on this list.

23. Lael Neale- I Am the River

The overall sound on Neale’s latest album, Star Eaters Delight, is louder than what fans may expect from her. This is due to Neale moving back to her family’s farm in rural Virginia from Los Angeles. The overall sound feels as if Neale is attempting to break the silence that she feels in this quaint environment, not as a plea for help, but as a reminder that she’s still here in the world. There’s so much going on in a bigger city that it's easy to stay quiet and blend in so to speak, but when you're surrounded by less, you feel the need to make more noise. The overall noise output in this song is impressive to me. First, you have Neale’s attention-grabbing voice, again, calling out to the world. The vocals are backed by a piercing organ track, a nice drum beat, and a guitar that keeps everything in line, even if that line is a little chaotic. 

22. Crucchi Gang- Mi Piace

I knew that 1980s Italian Pop is very popular nowadays with countless Italo-Disco mixes on YouTub full of hits from that period, but I didn’t know that this style of music was especially popular with Germans until I stumbled upon Crucci Gang. 'Mi Piace' is the breezy piece of 80s Italo-Pop revival that I didn’t know I needed until I stumbled upon it one night, and I am glad it is in my life. I love the overall grove this song gives me and I equally love the strong vocal performance on display. It reminds me of summer in the best way possible and will be in constant rotation on my playlist for years to come, for its novelty and its sound alike.

21. Spirit Night- Country Roads

In 2023, I think I gravitated towards songs in which the songwriter was battling with something throughout the song. ‘Country Roads’ is a great example of that, as the song explores the idea of feeling an attachment to where you grew up (I’ll let you deduce where the songwriter is from using context clues) yet wanting to distance yourself from that place as you feel it doesn’t necessarily represent you. The lyrical content is pushed forward by the instrumental blend of punk, and emo with a tinge of alt-country over the top to pay homage to the artist's roots, I’m sure. I don’t want to sound like a broken record throughout this list, but ‘Country Roads’ is a powerful song both lyrically and instrumentally.

20. Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter- ALL OF MY FRIENDS ARE GOING TO HELL

On Saved!, Hayter explores Gospel music in a way that feels very respectful, but also gives this genre an experimental angle that makes it feel as if you’re entering a creepy, culty church somewhere out in the woods. Of all of the songs off of this album ‘ALL OF MY FRIENDS ARE GOING TO HELL’ is the one that did the most for me. Maybe it’s the weird high-pitched buzz at the start of the track, maybe it's the distinctive, almost yelling vocal style she uses on this track, or maybe it is something else altogether, I’m not sure. Whatever it is, each time this song is on, I feel this weird gravitational pull to it that is hard to resist. It’s my favorite track from an album that would have been in my top 3 albums of the year if I had published that sort of list, and I hope you give it a chance to see why.

19. Emma Blackery- Everybody Lies

A Pop song with an Alternative edge, ‘Everybody Lies’ feels like an anthem to play whenever people choose to talk nonsense about you to your face. The overall attitude of the song is solidified with the attitude Emma gives throughout the lyrical delivery, as you can feel as if Emma is indeed done with all of the drama that surrounds everyday life. It’s a song that is kind of simple, but it’s performed in such a way that makes it stand out in a crowded sea of songs.

18. Bonny Doon- Crooked Creek

Another song on this list that falls into the nostalgia category, ‘Crooked Creek’ is proof that there is still good music out there for people who long for the old days. A simple, yet bouncy piano line carries this song as lead singer Bill Lennox paints vivid pictures with his words. The lyricism is fun on this song with lyrics such as:

“I took a ride on a raindrop and what do ya know

I came across sadness sitting alone

I said ‘What's the matter sadness, why are you so sad?

Sadness replied, ‘That’s just how I am’” 

I think I appreciate this lyrical style because it feels quite charming yet freeing at the same time, almost like a stream-of-consciousness song in which the songwriter finds the meaning after the lyrics have been written down. Sometimes, the most thought-provoking statements happen when you’re just writing freely, and I wondered if Bonny Doon took this into account while creating this track, because I’d say it’s highly successful.

17. deathcrash- Empty Happy

If there was an award for ‘best slow burning song of 2023,’ I think that this track would certainly be a contender. The song starts so delicately and then towards the last minute it crashes to an emotional climax, only to gently glide back to the melancholiness at the end. It’s the type of song that musically takes a lot to control, and if any band is going to do it with expertise, it's going to be a Slowcore band. deathcrash put on a masterclass on this song with their attention to detail, and there’s not much the listener can do but sit back and be a witness.

16. Skemer- Overgave

This Digital-Goth banger I didn’t know I needed in 2023 is one of the most unique musical experiences I had this year. I’m having a hard time explaining the music, so instead I will settle for what I feel this song is doing to me. This song feels like it is slowly leading me into a dimly lit curtained portion of a club somewhere. I can make figures out through the light, but I haven’t a clue what is going on. It's a song that feels sensual and mysterious all at the same time, making for an unforgettable experience.

15. Rodeo Boys- Tidal Wave

Punk Rock with a small-town feel will always be special to me, as sometimes I also felt a little out of place in my hometown. For that reason, Home Movies was a record that couldn't help but draw my attention this year. I think that ‘Tidal Wave’ is one of the standout tracks on this record, not because it’s the catchiest, but because it encapsulates what I admire about the band that calls Lansing, Michigan its home: these guys can shred. Ultimately, if I allowed myself to put multiple songs from the same artist on this list, Rodeo Boys could have easily claimed a few spots.

14. Westelaken- Fixed Up By Orange Light

This is where the list gets into what I would deem as ‘heavy hitter’ territory. Westelaken gets here for its timeless sound and their ability to make a song that clocks in at over 5 minutes feel like a short film. There is so much going on performance wise throughout the song, but I admire its ability to change things up with so much subtlety. Sometimes, changes in songs can feel so abrupt and confusing, but Westelaken know how to progress a song naturally. Very rarely can you hear authenticity in instruments anymore, and even an untrained ear such as mine can just tell there are so many talented players in one room on this epic journey of a song.

13. Hinako Omori- In Full Bloom

One of the most beautiful voices you will hear on this list, Hinako Omori takes us on a twisting journey of reflection and self-love on this song. What brings it all together is the experimentation through the bending synth tones. It makes this self-reflection feel more complex and less linear, which makes sense when you are writing a song about personal growth. Very rarely do you hear a song tackle a human concept like self-development with such abstraction, yet crispness.

12. Pynch- London

Sometimes, when compiling lists such as this, you learn a lot about yourself. I think this year, I held on to songs with a poignant social commentary to them. When I listen to all of these songs together, it almost feels a little apocalyptic, and this song helped me realize that, so thanks for that, guys. This song, in particular, creates a dystopian picture with its whizzing synth line. Lyrically is where it gets even more cynical. The song references the housing crisis that is going on in the song's namesake, ‘London.’ The song starts with the singer reminiscing about where they grew up, but slowly starting to realize that the world is stacked against the average person. I especially love how this lyric is delivered:

“Have you ever dreamed of owning your own home?

That's just a bourgeois fantasy, better leave that shit alone”

All in all, ‘London’ demonstrates that when it comes to songs with social commentary, Pynch is one of the best in the business, and being from England, they carry a long lineage of bands that have come before them that have done the same. 

11. abracadabra - Talk Talk

It’s another song with social commentary! Can you imagine? Inventive Art Pop band with an 80’s tinge, abracadabra combines so much that I enjoy about music in one song. This may be the catchiest song about the downfall of society and our addictions to our screens that I have heard in my life. Any song that can make me dance while feeling depressed about society is a good song to me. From the canary chirps throughout the song to the shiny guitar, and the great percussion on display by way of bongo, I love everything on display here. The juxtaposition of critical lyricism about society and bright, danceable music helps to make the overall point of the song even clearer and more poignant.

10. Gemma Ray- Come Oblivion

A cinematic song that subtly builds, ‘Come Oblivion’ is one of the best examples of Art Pop that we got in 2023. Continuing with the theme of dread and darkness, there is a mysterious quality to this song that, even with multiple listens, I haven’t been able to crack. One of the things that is the most impressive is its ability to build without really changing what it does musically. I think the continuation of the organ throughout the song combined with the vintage qualities of Gemma’s voice helps make this song feel like one of the most rewarding slow burns of the year.

9. The Bug Club- Marriage

I think had more fun with ‘Marriage’ than I did with any other song this year, in part thanks to the vocalists. I love the call-and-response moments that we get throughout this goofy garage rock track. The moments of banter are what I live for in this song, like when vocalist Sam calls out:


nothing rhymes with marriage

nothing worth thinking rhymes with marriage’ 

and then vocalist Tilly calls out 

‘except for garage’

(Quick note here: they’re Welch so in this case marriage and garage DO rhyme in this instance. Yes, I could hear you thinking it.)

I like my garage rock to have these silly little slacker-esque qualities, and I especially love it when you can hear people having fun while performing music, and this is a great example of that.

8. Nourished By Time- Daddy

Oh, you think that disco is dead? I present this electro-tinged disco track by Baltimore-based artist Nourished By Time. I cannot listen to this absolute banger of a track without moving. The song, a hip-house track about losing your significant other to a sugar Daddy, is a song for anyone trying to create danceable music with an 80s flavor. It’s just an absolute blast to listen to and I truly do think Marcus Brown created some of the best music of the year on their album Erotic Probiotic 2. If you find yourself loving this, you need to do yourself a favor and listen to that album, because it is full of tracks that are just as perfect as this one.

7. Frog- Black on Black on Black

If you like your music to be an absolute smoothie of genres, then look no further than the band Frog. On this track, the New York duo blends Funk Rock, Americana, and Southern Rock to create something unique and unforgettable. The result is this blend of musical eras that I never knew could coexist with one another. Do I know what the heck is going on lyrically here? Not necessarily…. It seems to be some sort of take on Greek Mythology, but admittedly I’m not very well-versed in that. Call me a simple man, but with their band name I just kind of picture this story about Frogs, especially since there is a cartoonish quality about their sound. Although I’m not entirely sure what is going on lyrically or instrumentally, I know that my ears love the chaos and I cannot get enough of this track.

6. Anjimile- The King

A song that immediately grabs the attention of its listener, ‘The King’ feels like a rich and cinematic experience for the ears. It starts with a minute-long processional, with an angelic choir carrying the track forward until Anjimile comes in with a well-placed vocal performance. The track builds up to the halfway mark where we get this instrumental that one can only describe as plucky and intense. From here it enters into absolute madness with that instrumental building rapidly until the song comes to a crashing halt. The fall into instrumental insanity makes a lot of sense when accompanied by its lyrics. The song is a retelling of the Old Testament story of King Belshazzar and the writing on the wall. This track is a perfect example of how a songwriter can elevate their music by building an instrumental world around the lyrics and leaving chills down the spines of their listeners in the process.

5. BC Camplight- The Last Rotation of Earth

What does the last day of earth look like to you? On ‘The Last Rotation of Earth,’ BC Camplight looks at this very subject in a way that makes me terrified yet somehow simultaneously provides me with a sense of peace and acceptance. Instead of trying to prevent the world from ending, we see our subject soaking in every last bit of what the world has to offer. BC Camplight explores the conversations that our subject is having with each person that he passes by on this last day. He examines the look on each person’s face and paints a further picture. Take this lyric for instance:

‘"Oh, what a beautiful morning"

I say to the Tesco guy

"I've seen my fair share

But there's something about this one"

He goes, "Are you okay?"

I look him in the eye

We both smile”’ 

This is an interaction that feels very normal, but when you add the weight that we are witnessing this last day on earth, it takes on a new layer of meaning. ‘The Last Rotation of Earth’ is one of the most well-thought-out songs of 2023, and that’s why it breaks into the Top 5 of my list.

4. Body Type- Holding On

If you like guitar-driven Power Pop, you are going to love what the Australian band does on this track. ‘Holding On’ is one of the most replayable songs of the year because of the sheer energy the four-piece displays on this track. Two vocalists trade-off for the vocal work on this one, making for a very jaunty experience. You can’t have Power Pop without guitars of course, and the guitar work on this track is the cherry on top. For a song that explores the passing of time, this is a song I wouldn’t mind listening to for hours on end. 

3. Carol- Nancy Roses Yellow

Every time I listen to this track, it feels like I'm being wrapped up in a nostalgic blanket of sound. There is a certain delicate feeling to this song right from the introduction of the somewhat cautious guitar strumming at the front of the track. The overall vocal performance on display gives me a feeling of warmth and security and catches me off guard with every listen. I know I say it a lot throughout these little blurbs, but I am always so impressed when artists can do something that feels so simple yet so complex at the same time and I think ‘Nancy Roses Yellow’ displays that quality perfectly. It is a track that doesn’t necessarily have a lot of musical changes, layered vocals, or a whole orchestra to back up the content of the song and that is okay because clearly it doesn’t need those elements for this track stand out.

2. Wolfie’s Just Fine- Everyone is Dead Except Us

The career trajectory of Wolfie’s Just Fine, who formerly released music as Jon Lajoie, is interesting. During the dawn of YouTube, Jon created parody music that often relied on being crass to get laughs. Knowing this context, it is mind-blowing that the same person who released something like ‘Show Me Your Genitals,’ could release a heartfelt song such as ‘Everyone is Dead Except Us’ almost 15 years later. A song that will give you goosebumps, this track follows a typical singer-songwriter formula: light strumming in the intro, Jon’s voice comes in, and the song builds up into this epic conclusion that feels very rewarding and introspective. All of these elements together create a special song and one that got me through a lot this year with its thoughtful tone both lyrically and musically.

1. The Slow Reader’s Club- Modernise

The world moves with so much rapid change, especially when it comes to technology. It feels as if what was a novelty 10-15 years ago has become commonplace in the modern day. ‘Modernise’ takes a look at this rapid change through their dystopian Alternative Rock sound. It's a song that feels like its subject matter, with a buzzing synth line carrying the track, powerful drums, and sparse electric guitars. ‘Modernise’ feels like it's doing a lot musically because of how powerful it is, yet ultimately it's quite simple. The vocal delivery is equally compelling throughout. Aaron Starkie’s voice goes from a shouting style of singing that feels very urgent, into almost spoken word sections. These moments feel like the message he is trying to give is dire, almost a warning call to those who are still alive. In a year where I listened to plenty of music with strong social commentary, this one prevails as my favorite. Given the sheer talent and perspectives of each artist on this list, that is a pretty big deal.  

Here is a Spotify Playlist of the Top 50 Tracks for your listening pleasure:

127 views0 comments


bottom of page