Albums of the Year


by Rick Johansen

We live in the best era for music. Every day, it gets better. For not only do we have new music, we also have all the music that has ever been made. Music gets me up in the morning, it’s my friend for most of the day and for some of the evening. And, at the end of the year, I compile a list of what I consider to be the best albums.

You won’t be surprised to read that I believe that this was a great year for new music, one of the best I can remember. While it isn’t 1971, which was rock’s greatest year, it’s still been fantastic, which is illustrated by how much good stuff I have had to to leave out.

Of course, this isn’t really a list of the best albums of the year; it’s my favourite album of the year. As with the weekly shuffle, I hope you find something you like.

  • 10. Poems To Dance To by Antony Szmierek. Antony is described as a poet and indie hip hop artist. I’m happy to go along with that but more importantly he has made some truly great music this year and Poems To Dance To is a fabulous piece of work. SUGGESTED LISTEN: Working Classic feat. Yemi Bolatiwa should give you the idea of what he does.
  • 9. The First Two pages of Frankenstein by The National. They just get better and better with every album. SUGGESTED LISTEN: I’ll go for Eucalyptus.
  • 8. Hackney Diamonds by The Rolling Stones. A staggeringly brilliant return to form which stands comparison with everything they’ve made since 1971’s Sticky Fingers and in my view is better than anything they’ve done since then. SUGGESTED LISTEN: Gotta be Angry, which is classic Stones.
  • 7. In Times New Roman by Queens of the Stone Age. On first listen, I thought this was a very good rock album. After a few listens, I concluded it’s a great rock album. SUGGESTED LISTEN: Paper Machete.
  • 6. The Ballad of Darren by Blur. Talking of a brilliant return to form, here’s another from one of Britain’s greatest bands. SUGGESTED LISTEN: The Narcissist. (As you’ve been so good, here’s a live version.)
  • 5. Madres by Sofia Kourtesis. Brilliant dreamy tunes from the Peruvian DJ. What a debut album. SUGGESTED LISTEN: How Music Makes You Feel Better. And it does when it’s as good as this.
  • 4. Square One by Lack Of Afro. Exeter’s brilliant Adam Gibbons somehow passed me by until this album and now I wonder how. What a record. SUGGESTED LISTEN: Loving Arms, which is just about perfect.
  • 3. Silver by Say She She. Quite apart from the fact that I am deeply in love with Piya Malik (she’s on the left), I adore this brilliant female-led Brooklyn/British band. SUGGESTED LISTEN: C’est Si Bon, again live and on Jools Holland’s Later.
  • 2. Desire, I Want To Turn Into You by Caroline Polachek. One of the great voices of modern music, this album was a given to be my album of the year until I heard what I think was the album of the year. All killer, no filler. SUGGESTED LISTEN: Sunset. Just because.

And the number one album for 2023 is ……………………. long pause for effect ……………………….

  • 1. Sundown by Eddie Chacon. Eddie who, you may ask? Remember Charles and Eddie’s number one smash hit single Would I Lie To You? back in 1992? Well, this is Eddie, Charles Pettigrew having died from cancer in 2001 at the tragically young age of 37. This is a fantastic record with some heady, dreamy tracks that will remind you of summer, but sounds good at any time of year. SUGGESTED LISTEN: Step By Step. Buy this album.

The order below the top five may change from time-to-time, but I’m very happy with the list, which took ages to compile. I did it by writing the album titles on bits of paper and putting them in order until I was happy-ish. Very technical, I’m sure you agree.

Again, it’s worth pointing out the artists who missed out in this year’s prestigious (!) list:

  • Karol G
  • Sleaford Mods
  • Grian Chatten
  • M83
  • Steve Mason
  • Overmono
  • Westerman
  • Baxter Dury
  • Altin Gün
  • Animal Collective
  • Lanterns on the Lake
  • Albert Hammond Jr
  • Gaz Coombes
  • BC Camplight
  • Orbital
  • Laure Briard
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • The Hives
  • Beach Fossils
  • Tinariwen
  • Nitin Sawhney
  • Barry Can’t Swim
  • Corinne Bailey Rae
  • Jalen Ngonda
  • Carrtoons

I feel very guilty not including pretty well all these records because, I feel, they all deserve recognition but, as we cliché obsessives tend to say, it is what it is, or as I say, it isn’t what it isn’t.

Me 20 years ago. Music isn’t as good as it used to be. Me today. I was an even bigger idiot 20 years ago than I am today, if that’s possible.

What a great use of a Monday morning, or a complete waste of one, depending on your point of view.

As ever, I hope you enjoy checking out the music and do try the ones you’ve never heard. You may be surprised.



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