Andrew Stewart Poop 2023

BEST: 2023

Buy Being Dead / When Horses Would Run New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
1. Being Dead / When Horses Would Run: In a rare year in which no album quite hit the mark perfectly, Being Dead got closest. This Austin band, apparently devoid of doubt and driven by a confident, propulsive energy, are mining the same vein of late-60’s lo-fi psych rock recently explored by Dehd; but here their muse is Grace Slick rather than Roy Orbison, and they’ve replaced that band’s cool reserve with their own brand of antic mania. It just all works. Perhaps most compelling of all is the sense of sheer joy: the joy of being alive, of making music, of singing at the top of your lungs and not giving a fuck what anyone thinks. This year, right now, that’s where it’s at. (playlist: “Muriel’s Big Day Off”)

Buy Jeff Rosenstock / HELLMODE via Bandcamp    Buy via Bandcamp    Rent via iTunes [?]
2. Jeff Rosenstock / HELLMODE: Now, for the anger. Honestly no one is more angry right now than Jeff Rosenstock, who’s breathing flaming-hot fire and threatening to engulf everything in his path. Here it’s straight-up rage – rage at the world we live in, and at the assholes who’ve made it this way. It’s hard to disagree with him, and these melodic punk-rock anthems are all-time greats, even if the message sometimes tastes bitter. His mantra – “everybody start digging” – may sound like giving up, but his mission is the truth and his goal, if not peace, is unity. (playlist: “Graveyard Song”)

Rent Greg Mendez / Greg Mendez via Amazon    Rent via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
3. Greg Mendez / Greg Mendez: Definitely the most beautiful set of songs out this year, made even more powerful by his potent and pointedly quiet approach to things. With lyrics crafted carefully to leave just enough ambiguity about what’s happening and how he feels, it’s still clear that he’s sad, and he misses her, and he wants her back – and despite yourself, you’re hanging on every word. (playlist: “Maria”)

Buy Art Feynman / Be Good The Crazy Boys New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
4. Art Feynman / Be Good The Crazy Boys: The most recent project from Luke Temple (also of Here We Go Magic), this started as a homegrown solo thing but has evolved into a bigger group, and here he’s hit his stride, producing something stunning: songs that that feel a lot like peak Eno, with the oscillating rhythms of both Byrne and Bowie twisted into nervous knots for your amusement. Thorny, bold and weirdly brilliant. (playlist: “He Dances Light”)

Rent Diners / Domino via Amazon    Rent via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
5. Diners / Domino: It seems that every year at least one album of no-nonsense power-pop jumps to the forefront, and this year it’s Diners who deliver. No, they’re not breaking new ground; their only goal is to warm your frozen heart using nothing more complicated than three-chord pace-car jams and sweet, sweet harmonies. Reminiscent of The Beths’ early stuff, this one’s short, sharp, and lots of fun. (playlist: “Painted Pictures”)

Buy Geese / 3D Country New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
6. Geese / 3D Country: Geese take a hard left turn here, away from moody 90’s rock toward…what, exactly? This is album is so weird it feels like it might be parody, but these acid-soaked side-stage funk-rock showtunes, each one swollen with strutting confidence and soaring bass-heavy choruses, are each distinctly excellent. (playlist: “I See Myself”)

Buy Frog – Grog from the band      Buy from the band    Rent via iTunes [?]
7. Frog / Grog: On another polyglot homebrew of inspired art-rock weirdness, this band rolls up all the leftover pieces lying around the studio and creates something truly special. Singing about everything from Metro North to Butthole Surfers, they evoke Wayne Coyne and Ween among others and, tongue firmly in cheek, manage to have a blast. (playlist: “Ur Still Mine”)

Buy Shame / Food for Worms New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
8. Shame / Food for Worms: A pleasing windstorm of call-and-response Brit-rock, this is head-pounding, bass-heavy and anthemic stuff. Each song is a slice of dense, hero-worship post-punk, the lyrics declaiming alienation and decrying wrecks of men – all designed to build to a head, and to blow. Maybe the most sound for your dollar this year. (playlist: “Adderall”)

Buy Andrew Gabbard / Cedar City Sweetheart New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
9. Andrew Gabbard / Cedar City Sweetheart: In a year marked by the emergence of new country music that doesn’t suck, this is the best of it: winning, straight-up roots-country stuff with a pop sheen that’s nominally nothing special, except for this: I like bounce, and I like harmony, and I like pedal steel. This here’s got it all. (playlist: “Take Me Away From You”)

Buy Youth Lagoon / Heaven Is A Junkyard New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
10. Youth Lagoon / Heaven Is A Junkyard: A slow creeper of an album that sounds slight but, as the dawn breaks with repeated listens, is revealed to be much more powerful than it first seems. Quiet, sad, confessional folk-pop that feels, emotionally, like a grown-up recounting childhood horrors in the style of a nursery rhyme. (playlist: “Rabbit”)

11. Bar Italia / Tracey Denim: Sounding like a seductive cocktail of X and The XX, this underrated band had two LP’s this year, but this one is the one, a groovy, Euro-hypnotic late-night soundtrack for the dark corners of the party, and the places we all hide. (playlist: “Clark”)

12. Desolation Horse / Biff: With pleasingly uncomplicated folk-inflected pop from a great, unheralded Orgeon band, this album progresses from edgy Eels-worship to open-heart stuff that sounds like Over The Rhine, both sensitive and powerful. (playlist: “Swimming”)

13. Claud / Supermodels: It feels like Claud are right on the verge of blowing up with their second five-star album in a row. This is still intimate dance-beat chamber-pop, but the lyrics are more incisive and the production rocks, clean beats with 80’s synth flourishes. (playlist: “Crumbs”)

14. Dougie Poole / The Rainbow Wheel of Death: Finding that sweet spot recently vacated by Mac DeMarco, Poole is a master country-folk songwriter whose wry words about the weirdness of life never lose sight of the fact that we’re all in this together. (playlist: “Nickels and Dimes”)

15. H. Hawkline / Milk For Flowers: In a word, this Welshman gets weird. With Cate LeBon producing, the jumpy pianos, off-kilter drums and spooky horns mesh perfectly with his mournful Ray Davies vocals, and this just couldn’t sound better. (playlist: “Athens At Night”)

16. Crooks & Nannies / Real Life: A big, bold indie-rock album from this Philly-area duo, with songs marked by crunchy, chorded hooks, quiet-loud she-he vocals and a shiny urgent sound, the mood swinging between doomy basement thumpers and spirited epics. (playlist: “A Gift”)

17. Far Caspian / The Last Remaining Light: Like a quiet whisper close to the ear, this bedroom pop out of Leeds is almost uncomfortably intimate, as polished as a river stone, beautiful and mysterious, but somehow also unknowable. Griffin’s *best* of the year. (playlist: “Answer”)

18. feeble little horse / Girl With Fish: So many band names and so many horses! But somehow they’re all good? This Pittsburgh band continues the string of horsey success with this crisp, confident set of buzzy, twisty indie rock that hits hard but never hurts. (playlist: “Heaven”)

19. JW Francis / Dream House: This album of underrated junk-pop songs – on topics as banal as Valentines Day and as weird as the ceiling falling in – is an oddball, but maintains a consistent tone of such bright, upbeat optimism that eventually, you’re sold. (playlist: “Swooning”)

20. Runnner / like dying stars, we’re reaching out: Solo debut from this LA producer known for his work with Skullcrusher, a beautiful, quiet, patient set of songs that sounds like Ben Gibbard covering In Tall Buildings. The extra “n” is for “nifty.” (playlist: “raincoat”)

21. Home is Where / the whaler: A harsh, brilliant rock album loosely built on themes of loneliness and the ocean, with vocals like Two Gallants, guitar like Isaac Brock, ambition like Maynard James Keenan and chaos like Cobain. A #1 in waiting. (playlist: “lily pad pupils”)

22. Beach Fossils / Bunny: Straight-ahead dream-pop distinguished by a reverb-soaked wash of sound throughout, the band grafting the production style of Loveless onto the song structure of Transatlanticism. Somehow it sounds new, and it works. (playlist: “Tough Love”)

23. Nation of Language / Strange Disciple: The third album from one of my favorite bands feels too cerebral, and mildly disappoints. It’s still great, but missing the spiky, manic grooves that threatened to go out of control on their earlier stuff. Next? (playlist: “A New Goodbye”)

24. Timber Timbre / Lovage: This is one of those bands you keep like a secret. Just weird enough to remain obscure, just good enough to be secretly great, here they’re a bit more accessible than before, doing a sardonic Father John Misty-meets-Kafka thing. (playlist: “Lovage”)

25. Angel Du$t / Brand New Soul: This Turnstile offshoot (out of Baltimore) continues a nice run here with an album of heavy power-pop that flirts with nu-metal but never crosses the line. Fist pumps and chest bumps, that’s what I’m talking about. (playlist: “Racecar”)

YouTube Music playlist here

100 gecs / 10,000 gecs: As annoying as anything, ever; but also thrilling and weirdly excellent.
Beirut / Hadsel: Self-isolation and lots of patience finally yield a masterpiece rivalling earlier work.
Big Head / The Worst is Yet to Come: Quirky Denton TX rocker jumps between genres like a pro.
Bombino / Sahel: His hypnotic jams and force of will smash resistance, as well as the language barrier.
Bong Wish / Hazy Road: With a vocal style similar to Aldous Harding, this psych-pop thing works.
Bonny Doon / Let There Be Music: Malcolm says this folky gem should be on the list, and I agree.
Zach Bryan / Zach Bryan: A bit of a unicorn, this mass-market country album is actually amazing.
Margo Cilker / Valley of Heart’s Delight: These swinging high-country Western songs are sweet.
Grian Chatten / Chaos For The Fly: Fontaines DC frontman gets sensitive, but there’s muscle here.
Cordovas / The Rose of Aces: Another one from Malcolm, who says “Sunshine” is the song of the year.
Gabriel da Rosa / É o que a casa oferece: This Brasilian folk is cool & complex, better than expected.
Deeper / Careful!: Pummeling rock from this Chicago band, who appear headed toward a masterpiece.
Lachlan Denton / Furnishings: Chipper Aussie popster has got a hooky knack, and an ear for melody.
Indigo DeSouza / All of This Will End: Exploring her dance-pop powers but not yet harnessing them.
Do Nothing / Snake Sideways: Doomy, theatrical British rock is affecting, and “Nerve” is the SOTY.
Robert Ellis / Yesterday’s News: Perennial favorite goes quieter here with piano-accented country-folk.
Florry / The Holey Bible: A thin, nasal sound robs this nutty hoedown party-country of some magic.
Fruit Bats / A River Running to Your Heart: Just great songwriting, delivered in excellent fashion.
Fust / Genevieve: What if Richard Buckner fronted Pinegrove? Fust yearn hard, and you feel it.
Graves / Gary Owens: I Have Some Thoughts: Oddly inconsistent country-pop, but some sweet tunes.
Half Stack / Sitting Pretty: They’re center-square among myriad twangy country-folk acts this year.
Cory Hanson / Western Cum: Wand-erer explores the distance on this electric Crazy Horse send-up.
IAN SWEET / SUCKER: Mightily-produced and powerfully-delivered, this is beat-heavy but intimate.
Islands / And That’s Why Dolphins Lost Their Legs: Nick Thorburn knows what he’s doing, period.
Kara Jackson / Why Does The Earth Give Us People To Love?: Mixed feelings on this, a bit dreary.
Hannah Jadagu / Aperture: No mixed feelings here: NYU student channels Snail Mail, and does it well.
King Krule / Space Heavy: Another Griffin favorite, skinny spaced-out Brit murmurs on love and loss.
King Tuff / Smalltown Stardust: Former rip-roaring rocker moves to VT and goes all Tweedy on us.
Alex Lahey / The Answer is Always Yes: Appealing Aussie is like a hookier, happier Courtney Barnett.
Bobby Lee / Endless Skyways: More than Gunn or Forsyth, this year Bobby Lee showed the way.
Gabe Lee / Drink The River: Pure country music that genuinely evokes the classics, without imitating.
The Lost Days / In The Store: Tony Molina side project, brevity intact, bleeds blue, Byrds-style.
Mapache / Swinging Stars: This favorite is a warm country-rock throwback, letting the twang fly.
Buck Meek / Haunted Mountain: Better than Lenker’s solo stuff, this other Big Thief steals the show.
Tony Molina / Embarrassing Times: Another set of short, sweet, sharp tunes, all sugar and lemon.
Kevin Morby / More Photographs (A Continuum): Re-working songs from last year, to great effect.
The Mountain Goats / Jenny From Thebes: This was harder to crack than usual, and maybe too slow.
Mutual Benefit / Growing at the Edges: Like Beirut meets Sufjan, this opens gently, and sways.
Lael Neale / Star Eaters Delight: A taste of Binetti-ism gone haywire, meditative and mesmerizing.
PACKS / Crispy Crunchy Nothing: Like a grungy, chopped-and-mixed Liz Phair, this crushes hard.
Doug Paisley / Say What You Like: He sounds so much like early 70’s Clapton that I mention it yearly.
Palehound / Eye on the Bat: Indie-rock set sounds great, but lyrically this goes inexplicably sideways.
Panda Bear & Sonic Boom / Reset in Dub: Mind-expanding dub remixes of inspired pop weirdness.
Parannoul / After The Magic: South Korean dream-pop comes at you sideways with big, epic ideas.
Arlo Parks / My Soft Machine: Like a groovier modern-day Sade, this rules and deserves to be heard.
Patio / Collection: Covering ground already tread, they still succeed with this spare, spacious stuff.
PJ Western / Here I Go: Former Jr Jr member runs circles around you with this great yacht-pop debut.
Protomartyr / Formal Growth in the Desert: Thunderous Detroit doom-rock, with heft and feeling.
Purling Hiss / Drag on Girard: Dirty, squalling, improvised rock, with moments of noisy excellence.
Jonathan Rado / For Who The Bell Tolls For: Foxygenista returns with a flourish, bold and orchestral.
Ratboys / The Window: Excellent but overrated set from this band that…can’t…quite…get there.
Esther Rose / Safe To Run: Underappreciated and melancholic country, from the desert of the mind.
RVG / Brain Worms: Their imitative Spoon-y sound is laced with drums, angst, and a fiery ambition.
Samia / Honey: Featuring some of the most beautiful songs of the year, this stays in one gear too long.
A. Savage / Several Songs About Fire: Rivals anything from Parquet Courts in attitude, if not energy.
Slow Pulp / Yard: Wisconsin indie-popsters outdo Ratboys with this sweet album full of great songs.
Anna St. Louis / In The Air: Woodsist denizen and Morby-adjacent folkie straight outta Laurel Canyon.
Sufjan Stevens / Javelin: Heartbreakingly beautiful, but maybe too dense for easy immersion.
Superviolet / Infinite Spring: Confusingly corny and captivating, this one ultimately wins you over.
Sweeping Promises / Good Living is Coming For You: It’s specifically lo-fi, distorted punk-rock stuff.
Tape Runs Out / Floodhead: This British band has a big vision, and it includes moving to Yorke-town.
Tele Novella / Poet’s Tooth: Texas band wears their Angel Olsen influence like a badge of honor.
Tennis / Pollen: A perennial favorite band dedicated to a soft, hazy ‘70’s pop vibe does it again.
The Tubs / Dead Meat: Sounding like a swaggier Husker Dü, these British punks tremble and explode.
The Veils / …and out of the Void Came Love: I don’t like the National, but this scratches that itch.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra / V: Always-reliable NZ band is back with more distorted psych-rock.
Kurt Vile / Back to Moon Beach: Long and languid, it’s a return to a more natural vibe this time.
Colter Wall / Little Songs: Stolid Canadian comes with a set of rootsy cuts, with weight and substance.
Water From Your Eyes / Everyone’s Crushed: Interesting but overrated art-rock out of Brooklyn.
Juan Wauters / Wandering Rebel: Polylingual folkster strays a bit but delivers with humor and joy.
Wednesday / Rat Saw God: Excellent but overrated modern rock; Lenderman’s solo stuff still rules.
Wilco / Cousin: Despite help from Cate LeBon, this still feels meh, more featureless sad-dad stuff.
Wishy / Paradise EP: Promising five-song set has elements of dream-pop, post-punk and country.
Elijah Wolf / Forgiving Season: Quiet Phoenicia kid crushes it folk-style, with Sam Cohen producing.
Yo La Tengo / This Stupid World: I want to like this so much more than I do. It’s good, but it drags.

André 3000 / New Blue Sun
Lana del Rey / Did you know that every album sounds the same
Modern Nature / When We Disappear
Johanna Sternberg / I’ve Got Me
Donald Trump / Autocratic For The People

Andrew Stewart
Rhinebeck, NY