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For The Punks’ Best Of 2023

2023 was another great year for music. Every year, members of the For The Punks team submit their favorite music whether that is a single, album, tour, and more! If they submit, their favorites make it onto a post and Spotify playlist for our readers, you, to check out (which, I’m assuming, is why you are here right now)!

With that being said, we are celebrating the end of 2023 with a collection of some of our favorite music including Zulu, Hozier, Briston Maroney, Maisie Peters, Chris Farren, Movements, Pool Kids, Saturdays At Your Place, Catie Turner, Broadside, and so many more!

This list is the perfect representation of some of our 2023 favorites. We hope you enjoyed this year’s releases as much as we did!

Remember, just because a release is not on here, does not mean we didn’t like it! As you can tell by the list, so much came out this year. We can’t feature it all!

Jesse Hudgins

Favorite album: A New Tomorrow by Zulu

Genre: Hardcore/punk

Favorite song: “Divine Intervention”

The reason being is the music intensity matches the lyrical intensity. It’s something that hits the listener hard in all capacities while being thought provoking like the rest of the record. The band holds nothing back on where they stand or what they want to talk about creating an in your face tone towards the song. The album is a beautiful blend of many genres and styles with relevant messages creating an experience you must listen to front to back.

Favorite EP: Always Cloudy by Saturdays At Your Place

The reason why this EP is my favorite is because it is a love letter to the emo revival of the 2010s. Very personable with insanely catchy tunes like “Tarot Cards.”

Another song I would recommend: “Anemia” by Sincere Engineer

In 2024 I’m looking forward to the new albums from Alkaline Trio and Neck Deep and the continual evolution of hardcore. I also went to Riot Fest this year and enjoyed the return of SOFT PLAY with “Punk’s Dead.”

Taliyah Fox

Favorite album: Unreal Unearth by Hozier

Genre: anywhere between folk, pop, rock, blues

Favorite song: “Abstract (Psychopomp)”

Most of the songs on the album discuss some sort of aspect of the nine circles of hell, which I think is really cool to begin with. This song specifically relates to the eighth circle of hell, where “souls are punished by being split and wounded,” according to Genius Lyrics. This song, being based on a true story from Hozier’s life, is about an animal being hit by a car, and a person going to help guide the animal to a peaceful death, similar to a psychopomp, which, in some mythologies and religions, is a being that guides spirits from their life on Earth into the afterlife. I just think it’s a beautiful song!

Favorite EP: the afterglow by blackbear – it’s a very peaceful album, but in a lonely and numb way. Sometimes it’s nice to feel kind of lonely and alone. It’s nice to put on this EP when experiencing similar feelings.

Another song to listen to is “This Could Be A Dream” by Aurora.

Looking forward to in 2024: Hozier’s second leg of tour!

Cool show of 2023: I saw Maude Latour in concert this year for about the seventh time. Every single time is so amazing. She always knows how to make it feel like everyone in the crowd is involved and having fun. It really feels like a big group of friends dancing and singing together.

Mae Saunders

Favorite album: Ultrapure by Briston Maroney

Genre: Indie / Indie Folk / Indie Rock

Favorite song: “Delaware”

Though slightly less popular than some of the more upbeat tracks on the album, I absolutely adore “Delaware” with its folk undertones that are still so true to Briston Maroney’s traditional indie sound. One of my favorite parts of the song is the guitar riff that perfectly mirrors and accentuates the vocals leading into the chorus. Ultrapure as a whole is flawless top to bottom. It is filled with emotional intimacy and beautifully arranged melodies that are unique to anything that Briston Maroney has put out thus far.

Favorite EP: Mercy Kill by Sleepy Gonzales

This EP sticks out in my mind because it perfectly represents the development of Sleepy Gonzales’s sound over the past few years. It also contains one of my favorite songs of the year, “Couch Song.”

Other comments: It was the year of Noah Kahan, so I have to give mention to one of my top tracks, “Your Needs, My Needs.” I saw Backseat Lovers this year when they were on tour and I really enjoyed the Oceans Calling festival. I’m looking forward to Mt. Joy’s tour next summer and Briston Maroney’s tour in the spring with Snarls. Other than that, I’m really looking forward to festival season!

Kirsten Newbrough

Favorite album: The Good Witch by Maisie Peters

Genre: Indie pop

Favorite song: “Coming of Age”

Since its release in June, I have been listening to some parts of this album almost every day. There is a song on it that every single person can relate to and it is written so beautifully. Maisie does such a good job connecting with her fanbase both online and in person on tour, including having an entire song dedicated to her 2022 headline tour in the United States. I truly don’t know how I didn’t find her until last year, but I will be listening to her for years and years to come.

Favorite EP: Comedy & Tragedy: Act 1 by Catie Turner

This EP is vulnerable in the best way and touches on a lot of topics other artists usually don’t. It was the first installment of a multiple part project released over the course of the year.

Another song: “Same Color as the Sun” by flor

Looking forward to in 2024: Valley tour, Knox headline tour, The Driver Era tour

Cool 2023 show mentions: The Band Camino’s headline tour, The Driver Era at Pier 17

Arden Kurhayez

Favorite album: The Good Witch (Deluxe) by Maisie Peters

Favorite song: “Guy on a Horse”

The Good Witch (Deluxe) has a great mix of songs that are the high-energy, cut-to-the-bone pop that Maisie has gravitated towards this year, but is equally balanced with her singer-songwriter, more folksy roots. “The Last One” is very sweet and cinematic — if you love description-driven imagery (and currently have a crush!) it’s a must-listen, and to me it feels like the perfect encapsulation of Maisie’s artistry. It’s very immersive and glittery, which is a testament to the great production as well. “Guy on a Horse” is perfect for when you’re feeling confident and pokes fun at the concept of a man thinking he’s so fantastic when really the subject of the song is, and he’s just a mediocre guy on his high horse. The album has a song for almost any emotion, and four of the songs were in my top 5 for Spotify Wrapped, so it got a lot of play time from me this year!

Favorite EP: Talking to Ghosts: Act II by Double Identity Band

It is a pop-rock/pop-punk EP that will resonate with fans of early 2000’s Disney Channel. Act II expands on the story, high energy, and angst that was introduced on the 2022 EP “Talking to Ghosts: Act I,” with references hidden in the lyrics and production that create a fun treasure map for listeners to connect the dots between the songs. For full transparency, it’s also one of my favorites because it’s my band and I know the intricate details, passion, and work we wove into every section of the songs, and I’m very proud of it!

Another song rec: “Nothing You Can Take From Me (Boot-Stompin’ Version)” from The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (Music From & Inspired By) by Rachel Zegler

What are you looking forward to in 2024: I’m very excited to hear (and see!) what Maisie Peters will be doing for the upcoming movie “How To Date Billy Walsh.” The film was originally set to be released this year, but it was pushed back to 2024 — there is a still from the movie that has Maisie’s drumhead onstage, so I think it’s safe to assume that we’ll be getting some great new music from her soon! I loved the songs she made for the Apple TV show “Trying,” and she’s such a dynamic songwriter that I have no idea what to expect for this new film, but I’m confident she’ll out-do herself once again.

Cool 2023 shows: I was fortunate to catch a lot of cool shows this year, including Orianthi, vaultboy, Meet Me @ The Altar, Joshua Bassett, The Summer Set, Against The Current, Waterparks, Taylor Swift, 5SOS, Maisie Peters, Sabrina Carpenter, Nightly, and the Jonas Brothers!

Anything else to add? The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes film was released last month, and all of Rachel Zegler’s vocals (Lucy Gray, for those of you who read the book!) were recorded live on set for the film. The emotion and vocal choices she made for that role paired with the expertise of the audio engineers is incredibly impressive. In Suzanne Collins’ TBOSAS book, she wrote the song lyrics which were then made into the songs for the film, and I think it’s incredible to see (and hear) the results.

Liza Kushnir

Favorite album: RUSH! by Måneskin

Genre: Alt rock

Favorite song: “HONEY (ARE YOU COMING)?”

The album pays homage to the classic rock sound of the 60s/70s yet it’s new and fresh. Tom Morello was featured on GOSSIP and that collaboration helped to showcase some of the band’s inspiration. “HONEY (ARE YOU COMING)?” stands out because it’s a great example of how the band’s strength is putting an alternative twist on pop music.

Favorite EP: The Rest by boygenius. This EP incorporates some of the strongest songwriting the trio has and is a great starting point for people looking to get into their discography.

Looking forward to in 2024: The 2024 Foo Fighters Tour

Some fun concerts that I went to this year were Metallica at Sofi Stadium, Avenged Sevenfold at the Kia Forum, and the Fleet Foxes at the Hollywood Bowl.

Miranda Jayne

Favorite album: Doom Singer by Chris Farren

Genre: That’s a good question. Jazz punk? Synth rock? Does it have a genre?

Favorite song: “Cosmic Leash” but “Screensaver” is a close second

Doom Singer is by far the best musical journey I went on this year. The album itself couples upbeat, dancey melodies with self-reflective and emotional lyricism. Couple those 10 tracks with Farren’s hand drawn art direction, brilliant short form content and music videos, and a stage show that is equal parts rock concert and comedy routine – Doom Singer is the full package.

Favorite EP: Pool Kids // POOL – Pool Kids

The first half of this EP features a new Pool Kids track, plus two dreamy reimagined songs from the band’s self-titled album. Then chaos breaks loose in the second half and the band’s heavy alter ego, POOL, takes over. This album not only showcases the range of the amazing musicians and songwriters in this band, it also brings to light the truly infinite amount of ways that an artist can define their sound. There are no rules!!!

Looking forward to 2024: I’m very much looking forward to the Foxing and The Hotelier co-headlining tour making its way to Orlando in the spring. I’m a big fan of these full album tours and seeing The Albatross and Home, Like Noplace Is There played back to back is going to be a good time.

Favorite 2023 show(s): My favorite shows of the year were the two You Blew It! reunion gigs in Orlando, Florida that I was lucky enough to document. With other amazing Florida bands like Woolbright and Glazed, plus two nights of acoustic sets from Into It. Over It., it was truly a moment for the emo history books.

My runners up for AOTY are Southeast of Somewhere by Kerosene Heights, No Joy by Spanish Love Songs, This is Why by Paramore, and somebody in hell loves you by Sydney Sprague

Jade Ivy

Favorite album: GUTS by Olivia Rodrigo

Genre: Pop

Favorite song: “get him back!”

I think GUTS is the perfect sophomore album. It is reminiscent of SOUR both musically and lyrically, but it stands out on its own. It sounds like everything that SOUR aspired to be, with the heavier sounds and actual screaming (all-american bitch). A detail that I like is that driver’s license and vampire, the most emotional songs on their albums, are listed as track 3’s. Seeing the maturity in her music, it only excites me to see where her music will go.

Favorite EP: Public Displays of Affection by Leanna Firestone. The EP talks about love and acceptance in a way that inspires me to look at the world in an optimistic view. My favorite song off of this is “God and the Government,” for the lyrics and the use of sound effects.

Another song rec: “I Hate Boston” by Reneé Rapp

Looking forward to in 2024: Scene Queen’s debut album: Hot Singles In Your Area! Also, the re-recordings of both Reputation and Debut by Taylor Swift.

Favorite 2023 show: I was fortunate enough to see the BabyKlok Tour with BabyMetal and DETHKLOK at The Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, Connecticut.

Other: Cobra by Megan thee Stallion has two versions; the original and the one featuring SpiritBox! Both are excellent, and hopefully her latest projects will sound more like them

Jacqueline Fierro

Favorite album: RUCKUS! by Movements

Genre: Alternative / rock / emo

Favorite song: “Tightrope”

“Tightrope” is my favorite song off of RUCKUS! This track might seem like a strange choice to choose out of the upbeat nature of the majority of the album but “Tightrope” was immediately on repeat after I listened to the album for the first time. I love how the beginning of the song starts out with just the piano and Pat’s voice–it literally moved me to tears. This is one of those songs that was so easy to connect to for me and that’s why it’s so special.

Favorite EP: Too Quick to Forgive by Balance and Composure. Balance and Composure reuniting this year and releasing an EP was an unsuspected surprise. I did not expect them to release new music or go on tour after their breakup and these two songs were an absolute gift to celebrate their return.

Another song rec: “Fool” by Knuckle Puck

Fave 2023 concert: This year, I attended When We Were Young Fest! It was amazing to see so many of my favorite bands on one day.

Other notable releases from this year: Self Titled by The Maine, new planet heaven by HUNNY, Losing What We Love by Knuckle Puck, Calling the Dogs by Citizen, The Best Part About Being Human by Bearings, and like dying stars, we’re reaching out by Runner.

I am looking forward to the Mom Jeans tour in 2024! Not only do they rock, but they are bringing along some awesome support on the tour and special guests on various dates.

Shelby Price

Favorite album: Hotel Bleu by Broadside

Genre: Pop-punk

Favorite song: “Bang” (featuring Joshua Roberts)

I’ve been a fan of Broadside for quite a long time and they have progressed so much as a band. The lyrics in “Bang” are raw and cut deep, but the song itself makes you want to dance. It’s the type of song you could listen to for an hour straight and not get tired of it.

Looking forward to in 2024: Definitely looking forward to the upcoming tours like Fall Out Boy, Broadside, and Our Last Night. Really hoping The Home Team tours again next year as well!

Favorite 2023 show: I got to go to so many shows this year it’s hard to choose. I’d have to say Logic was probably my top show of the year. Getting to see him twice in the same week and photograph for him for one of the shows was an absolute dream come true.

Karalyn Hope

Favorite album: This Is Why by Paramore

Genre: Alt-rock, pop

Favorite song: “Crave”

Favorite EP: With Thorns of Glass and Petals of Grief by Balmora

Other great albums of the year come from Taking Meds, Slowdive, Sign Language, Troye Sivan, Angel Du$t, Pain Of Truth, cursetheknife, Gus Dapperton, World I Hate, KRUELTY, Magnitude, Mil-Spec, Floor Space, Citizen, Sydney Sprague, Wreckage, Narrow Head, Flower Language, Mouth For War, SPINE, Watsky, Silent Planet, Skourge, Razel Got Her Wings, Innerlove., Militarie Gun, Heavenward, Restraining Order, and Fiddlehead.

Emma Ogier, Seltzer, Hunter Senft, Drug Church, and Public Opinion (featuring Rex Tycoon), also had great releases this year.

Listen to all of our favorites of 2023 on a Spotify playlist below!

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