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Rewinding 2023 | Area Resident’s Top Albums

Here's the new (and old) music I liked enough to buy this year.

I bought roughly two new albums per month this year. I say roughly because a few of them are doubles, triples or box sets. And while most of the albums on this list are winners, I have omitted a handful of new records I brought home one way or another which were not great. Those ones are either already sold, or actively for sale. A few disappointments include This Stupid World by my beloved Yo La Tengo and — sadly — Credo, the first Zeus album in nearly a decade.

Some friends of mine put out excellent indie albums which I also haven’t included. These include Kings Of Mustang by Ottawa’s The Bush Pilots, and Animal Math, which was just released by Pembroke’s Blinker The Star (Jordon Zadorozny) in December. There’s no vinyl of it yet — but you can pre-order it via his Bandcamp page. I will also remind you that Zadorozny produced and performed on my own 2023 offering Phosphene, which dropped in May.

Anyway, here’s my list of 2023 albums I liked enough to buy a physical copy. Starting with the new releases, followed by the re-issues.


Roger Waters
Dark Side Of The Moon Redux

Yeah, I know, but it’s a very creative and personal updated interpretation of Waters’ greatest song cycle. It’s quite interesting how a concept album about life and death can sound so different when performed by a 30 year-old compared to an 80-year-old. I just wish the snare sound had a little more crack to it. I shouldn’t tell you that, because it almost ruins the record (thanks, Mike Dubue).

The Beatles
Now & Then

All AI discomfort aside, and the fact that this is a John Lennon demo and not at all a Beatles track, it’s still a lovely song and packs the intended emotional wallop. I bought the 12″ black vinyl version.


El Michels Affair & Black Thought
Glorious Game

My partner is in their top percentile of listeners on Spotify, according to her 2023 Wrapped data. This to say, I hear lots and lots of El Michels. Personally, I like 2021’s Yeti Season more, but Glorious Game is still excellent.

Ghost Woman
Anne, If

Man, this was one of two discoveries I’m excited about this year. The band have actually put out a newer album since this one from January, called Hindsight Is 50/50. It’s great, but not as good as Anne, If. And actually, neither is as good as the self-titled album from 2022. The band has the same configuration as The White Stripes, but with a much more varied sound.

The Budos Band
Frontier’s Edge

Every song (all instrumentals) on this EP is 10/10. Jazzy, funky, but most of all — cool. Suits multiple settings.




This Is The Kit
Careful Of Your Keepers

I love her music. The new record might be her/their best. Great songwriting, clever arrangements and a unique voice loaded with character, humanity and sincerity.



Shades Of Blue

Everything he does is cool, but this double album, which uses elements of and pays tribute to classic recordings from the Blue Note jazz label, is particularly inspired. This is no smooth affair. The album is quite frenetic and is not just samples — these are new songs, entirely different from anything you have in your collection. Madlib is a smart, smart cookie who loves music.

Art Bergmann

Canada’s most underrated songwriter went through a crushing heartbreak when his partner of many years died in 2022. Some days, Bergmann, who is a Facebook friend, seemed only barely able to manage getting on social media where he tried to explain the pain and grief he was experiencing. But away from the screen, he managed to turn that grief into an incredible record — a surprisingly uplifting one at times. ShadowWalk is dedicated to all who have suffered loss the way he has, and continues to endure as a rock ’n’ roll survivor and living legend.

Pale Blue Eyes
This House

My other new discovery of 2023. This record is spectacular — not as good as its predecessor, 2022’s Souvenirs, but one of this year’s standouts for me.



I will include two more albums which are kind of new, but kind of re-releases as well. Pink Floyd issued Dark Side Of The Moon Live at Wembley 1974 as part of their DSOTM 50th anniversary box set, but also as a standalone double album. The concert was widely bootlegged, but it sounds amazing here. Forget the new 50th anniversary box, just get this.

Same goes for The White Stripes Live in Las Vegas, which just came out as the latest Third Man Records Vault package. This lavish three-record set features a red disc, a white one, and an etched black one. It comes with Meg and Jack White playing cards, a sew-on badge, a bumper sticker and more. Oh — and it’s the duo at the height of their powers, right after the release of Elephant in 2003.

And then there’s just re-issues, of which I ended up getting quite a few. First up was a long-awaited new pressing of Grandaddy’s seminal 2000 album The Sophtware Slump — on opaque “evergreen” vinyl. With this, and many of these albums, a major selling feature of a new pressing of Sophtware Slump is that you can purchase it at a sensible price again.

And speaking of Third Man, I’d been toying with the idea of joining the Vault subscription membership. What finally swayed me was the announcement that they were repressing both of Syd Barrett’s solo albums (1969’s The Madcap Laughs and 1970’s Barrett) and the 1987 outtakes album Opel, packaged in a lavish box set with coloured vinyl and new, additional artwork.

I grabbed two of the remastered, re-released Tom Waits albums — his debut Closing Time and the brilliant The Black Rider (but don’t tell, that one’s a Xmas gift). Light In The Attic put out some sweet remastered versions of Betty Davis’s albums, as part of their new Archival Series. I picked up her 1973 self-titled debut featuring The Family Stone as her backing band, complete with drummer Greg Errico as producer. This album is beyond fantastic.

The best place to buy anything by Swedish space-rockers Les Big Byrd is via their Bandcamp page. Make sure you sign up for alerts, because anytime they post new vinyl it doesn’t last long. I managed to snag a new pink repress of their awesome 2018 album Iran Iraq IKEA as part of the PNKSLM 10-year anniversary repress series. Only 500 of these were made.

The (two-years-late) 50th anniversary triple LP package of Elton John’s 1971 Honky Chateau is quite great — especially the studio outtakes and live tracks from the first performances of these songs.

I also snagged Grant Green’s 1970 album Green Is Beautiful — recorded in a single day. This inexpensive, yet incredible-sounding, album is part of Blue Note’s Class Vinyl Series.

At the moment I can’t afford them, but I’m tempted to buy the new triple-vinyl re-releases of The Beatles1962-1966 and 1967-1970 because I really like the new mixes by Giles Martin. But at $200 for the pair, I just can’t manage it at the moment.

Finally, I was stoked to get my hands on a rare title from the Brunswick Reissue SeriesWillie Henderson And The Soul Explosion’s 1970 album Funky Chicken. Every track on this is killer, and mastered from the original tapes. Perfect music to accompany wrapping Xmas presents.

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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.