Our final round-up for music in 2023 is the big one – the Top 10 Albums of the Year!
We have narrowed down our top 10 northern UK albums from the last 12 months, but first we’ll give a shout out to those from further afield who stood out with new records in 2023.
This year, they are BoyGenius (The Record), Willie J Healey (Bunny), Enter Shikari (A Kiss For The Whole World), Olivia Rodrigo (Guts), Blur (The Ballad of Darren), Gengahr (Red Sun Titans), Shame (Food For Worms), and The Murder Capital (Gigi’s Recovery).
But let’s head back up north, and after plenty of deliberation, here are our Top 10 Albums in 2023.
10 – THE LOTTERY WINNERS – ANXIETY REPLACEMENT THERAPY
Leigh four-piece, The Lottery Winners, received the ultimate accolade for years of graft and dedication, with Anxiety Replacement Therapy achieving the coveted UK number 1 album spot ahead of Jessie Ware. The follow-up to 2021’s “Something To Leave The House For” featured duets with some big names, including Boy George, Shaun Ryder, and Frank Turner, and was a landmark success for the Greater Manchester group.
9 – REVEREND & THE MAKERS – HEATWAVE IN THE COLD NORTH
What a return in 2023 for Sheffield‘s indie stalwarts, Reverend and the Makers. Frontman, Jon McClure, took a different creative path with Heatwave in the Cold North, pushing a new sound and spawning stellar hits in the shape of the title track, Problems, and A Letter To My 21 Year Old Self. The sonic direction also gave a new edge to the famously energetic live Reverend and the Makers performances, showcasing a band at the top of their game.
8 – ANDREW CUSHIN – WAITING FOR THE RAIN
One of the North East’s breakout stars of recent years is Geordie singer-songwriter, Andrew Cushin, who released his long-awaited debut album, Waiting For The Rain. The album seals off the opening chapter of Andrew’s career, which has seen him already working with Noel Gallagher, Peter Doherty, and touring the world with Louis Tomlinson. A solid debut album for a talented artist who is set for a big future in the industry, and the tracks sound even better with Andrew and his full band on the live stage.
7 – NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – COUNCIL SKIES
Six years on from his previous album, Noel Gallagher returned in 2023 with the critically acclaimed, Council Skies. Describing his fourth post-Oasis album, Noel said “It’s going back to the beginning. Daydreaming, looking up at the sky and wondering about what life could be”. This period of reflection includes singles, Pretty Boy, and Easy Now, which both received widespread airplay throughout the year. It was a long time in the works but it’s safe to say it was a strong return for Noel.
6 – HOLLY HUMBERSTONE – PAINT MY BEDROOM BLACK
After winning the BRITS’ Rising Star Award (formerly Critic’s Choice) in 2022, big things were expected from Grantham’s Holly Humberstone in the lead-up to her highly anticipated debut album this year. And she undoubtedly delivered with the follow-up to The Walls Are Way Too Thin EP, as she continues to follow her own creative path to deliver an honest, reflective, and clever record with Paint My Bedroom Black. It was released to widespread acclaim in October.
5 REN – SICK BOI
Similarly to The Lottery Winners, North Wales artist, Ren, achieved his first number one album in 2023. He first caught our attention with his incredible single, Hi Ren, and the hype around this creative talent grew from there. Sick Boi is an eighteen-track colossus which features stand-out single, Animal Flow, drawing instant similarities with Kanye West’s track, Black Skinhead. If you are looking for something a little bit different from an artist pushing his creative boundaries, then Sick Boi is a must listen this year.
4 – THE LATHUMS – FROM NOTHING TO A LITTLE BIT MORE
Following the chart-topping success of debut album, How Beautiful Life Can Be, the pressure was on for Wigan‘s indie quartet, The Lathums, to deliver with the follow-up. From Nothing To A Little Bit More does just that, and is testament to a band progressing and maturing at a fast rate in their new-found spotlight. The likes of Say My Name and Struggle are evidence of this, from the lyricism to the musicianship, and with a new-look lineup following the addition of bassist, Matty Murphy, who provides an extra layer of vocal support. This is a band destined for the biggest stages.
3 – THE ROYSTON CLUB – SHAKING HIPS & CRASHING CARS
Wrexham‘s The Royston Club released their highly anticipated debut album, Shaking Hips & Crashing Cars, earlier this year, and it certainly lived up to the hype. With a strong following in their hometown and beyond, The Royston Club have breathed new life into the modern indie scene with their catchy singalong anthems. With a rawness comparable to early releases from The Kooks, their breakthrough record also shows versatility, from the outdoor festival ready hit, I’m a Liar, through to the lyrically impressive love song, A Tender Curiosity. A must-see band and a must-listen album.
2 – JOESEF – PERMANENT DAMAGE
With falsetto vocals and an electronic-indie crossover that sees Scotland take on Kevin Parker’s Tame Impala, Joesef‘s Permanent Damage was an instant success upon release, and a worthy runner up in our Top 10 this year. The stand-out track, It’s Been a Little Heavy Lately, wouldn’t be amiss on The Slow Rush (Tame Impala), and sees the Glaswegian singer-songwriter opening up lyrically and producing a record that lives up to the excitement surrounding Joseph Traynor since his emergence at the start of the decade. This 13-track debut album is just the start, and we can’t wait for the next chapter.
1 – YOUNG FATHERS – HEAVY HEAVY
And our Album of the Year for 2023 is Young Fathers‘ incredible return, Heavy Heavy. One of the big winners in 2023 based on their incredible live shows and accompanying record, Young Fathers are consistently brilliant and continued this way with their fourth release. From the outset with opening track, Rice, Heavy Heavy is a statement of creative intent. The Scottish trio are one of the best and most unique bands out there today, and the latest album release is nothing short of perfection. Nominated for the Mercury Prize and winning Scottish Album of the Year, Young Fathers have enjoyed an incredible 2023.
So there are our Top 10 Albums of 2023. Do you agree or disagree? Have your say!
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