Here Are My Top 10 Albums of 2023

Composite of album covers for top 10 albums of 2023 from DJ Liz O. Includes cover images for Taleen Kali Flower of Life, Grey Factor, 1979-1980 A.D., Optometry After-Image, Decisive Pink Ticket to Fame
Included in my top 10 albums of 2023 are (top row) Taleen Kali “Flower of Life,” Grey Factor “1979-1980 A.D.” (bottom row) Optometry “After-Image,” Decisive Pink “Ticket to Fame”

I don’t know if the annual “best of” lists are necessarily fair. There is still a virtual pile of 2023 albums on my Bandcamp wishlist and running list in my head of albums that I need to hear. There are likely new albums from bands I follow that I don’t know about because, well, you know how social media works these days. Then there are the albums and bands who aren’t even on my radar, but will be next year, or the year after that, or maybe a half-decade down the line. Still, I made a list of my top 10 albums of 2023 that include music you may have heard in my DJ sets IRL, on Mixcloud or a few of the radio appearances I’ve done this year.

If any of these albums are unfamiliar to you, I hope you’ll take some time to give them a listen. I’ve included links to the platforms I personally use to purchase digital music. (I am an Amazon affiliate, so I earn a commission from qualifying purchases made from those specific links. If you go that route, thanks for the support!) It might go without saying, but tracks from some of these releases might turn up in my set at Underground’s New Year’s Eve Party and I hope to see the L.A. folks reading this there.

10. Spiritual Cramp 


Like I wrote after playing Spiritual Cramp at Underground for the first time, I almost missed out on this band because the name struck me as such an obvious Christian Death reference. The last thing my ears need is more bad goth. But, I judged a band by their name and, once I finally got around to listening to Spiritual Cramp’s self-titled debut full-length, I flipped for them. They aren’t a goth band, btw. My assumption was completely wrong. They’ve got an ‘00s rock sensibility, like Franz Ferdinand-meets-The Hives, that encourages you to move while you listen, with the added bonus of really sharp lyrics. “Talking on the Internet” made it onto my top 10 jams of 2023 list, but I think you’re going to be hearing them more in my sets come 2024.

Find Spiritual Cramp on Bandcamp

Find Spiritual Cramp on Amazon (digital, vinyl)

9. Pearl & the Oysters

Coast 2 Coast

Pearl & the Oysters sounds like a postcard. Their 2021 album Flowerland, for which I interviewed the duo for Audiofemme, was an ode to the end of their stay in Gainesville, Florida so dreamy that I’m tempted to visit. On their most recent album, Coast 2 Coast, the now-L.A.-based musicians bridge the East and West coasts with songs that evoke campfires (“Fireflies”), evening hikes (“Moon Canyon Park”) and summer drives along the ocean (“Pacific Ave.”). And, if that weren’t enough to pique your curiosity, there’s also a bona fide space pop jam— “Read the Room”— with guest vocals from Laetitia Sadier.

Find Pearl & the Oysters Coast 2 Coast on Bandcamp (digital, vinyl)

Find Pearl and the Oysters Coast 2 Coast (digital, vinyl)



The one show I was actually bummed to miss this year was 79.5 at The Paramount. The New York-based group makes psychedelic disco with nods to classic hip-hop that’s downright inspiring. “B.D.F.Q.” (as in, “bitch, don’t fuckin’ quit”) is a necessary song for any time you want to walk out on your job or throw your phone across a room or whatever. “Fight or Fall,” the album closer, is a Rule 63 Thin Lizzy cover that plays like a feminist call-to-action in my brain every time I read about the shitshow that’s erupted since Roe vs. Wade was overturned. 

Find 79.5 on Bandcamp (digital, vinyl)

Find 79.5 on Beatport

Find 79.5 on Traxsource

Find 79 5 on Amazon (digital, vinyl)

7. Taleen Kali

Flower of Life

A personal highlight of this year was getting to play three different Taleen Kali-related events this year. Taleen and the band released a killer album back in March, Flower of Life, and I’ve been listening to it regularly since then. Read what I wrote about Flower of Life upon its release, but know that, since then, “Crusher” has become something of an earworm for me. This is a must-own album if your tastes lean towards classic alternative and shoegaze. 

Find Taleen Kali Flowers of Life on Bandcamp (digital, vinyl, cassette, CD)

Find Taleen Kali Flower of Life on Amazon

6. Alison Goldfrapp

The Love Invention

With a tight, dreamy groove, The Love Invention, the debut solo album from Alison Goldfrapp, picks up where her band, Goldfrapp, left off. If you ever ran to the dance floor for songs like “Train” and “Strict Machine,” you need The Love Invention in your collection. This is absolutely a dance album— “Gatto Gelato” has been a part of my sets this year and “NeverStop” has appeared in them a few times too— but for those who want more options for the club, check out The Love Reinvention, Goldfrapp’s remix album, which came out earlier in December. 

Find Alison Goldfrapp The Love Invention on Bandcamp

Find Alison Goldfrapp The Love Invention on Beatport

Find Find Alison Goldfrapp The Love Invention (vinyl, CD)

5. Belle and Sebastian

Late Developers

It’s true, I’ve been a Belle and Sebastian fan for a long time, but it’s really not every year that the Scottish band has an album on my year-end list. However, it’s also true that, for two years in a row, Stuart Murdoch and cohorts have released incredible albums. Late Developers hit in the early weeks of 2023 and, honestly, this album got better as the year progressed. I’m in awe of the build-up to the one-two punch of “When You’re Not With Me” and “I Don’t Know What You See in Me.” And then there’s the come down of “Do You Follow,” “When the Cynics Stare Back from the Wall” and “Late Developers” with lyrics that so insightfully reflect life in almost unbearably shitty times, yet retain some kind of hopelessness.

Find Belle and Sebastian Late Developers on Bandcamp (digital, vinyl, CD)

Find Belle and Sebastian Late Developers on Beatport

Find Find Belle and Sebastian Late Developers on Amazon (digital, vinyl, CD)

4. Decisive Pink 

Ticket to Fame

“Haffmilch Holiday” is the Decisive Pink track that you may have heard in my sets, but the track off the duo’s debut full-length that really connects with me is “Dopamine.” It reminds me of Ladytron’s song “Paco!,” itself a play on the theme for the classic British television series Are You Being Served?, albeit with lyrics that dig into the age of online retail. Angel Deradoorian and Kate NV drew from influences like Can and used analog synths in making Ticket to Fame and the result speaks a lot to 2020s angst.

Find Decisive Pink Ticket to Fame on Bandcamp (digital, vinyl, CD)

Find Decisive Pink Ticket to Fame on Beatport

3. Optometry 


“Chameleon,” the opening track on Optometry’s debut full-length, After-Image, is one of my favorite jams of this year and there’s a good chance that you’ve heard it in my DJ sets. As much as I’m hooked on that song, though, the entire album from the L.A.-based duo of John Tejada and March Adstrum is essential 2023 listening. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to After-Image this year and it still feels news with every listen. There’s a lot of stylistic variety in here, yet it’s a very cohesive album. 

Find Optometry After-Image on Bandcamp

Find Optometry After-Image on Beatport

Find Optometry After-Image on Traxsource

Find Optometry After-Image on Amazon

2. Pale Blue


Pale Blue, the duo of Mike Simonetti and Elizabeth Wight, have been a part of my DJ sets for a good while. (Especially before lockdown, a couple of their tunes turned up frequently in my sets at The Lash.)  That said, I was very excited to hear their sophomore full-length, Maria, which came out last May on Crosstown Rebels. What I didn’t expect was that I would spend more time listening to it at home than playing tracks in my sets. The DJ Tennis remix of “No Words” has popped up into my sets, but as for the album versions, so far I’ve been of the belief that they need to be heard in full and in order during the course of one sitting. I might change my mind about that next year, but you should still get yourself the full album and listen to it in over and over again. It’s a really beautiful collections of songs about love that plays out like a single story full of ups and downs.  

Find Pale Blue Maria on Bandcamp

Find Pale Blue Maria on Beatport

Find Pale Blue Maria on Amazon

1. Grey Factor

1979-1980 A.D.

My favorite album of 2023 was made more than 40 years ago. At the cusp of the 1970s and 1980s, a band from the San Fernando Valley called Grey Factor lugged analog synths into clubs like the now-iconic Hong Kong Cafe, turned up on the first episode of cult TV show New Wave Theatre and recorded two EPs  full of music as experimental as it was captivating. Those EPs, though, didn’t reach listeners until the release of 1979-1980 A.D.  earlier this year. I came across the release on Bandcamp and was so smitten that I wrote to the band. A while later, I heard back, which resulted in an interview that ran in the music section of Southern California News Group papers around the time the compilation came out on vinyl.

Find Grey Factor 1979-1980 A.D. on Bandcamp (digital, vinyl)

Find Grey Factor 1979-1980 AD (digital, vinyl)

Liz O. is an L.A.-based writer and DJ. Read her recently published work and check out her upcoming gigs.