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Post-Punk.com — The Best Of 2023

Another year is over. We made it! Somehow, we’ve tumbled through the vortex of time and landed at the end of 2023. Give yourself a pat on the back; you’ve survived another trip around the sun, and this year, bizarrely elastic in its passage, seemed to stretch on forever yet zipped by in a flash. And, in a plot twist that none of us saw coming, it turned out to be a veritable treasure trove of musical releases.

And I begrudgingly say this, as a former New Yorker and Berliner, but Los Angeles has firmly established itself as a formidable contender in the global post-punk festival scene, effortlessly rivaling the traditional strongholds of Europe. The city, known for its perpetual sunshine (you know, the perfect place for a Goth), now also beams with the sunburnt glow of two pivotal music festivals: Darker Waves and Cruel World. The latter marked the triumphant return of Siouxsie to the U.S., with a performance so electrifying the festival had to be evacuated before she could take the stage. (But come on guys, NYC needs a festival like this, too — LA shouldn’t have all the fun!)

This year was a testament to the enduring spirit and adaptability of post-punk, synthpop, and darkwave, genres that continue to evolve and captivate new generations and even cross over into the mainstream. In this evolving landscape, we’ve seen a surge of artists not just reviving but redefining these sounds. It’s a surreal time these days where the nostalgic echoes of the past meet the innovative visions of the present, resulting in a period that could very well be remembered as a new golden age of post-punk music.

And just as L.A. has seamlessly blended its sunny disposition with the typically gloomy aesthetic of post-punk, the music of 2023 has interwoven the familiar with the avant-garde, presenting a year of releases that are as surprising as they are gratifying.

Nuovo Testamento, a band that has consistently proven its mettle, delivered ‘Love Lines,’ a record where each track shone with the potential of a hit single. Their ability to consistently produce high-caliber music has not gone unnoticed, making them a standout act of the year. Then there was Slowdive’s ‘everything is alive,’ a release that reminded everyone why they are revered icons in the shoegaze realm. Their return wasn’t just a nod to their past glory but a bold statement of their ongoing relevance in today’s music scene.

Mareux’s debut album, ‘Lovers from the Past,’ presented a compelling fusion of generational sounds, effectively bridging the gap between the underground and the contemporary. The album stood out for its creative songcraft and unique aesthetic, marking Mareux as an artist to watch.

The year was also notable for the surprising and remarkable releases from established acts like Zanias, and Belgrado. who released some of their best work to date. and newcomers Lathe of Heaven’s with their full-length debut nostalgic and refreshing nod to Killing Joke and The Blitz. Body of Light’s ‘Bitter Reflection’ was a delightful dive into new-wave pop, showcasing their versatility and creative prowess.

Perhaps most surprising were the contributions from veterans OMD and A Certain Ratio. Their latest works managed to capture the essence of their classic ’80s sound while injecting fresh, contemporary energy, proving that their creative wells are far from dry in 2023.

So, as we close the chapter on this whirlwind of a year, Myself, Andi Harriman, and Frank Deserto have scoured the soundscape, digging through the deluge of tunes to bring you a curated list of this year’s best. So, without further ado, here’s the music that defined our year,

Alex’s List

LPS

  1. Nuovo Testamento – Love Lines

2. Slowdive – everything is alive

3. Mareux – Lovers From the Past

4. Lathe of Heaven – Bound By Naked Skies

5. Belgrado – Intra Apogeum

6. Zanias – Chrysalis

7. OMD – Bauhaus Staircase

8. Body of Light – Bitter Reflection 

9. Korine – Tear

10. Harsh Symmetry – Imitation 

11. A Certain Ratio – 1982

12. Temple of Angels – Endless Pursuit

13. Ritual Howls- Virtue Falters

14. Morwan – Svitaye, Palaye

15. Chasms Glimpse of Heaven

16. Fearing – Destroyer

17. Blu Anxxiety – Morbid Now, Morbid Later

18. House of Harm – Playground

19. Crush of Souls A)Void Love

20. Death Index Civilized By A Lie

EPs

  1. Ultra Sunn – Kill Your Idols

2. Madeline Goldstein – Other World

3. Ortrotasce – War

4. Drab Majesty – An Object in Motion

5. Odonis Odonis- ICON

Singles / Tracks

  1. Lebanon Hanover “Better Than Going Under”

2. Shadow Age – “Ours”

3. Scowl – “Psychic Dance Routine (Nuovo Testamento Remix)”

4. Catherine Moan – “Undo Undo”

5. Depeche Mode – “Wagging Tongue” Kid Moxie Remix

6. Bootblacks – “Forbidden Flames”

7. CG8 – “Cursed Angel”

8. Soft Vein “Bloodletting”

9. Topographies – “Night Sea”

10. Aurat – “Jugar”

Frank’s List

2023 was a strange year for me, musically. I kinda carved my own path through the year’s releases, actively seeking out guitars as always, eager to hear those six strings resonate the way they do best. In short, I’m still a sucker for a well written, organic song, though there was still quite a bit of room for big electronic beats and deep synthesizer grooves in my heart. In addition, many of my favorite releases of the year are from legacy favorites who released some of the best works of their career, including Slowdive, Fever Ray, Drop Nineteens, The Church, Everything but the Girl, A Certain Ratio, and Blur (perhaps an unpopular choice amongst the post-punk die hards, but for my marbles, their songwriting prowess continues to age like a fine wine, with their latest record mixing sad-bastard ballads with the ghosts of Scary Monsters. Also, don’t sleep on The WAEVE LP for the best Bowie horns this side of Young Americans). Kudos to the old guard for keeping the dream alive (even those who missed the cutoff, he says while still slowly but surely digesting the new OMD and Peter Gabriel albums), but also to the newer artists putting their best foot forward across a myriad of genres. Much love to Belgrado, Lathe of Heaven, Temple of Angels, and my Felte family (Chasms, Public Memory, Odonis Odonis, and Ritual Howls) for pushing boundaries and expanding the atmosphere this year.

The biggest surprise and the greatest reward of the year for me was EXEK, a band that I had never heard before stumbling upon their most recent record by happenstance. While on a pilgrimage to see Cranes reunite in London in October, I stopped by World of Echo, a small but mighty shop specializing in rare post-punk, synth, and outsider music, and heard the bright, clanging melodies of “Glow of Good Will” and “It’s Just a Flesh Wound, Darling” on an endless loop while I was shopping. The shop had just received copies of this new record, and quickly passed the obsession on to me in one foggy afternoon. To my ears, the band channels the best parts of Swell Maps and both Chairs Missing and A Bell is a Cup-era Wire, with a bit of Flying Nun jangle mixed in for good measure.

Happy listening, and see y’all in 2024! <3

LPs

1. EXEK – The Map and the Territory

2. The Church – The Hypnogauge 

3. The WAEVE – The Waeve

4. Slowdive – everything is alive

5. Public Memory – Elegiac Beat

6. Chasms – Glimpse of Heaven

7. Lathe of Heaven – Bound By Naked Skies

8. Temple of Angels – Endless Pursuit

9. Blur – The Ballad of Darren

10. Ritual Howls- Virtue Falters

11. Belgrado – Intra Apogeum

12. Nuovo Testamento – Love Lines

13. Nina Belief – Vessel of Voices

14. HEALTH – RAT WARS

15. Drop Nineteens – Hard Light

16. Everything But the Girl – Fuse

17. Magic Wands – Switched

18. Skeletal Family – Light From the Dark

19. A Certain Ratio – 1982

20. The True Faith – Go to Ground

EPs

1. SPC ECO – Wish

2. Glixen- She Only Said

3. Ortrotasce – War

4. Odonis Odonis- ICON

5. Luster – Dopamine Loop

Tracks:

1. Fever Ray – “Even It Out”

2. Bootblacks – “Wilderness”

3. Zanias – “Simulation”

4. Coatie Pop- “Embody”

5. Shadow Age – “Ours”

6. Sixth June – “Collapse”

7. Nabihah Iqbal – “This World Couldn’t See Us”

8. Body of Light – “Get It Right”

9. Lamp of Murmuur – “In Communion With the Wintermoon”

10. Smashing Pumpkins – “Empires”

Andi

The top three albums of 2023 were almost too easy to choose. Nuovo Testamento‘s Love Lines is an instant classic—blurring the lines between Italo disco, freestyle and a hint of Italo house, the band has matured and developed into every dance music fan’s utopian dream. SDH‘s Fake Is Real was similar in its genre-crossing ventures through synthpop, rave, and electro-clashy elements, while Mareux‘s stunningly beautiful LP, Lovers From the Past, put heartbreak overtop a cold, stoic beat.

In an attempt to find that connecting thread between each favorite album and/or track, it became clear that most selections on this list brought something unique that felt eerily familiar or, oppositely, confrontational. Pelada, Fotocopia and Puerta Negra utilized anarchic synthpunk to feud with authoritative women vocals sung in Spanish. Brixx and Augustus Muller reinterpreted the OST into a dreamy, EBM haze (Brixx replete with a saxophone solo). Lathe of Heaven and Blood Bells revved up guitar-based post-punk (positive punk?) amidst the sea of drum machines and synth pad ennui. Be it comfort or discomfort, the range of styles and approaches here are vast.

Most of all, the desire to move and be moved remains as both a DJ and a listener. From synthpunk and post-punk, to EBM and Italo body music, to the downright uncategorizable, each selection adds a luminescence that feels of the moment but—as it is my weakness—isn’t afraid to acknowledge to the past.

LPs

1. Nuovo Testamento – Love Lines

2. SDH – Fake is Real

3. Mareux – Lovers From the Past

4. Blu Anxxiety – Morbid Now, Morbid Later

5. Korine – Tear

6. Brixx – Erotomania

7. Lathe of Heaven – Bound By Naked Skies

8. Pelada – Ahora Más Que Nunca

9. Fotocopia – Fotocopia

10. Randolph & Mortimer – The Incomplete Truth

11. Harsh Symmetry – Imitation

12. Blood Bells – Now the Dawn

13. Augustus Muller – Cellulosed Bodies (OST)

14. Zanias – Chrysalis

15. House of Harm – Playground

EPs

1. Ortrotasce – War

2. Puerta Negra – Playa Sola

3. Ultra Sunn – Kill Your Idols

4. Nuxx Vomica – FTEV

5. CD Ghost – Vignette I

Singles

1. Blind Delon ft. I Hate Models – “Flashback”

2. Soft Crash ft. Ready in LED – “Free Yourself”

3. Scowl – “Psychic Dance Routine (Nuovo Testamento Remix)”

4. Fever Ray – “Carbon Dioxide”

5. Austher & Naranja ft. Bolides – “Collision”

6. Luz Futuro – “Tiempo”

7. Provoker – “It’s In My Head”

8. Shadow Age – “Ours”

9. Veil of Light – “Head-On Collision”

10. Years of Denial – “Dancing With Demons”

Listen to our Best of 2023 playlist on Spotify:

post-punk.com

From the Editor at Post-Punk.com

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