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CWHT's Top Ten Albums of '23

10. The Hives - The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons - Disques Hives


The Swedish golden-boys first proper full-length release in over a decade seemingly received a collective “meh” from music critics the world over, but this one loved it. Blasty-ass, gut-bucket axes strummed in garage-rock-turned-arena fashion sure to please crowds and listeners new and old.


CHOICE CUTS:

“Trapdoor Solution”, “The Bomb”, “What Did I Ever Do To You?”


9. 100 gecs - 10,000 gecs - Dog Show/Atlantic


Not as polarizing a release as anticipated, the sophomore record from Dylan Brady & Laura Les had a place on this list saved for it not long after release. I implore you to find me another album from 2023 that goes from ska to nu-metal, then back to ska again. This shit whips. Truly a unique record that may serve as a cultural pylon for our current moment. 


CHOICE CUTS:

“Frog On The Floor”, “Billy Knows Jamie”, “The Most Wanted Person In The United States”


8. Colter Wall - Little Songs - La Honda/RCA


Man, Little Songs could’ve only been penned by someone who spends most of their time working outside and doing cowboy shit. Colter Wall is, in a word, bonafide. Credit needs to be given to the band; composed of Patrick Lyons (pedal steel, dobro, etc.), Jake Groves (harmonica), Russell Patterson on drums, and Doug Moreland playing fiddle. With “Evangelina” and “The Coyote & The Cowboy” being the only covers, the album is chock-full of C.W. originals, though the former does cast a grand mental image of Colter risking it all for a Latinx baddie.


CHOICE CUTS: “The Coyote & The Cowboy”, “Honky Tonk Nighthawk”, “Evangelina” 


7. Wednesday - Rat Saw God - Dead Oceans


Our appetite was sated for a bit after 2021’s Twin Plagues with the cover album Mowing The Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up, but Asheville, N.C.’s Wednesday are NOT fucking around on Rat Saw God. A triumphant record that simultaneously exceeded and flipped expectations. Rat Saw God will be remembered as one of the great additions to the indie rock cannon of this decade. 


CHOICE CUTS: 

“Bull Believer”, “Chosen to Deserve”, “TV in the Gas Pump”


6. Oozing Wound - We Cater To Cowards - Thrill Jockey


An early contender for top-ten placement, Chicago’s Oozing Wound released We Cater To Cowards on January 27th. Hearkening back to a bygone era of gritty punk recorded in some warehouse, We Cater To Cowards actually doesn't cater to any preconceived notions of what garage rock or hardcore ought to be. This is bitching, no frills, no nonsense hardcore. Truly.


CHOICE CUTS:

“Bank Account Anxiety”, “Hypnic Jerk”, “Crypto Fash”, “Midlife Crisis Actor”, “Old Sludge”


5. Westside Gunn - And Then You Pray For Me - Griselda/EMPIRE


Seen as a companion piece to 2020’s Pray For Paris, the second-half of the diptych sees Westside Gunn (Alvin Worthy) continue to build a concept around fashion, mysticism, and psychosis. Poignantly released on Friday the 13th in October, Worthy’s conjecture is that the banality of evil on the streets comes from paranoid fatigue, not a lack of inspiration but rather overstimulation in an uncaring consumer culture. Westside Gunn’s knack for orchestrating herculean guest-features remains unparalleled in modern hip-hop. The east-coast king of boom-bap’s heavy foray into trap make this an engaging and boundary-pushing release full of twists and turns.


CHOICE CUTS: “1989”, “Flygod 2x”, “Babylon Bis”


4. Earl Sweatshirt & The Alchemist - VOIR DIRE - Tan Cressida/ALC/Warner


The Alchemist brings out the best in the rappers he chooses to work with, and his body of work is a testament to the fact that he’s quite particular with who he chooses to undergo a project with. VOIR DIRE finds Earl Sweatshirt (Thebe Kgositsile) in rare form. On something of a hot-streak after the release of last year’s Sick!, this is the textbook definition of a dynamic duo if there ever was one. 


CHOICE CUTS: “Vin Skully”, “27 Braids”, “The Caliphate”


3. Sweeping Promises - Good Living Is Coming For You - Sub Pop/Feel It


Sweeping Promises is the alt-rock duo consisting of Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnug. Good Living Is Coming For You was released via both Feel It Records and Sub Pop. This half-hour record has a raw, low-fidelity feel to it that mustn't be mistaken for being underproduced. Catchy, powerful, and infectious. Utterly timeless stuff here.


CHOICE CUTS: “Eraser”, “Shadow Me”, “Connoisseur of Salt”, “Ideal No”


2. Florry - The Holey Bible - Dear Life


Including their live album recorded in 2021, The Holey Bible is the third proper full-length release from Alternative Folk and quasi-Country Philadelphia band Florry. Album high-point “Say It Again” sees each band-member playing their asses off, and could operate as the album’s mission statement: Florry (and all of humanity) are here for a good time, not a long one. The Holey Bible by Florry belongs in conversation with contemporary Alt Folk mainstays such as Big Thief, Angel Olsen, and Bright Eyes.


CHOICE CUTS: “Hot Weather”, “Cowgirl Giving”, “ILYILY”, “Say It Again”


1. Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter - SAVED! - Perpetual Flame Ministries


It didn’t seem like a whole lot of time elapsed between the retirement of Lingua Ignota and the proclamation and introduction of Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter. Assumedly because Kristin Hayter has a need to make music in order to confront a past burdened with religious torment. One of the cardinal sins of cultural criticism is assuming catharsis, but here it is palpably undeniable. SAVED! is placed at number one here on-account of the sonic risks and experimentation employed. The reinterpreted hymns scattered throughout this record are Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter taking the power back.


CHOICE CUTS: “ALL OF MY FRIENDS ARE GOING TO HELL”, “THERE IS POWER IN THE BLOOD”, “PRECIOUS LORD TAKE MY HAND”

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