[sic] Magazine

Sub-Ed’s Albums & EPs Of The Year 2023

Just as you have to directly support your favourites artists, it’s becoming apparent that you have to directly support your favourite musical tipsters too. How do you find out about new music? Who do you trust? Chances are, like us, you’ll have your preferred bricks-and-mortar stores. You’ll have your favoured blogs and magazines too. So too, probably, certain locally attuned playlisters. You may even still listen to the radio in some form. You’ll, of course, have your musically astute friends too. All of these are valuable sources of information and all of them, if you don’t repay their investment in you, will eventually fade away and then you’ll be stuck, complaining that music isn’t as good as it used to be. Stuck in the year you stopped supporting the hands that feed you. Respectfully, you don’t stumble across us in the same way that it’s rare to stumble across your new favourite band. We thank you for your support.

Here then is a summary of what I consider to have been the best albums and EPs of the year – those that have stood out most from that which I’ve listened to. Some are new discoveries, some former favourites back proving they’ve still got it. The dark allure of post-punk is – as ever – never far away, so too the abrasive charms of shoegaze and noise. Crawling out of the shadows, so too a growing interest in the extreme metal variants. Dreamier, quieter moments too inevitably shone through the clouds, more experimental sounds rounding out the roster as the year wore on.

Shared credit this year goes to the Sacred Bones, Tough Love and Thrill Jockey stable for each having four entries on this list, Sacred Bones in particular for having all four of theirs very near the top and three in the top 10! Other statistical analysis shows just 87% of the artists in this top 100 entirely or partially call the US, UK and Ireland, Canada, or Australia and New Zealand home. The world now just a global village, it’s especially pleasing to Malaysia, Russia and Poland represented for the first time (no geopolitics here), Italy also turning in a remarkable three entries this year alone. Turn over enough rocks and good music abounds everywhere.

It must be said though that, as per every year, I have only one pair of ears, a set number of hours in the day and a bank balance that is far from inexhaustible, so there are, perhaps, certain omissions from the list below. Who knows what may have been, but here is what definitely was (linked where reviewed – rough genre given in brackets):

1. HEALTHRat Wars (Electro-Noise/Dream-Thrash) [Loma Vista]

Only released in early December, Rat Wars – if nothing else – is a great example of why AOTY announcements should be held off until just before Christmas. But Rat Wars is something else. LA rabble-rousers HEALTH now super-concentrate their dreamy electro-noise so it can successfully face off against thunderous thrash guitar (and contributions from Godflesh & Lamb of God). Whisper it, but Rat Wars may actually rival Get Color in its intensity and invention.

2. Lathe Of HeavenBound By Naked Skies (Post-Punk) [Sacred Bones]

You don’t hear many modern post-punks invoking the spirit of Killing Joke and it’s a bit of a mystery why given their impact. Influenced too by the authors Arthur C. Clarke and Ursula Le Guin, whose novel the monochromatic Lathe Of Heaven are named after, Bound By Naked Skies is a dystopian, at times anarchic blast of memorable guitar lines and rousing misanthropy. Like listening to Killing Joke, this is music that plants a seed in all that hear it.

3. WasherImproved Means To Deteriorated Ends (Indie/Post-Hardcore) [Exploding In Sound]

There’s a reason Washer are often called your favourite band’s favourite band. At the sweet spot of the Venn diagram where scrappy, literate indie and tense post-hardcore cosy up, the Brooklyn band are expert story-tellers and craft accessible worlds not unlike someone like Neutral Milk Hotel, only with coarser language and chords. Guitar and vocal hooks shine all the same, the recording so unpolished it has patina and that makes out heart sing.

4. FöllakzoidV (Kosmische/Techno) [Sacred Bones]

Just when you think Föllakzoid can’t go any higher (V’s predecessor was superb), the droning Chilean kosmische band punch hyper-drive with increased tempos and go stratospheric. A mesmerising four-track suite nudging the hour mark, V was produced in conjunction with German electronic producer Atom™ and it’s stacked with minimal, analogue motorik rhythms that pulse repetitively, deeeep tripping at the door of endurance techno.

5. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs PigsLand Of Sleeper (Hard-Rock/Doom) [Rocket Recordings]

By any rights, this schtick should have gotten old by now. It’s just a bunch of hairy Northern lads that should know better doing battle-jacket, toilet-circuit heavy-rock, only louder and louder for each release. Nope, with their Sabbath worship literally amped up to the max, Land Of Sleeper is arguably the best Pigsx7 album to date. As infectious as swine flu, it’s the gruff enthusiasm and good-time grooves that keep you coming back for more.

6. Model/ActrizDogsbody (Noise-Rock/Dance-Punk) [True Panther]

Blowing up alternative dancefloors with their sex- and sexuality positive, car-crash antics, Brooklyn-based Model/Actriz incorporate snarling, stop-start noise-rock into the tight coil of post-punk with thrilling effect. Too much (aright, almost all) industrial-leaning music is po-faced. Not Dogsbody. It’s in-your-face fun, excessively so to the point of illegality. How much are you enjoying life? Is your “body count as high as a mosquito”?

7. dearydeary EP (Shoegaze/Dream-Pop) [Sonic Cathedral]

So strong is this impossibly perfect, six-track debut that we’re certain if it had been a full-length it’d have placed even higher in this list. Cloudlike shoegaze/dream-pop duo deary are under the wing of Sonic Cathedral and are getting their feet under the table with impressive ease at their spiritual home. Rather than rattle off hall-of-fame greats by way of comparison, simply let those guitars and gorgeous vocal wash on over you.

8. FEWSGlass City (Post-Punk) [Welfare Sounds]

No messin’ on Glass City, the third LP from Anglo-Swed(ish) ensemble FEWS. Straightforward post-punk the order of the day, it’s front-loaded with hooks and melodies, smart guitars reverberating off all the right angles. Early traces of psychedelia have been erased, and the band sound tight and hungry after parting ways with the PIAS label. Glass City is a transparent and fragile listen, the all-encompassing record FEWS always intended to make.

9. Tim HeckerNo Highs (Drone/Avant Classical) [Kranky]

On top of his game for the dark No Highs, contemporary composer Tim Hecker uses his full array of instrumental, Avant-classical drones, pulses and alarms to stirringly evocative effect. As forceful, standout and memorable as the Canadian and his ambient greyscales have been in some time, this is a legacy record and a certain future reference point, Colin Stetson’s saxophone only ratcheting up the existential dread as it goes.

10. SextilePush (Dance-Punk/EBM) [Sacred Bones]

Massively upping their wow factor, Sextile plunge face first into the clubs of supercharged EBM, filthy BPMs, gabber, d&b, and acid-house and although Push reeks of privileged LA art-school kids playing with their first sampler and a pendrive of Y2K high energy, hard-trance stems, that doesn’t stop it from being brilliant. Breathless, sweaty and in love with everything, there’s a chance Push may sound even better on MDMA.

11. BIG|BRAVENature Morte (Sludge/Doom-Rock) [Thrill Jockey]

Unlucky not to land a top-10 slot, hard-hitting doom connoisseurs BIG | BRAVE’s switch to Thrill Jockey sees them table a spacious affair in the form of Nature Morte (the morbid French translation for “still life”), its heavy blasts flailed around cavernously in order to land killer blows. Even by their standards, this seventh album is a gloomy, weighty, and tortured encounter, Robbin Wattie’s vocal now a deeply impassioned howl.

12. she’s greenWisteria (Dream-Pop/Shoegaze) [S/R]

There’s no shortage of dreamy ‘gazers in 2024 and Minneapolis band she’s green aren’t just another one. Their swooning intangibility and crystalline guitar parts swell the heart, early stand-out singles arguably bettered by the sheer elemental flow of this follow-up EP. We hope a significant stateside stable is sniffing round to do the inevitable debut album justice; Dead Oceans, we’re looking at you (address available for royalty cheques).

13. Theee Retail SimpsLive On Cool Street (Garage-Rock/Psych) [Total Punk]

The best garage-psych of recent years has been outrageously sloppy and its fidelity questionable at best. Live On Cool Street, Theee Retail Simps’ second long-player in two years is no exception. Slowing down a touch on the reverse, side-A is pure party-band exhilaration, a reckless and whooping, late 60s-inspired sax, hand-drum and organ love-in that you wouldn’t customarily associate with the dive venues of Montreal.

14. Boris & UniformBright New Disease (Thrash/Industrial) [Sacred Bones]

Modern industrial-thrash pioneers Uniform are no strangers to a collaboration, doing wonders this year for NYC-Tokyo relations alongside huge-and-heavy specialists Boris, this ferociously rough result pure auditory corrosion. Tinnitus-baitingly loud and dripping in spittle, this is both bands at their most dangerous and the only complaint we have is that it’s all over so quickly. Call us gluttons for punishment, we guess.

15. The MenNew York City (Garage/Punk-Rock) [Fuzz Club]

A career-high, New York City is a rose-tinted paean to The Men’s hometown that reminds us of the refreshing honesty of indie-rock ‘n’ roll. Blown-out garage/punk-rock with no more complicated an aim than to put a smile on your faces, it’s an album that fizzes with melodic vitality, every scuff and scrape an unpretentious offering to living in the moment. Touchingly, however, the NYC of memory seems to be one of the only places it still exists.

16. SprainThe Lamb As Effigy Or Three Hundred And Fifty XOXOXOs For A Spark Union With My Darling Divine (Post-Hardcore/Noise) [The Flenser]

What a way to bow out! Experimental LA four-piece Sprain mic-drop with a 90-minute no-wave brute. The Lamb As Effigy isn’t just next level, it unlocks final-boss mode and does so immediately. No choruses, nor crescendos, little in the way of accepted structure. Stamina is required to even scrape the surface of the endless detail and allusions. And there’s no cheat codes to guide you; you’re on your own and, boy, do you feel small.

17. WilcoCruel Country (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Country) [dBpm Records]

As is common these days, the digital release of Cruel Country came months (2022) before the physical release (2023). And it was worth the wait. As trad a singer-songwriter as they come, Jeff Tweedy is an alt-country institution who needs little introduction, this masterful portrait of his home country a blueprint even for relatively well-known artists like Kevin Morby to follow and – no doubt – many others to come in the future.

18. Public InterestSpiritual Pollution (Post-Punk) [Erste Theke Tontrager]

If Public Interest (one of a slew of confusingly similar bands using at least one of these words in their stage name) sound familiar to some readers, it’s probably due to Chris Natividad’s work with Marbled Eye, who caught our attention back in 2019. That, or you think you’ve actually got the new FACS record on instead (see below) as the two austere, mechanical post-punk albums hail from the same stark and subtle sound palette.

19. WednesdayRat Saw God (Indie/Alt-Rock) [Dead Oceans]

There’s a lot going on here: flecks of heartland rock, quirky Gen-Z observations, Saddle Creek-style alt-country, rich character development, noisy riff-rock, love letters to small-town America, straining emo-punk, and dadaism to name but a few. Frontwoman Karly Hartzman inhabits all of the album’s disparate elements and breathes life into the whole as a single being. Sure, Rat Saw God is messy, but life is messy, and just as real.

20. ParannoulAfter The Magic (Shoegaze/Post-Rock) [Topshelf Records]

Enjoying unexpected, word-of-mouth success with his latest album, After The Magic, South Korea’s Parannoul has reached into ears around the world on the back of an explosion of interest in original and now-wave shoegaze. Weirdly, the kids are into it and it has something to do with TikTok. Much of what’s tagged ‘gaze, of course, isn’t, but this woozy, ethereal beast is, in parts, albeit one that’s uniquely dressed and delivered.

21. Chain Of FlowersNever Ending Space (Post-Punk) [Alter]

Eight years after their first, Cardiff’s Chain Of Flowers are still in thrall to the dreamiest parts of The Cure’s catalogue (even named after one of the band’s B-sides), and they are still making a very good stab of replicating them without ripping the sound off entirely. The song-writing is top drawer, but it’s the tempered sax, trumpet and tactile ambience that reassure most when Never Ending Space could have been just too on-the-nose otherwise.

22. HeartwormsA Comforting Notion EP (Post-Punk/Goth) [Speedy Wunderground]

It’d be too easy to list a number of Goth favourites, past and present, when talking about London act Heartworms, but Jojo Orme is really very good at channelling that kind of dark energy. Be her whispery or possessed on the mic, spindly on the guitar or strong on the undertow, ghoulish in her imagery or altogether more coquettish with her come-ons, it all feels authentic and that is a genuinely Comforting Notion indeed.

23. Black Belt Eagle ScoutThe Land, The Water, The Sky (Indie/Alt-Rock) [Saddle Creek]

Swimming around Saddle Creek for six years now, Katherine Paul’s latest and most confident as Black Belt Eagle Scout digs deep into her First Nation upbringing, the indie singer-songwriter landing a strikingly organic collection on which every uplifting track seems to outdo the previous. If “Inclusive Americana” ever becomes a thing, Katherine Paul may just have written its declaration of independence and constitution.

24. King Gizzard & The Lizard WizardPetrodragonic Apocalypse; Or, Dawn Of Eternal Night: An Annihilation Of Planet Earth And The Beginning Of Merciless Damnation (Thrash Metal) [KGLW]

More fool us; we thought King Gizz and thrash were a one-night-stand kinda deal. A cute if unworkable couple over the long-term. Two hotties bumping uglies for a fleeting bit of fun. Turns out they’ve been DMing ever since and Petrodragonic is the result! Once again there’s a whiff of pastiche about it all, but – holy moly – do these boys know a ripper when they write one, which they do time and again. Do we hear wedding bells?

25. WoodsPerennial (Psych-Pop) [Woodsist]

The Japanese call it shinrin-yoku: “forest bathing” – a form of ecotherapy for those burnt out by the modern world. It’s a concept the psych-pop band Woods must surely identify with, their 12th album in almost 20 years built on frontman Jeremy Earl’s babbling, organic loops and his reflection that “perennial plants and flowers are nature’s loops.” Perennial luxuriates in all of its past cycles to deliver a record that’s still very much now.

26. Divide And DissolveSystemic (Doom-Metal/Noise) [Invada]

A companion on several looong drives this summer, Systemic’s loops really burrow under the skin after repeat exposure. Don’t come expecting grinding doom riffs alone though as saxophone does much of the heavy lifting, the lyrical themes and spoken-word heavier still, electronic experimentalism suffocating any space with static and synth drones. Stand and tremble before Systemic’s maximal show of power.

27. Truth ClubRunning From The Chase (Post-Hardcore) [Double Double Whammy]

Post-hardcore remains one of the most fertile of hunting grounds for otherwise bookish indie types and you can throw Truth Club right into the mix alongside the likes of Pile and Washer (see below, see above). It’s all about balance: getting dextrous with clever-clever Wikipedia lifts and showcasing your completist record-collector catalogue via intricate guitar play, before unleashing the larynx. And, predicably, we fall for it every time.

28. Evian ChristRevanchist (Electronica/Trance) [Warp]

It’s the 20-ish year cycle of course but, yes, a trance revival is upon us. As the host of mutated trance parties for much of the last 15 years the genre never really went away for Joshua Leary, Revanchist just a natural extension of the producer’s day job. But this is out on Warp. And Evian Christ is no Alice Deejay. Chopped and spliced, sampled and smeared, this is future trance and no-one is doing it more visibly or more lovingly.

29. deathcrashLess (Post-Rock/Slowcore) [Untitled Recs]

Not much has changed since landing the #3 spot on last year’s list for deathcrash, their minimal slowcore remaining stripped back to the point of being skeletal, excarnated remains left exposed to the mercy of elemental post-rock. Songs start from nothing more than whispers and percussive taps, growing into something emotional, powerful and raw. Tension and release, inhale and exhale. Introspection and grief, ebb and flow.

30. PrisonUpstate (Psych-Rock/Noise) [Drag City]

With just five songs in 90 minutes, experimental psych/noise collective Prison are not for the wary. An endurance jam-band formed from veteran players on the NYC scene, you get plenty of freak-out distortion, guttural blues, blasts of hard-psych chug, and (too much for some) disorientating chatter … occasionally all at the same time. Live, Prison have a reputation for being immersive; on record, Upstate is a not insurmountable, artistic challenge.

31. The Vacant LotsInteriors (Post-Punk/New Wave) [Fuzz Club]

Interiors is The Vacant Lots’ fifth record and it may be their best. Back in 2014, the New York duo had a more guitar-based interpretation of post-punk and infused it with psychedelic fuzz. It was good and sounded on-trend. Now, The Vacant Lots are setting the trend with their evolution into dark electro-punk minimalism. While they may not have quite “sold their guitars and bought turntables”, their flip is coldly European and entirely excellent.

32. SpotlightsAlchemy For The Dead (Doom/Sludge Rock) [Ipecac]

Be under no illusion; Alchemy For The Dead is a heavy listen. Almost every loud categorisation of rock and metal has been thrown at the New York band, but little sticks … except for sludge, which eventually gloops down slowly as it too succumbs to gravity. Spotlights may run a broad church, but that makes them broadly appealing. Be they melodic and/or sinister, Spotlights may be sitting on a break-out album with cross-over potential.

33. Yo La TengoThis Stupid World (Indie/Alt-Rock) [Matador]

It’s 2023 and Yo La Tengo are sounding more like Yo La Tengo with every passing year. This Stupid World is their 17th studio album and it’s not a round-up of their best-bits; it’s not even more than the sum of its parts – it’s the exact sum of its parts: the good, the bad, and – well, YLT don’t do ugly, but they do, occasionally, do noisy and with that comes a reminder that consistency is key and there are few that do it better or more satisfyingly.

34. The TubsDead Meat (Jangle-Pop/Indie-Rock) [Trouble In Mind]

Coincidentally wearing a Joanna Gruesome t-shirt as this is written just confirms how the stars align for Dead Meat, the debut LP from The Tubs. Featuring Owen Williams of that band, along with various members of Sniffany & The Nits (also worth checking out), there’s nothing fancy here; Dead Meat is just catchy, shambling, 80s indie-rock done to perfection, which would have been charming John Peel’s pants clean off on his radio show.

35. Forest SwordsBolted (Electronica/Dub) [Ninja Tune]

Ostensibly, Bolted is a continuation of the two previous Forest Swords albums. You’d certainly not mistake it for the work of anyone else, such is the strength of Matthew Barnes’ signature dub-warped electro. And, yet, the devil is in the detail. A cool wind blows through Bolted rustling chains and chimes, but two elements of a rich hinterland of sound design that purposefully sounds painful as it stutters through some desolate landscape.

36. Full Of Hell & NothingWhen No Birds Sang (Grindcore/Shoegaze) [Closed Casket]

An unlikely match-up to the outsider, perhaps, but one that pays dividends. Readers of these pages will already know fuzzy shoegaze/alt-rock band Nothing, but hard/grindcore outfit Full Of Hell are new even to us, despite having form for teaming up with noise/metal bands we do like: Merzbow and The Body. For these bands together to make a 9/11 concept album this respectful, serene (at times), and well thought through is remarkable.

37. LasaelFoghorn EP (Noise/Industrial-Rock) [Ramber Records]

Disciples of the Swans school of noise-rock, Milan four-piece Lasael reflect an uneasy relationship with faith, bemoan the shallow modern world, embrace death, and double-down on schizophrenic self-examination. A collection of industrial rhythms, tense string drone, and sledgehammer drums, Foghorn is a near-religious experience that speaks in howled tongues, chainsaw synth crawling out of the churning doom like maggots.

38. Anohni & The JohnsonsMy Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross (Singer-Songwriter) [Rough Trade]

A [sic] magazine AOTY winner as far back as 2009, Anohni (then Antony) has gotten the band back together after a long time apart. Her otherworldly vocal turns soulful, near gospel, her songwriting retreading climate concerns and addressing transphobia more directly than ever before. As personal a work as they come, Anohni here lies humbly, prostrate in activism so that others may carry the fight forward over her bridging back.

39. Odonis OdonisICON EP (Post-Punk/Darkwave) [Felte]

A veritable who’s who of collaborators join Odonis Odonis on their six-track ICON EP, “icons” – if you will – in the shape of A Place To Bury Strangers, Suuns, Tobacco, Terror Bird, Actors, and Patriarchy. Despite playing to each of their guests’ strengths, Odonis Odonis don’t let any of them dominate, their own brand of sexy, darkwave/post-punk throwing down the gauntlet in front of their collaborators: challenge accepted six-times over.

40. AutobahnEcstasy Of Ruin (Post-Punk) [Tough Love]

Once more into the gloom with Autobahn: foot down, high-beam and wipers on. With a change of gears to drum-machine percussion and with the inclusion of some thin beats, this is a leaner, more dynamic version of themselves though. The drugs haven’t decided in which direction the band are heading yet however: the euphoric amphetamine jack-hammers of “Silver”, or the dribbling, crusty agitprop of the ranting “Class War”.

41. BullyLucky For You (Garage/Alt-Rock) [Sub Pop]

In a year when grunge broke (again), Bully – the sometimes-grunge band on Sub Pop – went the other direction, cashing out while the resurgent stock was high and, more importantly, still sounded credible. Sure, Lucky For You has its clean – almost poppy – moments as Alice Bognanno comes over all bubblegum (see the duet with Soccer Mommy), but there’s a fuzzy bite and emotional heft to the album that’s pure alt-rock nostalgia.

42. Purling HissDrag On Girard (Psych/Fuzz-Rock) [Drag City]

Today’s incarnation of Purling Hiss has Mike Polizee and the gang at their most free-wheelin’, his long-haired jam-band resolutely outta the basement and not scuttling back in. The riffs remain, the fuzz on friendly form and, you know what, it’s fun; it’s easy, just some bros kicking back, pounding a few beers and getting wild with their axes (euphemism unintended). There are definitely worse American Dreams to hold dear these days.

43. TzusingGreen Hat (Electronica/Experimental) [PAN]

PAN are putting out some fascinating electro/audio experiences recently. Last year we were spellbound by Pan Daijing’s digitally operatic doom, this year by the Malaysia-born, Shanghai- and Taipei-based Tzusing’s revelatory take on Eastern techno, the industrial meeting the animalistic, the regionally folkloric meeting the all-too-general human condition, anxious self-examination ending in a full-blown panic attack.

44. The Side EyesWhat’s Your Problem? (Garage-Punk) [In The Red]

With all 12 tracks done in under 20 minutes, SoCal punks The Side Eyes haven’t chilled out at all since their 2017 debut. This confrontational follow-up is fast, loud and snotty, but it doesn’t treat itself too seriously, despite tackling serious subjects thanks to the fragile and fiery performance of frontwoman Astrid McDonald, who takes on all-comers with a glint in her eye, her tongue in her cheek, and a hardened load in her gloves.

45. EmptysetAsh EP (Doom Techno/Industrial Drone) [Subtext]

Bristolian sub-bass botherers Emptyset are back and, recent purely textural soundscapes binned, haven’t sounded so intimidating in years. Isolated rattles are lost to pregnant echo while the hint of a beat thrums from creaking tone generators. Super-low frequencies vibrate ever cell and synapse, before lurching into fragments of decayed soundsystem techno and the deep resonations of brutalist architecture in flames.

46. Emperor ZeroNights Of The Hunter EP (Post-Punk/Noise) [Ramber Records]

Originally recorded in the Bunker – a notorious venue in Salford that has since mutated into the White Hotel nightclub – Nights Of The Hunter strips the rust from the shutters. Angry-wasp distortion and sprechgesang invoke the horrors of the Pol Pot regime alongside perverse lifts from Hitler’s speeches, crunching guitars soaring poetically from the squalor. With dawn still a long way off, it’s time to give yourself to the night.

47. Hania RaniOn Giacometti (Neo-Classical/Ambient) [Gondwana]

We don’t include classical-leaning releases in this annual list often, but Hania Rani is no run-of-the-mill contemporary composer. Having previously written for strings and electronics, On Giacometti – the soundtrack to a documentary film about the sculptor – is led by her impossibly pretty piano and also features meditative cello work by Dobrawa Czocher (whose own 2023 LP, Dreamscapes, is also good value). This is singular, spine-tingling stuff.

48. Throw Down BonesThree (Industrial/Kosmische) [Fuzz Club]

No prizes for guessing how many Throw Down Bones records there now are! What the Italian trio may lack in titular creativity they compensate for these days with wild kosmische rhythms that flirt with outright electro repetition before overuse sees them crust over with hard, industrial befoulment. After tragically losing a founding member in a motorbike accident back in 2019, their complete embrace of the darkness means that much more.

49. Cable TiesAll Her Plans (Punk) [Poison City]

Punks, especially punks that draw their inspiration from the old-school, are already on the edge. Add to this a rowdy, Aussie pub-rock edge and a first-wave, fringe-goth factor thanks to Jenny McKechnie’s uncanny vocal and you’ve something combustible on your hands. Pity they’re all of a sudden bound by Cable Ties, who – now on their third album – are becoming really quite domineering … if you’re into that kind of thing.

50. Rat ColumnsBabydoll (Dream/Jangle-Pop) [Tough Love]

Calling all of New York City, San Francisco and Perth, WA home, straddling continents comes just as fluidly to David West as does the melding of musical styles, and the indistinct intersection of dream- and jangle-pop that West inhabits as Rat Columns is one that is not exploited enough, saccharine though it can be. Get it right though, as West so often has over the last decade, and you end up with a warm, pillowy delight like Babydoll.

The best of the rest (no particular order):

The C.I.A.Surgery Channel (Electro-Punk) [In The Red]
Fucked UpOne Day (Hardcore/Alt-Rock) [Merge]
The Murder CapitalGigi’s Recovery (Post-Punk/New Wave) [Human Season]
MhaolAttachment Styles (Post-Punk/Noise) [Tulle]
PileAll Fiction (Post-Hardcore) [Exploding In Sound]
ShameFood For Worms (Neo Post-Punk) [Dead Oceans]
GnoomesAx Ox (Kosmische/Techno) [Rocket Recordings]
Ulrika SpacekCompact Trauma (Post/Dream-Punk) [Tough Love]
boygeniusThe Record (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Country) [Interscope]
Katie GatelyFawn / Brute (Electronica/Experimental-Pop) [Houndstooth]
The Reds, Pinks & PurplesThe Town That Cursed Your Name (Singer-Songwriter/Indie-Pop) [Tough Love]
The NationalFirst Two Pages Of Frankenstein (Literate/Indie-Rock) [4AD]
Rose City BandGarden Party (Psych-Rock/Alt-Country) [Thrill Jockey]
HMLTDThe Worm (Math/Art-Punk) [Lucky Number]
Liturgy93696 (Black Metal) [Thrill Jockey]
ChasmsGlimpse Of Heaven (Darkwave/Dream-Pop) [Felte]
Mandy, IndianaI’ve Seen A Way (Electronica/Industrial) [Fire Talk]
Ist IstProtagonists (Goth/Post-Punk) [Kind Violence]
ProtomartyrFormal Growth In The Desert (Post-Punk) [Domino]
FACSStill Life In Decay (Post-Punk) [Trouble In Mind]
SquidO Monolith (Post-Punk/Experimental) [Warp]
Lorelle Meets The ObsoleteDatura (Post-Punk/Experimental) [Sonic Cathedral]
Brown SpiritsSolitary Transmissions (Psych-Rock/Kosmische) [Soul Jazz]
Esben & The WitchHold Sacred (Indie/Dream-Pop) [Nostromo]
Ritual HowlsVirtue Falters (New Wave/Goth) [Felte]
Midwife & Vyva MelinkolyaOrbweaving (Dream-Metal) [The Flenser]
Holiday GhostsAbsolute Reality (Garage-Rock/Indie-Pop) [FatCat]
bdrmmI Don’t Know (Dream-Pop/Shoegaze) [Rock Action]
GELOnly Constant (Hardcore Punk) [Convulse]
SwansThe Beggar (Experimental Rock) [Young God]
Grian ChattenChaos For The Fly (Singer-Songwriter) [Partisan]
Feeble Little HorseGirl With Fish (Dream/Fuzz-Pop) [Saddle Creek]
LifeguardDressed In Trenches (Alt/Noise-Rock) [Matador]
Treeboy & ArcNatural Habitat (Post-Punk) [Clue Records]
Carlton MeltonTurn To Earth (Space-Rock/Drone) [Agitated]
Catatonic SunsCatatonic Suns (Alt/Psych-Rock) [Agitated]
Being DeadWhen Horses Would Run (Garage-Rock) [Bayonet]
Echo LadiesLilies (Dream-Pop/Shoegaze) [Rama Lama/Gazehop]
Flat WormsWitness Marks (Garage-Punk) [God?]
Sonic JesusBadway (Psych-Rock) [Don Rhajin]
OnyonLast Days On Earth (Garage-Rock/Psych) [Trouble In Mind]
One Little AtlasWayfarer (Dream-Pop/Electronica) [Ramber Records]
Maple GliderI Get Into Trouble (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Folk) [Partisan]
FearingDestroyer (Post-Punk) [Profound Lore]
bar italiaThe Twits (Indie/Slacker-Rock) [Matador]
Voice ActorFake Sleep (Experimental/Sound Collage) [Stroom]
Diamond GrinderExpectations (Folk-Rock) [Perpetual Doom]
Dead TimesDead Times (Experimental/Black Metal) [Thrill Jockey]
NorrisetteWeird Party EP (Experimental/Hyper-Pop) [S/R]
Nerver & Chat PileBrothers In Christ EP (Noise/Sludge-Punk) [Reptilian]

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