Jan 22, 2024

Best Songs of 2023

Alley Light by Squirrel Flower was my favourite song of 2023. From the first that I heard it, it sunk deep into my memory. I loved Squirrel Flower's album and there were many great songs but Alley Light was my absolute favourite. Just a great combination of vocals, guitar and melody. It felt classic and yet modern. Destined to be timeless. But there were many great songs released in 2023. And to be honest, the very best were released by women or women fronted bands. This of course includes the great Wednesday who had many great candidates for this list. Lana Del Rey released one song which was absolutely stunning, whilst Mitski had an album full of wonderful songs. Ratboys, Slow Pulp and Palehound were others to give us great music. All in all I thought it was a pretty great year.

1. Alley Light-Squirrel Flower
2. Quarry-Wednesday
3. A&W-Lana Del Rey
4. Star-Mitski
5. Black Earth, WI-Ratboys
6. The Clutch-Palehound
7. My Blood Runs Through This Land-Black Belt Eagle Scout
8. Baby-Purling Hiss
9. Broadview-Slow Pulp
10. Yes! Yes! A Thousand Times Yes!-Home Is Where
11. Anyway I Find You-The Men
12. Borrow Trouble-Feist
13. Bath County-Wednesday
14. The Sling-Youth Lagoon
15. Floral Organs-Home Is Where 
16. Driving Through Heaven-Cory Hanson 
17. Ten Billion People-Explosions in the Sky
18. Haunted Mountain-Buck Meek
19. Vampire Empire-Big Thief
20. I'm Your Man-Mitski
21. Chosen to Deserve-Wednesday
22. Defeat-Animal Collective
23. Sinker,Sinking-Will Johnson
24. Will Anybody Ever love Me?-Sufjan Stevens
25. Highway 72-Jolie Holland
26. U R The Reason-Current Joys
27. Full Time Job-Squirrel Flower
28. Independence Day-Palehound
29. State Line to Eagleville-Labrador
30. Hard Livin'-The Men
31. Prizefighter-Youth Lagoon
32. Sideways Skull-The Hold Steady
33. Doubt-Slow Pulp
34. Modern Mind-Bry Webb 
35. Smalltown Stardust-King Tuff
36. Meant To Be-Wilco
37. Fallout-Yo La Tengo
38. The Musical-Avey Tare
39. Between The Past-Woods
40. Moving On-Explosions in the Sky
41. Stride Rite-Animal Collective
42. So You Are Tired-Sufjan Stevens
43. Salmon Stinta-Black Belt Eagle Scout
44. Bug Like An Angel-Mitski
45. Satanist-Boygenius
46. Angelcover-The New Pornographers
47. Cigarettes-Current Joys
48. Sinatra Drive Breakdown-Yo La Tengo
49. In Lightning-Feist
50. Haunted Mountain-Jolie Holland
51. Wasteland Companions-Mutual Benefit 
52. Morning Zoo-Ratboys
53. Wings-Cory Hanson
54. Tropic Morning News-The National
55. Chaos Heart-Osees
56. Dare Me-Beach Fossils
57. Bananas-Bonnie Prince Billy
58. Suffer Debt-Truth Club
59. Along The Runner (No Ordinary Crown)-Will Johnson
60. The Habsburg Jaw-Califone
61. The Store-The Lost Days
62. Tantor-Danny Brown
63. Skin Meadow-Home Is Where
64. Cry All Day-Spencer Krug
65. Alarm-Lifeguard
66. Freak-Feeble Little Horse
67. Cyclades-Buck Meek
68. Shit Talk-Sufjan Stevens
69. Gold-Sigur Ros
70. Life's A Joke-Islands
71. Evicted-Wilco
72. Fight Clean-Roadside Graves
73. Easier-Jonathan Rado
74. Weep-Woods
75. Elevators-Kevin Drew
76. When A Plant Is Dying-Squirrel Flower
77. Desert Snow-Local Natives
78. Wear It Like A Badge-Labrador
79. If The Wheels Are Coming Off, The Wheels Are Coming Off-Ulrika Spacek
80. God Is a Circle-Yves Tumor
81. Lwonesome Tonight-PJ Harvey
82. Bull Believer-Wednesday
83. Sixers-The Hold Steady
84. Steamroller-Feeble Little Horse
85. Goon-Osees
86. Sawgrass-Josh Ritter
87. Psychos-Jenny Lewis
88. Salad-Blondshell
89. Maria-Greg Mendez
90. Queens of Sorrow-Bonnie Prince Billy
91. Aselestine-Yo La Tengo
92. 14-Water From Your Eyes
93. Anti-Curse-Boygenius
94. Centurion-Sluice 
95. Elohim-Tommy Prine
96. Summer Windows-Slaughter Beach,Dog
97. Carolina-The Natvral
98. Lowland Trail-Margo Cilker
99. The Stuff-Allah-Las
100. A Ghost-Shana Cleveland

Jan 16, 2024

Best Albums of 2023

I find every year to be an exciting discovery in music. I try to listen to each new album released weekly, within reason. And I buy each album I really like. For mainly the reason of supporting artists I love, streaming just doesn’t give enough to artists. Anyway I found plenty to love in 2023. Some by new acts, some by veterans. But one artist stood head and shoulders above the rest. North Carolina band Wednesday made a record full of spark and beauty. It leant on rock, country and folk and I loved every song. They had been on my radar before but this new album really was a breakthrough. And in great news they are touring Australia next month!
It was great to see several Indie stalwarts make great albums in 2023. Mitski and Sufjan Stevens both made unbelievably beautiful music, whilst Explosions in the Sky, Wilco, Yo La Tengo and Animal Collective proved that being veterans is no barrier to making great music. Lots of young artists made great music too. Even if they weren’t new I felt their new albums were their best yet, such as Squirrel Flower, Slow Pulp, Palehound and Ratboys.
1. Rat Saw God-Wednesday
2. The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We-Mitski
3. Javelin-Sufjan Stevens
4. Tomorrow’s Fire-Squirrel Flower
5. The Land,The Water,The Sky-Black Belt Eagle Scout
6. End-Explosions in the Sky
7. This Stupid World-Yo La Tengo
8. Heaven Is a Junkyard-Youth Lagoon
9. Isn’t It Now?-Animal Collective
10. Yard-Slow Pulp
11. No Ordinary Crown-Will Johnson
12. Cousin-Wilco
13. Perennial-Woods
14. The Whaler-Home is Where
15. The Price of Progress-The Hold Steady
16. Villagers-Califone
17. New York City-The Men
18. Western Cum-Cory Hanson
19. Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You-Bonnie Prince Billy
20. Hold the Door for Strangers-Labrador
21. 7s-Avey Tare
22. Haunted Mountain-Buck Meek
23. The Window-Ratboys
24. The Record-Boygenius
25. Multitudes-Feist
26. Eye on the Bat-Palehound
27. Haunted Mountain-Jolie Holland
28. Aging-Kevin Drew
29. Drag on Girard-Purling Hiss
30. First Two Pages of Frankenstein-The National
31. Girl With Fish-Feeble Little Horse
32. Growing at the Edges-Mutual Benefit
33. Bunny-Beach Fossils
34. Quaranta-Danny Brown
35. I Just Drew This Knife-Spencer Krug
36. I Won’t Cry Alone-Roadside Graves
37. For Who the Bell Tolls For-Jonathan Rado
38. Love + Pop-Current Joys
39. Time Will Wait For No One-Local Natives
40. Less-Deathcrash
41. Running From the Chase-Truth Club
42. In the Store-The Lost Days
43. Spectral Lines-Josh Ritter
44. The Rise & The Fall-The Rural Alberta Advantage
45. Run With Me-Bry Webb
46. I Inside the Old Year Dying-PJ Harvey
47. Valley of Heart's Delight-Margo Cilker
48. Continue As a Guest-The New Pornographers
49. Intercepted Message-Osees
50. Atta-Sigur Ros  

Jan 12, 2024

Favourite Films of 2023

Two films dominated 2023 and they opened on the same day. Barbie and Oppenheimer were true phenomenons when they hit cinemas in July. Both were incredible successes and they seem to feed off each other even though they really had nothing in common. I loved Barbie and it was a lot of fun. But from the moment I saw Opppenheimer I knew it would be my favourite film of the year. An immaculate three hour journey helmed by the master in Christopher Nolan. Just a near perfect film. It also looks set to dominate the upcoming Academy Awards. I think it deserves to get as many awards as possible. 2023 was also a year for great masters. Scorsese gave us the great Killers of the Flower Moon, whilst David Fincher gave us the very enjoyable The Killer. We also received new films from Ridley Scott, Michael Mann and Wes Anderson.

The year began with Everything Everywhere All At Once dominating the Oscars. I really enjoyed this film but thought there were better. Such as the incredible Babylon, which didn't do well with critics but I absolutely loved. Tar and Women Talking were other films I loved that I saw early in 2023. Still can't figure out how Cate Blanchett didn't win for Tar, a real mystery. Some exciting films coming up soon too at the cinema such as The Holdovers, The Iron Claw, All of Us Strangers, Anatomy of a Fall, The Zone of Interest amonst others. I think they should all be in the Oscar race, but as said Oppenheimer is set to dominate. 

1. Oppenheimer
2. Babylon
3. Tar
4. Killers of the Flower Moon
5. Women Talking  
6. Close
7. Aftersun
8. Past Lives
9. Poor Things
10. Asteroid City

Jan 9, 2024

Best Live Shows of 2023

If 2022 was a return to normal in the live music scene, post pandemic, than 2023 was a welcome extension of that. Live music was in full overdrive, with plenty of shows to experience through out the year. In 2022 I ventured to Los Angeles to see the iconic Pavement, little realising that they would actually tour Australia in early 2023. I managed to see them twice, at a small theatre in Thirroul and also at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. Both shows were great but it was the Enmore show that would be my favourite show of 2023. The joy and energy in that room was something I will never forget. The year began brilliantly too with my hero Ty Segall finally returning to our shores after seven long years. I actually flew to Melbourne to see him, as well as going to his Sydney show. Both were great. Lots of other wonderful live music in 2023 too. It was a pleasure to see the icon Paul McCartney late in the year, as well as the incredible double act of The War On Drugs and Spoon at the Sydney Opera House Forecourt. That was my last show of 2023 and it was definitely a great way to send the year. 

1. Pavement @ Enmore Theatre
2. Ty Segall @ Metro Theatre
3. Pavement @ Anita's Theatre
4. Paul McCartney @ Allianz Stadium
5. The War on Drugs & Spoon @ Sydney Opera House Forecourt
6. Built to Spill @ Manning Bar
7. Ty Segall @ Forum, Melbourne
8. Osees @ Metro Theatre
9. Interpol @ Hordern Pavilion
10. Mount Eerie & Black Belt Eagle Scout @ Volume Festival