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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Review: 2023’s 7 best albums thus far

With a plethora of amazing musical releases, 2023 is off to a strong start. With the first quarter of the year behind us, it’s time to take a look at some of the best releases of the last few months.
Graphic by Sam Baughn

With a plethora of amazing musical releases, 2023 is off to a strong start. With the first quarter of the year behind us, it’s time to take a look at some of the best releases over the last few months. Arranged by release date, here are 7 of my favorite releases of the year thus far.

“Let’s Start Here” – Lil Yachty 

2023 started off with a bang thanks to a release from bubblegum trap artist Lil Yachty. Yachty’s fifth studio album was highly anticipated, and to the shock of many, was a dramatic departure from the sound we’d come to expect. Best characterized as a psychedelic rock record, “Let’s Start Here” is a bold artistic statement, and proves that Yachty’s versatility goes beyond the realm of trap by which he is best known.

The album is heavy with complex production, hard rock guitar riffs and wonderfully mixed drums. While it could be easy for a lesser artist to be swallowed up by this deep melting pot of sound, Yachty’s signature auto-tuned voice is the perfect piece to tie all the other elements together. Yachty knows how to utilize auto-tune as an actual instrument and each vocal tweak and modification is precisely done to elevate his vocals to fit each song. With “Let’s Start Here” Yachty takes a bold step into unfamiliar territory, showcasing the versatile artistic merit of a musician not taken as seriously by the mainstream. My favorite track is “the ride-.”

“cardigan hate train” – Tom Oeffling

Full-time Marquette Student, and part-time musician Tom Oeffling, first year in the College of Education, proves that it doesn’t take professional studios and expensive equipment to craft a meaningful record. Produced entirely by Oeffling in his dorm room, “cardigan hate train began as an attempt to just “make some good songs” and ended in a well rounded, coherent and meaningful indie rock record.

Oeffling’s writing is fluid and ambiguous, and though deciphering the meaning of some of the songs is difficult, the emotional beats, and core threads of the album are clear. The songs “lovely, lovely” and “dogwalker” best showcase Oeffling’s masterful instrumentation and production. It’s clear from listening that each instrumental layer was crafted with immense detail, mixed into a wonderfully simple, yet impactful final product. 

By the end of “cardigan hate train,” I was left profoundly nostalgic. Though I can’t place what the album does that makes me reminisce on my childhood days, it’s a feeling that pops up every time I listen. My favorite track is “lovely, lovely.”

“Red Moon In Venus” – Kali Uchis

As Kali Uchis’ biggest fan, “Red Moon In Venus” was one of my most anticipated albums of the year, and it certainly lived up to the expectations I set. There is something incredibly comforting about this record, and though the impressive production, stunning features and expert songwriting all contribute to this feeling, it’s Kali’s stunning voice that does the heavy lifting. I simply cannot sing her praises enough, and with every song she releases I become more convinced that she is one of the most talented performers of this generation.

Overall, “Red Moon in Venus” is captivating from start to finish, engulfing the listener in the lush feelings of love and divine power of femininity that the singer embodies. Kali delivers an immensely satisfying final product that leaves me eager for future releases. My favorite track is “Worth the Wait (feat. Omar Apollo).

“GIZMO”- Tanukichan

Though “GIZMO” doesn’t quite reach the same heights that 2018’s “Sundays” did, Tanukichan solidified herself as one of the more consistent acts in the alternative/indie with this year’s release. Clocking in at only 29 minutes in length, “GIZMO” doesn’t waste any time in making a strong musical statement.

Tanukichan’s production has always caught my ear, and with this album in particular the fuzzed out sounds and soft vocals are particularly well performed and mixed. What especially stands out are the drums, which contrary to previous albums, were performed live, then replaced with drum machines. You get the precise engineering a drum machine provides, without losing the punchy dynamics live drums can bring.

”Gizmo’s songwriting is precise, and the album moves extremely quickly without wasting a word. It’s wonderful to see an artist sticking with what works, while trying out new styles and techniques, showing that you can stay both fresh and familiar. My favorite track is “Like You.”

“Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)” – Yves Tumor

Despite the title, Yves Tumor’s latest studio album consumed me whole, and hasn’t stopped digesting me since the minute I listened. This album is a living, breathing creature, and every single instrumental note, musical cue and grand sweeping moment hits with a calculated precision that only Tumor could execute. From the panicked breathing that bursts into the opening track “God is a Circle,” it’s clear that you are in for a twisting ride to the depths of what is musically possible.

The songwriting is particularly hypnotizing, and Tumor’s religious musings, and personal admissions are particularly enigmatic. Yves Tumor has always pushed themself  further with each subsequent project, and all “Hot Between Worlds” proves to me is that they are a rare talent, capable of subsequent masterclass creation like no other. In my eyes this project is the peak of a near perfect three album run, and an easy winner for album of the year (so far). Though it seems impossible to go higher, if anyone can it’s them. My favorite track is “Lovely Sewer.”


What am I even supposed to say about this album? It’s a collaboration between two of hip-hop’s more fascinating characters, and though at points it begins to spiral out of control, it holds itself up as an incredibly entertaining and well executed album. Peggy’s production is as ineffable as ever, and Danny’s flows are some of the best I’ve heard him record.

There are so many memorable moments on the project, from the bass drop on “God Loves You,” to the Elon Musk disses, the not one, but two Kelis’ “Milkshake” samples and the Charge of the Light Brigade type beat on “Burfict!.” That’s not even mentioning the song titles or album cover, which are always highlights for JPEGMAFIA projects. “Scaring The Hoes” is nonstop thrills at breakneck speed, executed with the precision that only a producer like Peggy could pull off. If it truly is only Volume One, then I am fully prepared for the sequel. My favorite track is “God Loves You.”

“Leather Blvd.” –  B. Cool-Aid

“Leather Blvd.” was a lucky find, and one I am immensely grateful I stumbled upon. Crafted by B. Cool-Aid, the collaborative project between Cincinnati Rapper/Singer Pink Siifu and underground producer Ahwlee, “Leather Blvd.” is one of the best underground jazz rap records I have ever heard. The production is particularly high class, and each beat, whether crafted from samples or scratch, feels wonderfully unique and alive. The whole album feels like a live jazz session, aided and abetted by Siifu’s warm and diverse vocal performances.

There’s a wide range of features and collaborators, each of which add something new and exciting to their respective tracks. Ladybug Mecca’s guest verse on “ChalkRoundIt” is particularly amazing, and is the highlight of the album for me. “Leather Blvd.” is a rare gem, crafted by two experienced members of the underground hip-hop community who are extremely well versed in their respective lanes. It’s a stunning project, and takes the spot as my favorite hip-hop project to drop so far this year. My favorite track is “ChalkRoundIt.”

This article was written by Sam Baughn. He can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Sam Baughn, General Manager for Marquette Radio
Sam Baughn is a senior from Stoughton, Wisconsin, majoring in Digital Media and minoring in English Literature. He is the General Manager of Marquette Radio for the 2023-2024 year. Outside of his work with MUR, Sam pursues amateur photography and enjoys cooking and baking. He is immensely excited to work with an incredible team to push MUR to new heights, build systems for long-term growth and create new events and programming.

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