My Albums of the Year

By Sadie Almgren, all album art courtesy of

As the year comes to a close, I reflect on what album release(s) have defined my year, and similar to the answer to any “what’s your favorite..” question, there are too many to choose from. Instead of sharing just one, or two, or three, here is my yellow flannel style top 10 albums of 2023 list, as well as honorable mentions, both in no particular order…


10,000 gecs – 100 gecs

A truly glorious melting pot of genre-defining hyperpop and flavors such as ska or nu metal or pop punk or whatever you want to call the strange amalgamation of influences that find their way into this record. I will proudly admit, I listened to over 2,000 minutes of 100 gecs this year, thanks to this release. There are simply no skips. “The Most Wanted Person In The United States” has a groove that scratches an itch deep in my brain and I still don’t really understand why, “Doritos & Fritos” has a killer bassline, and “One Million Dollars” is a masterpiece of all that is hyperpop and electronic. Once again, Dylan and Laura outdid themselves with creative and nuanced production, allowing for my ears to pick out new juicy moments in every listen, of which there have been many. It’s heavy (see the end of “Billy Knows Jamie”, probably my favorite moment of the record), it’s rambunctious (“Frog On The Floor”), it’s 100 gecs so it’s kind of like eating sugary sour candy that hurts your teeth (“mememe”), and, most of all, it’s just really cool music. In combination with its 2000s era influences and references, the genius of 10,000 gecs feels, to me, extremely definitive: perhaps of the state of forward thinking music now, or where music is going, or maybe just the year 2023 because it is, in fact, the album of the year. 

Favorite tracks you should listen to: all of them 🙂 

Girl with Fish – feeble little horse 

This album is fuzzy, dirty, textural, clever, easy, and a nice balance between noise and pop. It feels like a sunny summer day: sundresses, bitter lemonade, and scraped knees. The vocals are deliciously nonchalant and is overall a really pleasant follow-up to feeble little horse’s debut, Hayday. This record is short, oh so sweet, and, most of all, addicting. From when this record slithered its way into my spotify after it was released in June, I have found myself constantly going back to it every few days; checking in with the 26 minutes of what sounds like the result of Frankie Cosmos getting really stoked on the fuzziest shoegaze out there, then dabbling in electronics. I would be remiss to not mention, what to me, is the standout track of the album, “Pocket” takes a huge 180, and it works so darn well. Starting out as an adorable indie hook with clever string flourishments, “Pocket” breaks down with sarcastic lyrics and groove, goes silent for a moment, and then explodes with noise and shrieks, then finally returns to where it started. This record is just so easy to listen to and afterwards, it becomes even easier to queue up “Freak” right after listening to “Heavy Water”. Easy, however, does not mean something I just play in the background and kind of tune out, the teensy production and tiny instrumental intricacies of the record are such a treat and are always worth paying attention to. As a whole, Girl with Fish is the epitome of a treat of a record. 

Favorite tracks you should listen to: “Freak”, “Pocket”, “Steamroller”, “Heaven”, “Slide”, “Heavy Water” 

We Buy Diabetic Test Strips – Armand Hammer (billy woods and E L U C I D)

The nature of the duo’s experimentalism is evolving and perhaps best explored in their sixth studio record, We Buy Diabetic Test Strips. The whole record feels absurd and enigmatic – I sincerely have not heard anything like it. billy woods and Elucid rap like fortune tellers or soothsayers, as they weave elaborate but sometimes indecipherable epics. This record isn’t catchy, it’s wickedly abstract… but, it never feels too abstract. And because of all of this, I cannot recommend it enough. An ambient fever dream, Armand Hammer’s production choices are really, for lack of a better word, cool. I love the inclusions of woodwinds, making the record have somewhat of a mystical nature at times, but also the excerpts and sounds of phone calls, which ground it back to reality. Despite all that is absurd and abstract, this record is extremely real. billy woods and Elucid, as well as all of the features (Junglepussy, Pink Siifu, JPEGMAFIA, to name a few), provide a poignant commentary and paint a grim picture of experiences of a modern industrial, economically disadvantaged landscape. A careful balance between the general unsettling and almost dystopian feeling, and the very real experiences of the world we all live in; perhaps this record sits directly on the line that divides the present and what might be worse in the future. 

Favorite tracks you should listen to: “The Gods Must Be Crazy”, “The Flexible Unreliability Of Time & Memory”, “I Keep A Mirror In My Pocket”, “Trauma Mic”, “Y’all Can’t Stand Right Here”, “Empire BLVD”, “The Key Is Under The Mat”

All BadNick Shoulders 

In a time where country music is a divisive term that really doesn’t mean much anymore, as some associate it with a horrible reputation (especially when it comes to radio country artists like Morgan Wallen), simultaneously while artists like Zach Bryan find their way into basically everyone’s playlists these days making country cool again; Nick Shoulders’ All Bad redefines where country and western music has been and where it is going. Shoulders yodels, whistles, sings high, sings lonesome, features his full band (The Okay Crawdad) for the first time, explores a wide variety of string instruments (from arguably the oldest string instrument, the mouth bow, to electric guitars), and, most of all, tells us exactly what is on his mind. Calling upon the often recycled nature of country music, Shoulders features his own spin on covers of songs like “Won’t Fence Us In” (a play on Cole Porter and Robert Fletcher’s 1934 “Don’t Fence Me in”), the heartbreaking “Toast First” (originally written by Louisiana based songwriter, Chris Acker, who is absolutely excellent), and “Blue Endless Highway” (a tune about living in fear of law enforcement, originally written by J.R. Cheatham in 1963). In the opening track, “Hoarse Whisperer”, we hear a voice say, “so this is truly a conversation? Well, I say, let the conversation begin”. Shoulders is putting the punk and honesty back into country music, not shying away from the problematic history of the genre. In All Bad, Shoulders gives an astounding vocal performance in his best produced and most musically full album to date, which all goes to remind us that our world isn’t all bad. 

Favorite tracks you should listen to: “Blue Endless Highway”, “Arkansaw Troubler”, “Up the Ouachita”, “Long Spring”, “Won’t Fence Us In”, “Whooped If You Will”

Irish Rock N Roll – The Mary Wallopers  

My greatest discovery of the year has been, no question, The Mary Wallopers  (thanks to GemsOnVHS’ mini documentary), just in time for the release of their second LP, Irish Rock N Roll. A project started by brothers Charles and Andrew Hendy, in collaboration with friend Sean McKenna, has now exploded into a seven piece band based in Dundalk, Ireland. The whole band can be heard hooping and hollering together, as well as ripping on their respective instruments. This album has everything: tin whistle, rhymes, banjo, a harrowing christmas song, accordion, punk rock attitude, bodhrán (traditional Irish frame drum), a cheeky nod to the infamous Blarney Stone, and about anything in between. As rowdy and jig-inducing this record is, it’s equally personal and a protest, deeply rooted in Irish identity and economic injustice. Each song is a story and vocals are passed around the band, with multiple band members often jumping in, you can hear the sense of community and camaraderie amongst these lads and lass (their bassist, Roisin Barrett, is the coolest). The whole project is massively and violently honest, critical, real, and wicked, as well as beautifully instrumentally varied. If Irish Rock N Roll does anything, it proves that Irish folk music is alive and well with The Mary Wallopers. 

Favorite tracks you should listen to: “The Holy Ground”, “Rakes of Poverty”, “Rich Man and The Poor Man”, “Madam I’m A Darlin’”, “The Blarney Stone”, “Gates of Heaven”

O Monolith – Squid 

Squid got weird on this one, and I’m a fan. While none of the songs on this record have quite reached banger levels of “GSK” or “Peel St.” or “Houseplants”, this album is best enjoyed when your brain has the capacity for a sci-fi art rock slow burn. But don’t fear, it still features classic Squid brass instruments, yelps and shouts, distortion, and unadulterated anxiety. This is a concept album, I think, and it takes place in the countryside on a planet in a different solar system. In addition to that, there is almost a folk aspect to this record, but it’s hard to put a finger on, similar to the attempt to decipher a distinct genre or feel on this record, it’s hard to put a finger on. Often compared to Black Country, New Road and black midi (all of them originally coming out of the Brixton Windmill scene), Squid meanders away from these comparisons as O Monolith feels more like it’s floating amidst the plankton in the photic zone, grooving to oblique rhythms, rather than the narrower, angsty post punk these bands started with. Simultaneously, it could be paranoid robot alien music, sometimes it’s vocoded, sometimes it’s just strange, and most of the time, it ends up freaking out. Nevertheless, this complex collection of temper tantrum songs is a spellbinding project that is much more spacey and interesting to simply be considered a Bright Green Field 2. 

Favorite tracks you should listen to: “Green Light”, “Undergrowth”, “If You Had Seen The Bull’s Swimming Attempts You Would Have Stayed Away”, “The Blades”

When Horses Would Run – Being Dead 

Upon first listen of this album, you can tell, this band has fun making music. Wacky surf rock out of Austin, TX, it sounds exactly like what it is. Hopscotching from moments of super surf-y guitar riffs to guttural screams about killing a buffalo (or perhaps a sweetly sung story about a gal named Muriel to jazzy moments that kind of make me think of the synths in the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack) in the blink of an eye, Being Dead keeps you on your toes. The vocals throughout the record are timeless, reminiscent of the 60s, replete with sweet sweet harmonies, and just super charming, making the simplest and silliest of songs, such as their superhero theme song, “We Are Being Dead”, a great listen. The masterful way in which Being Dead stirs together all of the old school sounds and vintage aesthetics makes this record sound astonishingly fresh, a testament to their imagination as a band. While some songs take a more ominous tone (“Misery Lane”), others sound as classic and happy as a hamburger and french fries (“Come On”), others sound like pure dream pop (“Daydream”, hence the name). After a listen of this record, it feels like it is close to overflowing with a dynamic, never boring collection of goofball songs that are sandwiched by an excellent opener (“Great American Picnic”) and equally as excellent closer (“Oklahoma Nova Scotia”). Being Dead filled this album so close to its brim with fun and far out tunes, if you nudge it, it will spill all over the place.  

Favorite tracks you should listen to: “The Great American Picnic”, “Last Living Buffalo”, “God vs. Bible”, “Treeland”, “When Horses Would Run”, “Misery Lane”, “Oklahoma Nova Scotia”

SAVED! – Reverend Kristin Micheal Hayter 

This album is haunting, almost to a fault. Retiring the Lingua Ignota name, Reverend Kristin Micheal Hayter’s vocal delivery is insanely moving, it’s almost painful to listen to. The goosebumps never cease. Based in religious trauma, Reverend Kristin Micheal Hayter attempts healing and some sort of reconnection with religion, as she puts her own extremely challenging spin on traditional Christian hymns. Even as someone who has little experience with religion, I find this record to be ridiculously raw and affecting. Beginning with an excerpt of speaking in tongues, Hayter’s seven minute “THE POOR WAYFARING STRANGER” sees her plead, whimper, and moan over a cacophony of piano befit with bells, it’s astounding. Hayter’s vocal delivery as she repeats, “I was sick and I couldn’t get well”, from somewhere deep in her soul makes “I KNOW HIS BLOOD CAN MAKE ME WHOLE” an intense listen, neither or I can come up with a word fitting to describe this vocal delivery. The production is beyond evocative, SAVED! sounds like a beat up cassette you would find in the dirt outside an abandoned church deep in Appalachia. The soundscape is crackly, of a different time, eerie, and almost makes you want to believe in a higher place as you listen. A nonetheless gorgeous and exceptionally profound piece of avant-garde gospel music, or perhaps recorded performance art, I finish listening and want to scream. 


i’ve seen a way Mandy, Indiana 

This album makes me want to boogie and dance, but boogie and dance in a sewer or abandoned parking garage. i’ve seen a way is a big liminal space (just look at the album cover), and as I listen, I don’t know where I’m going or where I’ve been; this record beautifully captures the unsettling existence of not knowing. Each song varies in industrial aesthetics, bewildering synths, and surreal percussion (both electronic and not). While there are moments of sonic attack on your ears, that does not consume the whole record, as there are moments devoid of noise, most notably “(​ノ​>​ω​<​)​ノ :​。​・​:​*​:​・​゚​’​★​,​。​・​:​*​:​♪​・​゚​’​☆ – Crystal Aura Redux”, an eerie, underwater, wandering soundscape where the French vocals whisper and breath in your ear, perhaps the most liminal of all the tracks. I think what I appreciate most about this record is simply the sounds Mandy, Indiana was able to achieve, the whole project feels violently meticulous. It is so damn creative, but very far from overcomplicated. As severe as it is at points, i’ve seen a way still feels accessible, as we all have nightmares and, fortunately, this record is the perfect weird/industrial/post punk/techno soundtrack to our bad dreams. 

Favorite tracks you should listen to: “Drag (Crashed)”, “Pinking Shears”, “2 Stripe”, “Iron Maiden”, “Sensitivity Training”, “Peach Fuzz”

The Lamb as Effigy – Sprain 

Kind of a horror movie of a record, complete with prolonged suspense accompanied by jump scares (see “Privilege of Being”), but at the same time it’s some sort of indie art film where time feels infinite while watching it, whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you. When it comes to length and droney post rock fermented soundscapes, The Lamb as Effigy feels like the crunchy peanut butter to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s jelly. This record is extreme in every capacity. Sprain is eager to commit to pure noise, extended moments of drone, silence, orchestral gestures, prog, electronica, and all that is unpleasant. Vocalist, Alexander Kent, rages and falls deep down Alice in Wonderland rabbit holes that are filled with misery, anger, paranoia, contempt, and anguish, rather than hookah smoking caterpillars and smiling cats. As Sprain unfortunately broke up just after the release of this record, the finality of The Lamb as Effigy makes it feel even more like a masterpiece, or a deranged swan song. This is a distinctively challenging record in its extremity, severe emotional distress, and cinematic nature, but in this regard, it is just, dare I say, perfectly executed. I’m bummed that, for now, Sprain won’t be releasing any more music for the foreseeable future, but I’ll be working my way through and meditating on The Lamb as Effigy forever, probably. 

Favorite tracks you should listen to: “Man Proposes, God Disposes”, “Privilege of Being”, “Margin For Error”, “God, or Whatever You Call It”


Petrodragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation – King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard 

Badass. Catchy, heavy, quintessentially Gizz, maybe a bit rushed in its creation, but still badass. 

Mind Palace Music – @ 

Oh me oh my, this is a splendid album. Kind of sounds like if a singer songwriter from the 60s/70s went through a time machine and made bedroom folk, a really pleasant sound throughout an especially well-rounded record . 

Dogsbody – Model/Actriz 

The lead singer, Cole Haden, croaks and moans into your ear hedonistically over a musical backdrop that is creative, industrial, crunchy, dancy, metallic, and searingly dissonant. It’s dark, but really fun because of that. 

SPEED RUN – Frost Children 

Some good ol’ American glitchy, electronic, screamy hyperpop by a duo coming out of St.Louis, Missouri. Classic. I very much preferred SPEED RUN over their more understated 2023 release, Hearth Room, but both are lovely electronic projects. 

Sundae Painters – Sundae Painters 

So imagine if the Velvet Underground was a supergroup of members of notable 90s and 00s indie outfits of New Zealand. A raw, but tasty record, where each song brings its own unique tones and sounds. 

Live At Bush Hall – Black Country, New Road

I am a huge fan of For the first time (as well as Ants From Up There, obviously), and the tracks off of Live At Bush Hall feel like a really distant departure from their Slint-y, Isaac Wood spoken word beginnings; nevertheless, it is really quite good. The delicately beautiful slow burns that slowly metamorphose into catharsis are, in a word, wow. 

Wallsocket – underscores

This record has a girlboss je ne sais quoi to it, at some points it’s punk, other times it’s hyperpop or even folk. But all the time, it’s intelligent, digital, spicy, glitchy, and lyrically, it screams 1 centimeter away from your face. 

Today My Friend You Drunk the Venom – The Drin

Kind of the platonic ideal of a post-punk album, or the platonic ideal of what you would find on Spotify’s “Oblique” playlist, or whatever. The guitar tones are sinister and the vocals sneer and whisper through the mix, an entirely satisfying record concocted in someone’s evil garage. 

Super Snõõper – Snõõper

This album is 22 minutes long and has 14 tracks – do the math. Egg punk is what some call it, but for those of us who can’t keep track of all the goofy subgenres out there, it’s fast, synthy, and a whole lot of fun – perfect music to soundtrack, perhaps, a time lapse video of someone jumping on a trampoline, I think. 

fantasy – Lots Of Hands 

A freaky little shoegaze adjacent album that sounds like it was made by indie trolls and slacker rock goblins in the basement of their mushroom houses. It’s mellow, but fascinating. 


This one felt huge upon release, and for good reason. I really admire Peggy’s production throughout the record, the layers in the mixes are interestingly proportioned for a never boring combination of nuanced flavors, a perfect sonic sandwich, this record is.

I’ve Got Me – Joanna Sternberg 

This record makes me smile every time, no fail, because it reminds me that we are not alone in our feelings, even when they are yucky, or hopeful, or angry, or forlorn, or whatever. Joanna’s voice is kind and their instruments are friendly. What a wonderful collection of wonderful songs about the challenging, but wonderful human experience. 

I<3UQTINVU – Jockstrap 

Somehow Jockstrap outdid themselves; melting, molding, cutting up, and gluing back together the bangers of I Love You Jennifer B into even bangier bangers. All the tracks are superb, but “Good Girl” might be one of my favorite songs of the year. Jockstrap is unstoppable. 

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