Title: Some Of The Best Of The First Half (2023)



Here's a list of twenty albums I enjoyed during the first half of 2023. I hope you find something to love!

01: Moving Targets - “In The Dust”

Label: Dead Broke Rekerds

RIYL: Sugar, Tommy Keene


With their album "In The Dust," Moving Targets return after a long hiatus to deliver a first rate collection of songs that blends the rawness of a Boston-based-bar-band with just the right amount of melodic sheen. With hard driving songs, soaring guitars, great songs, and powerful vocals this album should appeal to a wide swath of rock music fans. Half of the way thru 2023, “In The Dust” is currently my top record of the year candidate.

Moving Targets - In The Dust

02: Kevin Morby - “More Photographs"

Label: Dead Oceans

RIYL: Kurt Vile


On "More Photographs”, Kevin Morby continues to showcase his songwriting prowess while expanding the pallet of his overall sound. This album is a nice blend of folk and indie rock featuring interesting instrumentation and arrangements, quality lyrics, and Morby's distinctive vocals.

Kevin Morby - More Photographs

03: Gia Margaret - “Romantic Piano"

Label: Jajaguwar

RIYL: Okonski


"Romantic Piano" enforces my contention that Gia Margaret consistently writes some of the world’s most beautiful melodies. This mostly instrumental album is a serene and immersive. It is a perfect companion for quiet and relaxing moments.

Gia Margaret - Romantic Piano

04: Purling Hiss - “Drag on Girard"

Label: Drag City

RIYL: Dinosaur Jr.


Purling Hiss' "Drag on Girard" is a fuzzy and distorted rock album that oozes with raw energy. The band's gift for crafting catchy riffs and infectious melodies is on full display. Throw in feedback-drenched guitar sounds and a propulsive rhythm section and you know what you got here? (Hint; rhymes with bunk tock)

Purling Hiss - Drag On Girard

05: Solid State Radio - “You Got To Wear It, Or Let It Go!”

Label: inCrowd Recordings

RIYL: The Del Fuegos


The debut release from Atlanta’s Solid State Radio is an instant classic. Effortlessly fusing rock and soul - this band features some really high quality musicianship. Shout out to the bass player. The low end of this album keeps things moving in style! This is rock and roll with personality. 

Solid State Radio - You Gotta Wear It, Or Let It Go

06: Oracle Sisters - “Hydranism"

Label: 22Twenty

RIYL: Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips


After teasing with a series of high-quality singles, Oracle Sisters come correct with the album “Hydranism”. This album is a skillfully produced hybrid of honey-dipped pop, soul, and indie rock. Warning: highly contagious!

Oracle Sisters - Hydranism

07: Albert Hammond Jr. - “Melodies on Hiatus"

Label: Red Bull Records

RIYL: Twin Peaks, Grapetooth


Albert Hammond Jr. explores new sonic territories with "Melodies on Hiatus." The album features catchy hooks, intricate guitar work, and a sense of experimentation that keeps the listener engaged throughout.

Albert Hammond Jr. - Melodies On Hiatus

08: Glyders - "Maria’s Hunt"

Label: Drag City

RIYL: Alt-Country


Maria's Hunt" by Glyders is a really nice blend of roots based music. When the album kicks off with the track “High Time” you think you are listening to a rock band. When the second song veers into country-music territory you start to wonder what’s going on and when the third song opens with a rockabilly beat you begin to realize this band isn’t easily categorized. The album's rich instrumentation, quality songs, and the a wide range of influences makes this an enjoyable listen.

 Glyders - Maria's Hunt

09: James Brandon Lewis - “Eye of I"

Label: Anti

RIYL: Pharaoh Sanders, John Coltrane, Sonny Sharrock


Tenor Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis pushes the boundaries of jazz with his new trio featuring sax, electric cello, and drums. The album blends avant-garde sensibilities with soulful melodies. The band’s cover of Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free”, featuring Kirt Knuffke on Cornet, is a standout track.

 James Brandon Lewis - Eye of I

10: J.T. IV - “The Future"

Label: Drag City

RIYL: Alex Chilton


John Henry Timmis IV was a glam-punk savant who self-released four singles and one LP, in a musical style he called "destructo rock”, while living around the Chicago area during the 1980’s. "The Future" is a posthumous release that showcases the artist's eclectic and genre-bending approach. This album is a testament to the artist’s vision. All these years later and these songs truly stand the test of time.

 J.T. IV - The Future

11: Zwei Null Zwei - “Zwei Null Zwei"

Label: Peculiar Works Music

RIYL: Krautrock


Zwei Null Zwei's self-titled album is a mesmerizing blend of electronic and indie rock music. The band’s feedback drenched soundscapes and intricate percussion create a sonic journey that demands repeated listens. Featuring veterans of indie rock bands including The Makeup and Girls Against Boys, this record sounds like a group of like minded musicians looking to make new and exciting music. Mission accomplished!

 Zwei Null Zwei  - Zwei Null Zwei

12: The Hold Steady - “The Price of Progress"

Label: Positive Jams / Thirty Tigers

RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, Literate American Rock & Roll


The Hold Steady's "The Price of Progress" is yet another notch in the belt for a veteran band who manages to stay true to their sound and formula while managing to keep things fresh and engaging. Their signature storytelling style, combined with anthemic rock soundscapes, makes this album a compelling and immersive journey.

 The Hold Steady - The Price Of Progress

13: Canaan Amber - “CA”

Label: Numero Group

RIYL: Rex, Johnny Hawaii


The debut album from Duster’s Canaan Amber is minimalist music done right. Hypnotic beats with slow core droning guitar sounds. The perfect soundtrack for doing nothing at all.

 Canaan Amber - CA

14: Mudhoney - “Plastic Eternity"

Label: Sub Pop Records

RIYL: Grunge


Mudhoney deliver a gritty and raucous album with "Plastic Eternity." After more than thirty-years making punk rock records, this 2023 release is a reminder of the band's enduring relevance and their ability to create powerful and unapologetic rock music.

 Mudhoney - Plastic Eternity

15: Ron Gallo - “Foreground Music"

Label: Kill Rock Stars

RIYL: Ty Segall, Neil Michael Haggerty


Ron Gallo's "Foreground Music" is a literate exploration of indie rock and garage punk. Gallo's distinctive vocals and thought-provoking lyrics make this an interesting listen.

 Ron Gallo - Foreground Music

16: Pearla - “Oh Glistening Onion, Nighttime Is Coming"

Label: Spacebomb

RIYL: Lucinda Wiliams


Pearla's "Oh Glistening Onion, Nighttime Is Coming" is a nicely crafted indie-country-folk album. The introspective lyrics, delicate instrumentation, and the ethereal vocals of Pearla Minkowitz combine to create a beautiful listening experience.

 Pearla - Oh Glistening Onion, The Nighttime Is Coming

17: The South Hill Experiment - “Moonshots"

Label: Self Released



"Cacti" by Billy Nomates is a bold and unapologetic post-punk-pop album. Nomates' conviction, tell it like it is lyrical approach, and soulful vocals make this record a fun and exhilarating ride.

The South Hill Experiment - Moonshot 

18: Billy Nomates - “Cacti"

Label: Invada Records UK

RIYL: UK-Pop-Punk-Soul


"Cacti" by Billy Nomates is a bold and unapologetic post-punk-pop album. Nomates' conviction, tell it like it is lyrical approach, and soulful vocals make this record a fun and exhilarating ride.

 Billy Nomates - Cacti

19: Country Westerns - “Forgive The City"

Label: Fat Possum

RIYL: Replacements, Uncle Tupelo, Bottle Rockets


Country Westerns are a three piece rock band with Nashville and Atlanta roots. With producer credits attributed to Matt Sweeney (Skunk, Chavez) this record was clearly meant to introduce Country Westerns to a larger audience. While this album has lots to like, I don’t like it as much as the band’s first record. If you like your bar bands to fall somewhere on the spectrum between rock and alt-country I highly recommend the band’s self titled debut from 2020.

 Country Westerns - Forgive The City

20: Okonski - “Magnolia"

Label: Colemine

RIYL: Gia Margaret


Known for his work as the keyboard player in Durand Jones’ band, this record is Steve Okonski’s first release leading a jazz trio. With Okonski on keyboards the band is rounded out by Ish Montgomery on bass and Aaron Fraser on drums. Together the three musicians have crafted a gorgeous record with a tranquil and meditative vibe.

 Okonski - Magnolia

Spotify Mix

A Spotify mix, featuring one song from each album on this list.


Here are a few suggestions for your summer mixtapes.

Lyrics Born & Princess Shaw - “Diamond Door”


Susu - “Waiting’


Night Shop - “Harness”


Sunny War - “Baby Bitch” (Ween Cover)


I look forward to hearing what the second half of ’23 will bring! I’ll be back in December with a re-cap of the year-in-full. Stay tuned.

- HipHopPunkRock



Best Albums of 2023 Best New Music HipHopPunkRock

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