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Best Albums Of 2023: Alphabetically By Artist Ending March 31st

10,000 Gecs – 100 Gecs – the hyper-pop duo are pop music’s saving grace and leading the way for a hybrid electronica with a soupcon of J-Punk and the same old same old anything they can think of lyrics (try the single “Hollywood Baby” and the self-explanatory “Doritos And Fritos)

The Bootleg Series Vol. 17: Fragments – The Time Out Of Mind Sessions (1996-1997) (MP3) – Bob Dylan – Considered to be one of Bob Dylan’s great works but only if your revisionism hasn’t found a minimum of works that aren’t great, in which case it is what we expect if not more, Time Out Of Mind follows two excellent cover albums and is proceeded by Love And Theft (another masterpiece); Dylan wouldn’t fall to earth till 2009. This is a remix of TOM for eleven tracks plus an additional 8 and very good outtakes as well; presumably these are the mixes his producer Daniel Lanois didn’t like. The mp3 is $35 and includes a an album of live versions from 1999 and every song is part of a larger scenario of loss and I’d age

The Bootleg Series Vol. 17: Fragments – The Time Out Of Mind Sessions (1996-1997) (streaming) – Bob Dylan – a remix of the original album and an album of outtakes

Ace (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) – Bob Weir – A Grateful Dead by any other name, this excellent album is given a serious remixing as well as an hour from Weir’s April 22 Radio City concert, it is a good album, a smart remix, a fine live add… Weir was 24 years old when he recorded it

Fast Net (Sampler) – Brix Smith – from the late Mark E.’s ex-wife, she returns with what feels like straight ahead US rockers, not punk, certainly not the Fall, but a reminder of how major she was with Mark, “FastNet” is terrific

The A&M Years…And More! – Burt Bacharach – Burt reminded me a little of George Gershwin during his golden years: couldn’t sing and couldn’t write a lyric but man could he compose a great melody. Burt is in his prime and this 103 song compilation of 60s and 70s tracks from the 2004 release is simply spectacular

Desire, I Want To Turn Into You – Caroline Polachek – on first listen I immediately bought a ticket to her Radio City Music Hall gig in May, the singer songwriter is a pop musician all the way, she is at service to a unique sound, a hyper pop variant with beats from rock to dembow. The songs are wonderful, big, and colorful (the calypso on “Sunset” is brilliant), and this might make her a superstar

Precious – Conrad Sewell – a superb little album from the Australian singer songwriter who is fully adept at dealing in r&b (“Ego”) or classic rock or alty rock with a rockers voice and a bands vibe

St. Jude (15th Anniversary Edition) – Courteeners – arriving ten years after Brit Pop’s peak in the 1990s, in 2008, but the Manchester band continued the legacy brought down from The Hollies to Stone Roses and beyond as Oasis style hard rockers. I missed the album in 2008 but it is my bad because this is near perfect English rock

Twenty on High – Drayton Farley – Now here is a revelation, an Alabama boy who can write a country track as good as anything Morgan Wallen can but more old fashioned, more George Jones could cover it, more better songs: a tremendous set of mainstream old school country songs

One Day – Fucked Up – the return of Toronto’s Fucked Up -a tough to love hard rock mindfucks, with their best work since 2011, written and recorded in 24 hours (thus the name) it is hard headed classic rock

Workin’ On A World – Iris DeMent – written before lockdown and revised with help of her family after, it is an accidental protest album that revolves around her home and family but finds herself at odds with the Red states she represents. My one fear is that it will wear off me but so far… I’ve been listening since Friday and the magic remains. At this moment of time, it is the album of the year or at least

MERCY – John Cale – This is better than you’d expect and you’d expect it to be really good. The former Velvet Underground has averaged an album every three to six years since the mid-70s (more before) and they can be impenetrable and not much fun, but not always: with the addition of young turks Weyes Blood and state of art rock Animal Collective, John is less dystopian and more real life bummer: dip yourself deep in sonic hellaciousness and disquiet

I Have Nothing Against Homosexuality So Long as No Fellow Male Tries to Force Himself On Me, and at This Point, I Don’t Think I’m in Much Danger – John Mendelssohn – Pop music success is 10% genius, 90% blind luck, and the former rock critic hasn’t had much luck but while he might not be a genius strictly speaking he is still one of the most unique singer songwriters in the business. “Nothing Against” is a body blow to Trumpism just in time for The Donald’s third campaign. Consider John a more baroque musically, less understanding politically take on the US (where the California native left for the UK years ago): closing with a country and western ode to the horrors of his life on “My Heart’s An Open Book” after spending ten tracks railing at the GOP and the dimming of the light, he is left with: “The lamb isn’t silent anymore, the chickens have come home to roost, I can’t seem to get up off the floor, my vaccine’s may need a boost” and the rarest thing, an album about being ravished by old age

Finally Alone – The Sticks & Stones Tapes – Johnny Thunders – In April there is a box set, From The Beginning To The End, dropping and it should be revelatory if this totally excellent rarities album culled from the box set kinda proves

SCARING THE HOES – Jpegmafia, Danny Brown – the one time I saw JPEG i thought he gave experimental rap a good name and both times I saw Danny I was convinced he had the best voice in the business. Here they come together with trap beats and outstanding and if the title means stop being an asshole, well, both Danny who sounds like a nerd on drugs with a voice, and Jpeg, who produced and interlopes with abandonment

Keed Talk To ‘Em 2 – Lil Keed – dead at 24 years old, the Atlanta friend of Young Thug (one of the most gifted rappers and musicians to blow it on crime) Lil Keed with a posthumous beautify of trap beats and drill vibes. Moody and dangerous, I bet it hits the top ten

Let’s Start Here. – Lil Yachty – remember when Lil Wayne decided to become a rock star and all be derailed his career? Lil Yachty doesn’t with a complete remake of the brand where he becomes an indie alty acid rocker with walls of sound and strangeness that seem to have not a damn thing to do with rap. Yachty, a first rate rapper, can also handle indie rock and does so on this terrific and adventurous album

Fantasy – M83 – the electronic production wiz hasn’t figured out how to follow Hurry Up, I’m Dreaming… till now. The teen dreams of is earliest works and are grown up and fantasies become more difficult to maintain on this earnest, difficult, iver produced dreamscape… it still sounds magnificent

Strays – Margo Price – the first great album of the year is hard rock meets classic rock meets Americana with an exciting sound that improves with listening. “Radio” is hard to beat and Price and her husband nail down an explosive Americana

Beware of the Monkey – Mike – on his eighth album Mike remains the adult in the rap pack going from underground other to middle class sounds as he plays with form and self awareness in an effort to prove himself our best rapper. Which he isn’t. But he’s not bad

One Thing At A Time – Morgan Wallen – with everything on the line, country boy follows up to his sophomore album Dangerous in 2021, which is still in the top ten after 112 weeks, he managed it with an album, 36 songs, that has quite the continuity and the craftsmanship of his last week. Plus, as a Yankee supporter I loved “98 Braves”

Best Of Nancy Ajram – Nancy Ajram – the 39 year old, Lebanese Queen Of Pop is fine on a greatest hits, it is clearly Lebanese pop (Sabah could sing them) but the instrumentation is very digital and the effect is a coming of age for modern Arabic pop and not Arabic Sahara garage

I’m A Woman (Expanded Edition) – Peggy Lee – recorded in 1962, dropped in the garbage pail of music month releases, January, to coincide with the title single being a hit, here the fine and smooth jazz-blues-R&b and Spanish tracks have an additional 50% added. This shows that there is nothing much better than Miss Peggy Lee having fun

B-Sides, Demos & Rarities – PJ Harvey – the compilation of the outtakes, demos, B-Sides that PJ Harvey has been dropping for a coupla years and spanning her entire career sounds great when altogether. It reminds me why you worship her

The Vivian Line – Rex Sexsmith – on his seventeenth album, Ron remains a top singer songwriter, songs like warm summer nights that just envelope. Here he is doing some Kinks sounding pop, some baroque pop, song after song of gentle beauty for an artist who is more consistent… why, he is more consistent than Freedy Johnston

Desire Pathway – Screaming Females – debate is raging as to whether Marissa Paternoster is our greatest living guitarist, and she has yet to let us down on album after album with her three piece she is an epitome of indie rock and more, it is a goth dream-nightmare that shines as punk simple and raging, shredding prog recklessness. Nearly 20 years on, this is their best since that 2009 – 2012 three album highlight

Gloria – Sam Smith – five years after his worse album comes Sam Smith’s best album, and not just the world beating “Unholy” but that and the entire album is song after song of Sam studying sex without the moribund bad news of lost love overwhelming them. Easily their best work since if not “Latch” certainly “I’m Not The Only One” , the songs are superb and Sam imprints on them and while I’ll pass on “How To Cry” nearly everything else here is perfect and “UnholY” is other worldly and the Stargates production team from Norway are nothing if not a good add

Dead Meat – The Tubs – nothing personal but was that the best name this fine indie rock band could come up with? Members of Joanna Gruesome and Ex-Void come together for a great set of post-punk, punk, pop, and a huge English vibe

MANSION MUSIK – Trippie Redd – Trippie got fired from opening for Travis Scott on the “ASTROWORLD” tour and it is easy to see why one of the champions of soundcloud rap -that genre that blew up with Juice WRLD and XXXTentacion’s death imploded, wasn’t taken seriously. At places like the basement of Webster Hall, folks like the featured here Ski Mask The Slump King mistook chaos for exuberance. HOWEVER, Redd is excellent on this feature packed to the gills (Future, Kodak Black, the before mentioned Travis… many more) album of rap as pop and a whole lotta chest beating that all adds up to a sensation and a potential smash

CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST: The Estate Sale – Tyler, The Creator – the album was his best to date and so was that MSG gig (here) and this expanded addition loses nothing with the adds except some sense of romantic subtext

Moving On Skiffle – Van Morrison – his second skiffle album is a magnificent thing and the first that looks as though it will be one of the best of the year. A covers album of songs from pre-Presley, Lonnie Donegan, skiffle on a washboard, which means a mix of English vaudeville and American country. Song after song Morrison is just magnificent, that “Oh Lonesome Me” is classic but so is everything and while I agree to a limited degree Glide’s take “the weight of so many background vocalists with call and response or echoes in every chorus on these tracks becomes wearisome” – I wouldn’t say wearisome but unimportant but that’s it ; the one time he gets back into his shitty politics on the trad “Gov Don’t Allow” it is terrific

I Go To The Rock: The Gospel Music Of Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston – I only saw Whitney live once (opening for Michael Jackson believe it or not) but I was already a huge fan and as her Australian tour imploded rocknyc championed her from 2009 till her death in 2012. If you want to know why, try this excellent compiling of her Gospel recordings: with her mother, Sweet Sensation legend Cissy Houston and Godmother Aretha Franklin, Gospel was in her blood from when she was a child singing in the church choir. It is all over this thrilling Gospel album

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