Half way through the year, and I have to admit the favorite list isn’t looking too solid for the last six slots. I definitely like albums by SYML, Kelala, Eluvium and Jason Isbell. I like the first album by Everything But the Girl in 24 years, but it’s not my favorite of theirs. The remaining slots are up for grabs, although Kesha’s album has enough rawness to hold onto its spot.
Here’s how 2023 is shaping up so far:
SYML, The Day My Father Died: Brian Fennell has a gorgeous voice, and this album feels singular to that voice.
Kelela, Raven: This album needs a few listens before it burrows deep.
Eluvium, (whirring Marvels in) Consensus Reality: Probably the most epic album in the Eluvium discography.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Weathervanes: This could be Isbell’s best album since Southeastern. It’s raw.
Everything But the Girl, Fuse: Welcome back, Ben and Tracey.
Kesha, Gag Order: Drag them, girl.
Sufjan Stevens / Timo Andres / Conor Hanick, Reflections: I saw a number of reviews complaining about the fact this album is essentially modern classical music. Which, of course, is a selling point for me.
Danish String Quartet, Prism V: I wish the Danish had chosen a more modern Webern work in the way they had with Schnittke and Shostakovich, but it’s an impeccable pairing with Beethoven and Bach nonetheless.
Queens of the Stone Age, In Times New Roman…: This album actually reminds me a lot of … Like Clockwork, with which I also recently caught up.
Thomas Frank, “Burn the Sails”: Thomas Frank is a productivity YouTuber, but this first foray into singing is really impressive.
Sudan Archives, Natural Brown Prom Queen: I overlooked this album in 2022.
Queens of the Stone Age, … Like Clockwork: I remember this album getting good reviews around the time it came out.
Luscious Jackson, Electric Honey: I reviewed this album back in 1999 but let it go for cash. I’m glad it’s back in the collection
Nena, ? (Fragezeichen): A number of tracks on this album served as a foundation for the multilingual album 99 Luftballons.
System of a Down, Toxicity: This band is pretty operatic, no?
Daryl Hall and John Oates, Private Eyes: There are way too many hits on this album for it not to be enjoyable.
Rosanne Cash, King’s Record Shop: This album holds up pretty well.
I had high but cautious hope for 57th and 9th. That will learn me.
Shiina Ringo, Sandokushi, May 27
This album adds six new tracks to the seven already released in various downloads and singles. Does anyone else get the sense Ringo-chan is phoning it in? I would think a 20-year anniversary would warrant a big reissue campaign in addition to a new album.
Eluvium, Piano Works, May 31
The deluxe edition vinyl release of this new album of piano works includes a sheet music book of Eluvium’s keyboard works.
Madonna, Madame X, June 14
Rebel Heart turned out better than I expected, but that seems to be the exception than the rule in recent years.
Prince, Originals, June 21
This compilation brings together demos of songs Prince wrote for other singers. I wonder if in the distant future we’ll hear The Family with Prince’s vocals.
Sigur Rós, Ágætis byrjun (Deluxe Edition), June 21
I like Sigur Rós, and Ágætis byrjun is a fine album. I’m not sure I love it enough for 4-CDs or 7-LPs.
James Blake, Assume Form, May 31
I hesitated on getting James Blake’s latest album till I found an unopened copy at the thrift store for $3. It’s turned out to be one of the better releases of 2019.