The Alt’s Top Releases of 2023 (page 2)



PAGE 1 (#55 – #31) – PAGE 2 (#30 – #11) – PAGE 3 (#10 – #1 + Award Winners)

30) Jpegmafia & Danny Brown Scaring The Hoes

Indulge me for a moment as I make a terrible video game analogy. You know how in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, when you throw a bunch of seemingly random ingredients (restless crickets, hylian rice, rushrooms, things of that nature) into a big stone pot over a hot fire…and they start dancing around in the pan while a kind of clanging, metallic beat plays…and it’s a little weird but also definitely a bop…and then you end up with delicious food to eat at the end? That’s Scaring the Hoes, to me. On this collaborative LP, two idiosyncratic MCs who helped define the previous decade of alternative hip hop—that would be JPEGMafia and Danny Brown—join forces over JPEGMafia’s proudly bizarre production for 36 minutes of rap anarchy. Hyperactive samples of NSYNC and Kelis crash into industrial drums and snippets of gospel music, and both rappers’ flows dart in, out, and around the chaotic beats like they’re running agility drills. “This that irregular wave,” JPEGMafia intones over broken jazz piano on “Jack Harlow Combo Meal.” True, but it sure sounds fun to surf. – Molly Mary O’Brien

29) Cigarette Camp – Chalk

cigarette camp chalk

The Bandcamp tags for Chalk are as instructive as any description I could give. They include Dillinger Four, Lookout Records, and Crimpshrine. If those words mean nothing to you, all it means is pop-punk with more of an emphasis on punk. Plenty of people have taken those base influences over the years, but Cigarette Camp, to me, feels like a supercharged version of an older style of pop-punk, packing ten songs in less than 10 minutes. It takes a similar approach as Joyce Manor, only repeating a part once or twice. It invites you to replay it repeatedly, reminding you that you are listening to the music equivalent of fast food. The words almost become secondary on my repeat listens. It is the delivery of certain phrases on “Station” that keep me returning. Or it is the throwaway hardcore two-step part on “Mattress” that grabs me. Or other times it is the 25-second word salad of “Lately.” I dare you to get to the end of Chalk and not feel compelled to give it another go. – Hugo Reyes

28) Liquid Mike – Self Titled

liquid mike

Bandcamp has the single greatest feature of any social media to date: a feed where you can see what music is being purchased by the people you follow. This is where I first saw the Liquid Mike album–in my Bandcamp feed, purchased by none other than Buffalo emo legends Del Paxton (Go Bills). Everyone I’ve shared it with loves it. It’s surgically likable. It’s 11 songs in 18 minutes of nothing but good vibes and sticky hooks. No matter what your flavor of pop, power pop, or pop punk–Superchunk, Superdrag, Sum 41, or Weezer–there’s something on the Liquid Mike album to scratch that itch. The riffs are endlessly replayable, familiar, warm and fuzzy and chunky without feeling like a retread. Some shit is timeless, you know? Liquid Mike is helmed by lead singer and songwriter Mike Maple, but the band is a collaborative process. Songs are churned out fast and frequent, and recorded in much the same fashion. To me, the music really does sound that way, like it was being written as a 12 pack was busted open and recorded by the time the last can was crushed. It should be played with the windows down. It should be played as loud as humanly possible. Liquid Mike hive, we ride. – Keegan Bradford


dazy otherbody

Starting out as a few singles posted online as James Goodson recorded them, Dazy’s discography has slowly and naturally expanded, with those singles and a few EPs eventually being collected as MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD, followed by a debut full-length OUTOFBODY. While Dazy largely kept the foot on the gas with quick tempos and short run times on OUTOFBODY, there’s more of a dreamlike swirl to the tunes on OTHERBODY—this year’s companion EP—particularly “Tucked Inside My Head” and “ESTAO,” the second of which is among the best of the Dazy tracks so far. As is closer “Always In Between,” which cranks the energy up higher than any other point on the EP. There’s a purity to these tracks packed with hooks and fuzz that helps to make them feel more like an organic continuation of the Dazy project than just some b-sides left off OUTOFBODY. – Aaron Eisenreich

26) Slow Pulp – Yard

slow pulp yard

When an album is described as ‘pleasant,’ it generally means one of two things. The first is that it’s enjoyable but inoffensive, making little impression after a playthrough; the latter is that it’s comforting and more importantly malleable, the sort of thing you can throw on no matter what mood you’re in and enjoy. Slow Pulp’s 2020 LP Moveys, unfortunately, mostly fell into the former category; their sophomore album Yard is the second. It’s one of the most replayable albums of 2023, from the fizzy, fuzzy run of “Doubt,” “Cramps,” and “Slugs”—one of the best three-song groupings on an album this year—to the violin-swaddled ballad “Carina Phone 1000” and the sun-soaked highlight “Broadview,” flecked with pedal steel, harmonica, and banjo. Yard manages to be broad enough to validate however you feel while still sounding intimate enough to be wholly your own. – Zac Djamoos

25) Militarie Gun – Life Under the Gun

militairie gun life under the gun

OOH! OOH! If you know, you know—Ian Shelton’s infectious signature shout can be heard all over Life Under The Gun, Militarie Gun’s debut LP. While the band has been grinding it out in the hardcore scene for the past three years with numerous EPs under their belt, their first full-length steps it up, with songs that are catchier and hookier than ever. The album crosses over from hardcore to punk to alt-rock; the entire tracklist is packed with short songs that explode. The lead single, “Do It Faster,” remains a perfect one minute and forty-seven second energy burst. – Madison Van Houtan

24) Fust – Genevieve

genevieve fust

Genevieve is a record of specifics, of people and places. Throughout the 40 minute runtime of Fust’s second LP, frontman Aaron Dowdy takes us through a tour through “Family Country,” from California to New England, Bridge Street to Fourth, introducing us to Sarah Lee, John and Angel, Jimmy and the silent crew, and a host of other characters. It gives Genevieve a lived-in feeling, like catching up with an old friend. The music, too, is familiar, mining the sounds of ‘70s folk in a distinctly indie rock milieu (it helps that he’s aided by MJ Lenderman and Xandy Chelmis of Wednesday, Michael Cormier-Leary of Friendship and Hour, and Indigo de Souza). It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been on a Pennsylvania Train or don’t know where Silent City is–Dowdy’s the guide, and he renders his world in such detail it feels like coming home. – Zac Djamoos

23) The Maine – Self Titled

Flipping through the Arizona-rockers long career, there isn’t much The Maine cannot do. As one settles into their self-titled record, the sonic blend of alt-rock, new wave, disco-synth, and ambient pop shouldn’t work well together. Thanks to Colby Wedgewood’s grittier, moody production and the band’s determined mindset heading into the creative process, this album proves they can. The Maine is a collective triumph of everything they’ve evolved into over 15 years while still holding on to the roots that have firmly kept the group consistent. To still drop a record people like listening to this long into your career is a tough feat, but every record cycle The Maine continues to make it seem easy. – Hope Ankley

22) Petey – USA


I first heard of Petey when my friends sent me his Insta videos. Yes, he is one of those guys that makes that niche of comedy videos where one person plays every character. But if you have my offbeat sense of humor, his are particularly funny. When I first heard Petey “the band” I was intrigued and listened to their whole discography on Spotify before I realized it was the same person. Yeah, I’m a dope, but that’s an easy mistake to make, because in many ways Petey the band is different from his insta comedian self. On this record there is rarely a joke at all, just danceable alt rock. Sure sometimes a lyric has a bit of dark humor, but USA isn’t a zany silly album. It’s mostly made up of fun-to-scream lyrics about being disenchanted with America, growing up in the suburbs, and being depressed and anxious (who can relate). But as you listen more, you can find in his work the things that make his comedy successful: he is witty, he’s able to set a scene and tell a story within a few lines, and he knows when to turn your expectations on their head. This dude is an artist, and in any medium he touches he has something to say. Also, maybe most importantly, the songs rock. – Henderson Cole

21) Slaughter Beach, Dog – Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling

slaughter beach, dog

With each new album release, Slaughter Beach, Dog redefines their sound while keeping their gift of strong lyricism and storytelling. I first heard songs from Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling while sitting on a patch of grass by a lake in Kingston in early July 2022. I witnessed Jake Ewald sing them acoustically with a guitar and harmonica strapped around his neck, and when this album was released digitally, I was able to relive those memories of that summer evening. This folky country-style album is by far my favorite by the band to date, and I can’t wait to be surprised in the future. – Kim Luciano

20) Taking Meds – Dial M for Meds

taking meds dial m for meds

Walk with me: in 1999, the Promise Ring release Very Emergency, boiling down their sugar-rush emo to a sticky syrup of only the hookiest elements. At the time, it receives a mix of temperate praise from some and disappointment from others, who resented the departure from their 1996 debut. The Promise Ring close out the year by touring alongside Burning Airlines, led by J Robbins of Jawbox who produced Very Emergency, as well as Everynight Fire Works by Hey Mercedes, the poppy Braid offshoot. All of these bands are treated as side projects, and all of these bands have released classic material that ranks alongside their primary projects. We’ve lost recipes. The ability to alchemize complex post-hardcore and math rock into compelling pop music has vanished, washed away by the emo-to-pop-punk pipeline that birthed (and eventually killed) Warped Tour. At least it seemed that way, until Dial M for Meds. Taking Meds’s discography to date traces the arc of J Robbins-helmed projects from ‘99 through the early aughts. Their 2020 EP The Meds You Deserve and 2021’s Terrible New from Wonderful Men are blistering post-hardcore full of dizzying guitar interplay. These records are fucking bruisers. And there’s Dial M for Meds, an excellent (possibly better) album destined to be temporarily misunderstood—just like Very Emergency and Mission: Control!—as being “lighter” or somehow lesser compared to earlier, angrier records. It’s hooks-forward, for sure, and there’s less grit, less sand in the gears. But what this album accomplishes isn’t slight by any means. Dial M for Meds is destined to be rediscovered and rightly praised. I could list all the reasons: the irresistible chorus of “Memory Lane”; the stacked riffs in “Outside,” one ascending as the other descends; every sizzling second of “The Other End,” a song that in any just universe would be soundtracking a movie about riding dirtbikes and throwing shit into the river. – Keegan Bradford

19) Paramore, This Is Why

The announcement of This Is Why, Paramore’s sixth album after a long hiatus, sent the internet into a tailspin. Paramore once again pivoted their sound into something new: jumpy, post-punk riffs and a modern sound influenced by Bloc Party and alt-rock. Loaded with post-punk riffs and a more modern sound, This Is Why is front-loaded with singles like “This Is Why” and “Running Out of Time.” But Hayley Williams and co. really find their groove on the second half of the album, when tracks like “Figure 8” and “Crave” combine their new sound with raw emotion and angst. – Madison Van Houten

18) Greg Mendez Greg Mendez

greg mendez

Greg Mendez’s songwriting is so clear and precise that his self-titled record plays out like a collection of snapshots. Mendez paints pictures of chain smoking in the streets where Juggalos hang out, jumping out of the bathroom window to avoid the cops during a raid, spending a “lonely night” with his father amidst “blood red and gold” halls, sweating on the city streets and hoping to not see a familiar name in an obituary, and—in one case—of an actual photograph where he looks like he’s having a good time even though he is not. In an interview with The Alternative from earlier this year, Mendez said he “built the songs up from the acoustic/vocal takes, which were done live. Everything was tracked to tape except drums.” Limiting his ability to save multiple takes, this setup “made it easier to be intentional and decisive” in what was put to tape. The result is just over twenty minutes of tunes that are equal parts heartwarming and heart-wrenching. – Aaron Eisenreich

17) Olivia Rodrigo – GUTS


After 2021’s SOUR, a debut album so potently angsty it had people in their thirties and forties arguing for weeks about whether they were allowed to relate to music made by teenagers, expectations for Olivia Rodrigo’s second album were high. She delivered, and made it look easy: GUTS, her second close collaboration with producer Dan Nigro, shuffles ‘90s-leaning alt rock bangers (“Get Him Back!,” “Bad Idea Right?”) with bittersweet ballads like the folky “Lacy,” corkscrewing through an emotional roller coaster of its own design. “Vampire” is the undeniable cabaret-pop centerpiece, with Rodrigo’s unsmudged soprano soaring effortlessly at heights the rest of us will need to scream to reach when we inevitably sing it at karaoke. – Molly Mary O’Brien

16) Home Is Where – The Whaler 

home is where the whaler

The Whaler by Home Is Where has a knack of combining emo and mid-2000s blog rock. Intended to be the liminal space between America’s own undoing and the choices we all made to ignore it the past twenty years, there’s an unsteady air that permeates the record. As The Whaler opens into a solid sonic and songwriting variety, one digs their heels into a blender of electric power not afraid to shift gears between its softer and harder elements. The album rules and definitely captures all the potential Home is Where has, as The Whaler proves they’ve fully found their footing in the emo scene. If you like early The Decemberists, you’ll love this. – Hope Ankley

15) Superviolet – Infinite Spring


Surprise release the sixth album as the greatest rock’n’roll band” is the cheeky type of lyric that makes Superviolet’s debut such an exciting pivot from Steven Ciolek’s former sound. Infinite Spring is stunning, hopeful, and punchy with its twangy fingerpicking. It balances well with upbeat riffs that build on the tension of figuring life out, all meshed with Ciolek’s distinct voice, one that sounds like he’s giving every note everything he’s got. Some lyrics have a much softer approach in some songs, but as a whole, Infinite Spring beckons in a way that feels deeply Midwest and unapologetically personal. – Ryleigh Wann

14) Diners Domino

diners domino

DOMINO, the latest and best album from winsome LA pop act Diners, is their first as a full-fledged power pop act with Mo Troper on the faders. Lead singer Blue Broderick has always delivered weightless tunes that manage to pull from classics like the Beach Boys and Nilsson while still sounding demure, uninterested in reveling in their own excellence. The arrangements are deceptively simple; every song has dozens of small, perfect moments tucked in unobtrusively. Often, the end of a line is punctuated by a catchy little bass lick that happens once and is never repeated. The two lead guitars in “Painted Pictures” engage in a badass call and response (played by Troper and frequent collaborator Brenden Ramirez). Broderick often arrives at the chorus with a simple question; she’s more interested in framing the questions than definitely answering them: “So what would I want it for? / So what would it do?”; “Ooh, goes on and on / Can I live up to it?”; “It’s sailing in the night / Along the corners of my eye / I wonder when I’m gonna get it right.It might feel slight if the questions themselves weren’t so consequential. There’s probably a lot of answers, but if you want to get anywhere, you’ve gotta learn to ask the right questions. Not every conclusion is a shrug, either. The chorus of album centerpiece “The Power” is a moment of crystallized affirmation, an answer to the questions that don’t yet have answers: “It ain’t too late to understand, too late to try / Too late to recognize the power that’s inside.” – Keegan Bradford

13) Yo La Tengo – This Stupid World

yo la tengo

Almost 40 years and Yo La Tengo still has it. This Stupid World was released in February and rightly received critical acclaim. The Hoboken legends came back with their 17th studio album and their first self-produced album. After a year of touring the US and Europe, Yo La Tengo finished 2023 with their annual residency at Bowery Ballroom with an eclectic group special guests like The Feelies, Mets Radio Broadcaster Howie Rose, and Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. – Chris Lepore

12) Mitski The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We

mitski the land is inhospitable and so are we

After perfecting ‘80s-indebted pop over her two most recent LPs, 2018’s Be the Cowboy and 2022’s underrated Laurel Hell, Mitski planned to retire; instead, her seventh LP is a hard left turn—and possibly the best work of her career. The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We strips away the synths that lent color to her last two albums, and in their place she works with a choir and an orchestra. These songs feel both haunted and haunting, dusty chamber-pop vignettes of silent birds, lonely holidays, ravenous mosquitos; as good as Mitski’s bangers are, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We is a reminder she never needs to lean on a hook to write a memorable song. – Zac Djamoos

11) Heart Attack Man – Freak of Nature

heart attack man freak of nature

Heart Attack Man’s album Freak of Nature came out early in 2023, but it definitely stuck with me throughout the year. Eric and the gang released a standout album, seamlessly blending raw pop-punk energy with introspective and boundary-pushing lyrics, while also seeing the band push beyond their comfort zone to go in a quieter direction for parts of the album. Much like 2019’s incredible Fake Blood and 2021’s EP Thoughtz and Prayers, the band dynamically fuses punchy riffs underscored by a pounding rhythmic section, adding raw and unapologetic vocals to create a unique sound. Lyrically, Eric Egan is fearless, showcasing weirdo fuck-you anthems alongside vulnerable songs about depression, fear, and isolation, all while maintaining the sociopolitical engagement fans of the band have always admired. Freak of Nature not only showcases the band’s expanding musical power, but also delves into themes of identity and existentialism, making it a compelling addition to the band’s growing discography. – David Barron


PAGE 1 (#55 – #31) – PAGE 2 (#30 – #11) – PAGE 3 (#10 – #1 + Award Winners)

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