Of the Year: 2023

Bidding farewell to a particularly strong year in music with the usual listage:

ALBUMS

  1. Rides On — The Nude Party
    A delightful romp of a record. My unpopular opinion is it sounds like The Rolling Stones at their peak, but better.
  2. BOOTCUT — Bahamas
    Afie is beginning to make his case for the elusive infallible band tag, going country on his sixth release under the Bahamas monicker while still sounding like himself.
  3. Joy’all — Jenny Lewis
    Another in a solid run of feel-good solo albums starting with The Voyager (not that there was anything wrong with her previous records), Jenny’s starting to feel like the old friend you can comfortably pick up where you left off with even after years apart.
  4. Wide Open Light — Ben Harper
    A stark album primarily featuring acoustic guitars and piano, but with the lyrical mix of pleasure & pain Ben Harper has built his career on. My favorite is the jazzy “Trying Not to Fall In Love With You.”
  5. The 4th Record — The Record Company
    Triumphant return by the thing I miss most about LA. Dropped by their label, the band went back to their roots of DIY modern blues rockers. Reminds me why I started digging them in the first place.
  6. You Know Who — The Pink Stones
    A sophomore album that barely resembles what came before it but still charms with poppy alt-country leanings. Bonus points for the “Still Laughing…” reprise.
  7. Bird Machine — Sparklehorse
    Posthumous albums of leftovers and/or incomplete “lost records” can be a mixed bag, but this one is a beautiful cap on a legacy and what might have been. Nice touch including an original of one of the Dark Night of the Soul collaborations. I’d love to hear a full album of those demos.
  8. Asylum on the Hill — The Felice Brothers
    In a few years I’ll look back at this list and be surprised how low this ranked, but when a surprise new album drops in the middle of December it’s hard to evaluate it fairly. Am I giving it too much credit as a shiny new object? Regardless, The Felice’s keep Felicin’ with these charming modern throwback records. Brother James takes a big step forward, sharing near equal billing with Ian as songwriter on this set.
  9. Metal Marty’s Greatest Hits — Metal Marty Chandler
    A semi-secret Supersuckers country record fronted by one of the greatest guitarists / characters in music today? Sign me up! “So if you’re lookin’ you can call off the search; ’cause I’m the baddest motherf@#$er on earth.”
  10. In The Moment That You’re Born — Brad
    Posthumous albums of leftovers and/or incomplete “lost records” can be a mixed bag, and this one fits into that cautionary tale. But it also reminded me how much I miss Shawn Smith so it gets the tenth slot on that alone. “Meadow in August,” “Straight to the Hoop,” and “Hey Now What’s the Problem” earn their spots on the pantheon, and covering Malfunction’s “Stars ‘n You” by Andrew Wood brings Brad full circle in a fitting swan song.

SONGS

  1. “Ice Cream (Pay Phone)” Black Pumas
  2. “Travelin’ On” Carly Farmer (Jamie Jackson & Jamie Drake)
  3. “Barbaric” Blur
  4. “The Locals” Metal Marty Chandler
  5. “Love Feel” Jenny Lewis
  6. “Fucked It Up” Sparklehorse
  7. “When Susie Was a Skeleton” The Felice Brothers
  8. “Meadow in August” Brad
  9. “Befriend the Police” Jim Bob
  10. “Bad Light” The Record Company

SHOWS

  1. Supersuckers at the Continental Club 12/15/23
    Final night of 3 consecutive shows opening for Reverend Horton Heat. I asked on Instagram if they were planning a country show. They said no. My wife bailed on attending for this reason. They played a country set anyways. It was the highlight of my year. Bonus: Metal Marty played “The Locals” during his mid-show solo set. I also got the setlist.
  2. The Pink Stones at Feel So Good — 3/17/23
    A single digit number of people attended this SXSW show at a semi out of the way clothing store doubling as a venue. Proud to be one of them hearing some great new songs in an intimate setting.
  3. Jenny Lewis Austin City Limits Taping — 7/26/23
    Only the second time we’ve won tickets to a taping, and the first time to see an artist we genuinely adored.
  4. The Nude Party — 5 Times at SXSW, March 2023
    Yes, I saw the same band 5 times in 6 days during South By, and loved them more each and every time. Varied setlists, matching costumes, and good old fashioned classic rock and roll. My favorite bit of stage banter was from the KUTX morning sessions at Scholz Garden. “I don’t think we went to bed last night. Leave it to radio people to book a showcase at 8am.”
  5. The Flaming Lips at Moody Theater — 11/8/23
    All of Yoshimi + a full second set of classics. Confetti shaped like little pink robots, lasers, inflatables, hamster balls. The spectacle that keeps on giving. More thoughts and photos here.
  6. Deslondes at Sam’s Town Point 10/1/13
    Might be the first time in my life I figured out a secret show using context clues vs. insider information. We planned on seeing Deslondes at a BBQ & baseball festival that sold out. They had a “secret show” without a location specified amidst their Texas tour dates. I know they frequently play Sam’s Town, even curating an annual SXSW event. Popping over to the Sam’s Town calendar had a “secret show” on the same night. I took a shot and hit the jackpot.
  7. Texas Radio at High Noon — 3/17/23
    Noon on St. Patrick’s day during SXSW. Barely double digit attendees to see C.M. Talkington perform with Renee Zellweger for free. Unannounced bonus of Paul Leary from Butthole Surfers in the band. Fun rock songs, but the ballad’s where Renee sang (and accompanied on guitar) stole the show. Afterwards most of the crowd made a beeline for Renee, but I waltzed up to Carty and thanked him for making my second favorite film of all time, the grossly underrated Love and a .45. Magic all around.

BOOKS

Bonus for 2023: Shepherd.com invited me to write about my 3 favorite books read this year. Check them out at the link, or peruse how ~1300 other authors answered the same question.

PHOTOS

Second bonus: Pictures to prove it!

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