Nite Songs Top 50 Albums of 2023 - Part 5 (The Top 10)

 

And so the end is near...we present to you the ten best albums of the year just gone in our humble opinion...

10.    BEANS ON TOAST - "The Toothpaste And The Tube"

Another regular presence in my end of year lists in recent years, The Toothpaste And The Tube sees Jay McAllister aka Beans on Toast returning to the fray in fine form and taking on everything from the joys of life on tour (Back Out On The Road, The Golden Lion) through laments at the state of the country (Hope & Glory, The Greenwash) to enjoying the simpler things in life to get you through (Swimming In The Sea, The Dragicorn). McAllister is quite simply one of the best lyric writers in the country today and The Toothpaste And The Tube is a fine place to start for those wanting to discover his work.

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9.    CYANIDE PILLS - "Soundtrack To The New Cold War"

Soundtrack To The New Cold War sees Leeds pop-punks the Cyanide Pills well and truly coming of age. The group have long been masters of Buzzcocks/Undertones style simple two minute singalongs to love and heartache with a sly sense of humour lurking underneath but this new effort sees them growing a social conscience to fine effect on the likes of Running Out Of Time, Act Natural and I Know What They Can Do albeit still with the humour intact on the likes of Low Budget Rock 'n' Roll and The Kids Can't Be Trusted With Rock 'n' Roll. A triumph, all told.

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8.    THE 69 EYES - "Death Of Darkness"

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that keeps us coming back to the well with the 69 Eyes but three decades into their existence, Death of Darkness shows that the suave buggers are still packing as much of a punch as ever. Drive sounds like the Sisters of Mercy covering Rebel Yell by Billy Idol while California, Call Me Snake and This Murder Takes Two are proper goth rock anthems in waiting to get the party started. Long may the Helsinki vampires reign.

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7.    THE CORAL - "Sea Of Mirrors"

Following up an album as epic as 2021's Coral Island was always going to be a tricky prospect but even though it sees them scaling things back to a single album this time aroud, Sea of Mirrors has the Coral building on that rather amazing record in fine style with the theme this time around seeming to be travelling and arriving. The yearning likes of North Wind, Cycles of the Seasons and The Way You Are are fine songs to soothe the troubled soul after a stressful day. It's very rare for a band two decades plus into their career to be producing albums which are up there with their best material but make no mistake, the Coral definitely are one such band.

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6.    THE ROLLING STONES - "Hackney Diamonds"

It could have been awful. Let's be honest, how many times have we seen a Stones album hailed as "maybe their best since Exile On Main Street" only to go out and get it and find that it really really wasn't. Happily though, Hackney Diamonnds did definitely live up to the hype bestowed on it, veering from the wide boy cockiness of Whole Wide World through the langourous Dreamy Skies to Keef's reflective Tell Me Straight and the epic soulful Sweet Sounds Of Heaven. Their best since Exile then? Maybe not. But I'd say there's a good argument that it's their strongest since Tattoo You at least.

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5.    IGGY POP - "Every Loser"

The first album we reviewed in 2023 and it very much set the bar for what was to come afterwards. Given that Iggy had said that his previous album Post Pop Depression was likely to be his last, seeing a new effort from him hitting the shelves was something of a surprise. Even more of a surprise was that it was his strongest effort in years with Strung Out Johnny, Every Day Ripoff and Neo Punk packing an angry energy that musicians in their mid-seventies just aren't supposed to have. The sound of the king returning to take his throne and all the better for it.

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4.    CHRIS CATALYST - "Mad In England"

Chris' solo career away from the Eureka Machines has continued to go from strength to strength with his last few efforts and Mad In England can happily sit with its two predecessors as a demonstration of just what a talented and underrated songwriter the guy is. From the anger of Butterfly Or Bull and I'd Rather Be Anywhere to the more reflective self-doubt of I Got A Gift and the astonishingly well-crafted closing one-two of How and Dead Man Walking, this is Chris covering all of the bases in fine style and serving up maybe his most fully realised solo effort to date.

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3.    THERAPY? - "Hard Cold Fire"

Therapy?'s strongest effort since Infernal Love? It might just be. The group have been on something of a renaissance since 2015's Disquiet and if that album was the turnaround then Hard Cold Fire is very much the apotheosis, finding messrs Cairns, McKeegan and Cooper with anger in their hearts and fire in their bellies as they rage against injustice on the likes of They Shoot The Terrible Master and Poundland Of Hope And Glory. A decade or so ago, a few of us were worried that Therapy? had simply forgotten how to make albums as good as this. Suffice to say, we need worry no more.


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2.    JIM BOB - "Thanks For Reaching Out"

Jim Bob won our 2020 Album of the Year with Pop-Up and he came agonisingly close to making it a second win this time. Thanks For Reaching Out sees the one-time Carter USM frontman casting his eye over the sorry state of the country in the way that only he can and expressing in words the frustrations a lot of us feel. While The Day Of Reckoning, Billionaire In Space and Toxic Man bristle with a righteous anger, there's a more self-reflective streak in evidence on the likes of Befriend The Police and We Need To Try Harder (We Need To Do Better) could almost be the anthem for the worrying year we've just had. And if you really need another reason to buy it, the video for the excellent Sebastian's Gone On A Ridealong gained press for pissing off Jacob Rees-Mogg. What more recommendation could you need? 


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1.    JIM JONES ALL-STARS - "Ain't No Peril"

Jim Jones is definitely a man with a hell of a track record down the years from his time with Thee Hypnotics, Black Moses, the Jim Jones Revue and the Righteous Mind. When he announced in 2022 that he was putting a new group, the All-Stars, together, it seemed more than anything to be an excuse to dust of the best parts of his previous ventures and give them an airing all in one place. So the fact that they've not just come up with a new album but, in this writer's opinion, the best album of 2023 is definitely one heck of an achievement. As the name suggests, this album sees Jones taking all the best parts of his previous outfits and throwing them together into one intoxicating brew which holds together way better than it has any right to. You want fired up rabid rock 'n' roll straight from the garage? Gimme The Grease and You Got The Best Stink (I Ever Stunk) will see you right. Menacing tribal rhythms? That'll be Troglodyte. A huge gospel singalong so massive it sounds like it could take the roof off any arena you choose? Then you really need to give Your Arms Will Be The Heavens a try. Put simply, this album covers a frightening amount of ground and covers it all with supreme aplomb - the tunes will hook you straight in first time but you'll be discovering little new bits every time you listen to it. It may just be the hardest trick in rock 'n' roll to pull off but Ain't No Peril makes it look as easy as falling off a log. And that's why it's the Nite Songs Album of the Year 2023.

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And there you have it. As I say, this is almost certainly gonna be the end for Nite Songs (for the foreseeable future at least) so just to repeat - thanks to everyone who's submitted stuff for me to review, taken the time out to contact us about the music or even just given this 'ere blog a quick read over the last three and a bit years. God speed ya rockers, we'll see y'all down the road. 

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