Already enough albums to fill a December Top Ten. Here are our favourite records of 2023 so far:
BC Camplight - The Last Rotation of Earth
A long time follower of BC Camplight on Twitter (or Brian to his friends and fans) he’s openly spoken of his life, health and relationship ups and downs (sadly there have been many downs of late) but he’s poured it all out into a set of songs with lyrical humour, raw emotion and beautiful orchestration calling favours from his musical family to give the album it’s soundscape. It’s an treasure of a record.
Baxter Dury – 'I Thought I Was Better Than You'
' Lick my forehead you white bread eating cockroach. Show me your driving licence..' , 'West London lounge syndicate. Less dinner, sons and daughters of Dracula talking in riddles and class jigsaws' , 'And he's a brave man eating hummus in the morning. Breakfast imposter ….' Baxter Dury's new studio album oozes a sleazy charm and class (in a good way) throughout, lyrics in a similar style as those above are prevalent throughout his sixth album which keeps on rewarding with more gems every time I listen to it.
Ben de la Cour, 'Sweet Ahnedonia'
Ben de la Cour is in my opinion the best songwriter currently working. His last album 'Shadow Land' was a masterpiece. This one is just as good; perhaps even better thanks to Jim White's punchy production. Highly appreciated by a modest number of devotees, Ben is this generation's Townes Van Zandt.
CVC - 'Get Real'
The joyous 'Get Real' by CVC. This debut album hits the spot with chugging riffs, gorgeous harmonies and take-it-in-turns lead vocals from the Welsh collective. For fans of Steely Dan and the retro rock sound. Fabulous.
Alison Goldfrapp - The Love Invention.
I wouldn’t have thought this album would have been the musical style that I would have picked for my album of the year so far, but it just gets me. I find it so uplifting and makes me want to dance. Alison’s debut album is not far removed from her previous Goldfrapp albums. Her breathy voice and imaculate timing works so well with the synth rhythms. A joyous record.
Gnoss - Stretching Skyward
Young Orkney musicians based in Glasgow, pushing forward the islands' dynamic folk traditions. Powerful instrumentals alternate with poignant songs, with links to the landscape, history and wild seas of their home. I came across them while checking out the lineup for the Cambridge and Orkney folk festivals, sounds like they are amazing live!
Gorillaz - Cracker Island
Despite reforming Blur, and being on what seems to be a never ending world tour with Gorillaz, Damon Albarn has somehow found time to record and release ‘Cracker Island’, Gorillaz’ best album since ‘Plastic Beach’ in 2010. It’s short, punchy, and full of mature pop tunes, with Albarn having reined in some of the quirkier aspects of the band in favour of songs that could be as equally at home on Radio 1, Radio 2 or 6music.
Despite having a list of collaborators ranging from Bad Bunny to Stevie Nicks the album is less disjointed than some of the previous efforts, and looks likely to ensure the continued evolution of the band.
Lanterns on the Lake - 'Versions of Us'
Hard not to select an album that has my favourite track of the year - Real Life - on it! Haunting and yet melodic vocals, all tracks eminently listenable - a beautiful album to listen to on vinyl as it has an amazing depth and really helps the vocals stand out. Whilst Real Life is a standout for me, other great tracks include th eLikes of us and Last Transmission..but all tracks a great quality. Really looking forward to seeing them live in Cambridge
The National - 'First Two Pages of Frankenstien'
However big this band get (can they get bigger?) the music on this record is created with as much love and attention to detail as their previous albums. A seminal record, that reflects where the band and its members are today.
Unknown Metal Orchestra - 'V'
A superb creation from Ruban Nielsen, the central character in Unknown Mortal Orchestra. For those familiar with this band’s work you will recognise the trademark silky, occasionally swampy, backdrop in this album, but across the 60 minute running time Ruban has cleverly inserted a good sprinkling of melodies that once inside your ears will struggle to escape, notably Layla, That Life, Weekend Run.