Home Read Features Rewinding 2023 | Tinnitist’s Top 123 Albums (Part 1: A-C)

Rewinding 2023 | Tinnitist’s Top 123 Albums (Part 1: A-C)

It's far from perfect, but it's the best I can do.

The older I get, the harder it gets to put together a year-end list. Not because I’m becoming more musically discriminating in my dotage. Quite the opposite. Every year, I find countless new (and old) artists, albums and genres to add to my ever-expanding playlist — and it becomes increasingly difficult to narrow down my choices to anything approaching a reasonable number. This massive, multi-part list of 123 albums is as close as I could get this year. It’s far from definitive, but it’s the best I can do. To read more about these albums, click on the cover art or check out the Tinnitist TV page, where I interviewed plenty of these acts. See you in 2024.


Atarashii Gakko!

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Whirlwind group Atarashii Gakko! represent a new generation of Japanese youth (seishun in their native language), one embracing personal expression and pushing against traditional boundaries a little at a time. The outlandish quartet — comprised of kawaii-but-fierce Mizyu, wildcard Suzuka, graceful Kanon and funky Rin — break genre walls to create music mixing elements of pop, jazz, hip-hop, rock, and more, delivered with punk energy and featuring frantic dance moves, choreographed by the four members themselves.”


Bass Drum Of Death
Say I Won’t

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The point of an odyssey is to return home changed — still the same person, but deepened somehow, wiser and better, wearing your traveling scars proudly. Bass Drum Of Death’s new album Say I Won’t is the end result of a journey that took singer and bandleader John Barrett from a small town in Mississippi and sent him across the world and back home again. The music still rips, with blown-out guitars and drums that sound like bombs going off, and the melodies are catchier than ever, hollered in Barrett’s trademark yelp. But the music hits differently now, more at peace with itself, propelled by a new swagger. Say I Won’t is the record of a veteran band finding its stride and leaning into it, stripping back the excess and finding the raw core of their sound.”


Art Bergmann

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Member of the Order of Canada, Juno winner, two-time Polaris Music Prize long-listed artist … Art Bergmann has been honoured by his home country in a multitude of ways. But behind the accolades is still a man coping with the unforgiving realities of life as he enters his 70s. ShadowWalk is Bergmann’s ode to Sherri Decembrini, his beloved wife of 30 years who passed away unexpectedly in March 2022. The album’s 12 songs capture the darkness, grief and desolation that comes from such a soul crushing loss, while also offering genuine hope that life will go on. Says Art: “ShadowWalk contains songs of ethereal beauty with bits of magic found in the smoke and mists. We will all face loss in our lives. This album is for everyone who has loved, all who have lost and we, who live.”

Watch my interview with Art Bergmann HERE.


Duane Betts
Wild & Precious Life

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Wild & Precious Life offers up a timeless version of American music — a mix of blues, rock, folk, and country that could’ve blanketed the FM radio airwaves during any number of decades. It’s a modern album inspired by some of the best parts of the past, full of sharply crafted songs written in a state of deep reflection and Duane Betts’ journey toward sobriety. By the time Duane Betts began working on Wild & Precious Life — his triumphant debut solo album — he’d already spent two decades creating his own version of guitar-slinging, story-driven American rock ’n’ roll. “It felt like the right time to make something that was entirely my own vision,” he says. “This is a record that guitar players will love, but at its core, it’s really a song record. It’s an album about who I am, where I come from, and what I believe in.”


Be Your Own Pet

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Nashville’s Be Your Own Pet have made a triumphant return after nearly 15 years apart. Following a whirlwind two-year career in the late 00’s that saw the four teens release two records, become magazine cover stars and play to ravenous sold-out crowds around the world, it became clear that the flame burned too quickly and they needed to call it quits. Now, the reunited band make it equally clear they haven’t skipped a beat with their long-awaited new album.”


Black Pumas
Chronicles Of A Diamond

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “When Black Pumas made their self-titled debut in 2019, the Austin-bred duo set off a reaction almost as combustible and rapturous as their music itself. Along with earning seven Grammy nominations (including Album Of The Year), singer-songwriter Eric Burton and guitarist-producer Adrian Quesada achieved massive success as a live act, touring Europe and North and South America and delivering a transcendent show Burton aptly refers to as “electric church.” As they set to work on their sophomore album, the band broadened their palette to include a dazzling expanse of musical forms: Heavenly hybrids of soul and symphonic pop, mind-bending excursions into jazz-funk and psychedelia, starry-eyed love songs that feel dropped down from the cosmos. Wilder and weirder and more extravagantly composed than its predecessor, Chronicles Of A Diamond arrives as the fullest expression yet of Black Pumas’ frenetic creativity and limitless vision.”


Blinker The Star
Animal Math

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Animal Math, Blinker The Star’s 12th album (and fifth since 2019) finds ringleader Jordon Zadorozny loosening the reins and unleashing his inner post-punk goth on an excitable, guitar-driven outing that crackles with dark immediacy and collaborative inspiration. With the Joy Division-meets-Killing Joke-meets-Duran Duran joyride of opening track and video Like A Banshee leading the charge, the eight-song Animal Math pens a lush love letter to the dark sensuality of the ’80s. The sonic touchstones of the era are plentiful and unmistakable: Howling guitars and grinding basslines. Arpeggiated keyboards and soaring string synths. Gothy vibes and swirling sonics. Lushly layered vocals and lyrical references to banshees, druids, vampires, wolves and other creatures of the night. Bottom line: These are songs that show up at your house at midnight sporting skin-tight black PVC trousers, a frilly white shirt and sunglasses. Songs that wear entirely too much mascara and eyeliner, and have their hair teased and sprayed into a massive rat’s nest. Songs that spend their nights swanning about amid the pulsing neon lights and dry-ice clouds of a secret basement bar that can only be reached via a rain-soaked alley in the tenderloin.”


The Bohannons
Night Construction

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Headed by brothers Marty and Matt Bohannon, The Bohannons are one of America’s undiscovered musical treasures — a massively underappreciated band that has been doing it their way for more than 20 years. The brothers Bohannon, along with drummer Mike Gault and bassist Justin Colburn, have just released their latest studio album Night Construction. Split between Tennessee and Alabama — Chattanooga and Birmingham, specifically and respectively — the band emerge from post-Covid paranoia and doubt to claim what is rightfully theirs.”


The Record

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Once, when Boygenius were on a road trip in Northern California, Phoebe Bridgers asked Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus to listen to a very important song. She pushed play and got on the freeway — headed in the wrong direction. The song was Trapeze Swinger by Iron & Wine — about a dead person telling the living how he wants to be remembered. It was impossible to interrupt this 10-minute-long song. Because of how the exits were spaced, Trapeze Swinger added an hour to their travel time. Phoebe felt like an idiot. Lucy turned that drive into the song Leonard Cohen. What happens when you see an hour-long detour, not as a detour, but as part of the trip — the part where you listened to Trapeze Swinger while driving the opposite direction from your destination. Does that become the most valuable hour on the trip? Does time transform into something other than alternating “valuable” and “not valuable” hours? What if the right song can dislodge, for its duration, this piece of capitalist furniture? The humbly but honestly titled The Record started in June 2020. A week after her album Punisher came out, Phoebe sent Lucy and Julien a demo of Emily I’m Sorry and asked if they could be a band again — for the first time since those five short months in 2018, when the Boygenius EP was conceived, written, recorded, released, and toured. Nobody had wanted to be the first to ask — to make such a demand on everyone’s time. Now, Julien made a Google Drive folder named “dare I say it?” They flooded it with potential songs.”


Jaimie Branch
Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war))

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:jaimie branch never had small ideas. She always thought big. The minute you told her she couldn’t do something, or that something would be too difficult, the more determined and focused she became. And this album is big. Far bigger and more demanding than any other Fly or Die record. For this, jaimie wanted to play with longer forms, more modulations, more noise, more singing, and as always, grooves and melodies. She was a dynamic melodicist. jaimie wanted this album to be lush, grand and full of life, just as she was.”


Buck 65
Super Dope

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Alright, y’all. Things are happening. Let’s get right to it,” says Canadian hip-hop veteran Buck 65. “Having found my place and loving how it feels, I’m now making music with 100% confidence and clarity. My new album Super Dope is the next step. Time will decide how it stacks up against King Of Drums. It’s certainly a logical continuation. As I was making King Of Drums, I recognized a few things to improve upon and refine and I feel as though I did that with Super Dope.”


Buck 65
Punk Rock B-Boy

Some guys never change. Canadian hip-hop hero Buck 65 is one of them. Thankfully. The veteran rapper and beatmaker’s new album Punk Rock B-Boy — his latest in a series of stellar indie releases — is another throwback straight from the old school: Funky grooves, obscure samples, wicky-wack scratching, skits and, of course, Buck’s razor-sharp rhymes, brilliant wordplay and wickedly weird wit (at one one point he rhymes Rico Suave with microwave — by pronouncing it mee-cro-wah-vay!). Basically, it’s the next best thing to a new album from De La Soul or Beastie Boys. If you lost track of Bucky after he went indie a while back, now the time to get back in touch.”


Bush Tetras
They Live In My Head

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:The Bush Tetras have made punk music at the fringes for over four decades. Flashes of reggae, bursts of noise, guitars that rattle, shake and snake, born out of a gutter behind CBGB. The band’s first iteration lasted just a few years, from 1979 through the early ‘80s. But they respawned time and time again, contorting their sound, tweaking the vision, remaining completely singular and indispensable along the way. In the late 2010s the group — Pat Place, Cynthia Sley and Dee Pop — reformed again, releasing an EP, Take the Fall, in 2018. It was their first offering of new music in over a decade. A few years later in, 2021, they released a career-spanning box set called Rhythm and Paranoia. Around the same time, the band began working on a new record, starting writing sessions during the pandemic over Zoom. Right before the release of the box, beloved drummer Pop passed away. Determined to complete the record to honour his memory, the Tetras went into the studio to finish what they’d started, once the timing was right. They brought in a new drummer, Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, who also served as producer. Enter They Live In My Head.”


Cheater Slicks
Ill-Fated Cusses

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Cheater Slicks, the take-no-prisoners Columbus, Ohio trio, are back with the thrilling, musically diverse Ill-Fated Cusses, their first album in eight years. Like every other band on the face of the planet, Cheater Slicks saw their plans to begin recording a new album derailed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020. Singer-guitarist Tom Shannon — who is joined in the trio by his guitarist brother David and drummer-vocalist Dana Hatch — recalls, “Things were getting shut down, and we were literally a week away from doing this, and weighing all the different things, we said, ‘Let’s not do this.’ So it got shelved. It sat for about five months. But my friend here in town, Will Foster, has worked with us. We had a recording history with him. He sent me an e-mail one day and said, ‘Hey, if you want to do this record, I’m willing to make it work one way or another. We can give it a shot and see what happens.’ And we started a process of trying to figure how we would record this record.”


Chickasaw Mudd Puppies
Fall Line

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Georgia’s Fall Line is a geologic boundary marking the prehistoric shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the division between the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions of the state. Rivers below this line tend to be slower moving, larger, and easier to navigate than those above. This album was influenced by the stories, people, and sonic images from either end of the Georgia Fall Line. The coast, ancient and otherwise, is where we all grew up. It’s the crossroads. It’s where geology and geography, trade and commerce, history and the keeper of science met to discuss the mechanics of the sun lift and the sunset. Our album Fall Line is intended to navigate you deeper into these stories, people, and images seen through the lenses of The Chickasaw Mudd Puppies.”


Wild Billy Childish & CTMF
Failure Not Success

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Failure Not Sucess is the new studio album from Wild Billy Childish and CTMF. It captures Billy at his songwriting best, along with excellent covers of Richard Hell and Jimi Hendrix songs, plus a newly recorded version of Bob Dylan’s Got A Lot To Answer For.”


Circus Devils
Squeeze The Needle

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Formed in 2001, the psychedelic rock trio Circus Devils features vocalist Robert Pollard, backed by brothers Todd Tobias and Tim Tobias. For their first album in six years and 15th overall, Circus Devils are back with Squeeze The Needle, a funhouse romp full of rock ’n’ roll swagger and childlike glee. The pounding psychedelia of the single The Owl Presents… harkens back to The Doors. Mixed into the 20-track song collage are heavy rock thumpers (Street Toughs, Mama’s Got A Brand New Snake), cryptic interludes (Age Of Transfusion), and pretty acoustic pieces (Difficult Dreamer, The Joke is Over).”


This Is Crime Wave

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Fat Mike (NOFX), Sam King (Get Dead) and independent hip-hop artist Ceschi Ramos aka Codefendants recently released their debut album This Is Crime Wave on Mike’s Fat Wreck Chords imprint Bottles To The Ground. Codefendants are the breath of fresh air and the steel-toe-cap kick in the nuts music has needed for too long. It all started when King’s graffiti crew were giving tattoos and making flash art to raise money to help rapper Ramos when he was incarcerated. Months later, they met at the Gilman Street Project in Berkeley. They bonded, talking about their love of hip-hop and punk rock over a bottle of Jameson. They didn’t know it yet, but they had just started Codefendants.”

Watch my interview with Fat Mike HERE.


The Courettes
Boom! Dynamite (An Introduction To The Fabulous Courettes)

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:The Courettes (singer-guitarist Flavia Couri and drummer Martin Couri) are an explosive husband-and-wife rock duo from Denmark and Brazil who have been touring nonstop throughout Europe since 2015, bringing their perfect blend of garage-rock, ’60s girl groups, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, surf music and doo-wop to the delight of any audience even remotely interested in rock ’n’ roll. To coincide with their first North American shows, and as an introduction to the band, they released the compilation Boom! Dynamite (An Introduction To The Fabulous Courettes). The duo have released four fantastic albums on the legendary label Damaged Goods Records, each one praised far and wide, most notably the Back In Mono album in 2021, a true milestone in their career and featured in countless Best Albums of 2021 lists.”

Watch my interview with The Courettes HERE.


Rodney Crowell
The Chicago Sessions

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Rodney Crowell’s latest album The Chicago Sessions was produced by Jeff Tweedy and recorded by Tom Schick at Wilco’s Loft in Chicago. The masterful, cross-generational collaboration follows Crowell’s acclaimed 2021 album Triage and finds the Nashville veteran delivering an incisive, engaging collection that balances careful craftsmanship with joyful liberation at every turn. Sounding both fresh and familiar, it’s among Crowell’s very best work. As Tweedy puts it, “The way that Rodney writes is deeply connected to a classic era of country songwriters that I’ve always loved. In my estimation, it’s as close as I can get to working with Townes Van Zandt or Felice and Boudleaux Bryant — people who crafted songs with a very specific sensibility. And I like being near that.” While looking at the cover of The Chicago Sessions, listeners might recognize a familiar callback to Crowell’s 1978 debut, Ain’t Living Long Like This. “In a lot of ways, this album feels like that very first record to me,” Crowell reflects. “When my daughter suggested we lay the artwork out similarly, the connection made perfect sense. There’s something very simple, very innocent about it. It’s just me and the band in a room together, loose and live and having fun.”