The Top 20 Aussie Albums of 2023
In a fantastic year for Australian records, we countdown the 20 best
From hip-hop fused post-punk to club influenced raps and experimental jazz to garage punk and psych soundscapes, here are the 20 best Australian albums of 2023.
20. SUPEREGO - Who Are You Hiding From?
Boorloo-based experimental hip-hop group’s long-awaited debut album lived up to expectations, showcasing the bands penchant for blending the likes of punk, noisy electronics, ambient compositions and soulful soundscapes with beats ranging boom bap, trap and upper tempo, dancefloor oriented styles, across a wide range of tempos and vibes. Check out the track by track breakdown the band took us through here.
19. Ziggy Ramo - Sugar Coated Lies
Proud Wik and Australian South Sea Solomon Islander artist and activist released his powerful new album way back on Invasion Day, with Sugar Coated Lies seeing Ramo highlight themes of complex trauma, mental health and ancestral truths, set to beats ranging from atmospheric boom bap to deep trappy beats.
18. Trophy Eyes - Suicide and Sunshine
Newcastle faves Trophy Eyes celebrated 10 years as a band with their fourth and what could have been their final album (but thankfully isn’t). Suicide and Sunshine sees the band further honing their unique brand of emotional, deeply personal melodic hardcore, blistering pop punk, with the mellow moments offset by relentless heaviness. Check out our interview with frontman John Floreani here.
17. Special Feelings - Special Feelings
Booloo-based duo of Naomi Robinson (formerly of Mosquito Coast) and Polly Pearl-Green AKA Special Feelings put W.A. on the map of the alt-jazz world with their incredible debut self-titled album of cosmic, beat-driven experimental jazz sounds released on iconic London-imprint Rhythm Section.
16. Mo'Ju - Oro, Plata, Mata
Filipino/Wiradjuri singer, songwriter and musicians fourth album saw them combine themes of modern societal angst, the excessive and limitless greed of capitalism and how these shape culture with textural neo-soul and modern r&b to striking and impactful effect.
15. Grievous Bodily Calm - Cascades
West Aussie instrumental five-piece continued their ascent with their fourth and most comprehensive EP to date with jazz infused breakbeats sitting alongside dancefloor-oriented electro; downtempo r&b slow jams next to IDM inspired sounds, all showcasing the bands knack for only playing what needs to be played… while being some of the town’s finest players. Check out our interview with GBC here.
14. GUM - Saturnia
The inspiration for prolific Fremantle-based singer, songwriter & multi-instrumentalist Jay Watson’s (Pond, Tame Impala) sixth solo album managed to be both his most diverse record to date while also being a cohesive listen from start to finish. From pastoral 60s folk to cosmic disco, 70s psych to new wave, and even a bit of sultry r&b and electro pop sounds, Saturnia saw Watson place a bigger emphasis on recording acoustic instruments, with the results speaking for themselves. Check out our interview with Jay here.
13. Private Function - 370HSSV 0773H
At the middle of the venn diagram of hilarious antics and addictive garage punk rock you will find Naarm’s Private Function. After naming their 2019 sophomore album St. Anger (the same title as Metallica’s contentious 2003 LP), their third effort sees another great album name, a raucous Coldplay cover, a whole lot of pisstaking and most importantly - some incredibly fun punk rock.
12. Close Counters - SOULACOASTA II
Naarm-based soulful beat duo Close Counters delivered the sequel to 2018’s SOULACOASTA back in February, with SOULACOASTA II taking things even deeper into the pair’s world of jazzy, lofi, housey, broken beats. Across 14 tracks the record sees niche samples paired with funky live instrumentation, with the result the best of both musical worlds. Check out Close Counters taking us through the record in-depth when we premiered it here.
11. Collarbones - Filth
After first collaborating on a track over MSN Messenger in 2007, Sydney-based production-duo Collarbones latest album Filth is their best to date - and sadly their last. Inspired by a longlost 90s compilation, Filth ranges from synth soundscapes to euphoric breakbeats, sitting alongside shoegaze and nostalgic alt-rock, all hitting perfectly without the need for rose coloured glasses.
10. Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers - I Love You
After their breakout 2022 that saw the release of their debut EP Pretty Good For A Girl Band, Teen Jesus’ debut album shows the band are equally as capable making singalong inducing pop rock anthems as they are slow burning ballads, with the mix an incredibly impressive first full length. Check out this tour diary from earlier in the year.
9. Pop Filter - CONO
As seems to be tradition for end of year lists, Aussie alt-jangle-pop supergroup Pop Filter’s third full-length only came out on December 1, but after a single listen had already solidified itself as one of the year’s best. In contrast to their first two albums that were recorded during weekends away across short time spans, CONO saw the band meeting weekly in a makeshift studio in an industrial estate, resulting in twelve cuts that range from irresistible jangle-pop to melodic indie rock with a few upper tempo jaunts thrown in for good measure. Check out the band taking us through the album in depth here.
8. The Necks - Travel
One of the most respected cult bands in the world, Aussie avant-ambient jazz improvisers nineteenth studio album picks up where 2020’s Three left off, this time delivering four 20(ish) minute pieces that showcase a band whose chemistry and musicianship is beyond comprehension at this point in their 30+ years of playing together.
7. Bad//Dreems - HOO HA!
Adelaide garage rock post-punks Bad//Dreems cemented themselves as one of the great Aussie rock bands with their fourth album, a record that saw them take a more direct approach to songwriting with extremely effective results.
6. Tkay Maidza - Sweet Justice
Tkay’s long awaited second full-length saw her expand on the clubby, majestic pop sounds she developed on the now iconic Last Year Was Weird series of EPs, with her raps hitting harder and her hooks more addictive than ever as she showcases her lyrical prowess.
5. Angie McMahon - Light, Dark, Light Again
Another highly anticipated sophomore album that did not disappoint was singer-songwriter Angie McMahon’s second full-length that saw her expand on the intimate indie rock of her debut in a more sweeping, layered and epic direction as she moves between moods, emotions and styles with ease.
4. Ta-Ku - Songs To Come Home To
Ten years on from his now classic Songs To Break Up To mixtape, Boorloo-beatsmith legend and multi-faceted creative Ta-Ku brough the “Songs To” series to a conclusion with the phenomenal Songs To Come Home To. An epic collection of 20 tracks featuring a wide range of guests including Milan Ring, Touch Sensitive, Young Franco, Wafia, ?uestlove, 1300, JMSN, Sango, STCHT is an uplifting record that explores all manner of tempos and styles within the hip-hop infused sides of soul and funk, ranging from upper tempo peaks to sultry slow jams.
3. RVG - Brain Worms
With its title inspired by “the hyper-recognisable experience of, each day, baring witness to a world of private obsessions being aired out in the infinite”, it’s little surprise that Brain Worms - the Naarm-based indie rock meets post punk four piece RVG’s third album - is their widest reaching and most varied to date. With a healthy injection of synths as well as exploring some slower, more tender territory, Brain Worms is atmospheric post-punk-esque sounds at their best, with Romy Vager’s soul baring, witty and melancholic lyrics a joy to behold.
2. Floodlights - Painting of My Time
With their 2020 debut album From A View, Floodlights became one of the most exciting emerging bands in the Aussie rock & roll landscape. In 2023 with the follow-up, Painting of My Time, they became one of the country's most exciting bands - fullstop. A gorgeous 10 track collection of art rock, post-punk and undeniably Australian rock & roll, Painting of My Time sees big guitar hooks and commanding rhythm sections alongside flourishes of trumpet, piano, strings and synths of this rich and excitingly layered album.
1. Genesis Owusu - STRUGGLER
“THE STRUGGLER RUNS THROUGH AN ABSURD WORLD WITH NO ‘WHERE’ OR ‘WHY’ AT HAND. JUST AN INSTINCTUAL INNER RHYTHM, YELLING AT THEM TO SURVIVE THE PESTILENCE AND LIGHTING BOLTS COMING FROM ABOVE. A ROACH JUST KEEPS ROACHING.” - Genesis Owusu
This statement from multi-ARIA award-winning Ghanaian-Australian artist Genesis Owusu regarding his sophomore album STRUGGLER perfectly encapsulates the energy and flow of the follow-up to his award winning debut. Inspired by the likes of Camus, Kafka & Samuel Beckett, STRUGGLER is centred around the broad narrative of “a story about a Roach, that runs and runs, trying not to get stepped on by God" while also being inspired by recent catastrophic events. Owing as much to the likes of Joy Division as it does to Prince, STRUGGLER manages to ebb and flow from post-punk inspired sounds to funky, soulful slow jams, with a satisfying flow to the tension throughout the record that releases with meditative album closer, Stuck To The Fan. Check out our interview with Genesis Owusu here.