TFword Staff Picks: Favorite Albums Released in 2023

Techno, R&B, rock, metal; TFword is pleased to present our Staff Picks for albums released this year.

It’s time, once again, to say goodbye to the year that was and welcome 2024; and for the team at TFword, this means gearing up for a whole new set of smash hit releases and sold out shows. But we can’t step into the new year without a recap of some of our favorite releases of this year.

Technimatic – For All Of Us

With their ‘Better Perspective’ LP in 2016, drum & bass duo Technimatic delivered one of the greatest drum & bass albums of all time; and after the success of the album, they could have just said, “Alright, job done,” but, here we are in 2023, with another seminal album release from Technimatic.

Of course, Technimatic’s soul-melting melodies and their euphoric style of music make them a true drum & bass juggernaut. But this time, the importance of their fourth studio album extends beyond only its musical brilliance.

The past three years have been calamitous, to say the least; a full-blown pandemic, wars, devastating natural calamities, and economic crisis. We’ve been through a fair bit, and Technimatic wants to dedicate this album ‘For All Of Us.’ Each tune and its title has the power to send you into a deep chain of thoughts and reflect on the past few years. Immersive, emotional, thought-provoking, and poignant; there is a range of sentiments that you will go through when you journey through the album.

Just sit, hit play and let the album do the talking. 

Top picks: Coming Back, Sunburst and Colour Me In

Glume & Phossa – ‘Between Surface’

If you follow dubstep closely, you’d be familiar with Glume & Phossa’s penchant for those deep, moody, sometimes haunting musical excursions. With their debut album ‘Between Surface,’ the duo have taken all the experiences they’re known for to the next level.

The 13-track album, which features only Glume & Phossa productions, is an exhibition of evocative, measured, free-flowing dubstep music. After the opener, which is quite literally named ‘Open,’ the duo takes us into the chirpy and sunny style of music they are known for before being struck with an interlude. From the fifth track onwards, Glume & Phossa start showing why they are one of the most respected acts of the genre. Featuring a heavy influence of their chiming productions on tunes like ‘Land On Head Land On Feet,’ ‘Eclipse,’ and ‘Cycles,’ the duo take us towards the curtain-closing tunes and put together an album that caters equally to the couch and the dancefloor.

Top picks: Love Lost, Still Here and Close Enough

Paramore – ‘This Is Why’

Coming afresh from their ’80s pop-rock-inspired record ‘After Laughter’ in 2017, American three-piece rock band Paramore brings back their gritty, signature sound with an elevated outlook and expertise in their latest Grammy-nominated album, ‘This Is Why.’ Self-exploration continues to be the pith of the band’s lyrical themes, and ‘This Is Why’ sees them tackle afflictions of growing up in ‘C’est Comme Ca,’ getting stuck in a toxic rut in ‘Figure 8,’ struggling to choose good over evil in ‘You First,’ or front person Hayley Williams’ heart-wrenching take on love in ‘Liar.’ The first half of ‘This Is Why’ brandishes itself with a post-punk forward milieu, featuring incisive guitar licks, punchy percussions, and Paramore’s descriptive lyricism; while the latter half gives a slight nod to their previous era with its new wave approach. After nearly two decades of historic releases, ‘This Is Why’ is Paramore at its finest.

Top picks: Figure 8, C’est Comme Ça, Liar, and Thick Skull

Jessie Ware – ‘That! Feels Good!’

English singer-songwriter Jessie Ware’s fifth LP ‘That! Feels Good!’ is my ultimate new-age disco album. Packed with the genre’s exemplary four-on-the-floor beats, decadent horn and string arrangements, and funky synths, ‘That! Feels Good!’ rounds up as an elevated sonic experience, thanks to Jessie’s honeyed vocals shining seamlessly over each track. From the get-go, the album paints a picture of what’s to come, enveloping listeners in an emancipating yet sultry expedition on the dancefloor.

Top picks: Begin Again, Lightning, Free Yourself, and Freak Me Now

Johnny Booth – ‘Moments Elsewhere’

In a time where it’s almost difficult to stand out as a newer metal band, New York’s Johnny Booth really made a powerful statement with their latest album ‘Moments Elsewhere’ released in July 2023. I honestly discovered the band because of this release and was glad to be introduced to them by a close friend. The album takes some of the finest elements in modern metal and hardcore, melding them together like they were destined to. With some nasty vocals in places that suddenly soared as uplifting, to some mean, fairly technical but still super groovy parts, with pounding drums to make the whole piece more cohesive, and a dash of interesting electronics to define the soundscape throughout. This strong 12-track album brought out a unique blend of everything you love in modern metal, post-hardcore and metalcore, making it one of the tastiest offerings of the year globally. It is a treat, from start to finish, no exclusions.

Top picks: Collapse in the Key of Fireworks (went down as my number 1 song on Spotify Wrapped and among their top 1% fans globally), Full Tilt, Why Becomes How, Ring Light Altar, and No Comply

TesseracT – ‘War of Being’

When a band like TesseracT puts out music, it is always something so carefully and beautifully crafted that any Tesseract fan or modern metal-head will absolutely fall in love. Possibly one of their best albums yet, the angelic vocals of Dan Tompkins, paired with what you can call the signature TesseracT sound, opened up a whole new dimension in the metal music continuum. Their productions have evolved, becoming cleaner and neater, yet they sound more powerful than ever. Vocal production takes a whole new route on this one, with belting parts that can bring tears to the eyes of an invested listener. What’s interesting about this album is also the incredible visual identity they claimed through their videos as singles were released, building up to the final album drop. I’d fallen out of listening to TesseracT for a couple of albums in the middle, but it goes without a doubt that there is no vocalist that can sound TesseracT enough like Dan does. #DanWasBetteract forever.

Top picks: The Grey, Legion, War of Being, and Natural Disaster

The Tramlines Project – ‘Perception’

If you are on the quest for one of the most alluring post-rock, experimental rock music, then look no further than musician Rahul Seth’s Bangaluru-based The Tramlines Project; namely their impressive debut album ‘Perception.’ Released in October 2023, the album stacks up seven instrumental tracks cobbled together with intricate compositions. ‘Lucid Dream,’ released as an appetizer for the album, is a robust post-rock/progressive metal score wrapped with captivating production, guitars, and percussion elements, accompanied by a mesmerizing music video. ‘Hope’ offer a melodic palate of key segments, while ‘Frostbite’ and ‘Right & Wrong’ dive into an abyss of suspense-filled disarray. The Tramlines Project are Rahul Seth, Aritra Das, Prajwal Shekar, and Aniket Thyagarajan.

RAYE – ‘My 21st Century Blues’

There is no way you haven’t listened to RAYE’s ‘Escapism’ with 070 Shake on social media. The track garnered much love on the internet and was used in hundreds of thousands of reels on Instagram. Just like that, her new album ‘My 21st Century Blues’ is a must-listen record. The English singer-songwriter kicks off the album with an introduction and soon tells a tale about a partner who starts crying when the two fight. With her incredible vocals on display towards the track, RAYE makes sure listeners are seated for 46 minutes and 52 seconds to listen to her “21st Century Blues.” She sings about her substance abuse, trials and tribulations in her life, sexual assault, body dysmorphia, and environmental crisis. It is heartbreaking and beautiful and takes you on an emotional rollercoaster through RAYE’s storytelling and vocals.

Top picks: Hard Out Here, Ice Cream Man, Environmental Anxiety, and Black Mascara

Janelle Monáe – ‘The Age of Pleasure’

A new album from Janelle Monáe was long overdue, and boy, did she deliver! The follow-up to her Grammy-nominated iconic album ‘Dirty Computer’ did not disappoint. Janelle opens ‘The Age of Pleasure’ with ‘Float,’ a track embellished with horn arrangements that set your mood for the next 32 minutes and 4 seconds. It features Nigerian musician and singer Seun Kuti and his father’s band, Egypt 80. She’s got tracks that make you get up from your seat and bust a move, with bops like ‘Champagne Shit,’ ‘Phenomenal’ with rapper and singer Doechii, and the sexy and empowering number ‘Lipstick Lover,’ among others. Janelle Monáe’s ‘The Age of Pleasure is like a smooth ride with impeccable flow. The record has also received Grammy nominations for ‘Album Of The Year’ and ‘Best Progressive R&B Album.’

Top picks: Float, Champagne Shit, and Know Better

Aaryan Shah – ‘A Love Letter To LA’

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, R&B singer-songwriter, Aaryan Shah, suddenly had ears on his music from all around the world during COVID-19, when his song ‘Renegade‘ went viral on TikTok and Instagram Reels. Unlike many, he wasn’t a one-viral-hit wonder; months after ‘Renegade’ went viral, he released an album titled ‘The Arrival’ in 2020 that featured songs like ‘Ruins’ and ‘To the Ends.’ He also released another album of eight songs in 2020 under the title ‘The Dark Ages,’ later heading out on tour in 2021, and struck the world again in 2022 with the release of an eleven-song album, ‘Codex.’ Ever since the world has noticed his music, he just keeps getting better and giving us insane tracks that make R&B listeners fall in love. And it happened all over again this year with the release of his latest album, ‘A Love Letter to LA,’ which is a perfect example of good songwriting with equally brilliant production that helps further drive each song. 

Top Picks: Intoxicated, Somewhere in Limbo, and A Prayer for You

And that rounds up our list of 2023 albums that are especially close to our hearts. See you this time, next year.

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