12 New Albums I'm Enjoying Right Now (All Styles, All Genres)
Here's my final batch of record reviews for 2023—and I've saved some of the best for last
Today I’m publishing my last round-up of new album recommendations for 2023.
In a few weeks, I’ll share my top 100 records of the year with paid subscribers to The Honest Broker. In the meantime, these 12 releases will give your ears plenty to chew on.
Happy aural chewing!
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Three Berklee Students Launch a Cool Folk-Pop Trio
People keep telling me that pop music nowadays is just four chords and a cloud of dust. But three Berklee students—Judah Mayowa, Cinya Khan, and Maya Rae—want more gain and less strain. There’s so much to enjoy here, but I especially like the calm and luminous way their voices blend together. Even cover versions of songs I never much cared for before sound newly un-covered in their renditions. I have high hopes for Tiny Habits, and think they might turn into a longterm habit among fans seeking less sugary pop.
Come with Fierce Grace
Sax-Driven Slow Groove R&B
Playing a funk groove is deceptively hard. When you hear it, it sounds so free and easy—but even some very skilled musicians never pull it off convincingly. Yet there’s something harder than playing funky R&B, and that’s playing slow funky R&B. How many bands can light a fire on the dance floor with a tempo below 80 beats per minute? It’s like performing gymnastics in slow motion.
That’s a long way of introducing Alabaster DePlume, who prefers his funk in slo-mo. This saxophonist is as strange as his name, and is likely to interrupt performances with weird poems and diatribes. He claims he started out playing “jagged, noisy music,” but then changed his name, his city, and became “a new person.” I’m not sure how you do that, but this new album testifies to his powers of reinvention.
Hypnotic Electric Guitar Grooves
It’s hard to describe Bobby Lee. But if John Lee Hooker had grown up in Yorkshire playing ambient and psychedelic jam tunes, he might have sounded like this. Another commentator describes this music as the “American southwest meets Saharan Africa by way of Mars.” Are you ready for that kind of voyage? My advice is forget about the itinerary, and just enjoy the ride.
Faith & Harmony
I Heard the Voice
Soulful Third-Generation Gospel Singers from Greenville, North Carolina
“Coming from this family, we didn’t have any choice but to sing,” explains KeAmber Daniels of the Greenville sextet Faith & Harmony. This ensemble of sisters and cousins continue a tradition initiated by grandparents Johnny Ray Daniels and Dorothy Vines, who were singing sanctified songs back in the 1950s. There’s a lot of Saturday night partying in this Sunday morning testifying, and if you’re looking for joyous new music-making in the year 2023, this album can’t be beat.
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