2023 “Best of” Lists

edited December 2023 in General
A huge look at “best of” lists at Boomkat.


  • edited December 2023

    Here once again is my personal annual end of year list of favorite recordings. My sense is that the distance between my own listening and the various mainstream “best of” lists continues to grow; usually browsing other lists gives me some new finds, but that did not happen this year. I’m content with this crop of fine albums. As usual, I’ve proceeded alphabetically instead of ranking. These are picked from around 175 albums that received my attention in the form of at least one complete listen. They are the ones I most confidently predict I will keep listening to next year. The links go to streams where I could find them.

    One footnote: Transatlantic – The Final Flight: Live At L'Olympia is an album I will certainly return to, but I left it off this list because it is basically a live version of their album that topped my list last year, along with other past material. Excellent album, though.


    Bruce Cockburn – O Sun O Moon (Folk) Cockburn’s best in years is lyrical and spiritually engaged, and as usual deeply reflective about the state of the world. Eloquent, moving. Link.

    Bruce Soord – Luminescence (progressive rock) The best solo outing yet from The Pineapple Thief’s frontman, thoughtful songs with understated tunes that gradually put down deep roots. Melodic, wistful. Link


    Caterina Barbieri – Myuthafoo (electronic) More of what Barbieri does best. Which is swirling, ecstatic bursts of synthesizer sound in a constant motion that evokes both chaotic energy and fractal precision. Kinetic, soaring. Link

    Christina Vantzou – Observations, edits, a cure for restlessness (ambient/experimental) Fragments of recorded instruments, sounds, and environmental noises, each element evocative and intriguing, unfold organically like an elusive narrative. Atmospheric, mysterious. Link


    Ghost and Tape – Freeform (ambient) Delicate, spacious electronic soundscapes build on a filigree of small susurrations. Dappled, light.  Link


    Hainbach – Voice Magnetic (electronic/ambient) Gentle analog synth soundscapes encompassing a range of tones and moods. Shifting, evocative. Link


    Jeremiah Fraites and Taylor Deupree – Northern (Redux) (ambient) Fraites (co-founder of the Lumineers) adds piano meditations to Deupree’s revisiting of the electronic soundscapes from his 2006 album Northern. Peaceful, calming. Link.

    John Zorn – Nothing is as Real as Nothing (acoustic guitar trio) Another set of Zorn compositions for the virtuosic guitar trio of Bill Frisell, Julian Lage, and Gyan Riley. Gorgeous playing. Melodic, complex. Link.

    Jon Guerra – Ordinary Ways (devotional) I found this when Guerra performed at an event where I was teaching. Sonically a little reminiscent of some Sufjan Stevens to my ear – exceptional Christian devotional music. Honest, searching. Link.


    Klone - Meanwhile (metal) Good tunes, compelling songs, and an expansive sound that blows away the cobwebs. Good prog metal from France. Forceful, melodic. https://kscopemusic.bandcamp.com/album/meanwhile Link.


    Loscil and Lawrence English – Colors of Air (electronic/ambient) English’s collaboration draws loscil’s sound in a sterner direction. The drones have a presence and grandeur. Mysterious, looming.  Link.


    Morimoto Naoki – Tender (ambient) A melodic collage of fragile sounds and momentary silences creates a gorgeous web of meditative tones. One of my favorites of the year. Intimate, gentle. Link


    Neal Morse – The Dreamer, Joseph Part One (progressive rock) The first part of a two-part rock opera based on the Old Testament life of Joseph, and one of Morse’s strongest sets of songs. My favorite this year. Melodic, dramatic. Link.

    The Necks – Travel (jazz) Four long, hypnotically repetitive improvisations with a wealth of small details that create constant forward motion. One of their best. Moody, intricate. Link.


    Paul Simon – Seven Psalms (folk) Simon’s take on the Psalms is eloquent, poetic and one of the most spiritually compelling albums I’ve heard lately. Poetic, profound. Link



    Riverside – ID.Entity (progressive rock) A thematic prog album about social media that has a few clunky lyrics but a great sound drawing on many of Riverside’s strengths. Stirring, melodic. Link

    Rudy Royston’s Flatbed Buggy – Day (jazz) Languid americana-tinged jazz with the unusual lineup of drums/bass/clarinet/accordion/cello. Textured, languorous. Link


    Steven Wilson – The Harmony Codex (progressive rock) Something of a survey of Wilson’s strengths – inviting atmospherics, melodies, and riffs, moments of soaring grandeur and spacey noodling, and with the expected excellent production. Moody, engaging.  Link


    Various Artists – Tone Science Module 8: Tone Science Live (electronic) Five artists featured in earlier volumes of the Tone Science series of analog synth explorations each perform a live set, yielding two and a half hours of some of the best music in the series. Exploratory, varied. Link


    Wil Bolton - Swept (ambient) Wil Bolton released a lot of enjoyable material this year, but this album in particular drew me back for repeated listens. A breathing weave of sounds. Undulating, shifting. Link

    Wil Bolton and Francis Gri – In the Still Water (ambient) More of what Bolton does so well, but with Gri’s contributions and some gentle guitar adding another layer of texture. Twinkling, gentle. Link.

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