Eli’s Top Ten 2023 Albums for Summer Listening


Eli Robinson, Editor

2023 has been an impressive year of music thus far. As someone who enjoys music more than anything, it’s always good to see growth and synthesization of sounds. Each of these albums show a variety of personal growth from artists, as well as large scale growth of music. There has been no shortage of brilliance beyond the ten albums chosen for this list, but here are ten of the albums that have blown me away this year.

10. Why Does the Earth Give Us People To Love by Kara Jackson 

Kara Jackson, a decorated poet who won the Youth Poet Laureate of the USA (2019), has maintained her poetic voice in her music. This album is full of lyrical depth and a wide variety of complex suggestions about the nature of love, among other things. It is a lyrical masterpiece, pulling from blues to folk influences in the songs’ instrumentation. All of these tracks are garnished with Kara’s beautiful voice, which has a depth that makes her lyrics just that much more poignant. The album is most directly discussing the harm that love can cause, despite its obvious gains. Kara describes the impacts that this love has had on her, revealing her hesitance to enter relationships, as the end seems inevitable. All and all, this album revels in its lyricism, and doesn’t fall short in any facet. 

9.  I’ve seen a way by Mandy, Indiana

Mandy, Indiana is a band I was not familiar with until this year, however, I wish I had found them sooner. Their debut album, i’ve seen a way, is a hodgepodge of hard rock and electronic music, with a heaping helping of distorted vocals on top. The terrifying sound this band can create while also making the audience dance displays the perfect blend between the two. There is also a sprinkle of ambient tossed into the mix which makes this album as versatile and enticing as a noise rock album could be.  

8. Ugly by Slowthai 

Slowthai has been an artist beloved by fans since his first album, Nothing Great About Britain, but has been known as a rapper thus far in his career. On this album he turns this perception on its head by pulling from a variety of genres including punk and hardcore to give his audience an album filled to the brim with emotional turmoil. This first taste of Slowthai’s versatility and ability to hop genres was incredibly impressive and has set the tone for the rest of his budding career. 


7. Praise a Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) by Yves Tumor

Yves Tumor has been the epitome of modern psych rock, especially since the release of their 2020 project Heaven to a tortured mind, which etched their name in with some of the modern rock stars who have garnered critical acclaim. This most recent project takes a more pop rock route, not abandoning the experimentation in their previous work, but using them in a more accessible manner flawlessly. There is not one song on this project that I would skip. This album was highly anticipated by audiences, especially with the release of four singles which all were received with open arms. Living up to these singles would be difficult for most artists, but Yves Tumor delivered their audience with eight more tracks of the same, or higher, quality. Each track seems to explore religion and spirituality through a fairly pessimistic scope that adds to the counterculture rock stars often abide by. While the album title may be a mouthful, it does reveal a continuity of the album: the discussion of humanity being hell on earth. 

6. Dogsbody by Model/Actriz

The debut from experimental rock group Model/Actriz is as hazard-hitting and ominous as a record could be. The incessant clanking of the drums creates almost an industrial feel, and sound more like pots and pans clattering together than anything else The mixture of hard rock instrumentals and quiet sections that allow Haden’s voice to shine is displayed sometimes even in the same song. Tracks like “Maria” are a prime example of this, displaying the versatile nature of the album on an even smaller scale. The album is unapologetically erotic, and this is reflected both in Haden’s lyrics as well as his delivery. This album transports the listener into a post-rock paradise with all of the off-kilter sounds one could desire and emotional tracks that may even be the album’s biggest strength. This dynamic and hard-hitting album has done nothing but make me head-bang every listen and is one of the best debut records of the year. 

5. Girl in the Half Pearl by Liv.e 

Liv.e’s second album, Girl in the Half Pearl, was my introduction to her music. The ingenuity of each instrumental is what first struck me about Liv.e, as each beat contains layers and layers of sound, each completely distinct from the last. However, this distinction doesn’t stop the album from flowing smoothly song to song, as the trance-like state they place the listener in is continuous. This feeling is achieved by long-droning synths, as well as vocals that meld with their background, whether it be due to their heavy layers of distortion or reverb, beautiful harmonies, or simply Liv.e using her gorgeous voice to swim through the tracks’ many layers. Girl in the Half Pearl has put R&B fans on notice to say the very least, and I would argue it has a little something to offer to ambient fans as well with some of the amazing instrumentals. 

4. All of this Will End by Indigo De Souza 

The sheer emotion Indigo De Souza exudes through her music has had listeners captivated for years, but this latest release, All Of This Will End, sees her at her best. With lyrics that thrive in their simplicity, and some of the catchiest indie instrumentals you will hear this year, the album is set to make a wide array of audiences keep listening. However, the strength of this album, like her previous work, is her one-of-a-kind vocals. Her high-pitched singing turns to yelping at times, conveying the impact that these experiences she describes have had on her in real time. Indigo De Souza sees herself at her best on this project, and does it in the most sincere and personal way. 

3. Maps by Billy Woods 

The life of a touring artist is a feeling most will never know, but Maps by Billy Woods and Kenny Segal is an album that explores the different facets of a tour, from the first flight to tasting the “NYC Tapwater” again. Just like a long trip, this album will take you through a wide variety of emotions, from the “soft landing” of the first flight, to exhaustion-fueled nightmares. All of the anecdotes written by Woods are packed with witty rhymes and rapping that read almost like a speech. While the first album between the producer, Segal, and rapper, Woods, was more congested and fear-inducing, this tape contains beats that breathe easier, with lots of light pianos contrasted by heavy drums. However, there are some tracks that delve into the dread caused by the previous LP, containing drawn out, heavy, dreary notes that will keep a grimace on your face. Woods has done even more to distinguish himself as one of the best lyricists in the rap game by delivering some of his most clever penmanship on a brilliant collection of Kenny Segal beats. 

2. Rat Saw God by Wednesday 

Wednesday is a band based in North Carolina, and they make their southeastern roots apparent on this album. Lyrically, the album thematically describes life in a failing town, vividly encompassing a sense of mundanity. This setting has a distinct impact on the band, but their music is far from dull. The band builds off of a base of indie, with aspects of hardcore, country, and shoegaze incorporated throughout. The sheer noise of the album never interferes with the emotion Karly Hartzman, the lead singer, is able to infuse this album with. Prime examples of this come on tracks “Bull Believer” and “Turkey Vultures” which are defined by their swelling instrumentals and singing that morphs into yelping as the instrumental reaches its climax. These grandiose songs are accompanied with slow, emotional indie tracks that hold a distinct North Carolina twang to them. This album by Wednesday will overwhelm the listener with its small-town charm while simultaneously smacking them in the face with its hardcore rock tracks that are too addicting to turn off. 

1. Scaring the Hoes by Danny Brown and JPEGMAFIA

2023 has been home to some amazing projects, but a collaborative album between Danny Brown and JPEGMAFIA, two of rap’s most innovative stars, is hard to beat. Both artists have built a name for themselves, especially among experimental rap fans, and the announcement of their joint album has had fans foaming at the mouth. While both have had incredible success on their own, together they may have produced some of their best work. With the hilarious title, Scaring the Hoes, you know that the album plays off of the comedic sides of both Peggy and Brown, with laughable song titles such as, “Jack Harlow Combo Meal”, “Steppa Pig”, and of course the title track. The comical nature of the lyrics on this project is carried over to the production, which leans heavily on vocal samples as well as layers of contorted sounds melded by Peggy’s Roland SP-404, a sampling machine which gives the album its heavily filtered sound. This album is pure fun from cover to cover, and holds some of the catchiest rap tracks I have ever heard. It is most definitely worthy of this top spot.