Hey, Ily’s Favorite albums of 2023

Posted: by The Editor

Caleb Haynes fronts Hey, Ily (who just dropped a great Christmas song) and Fly Over States, and he stopped by to let us know his five favorite albums of 2023. Read those below along with his thoughts on each!

She’s Green – Wisteria

Dense, melancholic, and gorgeous, as all shoegaze should be. This pick might be considered cheating; this is an EP, not a record, but honestly…who gives a frick? One thing I think a lot of recent shoegaze bands tend to miss out on, amongst the wall of sound and atmosphere, is the pop sensibilities in the genres origins. Sure, you can cram your song full of reverb and guitar effects, but what does it matter if it wasn’t a strong tune to begin with? That’s where She’s Green excels. Masterfully-crafted and haunting ballads, featuring perfect vocal melodies reinforced by countless layers of guitars, strings, and fuzz all come together to create one of the most captivating shoegaze records I’ve heard in a long time!

Home Is Where – The Whaler

There’s not a whole lot I can say about this one that hasn’t already been said by folks who are smarter and more articulate than me. Everything they say about The Whaler is true, though. It’s imagery is intense and disturbing, it’s energy is biting in even it’s most fragile moments, and the sound is blanketed by a nostalgic tape-like warmth, complimentary of producer Jack Shirley.

Exciting!!Excellent!! – You Will Watch Me Die

This pick MAY be a bit biased, seeing as how Jas (frontwoman of Exciting!!Excellent!!) is a very great friend of mine, but I just cannot help but discuss this record. The instrumentals are filled to the brim with ear-worm synthlines, enforced with jangly midwest emo guitars, and topped with pop-punk tinged vocal layers There is something to be said about the fact that it seems the only real instruments on this record are the vocals and guitar, yet there’s an emotional energy that shines through as if the chiptune elements themselves are passionate band members. If you’re reading this, Jas, never stop being you!

Billy Woods & Kenny Segal – Maps

One thing I’ve realized this year is that I listen to WAY too much guitar-based music. It’s not like I never listen to anything else, I can just do a much better job on keeping up with other genres, especially hip-hop. For example, I almost let this record completely slip by me, which I’m glad I didn’t because this happened to be one of the most inspiring records of the year. Kenny Segal’s production effortlessly combines jazz samples with dark, warm, and at times even industrial textures, topped with loose-fitting boom bap-flavored drums. Billy Woods creates verses that are unsettling and bleak, yet at times are interrupted by moments of optimism.

Wednesday – Rat Saw God

Huge shocker, I know. You’ve more than likely seen this record on every single year-end list online, but seriously, why wouldn’t you? Don’t get me wrong, bands trying to replicate that ’90s fuzzy indie-sleaze sound are not rare. What IS rare, though, is when a band can not only avoid sounding like a watered-down version of this era, but also add in their own creative spin. In the case of Rat Saw God, this comes in the form of complex chord progressions, unpredictable dynamic changes, and storytelling that I can only describe as painfully and beautifully human. Rat Saw God is a badass record by a badass band.

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