The RouteNote team reflects on the music that meant the most to us in the last year amongst a tidal wave of new albums in 2023.

As we round off another year it’s time to reflect on the things that meant the most to us in 2023, and for the RouteNote team that’s always music – apologies to any of our spouses or children reading.

Here at RouteNote, we listen to music day-in and day-out. The thousands of artists who come to us every day as well as all of the music beyond have made 2023 another stellar year for some serious time spent inside the headphones.

Here are the records that stood the test of time, held our hand through it all, and inspired us uniquely more so than all the rest in 2023.

Alex L: Slowdive – everything is alive

I do a lot of travelling and spend most of my time on the bikes in the afternoons. This whole album from start to finish gave me that push and buzz that I hadn’t felt for a long time when riding. The start of the album is very instrumental/uplifting and gets you in the headspace to take corners ands straights more aggressively, whilst other parts of the album are extremely euphoric and lets you think about where you are. Sublime album!

Connor C: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation

Who thought that you can still be fresh after 24 albums? After releasing two albums this year (following their five last year) it’s clear that it’s been a slow one for the Gizz. However, I think all of that time was allocated to crafting a genuinely enjoyable progressive thrash record that holds up against its peers in the metal genre.

It always surprises me how a band who consistently jumps genres so often is able to blow their contemporaries out of the water in any said genre they decide to dip their toes in.

Emily H: Covet – Catharsis

I’m a huge fan of Covet and Yvette Young. I’ve never been disappointed by anything she has put her name to and this album is no exception. To listen to an album in its entirety and feel like everything is both intentional and free-flowing is like a breath of fresh air and a balance so many artists strive to achieve.

Catharsis has been such a pleasure to listen to and I think what stands out the most to me is the creative use of texture and tones that accentuate the melodies written.

Gio: Avalon Emerson – A Dam Will Always Divide

A finely splashed jungle drum line with deep reverberated ambient sounds and a great vocal lead to carry your spirit away across seas and valleys and cities. To me it almost feels like looking back to the last 10 years of my life.

Jacca: JPEGMAFIA, Danny Brown – Scaring the Hoes

Two of rap’s most bombastic weirdos decided to come together and scare the hoes. The results? Massive. Some of the most reckless lines put to tape stand ground thanks to incredible flow and ever-creative sonic bizarrity. This record made me a hoe just to scare me.

Jak: Chase & Status – 2 Ruff, Vol 1

My album of choice is: 2 Ruff, Vol.1 by Chase & Status! I think they’ve done a really good job at bringing a lot of new people into the Jungle DNB scene, whilst infusing it with voices from the Drill genre such as ArrDee & Stefflon Don, which are artists not typically heard on DnB tracks.

The album has so many “Must Listens” but my personal favourite is Say The Word (feat. Clementine Douglas). I also believe their Boiler Room set will go down as one of the best EDM sets in recent memory.

Katie: Queens of the Stone Age – In Times New Roman…

QOTSA were back with a new album this year! If you haven’t managed to see them yet, you really are missing out – this year was my third time seeing them and it was by far the best show I’ve seen from them – it was actually my gig of the year, such a great experience to see a band like this at Cardiff Castle.

The new songs go down a treat live, the atmosphere is electric, and this album is a must-listen. :leftshark:

Laura: feeble little horse – Girl with Fish

I challenged myself to listen to 300 albums in 2023 and Girl With Fish was the stand out. So much distortion it feels like your hair will start standing on end from static shock, mixed with soft vocals and twiddly guitars. All the sounds caress you like a warm hug with the songs being short enough to keep you wanting more.

Lucy L: D-Block Europe – DBE World

I love this album because it’s fire, but also because it reminds me of going to see them live with my sister. We are both big fans of Young Adz and DBE, and try to go and see them whenever we can!

UK HipHop is gaining recognition in America and other countries, and DBE is one of the groups leading this breakthrough. This album also features some great collaborations with big names like M Huncho, Aitch, Headie One, and more.

Rich: Chelsea Wolfe – Tunnel Lights & Rival Sons – Rapture

When asked about my chosen soundtrack to this year I imagined the world in a place of self reflection and healing. Troubled times often see artists reaching deep within and I found 2023 as no exception.

So first I’d start with an artist that, in my eyes has not put a foot wrong in the last decade. Chelsea Wolfe. Chelsea’s ability to swing between mysterious Americana, folk and deep heavy doom or gothic melancholy is frankly mesmerizing to me. Her latest single ‘Tunnel Lights’ drifts between shades of that 1990s ‘Bristol Sound’ of Tricky (Maxinquaye era) – Portishead – Massive Attack etc.. Then dives back to the haunting drone of those Nine Inch Nails Guitars and Bass.

The production is faultless in my opinion, and the emotion within digs deep. I expect the forthcoming album “She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She” to be nothing less than a masterpiece.

Secondly, if Chelsea Wolfe finds that raw unsettled emotion within? Rival Sons went a long way to healing us, with their double album release’s “Darkfighter” and “Lightbringer”.

The best example of a stand out track came for me in the shape of “Rapture”. Its beautiful chorus of “Sing it loud I do believe, I’m becoming what I’m meant to be” is indeed the kind of positive and healing message we all need moving into a new year. Jay Buchanan’s voice is nothing short of a ‘gift’ and his band provide every inch of the convincing authentic Rock n Roll glory needed to accompany it.

Rival Sons lifted me with both live performances and Studio work this year, so long live Rock n Roll.

Simon G: Sven Wunder – Late Again

If I were to choose a musician working today that completely embodies and encapsulates my entire musical DNA it would have to be Swedish composer and multi-instrumentalist Sven Wunder.

I first discovered Sven 3 years ago. I thought I was up on all the artists and outfits making vintage-sounding funky, soulful crate-dug style music but no, Sven had flown under my radar.

Sven’s music is supremely melodic, charged with emotion and depth but at the same time insanely groovy and fonky. In the past, he has dabbled in Far Eastern flavours as well as Middle Eastern psychyness. My personal favorite album of his is 2021’s Natura Morta where he embraced an uber rare Italian soundtrack vibe. This year saw the release of my Album Pick of the Year choice – Late Again.

While not my favourite Long Player from Wunder it’s still a corker. Unlike previous offerings, this album doesn’t have such a coherent melodic theme running through it. There is certainly a leaning towards the deep and spiritual with several fantastic modal jazz numbers. I particularly love the sections that feature Deep Choir Harmonies.

My favourite tracks are Take a Break and Stars Align. So there you go! If you like seriously groovy, impeccably produced, deeply melodic music Sven’s your boy! Oh and if you enjoyed this LP he has just released an absolutely incredible xylophone-centred single that’s flipping amazing called Ultramarine.


Louis Cole and Genevieve Artadi have been a force to be reckoned with for just over a decade now, and this album is a perfect consolidation of everything that they embody as musicians. Unorthodox chord progressions, incredible grooves, partnered with some absolutely phenomenal features propels the listener into whole new world of contemporary jazz funk.

Do Hot Girls Like Chords?‘ and ‘The Abyss’ are some top contenders if you don’t wanna sweat the whole thing.

TL;DR – Knower are really good and you should listen to them.

Tom: Jungle – Volcano

Feel good vibes only! Jungle continue their flawless-album streak with their fourth release, perfect for playing out loud in any setting.

Let us know your favourite record of 2023 in the comments below!