And now, as every year, at the end of the year-end work, I'll look back at what I consider to be the best albums that were released in 2023. Logically, I really liked places 1 and 2, because I didn't have the experience of losing my favor after listening to them several times (like many of the others on the list). And as in previous years, the album charts only reflect my listening habits very incompletely. This year my focus was more on individual songs and, as already mentioned in part 1, on older works.

In any case, it's the first time a Japanese album has reached number 1 (the first time ever that a record from Japan has made it into my top 20), and it's also my first metal album in the charts. So several world premieres at once. 🙂

I know I should be ashamed for not ranking Slowdive higher, but somehow I didn't really warm to the work – I missed the real highlights. Apart from that, there are various old friends in my top 20, with Love Shop, Thayer Sarrano, Lana, Les Incendiaires and Etienne Daho even artists who landed in my charts with all of their last records.

So, let's go:

01. BABYMETAL – The Other One
Last year, when it was announced that the Japanese “Kawaii Metal” band would be releasing a new album, it was one of the hottest candidates for the top spot in my charts, as the singles released in advance were all very good were. And fortunately, the actual album did what it promised – it is a so-called “concept album” and is intended to represent a side of BM that has been less featured so far. It is definitely their most consistent work, with very few of their typical wild style changes, and a much more adult sound than we have known before. I was lucky enough to see the band on their sold out European tour (in Hamburg) and it was a really great, extremely entertaining show.
Highlights: Mirror Mirror, Divine Attack, Monochrome, Metalizm, Maya, Metal Kingdom

02. Hitsujibungaku – 12 hugs (like butterflies)
And again Japanese music, and another album in which I had already had high expectations, which were fully met. I've already recommended the trio a few times in the blog – they play indie rock with shoegaze elements, sometimes with muddy feedback, sometimes clearly forward, but always with an eye on the (often melancholic) melody. Your latest work is an absolutely well-rounded thing with no weak points.
Highlights: FOOL, More than words, Addiction

03. Love Shop – BLUES EUROPA
The Danish band has secured a regular place in my top 10 in recent years – with every new album I am very impressed by their slightly wavey, slightly nostalgic and always melancholic style, which this time again is a record with beautiful melodies and a suitable atmosphere offers.
Highlights: Without ceremony, Back to Viborg, Waking up one morning and wanting to go

04. Atarashii Gakko! – Temporary return (Ichijikikoku) (Temporary return)
This Japanese “anti-idol” quartet is there for the first time. In my opinion, they are one of the coolest groups ever (worldwide) and serve many styles in their music with extreme energy and subversive humor and quirky charm. There are some great experiments on this mini-album (7 tracks) (including swing, pop, alt-rock, rap). However, it's best to see the four of them presenting their songs choreographically, as this is their real strength – they are a “performance group”, not a normal band.
Highlights: Wave that cuts through youth, Otona Blue, Suki Lie

05. Blur – The Ballad Of Darren (Deluxe Ed.)
The British from Blur, on the other hand, are old hands – I wasn't particularly impressed with their new album at first because there were too many quiet pieces on it for me, but then when the deluxe edition came out with three more hits (which, for reasons I don't understand, were from the standard edition were canceled), I was reconciled again and the music grew more and more close to my heart over the course of the year.
Highlights: The Narcissist, Goodbye Albert, Sticks and Stones

06. Thayer Sarrano – Ancient Future
Another old acquaintance is the singer from Goergia, who remains true to her wonderful, darkened folk style with this album, which always reminds me of Mazzy Star or Lana Del Rey in their ultraviolence phase. The new work is once again pleasantly atmospheric and perfect for the famous long winter evenings.
Highlights: Carried away, Both sides of the door

07. Lana Del Rey – Did you know there is a tunnel under Ocean Blvd
The time when Lana basically had a subscription to my No. 1 is over (for now). Your new work is very long, around 70 minutes, and also contains a few tracks that I would have liked to have done without. Overall, their sound has become too quiet for me under Jack Antonoff's production direction, even though Lana sings here again beyond all doubt and there are a handful of surprises in terms of sound. But she should dial back the country influences if you ask me.
Highlights: A&W, Candy necklace, Did you know….

08. Isolde Lasoen – Oh Dear
This time I even have a Belgian artist in my charts, which doesn't happen that often. But Isolde Lasoen enchanted me with her sound, which is very French, but sometimes a bit strange and obscure, which I like.
Highlights: Oh dear, Sweet melancholy

09. Etienne Daho – Shooting the stars at night
Etienne is my favorite French singer, whose music and velvety voice have accompanied me since the late 80s. In the last few years he has gotten better and better IMHO and also weaves psychedelic sounds into his always melodic songs. There are some great hits on the new album, including a duet with Vanessa Paradis (who, or at least I, haven't heard from for a long time).
Highlights: Little Criminals, Virus X, Shooting the Stars at Night

10. The Arsonists – In Abstracto
And once again the Canadian band managed to score well with me with their current album. I really like their 80s sound, which is reminiscent of the earlier Indochine, and the French singing, even if there are no real surprises in terms of sound.
Highlights: At the corner of chance, Ukiyo

11. TEARS – Hair of a dog
While we're on the subject of the 80s sound – this new duo revives the NDW sound, combined with a certain snottiness. I think the singles are mostly great, but over the length of the album it becomes a bit predictable at some point.
Highlights: Duel of the last, right in the face

12. Depeche Mode – Memento Mori
Yep, who would have thought that I would put another Depeche Mode album in my charts? After the last releases of the band, which has now shrunk to a duo, left me at a loss, they have now taken a step backwards and are reviving their old sound.
Highlights: Ghosts again, My favourite stranger

13. Ayano Kaneko – Towel blanket is gentle (Towelket ha odayakana / The towelettes are gentle)
The Japanese singer is my discovery of the year and also the most listened to artist of 2023. Her music between folk and psychedelic lofi rock (with elements of country and chanson), coupled with her unusual voice, creates a great atmosphere – even if it's new to me There are too many quiet songs on the album that don't quite pick me up. But it also contains two of my absolute top hits of the year.
Highlights: To us, towel blankets are gentle

14. Emma Anderson – Pearlies
Another surprising comeback for me is the former Lush singer's debut solo album. It's not just the cover that brings to mind golden 4AD times – musically there are also reminiscences of (of course) Lush, Broadcast and more electronic moments.
Highlights: Tonight is mine, I was miles away

15. Kinoco hotel – Marianne’s scripture (Mariannu no kyōten / Marianne scripture)
Kinocohoteru (or “Pilzhotel” in German) is one of the handful of Japanese bands that I have known for a while (since 2020) and that have been active since the beginning of the 00s – the quartet has always impressed with a clothing style reminiscent of the 60s. and musical style and moves between James Bond film sound, pop and garage rock. Their new album (album number 19 (!), if I haven't miscounted) is also fun again.
Highlights: Kinema Paranoia, Marianne's Scriptures

16. Pale Blue Eyes – This House
Pale Blue Eyes have quickly gained a regular spot in my charts – the British band offers a fine mix of indie pop, motorik beat and shoegaze and it's not without reason that they're going on tour with Slowdive soon.
Highlights: Our History, Spaces

17. milkyway – Become a witch who defeats the heroine (Hiroin o taosu majo ni naru / Become a witch to defeat the heroine)
Milkyway originally started as a trio a few years ago, but now only the singer/guitarist remains, who continues the band as a solo project. I definitely enjoyed it this year with its sometimes surprisingly strungy but very melodic guitar indie rock (with tongue in cheek humor).
Highlights: I wanted to be a heroine, dirty hands (2023 Rerecording)

18. Moon In June – Romance and light blue city (Roman to mizuiro no machi / Romantic and light blue city)
Maybe it's ironic (and blasphemous) that I place the debut album of this Japanese band, whose idols include Slowdive and who also offer a similar song on their disc, before the “original”, but for me Moon in June actually offers more pizzazz and pop and also have one of my hits of the year with the upbeat “Head for Munich”.
Highlights: Head for München, Slowdive (Album Ver.)

19. Slowdive – Everything Is Alive
Yes, it's always nice when favorite bands release new music that's unembarrassingly cool. Slowdive also manage to stay true to their style while also making it a little less reverberated. Nevertheless, as already written, the album couldn't completely convince me and I didn't really feel euphoria.
Highlights: Kisses, alife

20. Zaho de Sagazan – The lightning symphonies
And again French sounds to end my top 20. I had never heard of this singer from France until this year, but I really liked her extremely cool voice and her combination of electronics with chanson-like songs, even if not every song resonates with me.
Highlights: Boys, Sadness

Also good:

21. Bi ne – Enshin no toride / Fortress of Fiery Heart
22. LOW-RES – Therefore
23. CHAMPS – Ride The Morning Glass
24. The Ballet – Daddy Issues
25. kinopo – Living Dead
26. ART SCHOOL – luminous
27. FRANKIIE – Between Dreams
28. Black Swan Lane – Dead Souls Collide
29. Mr. Polaris – I sometimes like to leave without saying anything
30. Ski Holiday – Ski Holadiy
31. Black Honey – A Fistful of Peaches
32. kinoue64 – After School Art Club
33. ano – Vomiting all over the house


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