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  • Xavier Farrow-Francis

The Groove Garden: Top Tunes of ‘23: July and Onwards…

Words by Xavier Farrow-Francis (any/all)


1. BB/ANG3L by Tinashe

Since splitting from her major label and going independent in 2019, Tinashe has been on a creative stream upward, sounding more liberated as an artist and fresher with each album. BB/ANG3L is an all-time high for her, as she fuses sensual R&B with sleek and futuristic dance beats. Throughout her career, Tinashe has proven time and time again to push boundaries and experiment with her sound, but on this album it culminates in her glossiest, and most cohesive and addictive project to date.Listen if you like: KAYTRANADA, Shygirl, Disclosure*Genres: alternative R&B, UK garage, UK bass


2. My Back Was a Bridge For You to Cross by ANOHNI and the Johnsons

ANOHNI has always been an incredibly powerful voice in art pop, constantly using her music to advocate for the earth, for queer identity, for love. On her latest offering, she delivers one of the most emotionally affecting albums of this year. While her lyrics have always been stirring, she writes and sings with such potency as she croons about life, death, grief, and humanity, with soulful and rocky instrumentation as her accompaniment. Delicate, confronting, stunning, and heart-wrenching all at once, My Back Was a Bridge For You to Cross is a masterclass in conjuring emotional responses in the listener, and there isn’t anything that makes this strong of an impression from 2023.Listen if you like: Nina Simone, Lou Reed, Nick Cave, PJ HarveyGenres: soul, singer-songwriter, chamber pop, art rock


3. softscars by yeule

An album like this one is really fascinating, because despite its penchant for technological sci-fi and fantasy themes, it still feels in tune with what it feels like to experience and struggle with depression and connection in the hyperdigital age. It’s a crackly and frenetic, but fragile glitch rock record. Even when considering its depressive nature, it sweetly encapsulates the distance you feel while trying to love yourself and the people around you. The glitchy pop aesthetics that permeated yeule’s former work are still present here, but they work together with a hazy shoegaze soundscape. They coalesce to create a body of work that feels like it was made not only for us, but for people thousands of years down the line, struggling with being alive in their cybernetic life. yeule provides an experienced and loving shoulder to cry on in softscars, and it’s uniquely touching.Listen if you like: Wolf Alice, Grimes, Charli XCX, Beach House

Genres: shoegaze, indie rock, glitch pop


4. Disenchanter by Alaska Reid

If you’re a sucker for songs that tell stories in a narrative style, Alaska Reid’s Disenchanter is the album for you. Listening through the album, Reid conjures up recollections of road trips through an icy, wintery North America with her country-tinged and synth-inflected style of indie pop rock, and ruminative, introspective coming-of-age lyrics about a melancholy life. It makes for a magically windswept listening experience, not dissimilar to reading a book of essays written by a woman who wishes for better.Listen if you like: Big Thief, oklou, Sky Ferreira, Magdalena BayGenres: indie pop, singer-songwriter, Americana, alt-country


5. SUPERNOVA by Ralphie Choo

Oozing creativity and packed to the brim with sonic surprises, SUPERNOVA is unlike anything I’ve heard. Taking clear inspiration from the modern classics—think Frank, Kanye, Travis—Ralphie Choo morphs so many sounds into one package, leaving your jaw agape for much of its runtime. Sometimes luscious R&B cuts, sometimes raging dembow bangers, it’s a wickedly cheeky debut record made all the more impressive when considering he made it almost entirely himself. Ralphie Choo is certainly going to be an artist to watch over the coming years.Listen if you like: Frank Ocean, BROCKHAMPTON, ROSALÍAGenres: neoperreo, glitch pop, experimental hip hop, Latin electronic

Obviously, there’s tons of stuff that’s really great out now (or about to be) that I just didn’t have the space to go in depth about, but still want to point your attention towards. I’m super excited about these releases, and this is my last opportunity to get you to listen to them, so here they are!


I’VE LISTENED + OUT NOW:


Playing Robots Into Heaven by James BlakeListen if you like: Four Tet, Burial, Jai Paul, SBTRKTGenres: future garage, dubstep, UK bass


Get Up by NewJeansListen if you like: K-pop girl groups, Troye Sivan, PinkPantheressGenres: K-pop, UK garage, R&B


Ooh Rap I Ya by George Clanton*Listen if you like:* Tame Impala, Moby, Blank Banshee, ~vaporwave~*Genres:* chillwave, trip hop, neo-psychedelia


Sorry I Haven’t Called by VagabonListen if you like: Billie Eilish, Jessie Ware, King PrincessGenres: alt-pop, R&B, indie pop


Powders by EartheaterListen if you like: Yves Tumor, Caroline Polachek, ArcaGenres: art pop, trip hop, psychedelic folk


HAVEN’T LISTENED + UPCOMING:


Ambrosia by Namasenda (out now!)Genres: alternative R&B, dance


FEVER DREAM by COUCOU CHLOE (out now!)Genres: hip house, freak trap


Perfect Picture by Hannah Diamond (out now!)Genres: electropop, futurepop


Javelin by Sufjan Stevens (out now!)Genres: chamber folk, indie folk


Something To Give Each Other by Troye Sivan (this Friday!)Genres: dance-pop, electropop


SAVED! by Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter (20 October)Genres: appalachian folk, avant-gospel


Lahai by Sampha (20 October)Genres: alternative R&B, neo-soul


Nekkuja by Marina Herlop (27 October)Genres: avant-folk, glitch pop


1989 (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift (27 October)Genres: Taylor Fucking Swift!!!!!


Sweet Justice by Tkay Maidza (3 November)Genres: pop rap, experimental hip-hop

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