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Best of So Far

The Best Albums of 2023 (So Far)

There's plenty of great albums (so far), and here are our choices for the best (so far)
SPIN best albums of 2023 so far

Somehow, it’s already June, and in our world, that means festival season is off and running. It’s also a good time to take stock of all the music we’ve liked (so far) in 2023. For the sake of this list, we’re only counting projects released between Jan. 1 and June 1, 2023, which means a number of great June 2 albums didn’t make the cut. Here, in alphabetical order, are our choices for the best albums of 2023 (so far).

Altın Gün, Aşk

altun gun ask

Altın Gün’s first two albums radiated the glow of its spaced-out live show, with the sextet reanimating traditional Turkish songs via conga-heavy funk grooves and psychedelic guitars. During pandemic isolation, it found a new path forward, integrating computers and drum machines for 2021’s Yol and Âlem. But it was hard not to miss the full-vintage, on-the-floor feel — a concern rectified on the Dutch/Turkish outfit’s fifth LP, Aşk, which sprinkles in some thrilling new sounds (the ambient pedal-steel twinkle of “Güzelliğin on Para Etmez,” the stoner-metal-like intro of “Rakıya Su Katamam”). — Ryan Reed

Buy Ask on Amazon 

Black Belt Eagle Scout, The Land, The Water, The Sky

black belt eagle scout the land the water the sky

Katherine Paul, who performs as Black Belt Eagle Scout, cements her place as one of the most exciting young indie voices on The Land, The Water, The Sky. She honors her Swinomish roots with a stunning portrait of her native ancestry, capturing both the trauma and beauty of her Canadian homeland and the nearby Skagit River. Lush guitars, strings, and mellotron evoke the clashing serenity and tension on songs such as “On the River” and “Sedna,” while the connection to home is driven further by the presence of her parents’ voices on the penultimate track “Spaces,” with her father’s booming chant closing the song. — Tatiana Tenreyro

Buy The Land, The Water, The Sky on Amazon 

Brian Dunne, Loser on the Ropes

brian dunne loser on the ropes

Singer/songwriter Brian Dunne carries on the great American tradition of writing a love letter to New York City after it mentally annihilated him for a decade. Loser on the Ropes is full of personality crises, subway epiphanies, and layered melodies as irresistible as the smell of a bacon, egg, and cheese wafting from the bodega at 3 AM. The album glides on an enveloping, full-body-chills sound a la the War on Drugs and the National, except neither of those bands ever admitted to having a “Schopenhauer era” (track seven: “The Optimist”). Dunne’s songs are almost always about people hiding their pain, holding themselves back, and/or suffering in silence. “What you gonna do, sit around and die?” he asks on “Rockaway.” “Or grab yourself a bagel and say alright?” As every New Yorker knows, there’s nothing a carbohydrate can’t solve. — Sarah Grant

Buy Loser on the Ropes on Amazon 

Cécile McLorin Salvant, Mélusine

Cécile McLorin Salvant, Mélusine

In 14th-century French mythology, Mélusine was half-woman/half-snake who was betrayed by her lover, turned into a dragon, and flew away. Mélusine is half French chanson/half idiosyncratic art song, which in its course reveals its own soaring majesty. With three Grammys and a MacArthur “Genius” Award to her name, Salvant has already far transcended her early status as her generation’s most imaginative and thrilling jazz interpreter. To portray this fantastical tale, she goes further, ranging from 12th-century troubadour ballads to a song from the obscure ‘70s Canadian rock musical Starmania (and a few originals), sung mostly in French, Haitian Kreyol, and even the ancient Occitan tongue. Salvant’s music isn’t just about juxtaposition — it’s about synthesis and transformation, just like Mélusine. — Steve Hochman

Buy Mélusine on Amazon 

Cheat Codes, One Night in Nashville

Cheat Codes One Night in Nashville

Country music and EDM make strange bedfellows, and fusions of the two tend to be campy culture clashes like Zac Brown’s “folktronica” side project Sir Rosevelt. Thankfully, Los Angeles trio Cheat Codes has found an unlikely sweet spot between pop-country balladry and dancefloor euphoria. One Night in Nashville is a weird melting pot record where Russell Dickerson name-drops Third Eye Blind over a trop house groove on “I Remember,” and big beats and banjos share space with Dolly Parton on “Bets on Us.” Sticky melodies and lovelorn lyrics, however, are what really bind all the steel guitars and rave synths together. — Al Shipley

Buy One Night in Nashville on Amazon 

Conway the Machine, Won’t He Do It

Conway the Machine won't he do it

Won’t He Do It furthers the Griselda Records tradition of classic ‘90s NYC street rap à la Jadakiss, Biggie, or Raekwon, boiled to its essence and served as chill as drill rappers are loud. In-house tunesmith Daringer carries the LP with beats that seem half-finished but never feel that way, many without drums at all. It’s an open-stage approach perfect for Conway’s frame-worthy bars and the lucid dream-raps of brother Westside Gunn (see the savage “Brucifix”). When percussion does show up, it’s often the wonderfully abnormous and clunky kind (“Stab Out” and “Brick Fare”), prone to causing involuntary head nods and mean faces. Packed with great new ways to describe cocaine, heavy weapons, and wealth, Won’t He Do It, despite its limited subject matter, remains intriguing and intelligent throughout. — Jonathan Rowe

Buy Won’t He Do It on Amazon 

Commuter, No Longer Penitent

Commuter, No Longer Penitent

There’s a dark undercurrent to contemporary life — a multifaceted sense of despair. We’re all both more connected and siloed than ever in a world teetering on a knife’s edge, and the human toll can be humbling. Portland, Ore.’s Jackson Abdul-Salaam, recording as Commuter, has taken this as his great theme. No Longer Penitent is a patchwork of field recordings and raw noise salvos that are less about storytelling than bad vibes. You’ll hear voices rattling around the edges of, say, “Two Mattresses Dragged Beneath the Freeway. Emotionally Comatose,” but this isn’t the (more literalized) dystopian drawl-trawl of Josh Peterson’s Collected Voice, Text and Tape Works. Rather, Abdul-Salaam’s music is like some unfathomable Möbius strip loop of breaking glass, burning metal, and ear-spiking frequencies — a psychic mirror held to a societal bad day unlikely to end anytime soon. — Raymond Cummings

Demira, Iggy

Demire Iggy

Can’t wait for Rosalia’s follow-up to Motomami? Might we suggest Demira, a Dutch grad student by day, producer-poet-guitar mastermind by night, who has fused these worlds into a marvel of a debut. Iggy is a creation myth that unwinds like a kaleidoscope pointed at her restless heart. Demira has a beguiling ability to combine the most unlikely references — classical Indian instruments (“Dismas”), The Birth of Venus (“Cheap Date”), slinking Depeche Mode synths (“Two Halves of a Whole”), and Diet Coke for breakfast (“Salai”) — into heady treasures that could also light up a dance floor in Ibiza. The standout is “Metropolis,” a jaw-dropping invocation of anguish that asks, “Haven’t our lives been organized around disappointing male desire?” Except she’s not really asking. — SG

Dinner Party, Enigmatic Society

Dinner Party Enigamtic Society
(Credit: Amani Washington)

Another dazzling melange of jazz, hip-hop, and R&B from genre titans Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, and Robert Glasper, Enigmatic Society works equally well in a two-drink-minimum nightclub setting as it does in a Coachella tent. “Insane” featuring Ant Clemons is a smoky, sax-colored ode to love so good that it’s bad for you, while vocalist Arin Ray shines on Soulquarian-style jams such as “Breathe” and “For Granted.” Dinner Party’s collective mastery of groove and atmosphere is best heard on “The Lower East Side,” as Washington’s saxophone dances around a synth bass line not far removed from Beverly Hills Cop territory. — Jonathan Cohen

Buy Enigmatic Society on Amazon 

Fall Out Boy, So Much (for) Stardust

Fall Out Boy, So Much (for) Stardust

With all the When We Were Young Fest-fueled nostalgia for mid-2000s emo in the air, it’s not surprising that shrewd survivors like Fall Out Boy would look to their past in 2023. Instead of mimicking its hit-making heyday, the band’s eighth album picks up where 2008’s brilliant flop Folie a Deux left off, with a set of bombastic, occasionally funky arena rock anthems. Whether evoking ‘80s Cure with the chorus pedal riff on “Fake Out” or enlisting the London Metropolitan Orchestra to provide disco strings on “What a Time To Be Alive,” So Much (for) Stardust flexes Fall Out Boy’s diverse tastes without the EDM sheen of its uneven 2010s albums. — AS

Buy So Much (for) Stardust on Amazon 

Feist, Multitudes

feist multitudes

It’s always refreshing when a great artist surprises us. Leslie Feist, consistently uncompromised, takes us on her epic Odyssey in Multitudes, as only she can do it. Written at a time of great change in her own life, the album reflects a stormy sea of emotions as she navigates some of the greatest gifts and heartbreaks of humanity: life and death. Feist has always told us musical stories that are big, even when they’re stunningly quiet. This time — and we’ll never know how — her personal inspiration is still so universal. — Liza Lentini

Buy Multitudes on Amazon 

Fever Ray, Radical Romantics

fever ray radical romantics
(Credit: Martin Falck)

A wide-ranging celebration of queer love, Radical Romantics ranges from the thrill of craving sensual touch to seeking revenge on a bully. Karin Dreijer transports us to a delightfully seedy nightclub, where even the shyest of patrons would get sweaty with gorgeous strangers amid the pulsating beats of songs such as “Shiver” and “Kandy.” It’s sleazier than the Deep Cuts era of Dreijer’s beloved other group the Knife, while also feeling sweeter, with plenty of heart beating under the desire. With so much discourse surrounding the indie sleaze revival, this might be the release that best fits the movement’s resurgence, showing that the new iteration can have substance while still being fun and lascivious. – TT

Buy Radical Romantics on Amazon 

Gloss Up, Before the Gloss Up

gloss up before the gloss up

GloRilla was southern rap’s breakout rookie of 2022, storming the industry with four other hungry Memphis rappers known collectively as Glitter Gang. The quartet landed a radio hit with the cheerleader chant “Shabooya,” and Gloss Up quickly established herself as a potential solo star on her debut project for Quality Control. Before the Gloss Up updates old school Memphis crunk with hammering beats by Twysted Genius and Hitkidd, but Gloss Up’s blithe shit talk is the main attraction: “I’ve been sending attachments but hell nah, I can’t get attached/ My money is unmatched, got my Coach on mix-matched/ I’ve been flexing on these hoes, where the hell my six-pack?” — AS

GoGo Penguin, Everything Is Going To Be Okay

gogo penguin everything is going to be ok

This prolific U.K. piano/bass/drums trio has always been rooted in an adventurous jazz sound, but the arrival of new stickman Jon Scott has pushed its latest music to different and exciting places. At once tense and meditative, songs such as “Friday Night Film Special” and “Glow” were born from long jams and recall the more cinematic side of Endtroducing-era DJ Shadow. Elsewhere, subtle synths add warmth to the pointillist melodies of “Glimmerings” and “Saturnine,” while the title track and “Parasite” offer head-nodding, polyrhythmic delights. Beyond the music itself, any group with the balls to haul a grand piano into rock clubs on a nightly basis in 2023 is surely worth your time and attention. — JC

Buy Everything Is Going To Be Okay on Amazon 

Greg Pope, It Goes Without Saying

greg pope it goes without saying

This debut album from this London-born, Norway-based polymath is a mildly theatrical blend of the solemn and the beatific. A swirl of unconventional instrumentation, field recordings, tape edits, and Pope’s abstracted monologues, It Goes Without Saying bears a singular outsider energy, and playing it through can feel like surfacing unaware in a remix of a stranger’s benign daydreams. “Shot Film” collates cuts and jumps, as though a needle was hopping around on a live, blank LP. On “Dipping the Bells,” guest carillonneur Laura Marie Rueslåtten accompanies samples of rushing water and birdsong. “The margins are small when the bed dries the wetter,” Pope riddles on the title track, as glass surfaces sing, effects scuffle and quicksand pools await opportunities to suck on his voice like vacuum cleaners. — RC

Illiterate Light, Sunburned

illterate light sunburned

Harrisonburg, Va. duo Illiterate Light’s Sunburned is shrouded in distortion, with frontman Jeff Gorman’s voice often bathed in reverb, and his guitars and basslines caked in fuzz. The Neil Young-influenced band’s second album has the dark and desolate vibe of Young’s “Ditch Trilogy” era, occasionally brightened by the chiming chords of “Light Me Up” or the dryly funny lyrics of “Fuck LA.” Drummer Jake Cochran really brings Gorman’s saddest songs to life, though, pummeling his kit with Bonham-esque grooves that dance around the psychedelic ear candy, and building “Heaven Bends” from syncopated synth pop to a cathartic climax that feels like a bad trip. — AS

Buy Sunburned on Amazon 

John Davis, My Hope Is Found In a God Who Can Raise Up the Dead

John Davis My Hope Is Found In a God Who Can Raise Up the Dead

A mid-’90s alt progeny of the Big Star and Hüsker Dü mold, Superdrag and Lees of Memory frontman John Davis survived the MTV Buzz Bin to become one of power pop’s strongest, most consistent songwriters. Though obviously gospel-informed, My Hope Is Found… remains mindfully gentle with its message, and accessible to everyone. Playing every instrument straight to tape in an all-analog production approach, Davis explores styles from ’60s Detroit R&B (“I Should’ve Known”) to ’70s Beach Boys, solo McCartney, jazz-brushed Elliott Smith (“Sunny Climes”), and even holy shoegaze (“You Never Let Me Go”). Lest people keep forgetting Jesus was a societal castoff who shunned the church of man, Davis describes the album as an expression of “the real Gospel … not the gospel of guns, hatred for migrant people and the LGBTQ+ community.” — JR

Kaytraminé, s/t


On first listen, the long-awaited collaborative album from producer Kaytranada and rapper Aminé is somewhat overshadowed by high-profile guests such as Freddie Gibbs, Snoop Dogg, and Pharrell Williams, whose chorus hook on the strutting “4EVA” adds a little sweetness to otherwise questionable lyrics (“I’m starin’ at your eyes but you starin’ at my lips / You talkin’ ’bout your momma but you thinkin’ ’bout my dick”). Thankfully, Kaytranada’s sample-heavy productions, which dip into everything from tropicalia and the obscure ’70s U.K. jazz group Both Hands Free to the R&B-dominated 1997 Love Jones soundtrack, elevate the material into ideal summer backyard BBQ territory. — JC

Buy s/t on Amazon 

Lana Del Rey, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.

Lana Del Rey, Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd

Pop’s high priestess of benzodiazepine noir dispenses potent doses on her ninth album. Of its 16 songs, track, “A&W,” aka American whore, is the most psychoactive in its deft transformation from lush acoustic ballad to squalid trap hop. It’s an accomplished and sensual shift, but, like the narrative itself (which tracks the numb abandon of the used), the prettiness of the tune and its movements is inseparable from its nihilism. Even lighter-toned tracks such as opener “The Grants” (Del Rey’s given name is Elizabeth Grant) are discreet exercises in subversion, and early intimations towards wholesomeness via girlhood, family, and even John Denver soon gently warp into smiling futility. — Matt Thompson

Buy Did You Know on Amazon 

Majesties, Vast Reaches Unclaimed

Majesties Vast Reaches Unclaimed

The best new Swedish metal band is from … Minneapolis? With a modern discipline, Majesties’ debut record worships Gothenburg’s 1990s melodic death metal sound, where bitter, sun-deprived harshness meets Iron Maiden’s melodies. The group embraces the twists and turns found in early At the Gates and In Flames, yet is remarkably to-the-point without succumbing to bland commercialization that plagued Gothenburg later on. Considering that many “new” old school bands try to be as boneheaded as Mortician and fail, it’s welcome to see songcraft, melody, and emotion reign supreme on a death metal album such as Vast Reached Unclaimed. — Andy O’Connor

Buy Vast Reaches Unclaimed on Amazon 



From groundbreaking jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD, which he co-founded, to Kendrick Lamar and Rosalia, for whom he’s written songs, Matthew Tavares has put his unique creative stamp on a dizzying array of music over the past decade. However, the essence of Tavares the human being has never been quite as wonderfully apparent as on this latest solo release under the Matty moniker (he wrote, produced, performed, mixed, engineered, and mastered the entire thing). The title track subverts the melody of George Harrison’s “What Is Life” into a bongo-infused, stoned campfire jam, while “Eu Pergunto Isso a Vocé” and “Ao Luar” seem time-warped from a Windham Hill acoustic guitar record circa 1982, and “Meu Coracao No Seu” starts in lo-fi bedroom territory before morphing into 45 seconds of alternate-universe reggaeton. ¡Dios mío! — JC

Buy EIS OH HOMEM on Amazon 

Nickel Creek, Celebrants

Nickel Creek Celebrants

No one could have faulted Nickel Creek for playing their latest reunion a bit safe: resurrecting their fan-favorite prog-grass on tour, cracking out a familiar-sounding LP when schedules allowed, and then scurrying back to their respective careers. Instead, the trio wrote and recorded a giddily ambitious fifth album, Celebrants, which blows past all of the previous work, including 2014 predecessor A Dotted Line. It’s all here: breathtaking instrumental interplay between mandolin, guitar, and fiddle (“Going Out”). pitch-perfect harmonies (“The Meadow”), and tear-streaked choruses for introspective car rides (“Stone’s Throw”). See ya in another nine years. — RR

Buy Celebrants on Amazon 

Obituary, Dying of Everything

Obituary Dying of Everything

Obituary’s astonishing consistency belies the continuing growth of the Tampa, Fla. death metal legends, who are not only one of metal’s tightest live bands but who have also remained true to themselves while not growing stale. More than a decade after joining, guitarist Kenny Andrews remains a blistering foil for Trevor Peres and his sludgy riffage, piercing Obituary’s swampy murk with electrifying leads. Peres isn’t coasting on old glory and ragged Blue Grape merchandise either: he’s deeper in the grooves than ever, and relishing their intoxicating power. Vocalist John Tardy, thankfully, still sounds like John Tardy. — AOC

Buy Dying of Everything on Amazon 

Primitive Knot, Undying Lands

primitive knot undying lands

Primitive Knot’s loopy industrial metal has emphasized the latter half of that fusion lately (last year’s Ur Metal was practically the best Ministry album in decades). With Undying Lands, the Manchester, U.K.-based outfit has gone even further with red-hot mechanical brutality, adding in a healthy dose of mid-paced Celtic Frost riffage. Scaling back the velocity works on tracks like “Into The Mouth of Madness” and the “OUGH!”-worthy “Hour of the Wolf,” with unfeeling, slamming percussion fortifying the guitars’ hammering thud. At this rate, Primitive Knot will bring back performing in front of chainlink fences. — AOC

Quest Master, Sword & Circuitry

Quest Master Sword and Circuitry

Dungeon synth, like the black metal from which it spawned, usually eschews fidelity. Australia’s Quest Master rushes the genre towards the sunlight with Sword & Circuitry, revealing new dimensions in a walled-off sound. Through emphasizing percussion, Quest Master makes a massive leap forward, transforming serene keyboard melodies into righteous crusades. “Cerulean Depths” goes from icy seance to an adventurer’s call when the drums kick in, and the propulsive beats of “Hanging Garden of Chrome” could fit next to any Skinny Puppy track on a goth club dancefloor. Sword & Circuitry is not bound by nostalgia for a made-up medieval time — it is its own fantastical world. — AOC

Ryuichi Sakamoto, 12

riyuichi sakamoto 12

The Japanese composer recorded 12 late as mortality closed in towards the end of a near decade-long dance with cancer. Released in January, two months before his death, 12 is not a morbid hour. It walks, rather, along aural trails of grace and awe. Some tracks, cue “20211201,” are lighter and airier than others, but even fuller, lusher pieces such as “20220214” hint at an empty tomb rather than one of packed soil and decay. — MT

Buy 12 on Amazon 

Rx Papi, Dawg Storm

Rx Papi Dawg Storm

Perpetually blurring the line between real-life tales of peddling drugs and getting shot while growing up in Rochester, N.Y., and a rich concoction of storytelling for storytelling’s sake, Rx Papi may simply be a bit too much for many listeners. Get past the waving guns around on Instagram Live, though, and you’ll find an extraordinarily talented rapper just trying to make it through life one day at a time, be it by favorably comparing himself to Ray Charles (“Smacc Man”), besting the competition with the help of longtime collaborator RXK Nephew (“Chinese Restaurant”), or inventing an absurd, weed-selling alter-ego who drinks fountain Coke on ice — and most definitely doesn’t give free samples (“Zaza Man”). — JC

Buy Dawg Storm on Amazon 

Ruston Kelly, The Weakness

Ruston Kelly The Weakness

It’s easy to tell when an artist makes the leap from “talented and could make it” to “finally arrived,” and that’s what Ruston Kelly has done on The Weakness. Following a difficult beginning to the decade that saw him leave both his marriage and Nashville, the singer/songwriter hunkered down and got to work on music — and himself. “Let Only Love Remain” looks back without recriminations at his divorce from Kacey Musgraves, while the gentle confessional “The Mending Song” finds Kelly finally at peace with himself while dealing with the pain that has encompassed most of his adult life. Not everything is serious, as “Michael Keaton” showcases the humorous side of a talented artist who is rightfully getting his due. — DK

Buy The Weakness on Amazon 

Skourge, Torrential Torment

Skourge Torrential Torment

Members of Houston crossover quintet Skourge have fairly large outside commitments — guitarist Jacob Duarte and drummer Carson Wilcox play in alt-rock revivalists Narrow Head, and vocalist Seth Gilmore also sings in Fugitive. Yet the group has still managed to drop an extinction-level event with Torrential Torment. The title track’s cranked chug bass intro alone is harder than 99% of metal this year, and once the rest of the band kicks in? Your face and the concrete are basically close friends at that point. The re-recorded live staple “Freedom Denied,” whose original version dates back to 2016, is straight-up demented, with guitars violently swirling and crisscrossing against each other. Basically, if Morbid Angel’s “Rapture” was on Merauder’s Master Killer — yeesh! Texas above all. — AOC

Buy Torrential Torment on Amazon 

Sleaford Mods, UK Grim

sleaford mods uk grim

Bitter rants. Beats. Throbs. Snide remarks. Corroded funk. Punk-hop. Post-punk. Post-hope. Fractured tales. Envy. Blame. Self-loathing. Rage. Munt music. Turn it up and dance like you just don’t care, in a room full of someone else’s precious breakables. Break dance. Rat dance. Munt dance. Who cares. Don’t listen to UK Grim if you don’t like mangey Englishmen cussing about how bleeping bleep everything is. No one here wants you to see the light. But if you are a bit of a munt, then turn it the fuck up and twitch. — MT

Buy UK Grim on Amazon 

Sunny War, Anarchist Gospel

Sunny War, Anarchist Gospel

Having gone from high school acoustic DIY punk to homeless Venice boardwalk busker to acclaimed folk/blues-rooted singer/songwriter, Sunny War flings poison-tipped arrows on her startlingly personal new album — many pointing right at her, some already having found flesh. Largely written in her Los Angeles apartment with the lights off and empty bottles surrounding her after a breakup, the songs grapple with depression, addiction, and love’s death, yet are inviting in their darkness. The tone is set with opener “Love’s Death Bed,” its gloom floating on cascades of deft fingerpicking and spirited, gospel-like call-and-response with a chorus including guest Allison Russell. The mix of frank emotions and engaging tones continues throughout, from spritely group sings to muted solitary contemplation. There’s fire too: a cover of Ween’s “Baby Bitch” features a children’s chorus (in truth, three adult men with voices sped up, Chipmunks-style) singing “Fuck you, you stinking asshole.” — SH

Buy Anarchist Gospel on Amazon 

The Hold Steady, The Price of Progress

the hold steady the price of progress

Over 20 years and nine albums, the Hold Steady went from being America’s greatest bar band to one of the greatest bands in America, period. The Price of Progress pushes its thunderous brand of punk, blues, and rock further than ever. It pays off with irresistible curveballs like “Understudies,” a song about showbiz with a funky, “Miss You”-style groove by guitar heroes Steve Selvidge and Tad Kubler. It all rolls straight into the sky on the undulant “Distortions of Faith,” about a pop star who takes a paid gig in a dictatorship and tries not to think too hard about it on the flight back. Indeed, no one writes like Craig Finn. The riddles of faith and fragility that permeate early albums like Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls in America have metastasized into middle-aged malaise, where the passage of time hovers like a cruel joke. Finn fixates on people engaged in “facsimiles of fun”: married life (“Perdido”), Adderall-fueled hookups (“Sixers”), and adult softball leagues (“Carlos Is Crying”). “New medication for the same old depression,” as he puts it on “Sideways Skull.” It’s the one song here where Finn’s characters find joy, or something close to it. As the pyro-rocker protagonist laments, “It’s hard to fully rock in a halfway house.” — SG

Buy The Price of Progress on Amazon 

The Lemon Twigs, Everything Harmony

the lemon twigs everything harmony

Long Island brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario have always been influenced almost exclusively by pre-1983 rock, and as they’ve grown up, they’ve put their own distinct stamp on those vinyl-era inspirations. A melancholy thread runs through their fourth album, and “New to Me” and “Born To Be Lonely” contemplate the pitfalls of old age with empathy and sensitivity. “Any Time of Day” has the soft rock sparkle of a lost AM gold classic, and “Still It’s Not Enough” could’ve been written on a Laurel Canyon porch in 1971. Everything Harmony is the Lemon Twigs’ prettiest album to date, but there’s also a Tom Verlaine edge in the nervy guitar solo at the conclusion of its most spirited rocker, “What You Were Doing.” — AS

Buy Everything Harmony on Amazon 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, V

Unknown Mortal Orchestra V

One of many blissful moments on UMO’s fifth LP is “Meshuggah,” a slinky art-funk tune sharing way more DNA with Steely Dan than the Swedish metal band of the same name. It’s like not bandleader Ruban Nielson woke up one day newly obsessed with Gaucho or something — groove is an anchor throughout his whole catalog, from the lo-fi psych crunch of 2013’s II up through the jazzy experimentation of 2018’s IC-01 Hanoi. But even at its most dreamlike, V is on another level of soul, from the palm-tree sway of “That Life” to the R&B belting and guitar hero showmanship amid the climax of “The Garden.” — RR

Buy V on Amazon 

Water From Your Eyes, Everyone’s Crushed

Water From Your Eyes Everyone's Crushed

When a DIY band signs with a top-tier indie label, fans often worry whether the previous scrappy charm can still be captured amid a more traditional music business arrangement. Fortunately, Matador has proven to be the right home for experimental indie pop duo Water From Your Eyes, one of the few young bands of today that live up to the genre’s moniker. Delivered in deadpan, Rachel Brown’s introspective lyrics find humor in the chaos of life, while multi-instrumentalist Nate Amos’ polyrhythmic sounds complement the frenetic wordplay of “Barley” and the sardonic closing track “Buy My Product.” Everyone’s Crushed marks an exciting new era in the indie big leagues for the duo, showing its expansive range. — TT

Buy Everyone’s Crushed on Amazon 

Wednesday, Rat Saw God

Wednesday - Rat Saw God _ Album Art

While some indie alt-country bands try to find glory by emulating Big Thief, Wednesday has built its cult following by going a dramatically different route. The Asheville, N.C. group is pushing the boundaries of what country can sound like — lap steel is used in a vastly different way than you’d expect, adding to lush shoegaze-inspired landscapes. The result is something haunting yet alluring, with the lyrics matching the intensity of the enchanting sound. Bandleader Karly Hartzman mythologizes her hometown while inviting you to be enthralled in the grittiness of it on songs like “Hot Rotten Grass Smell” and “TV in the Gas Pump,” as we flash past desolate streets, neon signs out of service, and highway signs falling down. Between the genre-bending and the storytelling, there’s much to be enthralled by. It’s also a rare moment when a band that isn’t from a big city shows it can thrive while still loving where it is from.  — TT

Buy Rat Saw God on Amazon 

Wolf Eyes, Feedback & Drums Vol. 2

Wolf Eyes Feedback Drums Vol. 2

Blame it on the pandemic or don’t, but things have changed in Wolf Eyes’ world over the last few years: a New York Public Library residency, an ongoing two-man lineup, and an art world aesthetic of limited (sometimes severely so) physical editions doubling as freaked-out paintings and illustrations. What hasn’t changed is the Michigan duo’s commitment to a constant flow of clammy, serpentine night terrors. Another stunner in a strong, subtle late-career renaissance including last year’s intense Dumpsters & Attitude, Feedback & Drums Vol. 2 is pretty much as advertised: psychoactive horns, primordial moans, slithering distortion, and effects pedal chains curb-stomped by Sasquatch, if Sasquatch had an exquisite sense of pacing and a couple of axes to grind. — RC 

Yo La Tengo, This Stupid World

yo la tengo this stupid world

No band balances verve, locomotion, and heartache quite like Yo La Tengo. On its 17th LP, the trio is at its most vividly indispensable for the first time in quite a while, turning middle age’s fraying nerves into rock’n’roll that riptides, submerges, and quietly saturates your synapses. The riotous, grinding “Brain Capers” fluorescences like an overloading fuse box, while the sly “Tonight’s Episode” couches despondency with yo-yo trick brags and one of James McNew’s choicest bass lines. And if the title track is a marital Shaker hymn to the follies of turning away from the only world we have, the swooning “Miles Away” finds drummer/singer Georgia Hubley at the helm for what might be the nearest to primetime Enya these three will ever reach. — RC

Buy This Stupid World on Amazon 

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