Ideated By: Kya Brogdon | 30 June, 2023
Take a listen to some of our top tracks and albums from 2023 so far HERE. Read on if you want to know our reasonings why :)
“only wanna dance” - almost monday - February 24, 2023
almost monday is one of the biggest culprits for the stan of “boy bands to rock bands” pipeline. Similar in sound to Sun Room, almost monday is keeping surf rock alive and well. The claps in the “only wanna dance” chorus are as infectious as lead guitarist Cole Slisby’s riff in the bridge. As a California native, “only wanna dance” reminds me of driving down the Pacific Coast Highway with friends while cackling, giggling, and screaming in glee during summer.
“Digital Silence” - Peter McPoland - April 07, 2023
Let’s be real, Peter McPoland is the next big thing to come out of Columbia Records. While there are varying opinions on his marketing rollout strategy for his upcoming album release Piggy, there is no denying that the second verse to this single from the album is absolutely killer. “Digital Silence” sonically reinvents 80s pop with a mix of synths and electric guitar while his lyrics harbor more political undertones. I adore his Tiktok “dances” and his relatability online – a Gen Z icon if you ask me. Make sure to grab tickets for his upcoming tour here.
“Gloria !” - Johnny Yukon - May 12, 2023
I am always thankful for the Fan to Band community for introducing me to new artists like up and coming star Johhny Yukon. Born and raised in Philadelphia but currently residing in Los Angeles, Yukon started producing during the 2015 SoundCloud era but has been making his own music ever since. “Gloria !” personifies the funky and unique ways to keep beat-making interesting. The repetition is similar to something you would find on a Kevin George track, but Yukon’s silky voice distinguishes him from his musical peers. His first performance in five years will be happening July 9, 2023 in LA—don’t miss it.
“Never Ending Song” - Conan Gray - May 19, 2023
If there is one person who I want to become best friends with, it’s Conan Gray. His latest single “Never Ending Song” is a new and inventive sound dissimilar to his classic pop ballads. Wrapped in 80s synths, “Never Ending Song” feels like the perfect addition to your “Slasher Summer”-inspired playlist. I admire the way he showcases his vocal range and world builds with this newest single, expanding the Heather storyline which skyrocketed him to pop fame in 2020.
“The View Between Villages (Extended Version)” - Noah Kahan - June 09, 2023
Noah Kahan has become a household name over the last nine months. His smash hit album Stick Season received such positive recognition that fans demanded an extended version. Several months later, Kahan delivered seven of the most gut-wrenching, beautifully written tracks. While the immediate chart-topping success of “Dial Drunk” is well deserved, the extended version of “The View Between Villages” captures an indescribable heartache for family. I am a sucker for interludes and the addition of Hazel Lewis and Melvin Coburn—long time residents of Noah’s hometown, Strafford, Vermont—absolutely wrecked me. I am not kidding when I say I sobbed at the red light listening to it on the way to work. As someone who moved away from family, “The View Between Villages (Extended Version)” captures the pain-staking difficulty of grappling with familial responsibility at the cost of self-growth and discovery.
smiling in insomnia - eaJ - April 21, 2023 "smiling in insomnia”, indie artist eaJ's second's EP of the year" is perhaps my anticipated album of 2023. Released just a month after this first EP in the series - laughing in insomnia which I also reviewed - smiling in insomnia is a happier take on the trials of relationships and heartbreak. Containing mostly upbeat songs, the lyrics of each track shows the growth that the narrator has experienced and the acceptance that has come from that growth. One of my favorite sets of lyrics is from the “lennon” chorus, where eaJ belts “And we might go and break our hearts / But it happens / And that's cool”. In “enemy,” eaJ gets rid of the idea that a breakup means you hate the person, singing “I don't hate you, I don't hate you / Sometimes love does us wrong / I don't hate you, I don't hate you / But I hate when you are gone / I'm not tryna be your / Enemy, enemy, enemy”. “no one’s fault” is the slowest out of the songs, but it's just as cathartic and accepting as the rest of the album - closing out the EP with eaJ’s melodic vocals crooning, “At the very least we know we gave it all / It's no one's fault.” This growth - lyrically, narratively, and sonically - is what makes smiling in insomnia one of my favorite EP releases of the year.
“I Don’t Understand But I Luv U” - SEVENTEEN - April 24, 2023 "I Don't Understand But I Luv U" is a boy group SEVENTEEN's take on a comment they (and other groups) often receive on live streams. An alt-rock-inspired track that speaks on the language barrier between international fans and K-pop groups, the lyrics read “다른 언어와 다른 시간도 / 이해하지 않아도 다 알 수 있어 [...] 알잖아 우리 사이엔 말보다 더 중요한 게 있잖아 / I don't understand but I love, but I love you” (translation: “Different languages and diffеrent times / You don't have to understand [...] You know, there are more important things than words between us, right? / I don't understand but I love, but I love you”). Often, K-pop fans are told by those who don’t listen to the genre that listening to music in a language you don’t speak is “weird” (among other things), but SEVENTEEN have used this song to acknowledge the fact that international fans have to deal with a language gap. “이해하지 않아도 알 수 있어 너 (Yeah) / 언어의 장벽은 그저 거품” (translation: “Even though I don't understand, I can know you (Yeah) / The language barrier is just an illusion”). Not only are the lyrics emotional, the instrumental behind them tugs at your heartstrings more than a lot of other songs I’ve heard recently. The soft electric guitar riff over top of a subtle, yet all encompassing growing cloud of melodies is akin to the welling-up of tears in your eyes when you’re the happy kind of emotional over seeing something or someone you love. Fan-centric songs always hold a special place in my heart, but this one specifically just hits harder than most others I’ve listened to.
“Save me, Kill me” - CIX - May 29, 2023 2023 is the year of powerful ballads, and “Save me, Kill me” by CIX takes the cake. While the music video is very centric to CIX’s lore, you don’t need to understand the intricacies of their world in order to understand the message behind the song itself. Singing about being “trapped in a tragedy,” the song begs for someone to “Just save my love / Or kill this heart [...] 그러니 heal me softly / 아니면 kill me softly / 차라리 kill this love / 나를 버려줘 / 구원해 줄 수 없는 거라면” (translation: “Therefore, heal me softly / Or kill me softly / Rather kill this love / Leave me alone / If you can’t save me”). In the last chorus, the lyrics change to “Just save my heart (My heart) / Or end it all (Ooh)” which serves to show how intense the song's emotions are, and how overwhelming having these types of contradicting feelings towards someone can be.
While there is a current trend amongst boy groups for hard-hitting, dance-heavy title tracks (which I absolutely adore), I love that CIX went a different route for this track and this comeback - the entire album follows suit to be on the softer, ballad-esque side of the spectrum. The choreography they have for “Save me, Kill me” really helped to enhance the emotions the song is portraying, and it is so satisfying to watch on stage.
The World Ep. 2 : Outlaw - ATEEZ - June 16, 2023 Anyone who knows me knows how much of a sucker for lore-heavy comebacks I am, and this only gets worse when it’s a lore-heavy ATEEZ comeback. I recently reviewed this EP as a whole, but even though it just came out in June it is easily one of my favorite releases from the first half of this year (and will probably be at the top of my Spotify Wrapped come December, if my current listening trends continue). One of my favorite lines comes from Kim Hongjoong’s rap in “This World,” where he says “We're still in the dark, do you feel alive? / 흐려지는 mind, 내가 날 느끼지 않아 / Now it's time to fight, take back my life / 나 내가 되는 날 나를 마주해 in this world” (translation: “We're still in the dark, do you feel alive? / Cloudy mind, I don't feel myself / Now it's time to fight, take back my life / The day I become myself, I will face myself in this world”). This message of finding oneself and not being afraid to live as who you are is constant throughout ATEEZ’s music, and is the pinnacle of their lore and their general messaging to their fans and the public.
The energy throughout this album is absolutely insane, each song is a cinematic story within itself that creates a bigger picture as an entire body of work. This then combines with the previous release of The World EP. 1 : Movement - “Propaganda” is directly quoted in “This World” - and creates an entire movie which carries over from previous albums in their discography - I could rant about ATEEZ lore for hours. One of my favorite things about ATEEZ is how they continuously stay true to who they are and what they want to sound like instead of catering to the current trends, and Outlaw is a direct showing of that quality. Sonically, this EP is a perfect mix of iconic ATEEZ with the new styles they are incorporating into their current sound. Every song scratches a different part of my brain and makes me want to listen to it on repeat for the rest of my life. Two weeks after the release, “BOUNCY” is still my favorite track, but it’s a five-way tie for second place amongst the rest of the songs. I can easily see Outlaw becoming ATEEZ’s most streamed album across their entire discography.
Food For Worms - shame - Feb 24, 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 - May 19, 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 - June 16, 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.
As a big fan of alternative and pop-punk music, the first half of 2023 has spoiled me regarding new music releases. Some of these picks are from artists I’ve loved for a long time and even had the pleasure of working with, others are brand new to me or have just debuted. I hope there are some treats in here that everyone can add to their playlists and enjoy along with me.
This Is Why - Paramore - February 10, 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 cliche 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 - June 09, 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 - June 23, 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 - June 28, 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.
“Running Out of Time” - Paramore - February 10,2023
I have been a diehard Paramore since Riot! and they have been a pivotal group throughout my teens to early 20s. Like the other emo kids, I was beyond excited for their new album. They delivered - like always - but “Running Out of Time” was a stand out because it’s a feeling I always have. I’m the queen of good intentions and making plans but executing them is where I sometimes fall short. Whether it’s the major things like spending time with loved ones or self care or the minute things like getting gas before work - I always feel like the clock has expired. “Running Out of Time” is another example of Paramore understanding what we all feel but never talk about. Also Hayley is a timeless talent.
“Heavenly Kind of State of Mind” - Lewis Capaldi - May 19,2023
Lewis Capaldi knows how to make listeners either fall in love or sob. Heavenly Kind of State of Mind made me want to do both. There is something indescribable about Lewis’ voice that is pained and also incredibly raw. Like someone standing in front of you bearing their true feelings. And his vocal range is on full display throughout this song. Love is usually correlated to a heaven like experience in music and Lewis is leading the prayer. With lyrics like “Whether you were heaven sent to save me from above/Or the only one who doesn’t hate me, that’s enough,” you can picture the person - your person - that has always stood by you and almost feels like a gift from the heavens because of what they’ve done for you. I think amongst the absolutely breathtaking and beautifully heartbreaking tracks on Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent, “Heavenly Kind of State of Mind” is going to fly under the radar but it is truly one of Lewis’ strongest records
Across the Spider-Verse Soundtrack - Metro Boomin & Coi Leray - June 02,2023
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.”
'Cuts & Bruises' - Inhaler - February 17, 2023
As a huge fan of Inhaler I was beyond excited for this album—and it did not disappoint. Inhaler's sophomore album, Cuts & Bruises, culminates everything the band have learned from their live experiences and the new sounds they’ve picked up along the way. The album is a reflection on the music that influenced them, developed into their very own sound. It’s nostalgic, emotional, lyrically excellent, reflective, blazing with talent, and full of love, Cuts & Bruises was easily one of my favorite albums from this year.
'Outta Their Minds' - Sun Room - February 24, 2023
I was first introduced to Sun Room when they were announced as the openers for Louis Tomlinson’s tour last year. I fell absolutely in love with their fun vibes, onstage personalities, and online hijinks. Sun Room's newest EP Outta Their Minds shows wonderful growth in their artistry, with more experimentation in their sound and influence of their live performances, while still staying true to that iconic surf/garage rock core.
'AURORA' - Daisy Jones & The Six - March 1, 2023
Now, as someone who is a book nerd, a film nerd, a music nerd, and just a massive fangirl in general, the fact that this album exists is just insane to me. Let’s break it down for a sec: Daisy Jones & The Six (the book) is about a fictional band in the 70s based off of a whole lot of real things that were happening in the music world at the time (including some very real people who are very much still alive, cough cough, Fleetwood Mac). Daisy Jones & The Six (the show) is an on-screen adaptation of the book. In the process of creating this on-screen adaptation, the actors playing the members of Daisy Jones & The Six (the band) went to band camp to become a real band and actually recorded the songs for the album, AURORA, making this fictional band real-life recording artists. Am I the only one who thinks this is the coolest thing ever?!
'The Show' - Niall Horan - June 9, 2023
Ah Niall Horan, my comfort artist forever. Horan’s third album, The Show, overflows with moments that give you chills, leave you grinning, and make you cry tears you didn’t know you needed to cry. It is a beautiful culmination of Niall Horan's growth as an artist in every way, with callbacks to previous music while demonstrating a more concrete and mature sound. The stories it tells, the overarching positive messages, and general positive, love-filled vibes it portrays make it not only an album that sounds good, but feels good.
“Arranca” - Becky G, feat. Omega - March 10, 2023 Dare I say, the mambo of the summer?? Becky G collaborates with Dominican singer Omega, and even films the music video in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. The first 5 seconds of the song is a spotlight of the instruments that will immediately have your hips moving. “Arranca” has the perfect blend of Becky G’s reggaetón sound and sensual lyrics and Omega’s classic merengue urbano stylings - stylings that have had me consistently listening since 2009.
“Heart Attack” Rock Version - Demi Lovato - March 24, 2023 Music has followed in the footsteps of Disney live-action remakes - Taylor Swift has kept us on our toes with rerecordings of Fearless, Red, and the heavily anticipated Speak Now albums. Demi Lovato did the same back in March with the reimagined recording of her 2013 single “Heart Attack” for its 10th anniversary. However, this is the rock version, giving us the same vibes as her earlier songs like the 2008 track “Don’t Forget.” “Heart Attack” showcases Lovato’s new and more mature sound and solidifies that rock is her genre.
“Beso” - Rosalía, Rauw Alejandro - March 24, 2023 What’s the best way to announce your engagement? Rosalía and Rauw Alejandro did it in a 3-minute music video. In the most intimate yet adorable behind-the-scenes studded music video, the couple collaborates for their single “Beso,” which is a part of their 3-song EP RR. The song showcases the love they have for each other, aside from wanting another kiss, in the chorus they sing, “Estar lejos de ti e' el Infierno, Tar cerca de ti e' mi paz,” (Being far from you is hell, Being close to you is my peace). This reggaetón-pop showcases harmony in more ways than one from their obvious chemistry to the complimentary vocals of Rosalía’s rasp and Alejandro’s sultry R&B vocals.
“That Part” - Lauren Spencer Smith - May 25, 2023 “That Part” is a single that continues to show the depth of Lauren Spencer Smith. Smith can speak to your soul and usually does so with painfully-relatable sad songs. But she switched her tone with this love ballad that preaches wanting to skip to the part where you’re spending the rest of your life with your soulmate. Her deep and raw vocals beautifully depict the thoughts of a hopeless romantic.
The Show - Niall Horan - June 09, 2023 Welcome to The Show! Niall Horan produced one of the most thought-provoking albums I have ever heard. Horan is deep in his emo era but still sprinkles in his lover boy side. “Hope we still dance like we’re falling in love,” he sings in “Never Grow Up” wanting to still have that youthful love even when they’re older. It’s apparent how reflective this album is with how carefully and beautifully each lyric flows to the next. The album is full of ballads and working through the rollercoaster that is life. And he depicts that best in “Must Be Love,” “I’m a specialist at overthinking everything.”
“Self Love” - Coi Leray - June 2, 2023
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Soundtrack produced by Metro Boomin’ was one of my favorite albums of the year, but specifically “Self Love” by Coi Leray was a standout track! Personally, I thought the album was perfect in every way, but there was something so special about Coi’s song. For starters, it is the only song she has on the entire soundtrack so her voice stands out from everyone else. Her song is also featured early on in the movie and is associated with Gwen Stacey’s character and her feelings of isolation. Coi definitely did her thing on this record and I hope to hear this sound from her outside of Spider-Man.
“Attention” - Doja Cat - June 16, 2023
When it comes to teasing and trolling the music industry Doja Cat has every artist beat (except maybe Lil Nas X). After months of snippets, tweets, and short features we finally got a new single and music video from Doja on June 16th. “Attention” had only been teased briefly, nonetheless the anticipation felt like we’d been waiting for this specific track forever and the wait was definitely worth it. The chorus has this perfect mixture between simple drums, bassline, and beautiful harp with her sultry vocals. This is one of my favorite songs she’s ever put out mainly because you can feel the confidence spewing out of this track. You can even see the confidence in the music video itself. Her new blonde, bald look was a big change in Doja’s appearance but she completely owns it. This track proves how much she pays attention to comments and tweets on her new look, her ideas, and where she’s taking her career moving forward. I was a little worried about what Doja was going to do next what with all the controversy on her tattoos, her Instagram re-brand, etc. but I was positive the music would not suffer from Doja’s evolution.
“Put It On Da Floor (Remix)” - Latto ft. Cardi B - June 22, 2023
This track just screams “fun.” Latto released this track in early spring, but the remix is definitely the song of the summer! Cardi B has been on an unstoppable feature run as of late. She’s been uplifting other female rappers in the industry by hopping on remixes to some of their tracks. Between this track and Glorilla’s “Tomorrow 2” remix, I don’t know which Cardi verse I like more! With these random singles and features dropping left and right with no album or tour to follow up, excited Cardi fans have questions!.