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The News Stan(d) End of Year Wrapped - 2023

Ideated By: Kya Brogdon | 23 January, 2024

From January to December, 2023 was filled with an insane amount of new releases. Take a listen to some of our favorites HERE, and read on to find out why we love them so much.

Ariel Baise

D-Day - Agust D - 21 April, 2023

Intense, reflective, and conscious are three words I think of to describe D-Day by Agust D, SUGA of BTS’ alias. It is hard to put into words how deep and meaningful this album is. Agust D/SUGA may be my ult bias, but this album was the best way to close the Agust D chapter of his career (for now). From critiques of capitalism (“Haegeum”) to discussion of SUGA’s struggles (“AMYGDALA” & “Snooze”), D-Day is an album that explores themes outside of the norm of K-pop. The cherry on top is the Agust D tour where ARMY joined SUGA on a journey to heal from his past. 

Golden - Jungkook - 3 November, 2023

Aside from breaking numerous records and earning the title of “main pop boy,” Jungkook (JK) of BTS revealed to the world the entertainer and performer he was born to be. Golden is pop perfection. From heartbreaking ballads (“Hate You”) to ‘90s boyband influence hits (“3D”), Jungkook covered each aspect of pop music. He also performed a few of the songs in New York Times Square for ARMY, which is only reserved for a few performers. Jungkook’s Golden showed how to underestimate the power and impact BTS, Jungkook, and ARMY has. 

Get Up - NewJeans - 21 July, 2023

In a world of brass and maximalism, NewJeans are the mellow and minimalist of K-pop. Even though the group’s production is influenced by ‘90s and 2000s pop and R&B, NewJeans feels surprisingly refreshing. I also admire the group’s marketing and creative direction such as collaborating with the PowerPuff Girls and embracing a y2k aesthetic, shown in their EP Get Up. Knowing the group’s target audience is likely younger Millennials and Gen-Z, it taps into a nostalgia that we likely missed because we were too young.

Anna Billy

“Revolver” - Saint Luna - 5 July, 2023

A huge thanks to TikTok for introducing to me yet another band from San Diego, CA. Saint Luna is at the start of what is soon to become a massive career. Considering themselves a “groovy, alternative, psychedelic rock band” their sound can only be described as gritty – “Revolver” is heavily laden with loud guitars, crazy drumming, and a deep love for reverb on vocals. I feel as though I’m in high school watching the cool kids’ band practice in their parent’s garage after school.

“Wasn’t So Bad” - The Never Ending Fall - 21 July, 2023

The Never Ending Fall, known for their “Can It Kirkland?” series on TikTok, have showcased a wide musical range releasing “Like She Does” in 2022 that is latent with a quintessential pop song structure. In comparison, “Wasn’t So Bad” - released this summer -  displays The Never Ending Fall’s search for their own sound. While I am more inclined to the latter single, which heavily relies on instrumentation rather than lyrical perfection, both are captivating and showcase the band’s range. There is beauty in the lyrics for  “Wasn’t So Bad” – the simplicity and repetition enable lead vocalist, Jack Miller, to play with the emotion behind each word. He borders on yelling, pushing the grit and pain through each note.

Piggy - Peter McPoland - 11 August, 2023

Peter McPoland’s Piggy, sonically, is genius. His reinvented 80s sound transforms the former indie bedroom pop artist we knew prior. The opening track, “Mold,” is beautifully unsettling, paralleling McPoland to mold rotting away in his bedroom. The bridge is wrought with emotion and you can hear the painful and fractured undertones of his lyrics, inspired by his parents divorce. The narrative format of Piggy allows listeners to travel alongside McPoland as he processes the pain and grief he endured the previous year during the album’s creation.

“Mint Julep” - Mac Saturn - 1 September, 2023

Do you think rock and roll is dead? If yes, then you need to check out Mac Saturn and re-evaluate your opinion. Ready to revitalize the rock scene reminiscent of 70s glam, the six-piece bring a twist to their genre, heavily incorporating Motown and Funk inspired sounds. This unique approach reinvents what music can be and what it can sound like. “Mint Julep”, their lead single in preparation for their debut album Hard to Sell set to release January 26, 2024, takes funky guitar riffs to a whole new level. I was fortunate enough to hear it live before its release and the momentum that builds throughout the song electrified the audience. Lead guitarist Mike Moody skillfully wraps the audience around his finger with an unmatched precision to each note he plays. 

“Heaven Bound” - Quarters of Change - 27 October, 2023

Quarters of Change, a quartet from New York City, are gearing up for their sophomore album Portraits, set to be released January 26, 2024. Their final single for the album, “Heaven Bound” keeps a light and airy rock sound, juxtaposing the much darker, heavier lyrics that grapple with addiction. Each member brings their own unique talent to the track: Roter bares his soul through the honesty of his lyrics, Anrather’s drumming elevates the song, showcasing his unbridled talent hidden under a quiet demeanor, and guitarists, Harris and Acker, work together to bless listeners with god-sent riffs throughout the entire track. If there is one thing Quarters of Change will do, they will produce a banger.

Kya Brogdon

“VISIONS” - VALORANT x eaJ x Safari Riot - 5 January, 2023

Maybe I’m biased because I love playing Valorant almost as much as I love eaJ’s music, but I don’t care. “VISIONS” is absolutely my favorite collaboration that Riot Games has done since the game was released in 2020. The song portrays the feeling of chasing your dream, daring to pursue the things you want in life. The chorus “I've got dreams / Of finding out what all of this is for (What all of this was for) / It's you and me / And everywhere we go, we're leading to an open door” speaks to this message, and accompanied by the swelling melody - it really makes you feel like you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. Not only that, but it makes the perfect background track for both gaming clips and recap vlogs alike. Getting to hear this live at eaJ’s EP release party earlier this year just solidified how insanely good this song is in every capacity.

“Save me, Kill me” - CIX - 29 May, 2023

Perhaps my favorite song from this entire year, “Save me, Kill me” is a powerful ballad-esque song that makes my heart ache in the best way possible. This is one of two entries I wrote about in my mid-year wrapped that make another appearance at the end of the year - “Save me, Kill me” truly holds up after all this time and all the releases that came after it. The opening melody to the song is nostalgic, and the powerful vocals that CIX always bring to their music only enhances that feeling. Despite this being CIX’s only release for 2023, they raised the bar for what a ballad-style title track should be like.

The World Ep.2 : Outlaw - ATEEZ - 16 June, 2023

I wrote about this album as one of my mid-year wrapped selections, and it still stands strong six months after its release. The cinematic and theatrical atmosphere that The World Ep.2 brings with each track is unmatched, only rivaled by other ATEEZ releases. When one song from this album comes on, I immediately have to go and play the rest of the tracks afterwards - even six months post release, I can’t choose any one song as my favorite. ATEEZ’s exploration into darker instrumentals coupled with ethereal-sounding vocals isn’t individual to this album alone, but songs like “Dune” and “This World” truly take them to the next level. I will forever be in awe of their musicality.

“Social Path” - Stray Kids ft. LiSA - 6 September, 2023

This one is for the former gifted kids. “Social Path” is an upbeat rock song that holds the conflicting message of needing to prove yourself while also knowing that the path you’re on is exactly where you should be. With lyrics like “I'm still in the crowd, alien of the town / Yeah, they want me to give up right now” and “Take that chance no matter what they tell me / I can not explain this feeling / Yeah, this path was meant to be my dream / Look back, the ashes prove my / Passion always burns eternally / No regrets, I love this feeling”, Stray Kids and LiSA make sure that all of those who are struggling with finding their path and wanting to chase their dreams feel heard in this track.

Dear Insanity… - DPR IAN - 6 October, 2023

A theatrical exploration of life’s uncertainty, Dear Insanity is DPR IAN’s third release. In an interview, he says “For me, this whole EP just encompasses a journey into your consciousness.” DPR IAN uses his music to help work through his struggles with his mental health, and this album is more of a dive into the life of the persona named Mr. Insanity, rather than the persona named MITO, who was the subject of his previous album, Moodswings In To Order. With songs ranging from dark instrumentals like “Famous Last Words” to more upbeat fun melodies like “So I Danced,” Dear Insanity… is truly a unique yet cohesive album that showcases DPR IAN’s mindset in an authentic way, and I can’t wait to see how he continues to tell his story from here.

Alli Dempsey

Food For Worms - shame - 24 Feb, 2023

The London post-punkers shame blew their two previous releases out of the water with their third effort, Food For Worms. After singer Charlie Steen noted that most popular music nowadays is about either “love, heartbreak or yourself,” he challenged himself to create a work about the power of “mates.” In my experience with listening to discographies, the third album is where you can truly determine how a band has grown and matured. With powerful and theatrically-layered songs such as “Fingers of Steel” and “Burning By Design,” it is apparent that shame has taken their trademark punky and anarchical sound and has pointed it inward. It makes for a rather introspective album touching on topics like jealousy, drug use and feelings of inadequacy — paired with their familiar yelps and guitar tangents. Overall, shame tackles the concept of friendship — its highs and lows, and inward and outward struggles — in a way I haven’t heard from any artist previously, establishing the value of a community for the group themselves and beyond. Through Food For Worms, shame takes from their tried and true musical toolbox yet introduces new sounds and ideas, meaning that once again, they come out on top of their genre with one of the most defining post-punk albums of the year. 

Tracey Denim - bar italia - 19 May, 2023

I steer clear of getting my music from TikTok most of the time, but I have to thank the random music account that put me onto the London shoegaze-ish trio: bar italia — one of my favorite modern-day artists at the moment. Mysterious and moody, their third full-length album Tracey Denim is reminiscent of the aesthetics of 90s UK alternative, drawing from My Bloody Valentine — as a lot of these newer shoegaze groups do — but doing so in a unique and effortlessly cool fashion. Black and white visuals, lowercase letters and hushed vocals speaking of nights on the town and hidden love affairs make for a dark and atmospheric listen, putting you in whatever shady pub this is taking place in. The third song “punkt” remains my favorite; the hypnotic reversed guitar chords and the beckoning opening line of “fear has a fetish for eyes” entrances you, wanting to open the doors even further. As shoegaze continues to blow up as the internet’s current hot musical buzzword, bar italia will stand out amongst the revivalists in my book. 

PetroDragonic Apocalypse - King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - 16 June, 2023 The long-awaited and highly-anticipated 24th studio album from these Aussie jam-band giants finally graced streaming services in June. King Gizzard has never strayed away from touching the unknown and the abnormal — hell, the full name of this album is PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation. Their appeal lies in the fact that you can get an entirely new band with a fresh new sound depending on what project of theirs you listen to. This one is a heavy-metal soundscape of pure noise and growls from vocalist Stu Mackenzie, singing about the end of the world, ancient spirits, and giant lizards. I am not a metalhead by any means, but the band have managed to Gizz-ify the genre in this album enough for me to rank it one of my favorite albums of the year thus far. Each of PetroDragonic Apocalypse’s seven songs are chock-full of absolutely insane Guitar Hero-expert-mode-level riffs, killer drum beats and a healthy amount of lore — necessary for any good concept album. I mean, you can craft an entire urban legend about the “Gila Monster.” Out of all of the band’s material over their twelve years as a group, this one shows off their acquired skill set the most, and that King Gizzard has successfully established themselves as one of the most decorated, genre-defying groups of the 21st century.

Brynn Evida

This Is Why - Paramore - 10 February, 2023

Nobody will be shocked by the fact that this album is on my list. Paramore is one of those groups that have reinvented themselves flawlessly too many times to count, and I find this to be their most admirable trait. From a writing standpoint, different from their previous albums, This Is Why pushes boundaries on cliché song flow and allows for an immersive listening experience. For this reason, it reminds me a lot of David Bowie’s writing style. I’m grateful to have had such an interesting release to explore from such an amazing group this year.

“Ultraviolet” - MisterWives - 09 June, 2023

Ultraviolet” is a song that I discovered from assisting on MisterWives’ album promo shoot. This one is extra biased because I hold anything close to my heart when it involves doing the thing I love, however, I was breathless when we began filming the teaser for this song. It was unreleased at the time, so I found myself going back to my phone and listening to the little snippet that I had recorded on my phone when it was stuck in my head. The song is full of emotion, vulnerability, and is absolutely beautiful. I’m so glad that it was released in time to make it onto my list.

“Benadryl Subreddit” - L.S. Dunes - 23 June, 2023

L.S. Dunes has taken the punk scene by storm over the past two years. Being primarily regarded as a supergroup, the band consists of members from legendary rock and punk groups like Thursday, Circa Survive, and My Chemical Romance. “Benadryl Subreddit” is their most recent release, and it holds up to the hype surrounding them. The members have mastered writing emotional lyrics and mixing them with catchy hooks after their years of experience, and it makes for the most polished punk sound. (A bit of an oxymoron, but it works, I promise!) Despite being busy running other projects and bands, they have wonderfully managed to keep a presence both online and on tour. This is my go-to music suggestion when anyone asks what I’m listening to, and seeing them live is even more incredible.

“We Didn’t Start The Fire” - Fall Out Boy - 28 June, 2023

As a fan of Billy Joel and Fall Out Boy, the notification on my phone announcing the “We Didn’t Start the Fire” cover had me so excited. What I wasn’t expecting was for Fall Out Boy to have rewritten the original song, including many of the historical and pop culture events that have happened since the song was first released in 1989. The song was controversial when it first came out and I’m interested to see the conversations that come from this new version.

Kristen Hawley

Austin - Post Malone - 28 July, 2023

There will never be an artist that I will adore as much as Post Malone. I’ve seen him three times in concert and he’s my most listened to artist for my Apple Music Replay ‘23 (it’s not Spotify Wrapped, but it will do). There is something to be said for someone as rawly transparent and direct as Post Malone is in his songwriting, while also being able to craft a hit song no matter the genre. Austin is the album long-time fans have been waiting for, expecting for all of Post’s career. Going back to the Stoney, acoustic guitar heavy roots, Austin is a pivot from Post’s previous three albums. While I favor those more, Austin struck a chord with me because of the production. No matter if it’s a more pop-radio song like “Chemical” or “Mourning” or heavier folkish-style tracks, like “Buyer Beware” or “Something Real”, the guitar is a connecting thread throughout the album. This album feels as reflective as ever, as if Post was sitting down after a long night to really look at his life and what’s going right and what’s going wrong.  Even the upbeat songs have a mellow tone to it and the tracks don’t have such a nasty edge to them as they did off his previous albums. My personal favorites are “Texas Tea”, “Enough is Enough”, and “Mourning”. 

“Is It Over Now?” (Taylor’s Version) - Taylor Swift - 27 October, 2023

1989 is in my holy trinity of Taylor Swift albums (next to Lover and reputation), so of course I was beyond excited for the re-release. She elevates the previously released tracks, but I’m always itching to hear her vault tracks because it feels like finally being let in on a secret she held onto for so long. And “Is It Over Now”, oh boy, I am so sad for all the years I could have been listening to this if we had gotten it back in 2014.

“pretty isn’t pretty” - Olivia Rodrigo - 8 September, 2023

Olivia Rodrigo captured everyone’s attention with her debut release, Sour. And after reaching such an enormity of success, I was interested to see where she was going next. Her lyrics are consistently reading everyone’s inner thoughts and projecting them back to us so we don’t feel so alone. While also giving us the early 2000s pop, alternative bite we all need. The kind of music you can sob to or scream in your car to. Like everyone else I have been listening to Oliva’s radio hits off of her sophomore album, GUTS, but “pretty isn’t pretty” is the song that caught me off guard and cut me deep. With opening lines like, “bought a bunch of makeup  /tryna cover up my face, i started to skip lunch  /stopped eating cake on birthdays” you see yourself in Olivia’s struggles. It’s not a surprise that someone as young or as successful as Olivia has internal battles, but it’s reassuring to hear it through her voice. Instead of wondering, “well, what if I looked like this or sounded like this or my life was like this, would it better? Would I be better?” We see that even someone like Olivia feels the same way we do. That these experiences shouldn’t be isolating, because they seem to be formative especially for women growing up. I also love when I hear and relate to a song so much that I know the next time I cry I’m going to put it on.

Across the Spider-Verse Soundtrack - Metro Boomin & Coi Leray - 2 June,2023

This soundtrack was also on my Mid-Year picks, but I have to include it for the End-of-Year because it’s just too good! First off, Spider-Man is my favorite superhero. The Across the Spider-Verse soundtrack - similar to its predecessor, Into the Spider-Verse - is stacked with the most amazing artists and the trippiest production lead by Metro Boomin’. The soundtrack aspect that I love is that even though the songs are tied to a specific story and character arcs told in the movie, the songs don’t feel like they only live in the film’s universe. They stand on their own and have such a unique sound. The soundtrack makes you feel like you put on a mask like Spiderman. “Self Love” by Coi Leray is a standout and finds itself in the same admiration as Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower.” And now I relate to “Self Love” even more because I am now a long way from suburban towns (New Jersey)  and came to the city (Los Angeles) for the love.

Roshni Khatri

Aurora - Daisy Jones and The Six - 2 March, 2023

From book to big screen, Taylor Jenkin Reed’s Daisy Jones and The Six released their debut album, Aurora, along with their hit Prime TV show in March 2023. As a long time fan of the book, seeing this band and album come to life was absolutely incredible. The 11 song Grammy nominated album embodies the perfect seventies rock and roll lifestyle, showcasing heartbreak, love, and hope, with messages that are relevant no matter what decade you are in. With a true 70’s rock sound, and a surprise sample from Fleetwood Mac, Aurora is an album that has broken boundaries and pushed the limits when bringing a story to life. 

Dani McKenzie

Cuts & Bruises - Inhaler - 17 February, 2023

Inhaler's sophomore album Cuts & Bruises is a highlight in alternative rock releases for 2023. With influences new and old and a strengthening of the Irish band's signature sound, this album is both sonically and lyrically fantastic (and even better live).

Romi Michelle

“Run from you”  - Downtown Kayoto - 9 February, 2023Run from you” is a song that I found from a teaser snippet from the artist on TikTok and I have to say that the beat is what hooked me straight away! It has such a cool vibe and I just couldn’t wait for the whole track to be leased. It certainly did not disappoint, and it was on repeat for a solid week or two. This is the kind of song I could see in a filler montage scene in a film 100%. 

Autumn Variations - Ed Sheeran - 29 September, 2023

Autumn Variations is absolutely what I needed. As someone who values nostalgia, this body of work  completely transported me back to a cold morning when I was about 12 and walking to school listening to him with my little mp3 player. Each song perfectly follows the next, which makes it such an easy listen. It has such a cosy and comfortable vibe, and I just know it would be truly beautiful to hear live in concert. I feel like this could become one of my all time favourite albums. Truly brilliant!

“Slut!” - Taylor Swift  - 27 October, 2023

“ a world of boys he’s a gentleman…” “Slut!” is a lyrical wonder; which is not a surprise when it comes to the writing capabilities of Taylor Swift! Her ability to fit words together in such a captivating way will never cease to amaze me. I love the dreamy, light and airy sound of the song as it creates such an interesting contrast especially with the lyrics of the song. 

Naomi Rodriquez

“Wait” - DINO (From SEVENTEEN) - 27 November, 2023

Sometimes I think Dino couldn’t get any more talented and overall show-stopping. But everytime, he proves me wrong. Since he was 17, he’s been releasing solo mixtapes and each time, he proves to us he can do every genre ever. Dino helped with the lyrics, composing, and choreography for “Wait” and I’m just truly in love with the detailing from it all. It is such a perfect dance-pop song that encompasses his passions for his craft and the life he lives. He is the future of K-Pop, and I can’t wait to continue to see his growth.

“let it be summer” - YOUNGK - 25 August, 2023

I love a little pop rock moment for any of my favorite artists; and YoungK made my heart so full. YoungK is a powerful lyricist already so I knew this album would be a musical masterpiece. However, “let it be summer” feels like such a coming-of-age track for the end of summer, the heat becoming too much and the rush of the seasons changing. He is so impactful and intentional with his music that I just fell in love with this song so much; whenever I’m in the sun, I think of this song. 

“Howl” by CHUU - 18 October, 2023

After everything LOONA had been through this year, seeing CHUU come out with “Howl” was so breathtaking. CHUU has one of the most powerful voices in K-POP and it was so beautiful seeing her take an experimental, electronic approach for her solo; it paints her in a new light than ever before. The visuals and message of the song also showcases her power through what had happened with LOONA, and seeing her take that step for herself and using music as her outlet is stunning.

Sophie Talcove-Berko

the record - boygenius - 31 March, 2023

Boygenius has harnessed the power of the record to transcend the music, reimagining what a band can give to its fans. By authentically embodying themselves, the boys allow their fans to feel radically seen, letting them in on the magic of a friendship rooted in profound understanding. Their electric energy is best captured in their live performances. The joy of it all lies in how much fun the boys themselves are having, combining heartfelt singing about their love for one another with topless makeout sessions. While radiating playful energy, they upend gender stereotypes, blending rock energy and aesthetics traditionally associated with masculinity with emotional vulnerability and intimacy. Boygenius shows us the joy that is possible when we choose one another and imagine alternative ways of connecting and being.


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