2023 was a good year for music. Bands that have been around for a long time released some of their best records to date and there were plenty of up-and-comers taking things to the next level as well as exciting debut albums. Ranking these albums proved next to impossible, so here are my 23 favorite albums of 2023 in somewhat ranked order.
Samiam - Stowaway
On their first new album in 12 years, emo/punk vets Samiam show that even after 30 years they still have what it takes. ‘Stowaway’ finds the band sticking to their guns and it’s loaded with nothing but gems.
Paint It Black - Famine
Ten years. That’s how long Philadelphia, PA’s Paint It Black has kept us waiting for new music. "Famine" is the product of years of plotting, planning, and prepping, with the goal of making the most impactful statement possible. And guess what? Mission accomplished.
The Menzingers - Some Of It Was True
There’s no one quite like The Menzingers when it comes to making an album drenched in nostalgia, bittersweet angst and mid-30s growing pains. Album number seven still finds them on the crossroads between punk rock and Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen and it sounds glorious.
Tightwire - Head Full Of Snakes
I honestly don’t think I have heard a catchier pop-punk album this year than ‘Head Full Of Snakes,’ the sophomore full-length from Minneapolis’ Tightwire who prove that the best pop-punk bands still come from the Midwest.
Rancid - Tomorrow Never Comes
Not only did I get to see them one of the best shows of the year, Rancid also released a pretty much flawless album with ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’. Yes, the chorus of‘New American’ comes with one syllable too many crammed in there, but other than that this album packs nothing but pure, unadulterated punk rock.
Foo Fighters - But Here We Are
Following the death of longtime drummer Taylor Hawkins and a couple of - let’s be honest -disappointing albums, ‘But Here We Are’ is a brutally honest and emotionally raw return to form for Foo Fighters and proof of the healing powers of music.
Tearjerker - Tearjerker
On the band’s new self-titled album, Sunderland, UK’s Tearjerker dish out eleven anthems for the disenfranchised that will bring back memories of bands like Samiam, Hot Water Music and of course, Leatherface, while still managing to come out sounding new and exciting.
Harsh Realms - CVLT
It only took them nine years, but Dutch punk rockers Harsh Realms have released their sophomore album. Was it worth the wait? Hell yeah! ‘CVLT’ is out now on Shield Recordings and comes with thirteen new bangers that will appeal to fans of The Menzingers, The Flatliners and Red City Radio alike.
Pkew Pkew Pkew - Siiick Days
Recorded with The Bouncing Souls’ Pete Steinkopf over ten days mid-pandemic in Asbury Park, ‘Siiick Days’ sees the Toronto punks taking things to the next level on the excellent follow-up to 2022’s ‘Open Bar’.
As Friends Rust - Any Joy
The only thing I can fault ‘Any Joy’ on is that it comes with just 7 songs. As Friends Rust’s first new album since 2001 is a glorious return to form by the melodic punk and hardcore pioneers.
Calling Hours - Say Less
Featuring veteran vocalist Popeye Vogelsang (Farside) and members of Don’t Sleep, Calling Hours more than deliver on the expectations that come with that kind of pedigree. ‘Say Less’is a seven-song record that revisits the band members' melodic, post-punk sensibilities while creating something very today-ish.
Borderlines - Keep Pretending
On their debut album, Portland, Maine pop-punks Borderlines reveal a profound love for all things 90s pop-punk and the melancholy-laced punk rock of a band like The Menzingers.
Clowns - Endless
Clowns don’t disappoint. Ever.
Territories - Colder Now
Somehow Western Canada’s Territories still aren't quite as big as they deserve to be. Here’s to hoping that ‘Colder Now’ will rectify that injustice. Comprised of members from the band Knucklehead, these guys play streetpunk with all the feels and killer singalong choruses.
7 Years Bad Luck - No Shame
On their latest album, Austria’s 7 Years Bad Luck crank out a dozen solid punk rock songs that will make you think of The Lawrence Arms, NOFX and Banner Pilot in the best of ways.
Versus The World - The Bastards Live Forever
With a line-up featuring Lagwagon’s Chris Flippin and Good Riddance’s Sean Sellers, Versus The World already had enough going for themselves to turn some heads right from the get-go. But the songs that make up the band’s fourth album once again prove they don’t need any band members’ pedigree to earn nods of approval.
Ultrabomb - Time To Burn
Contrary to what the album cover might lend you to believe, Ultrabomb’s debut album comes with ten excellent songs that will make you think of everything from The Replacements and The Who to Leatherface, early Soul Asylum and yes, Hüsker Dü.
Come Closer - We Died With Print
Right at the tailgate of 2023, Come Closer is back with ‘We Died With Print,’ the band’s follow-up to their 2021 debut ‘Pretty Garbage’. On their new album, the band runs with the best elements of Superchunk, The Replacements, Jets To Brazil and Samiam and it makes for a great listen.
Wimps - City Lights
Seattle’s Wimps are at it again with ‘City Lights,’ another slacker punk moshterpiece ready for the internet to gobble up. So gobble away!
Koyo - Would You Miss It
Featuring members of Typecaste, Hangman, and Rain of Salvation, Koyo are the latest in a long line of melodic hardcore bands to have sprung from the fertile underground of Long Island. Blending the melodies of Taking Back Sunday with the tuneful grit of Silent Majority and adding a dollop of I Am The Avalanche, Koyo aren’t exactly hiding their influences, but manage to give things a twist all their own.
The Penske File - Half Glow
Writing and recording ‘Half Glow’ wasn’t without its hardships: robberies, burn outs, pandemics and many things stood in the way of its completion. Sometimes though, love wins out and it shows on the anthemic introspection expelled on each of the 12 tracks on ‘Half Glow,’ the latest album by The Penske File that will remind you of bands such as The Gaslight Anthem, PUP, Against Me!, The Menzingers, and Hot Water Music.
Fat Heaven - Trash Life
If you like your pop-punk catchy, angsty, slightly aggressive and with plenty of nods to the heydays of Lookout! Records, then Fat Heaven is just the band for you.
The Young Rochelles - Kicked To The Curb
While there are still tons of obvious nods to bands like the Ramones, Queers and Screeching Weasel, ‘Kicked To The Curb’ sees The Young Rochelles move away from straight-up Ramonescore as they ramp up the overall sweetness and have obviously grown as songwriters. The result? 14 tracks worth of vocal harmonies, hard-hitting drums, buzzing guitars and slick leads and choruses.