2023: Top 10 Albums From Artists You've Probably Never Heard of...and Should!


by Vish Iyer



#10 In The Pines – Painting By Numbers

Cincinnati-based In The Pines have created a sixties-flavored psychedelic desert-rock album in Painting By Numbers. What makes it really interesting are the flawless incorporation of folk and shoegaze influences, resulting in campfire acoustic numbers all the way to tracks with walls of guitar layers.



#9 Slight – Speak for Your Love

A band that has been releasing songs for a decade without releasing an album until now, Montreal’s Slight is as “indie” as it gets. But don’t be fooled by this and assume this band is wet behind the ears. Every song that this three-piece has released has been masterfully crafted, performed, and produced, and Speak for Your Love doesn’t suggest otherwise. The group’s swirling guitars, retro synths, quirky boyish vocals, and psychedelic textures define their unique style, exhibited just perfectly in this long-awaited full-length release.



#8 La Force – XO SKELETON

Montreal’s La Force is the solo project of Ariel Engle, who has a voice that could hold you captive even if she was reading the phone book: warm, heartfelt, and big… like, “Adele” big! On this sophomore album, she uses her commanding vocals on songs that are mostly hushed. Couple this with her “stream of consciousness” Joni Mitchell-style of vocal delivery and Bjork-like other-worldly musical atmosphere created mostly organically with jazz influences, and you will find yourself rewarded with a truly fascinating and goosebump-inducing listening experience. 



#7 Cherry Glazerr – I Don't Want You Anymore

On their fourth release, Los Angeles-based Cherry Glazer incorporate a mix of genres from grunge and nineties alternative to synth-pop with a catchy pop sensibility, resulting in an album that’s super-enjoyable. Band leader Clementine Creevy’s snarky deadpan vocals add a modern “millennial” luster to the somewhat dated genres that the band explores on this release.



#6 PVRIS – Evergreen

Boston-based producer, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Lyndsey Gunnulfsen, aka PVRIS, adopts an aggressive electronic sound while executing songs that are deeply rooted in pop music on her fourth release, Evergreen. Channelling artists such as Caroline Polachek, Gunnulfsen’s voice is primal, ferocious, and very effective in unleashing the musical intensity of the hard-edged pop music on this record. The fierce singing and the urgency in the music work best on the mellower tracks, which are catchy as hell but without oozing the sweetness of their pop underbellies.



#5 A Beacon School – Yoyo

A Beacon School is the solo project of New York-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Patrick J. Smith. On this sophomore release, Smith further sharpens his song-crafting chops in comparison with his 2018 debut Cola and creates a gorgeously amazing album. On the face of it, Yoyo is a pure dream pop album with jangly guitars and airy vocals, but there’s so much more going on here. From the razor-sharp angular guitars electrifying the dreamy sound to the shameless dance music influences, Yoyo is as beautifully complex as it is simply beautiful.



#4 The Rocket Summer – SHADOWKASTERS

gives the whole idea of classifying music a big middle finger. The force behind The Rocket Summer, Dallas-based multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer, Bryce Avary, has shoved every genre imaginable into this album and blended it together like his morning smoothie. And just like a tasty smoothie whose ingredients you cannot discern, SHADOWKASTERS sounds amazing from start to finish, although you might be hard-pressed to describe what you’re listening to. Avary’s brilliant sense of melody and knack for making songs that are sinfully catchy binds all the musical chaos together and makes you coming back to the album again and again...just like you would for your favorite smoothie.


#3 Dutch Uncles – True Entertainment 

Dutch Uncles is a prime example of “artists you’ve probably never heard of...and should!” This group out of Manchester, England, has been consistently putting out stellar albums since their 2009 self-titled debut, maturing musically, and polishing their one-of-a-kind new wave-tinged math rock sound with each release. True Entertainment continues the relatively muscular style of its predecessor Big Balloon and takes it even further. True Entertainment is heavier and more guitar-dominated. Plus, you see an edgier and more pissed-off side of frontman Duncan Wallis’ naturally amiable voice, which still sounds classy as always. Like every Dutch Uncles album to date, True Entertainment doesn’t disappoint.



#2 Louise Burns – Element

is a very different album from its predecessor, Portraits, which, like many indie records of the present period, embraces a bright shimmering synth-driven pop sound. Element, on the other hand, is meditative. Vancouver-based Louise Burns invokes Kate Bush, especially from her The Sensual World era, creating pop music that dials things down and has a rustic quality to it. Even the somewhat upbeat numbers sound more mysterious than merry. Burns still maintains a vibrant pop music spirit at the heart of each of the moody numbers on Element. This helps make it an addictive album that still withholds enough that you want to come back for more.


#1 SIPHO. – Prayers & Paranoia

Prayers & Paranoia,
the debut release from Birmingham (UK) native SIPHO. is cathartic and evocative. SIPHO. has a voice like no other. His passionate singing has the presence of a preacher’s sermon that is sure to heal souls. As if this wasn’t enough, his music is equally fiery and brilliant. Straddling many genres—rock, jazz, R&B, gospel, trip-hop—the music is absolutely beautiful. From the haunting pianos to the cinematic string arrangements, the arrangements are intense, yet comforting. It’s only a matter of time before which SIPHO. becomes an indie god.


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