Monday, December 25, 2023

Best Music of 2023

I can't really discuss the year in music of 2023 without bringing up Little Chuck.

As I mentioned last year, he started playing guitar and I'm really excited about the progress he's made. This year, he branched out from exclusively an AC/DC guy to also being a fan of everything Black Sabbath, including Ozzy and Dio solo, the short-lived band Heaven & Hell and some of the early Rainbow material.

We also saw our third AC/DC tribute band this year, so perhaps look forward to a post ranking them (Spoiler alert: they're all good). Maybe this year will be the year we get to see the real deal.

This year, I also started on an idea of retrospectively ranking my top ten for each year that preceded my annual ritual (which started in 1996), based on round number anniversaries. In other words, I worked on my lists for 1973, 1983 and 1993, but really only finalized two of three of them and never got the motivation to post about it. This might be another thing to expect in 2024, although my imagination is sometimes more ambitious than my actual motivation for following through.

Anyway, I'm going to roll out this year's top 25 albums by continuously updating this post, so stay tuned for more...

25. Runnner - Like Dying Stars, We're Reaching Out

24. Death Cab for Cutie - Asphalt Meadows (Acoustic)

23. The Ducks - High Flyin'

22. Neil Young - Before and After

21. Will Johnson - No Ordinary Crown

20. The Reds, Pinks and Purples - The Town That Cursed Your Name

19. The New Pornographers - Continue as Guest

18. Jess Williamson - Time Ain't Accidental

17. The Hold Steady - The Price of Progress

16. Sparklehorse - Bird Machine

This one gets my vote for saddest song of the year.

15. Califone - Villagers

14. Julie Byrne - The Greater Wings

13. The Lemon Twigs - Everything Harmony

12. Margo Price - Strays

11. Glen Hansard - All That Was East is West of Me Now

10. Anohni & The Johnsons - My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross

9. Explosions in the Sky - End

8. Boygenius - The Record

7. The National - Laugh Track

The National enters some seriously uncharted territory with this one. More on that later...

6. Harp - Albion

This album by the former Midlake frontman was over a decade in the making. I'll say it was definitely worth the wait as a fan, but I can't speak for him.

5. The Natural Lines - The Natural Lines

Perhaps it was a mistake, but this album was initially attributed to Matt Pond PA by Spotify. Needless to say, I was confused when I later searched for it and had some difficulty finding it, but it is quite possibly his best effort yet.

4. Darlingside - Everything is Alive

Not sure if it's a first, but two local artists earned their way into my top five this year.

3. The National - First Two Pages of Frankenstein

I didn't realize it when I first decided that both albums by The National this year are top ten worthy, but this one established a new record as their 6th consecutive release to land in my top ten (breaking a tie with the Drive-By Truckers). Laugh Track, released after this one, makes it seven. Spoiler alert: my top two are also by artists who presently fall into this "can do no wrong in my book" category.

2. Lori McKenna - 1988

This Stoughton, Massachusetts native is this year's highest ranking local artist on her third consecutive top five album full of songs that really hit close to home, but probably none more than this one.

1. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Weathervanes

It was quite the year for Mr. Isbell. Early in the year, he released "Running With Your Eyes Closed," which is perhaps the greatest music documentary I've ever seen. A little later came this, which just might be his best album; and is, of course, his first to top my list.

A covers album, which was a thank you to the citizens of Georgia for helping elect Joe Biden, is the only thing standing in his way of what would be five consecutive top tens.

Thanks again for paying attention to what I have to say. Happy Holidays and best wishes for a happy, safe and prosperous 2024!