Here at BRUISER we don’t much care for ranked year-end lists, but a great deal of excellent music came out in 2023 and it’d be a shame to not shine a light on some heavy hitters and hidden gems even the most plugged-in sickos might have missed. Check out these selections from a few of our favorite bruisers:
Tara Clerkin Trio - On The Turning Ground
Decisive Pink - Ticket to Fame
American Cream Band - Presents
Tirzah - Trip9love…???
Melanas - Ahora
The Bonk - Greater Than Or Equal To The Bonk
En Attendant Ana - Principa
Yo La Tengo - This Stupid World
Omni Gardens - Golden Pear
Brent Cordero, Peter Kerlin - A Sublime Madness
Bitchin Bajas - Bajascillators
Famous Mammals - Instant Pop Expressionism Now!
Natural Information Society - Since Time Is Gravity
IE - Junk Body
Wheatie Mattiasich - Old Glow
Sun Picture - Two Ways Of Looking Through A Window
PJS - Praxis / Ouroboros / Rainbow Fusion
Deep longform ambient compositions that slowly uncurl like a fiddlehead in a dewy forest. Mind-expanding and relaxing in equal measure, like a microdose in the floatation tank.
Eto & Futurewave - Dead Poets
Super grimy, bracing Great Lakes rap music with a distinct East Coast influence. It sounds like single-digit windchill and a coat that’s too thin.
Monokle - Ultraflowers
An army of drones projects QR codes above the skyline. You’ve stolen the car Bladerunner drives to try and escape the sprawling metropolis. Somehow, this beautiful, lonely IDM plays no matter where you are, whether or not there’s a speaker nearby.
Unsung - Hand Painted Model Trains
Emotionally devastating and musically adventurous (honestly: brilliant) rap music that doesn’t sound like anything else. Unsung’s writing is somehow winding and direct, but always completely wrenching. Turn off the lights, play it loud, and cry it out.
Zoomo & Aasir - The Policy
Heavy-lidded, indica-scented rap perfect for walking around during the golden hour. Zoomo has a preternatural knack for finding loops that sound like a solar flare in the camera lens, and Aasir is confident enough to deploy his tough talk through a calm murmur.
Jehnova - Stuyvesant
Post-some rap songs lo-fi jams from Dublin. There’s a beautiful warmth to this short collection — it really feels like casually wandering around the inside of someone’s head, admiring the color of their thoughts.
Sankofa - Iron Kofa Sharp
The unconquerably prolific Fort Wayne rapper put out a mindboggling amount of music this year and it’s all terrific. It’s hard to choose where to start, but Iron Kofa Sharp might be ideal. There’s no unifying concept aside from being dope, so you get the full gamut of Kofa’s abilities: tongue-twisting syllable workouts, knife-edged political observations, cartoonish superpowers that only rappers seem to possess. It jams.
Coral Grief - Daydrops
Melodious, accomplished dream pop that takes up the whole screen. These songs gently burst and bloom like fireworks, dissipate like vapor trails. An utterly gorgeous way to spend 25 minutes.
Echo Juliet - Abandon Reality
An absolute delight of a deep house record. Expertly crafted grooves become irresistible with the addition of diaphanous elements like thumb piano, marimba, steel-pan drums — and maybe even wine glasses on “Burnout?” Put this on if you feel like feeling good.
Unsolicited Joints - Unsolicited Joints EP
Incredibly deep dub techno jams that sprawl as far as the consciousness can reach. Gossamer pads drape over crisp, heavy drums and glassy FM synth textures echo out into infinity. Perfectly music for a contemplative stare out the window on a rainy spring day.
Christian Luke Brady - It Is As It Should Be
Toss an edible into your smoothie, light some incense, and brew some herbal tea. These (mostly) instrumental jams are sun-kissed and balmy, feeling like a light breeze through a linen suit. Sometimes it sounds like Brightblack Morning Light, sometimes it sounds like Black Moth Super Rainbow. Every time I jam this tape I feel immediately calmer.
MIKE - Burning Desire
He puts an album out like every year now (plus a lot of other projects) and every year it’s like the best thing I listen to.
Cat Power - Cat Power Sings Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert
A total accomplishment. Fascinating where she departs/veers closer.
André 3000 - New Blue Sun
To me it sounds like Emeralds, or one of the zillion cassette-only 80s New Age albums I ripped off of YouTube or Mediafire in high school. Which is a very good thing.
a.s.o. - a.s.o.
Love it. Fuck the shoegaze revival, where’s the Gen Z Maxinquaye? This is getting close to that (though I’m pretty sure the two members of a.s.o. are older than I am).
Earl Sweatshirt & The Alchemist - VOIR DIRE
People tell me Earl and The Alchemist both “fell off.” Why do they say this?
DJ Manny - Hypnotized
“I Can Luv U” might be my favorite song of the year.
Xiu Xiu - Ignore Grief
This is a really dark—even difficult—one. Feel like it was totally ignored.
Bugmane - Resurrection
JC Penny JC Penny JC Penny JC Penny JC Penny JC Penny JC Penny JC Penny JC Penny JC Penny JC Penny.
Mavi - Laughing So Hard, It Hurts
This is from last year, but I still listen to it once per week, so I’m putting it on this list.
Tolerance - reissued discography Maybe this shouldn’t count but I’m counting it. I got them on vinyl. Two of the greatest artworks ever to exist. If there’s a #1 on this list, it’s right here.
The Drin - Today My Friend You Drunk the Venom
Ibex Clone - All Channels Clear
GEE TEE - Goodnight Neanderthal
Corker - Falser Truths
Poison Ruïn - Härvest
Mast Year - Knife
Gold Dime - No More Blue Skies
Some Fool - The Pest, or The Approaching One
The Blips - Again
Truth Cult - Walk the Wheel