Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Oh God, Not Another Ten Best of 2023 List!

Actually, no.

And for a variety of reasons, beginning with the fact that I spent the first few months of last year literally recovering from a coma. BTW, I'm thinking of writing a memoir of that period, and -- in an homage to George ("Jew-ish") Santos -- calling it Dead-ish.

Thank you, I'm here all week.

In any event, I didn't pay as much attention to pop music in 2023 as I might have otherwise, so in this case my best-of list is marked down to a Top Eight. They're all pretty great, though, and if I left out any album you think was an inarguable masterpiece that will echo down the corridors of time and beyond infinity, I plead asshole.

Anyway, here are my choices. I should add I'll be the first to admit that the list may be a tad moldy fig, as they used to say in jazz circles. I mean I'm an old guy -- who gives a fuck what pop music I like? Hell, I'm half deaf. 😎

That said, I'd be remiss if I didn't also add that my carefully considered opinion is that most current commercially successful pop music -- loosely defined as the stuff purveyed by the acts that get booked on Saturday Night Live -- sucks hippo root. I mean -- Sam fucking Smith? Really?

Also, this recent quote from The New Yorker's Amanda Petrusich, who's half a century younger than me(!), hits the proverbial nail on the head as far as I'm concerned.

"Listening to Morgan Wallen, the most popular artist of 2023 by a number of metrics, mostly made me feel as though I was on eternal hold with my insurance company."


Okay, and now, with the best first, here are the digital products which most brightened my year.

1. The Lemon Twigs -- Everything Harmony

Yeah, their dad is an old friend and bandmate, and I'm prejudiced, but the album is a stunner from stem to stern (and in the genre that forms the raison d'etre for this here blog, no less!) so gimme a break.

2. Trans-Canada Highwaymen -- Explosive Hits Vol. 1

I'm not a big fan of supergroups, but these Canuck veterans' retrospective look at the pop/rock of their youth just slays me. BTW, I had forgotten that the above was written by Randy Bachman, not Burton Cummings.

3. Juliana Hatfield -- Sings ELO

The former Blake Babies and Lemonheads chanteuse/alt-rock cover girl meets Jeff Lynne, with wonderful results.

4. Micky Dolenz -- Dolenz Sings R.E.M.

Okay, it's an EP, not an album. But every track is sheer pop perfection, and more than lives up to its sources. Not bad for a geezer.

5. Gerry Devine -- In My Own Good Time

I was gonna disqualify this because I played on some of it, but fuck that shit, this is a great album. Hell, it deserves inclusion here for the cover art alone.

6. Bill Lloyd -- Look Into It

I've been a fan of this guy since before he was power pop (i.e., a big 80s country star) but this latest effort is about as genre-defining as it gets. Just terrific.

7. The Tearaways -- And For Our Next Trick

The best (for want of a better word), er, traditional rock 'n' roll band in the world currently working? Could be, could be. Have I mentioned Clem Burke is the drummer?


The Replacements -- Tim: Let It Bleed Editiion

Yeah, yeah, '80s purists don't like it, because -- I dunno. I mean, by any objective standard, this new version, overseen by the great Ed Stasium, is an improvement on the original, so obviously, '80s purists can blow me.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?


John K said...

Joe Jackson's "What A Racket" is quite entertaining. Worth a listen and consideration on "Best of 2023" lists.

steve simels said...

I'd forgotten the Joe Jackson -- thanks.

paulinca said...

Neil Francis released a live album, a performance of songs from his two studio albums. While there isn't anything "new", the record captures Francis' retro rock/soul/funk/boogie sound and is a lot of fun. Plus, the title is great - Francis Comes Alive!
Otherwise, 2023 was a weak year in many ways. Vapid pop music continues to dominate people's listening habits.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Steve! Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

My favorite rock and roll record this year was from the Great White North, Jeremie Albino’s Tears You Hide. Check it out at

pete said...

I'm not qualified to join in this happy colloquium (I quit listening to new rock music sometime after Muddy Waters died) but wanted to express my appreciation for how valuable the conversation is and thank Steve for his entire body of work. Happy new year, my friend!

Alzo said...

Growing up, for no reason, I picked Dolenz as the Monkee I didn't like. Stupid kid. This guy has always been an excellent singer and this track is better that the original (which was one of the most overplayed songs of the 90s). A revelation to this late-arriver.

Best of 2023? Eternal faves Sparks and the Stones delivered 'meh' efforts. Still waiting for the Limiñanas/Pascal Comelade LP to come from overseas via slow boat. Hoping the Dea Matrona LP drops soon. That leaves The Hives doing their Hives thing in 'The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons.'