Headphone Commute’s Best of 2023

It’s 5 am on a Monday (yes, I went to sleep at 8 pm on the 31st – like I do every night), and I’m sitting down to record these thoughts on the state of [my type of] music of the last year. There is plenty to celebrate, and all of that comes with this feature, but there’s also a lot to look back at and frown. I am not even going to talk about world events, which, since last year, have only run worse. In the music world, we’ve lost a few dear friends. Among them, the passing of Ryuichi Sakamoto was perhaps the most impactful to our scene. I’ve seen a few labels take a step back and re-assess their own affairs, be it financial or otherwise, and question, once again, if all of this is worth it. I will not comment on the business trends of Spotify or Bandcamp or even Moog – the market will decide.

And then I’ve seen a few ones born (quiet details) or pressing on with a full schedule (Lost Tribe Sound, Room40) or doubling down on their craft (ModernaPast Inside The PresentA Strangely Isolated Place) – and all of this you’ll see reflected in the lists. With all of this, the sound is always morphing and evolving and sometimes bouncing against the walls of our own self-made echo chamber. But you know what? If this is what my bubble is, then I’m forever grateful to be in it, and I am thankful that perhaps, if for a minute or two, you can be with me in its space.

And now, as I’ve done for the last 15 years before, I present to you my Headphone Commute’s Best of the Year selections. The format is the same – I’m picking only full-length albums [so no EPs or compilations here, sorry], sticking to the ones released in 2023 [so no re-issues], and covered in each list in alphabetical order by artist [so no ones is truly #1]. I will reveal each list per day. We’ve got a dozen to get through here! For updates, please subscribe.

As always, please enjoy responsibly and support the featured artists!