Music from 80+ countries selected by our experts from around the world!

Unlike the world in general, music seems to be okay, maybe better than ever. Small revolutions keep happening and our Best of 2023 shows that beautifully. So many instruments, rhythms, melodies, languages & inspirations meet here – often for the first time.

Enjoy & share!

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST with singles from all albums + YOUTUBE PLAYLIST

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Houria Aïchi – “Chants courtois de l’Aurès”

Musician and sociologist, Houria Aïchi dedicated her career to preserving and promoting endangered heritage of he country. As the title suggests, on “Chants courtois de l’Aurès” she shines lights on the culture of Aurès region in north-eastern Algeria.

Literally all of the songs on the album bring joyous if festive mood, and there’s a clear reason for that: this music is about happiness in love, about physical and spiritual attraction, expectation and satisfaction. (Lina Rim)

♪♫ Listen: “La primevère du printemps” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Mohamed Lamouri – “Méhari”
Acid Arab – “Three”
Cheikha Djenia El K’bira – “Ana Aâdou L’Aâmor”
Rodolphe Burger, Sofiane Saidi & Mehdi Haddab – “Mademoiselle”
Jean-Marc Foussat – “Ombres onctueuses”



Mujer Cebra – “Clase B”

2023 was the consolidation year of a new local scene labeled “Postpunkdemia”, a word game in Spanish linking the post-punk genre and the post pandemic era. As its name suggests, this new movement is about a revival of guitars, dark moods and pedals.

Mujer Cebra is a three-piece band from Buenos Aires and one of the faces of postpunkdemia – along with Winona Riders, Buenos Vampiros, Dum Chica, among others. In 2023, they published their second album, “Clase B”. Produced by Estanislao López – often named as the mastermind behind the sound of the postpunkdemia – these 11 songs work as a confirmation in their sound, themes and aesthetics.

This power trio with a classic lineup of guitar, bass and drums, sings about the increasing anxiety experienced by young people in recent years, among furious and melancholic sounds. Mujer Cebra and the whole scene is also a proof of how DIY values are still important, maybe more than ever as a way of resistance. (Rodrigo Piedra)

♪♫ Listen: “Y no me digan nada” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Fonso – “Día del trabajador”
Nenagenix – “Lo más cercano a caer”
El Mató a un Policía Motorizado – “Súper terror”
Faraonika – “Farsanta”
La Piba Berreta – “Un Dios nuevo”



Spice World – “There’s No ‘I’ in Spice World”

The wonderful four-piece Spice World are a Fremantle-based band steeped in Australia’s grand tradition of dusty jangle pop.

Proudly DIY and delightfully scrappy, the four-piece’s new album, “There’s No ‘I’ In Spice World”, is an honest ode to the power of friendship in an increasingly isolated world. (Conor Lochrie)

♪♫ Listen: “Useless Feeling” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Cub Sport – “Jesus at the Gay Bar”
daine – “shapeless” EP
EXEK – “The Map and the Territory”
Cable Ties – “All Her Plans”
Maple Glider – “I Get Into Trouble”



Baswod – “Forever Now”

It’s easy to rush through the day, keep busy and be with your focus on the outside. To stop and quit your strong patterns and dive under the surface of the everyday consciousness is much harder. Also, because sometimes the sudden silence will confront us with feelings that we all like to push away or suppress.

The Austrian singer-songwriter Dominik Linder is brave enough to face also his difficult feelings. Four years ago, he moved to Hamburg to get a job in an architect office. It only took him eight months to realize that this classic work life was making him sick. One evening, he sat down in his small apartment and after a long break from making music the song “loneliness” emerged in less than an hour. So, Dominik decided to quit his job and again focus more on his songwriting. The result is the second album “Forever Now”.

With its reduction, slowness and calm, this record manages to expose the myth of our time, that being successful is the highest goal. “You can achieve everything you want” is the underlying pressure-generating imperative, a power-maintaining pattern that distracts us and may lead us away from ourselves and our needs. That’s why the first lines of the opening song “Loneliness” state: “They say – that you can have it all and you knew – little is all you need”.

Baswod’s music reflects this attitude. “Forever Now” doesn’t need over boarded instrumentation or overproduced sound density. The delicate songs are generated with gentle piano chords, glittering acoustic guitar patterns and Dominik’s intimate and compelling voice. The quality of the songs and the production equals the musical genius of artists like Novo Amor, Foreign Fields, Bon Iver or Elliott Smith. The song “Eye” is a good example of that sound and represents the atmosphere of the whole record. As Dominik Linder puts it in his own words:

“‘The Eye’ is a subtle musical embodiment of personal transformations, offering a musically stripped-down view of transitional phases in life. Carried by gentle guitar and piano, it crafts an intimate ambiance, leaving little room for distance. This intimacy extends an invitation to listen attentively, immersing oneself amidst soft voices and the ethereal piano, and embracing vulnerability. It is not an evasion of the external, but a voyage into the internal.” (Andreas Gstettner-Brugger, Radio FM4)

♪♫ Listen: “The Eye” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
My Ugly Clementine – “The Good Life”
Neuschnee – “Der Lärm Der Welt”
Bon Jour – “Chapter 1: Growth”
Neon Neet – “Post Human”
Mynth – “Four”



Syndrom Samazvanca – “Vostraŭ skarhaŭ”

Syndrom Samazvanca (The Impostor Syndrome) has produced a true masterpiece of Belarusian music – an aesthetic compilation of intricate, complex songs inspired by the most fascinating achievements of world music and crafted within the Belarusian context.

It seems to be the main highlight of the album “Vostraŭ skarhaŭ” (Island of Lamentation). Musically, it draws on non-Belarusian traditions, with references that include cult krautrock bands like Can, art-punk Television, and progressive rock King Crimson. However, it avoids meaningless mimicry – instead, Syndrom Samazvanca creates highly authentic material that transcends stylistic boundaries and exists independently.

In terms of lyrics, “Vostraŭ skarhaŭ”, thanks to the talent of the group’s poet and vocalist Uladzimir Liankevich, exclusively operates within the Belarusian context. Traditionally, in Syndrom Samazvanca’s works, there are quotes from the well-known Belarusian writer Alhierd Baharevich (one of the songs is partially written in the artificial language of Balbutha), and there are references (even on the album a cover) to the work of the primitive artist Alena Kish.

Thus, “Vostraŭ skarhaŭ” unites Belarusian and global contexts, operating simultaneously in two dimensions while maintaining a very high standard of material quality. Yes, it’s not mainstream music, and it can be quite challenging for the mass audience. However, it should be judged not by the number of catchy choruses and successful hooks but by the meaning and depth of material processing. It’s a highly qualitative work and an absolute leader among Belarusian albums of 2023. (Aliaksandr Charnukha)

♪♫ Listen: “Na dno!” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Torf – “Романтика не в моде”
Anastasiya Rydlevskaya – “When I Can’t Speak”
Ciemra – “The Tread of Darkness”
Polyn – “202022”
Palina – “Ни берега, ни дна”



Loverman – “Lovesongs”

On his debut album, Loverman dives deep into the complexities of love. Crafted during the 2020 lockdown, “Lovesongs” spans just under 45 minutes, capturing the highs of infatuation and the lows of heartbreak. The album draws influences from melancholic colleagues like Tindersticks, Richard Hawley, Leonard Cohen, Lee Hazlewood and even James Blake and transcends traditional folk boundaries.

“Lovesongs” finds its magic in simplicity, with a gentle acoustic guitar forming the core. From the introspective “Another Place” to the urgency of “Would (Right In Front Of Your Eyes),” Loverman navigates a range of emotions, showcasing James De Graef’s (Loverman’s real name) versatility. The album stands as a timeless exploration of love, offering a captivating journey through the intricacies of the human heart.

Loverman recently was the support act on Tamino’s European tour, did an as good as completely sold out Belgian release tour for his own album and will get the opportunity to show his talents to all kinds of music industry people later this month when he will be one of the artists to represent Belgium at ESNS in Groningen. You may as well want do discover him before anyone else will. (Brett Summers)

♪♫ Listen: “Differences Aside” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Brihang – “Droomvoeding”
Melanie De Biasio – “Il Viaggio”
Glauque – “Les gens passent, le temps reste”
Ão – “Ao Mar”
Predatory Void – “Seven Keys to the Discomfort of Being”



Mammut – “Lodo”

Six years have passed since the release of “Errante”, the seven-track album that was released in late 2017, and since then, the presence of Mammut, one of Cochabamba’s most beloved bands, has been scarce.

Under the leadership of the vocalist, guitarist, and primary composer Diego Boulocq, the group returned earlier last year with a live session recorded at Romaphonic studios in Buenos Aires. By the end of 2023, they released an album with 10 new songs that began to take shape during the pandemic.

“Lodo” (“Mud”) sees the quartet exploring new sounds and solidifying their position as one of Bolivia’s most prominent bands of this millennium. Songs like “La misma sed” (The Same Thirst), “Lento” (Slow), “Las Luces” (The Lights) and “Yonkipop” add to the catalog of hits that they accumulated in their 18-year career.

“Lodo” represents Mammut’s best work to date. It showcases the band as mature and eager to explore new sonic horizons, without losing their distinctive essence. Let’s hope we won’t have to wait another half-decade to enjoy their new material. (Pato Peters)

♪♫ Listen: “Lento” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Karloz de la Torre – “La década entera”
Vadik Barrón – “Minimalia 2”
Octavia – “El origen del caos”
Luzmila Carpio – “Inti Watana: El retorno del sol”
Torkuatos – “Sueño profundo”



Zoster – “Najgori”

Almost 20 years of making music, hundreds of concerts played in B&H, ex-Yugoslavia and a bit of Europe, a few great, anthemic and beloved songs, five albums, witty lyrics and evercool stage appearance of their frontman Mario Knezović – all that makes Zoster, band that we already wrote about in summer, more than deserving candidates for the best B&H album title.

In 2023, they finally released a new album “Najgori” (The Worst), which presented more soundscapes in their music, e.g. some cool electronic grooves and arrangements, courtesy of their keyboard player and arranger Adis Sirbubalo (who also appeared in our Best of 2021).

Zoster evolved, keeping the frame previously crafted by Mario and their ingeniuos ex-guitarist and arranger Atila Aksoj (who contributed to the album as well), added some new flavours and made their way to the top of 2023 list despite the quality of internationally-renowned runner-up Damir Imamović. (Samir Čulić)

♪♫ Listen: “Mozak na pašnjak” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Damir Imamović – “The world and all that it holds”
Almas Smajlović – “Krug”
Despot Tomić – “Noći dane boje”
s-alt – “Teksture”



FBC – “O Amor, o Perdão e a Tecnologia Irão Nos Levar Para Outro Planeta”

After the highly praised “BAILE” (2021), FBC has given rise to a new narrative that is simultaneously nostalgic and futuristic in sonic terms. Without clinging to a specific theme or purpose, “O Amor, O Perdão e a Tecnologia Irão Nos Levar Para Outro Planeta” (“Love, Forgiveness, and Technology Will Take Us to Another Planet” in Portuguese) becomes a dancing, optimistic, sincere, and reflective adventure.

With the support of producers Pedro Senna and Ugo Ludovico (along with a number of additional performers) who skillfully created an aesthetic that navigates through the musicalities of the final decades of the last century, this new album brings elements of house, funk, jazz, pop, and hip-hop, pleasing even the most refined musical tastes.

It also reflects in a very original way the upward trajectory experienced by this artist from Minas Gerais, who is gaining increasing visibility and respect in the Brazilian scene. It is, more than ever, the result of FBC’s restlessness and musical sensitivity, a singer always willing to communicate the messages of his songs as clearly as possible.

Here, musical layers overlap in themes for dancing and, at the same time, reflecting on topics related to the social sphere, from romantic relationships to our relationship with social media. It is a subversive and captivating pop that makes us look favorably towards the days to come and the goals we want to achieve. (Peagá Pinheiro)

♪♫ Listen: “Antissocial” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Xande de Pilares – “Xande Canta Caetano”
Marcelo D2 – “IBORU”
Luiza Lian – “7 Estrelas | quem arrancou o céu?”
Luísa Sonza – “Escândalo Íntimo”
Vic Brow – “Ninguém É Tão Ocupado Assim”



Evitceles – “Velvet Room”

Evitceles, the alias of composer and producer Etien Slavchev, is churning out music at a remarkable speed and with increasing quality. This is his twelfth offering in just a few years (not even counting splits and EPs) and “Velvet Room” was actually followed by another introspective LP in 2023 – “Bruised”.

Slavchev has also come a long way from his “underwater techno” days as he called it. There’s more guitar and texture in his sound now, bringing more colour and poetics to the lo-fi downer side of the project, making his music even harder to label but making it somehow easier on the ear, too. Every listen is rewarding. (Svetoslav Todorov)

♪♫ Listen: “Confess Your Shape” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Maze Hunters – “Faceless”
Born Erased – “I Am The End of the World”
TDK – “Nemesta”
Heptagram – “Submerge”
Lunnik – “Unreal City”



Maude Audet – “Il faut partir maintenant”

Maude Audet’s trajectory is similar to that of a shooting star. Her exploration of atypical pop genres continues here with a consolidation of her numerous influences, from western and country to orchestral and chamber pop. The road still has an enduring appeal, as well as the many diverting branches of relationships.

Careful not to fall in pastiche territory, the songs on “Il faut partir maintenant” are a nod to ’60s and ’70s pop and folk, with a fresh spirit and deeply empathetic storytelling. Strong vocal harmonies, an assumed melancholy and celebratory arrangements all contribute to bathing this collection of songs in a timeless light.

Another grandiose album (her fifth!) for Audet, a force to be reckoned with. (Pierre-Alexandre Buisson)

♪♫ Listen: “Je danse” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Population II – “Électrons libres du Québec”
Karkwa – “Dans la seconde”
Sun Entire – “Fit to Break”
Alexandra Stréliski – “Néo-Romance”
Helena Deland – “Goodnight Summerland”



Alex Anwandter – “El diablo en el cuerpo”

Under a huge influence of dance music, Alex Anwandter returns after five years with a impressively produced album “El diablo en el cuerpo” (“The Devil in the body”), including chiseled 16 songs.

With several collaborations, this album is one of Anwandter’s best productions to date full of soft and sensual pop. (Marcelo Millavil M.)

♪♫ Listen: “Ahora somos dos” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Easykid – “Sorry, Estoy en Mi Darkera”
Los Bunkers – “Noviembre”
pau – “volumen dos”
Nando García – “Material Particulado en Suspensión”
Francisca Valenzuela – “Adentro”



Chinese Football – “Win & Lose”

Wuhan emo torchbearers Chinese Football close out their game-themed trilogy with their strongest, most cohesive and sprawling album yet – “Win & Lose”.

Ambitious in both its melodic subversion of Chinese pop and its embrace of emo rock’s instrumental playfulness, it takes the best parts of the country’s budding indie pop scene and injects genuine pathos within its twinkle.

It’s essentially hard-wired to elicit a emotional reaction out of its listeners – which in another band’s hands might come off as shameless – but in the instrumentally swift and deft hands of Chinese Football, it earns its poignant power chorus each and every time. (Will Griffith)

♪♫ Listen: “April Story” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Sleep Leaps 碎梦飞跃 – 你不想被困在这里
Guzz – Fantasia in the Wind 风中的幻想曲
Run! Novel 短跑小说 – Get Poverty from Risk 贫穷险中求
Zhaoze 沼泽 – No Answer Blowin’ in the Wind 没有答案风中飘
Rejianbeishashou 热键被杀手 – 红蓝简歌



Las Áñez – “Paralelas”

As far as vocals go, these twin sisters from Bogotá belong to the most impressive groups not just in Colombia or Latin America but worldwide. Listening to them together, often with extra guests like Lido Pimienta and Cholo Valderrama this time, is sheer delight for anyone who likes vocal harmonies and simply beautiful voices.

But as their fourth effort “Paralelas” demonstrates, there’s much more to Las Áñez. They seamlessly mix folk inspirations with electronic music, catchiness with rhythm explorations, fun with the desire to keep crossing the lines, there and back. The whole album is just 25 minutes long, but you’ll need some rest to process what you’ve just been lucky to go through. (albums selected by Sebastián Narváez Núñez)

♪♫ Listen: “Señal del Viento” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Mitú – “Astra”
Velandia y La Tigra – “Proverbios Burros”
Mestizo – “Mestizo”
Felipe Orjuela – “El Derroche”
Gabriela Ponce – “El Sur Del Ser”



TONN3RR3 & Bony Bikaye – “It’s a Bomb”

A bomb indeed! Congolese adventurer Bony Bikaye and French trio TONN3RR3 go beyond whatever you might expect from African influences filtered through contemporary fascinations and incredible music curiosity – it’s much, much more. It’s tribal, it’s kraut, it’s avant, it’s electronic, it’s ambient, and not so rarely it’s also crazy.

What is it about? Well, if you don’t understand Lingala let’s it goes from spiritual and love/hate to daily issues like being rich/poor. All in all it’s an intense and often dark experience but worth going into that tunnel. (Oumar Dembele)

♪♫ Listen: “Balobi” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Les mamans du Congo & Rrobin – “Ya Mizolé”
Shabaaz Mystic – “Find The River”



Klinika Denisa Kataneca – “Kao zao kor”

We often have examples where many critics seek authenticity in new performers. So, when someone comes along with different expression, they take it as a flaw rather than the much-needed “authenticity.” This is precisely what is happening with Denis Katanec and his band.

Katanec has a unique vocal style and a specific interpretation that obviously doesn’t appeal to everyone. Klinika Denisa Kataneca shone a few years ago with the album “Jada, jada,” and the new record “Kao zao kor” has finally resonated with many. When we add excellent concert in Zagreb a few months ago, it’s clear that this story has entered an entirely new dimension.

“Kao zao kor” has topped many Croatian music portals as the one of the best albums of the year, and if you ask me, it’s entirely deserved. It’s a collection of songs that skillfully balance between folk-rock, indie, and, dare I say, Britpop in a different and very interesting way. The band is well-balanced, and Katanec leads them like the captain of a ship with excellent lyrics and intriguing vocal performances.

With no doubt, we have a new star. Klinika Denisa Kataneca and “Kao zao kor” completely deserve it this title. (Siniša Miklaužić)

♪♫ Listen: “Vampiri” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Nina Romić – “Jezero”
IDEM – “poyy”
Adam Semijalac – “Ode dite”
M.O.R.T. – “Samo hrabro i bezveze!”
Zimzelen – “San na uzici”

Selected by: Boris Abramović (music-box), Predrag Brlek (, Dubravko Jagatić (Nacional/reality check), Ivan Laić (Ravno do dna), Gorav Pavlov (Ruralna gorila/Potlista), Marin Tomić (, Siniša Miklaužić (



Toyota Vangelis – “Výklopný světlomety”

“Výklopný světlomety” – the title is borrowed from pop-up headlights in cars – is a debut album and a summary of what Václav Peloušek has been doing under the Toyota Vangelis moniker for the past five years.

A contemporary album with a retro touch, a fragile yet masterful record dealing with both our everday uncertainty and striking digital presence. (Viktor Palák)

♪♫ Listen: “VPN” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Mörkhimmel – “Genium Obskurity”
Amelie Siba – “Gently Double A”
Nivva – “Hideout”
Tomáš Palucha – “Rauš”
B4 – “VHS”



Guldimund – “Jeg venter i lyset”

Complex yet catchy, ambiguous yet direct, “Jeg venter i lyset” (I’m waiting in the light) once again proves that Guldimund a.k.a. Asger Nordtorp Pedersens belongs to the most original and unpredictable artists in the Danish music scene.

It’s a collection of exquisite but also dramatic songs based on Guldimund’s often dramatic experiences, richly arranged with guitars and strings surrounding his intense vocals. Scene after scene, he takes us deeper and deeper into the well of his personal world, of our personal worlds. (Line Lønstrup)

♪♫ Listen: “Det´ kun vigtigt, hvad det er” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Artigeardit – “Længe Leve”
Ukendt Kunstner – “Dansktop”
Uden Ord – “Verden den er lige her”
Coco O. – “Sharing is Caring”
Eee Gee – “She-Rex”



Diego Raposo – “Yo No Era Así Pero de Ahora en Adelante, Sí”

The problem with works like this is that they take time to be valued as they deserve. Many times, due to the insularity that tends to drag us towards the complex of islander that suffocates us in the face of any expression of art, we seek outside what we have right in front of us.

Diego Raposo has been achieving this, and of course, perhaps this work is very advanced for its time and especially for the scene. But that’s what it’s about, taking trends and reinventing the present; that’s why his second album “YO NO ERA ASÍ PERO DE AHORA EN ADELANTE, SÍ” is the future of what’s coming on the island, taking everyday life and smearing it with neo-perreo, shaking it with industrial, and making it jump with electro-punk, dance, or hyperpop.

From Santiago, we have a good replacement for the experimental electronic scene dancing between genres like IDM, noise, reggaeton, hardcore, and hip-hop all mixed under this tropical climate. (Max ‘Drlacxos’ Cueto)

♪♫ Listen: “El Underground” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Yasser Tejeda – “La Madrugá”
MÓRY – “Sereno De La Noche”
Martox – “Baila!”
Inka – “Villa Mella”
Letón Pé – “Rojo Rubí”



Swing Original Monks – “Volcánico”

Perhaps there is nothing more Ecuadorian than dancing on misfortunes. Celebrating and suffering go hand in hand, and in the latest album released by the band Swing Original Monks that essence is present. This orchestra, which eclectically mixes Andean and Latin American genres, brings together lyrics of social denunciation with rhythms that bring out the strongest passions of those who listen to them.

Feet are activated as soon as they hear songs like “Volcánico”, which gives its name to the album, or with “Se cae”. As if it were lava about to explode, the energy increases track after track. But there is also something to reflect on, or to make fun of our misfortunes. In songs like ‘Absurdistan’ they harshly criticize Ecuadorian society, which, marked by inequalities, economic problems, insecurity and political corruption, has kept the whole country on edge for several years. The absurdity of this political and social reality can be lightened with cumbia.

And it is not that Swing Original Monks are the only ones who have realized how easy it is in Ecuador to laugh while we cry. This already happened in 1802; when the father of modern geography and explorer of our volcanoes, Alexander Von Humboldt, described Ecuadorians as: “rare and unique beings: they sleep peacefully in the midst of crunching volcanoes, live poor in the midst of incomparable riches and rejoice with sad music”.

200 years later almost nothing has changed, the good thing is that music can rescue this essence and erupt with joy to those who listen to it. (Alejandro Puga Patiño)

♪♫ Listen: “Absurdistán” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Álex Ponce – “Ser humano”
Lolabúm – “Muchachito Roto”
Letelefono, Estela – “El camino a la fama”
Cometa Sucre – “El eco eterno”
Chloé Silva – “Commodium”



The Dwarfs of East Agouza – “High Tide In The Lowlands”

It starts with a guitar solo that lasts longer than most of pop songs these days (or any days, actually), and then goes and goes for full 20 minutes – the first tracks The Dwarfs of East Agouza’s monumental album “High Tide In The Lowlands”. That only has just one other track, even longer by the way.

Over ten years after the band’s been established, the trio of Alan Bishop (bass, vocals, sax), Maurice Louca (keys and drum machine) and Sam Shalabi (guitars) continue to keep their mix of jazz / rock improvisation and electronic music as fresh as ever, only wishing you got a chance to see them live when you spin this mesmerizing record once again. (Lina Rim)

♪♫ Listen: album stream

Other recommended albums:
3Phaz – “Ends Meet”
Baskot Lel Baltageyya – “Baskot Lel Baltageyya”
Maurice Louca & Elephantine – “Moonshine”
Dina El Wedidi – “Five Seasons”
Dijit – “The Room”



Tuulikki Bartosik – “Playscapes”

“Playscapes” by a multi-talented Tuulikki Bartosik takes you on an outernational journey from coasts to subways and from bustling streets to the quiet of the wilderness – all in the name of finding new playscapes to inhabit.

We travel from Estonia to Finland and Sweden and from England to Japan via compositions that verge from ambient to euphoric, while maintaining a repetitive, minimalist quality.

Tuulikki’s signature instrument accordion remains at the centre of things but she has extended its possibilities immensely, while also playing Estonian zither, piano and harmonium and adding ethereally layered vocalizations and field recordings that reflect on echoes from “memory of a memory”. (Ingrid Kohtla, Tallinn Music Week)

♪♫ Listen: “London” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Kannabinõid – “MASS”
Mart Avi – “Wisteria” EP
Pia Fraus – “Evening Colours”
boipepperoni – “qqndqlt”
Mari Kalkun – “Stoonia lood”



Ukandanz – “Kemekem ከመከም”

After an instrumental album “4 Against the Odds” recorded without singer Asnake Gebreyes, Ukandanz “found their voice back” on “Kemekem”, which brings blend of Ethio-Jazz and extravagant rock’n’roll and garage rock.

With their restless, rowdy saxophone, guitars, bass, drums and Asnake’s inspired vocals on top, the Franco-Ethiopian quintet connects continents taking us on a rowdy, exciting journey. (T. Mecha)

♪♫ Listen: “Ferjign Chereka” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Girma Yifrashewa – “My Strong Will”
Dragonchild – “Dragonchild”
Sintayehu Belay – “Tsedey” EP
Muluu Baqqalaa – “Damaa Shoolee Kiyyaa”



Orka – “All at Once”

Orka’s new album “All at once” is a captivating fusion of electronic beats and intricate sound design that pushes boundaries. With its mesmerizing rhythms and innovative melodies, the album creates an immersive and unforgettable experience for listeners.

The seamless collaboration between Jens L. Thomsen and Francine Perry results in a sonic journey that is truly exceptional.

This album’s ability to captivate and transport its audience elevates it to the forefront of musical innovation, making a strong case for “All at Once” to be recognized as the Faroe Islands’ album of the year. (Hergeir Staksberg)

♪♫ Listen: “Mother” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Aggrasoppar – “Døgurðaslang”
Dania O. Tausen – “ja/nei – og restin av vikuni”
Marius Ziska – “Rúm”
Einangran – “Vendir vindar”
RSP – “Um tú veitst, so veitst tú”



Vilma Jää – “Kosto”

Singer, composer and fiddler Vilma Jää creates a compelling fusion of folk music traditions and electronic pop. Her ambitious debut album is varied yet incredibly cohesive, ranging from Eurovision-worthy playfulness to a hair-rising tale of vengeance.

The material stems from personal trauma as a sexual abuse survivor, revenge as a theme that gives the bold record its name. Jää’s own ordeal relates to recurrent experiences of women throughout history, while she draws from her research into folklore to conjure spells and cast curses upon harassers. The sense of empowering rage is not lost on a male ear, either.

Specialising in traditional Karelian herding calls, Vilma Jää made an international breakthrough as a soloist in Kaija Saariaho’s opera “Innocence”. Here, her singing is similarly flawless and expressive. Even when she breaks character on the penultimate track by rapping, it feels purposeful, like taking her listeners by the hand to make herself more relatable.

“Kosto” is skilfully co-produced with Mikko Renfors, whose electronics complement acoustic instruments like Hanna Ryynänen’s kantele. A laudable detail is that the album is entirely self-released. We may conclude that Vilma Jää has her revenge, and it’s both crushing and glorious. (Erkko Lehtinen)

♪♫ Listen: “Miina” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Alma – “Time Machine”
Jaakko Eino Kalevi – “Chaos Magic”
Kaukolampi – “Inside The Sphere”
Lyyti – “Nousussa taas”
Thomas Ignatius – “Thomas Ignatius”



Cathedrale – “Words/Silence”

“French rock is like British wine” once said John Lennon in the sixties to tease his French neighbors. Fortunately, times have changed and one of the best rock records of this year comes from France – in southern Toulouse, more precisely.

Cathedrale’s “Words/Silence” echoes perfectly with the recent post-punk revival scene that is coming from across the Channel. Recorded in only a week in London based Haha Sounds studio, “Words/Silence” is a turbulence zone delivering a set of punchy tracks with diabolical efficacy, going off-gear. (Romain Diaz)

♪♫ Listen: “Hostage Taking” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
En Attendant Ana – “Principia”
Pointe du Lac – “Les siphonophores des eaux froides et profondes de l’Arctique”
The Psychotic Monks – “Pink Colour Surgery”
The Soap Opera – “Back On Tracks”
Astrïd – “Always Digging The Same Hole”



Nino Davadze (Dava) – “Agora”

Thanks to Georgia’s fantastic year in music, choosing a favorite for 2023 was particularly tough. But if I still have to, my say goes to an incredible debut record by Nino Davadze (Dava) that will be among the world’s secret classics of electronic music for years to come.

Floating on the lushest waves of “ocean mellotron,” this gem of an album paints a canvas of purposefully undecided harmony, with masterful timbral touches and idiosyncratic arrangements letting it create impressions that would otherwise seem mutually exclusive.

So you have it: music that can feel dramatic and peacefully serene, sunlit and brooding, modern and timeless, depending on the listener’s context and mood. And as per my experience, this is a sign of something aesthetically complete. (Sandro Tskitishvili)

♪♫ Listen: “You Arrived” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Eleon – “Ada Cosma”
David Datunashvili – “ზ​ო​გ ყ​ვ​ა​ვ​ი​ლ​ს უ​ფ​რ​ო ნ​ა​ზ​ი მ​ო​პ​ყ​რ​ო​ბ​ა უ​ნ​დ​ა​, თუ არ გ​ა​წ​ვ​ი​მ​დ​ა”
sTia – Home (EP)
Natalie Beridze – “Spines”
On The Road – “Heal Yourself”



Hope – “Navel”

Hope, this wonderful Berlin-Neukölln-based band, has been around since 2009. They know each other from studying jazz in Würzburg, Germany. Their self-titled noise rock debut record was very well reviewed in 2017. Flattering comparisons with the trip-hop luminaries Portishead were repeatedly made. Their singer Beth Gibbons has even praised Hope. Hope has played major festivals (such as Fusion in Mecklenburg or SXSW in Austin, Texas) and was the opening act for the indie darling bands Idles (from Bristol, England) and Algiers (from Atlanta, Georgia, USA).

In the summer of 2023, Depeche Mode raised hope to a knighthood: They took Hope (in addition to the singer Börsch-Supan and the guitarist Staffa, Martin Knorz on the keyboards and Fabian Hönes on the drums) with them on eight stops on their tour, across East and West Northern Europe. Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Krakow, Tallinn, Helsinki and Oslo. Some of the Depeche Mode fans from the front row met Hope later in the hotel and started talking, surprisingly personally. Depeche Mode fans, some of whom then also become Hope fans. No wonder.

For the new album “Navel”, Fabian Hönes plays the drums more gently this time (like Staffa the guitar strings). Keyboardist Martin Knorz, on the other hand, plays outrageous dub chords on his Moog synthesizer on the preliminary single “Osmosis”. The fact that Hope can sound like this (and: so electronic) – fans of the first hour are sure to be amazed, but very quickly it feels right on this masterpiece of an album. (Stefan Hochgesand)

♪♫ Listen: “Shame” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Sofia Kourtesis – “Madres”
Lie Ning – “sweatshop”
Kosmo Kint – “Groove Religion”
Jungstötter – “One Star”
Roosevelt – “Embrace”



Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy – “O Yinne!”

After warm welcome of their superb debut album “Mam Yinne Wa” back in 2019 expectations were high, but Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy followed it up with a set of songs that are as brilliant and lively as anyone could hope for.

“O Yinne!” is an “Afro-futuristic firework of pentatonic vocal explosions, carried by rolling West African rhythms” that the band themselves call “Frafra-Gospel”. But you could just simply call this the sounds of joy! (T. Mecha)

♪♫ Listen: “Te Bola Be?” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
King Ayisoba – “Work Hard”
Peter Somuah – “Letter to the Universe”
ONIPA – Off the Grid
Rex Omar – “Rex Omar”



Tania Giannouli – “Solo”

As another year has passed, another “best of” list is set to tickle your ears. Consistently productive, most of the artists that hail from Greece graced our lives with a plethora of intriguing albums in 2023, spanning various musical genres.

Standout releases include jazz-punk improvisations and eclectic guitar rock solos, the lo-fi charm of indie pop aesthetics and “mainstream” electro-rock, as well as ambient soundscapes weaving together electronics and theremin sounds. Among these remarkable releases, the long play that has particularly captured our hearts and minds is Tania Giannouli’s “Solo” album, with its 24 musical pieces that deify the piano keys.

Tania Giannouli, born in 1977, is an Athenian pianist, composer and improviser, but despite her roots in Greece, she released her fifth album for New Zealand’s Rattle, a record label that supports artists whose primary objective is to make music for themselves and the sake of their art, free from commercial and cultural restraints or limitations, as declared in their main motto.

Her album, “Solo”, has garnered international acclaim – and is indeed a beautiful set of piano improvisations, with mainly dark rolling chords on the piano and an innovative approach to blending different musical styles. The tracks traverse diverse territories, oscillating between minimalism, experimental sounds, and vibrant melodic moments. “Solo” is a magnificent fusion of modern classical, jazz, and discreet electronic patterns, with subtle whispers echoing elements of Greek traditional music.

Tania Giannouli stands as one of Greece’s foremost artists today. Her music is not only intriguing, fearless, and adventurous but also intimate, accessible, and calming. Allocating – at least – one hour of your time to immerse yourself in this captivating and dreamy set is an experience not to be missed. (Ares Buras)

♪♫ Listen: “Intone” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
MOb – “MOb1”
Babis Papadopoulos – “Γεννηθήκαμε Χτες”
33 Lovers – “Ghost Flower”
May Roosevelt – “Pearl”
Παιδί Τραύμα – “Μέινστριμ”

Selected by: Aggelos Kleitsikas (, Antonis Xagas (, Ares Buras (beehype), Eve Papagianni (Strummer Radio), Haris Symvoulidis (Athinorama), Marianna Vasileiou (, Michalis E (Rodon Fm).



Mabe Fratti & i la Católica / Titanic – “Vidrio”

A year after she proved on the album “Se Ve Desde Aquí” that less (sound) is sometime more (emotions), and raw can go with alluring, cellist and singer Mabe Fratti took another stride across what’s establised, this time in collaboration with Mexican multi-instrumentalist Hector Tosta a.k.a. católica, under the name Titanic.

On “Vidrio”, they are in the company of Jarrett Gilgore on sax and Gibran Andrade on drums. Together, they sound like several bands magically mixed into one: a chamber folk group, a jazz group, a film soundtrack team… the scenery often changes from minute to minute, even from bar to bar, but Fratti’s voice keeps guiding you through this caleidoscopic dream. (Ana Carlos)

♪♫ Listen: “Hotel Elizabeth” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Unidad 5 – “Sunny” (arch.)
desert sand feels warm at night – “ピ​ア​ノ​の​独​り​言”
Maōh – “Yucat​á​n” EP
Rift09 – “Xib’alb’a”
Guerra Fria – “She Smells Like Flowers and Death”



ajsa luna – “Világvége”

Last year the Hungarian music scene was dominated by a new wave of rappers and hip-hoppers in both the mainstream and in the undergreand genres. But there are still some standouts who represent something else and experiment with music that is less in the light.

Since in Hungarian pop most artists are male, I am always happy to hear a new, unique female voice, who also represents a new generation. Not only in music but also in the society. She is much darker, and barries the pain of young people facing our current world. Even the album title “Világvége” means “End of the World”. Songs on this album touch topics such as, anxiety, growing up or simply disassociating with the reality. These heavy topics are constantly layered with musical references to Biblical texts, children’s songs, or classical Hungarian rock ballads.

There is only one thing that lightens up these songs, and that is luna’s light, airy and angelic voice. Her singing style sometimes even reminds me of Lana Del Rey’s really clear and emotional vocals, almost singing while breathing in. The musical background in the meantime is more Flume-esc electronic or trap sounds that further colour these experimental sounds.

And despite all these different genres, the final result is still a very coherent, melancholic but calming sound with really good vocals and interesting lyrics. And this rather international yet inherently Hungarian experiment deserves the title of my album of the year. (Márton Biró)

♪♫ Listen: “Világ vége” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Cserihanna – “Kikötő”
Jazzbois – “Higher Dimension Waiting Room”
WeAreGloria – “TIMELESS”
Kaktus – “OPÁL”



Laufey – “Bewitched”

If we had to pick an album that’s extended the reach of Icelandic Music faster and further, not just in 2023 – but in recent memory, I’d have to say “Bewitched” by Laufey.

Watching this album shatter records set by the likes of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga – and even coming second to only Olivia Rodrigo on the Spotify charts is something we have never seen with any Icelandic artist in memory.

Topping her run this year with sold out tour legs and a Grammy nomination is absolutely wild for such a young artist who’s only on her second ever LP. (Hrefna Helgadóttir (Habbi), Iceland Music)

♪♫ Listen: “From the Start” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Supersport! – “Húsið mitt”
JFDR – “Museum”
Elín Hall – “Heyrist í mér”
Daði Freyr – “I Made An Album”
Lúpína – “ringluð”



Seedhe Maut – “Lunch Break”

Seedhe Maut have set the bar way too high with prolific, consistent releases over the past few years.

“Lunch Break”, intended as a pre cursory mixtape to the duo’s upcoming LP, is 30 songs deep and has more hits than misses than entire discographies.

Calm and Encore ABJ are a force in Indian hip-hop and “Lunch Break”, with its ridiculous features, beat-making and varying production, made for one the year’s best releases. (Naman Saraiya)

♪♫ Listen: “Khatta Flow” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Sandunes – “The Ground Beneath Her Feet”
Dreamhour – “Now That We Are Here”
Dot. – “Practice Rooms”
Excise Dept – “BILLO” (single)
Chaar Diwali – “Jhaag” (single)



Efek Rumah Kaca – “Rimpang”

Efek Rumah Kaca (Greenhouse Effect) have been in the heart of Jakarta’s rock scene for over two decades, yet they’ve been careful not to overshare their work and make each of their albums (just four of them to date!) worthwile, to say the least.

Released at the very beginning of 2023, “Rimpang” stayed with us for the rest of the year – fertile with great new music as you can see below – thanks to Efek Rumah Kaca’s full and round sound and their magnetizing chants like in the single “Begerming”.

“Rimpang” is the summary of what we loved Efek Rumah Kaca’s previous three works for, and an open door giving a hint of what’s still to come from this admirable band. (Agung)

♪♫ Listen: “Begerming” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Grrrl Gang – “Spunky!”
Kunto Aji – “Pengantar Purifikasi Pikir”
eleventwelfth – “Similar”
Katus – “Swellow”
Raja Kirik – “Phantasmagoria of Jathilan”



Unlucky Ninjas – “Micro-Tehran”

I tried my best not to choose an album from a band whose debut LP was chosen as the best album two years ago but I found “Micro-Tehran”, Unlucky Ninjas’ most recent EP, the freshest sound of Iranian indie music published inside the country.

Tehran is a metropole consisting of hundreds of micro-ecosystems and Unlucky Ninjas’ mission is exploring and rediscovering them. While their debut was a journey through songs from Afghanistan (the biggest immigrant community in Tehran and in Iran), in “Micro-Tehran” we hear songs in Azeri language, the second language spoken in Iran, Kurdish and Armenian.

“Micro-Tehran” employs microtonal music – quite popular in Iranian music but not that much in such lo-fi jazz/indie rock form – for their journey through the cultural micro-organisms.

The tone of these microtones is reminiscent of the 8-bit sound of ’90s video game consoles. The most popular one in Iran was Micro Genius, simply known as MEEKRO among the kids. As well as the visual identity of the album which comes from the 8-bit video games images.

Anyway, they are ninjas, but last year the lucky ones. (Ali Eshqi)

♪♫ Listen: “Lullaby around the circle” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Moody Moussavi – “Oryan”
Arin Keshishi – “Self-Reflection”
Sepehr Sanjari – “Maskh”
Safir – “Kandoo”
Arif Mirbaghi – “Mutual Occultation”



Emmek – “ב​א​ר מ​י​נ​י​מ​ו​ם”

Among the most interesting albums that came out in 2023, the second album of Haifa duo Emmek called “ב​א​ר מ​י​נ​י​מ​ו​ם” (“Minimum Well”, like water well), is the most harsh and ballsy, and probably the finest musically.

Punk, grunge, noise, garage, and pop – wherever the distortions take them, it always has profound sound worth playing it on good speakers or headphones, or possibly seeing Emmek live if you have a chance. (David Michaelov)

♪♫ Listen: “דגל לבן” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Eti Romano (אתי רומנו) – “גם אני שברתי לב”
Shlomi Shaban (שלומי שבן) – “בית פתוח חלק א’” (Open House part 1)
Shay Hamber (שי המבר)“כל החלומות”
Bar Tzabary – “בר צברי” (Free Joy)
Sirenot (סירנות) – “I’m Not”



Lucio Corsi – “La Gente Che Sogna”

Lucio Corsi is from Tuscany and this is his 4th album. Since the very beginning of his career, his songwriting style was very personal, with a peculiar mix of influences, going from traditional fairytales to Marc Bolan, with Bowie, rock operas and blue-chip Italian pop in between. Here, Lucio goes full Bolan and creates an enticing collection of modern Italian glam songs.

“La Gente Che Sogna” (“People Who Dream”) is actually an album that makes you dream while you’re listening to the music. You just feel you’re being teleported in a parallel dimension where everything is possible and where, even if something might go wrong, there’s always a chance to rise and shine again.

It’s just all scintillating and irresistible: melodies, sound, harmonies, vocals and lyrics. In just 27 minutes, this album showcases a colorful whirlwind of stories and emotions, and you will necessarily feel impacted by it, in the most possibile positive way. (Stefano Bartolotta & Indie Roccia)

♪♫ Listen: “Magia Nera” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Non Voglio Che Clara – “MacKaye”
Paolo Saporiti – “La Mia Falsa Identità”
Colombre – “Realismo Magico In Adriatico”
Studio Murena – “WadiruM”
Calibro 35 – “Nouvelles Aventures”



Cornelius – “Dream In Dream”

While Ryuichi Sakamoto and Yukihiro Takahashi sadly passed away in 2023, Keigo Oyamada a.k.a. Cornelius – who was also the supporting guitarist for Yellow Magic Oorchestra – released his seventh album in six years, “Dream In Dream”.

In the album’s first track, “Change and Vanish”, he sings: “If you love someone, you gotta go see them.”. METAFIVE’s song “Environmental” was re-recorded for this album. Keigo sings, “Somehow my mood clears up a little bit, changing scenery, environment and mentality.” “Moments that have passed suddenly come back to life, memories that I have erased from my brain are coming back to my face.”

It is as if “Sparks” fly from a traumatic experience that we all have. In an interview with MUSIC MAGAZINE, Keigo talks about “Sparks”: “I wondered if I could combine elements of Steve Reich’s minimal music with the melodic music of The Smiths.”

“Drifts” has elements of ambient music like Hiroshi Yoshimura. In fact, Keigo admits: “I had the sense that the abstract music of that era, recorded in Kankyo Ongaku, was very familiar to my ears.” Meanwhile, he said that the final song, “All Things Must Pass”, reflects the feeling of evanescence: “I feel that I am spending more and more time thinking about people dying.”

Not only Cornelius’ music is always being born from an eclectic mix of elements from various eras, including electronic, ambient, jazz or post-rock. New efforts by veterans such as Shuta Hasunuma and miaou were excellent in 2023, and a new generation of jazz musicians such as Ohzora Kimishima and Tokutaro Hosoi are also on the rise. Like Rishao in Nagoya, high quality music is being created even in remote areas. Music continues to breath. (Toyokazu Mori)

♪♫ Listen: “Sparks” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
miaou – “The Only Way To Find You”
Shuta Hasunuma Philharmonic Orchestra – “Symphil”
Ohzora Kimishima – “Eitaisuru Kemuri”
Tokutaro Hosoi – “Sakana=Sakana”
Rishao – “mo:yu” EP



Msaga Pore – “Zaire Ngoma”

This might be the rawest record of the last year and also the most gratifying – the family of Msaga Pore let us join a party in the Saruni Village in southern Kenya on the coast.

What you’ll hear on “Zaire Ngoma” are Mbumbumbu drums of various sizes made by local folk themselves, and their singing – from the youngest to the oldest, three generations of natural musicians – and that’s it!

What do they sing about? Apparently some of the songs are lessons for the youngest generation, with fishermen’s life in the center, but they have their own thing to say at the end of the album in the lovely call-and-response chant “Datee”. (T. Mecha)

♪♫ Listen: “Zoera” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Rapasa Nyatrapasa Otieno – “Jopango”
KMRU – Dissolution Grip”
KayCyy – “TW2052”
Nyokabi Kariũki – “Feeling Body”
Kabeaushé – “Hold on to Deer Life, There’s a Blcack Boy Behind



JUUK – “Muļķa stabule”

After extensive democratic discussions, the Latvian team reached a decision: JUUK’s “Muļķa stabule” claims the title of the year’s best album. “Muļķa stabule,” meaning “Fool’s Pipe,” draws a direct connection to the opening track’s poignant line: “how lovely the world spins to the tune of a fool’s pipe,” borrowed from a poem by the Lithuanian poet Antanas A. Jonynas.

I vividly recall experiencing the song “Dzejnieks” for the first time at one of their concerts last summer, sparking anticipation for their upcoming album. Regardless of the vibrant memories of the song premiere, JUUK’s third album stands as another compelling dark folk record – reminiscent of an enriched version of their debut album, “Indulgenču tirgotāji,” yet distinctly different from “Sikspārņi,” which targeted a mature audience.

Crafting atmospheric landscapes with brilliant poetic lyrics is not unfamiliar for JUUK; however, the record gracefully emphasizes the themes of doom and fate. It evokes a feeling akin to boarding a night train – inescapable yet lacking any desire for escape. (Rūdolfs Kuplis – text, Raivis Spalvēns)

♪♫ Listen: “Neveiksmnieku vientulība” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Les Attitudes Spectrales – “Songs For No One”
Kautkaili – “Personas kods”
Zelma – “Diamond Dust”
Waterflower – “All Art Is Ecological”
Ella Zīriņa – “Intertwined”



Youmna Saba – “Wishah”

“Wishah” (meaning “veil” in Arabic) is a composition for voice, oud and electronics, composed and performed by veteran Lebanese musician Youmna Saba between 2021 and 2022.

Following her previous solo works “Njoum” (2014) and “Arb’een” (2017), this album marks a significant turning point in Saba’s journey. Created after leaving Beirut and settling in Paris, “Wishah” reveals a profound shift in her musical expression, informed by rigorous research in the sonic properties of sung Arabic phonemes and their role in shaping synthesized electronic sounds.

The composition is organized into five distinct stages, each contributing to a process of gradual revelation. As the tracks unfold, they strip away layers of constructed emotions and perceptions that have been intricately woven over time, to expose a space that no longer exists. “Wishah” is in many ways a farewell to home.

Youmna Saba is a musician, composer and musicologist. Her current research focuses on instrument and space resonances in different sonic and musical contexts. With four albums to date, she has collaborated with artists from different countries and backgrounds, further enriching her repertoire and expanding her reach. These include Kamilya Jubran, Floy Krouchi, Mike Cooper and the Neue Vocalsolisten ensemble, among others.

She is the laureate of the first sound residency at Quai Branly Museum, Paris (2022-2023) with her research project and installation “La Réserve des Non-Dits”, now on view at the museum; and a laureate of the music residency program at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2020-2021).

“Wishah” was first released by UK label Touch back in October 2023, as a CD and digital album. Ruptured released the vinyl version in December 2023. (Ziad Nawfal)

♪♫ Listen: live video + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Bana Haffar – “intimaa’ إ​ن​ت​م​ا​ء”
Marc Codsi – “Songs from the Aftermath”
Mayssa Jallad – “Marjaa: The Battle of the Hotels”
Aya Metwalli + Calamita – “Al Saher”
Sanam – “Aykathani Malakon أ​ي​ق​ظ​ن​ي م​ل​ا​ك”



Garbanotas – “Kūnas dangaus”

Lithuania’s psychedelic rock and dreampop masters, Garbanotas have crafted their own genre and become a national sensation. They’ve set the bar for emerging bands seeking to blend soft vocals with resounding guitar melodies, and they’ve been doing it exceptionally well for over a decade.

Lead singer Šarukas vocals always transport us to the serene meadows of summer, while the guitars foretell the impending autumn. Garbanotas’ music evokes a feeling of eternal, bittersweet late August, when evenings turn pleasantly cool, and donning your favorite sweater feels like a reward.

Their fifth album, “Kūnas dangaus” (translated as “Body of Heaven”), weaves nine unique tales of bodies connecting, loving, and at times, drifting apart. The record embodies longing, hope, the exquisite joy of tender touch, and the sweet moments when beloved souls are intertwined.

With its beautiful, soothing and sometimes unexpected sounds, “Kūnas dangaus” submerges listeners, allowing them to resurface and float in a warm water. It’s an experience you wish would last forever. Special recognition goes to illustrator Karolis Strautniekas for his stunning album cover design. (Rūta Giniūnaitė)

♪♫ Listen: “Tave visą” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Gamka – “Uraganas”
Monikaze – “Weakness”
Marijus Aleksa – “As They Are”
Akli – “III”
Monika Liu – “KODĖL TU ČIA?”



Sweetass – “Heavy Rotation”

Sweetass continues to to power down their dual addictive highway of sludgy stoner rock riffs and anthemic pop melodies with smiles on their faces and perks on their derrières on this, their sophomore record.

The album “Heavy Rotation” truly lives up to its name and is not a record that is easy to exhaust. (Adrian Yap CK)

♪♫ Listen: “Tak Pasti” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Lost Spaces – “OCPY”
Plague of Happiness – “DOMINION”
Alextbh – “It’s All Good”
Note/Void – “EP”
Golden Mammoth – “GM”



Bounaly – “Dimanche à Bamako”

It is crazy and it is raw, but first of all things, it’s fun. Just what you would expect from a wedding music, even if it is crazy and raw.

Ali “Bounaly” Traore has recorded this album live nad it’s a bittersweet story, as he’s a performer from the North of the country doing his best to cheer up his compatriots just like him forced to go south to seek safety.

But hey, it’s “Dimanche à Bamako”, “Sunday in Bamako”, everyone’s celebrating Sunday at least and a wedding at most. Join the party and for a little moment, let’s together join the celebration. (Oumar Dembele)

♪♫ Listen: “Wato To” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Namian Sidibé – “Namian Sidibé”
Sidiki Camara – “Return to the Traditions”
Tinariwen – “Amatssou”
Kayhan Kalhor & Toumani Diabaté – “The Sky Is the Same Colour Everywhere”
Babsy Konate – “Tounga”



Karen y Los Remedios – “Silencio”

Cumbia seems to have unlimited number of shades and vibes these days, but Karen y Los Remedios still manage to find their own place in this music mosaic. The variety of “Silencio” is even more impressive when you find out that it’s been created during the height of the pandemic, when the band could only meet from time to time, not in the best moods.

Their experiments and inspirations took them all around Latin America, so you might discover Mexican influences, Peruvian or Colombian, but Karen also seems to be fascinated with Asia so… just push play and join her in this special and unique music trip. (Camila Oliva)

♪♫ Listen: “Mi Gran Dolor” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Lorelle Meets The Obsolete – “Datura”
Pahua – “Habita”
Diles Que No Me Maten – “Obrigaggi”
Bratty – “Tres”
Mon Laferte – “Autopoiética”



Enji – “Ulaan”

Mongolian singer Enkhjargal Erkhembayar, also know nas Enji, debuted over six years ago with acclaimed LP titled “Mongolian Song”, followed up by a great sophomore record “Ursgal”. Her third work “Ulaan” takes Enji’s amalgam of jazz and Mongolian folk to a whole new level of skill and charm.

Her aerial vocals are usually accompanied by similarly gentle arrangements, which might let your guard down. But then Enji will surprise you with a heavenly passage or an upbeat entrance.

What also makes “Ulaan” special and is worth stressing is that in spite of Enji’s global acclaim and the fact she lives now in Munich, Germany (just like another jazz talent Shuteen Erdenebaatar, see below), she still sings in Mongolian and we can only hope her future music adventures will not change that one fact. (A. Bilguun)

♪♫ Listen: “Uzegdel” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Shuteen Erdenebaatar – “Rising Sun”
Bodikhuu – “Columbus”
Batsükh Dorj – “Ögbelerim”



Driss El Maloumi – “Aswat”

With Driss El Maloumi on oud and microphones, and his mini orchestra playing such classic and beautifully named instruments as cajon, darbouka, daf, oudou, req, xarb, and also singing along with him, expect “Aswat” to spend half an hour in a spacial world, in a special time.

Driss El Maloumi has said that he had two dreams working on this material. One was to have that full sound that only orchestras and with just a few friends, he did manage to get that. And how about his second dream – to achieve a “musical ecstasy”? The answer belongs to you. (Lina Rim)

♪♫ Listen: “Tissit” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Chafouin – “Trois, quatre”
Ouella – “Yak Labas”
Jour J Mental – “Faire La Secte”
Idiot Saint Crazy Orchestra – “Iscommunication”



Pitou – “Big Tear”

We’ve been keeping an eye on Pitou ever since she released her first self-titled EP in 2016.

In 2023, the Amsterdam-born singer finally released her debut album “Big Tear” and we can confirm it was definitely worth the wait. On “Big Tear”, Pitou and her band sound richer and more complex than ever, while the compelling spirit of her lyrics and melodies remain.

Further into “Big Tear”, there’s even room for some dancing (“Dancer”), while it’s the stunning ballads like “Knife” and “Animal” that keep us coming back to this record over and over again. (Jort Mokum)

♪♫ Listen: “Knife” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
De Toegift – “De Toegift”
Elias Mazian – “Alleen Bij Mij”
Ferdous – “Cool Party”
Oceanic – “Choral Feeling”
Robin Kester – “Honeycomb Shades”



Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “V”

“V”, the fifth LP from the Hawaiian New Zealander Ruban Nielson’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra studio project and live band, is an album for lazy weekend car rides along palm tree-lined freeways and majestic coastal roads.

Ostensibly a continuation of the lo-fi funk-rock dreamscapes present throughout his previous records, the album’s fourteen songs conjure up expansive blue skies, endless beachside cocktail bars and shimmering hotel swimming pools, all without ever turning a blind eye to the darkness that lurks below perfect, pristine surfaces.

Influenced by West Coast album-oriented rock, classic hits radio, leftfield pop and Hawaiian Hapa-haole music, “V” documents the period of time when Ruban began thinking more clearly about the distinctions between constructed and instinctual musical taste. As he explained at the time, “Taste as clout is dangerous to art, in my opinion. Then, there’s music that will send a shiver down your spine. You didn’t ask for that shiver. It just happens.”

While this process was going on, Ruban also began spending more time in Hawai’i with his extended family to attend weddings and take care of sick relatives. Along the way, he began exploring traditional Hawaiian musical styles like Hapa-haole (Half white) and incorporating them into songs on “V” like ‘I Killed Captain Cook’.

Between these experiences and the musical support and assistance of his brother Kody and their saxophone-playing father Chris, Ruban located the heart of “V”. From the spacious, celestial-pop of ‘The Garden’ to the exuberantly fuzzy uptempo soul of ‘That Life’ and ‘Weekend Run’ to the elegant melodic figures that run through ‘Layla’ and ‘Nadja’, “V” stands resolute within Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s celebrated discography.

Ruban is still searching for something he hasn’t found in music. Hopefully, the rest of us can keep on listening like that as well. The best is yet to come. (Martyn Pepperell)

♪♫ Listen: “Weekend Run” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Ebony Lamb – “Self-Titled”
Christoph El Truento – “Circle of Friends”
Eyeliner – “brb”
PollyHill & Samara Alofa – “Aquaries”
Lontalius – “Life On The Edge Of You”



Asake – “Work of Art”

Asake’s second album “Work of Art” takes just over half an hour to listen and has 14 tracks, which suggests it’s an intense experience. Indeed, Nigeria’s rising talent juggles styles and themes bragging about what he’s already achieved and admitting it’s brought him a lot of enemies.

Local / regional influences that make Asake so interesting might be sometimes overwhelmed by what mainstream radio pop demands, but for someone both artistically and commercially ambitious person the overall effect is still balanced enough to keep your ears open to what Asake might offer in the future. (T. Mecha)

♪♫ Listen: “Sunshine” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Ekiti Sound – “Drum Money”
TOBi – “Panic”
Burna Boy – “I Told Them…”
Suté Iwar – “Ultralight”



Iskra (ИСКРА) – “Mother Earth Mother Board”

ISKRA (ИСКРА), meaning “spark”, is an audiovisual project consisting of 4 members who say that they found a chip from the future with very important information.

They managed to decode the chip, and the information to which only they have access is conveyed to us very skillfully and creatively in the form of music and animation.

Their animated videos contain themes from the future of Skopje, specifically the year 2088/89, where a large corporation with its clumsily brutal interests directly participates in the destruction of the city.

To prevent this, a dangerous gang decides to confront the whole situation. ISKRA are four guys, all from Skopje, all with a background in music and art and like-minded when it comes to aesthetic tastes. Mihail Naumov, Vladimir Petkovic, Boban Krstev and Viktor Andonovski or collectively – Iskra. (N. A.)

♪♫ Listen: “Cargo Cult” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Xarakiri – “Xarakiri”
Peach Vice – “Ekipizza”
Filip Bukrshliev Trio – “All the Sad Words in the Beggar’s Dictionary”
Hana Korneti – “Goli Pesni”
Dobrila & Dorian Duo – “Pile šareno”



Inger Nordvik – “Hibernation”

Winter is a tough time in Norway. If summer is loud, with sounds shaking up the radius of outdoor festivals, winter is quiet. The snow isolates the sounds and us. We might find ourselves listening to albums in solitude on our headsets. However, it is a privilege to experience change through four full seasons. Winter in Norway is a time for deep reflection, and what better companion than Inger Nordvik’s album “Hibernation.”

Nordvik masterfully navigates the intricate balance between various genres, seamlessly blending singer-songwriter introspection with folk sensibilities, jazz-inspired nuances, and a touch of classical elegance. The result is a dynamic fusion that transcends traditional boundaries, creating a sound uniquely her own.

The album’s title track, “Hibernation,” serves as the centerpiece of this musical journey. Its catchy chord progressions, crystal-clear vocals, and evocative lyrics capture the essence of the season and perhaps reflect on the hibernation that was necessary when Nordvik wrote the album during the pandemic.

Nordvik, who made an impressive debut with “Time” in 2020, continues to evolve her sound on “Hibernation.” While her debut hinted at a classical-leaning piano-based profile reminiscent of Susanne Sundfør’s debut LP, this latest offering sees Nordvik expanding her sonic palette. The lush and majestic arrangements throughout the album create a rich tapestry of sound, elevating each composition to a level of sonic grandeur.

An additional standout on the album is “It Follows.” The track builds with mesmerizing intensity, drawing listeners into its atmospheric embrace. The carefully crafted layers of instrumentation culminate in a breathtaking climax, showcasing Nordvik’s ability to craft music that is both emotionally resonant and sonically adventurous.

Nordvik also doesn’t shy away from serious themes. The track “Secret” follows up the challenging conversations of toxic norms and abuse, sparked by the #metoo movement.

“Hibernation” is an immersive and fluctuating experience that invites listeners to explore the depths of introspection. In a season known for its quietude, Inger Nordvik’s music becomes a comforting companion, guiding us through the stillness of winter and the introspective hibernation that extends beyond the physical realm into the very fabric of our collective consciousness.

Put on your headset and head out for a snowy walk or simply close your eyes. (Edvard Granum Dillner)

♪♫ Listen: “Secret” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Beharie – “Are You There, Boy?”
Julie Henrikke – “Hver gang noe minner om deg”
Ea Othilde – “Mary, Aren’t You Tired?”
myk:tind – “Flyktig”
Benedikt – “Why Are You Dreaming?”



Slowspin – “Talisman”

It’s almost ten years since we discovered and wrote about Zeerak Ahmed aka Slowspin for the first time, falling in love in her approach to melodies, arrangements and her voice.

Over that decade, she mostly released EPs in various strides but last year Slowspin finally presented us “Talisman”, a 10-song set of meditative, tender and – yes – slow material accompanied by minimal, even ambientish arrangements.

There are moments of familiar singer-songwriting like in “Hamari”, and there experiments with what South Asian classical singing could sound like if it was born in 21st century, like in the amazing song “Lilt And Forget” that Laurie Anderson would be happy to have in her own discography.

♪♫ Listen: “Hamari” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily – “Love in Exile”
Natasha Humera Ejaz – “Ordinary Miracle”
Ali Sethi and Nicolas Jaar – “Intiha”
Amir Hayat – “Garden of Flowers”
Hassan Iqbal – “partial disconnection”



Kayfex – “Atipanakuy Deluxe”

Kayfex is possibly the most underrated producer in Latin America. Masterpiece “Atipanakuy” is the best example of this. Although this project was announced in 2021 and a first version appeared in 2022, the deluxe version with the whole collection of 15 songs ends the book full of sonic episodes highlighting the Ayacucho DJ’s own stamp.

Credited for being one of the architects of the sound of what is today called Q-pop (for Quechua pop), “Atipanakuy” demonstrates the variety of the style, the use of samples as well as flirtations with cumbia, danza de las tijeras or EDM, trap and house, using the most characteristic Andean sounds between charangos, quenas and violins, sometimes in instrumentals but also with vocal collaborations in Quechua or Spanish languages.

This album is the best example of the sound identity of Peru in our times. (José Luis Mercado)

♪♫ Listen: “Zapateo” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Jaze – “Toy locazo”
Sofia Kourtesis – “Madres”
La Lá – “Debut”
Danitse – “Augurio”
Ale Hop & Laura Robles – “Agua dulce”



Clara Benin – “befriending my tears”

In “befriending my tears”, Clara Benin’s best release yet, the Filipino singer-songwriter proves there’s no sophomore slump. In her most personal record so far, she comes to terms with her own worries and doubts, learning to “befriend our tears in order to heal.”

Aside from frequent collaborators Francis “The Ringmaster” Lorenzo and multi-instrumentalist Gabba Santiago, One Click Straight – Sam and Tim Marquez – were also onboard for a couple of tracks. “befriending my tears” strikes a balance between her acoustic folk roots to fuller and dreamier soundscapes.

Going out of her comfort zone, creating songs in different ways (“blink,” “small town”), revisting songs she’s written in the past (“different,” “momentary”) and playing around with production (“keep still”), Clara has made a record that chronicles her growth both as a person and as an artist. (Camille Castillo, Bandwagon Asia)

♪♫ Listen: “keep still” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Unique Salonga – “Daisy”
Gabba – “Recollections”
obese.dogma777 (fka similarobjects) – “Mall Edits”
Ysanygo – “Ysanygo” EP
Nameless Kids – “Manila in Bloom”



EABS meets Jaubi – “In Search of a Better Tomorrow”

Since their debut in 2017, EABS have gleefully embraced the eclectic spirit of the new wave of jazz. Their albums, while strongly rooted in tradition – sometimes even paying explicit tribute to the greats of the genre, like Krzysztof Komeda and Sun Ra – also dazzled with multifaceted sound that freely borrowed from hip-hop, indie, and electronic music. This combination of freewheeling flow, juicy beats, and ear-catching melodies have made them into fan-favorites all-across Poland and beyond.

With “In Search of a Better Tomorrow,” EABS have made yet another step in broadening their sonic palette. While the album has all the hallmarks of their signature style, it also introduces new elements into the mix, courtesy of their Pakistani collaborators, Jaubi. The Slavic melodicism meets Punjabi groove formula works like a charm, both sides engaging in tight interplay and delivering a lot of exciting instrumental exchanges that should appeal to a broad spectrum of open-minded listeners. (Artur Szarecki & Mariusz Herma)

♪♫ Listen: “Sun” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Raphael Rogiński – “Talàn”
Paweł Sulewski – “Aphelium”
Jacaszek/Wesołowski – “Eirḗnē”
Fismoll – “Pomiędzy”
Älskar – “Końce”



Glockenwise – “G​ó​tico Portugu​ê​s”

Glockenwise’s fifth album continues their last record “Plástico” indie vibe, but now with a greater experimental edge.

The Portugueseness of “Gótico Português” isn’t the album’s biggest surprise, far from it. It is their less immediate sensitivity that stands out, with longer themes and more complicated structures, which require more investment from the listener, earning the band many points for its formal boldness, growing with each new listen.

Another beautiful record from the Minho region. (

♪♫ Listen: “Besta” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Expresso Transatlântico – “Ressaca Bailada”
Jorge Palma – “Vida”
Margarida Campelo – “Supermarket Joy”
Zarco – “Não Lembra ao Diabo”
Cave Story – “Wide Wall, Tree Tall”



Pachyman – “Switched-On”

Puerto Rican one-man reggae band Pachyman has been steadily gaining an international following since the release of his debut album “Pachyman in Dub” (Permanent Records) back in 2019. Five years deep into his career, the multi-instrumentalist dub and roots reggae aficionado has since landed a home at ATO Records and successfully taken his home-studio project to the stage, touring the world with the likes of Khruangbin and Altin Gün.

A little background first: Pachy García was a vital contributor to the independent music scene in Puerto Rico during the late aughts and early tenties, playing keyboards and bass in numerous well-received projects (MIMA, Tach.dé) and even dabbling in chiptunes (Go Organ!). He was also a member of the beloved local reggae group the International Dub Ambassadors, for whom he recently delivered dub mixes featured on the band’s latest record, “La Calor” (2022). Having moved to Los Angeles, the versatile García established himself as a player in the local scene singing and drumming for the psych-garage-punk trio Prettiest Eyes and playing bass on the Allison Wolfe (Bratmobile) fronted Sex Stains, before settling into his current solo project.

“Switched-On” is Pachyman’s fourth and most accomplished record. As the album credits explain: “Pachyman wrote, produced, played, sang, recorded and mixed” the album at his own 333 House studios in LA. Which means it’s the first time Pachy has sung on a Pachyman record, a welcomed evolution to the project’s scope and sound. As for the particulars of that sound, there’s really not much to explain, other than: Pachy knows his stuff.

His records are carefully curated and joyous affairs that welcome both neophytes and longtime fans of the genre into his studio, where he might serve you a “Trago Coqueto” and keep you hasta que “Sale el Sol” (until the sun comes out). You can catch Pachyman on tour throughout Europe this upcoming February and March. (Alfredo Richner)

♪♫ Listen: “Sale el Sol” + album stream

Other recommended records:
Cabra – “MARTÍNEZ”
Tainy – “DATA (Instrumental)”
MIMA – “Bachaqué” (single)
Neysa Blay – “Quise Que Fueras Tú” (single)
RaiNao – “Gualero REFF12.31” (single)



COMA – “Acordul Părinților”

“Acordul Părinților” (“Parental Consent”) is the fifth album of one of the most loved Romanian alternative bands, COMA, preparing to celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2024.

Their most recent material is also their most unexpected. Six tracks, most of them born in the strange times of pandemic, have embraced deep introspective subjects through the lyrics. Questioning your life goals, your relationships, your most inner thoughts and beliefs is the fil rouge of the album.

It was somehow a surprise for the fans not to receive an album with growls and guitar distortions since it is an alternative band with a lot of energy. Hefe, the guy with the atmospheric sounds and synth parts is at his best. They have chosen to focus more on their deeper side. And for me this is the winning part.

If you could understand Romanian language, a song like “Iza” would shake your strongest beliefs regarding your day to day life. It sits next to how REM’s “Everybody Hurts” marked the 90s generation. No doubt, for me the it is the most impressive album of 2023. (CriticEyez)

♪♫ Listen: “Iza” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Kadjavsi – “Second Sun”
Eyedrops – “Găsit. Rătăcit. Regăsit. Pierdut”
Dora Gaitanovici – “Descântec”
Dimitri’s Bats – “Monobloc”
The Mono Jacks – “Norul nouă”



Baaba Maal – “Being”

Already in his 70s, Baaba Maal continues to inspire generations of musicians and listeners, and his amalgamate of local/global, traditional/contemporary, rustic/artistic remains as puzzling as ever.

He’s up to date with the most pressing political and social issues: “generational debts and conflicts, rivers, (…) new generations of Africans making themselves felt, the impact of technology,” yet he also strays from such topics to ponder on “remembering dreams, the magic of place, the strangeness of time, the feeling of home, the stars above, and the rhythms inside and out.”

It took Baaba Maal about 7 years to record and release this magnificent album, and while it might be one of the reasons why it’s so intricate and consistent, let’s hope his next work comes soon. (Oumar Dembele)

♪♫ Listen: “Yerimayo Celebration” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Assiko Golden Band de Grand Yoff – “Magg Tekki”
Ndox Electrique – “T​ë​dd ak Mame Coumba Lamba ak Mame Coumba Mbang”
Seckou Keita – “African Rhapsodies”



Proto Tip – “s ivice sanjanja”

Proto Tip is one of the most beloved bands from Belgrade’s bursting alternative scene. And in 2023, they finally released their debut album, “s ivice sanjanja” (“from the edge of dreaming”).

In the beginning, they were young protagonists of noise-rock, but now they leaned on shoegaze and dreamy sound. The talented youngsters are fully matured as musicians and their creativity is on the plate.

Lyrically, the songs are pure rock poetry, so intimate, sincere and emotional. Musically, they are all over the place with lush and rich instrumentation and wonderful music solutions.

This is one hell of a ride and band members should be proud of themselves. We can’t wait to see what they will bring us in the future. (Nemanja Nešković)

♪♫ Listen: “sve što boli proći će” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Ljubičice – “Dok čekamo pad”
Turbo Trans Turisti – “Ništa nije strašno”
Igralom – “Premalim stvarima”
sv. pseta – “Nepoznato iskustvo”
Rebel Star – “Sedmo nebo”



shazza – “chapter one”

For anyone listening to “chapter one”, it can be hard to believe that it is the first studio record to come from local singer-songwriter shazza. An up-and-coming force in Singapore’s music scene, the 22-year-old cleverly pairs ruminations on love, life, and self with memorable melodies. It’s a feat that you would expect from a seasoned songsmith, yet here we have an artist who has accomplished it in her introductory album.

Opening chapter one with “Pity Party”, shazza, also known as Shareefa Aminah, sings of throwing a “pity party” for herself amidst trying to make sense of a messy, frustrating, and stressful thing known as l”ife as a young person in this world. Not long later, we find her offering comfort in the tender lyrics of one day”, through which she assures those who are lost: “One day you’ll wake up / In the arms of someone dear.”

Then, switching gears again, she links up with her brother and fellow artist Kidmeddling for “BUTTONS”, in which she sings of a complicated relationship as a dance-inducing beat combines with the sounds of a guitar.

The differences in the tracks from “chapter one” serve to tell us that shazza is not someone you can expect to only stick to what is tried and tested. Instead, she is constantly on the search for new ways of telling her stories. And when these distinct numbers come together, they paint a beautiful portrait of their creator, showcasing not only her artistic qualities, but also all of the parts that make her human, just like the rest of us. (Brandon Raeburn, Bandwagon Asia)

♪♫ Listen: “None Of My Business” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Axel Brizzy, Calista Liaw, Jeremy Wong, Wovensound, Khalif Rawi – “The Art of War II”
Count Vernon – “The Nomad Diaries”
PARKA – “PARKA’s Treehouse”
Woes – “Temporal Dimension”
Cravism, ABANGSAPAU, Mary Sue – “OK!”



Fvck_Kvlt – “Cigán”

Unity in its variabilty. Organized chaos. Vast number of musical ideas bashing on you while wandering through the album. “Cigán” brings all of that and more. To put it simply, listening to Fvck_Kvlt’s album is like watching a villainous superhero having an existential crisis.

Of course it’s an advantage to know the country, the language and current circummstances but it works even if you don’t speak Slovak. Somehow you get into a swirl of moods starting with rap going through atmospheric club beats followed by metal hooks resulting in punk rap.

The most lovable tracks would be punk rap tracks (“Zle”, “Boh stojí pri nás podvratných”), and Fvck_Kvlt’s softer side in “Mizéria”. (Viera Ráczová)

♪♫ Listen: “Boh stojí pri nás podvratných” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Boy Wonder – “Single Player”
Buy Her Sugar – “Sugar And Cigarettes”
Nivva – “Hideout”
Samm734 – “Kedy sa vrátiš domov?”
Vojtik – “Kvety z Podpoľania”



The Canyon Observer – “Figura”

We just opened the doors to the new year of 2023 when the local underground scene already had them wide open, ready to expand our horizons with a new LP from the cult band The Canyon Observer and their third album “Figura”.

The band consists of many members within which the membership is not set in stone but rather fluid, for this album altogether 10 musicians: Bojan Varga, Gašper Prus, Gašper Letonja, Miloš Miloševič, Matic Babič, Nik Franko, Jure Boršič, Jasna Kolar, Tadeja Žele and Katarina Kozjek.

The Canyon Observer engraved a deep seal in Ljubljana’s heavy guitar underground scene with a unique mixture of free jazz, hefty guitars, metal and sludge metal. It represents a distinctive aesthetic as well as an unbearably beautiful listening experience in which we are transmitted through complex compositions and very loud, dense and noisy sound space.

After moving away from the worry for our hearing health, we are able to hear a living organism within the apparent chaos – moving, growing and transforming into a rich organic architecture. After the whole year, filled with new releases and being surrounded with general hyper production in music and arts, this piece of noisy mass is still echoing in our ears. (Ula Kranjc Kušlan, selection by team of Radio Študent).

♪♫ Listen: “Kri” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Blaž – “Are You a Player, Beton Records”
Slowmotion Livestream – “A statue in front of the Devil, Beton Records”
Eating Sports – “Giorni Sportivi, ZARŠ Records”
Samo Kutin – “Spaces XI, Zavod Murmur”
Kiki – “KRiKi”



Desire Marea – “On the Romance of Being”

Desire Marea band includes 13 members and each of them has the music imagination of 13 performers, but he doesn’t just want you to enjoy his music – he wants to heal your body and soul, being a trained healer himself.

For this to happen, he employs a crazy variety of inspirations from spiritual jazz and gospel to progrock and experimental music, though always keeping your mind focused on the main narrative to let them do their background work.

If you’re into music that’s a “feel” in the first place rather than just “hear”, “On the Romance of Being” will be your perfect therapy. (Junior Naidoo)

♪♫ Listen: “Be Free” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Bongeziwe Mabandla – “amaXesha”
Alice Phoebe Lou – “Shelter”
Petit Noir – “MotherFather”
Nakhane – “Bastard Jargon”
Asher Gamedze – “Turbulence and Pulse”



Minwhi Lee (이민휘) – “Hometown to Come” (미래의 고향)

Do you have a hometown? I mean, everyone was born in a certain place, but are you still connected with it? Some have fond memories of their hometowns, no matter whether they can go back there or can’t. Others, like me, don’t — or won’t — remember any connection between their current life and their hometowns. A few people, who are still staying in their hometowns, may want to escape from there.

But regardless of the type of hometown, sometimes you desire the homely hospitality that no other place can offer. You might wonder: isn’t that unreachable daydream, or a kind of forged nostalgia? Maybe you’re right. However, even if our connection with hometowns severed, we still need the welcoming place and gestures in this harsh world — not for our survival, but for our existence.

Listening to “Hometown to Come,” it feels like Minwhi Lee tries to create the imaginary hometown that anyone can share. A stellar folk singer-songwriter and film music composer, this is her second studio album since 2016’s “Borrowed Tongue.” With hazy but profound voice, Lee slowly weaves the stories, scenes, and emotion of strangers who are estranged far from their hometowns. The accompanying sonic approach—lush strings, weeping acoustic guitar—is much more organized and abundant than her first effort, which leverages her experience of various collaborations. (“Music for Hwi-i-ing” and “Music for December 70th” are some of the finest examples among them.)

But don’t understand this change as some kind of mainstream-aspiring embellishment. Rather, the record cohesively expands to establish long lost, yearning places — a station we left to reach somewhere, a place we abandoned long ago, a café where we called someone but no one answered. It is deeply melancholic but has warm fingers, the fingers to scoop our distant hearts from sadness.

Of all her fantastic activities as a musician, I’m personally attached to Minwhi Lee’s teaching in NoDeul Song Factory, a weekly music workshop by the NoDeul School for the Disabled where disabled workers in public jobs can join together and produce songs. In an interview, Lee said the NoDeul Song Factory was an indispensable inspiration for the album’s last track. “I’ll probably be thinking about how the world and my work should intersect until the day I die, but NoDeul School and the Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination keep throwing up clues, and there’s a lot to learn from them.”

If the hometown in “Hometown to Come” feels like gripping, almost tangible being, it’s because the album is full of warm but struggling vision towards the future, rather than nostalgic reality to be stagnated. Truly, I believe that there is a hometown in the future. (Jeong Guwon)

♪♫ Listen: “Hometown to Come” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
jerd – “BOMM”
Silica Gel (실리카겔) – “POWER ANDRE 99”
youra (유라) – “A Plenty Number of Tentacle Appendixes” (꽤 많은 수의 촉수 돌기)
Lee Jin Ah (이진아) – “Hearts of the City” (도시의 속마음)
Beenzino (빈지노) – “NOWITZKI”



Alexanderplatz – “Noches blancas, mañanas negras”

This album is, like Alexanderplatz’s first one, a crazed compass, unbalanced: it dresses like a rancheras album as well as a stadium rock one: “Veneno gratis”; there were signs in the previous album that Alejandro Martínez would come up with a song like that, but we didn’t even expect it to be so good.

But it is, also like the second one, an album that knows how to contain itselff: not to exhaust the listener among the pirouettes of a master of so many melodies like Alejandro Plaza. An amazing songwriter, one that could spend his life jumping from one melody to another without ever stepping on the ground.

Brilliant melodies as always, built between guitars (acoustic, electric, as they come) but also synths: how glorious is “Insultantemente exultante”, which has the property of songs that seem to have always been there, that always existed before us, the listeners.

And, also as always in Alexanderplatz, wrapped by lyrics whose words intertwine, tease each other, and have fun playing with meanings and syllables. (P. Roberto Jiménez, Hipersónica)

♪♫ Listen: “Afectuosamente suyo” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Fino Oyonarte – “Arrecife”
Verde Prato – “Adoretua”
Lisabö – “lorategi izoztuan hezur huts bilakatu arte”
Grande Amore – “II”
Elphomega – “The F2eelance”



Mvndila – “HYDR”

Taking whatever he needs from modern pop and regional heritage, young singer-songwriter and rapper Mvndila finds his very own niche between music genres and his own way of shaping songs.

His latest EP called “HYDR” includes five compact songs, but each of them sounds like an example of a whole possible career – and that’s not because he’s undecided, he’s just a too curious to and too young 20-something to to settle on one flower. (Lina Rim)

♪♫ Listen: “intro” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Jantra – “Synthesized Sudan”
Ebo Krdum – “Soga Jamailé”



The Embassy – “E-numbers”

A perfect album is an album that you don’t want to turn off. You don’t want to skip a song, you don’t want to jump to your favorite song. You want to press play and then enjoy the ride without obstructions.

To create that you need a great sound instead of a few great songs. You also need a dynamic sound to keep the attention alive and you need high quality. For nearly 25 years, The Embassy has been creating a dynamic sound with the highest quality so it’s not a surprise that they made the best Swedish album of 2023.

As a duo, they’re more attached to the golden years of Swedish indie 20 years ago with acts like The Tough Alliance, The Radio Dept, The Knife, and Air France. That makes it easy to look at The Embassy with nostalgia and think like ”oh, yeah, they were great”. With their fifth album, they show that they’re still great and the album ”E-numbers” surely is a perfect album.

Fredrik Lindson and Torbjörn Håkansson still combine different subgenres like classical Swedish twee-pop, acid house, and some Madchester indie. The music makes me feel a lot of feelings and the songs amplify my mood. Sad days get more sad, happy days get more happy. The Balearic piano, the different sound effects, the flowing guitars, and the pulsating drum machine affected me deeply. Even the roaring goats in ”Amnesia” speak to my feelings.

The glory days of Gothenburgian indie might be long gone but thanks to ”E-numbers” we will Dream On! (Fabian Forslund)

♪♫ Listen: “Amnesia” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Sarah Klang – “Mercedes”
Terra – “Livslinjen”
Solen – “Idol”
Fever Ray – “Radical Romantics”
Fågelle – “Den svenska vreden”



To Athena – “The Movie”

If Barbara Broccoli were ever looking for a Swiss musician for the next James Bond theme song, I‘d recommend Tiffany Limacher. The artist To Athena from Lucerne has created the best application with the song “Spinning”. A captivating, multi-faceted composition.

The song is at the heart of the new album “The Movie” and combines chamber pop, 20s atmosphere and folk. A gem with wonderful vocals by To Athena, with crescendo and an intelligent view of the world. Words that apply to all the songs on “The Movie”, the album is multilingual, elegant, and personal.

It all begins with fairground vibes in “Master Of Disguise”, climbs the mountains with the title track and propagates tolerant thinking with “Es Näscht”. To Athena’s album celebrates the unusual, the personal and the importance of the individual life. “The Movie” is cinematic, in every bar. (Michael Bohli, Phosphor Kultur)

♪♫ Listen: “Fäschtmol” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Barany – “Nanztal”
Soft Loft – “In Case You Still Get Lonely”
ASBEST – “Cyanide”
Soukey & Artbabe – “Aubtroum”
Odd Beholder – “Feel Better”



Shkoon – “Masrahiya”

Shkoon (meaning What?) is a duo Ameen Khayer, who fled Syria to Turkey back in 2015 and then made it to Germany, and German musician Thorben Weikmann. While generally an electronic band, they’ve managed to integrate folk music from Syria and the region into their work.

After a number of EPs and singles they finally released a full-length album “Firaq” in 2022, and just a year later their sophomore record called “Masrahiya” (“A Play”). A mixture of influences from the Middle East and Western music, their music luckily found fans both in Europe and in the MENA region as their tours show.

♪♫ Listen: “The Chair” + album stream



XiaoRen (小人) – “Goblin’s Bizzarre Radio”

After releasing acclaimed, award-winning debut album, XiaoRen (aka Goblin Zeppeli) devoted himself into teaching, but also continued composing music, trying to incorporate various musical styles from different eras including hip-hop, R&B, funk, big band, indie rock and pop. The lyrics vividly depicted the bittersweet flavors of life.

A decade of waiting, XiaoRen’s sophomore album “Goblin’s Bizzarre Radio” (歌佈靈的奇妙電台) is a compilation of hit songs collaboratively produced by many experienced musicians and emerging talents. The album cover is drawn by XiaoRen himself with rich and creatively illustrated doodles, providing a glimpse into his abundant and imaginative inner world.

When it comes to playing with music, this album proves that XiaoRen is always at the forefront, making it a powerful and impressive musical journey! (Cheng-Chung Tsai)

♪♫ Listen: “Let’s Hang Out” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Panai (巴奈) – “Iā-Pô” (夜婆)
Mong Tong – “Tao Fire” (道火)
The Village Armed Youth Band (農村武裝青年) – “Hōo Lí ê Kua” (予你的歌)
Faith Yang (楊乃文) – “Flow”
Paige Su (蘇珮卿) – “You’ll Live Forever in My Songs”



YONLAPA – “Lingering Gloaming”

YONLAPA’s “Lingering Gloaming” stands out as one of the most enchanting releases in Thailand’s indie music scene in 2023. The lyrics are just as captivating as the melodies, and Noina’s vocals, paired with their unique sound, define YONLAPA’s unmistakable style.

The music is so smooth and evocative that it beautifully conveys even the most poignant stories. Despite the melancholy, there’s a radiant quality to their sound that envelops you.

Having experienced their live performance, I can attest that YONLAPA is a force to be reckoned with on stage. The chemistry among the four members is incredible, leaving you longing for more after each show.

Their music has a universal appeal, and I genuinely believe they could captivate audiences around the world. YONLAPA’s contribution is something the world needs, effortlessly transcending borders and sharing their resonant melodies globally. (Nut Donratcharat)

♪♫ Listen: “I Don’t Recognize You” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Varis – “supervillain”
daynim – “PSSST!”
Phum Viphurit – “The Grengjai Piece”
Solitude Is Bliss – “Such A Vast Sea” EP
Ford Trio – “Let Them Kids See”



Deena Abdelwahed – “Jbal Rrsas”

Deena Abdelwahed has been residing in France for a while, but to record her new album she came back to Tunis, where she was born, and it might have added some extra depth to the material and made it a bit sentimental.

On “Jbal Rrsas”, however, she still mostly explores new designes for Arabic club music of the future. She dismantles Arabic rhythms and blends them with whatever you can hear these days at the dancefloor – or at an avantgarde / contemporary music festival. (Lina Rim)

♪♫ Listen: “Pre Island” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Ghoula – “Demi-écrémé”
Dhafer Youssef – “Street of Minarets”
Virus2020 (فيروس ٢٠٢٠) – “Khushue”



Bade Nosa – “Zemheri Bitti”

Bade Nosa’s first LP, “Zemheri Bitti”, is one of my favorite albums of 2023 and the one that most touched my soul. It may be because I’ve been following Bade’s musical journey since her university days, then on SoundCloud, and finally, after 2020, on all official digital channels.

But of course, there is more than this emotional attachment: since her first demos and unofficial releases, she kept creating her authentic style in both composing her songs and the way she sings. In the digital music industry, where all productions look and hear more or less the same, it is like finding a treasure. Since 2020, she has released approximately ten singles, but having an LP after this journey has crowned that process.

Besides Bade, many great musicians and artists have been involved in this great album. Still, I should mention two important names here. The first one is Emrecan Sarısayan. As Bade’s partner in crime, his musical contributions both as a composer and guitarist are like a delicious sauce on the dish. The second name is Emre Malikler, one of the most important producers of the Turkish music industry, and his musical touch can be easily heard in this album, which leveled up its quality.

Hope you enjoy this jewel as much as I did. (Emir Aksoy)

♪♫ Listen: “Yangın Yeri” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Lara Di Lara – “Eskisi Gibi Değil”
Deniz Tekin – “Yüzyıllardır Aynı Dert”
Büyük Ev Ablukada – “Defansif Dizayn”
Şirin Soysal – “Unready to Board”
Erdem Sökmen & Nağme Yarkın – “Duende”



Nakibembe Embaire Group – “Nakibembe Embaire Group”

Self-titled debut album from xylophone orchestra Nakibembe Embaire Group shaked and stirred souls of this instrument’s fans for the sheer mass of the collective’s sound and their specific approach to tuning, polyrhythms and disire to party.

To make it even more interesting and unique, 3 of the 8 tracks making the album feature Indonesian group Gabber Modus Operandi whom Nakibembe played with a few years ago in Germany. While it required some technical upgrades, the result shows Uganda and Indonesia are not and have never been as far from each other as the map would suggest. (Afiya)

♪♫ Listen: “Omulangira Mpango” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Titi Bakorta – “Molende”
PÖ – Cociage
Nihiloxica – Source of Denial
Rian Treanor & Ocen James – Saccades
Faizal Ddamba Mostrixx – Mutations



Jamala – “QIRIM”

Ukrainian pop-sensation Jamala, has released an incredible album “QIRIM”, inspired by the folk songs of her native Crimea. Throughout years, Jamala meticulously unearthed these songs from cities and towns across the Crimean Peninsula, breathing new life into previously unknown, rewritten, or forgotten melodies. Collaborating with over 80 traditional musicians and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Jamala presents “QIRIM” as a profound exploration of Crimean Tatar musical traditions.

The project’s journey was no easy feat, facing obstacles and delays amid the full-scale invasion. The mixed-genre album had to endure the perils of war as the completed LP was left under fire in the Kyiv region.

Jamala expresses the album’s significance, stating that it embodies her dream to showcase the truth about Crimea through its folklore. Each song in “QIRIM” resurrects the traditions and struggles of the Crimean Tatar people, creating a narrative of resilience and determination. Without a doubt, it’s very different from everything we’ve got used to hear from this artist, but it’s definitely worth a listen.

The accolades extend globally, with “QIRIM” already making waves on radio stations in countries such as the Czech Republic, Turkey, Georgia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Jordan, Greece, Latin America, Germany, the United States, Canada, and Japan. Adding to the list of honors, “QIRIM” has been shortlisted for the prestigious Shevchenko Prize, a distinguished state award recognizing outstanding contributions to the development of Ukrainian culture. (Dartsya Tarkovska)

♪♫ Listen: “Gider Isen” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Heinali – “Kyiv Eternal”
Onuka – “Room”
Disappeared Completely – “Pretty Average”
Циферблат (Tsyferblat) – “Перетворення”
Ganna – “Kupala”



Ino Guridi – “Pasará”

After years of career under the name Isla Panorama, Ino Guridi decided to shed that identity and start anew releasing her first album signed with her own given name. And the final result is an absolute triumph that inserts itself in the best tradition of Uruguayan music.

“Pasará” is crossed by the return of Guridi to Uruguay after a few years spent in Chile. That homecoming meant an extended investigation into the history of Uruguayan poetry, art and of course, music, especially the output of singer-songwriters that worked from the 80s and onwards, that worked both with traditional and folkloric Uruugayan sound and with pop sensibilities of their time.

In a interview with Uruguayan newspaper “El Observador”, Guridi said as a sort of statement: “I feel that every musician that is somehow relevant has honored the place where they come from. I tried to be more aware of that. To get myself in the chain of Uruguayan musicians”. And that’s something that seeps in all tracks of this record.

With that baggage and her own sensibility, Guridi crafted eight songs that feel both as an homage to her musical forebears and something fresh and new at the same time. Electronic and contemporary pop sounds and captivating beats fuse seamlessly with candombe, tango or murga – all popular local rythms – in songs like “Moras” and “Retirada”, while “Que se prenda fuego el campo is” a gem, with its growing sonic crescendo and a collaboration between Guridi and guest singer Ernesto Tabárez from the band Eté & los Problems.

“Pasará” is, then, a firm collection of pop songs, that look back to the past and to the present at the same time, while also bringing tides of the future, and sets the author of this album as a name to follow, both in Uruguay and all arround the world. (Nicolás Tabárez)

♪♫ Listen: “Moras” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Knak & Zeballos – “Ubi al privado”
Jhona Lemole y la Orquesta Deforme – “Deforme”
Sofía Álvez – “Febrero”
Facundo Balta – “Todo antes de irme”
Diego Presa y Julieta Díaz – “Río”



Rawayana – “¿Quién trae las cornetas?”

After four successful albums, Rawayana has found the sweet spot in their more mature album yet. “¿Quién trae las cornetas?” (Who brings the speakers?) is an ode to venezuelanity. A document of our view of the Caribbean life, in which Venezuelan idiosincracy is shown through a collection of tracks that feel like a trip to the beach, but also like a journey through a lot of genres, with reggae as a timid starting point to approaching and merging with other styles of music like funk and a plethora of latin rhythms that not necessarily allude to the classic reggaetón or dembow.

This is a fun, catchy yet intelligent record which uses its many collaborations (Eduardo Cabra of Calle 13, Simón Grossmann, Danny Ocean, Goyo of Choc Quib Town, Monsieur Periné, Servando Primera, among others) to emulate the huge party with all your friends that this record is trying to evoke. The lyrics refer to romance, jokes, sex, and daily life with a unique, funny approach, while the music sounds as sharp and well entangled as ever.

It is also Rawayana’s most ambitious piece to date, and I think it accomplishes one of it main goals, which is to establish the band with their own identity (some of their previous albums feel at parts that they’re trying to get to this sound while referencing other bands in the process). I think that a huge compliment for this record is that it feels like they’re taking off right were other legends from Venezuela like Los Amigos Invisibles, a huge reference to the band, started, but with new ideas and a whole different sound.

A sound they can call their own, but it was grown and nurtured with a great assortment of influences that they proudly honour with their music, and that’s a big win for any musician. (Alejandro Fernandes Riera)

♪♫ Listen: “Binikini” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Insólito Universo – “Ese puerto existe”
Frank Lucas – “Gira Solito”
Yadam – “Belamor”
Willie DeVille y Chuchú Bermudas – “El Pez Que Fuma”
Gran Radio Riviera – “0-800 HOY”



Lý Trang – “Syenite”

Every sound in “Syenite” feels like it was carefully calculated by Lý Trang. There are also many bold and strange sounds like other electronic/experimental artists, but everything in “Syenite” feels right.

She brought the space of folktronica into it, combining Northwest VietNam influences with modern electronic sounds. Lý Trang incorporates her voice and makes it a valuable sound in some tracks instead of just a noise in the chaos of countless others.

“Syenite” is not only an experimental album that people listen to with the mindset of exploring, it is an album that can be enjoyed in a very pleasant way. Building a clear portrait of herself, being both bold and gentle, those are the elements that “Syenite” does best and make it her best album this year. (Nam Tran)

♪♫ Listen: “so, flag on flag” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Chú cá lơ – “Những bài hát giống nhau”
Doãn Hoài Nam – “Mộng mơ và lãng quên”
tlinh – “Ái”
Tuimi – “Shimmer”
Wren Evans – “Loi Choi: The Neo Pop Punk”



Mokoomba – “Tusona: Tracings in the Sand”

“This song is a letter by a man to his wife reassuring her that he loves her and is working hard to provide for her and the entire family. He has written a will designed to protect her in the event that he passes on.”

It’s hard to believe that one of 2023’s most bouncy singles that cheers you up every time you play it, is a song about poverty and how a woman can lose everything the moment they lose their a man.

“Nzara Hapana” is a great example of how Victoria Falls sextet Makoomba combines their party grooves with what’s deep in the hearts and minds of their folk. So “Tusona” can be a lesson, while for sure it is fun. (T. Mecha)

♪♫ Listen: “Nzara Hapana” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
Whobejazzz & Tenten – “Absinthe”
Mhare dzeNhare – “Solo Songs”


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