guitarguitar’s Best Albums of 2023
Published on 19 December 2023
Wow, is it that time of year already? As another year draws to a wind-strewn end, we look back at our listening habits of 2023 and see which new releases have left the biggest mark.
With the only concession being that the music had to be newly released in 2023, here are our picks, from dark country to shining pop, 80s AOR to spectral Nordic epics. It’s all here, and they are all personal selections from guitarguitar staff members. Without further ado - and in no particular order - here are our favourite albums of 2023…
Boygenius - The Record
This first choice was more a general consensus than one individual’s top choice. We all really enjoyed this one, and it’s been on heavy rotation in guitarguitar’s HQ since its release back in the spring.
Boygenius are an indie supergroup who make the most of each member’s songwriting strengths, revealing a blend of poetry and songcraft that is not only cohesive, but actually greater than the sum of its parts.
Charles Wesley Godwin - Family Ties
Our resident country outlaw Iain chose this record as the best of a quite fertile year for country and roots music. In true country fashion, each of the songs on Family Ties seems to be a diary entry from the musician’s own life story: family feuds, heartache and dangerous love.
The album’s 19 tracks were all demoed on a 4-track recorder, just as Godwin’s hero Bruce Springsteen did with Nebraska, and that intimacy has remained on the finished record. For quiet truths about real life, look no further.
Silent Planet - Superbloom
Callum is an authority on Djent-y riffs, and was impressed by Silent Planet’s Collider single. He therefore was happy to put forward the band’s newest record, Superbloom, as his pick of 2023. He describes it as ‘straight, typical Djent’ - which is quite the oxymoron - and when pushed for more details, added ‘very heavy. Satisfying’, which is pretty much all you want from your metal bands, right?
Health - Rat Wars
Keiran picked a Health record last year as his favourite and 2023 sees another belter from the ‘noise rock Pet Shop Boys’ themselves. Keiran says that the new album Rat Wars is a ‘good evolution with more metal elements and electronics’, noting a consistent rise and development from release to release. That’s how to do it! Extra points for nicking Rammstein’s guitar sound too.
Olivia Rodrigo - Guts
It’s not always about punishing riffs and huge heaviness at guitarguitar, as the list will no doubt demonstrate! Nicole’s favourite record was one of the biggest hits in the world this year, and she chose it because it’s ‘easy to listen to, upbeat, with no skips’. We all know records like this, that just keep on delivering song after song. You can’t argue with catchy tunes!
Myrkur - Spine
Myrkur’s newest record was the top choice for both Ray (me) and Gage. Why? Gage loves the blending of the previous Folkesange sound with the harder Black Metal vibe of earlier Myrkur material.
I pretty much agree, noting that I do love her more ‘witchy’ moments, and have so much time for the hugeness of this album. It’s like a big beautiful glacier of sound, full of drama, echoes and dark imagery. The folk elements are always enchanting (as are the incredible vocals), but I don’t mind saying that I like it when the blast beats start, too!
Romeo’s Daughter - Slipstream
Martin appreciates all things 80s and AOR, and so it comes as little surprise that power balladeers Romeo’s Daughter have made it to his Most Played this year. He says that it retains plenty of their original 80s ‘Rockman’ sound, and that crucially, the songs are there too. They must be, since Classic Rock magazine recently named it a ‘soft-rock masterclass’.
Carly Rae Jepson - The Loveliest Time
Ryan’s choice was the latest record from Carly Rae Jepson, no stranger to the concept of an earworm! This album is another that’s made its way into heavy rotation in the guitarguitar HQ, and it’s one that starts off good and then just grows on you.
Kim Petras - Feed the Beast
It’s another blast of pop here for Mardi’s choice, who opted for Kim Petras’ Feed the Beast album because it’s ‘pop perfection’. It seems to have been a great year for pop music. What else is there?
Kvelertak - Endling
This latest album from Norwegian rockers Kvelertak is Anna’s record of the year. Definitely rock, but of a flavour that morphs between punk, indie and classic rock, Kvelertak are a good choice for anyone looking for a twist on a familiar theme.
It’s obviously been a pop-tastic year for new releases, judging by what the guitarguitar staff have chosen to listen to! Of course, we all listen to all kinds of music from all points in time, so it’s maybe a slightly misleading thing to compile a list made only from this year and expect it to be an accurate snapshot into what we all like.
But still, it’s interesting to note how ‘song-based’ most of these choices are, and how guitars certainly figure in the picture, but not necessarily in a leading role, as it were.
At the end of the day, you can’t beat good songs, and 2023 was a great year for that. Roll on 2024!