I can’t say for certain these are the best albums and/or singles of the year so far — because I haven’t got all the things I’ve wanted yet. But looking over my 2023 haul so far, I see an awful load of reissues.
The first proper new release I’m gonna share is the latest single by Blinker The Star (Jordon Zadorozny). JZ put out one of his best albums ever in late 2022 and released three new singles: A cover of Little Lies to mark the passing of Christine McVie, Call Me The Wolf and Funny Love. He recorded and issued all three before the equinox. Speaking of Jordon, you also need to hear Sway by his side project The Lily Bias. OMFG this song sweeps me right up. Lisa Moses has the greatest voice in the history of the world.
Jordon and I are pals, so he sent me an early mix of Funny Love with the message “my transition to 1980s Fleetwood Mac is complete.” He’s being funny, but not really joking. Funny Love is a lush yet tight pop song — catchy and optimistic. It definitely needs a place on that summer playlist you’re crafting. (Speaking of people I know, you should also check out the new Area Resident album Phosphene. It’s the best thing to come out of Canada since Wave Babies. Phosphene is the eighth album in as many years by the Ottawa artist.)
The most recent 2023 album I’ve added to my collection is Careful Of Your Keepers by This Is The Kit. I think it may be their best work to date, certainly their most consistently good start to finish. I mean, they have a bunch of incredible songs, but this is a truly wonderful “record.”
I’ll say the same thing about Glorious Game by El Michels Affair & Black Thought. The first song by Leon Michels’ cinematic hip-hop soul group was 2017’s Tearz. My gf’s a big fan, so we have a bunch of EMA albums. I bought Glorious Game without having heard a single song. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was a new release when I got it for her. She was delighted because she spent the day streaming it at work. It is an excellent, excellent album which sounds great on its own or as accompaniment for any chore or activity.
The rest are all re-releases, but I’ll at least start with one nobody’s ever properly heard outside of bootlegs: Dark Side Of The Moon Live at Wembley 1974. I didn’t buy the $500+ Dark Side remastered box set. Sorry, but I already have a perfectly lovely 2016 remaster and a 1974 U.K. quadraphonic copy. I’m good for now. But I did NEED that Wembley album, so I bought it separately (thanks for making this an option). The record is great — the sound and performance are quite enjoyable, and the packaging is very cool. Instead of being all black, the gatefold sleeve is white and is basically made up of George Hardie’s original sketches of his most famous album artwork.
On The Corner is my favourite Miles Davis album, so I had to pick up Turnaround on Record Store Day. This is beautifully remastered rare bits from The Complete On The Corner Sessions. There’s nothing like it.
I was delighted to snag a copy of the newly reissued Sophtware Slump by Grandaddy. It’s the first time the 2000 album has been re-released on vinyl — and those OG copies are stupid-expensive.
Another re-release I got came directly from the artist. This year I managed to discover the extremely cool and infectious discography of Swedish space rockers Les Big Byrd. Good luck finding their records anywhere. But when Bandcamp alerted me that a limited number of 10th-anniversary editions of Iraq Iran IKEA were available, I got one in my cart as fast as my fat fingers would allow. Just a brilliant record — especially the magnificent A Little More Numb.
It’s taken me years, but I’ve finally come around to an appreciation of Tom Waits. Having recently purchased the classic, incomparable Nighthawks At The Diner, I simply couldn’t resist the new 50th anniversary edition of Waits’ debut Closing Time. Apart from Eagles’ cover of Ol’ 55, I’d never heard this album. OMG, it’s so much more listenable than I was imagining. The songs and songwriting are glorious and Waits sounds so youthful. It’s a must-have.
The last two re-issues are worth having due to their sonic magnificence. One is the (one year too late) 50th anniversary pressing of Elton John’s Honky Chateau. The mix of the outtakes is even better than the mix of the original album tracks, but it all sounds outstanding. I didn’t sell my OG copy on Uni Records because the new album doesn’t have the “buckle” on the gatefold. Nerd.
Finally, I also took home Grant Green’s 1970 album Green Is Beautiful, freshly re-released via the Blue Note Classic Vinyl Series on 180g wax. It’s absolutely an essential part of your soul-jazz collection — guitar-led and funky, it works at any volume.
That’s my first half of 2023 in new releases!
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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.