BEST OF 2023 The Best Albums of 2023: L – R By Bandcamp Daily Staff · December 06, 2023

All this week, we’ll be counting down our editors’ picks for the Best Records of 2023 and, just like we did last year, we’ll be taking ’em on one chunk of the alphabet at a time. Next week, our genre columnists weigh in with their picks for the year’s best records.

Go to:

December 4: Best of 2023: A – E
December 5: Best of 2023: F – K
December 6: Best of 2023: L – R
December 7: Best of 2023: S – Z
December 8: 2023’s Essential Releases

En K​ö​tü Iyi Olur

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Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

On last year’s Bi Cinnete Bakar, Lalalar crowned themselves the pre-eminent disruptors of Anatolian rock, shaking up a decades-old tradition by way of club and hip-hop influences, industry-grade electronics, and lyrical critiques of the Turkish status quo. The trio’s second full-length in 14 months barrels down the same path with heightened urgency in response to rising geopolitical uncertainty. Check the frenzied interplay between Ali Güçlü Şimşek’s rapid-fire raps and Barlas Tan Özemek’s psychedelic guitar licks on “Göt,” a festival-ready anthem preceded by a sample of a whinnying horse. This is music for movement, modern Anatolian rock style: Today the dancefloor, tomorrow the streets.

—Zoe Camp

Mary Lattimore
Goodbye, Hotel Arkada

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Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

2023 was always going to be a strange year, as further remnants of lives utterly changed by wider circumstances grew distant in the rear-view mirror. While not strictly dealing in post-crisis reflection, harpist Mary Lattimore wrote the songs on Goodbye, Hotel Arkada over the course of two transformative years, dealing with the ever-changing nature of existence. Six long-form pieces take the familiar, delicate form of the instrument, and cast it to the center of lush and layered arrangements, inviting the listener to stay awhile and consider the transient nature of things—from the album’s namesake Croatian hotel and the times spent therein, to smartphones being chucked in a blender for passing social-media chuckles, with help from guest contributors like The Cure’s Lol Tolhurst, and Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell.

—Mike McGrath-Bryan

Girl in the Half Pearl

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Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD), Cassette

Now based in Los Angeles, the Dallas avant-garde R&B artist’s raw examination of self-determination and womanhood sprawled out over 17 two-minute tracks of sonic experimentation and genre-bending. “When I look inside my brain, there were all these webs of pain” she sings around a barrage of cascading synths and jagged beats on the opening track. It set the tone for an album that was hard to pin down—and all the better for it.

—Andy Thomas

Read our Album of the Day on Girl in the Half Pearl.
Listen to an interview with Liv.e on Bandcamp Weekly.

Charif Megarbane

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Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

Charif Megarbane understands he’s standing on the shoulders of giants. The prolific producer from Beirut taps into a massive wealth of styles, paying respect to music of all eras from the Middle East while incorporating elements of hip-hop and modern dance music. For Marzipan, he works in a mode he calls “Lebrary,” a twist on Lebanese music that re-imagined through the lens of library music—stock music meant for use in television and film. The eclectic mix feels like flipping through channels on a lazy afternoon, switching from hazy funk (“Ma Ward”) to spaced-out lounge (“Pale Baleine”) to jazzy, Madlib-style beats (“A Parking Lot by the Sea”) at a moment’s notice. For a musician always digging in the crates, it makes total sense that Megarbane would land at Habibi Funk—one of the reissue labels keeping the archives well-stocked.

—Shy Thompson

Read our Album of the Day on Marzipan.


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Vinyl LP

Moving bodies as an irrefutable sign of life; African drumming traditions centered within European production techniques as an act of resistance. Nídia’s 95 MINDJERES is a polyrhythmic behemoth weaving kuduro, batida, ballroom, and IDM into a masterclass on dance music’s inherently political roots. The record is dedicated to the women freedom fighters of Nídia’s native Guinea-Bissau, and on the title track, driving claps and exuberant flute transform into a defiant battle cry. Avant yet relaxed, the producer thrives on contrast, melding joyful organic percussion with ambient synths on the dreamy “Sukuku,” while a baile funk-inflected bassline rumbles menacingly under shimmering surf guitar on “To La.”

—Richard Villegas

Source of Denial

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Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

The beats come loud and hard on Source of Denial, the second album from Uganda-based Nihiloxica. Continuing the group’s singular mix of Bugandan drumming and club-pumping electronics, these relentless songs constantly explode, hammering out a musical protest against inequitable barriers between nations. Determined to bust through those walls, Nihiloxica slam out the haunting detonations of “Olutobazzi” and the metallic crash of the title track. The result is one of the most exhilarating albums of 2023, where listening is truly a physical experience.

—Marc Masters

Peace Loving People

San Francisco, California
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San Francisco, California
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Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Cassette

If you’ve followed Pardoner since their days as film school freshmen making Hüsker Dü-vian hardcore, their ascent to slacker-punk excellence likely snuck up on you. The San Francisco quartet revises their sound subtly, meaning Peace Loving People, their fourth record, doesn’t feel like a change-up. But it is—at least if you add up each instance of gnarled heartache (see “Rosemary’s Gone”), each affectionate aspiration (see “Doberman”); these outnumber and outshine the cynical critiques and insouciant sneers that, though still present, are no longer the band’s primary M.O. Peace Loving People is everything an indie rock record should be; Pardoner can do it all.

—Hayden Merrick

Read our interview with Pardoner.

Caroline Rose
The Art of Forgetting

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2 x Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD), Cassette

The Art of Forgetting, a bracing stylistic departure for Caroline Rose, is an album about memories—how we make them, how we erase them, and how they can trick us. That notion is apparent in the music, the way Rose has sandpapered the sonics so they feel like flickers of noise rather than solid sound; the way the tape buckles at times, like you’re listening to an old cassette; and the way old voicemails from Rose’s grandmother crop up throughout the record, a voice from the past. All of that is scene-setting for Rose to twist the knife in the lyrics, which are their most cutting to date. A highlight is the devastating “The Kiss,” which feels like a distant sequel to Soft Cell’s “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.” Over the barest hint of a synth, Rose, in a hushed voice, repeats; “For the kiss, I would do most anything.” In that line, Rose sums up the album’s theme—a longing for connection that transcends decades, and that defines most of our interactions in the past.

—J. Edward Keyes

Read our interview with Caroline Rose.

Frankie Rose
Love As Projection

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Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

A newfound creative freedom goes hand-in-hand with meticulous studio tooling on Frankie Rose’s fifth album, Love As Projection, a lush and exquisitely rendered record that stretches from pounding new wave anthems to slickly produced bursts of elaborate electropop. The album’s ten tracks dip in and out of atmospheres but never stray from Rose’s ethereal sensibilities or her unifying retro-futurist musical vision. The synths ripple, her voice soars, and sometimes, like on “Come Back,” it all comes together at the point of ecstasy.

—Elle Caroll

Read the next list…>


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