Sunday 3 December 2023

2023: 23 Highlights (pt. 1)

Crikey! Is it that time of year again? That was quick. I shall refrain from the waffle, other than to say it's been a decent year for new music, even if I haven't been to much in the way of gigs this year. It's getting to be very expensive with a few things I really wanted to go to costing more than I'm willing to pay. That said, three gigs are booked for next year already but at least two others exceeded my budget. Concerts, it seems, are now joining the long list of elitist pasttimes that mere mortals like us have been priced out of. I might have to start going to poetry gigs as they are much cheaper (we recently went to one in Cardiff and have another booked in Bath in March).

Anyway, onto the positives - my 23 fave records of 2023 (see what I did there?). As per usual I shall offer up a weekly dose of tunes that have cheered me over the past 12 months, starting with what is possibly my top 4...

Queens Of The Stone Age - 'In Times New Roman'
In which Josh Homme and his crew reveal themselves to be big fans of David Bowie circa 1977-1980. 'In Times New Roman' is in many ways a typical QotSA album - the big riffs, the strong melodies, some off-kilter moments - but it also sounds like they went to Berlin with Tony Visconti and Robert Fripp, listened to 'Low', "Heroes", 'Lodger' and 'Scary Monsters' on rotation for a month and then set about making a David Bowie album. Josh even sounds like the great man at times. It is, quite frankly, brilliant and has been played at least once a week since its release around here.

Margo Price - 'Strays' & 'Strays II'
Two records, not one, but both are equally deserving of a mention, and in all honesty, I think of them as one. Here, Margo moves further away from her country roots and more into fully-fledged Americana, and with a host of collaborators - who include Sharon Van Etten, Mike Campbell and Lucius - 'Strays' 1 & 2 take us on a psychedelic journey of the mid-west with tales of despair, defiance and hope. It's wonderful stuff.

Coach Party - 'Killjoy'
Here's a band who have been floating around for a few years, releasing a string of increasingly well-received EPs and gigging relentlessly. 'Killjoy' is a blast from start to finish, veering from Riot-grrl-infused punk (Parasite) and infectious punk-pop (What's The Point In Life?) to pure melodic indie-pop a la Alvvays and the Primitives (July, Be That Girl). It hurtles through 10 songs in less than 28 minutes but never leaves me feeling short-changed. This is a band to keep your eyes on.

Das Koolies - 'DK.01'
On the two previous occasions I've posted about Das Koolies, you lot have completely ignored it. Out of pure spite, I'm posting about them for a third time. With the Super Furry Animals no longer being "a thing", and Gruff Rhys happy to make quirky, melancholic, country-tinged pop songs your nan might like, the "other four" want to take us back to the fields of North Wales with a massive sound system, a fistful of ecstasy pills and brain-vibrating beats. Of course, there'a quite a few indications that they were four-fifths of one of the best and most influential Welsh bands of all time, and many of 'DK.01''s songs have been works-in-progress for a long time (some date back to the early 90s, in fact), but it does sound fresh and original. And not many acts can get away with making their debut album a double!

More next week.


  1. Must check out those Margo Price ones. Sounds right up my street

  2. Agreed that gigs are becoming prohibitively expensive. My son bought tickets for the two of us to see QOTSA together this year, and he wouldn't tell me how much he paid! It was a great show. Haven't listened to Das Koolies yet, but really enjoyed that "Golden Mile" album by The Peth -- good Lord, that was 15 years ago?! Still love "Sunset Veranda"...