Stinkweeds Best of 2023

2023 was a year of change for Stinkweeds. As many of you know, we just completed some major renovations to our small store; a brand new store front, expanded shopping space, and a second story office took shape throughout the year.
One of the most thrilling things about the remodel was when we hooked up the speakers and started listening to music in the new space. Suddenly our favorite albums from this year had a freshness to them. It's funny how a space can influence the sound and experience you get from music. So much of our conversations about the remodel are about maintaining that certain vibe that Stinkweeds has always had. But, we are also very excited to see what new possibilities the space will bring. We know that in-store performances will be a HUGE part of this. But, like the fresh coat of paint, the fancy new counter or the street lights coming through our new openable window blinds, listening to music in the store will have just a little more excitement added in.
While you listen to our top picks for the year, think about the spaces you listen to your music in. Do some of these picks fit right in? Do some inspire you to make some updates to your space or even what you’re listening to? If so, come in and tell us about it and what your favorites are. Because, with all of the challenges that come with this kind of change, it is the smiles on your faces when you see the new shop that make it all worth it. It’s the fact that you’re spending a little more time, even when the store is full of shoppers, because it’s a little easier to get around, or seeing you celebrating the fact that we’ve finally made some specific sections, like our new punk section or our expanded hip hop section. This is why we do it!  The record store is a shared experience. Thank you all so much for sharing the experience of change and growth with us this year. We will continue to build our new store into a space perfectly fitted for exploring music.
-The Stinkweeds Crew:
Dario, Lindsay, Kimber, Zach, Caleb, and Jake

Arooj Aftab/Vijay Iyer/Shahzad Ismaily - Love In Exile (Verve)
Seeing Arooj Aftab and this ensemble live offered a perspective on their approach to music. It is an exercise in losing yourself in moments and time. So much of the performance seemed improvised, with moments of structure in between wide soundscapes and explorations. In the interstitial banter of the show, Aftab expressed gratitude to the audience for appreciating what they were playing, seemingly surprised that anyone was into it, even though the audience was fully engaged and appreciative. I imagine performing this music must seem very personal and introspective. This is also what makes it so engaging. Aftab has won a Grammy for “Best Global Music Performance.” And while the music is deeply rooted in her Pakistani heritage, the musicians she chooses to work with, like Phoenix’s own Shahzad Ismaily, are simply playing from their own life experiences and pulling from a range of musical influences, which make these recordings less “Global” and more … human. -Kimber

Anohni and the JohnsonsMy Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross(Secretly Canadian)
The first Anohni and the Johnsons studio album since 2010’s Swanlights does not disappoint despite the long wait; it is a stunning display of Anohni’s vocal ability and songwriting prowess. My Back… is more Soul than Art-Pop, but still incredibly emotional, tragic, and deep; all the pieces of an Anohni record you’ve come to expect. It is the best she has ever sounded on a record, and it feels somehow timeless already.  -Zach


bar italia - Tracey Denim (Matador)
Tracey Denim, bar italia's first Matador release is rich, emotive, and hypnotizing. This record exhibits influences from early shoegaze, brit-pop, and darkwave with fuzzy guitar tones and angsty vocals breaking through an otherwise lo-fi mix. The volcanic, punchy bass lines complement the tight rhythm section, expressive guitar voicings, and moody vocalists. This record is dissonant, gripping, and a future-classic. -Jake

Black Country, New Road - Live at Bush Hall (Ninja Tune)
Yet again, BCNR meditates, metamorphoses, and emerges from their cocoon with a completely new sound. Through the poignant lyrical dexterity and familiar free-jazz and post-rock elements on the first track of the LP, the band eulogizes their previous work with frontman Isaac Wood while inaugurating a new direction for the band at the commencement of this performance. On the surface, this album is unrestrained and overly theatrical, but a more active listen unveils intricate avant-jazz, baroque, and classical components that can not and will not be ignored. To quote the first track on the B-side, they really "made something to be proud of." -Jake

Blonde Redhead - Sit Down For Dinner CD/LP (Section 1)
A lot of my adult interest in music has been influenced by my love and appreciation for Blonde Redhead.  After a nine year absence they return with Sit Down For Dinner and sound more interesting than ever. Their unexpected rhythms and melancholic chord structures are still there, but there is more nuance than ever. This is an example of a record affected by the pandemic, but it's not a pandemic record. Rather, this is a band who sonically thrived in a tumultuous time of a global breakdown. -Lindsay

Jaimie Branch - Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((World War))(International Anthem)
A year after her death, this would be the third and final album of trumpeter Jaimie Branch. It’s easy to idealize posthumous releases, but something that really stands apart from previous albums is how much this album feels like an introduction to the person that is Jamie Branch. Already having made a name for herself in the jazz circles, it was apparent that a great voice of that movement was lost too soon. But, listening to this final album, you get a fuller sense of who Jaimie Branch was, where she came from and where she would have gone. -Dario

Neko Case - Wild Creatures CD/LP (Anti)
We rarely put retrospectives or Best Of's, on our year end lists, but an exception is being made here for Neko Case. Even if she put out as many albums a year as King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, it still wouldn't be enough. Wild Creatures is a brilliant career retrospective, reaching deep into her songbook. If you haven't dug into Neko's catalog, here's your best chance! The liner notes and wonderful artwork are alone worth the purchase! But more than anything, I urge you to dig in for the exclusive track, "Oh Shadowless". It's only available on this release and, oh, it's worth it. I hope this a sneak in what's to come on her next album. It's dark, deep, urgent and absolutely perfect. -Lindsay

Deerhoof - Miracle-Level (Joyful Noise)
This album is really something special! I've always had a huge amount of admiration for them and their musicianship and energy. No matter what they are doing, it is always very much a singular space and feeling, and it brings me immense joy. This album captures everything I love about them perfectly, but has also managed to make me fall in love with them more. After listening through the album a few more times just to write these sparse words, I am left inspired each time, and convinced I have to listen again to formulate a better way to wrap up my thoughts on the album. Somehow I have fewer words each time I listen?
(After a few more listens...)
This album just rules. -Caleb

Dengue Fever -  Ting Mong CD/LP (Tuk Tuk)
8 albums and 20 years in, Dengue Fever are still creating stand out music with an unmistakable amalgam of styles and musical traditions. This time,they’re at their most cohesive.  D.F. mix traditional Cambodian soundways with indie sensibilities, which puts them in a realm all their own. This effort is more mellow, focused and psychedelic than past efforts. It's exactly the perfect album for right now, tune in and head to your much needed dream state. -Lindsay

McKinley Dixon Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!? (City Slang)
Beloved! begins with a reading from the Toni Morrison novel Jazz and ends with a title track; sometimes “jazz-rap” can be a reductive term but McKinley Dixon isn’t afraid to tackle the genre head on and attempt to perfect it. Dixon raps over beautiful saxophone solos, tight drum fills, harps and string sections galore, but fills each track with allusive and dense lyricism, and he wears his Kendrick influence on his sleeve. One of the best hip-hop releases of the year. -Zach

Geese - 3D Country (Partisan)
Welcome to 3D Country; Apocalyptic, untamed, and at times silly Cowboy-themed tales, set in a vivid, post-punk soundscape that could "make a dead man die," performed by none other than New York City's own... Geese. This record begins with climactic narratives of necromancy during a western armageddon, which may seem ridiculous until you notice yourself singing along to each and every line. The exciting melodic structure blends perfectly with the dynamic depth of the instruments while remaining so complex that it almost seems like each band member is dueling one another at high noon. It's beautiful, it's emotional, it's post-punk and prophetic, but more than anything, 3D Country is one of the most fun listening experiences of this year. -Jake

Grails - Anches En Maat CD/LP (Temporary Residence)
Grails are one of the coolest bands. They combine musical elements from nearly every genre, and manage to make it not only sound tasteful, but totally cool and innovative. How? Well, part of their secret is being an instrumental band. Also, they've been at it for a very long time and have a lot of interesting musical history among members. Their bandcamp describes this album as, " An improbable blend of melted 1980s softcore and daytime soap opera soundtracks, cosmic minimalism, aching Westerns, melancholy electronic pulses, and massive soul-disco strings, Anches En Maat is one of Grails’ most ambitious albums of their 20+ year career." Yeah, that. -Lindsay

Steve Gunn and David Moore - Let The Moon Be A Planet (RVNG)
Let The Moon Be A Planet sees avant-folk songwriter Steve Gunn team up with David Moore of the instrumental ambient outfit Bing & Ruth; the result is a sprawling meditative opus of instrumental music. The 8 songs on this project are meditative and calming, yet the musicianship from Steve on acoustic guitar and David, on piano, keeps the listen compelling and captivating. Not quite as ambient as a Music For Airports but definitely of the same atmosphere, this is an easy recommendation for fans of instrumental music. -Kimber

Home is WhereThe Whaler (Wax Bodega)
Post-emo or fifth wave emo? Midwest emo or post-screamo? Maybe a little bit of folk punk sprinkled in? It’s hard to nail down Home is Where, but it’s harder to deny that they are leading the modern emo revival to some incredible places. The Whaler is an emotional juggernaut of an album, with some really thematic writing, but the talent of the band is what keeps me coming back. Ripping guitars, contemplative harmonica, and some sick singing saw adds so much depth to this one. I urge emo fans and non-fans alike to give this one a listen! -Zach

Jana Horn - The Window Is The Dream (No Quarter)
Summed up, this is a beautiful album. There’s a difference in the beauty you find on a nature walk, taking in the flowers and wildlife and the beauty you find walking down an empty street, where the simplicity of everyday life hits you a little differently, just because you were in the mood to let it. Jana Horn writes simple songs, performed with the absolute minimum needed to deliver such songs. Notes are given the space to dissipate, words are given the pace to take on meaning, and the listener is treated to pleasant sounds that find their beauty not in their nature to be beautiful, but in their willingness to be raw and real. -Dario

Gregory Alan Isakov - Appaloosa Bones CD/LP (Suitcase Town)
Lush orchestration mixed with old time banjo, fiddle and ukulele make for a wonderfully beautiful addition to the Isakov catalog. Fans of Lord Huron, Iron and Wine, Old Crow Medicine show should definitely give a listen. -Kimber

Hannah Jadagu - Aperture (Sub Pop)
While I do appreciate the new “bedroom pop” trend, I can’t say that it’s the thing I’m most likely to bring home. My taste has lovingly been referred to by others and myself as, (what’s the word?) “boring.” But I’m also not immune to the charms of a catchy tune with a good beat and a story of requited/unrequited love, when it’s created with heart and some uniqueness. At only 19, Jadagu is already introducing new approaches to a genre of music that often leans heavily on ideas that have been around since the 90s. It has all the cool slacker vibes that draw everyone in, but it also dances between electronic, dream pop and shoe gaze with a couple tracks sliding into Neo soul, but what I like most is how these ideas always come as a surprise. It’s not always that the melody or lyric is the hook. Sometimes just an idea is the hook. It’s an indefinable quality, but it draws you in just the same.  -Dario

Kenny Beats  – Louie (XL)
Louie is the debut solo album from producer Kenny Beats, who has worked with just about everybody of late - Denzel Curry, Freddie Gibbs, Idles, Vince Staples, and more. It’s a treat to hear his production and beats unfettered and raw. There are hidden features throughout the album (Jpegmafia’s is a standout) but the focus of this LP is the overwhelming feeling of the whole thing. Its cohesion in its simplicity is flawless; it’s the perfect record for driving on the coast with the windows down or for cranking loud on the turntable while you make pasta. -Zach


New Pornographers 
Continue As A Guest CD/LP (Merge)
I've always appreciated New Pornographers' pop sensibilities and smart songwriting, but they were always a band I had to be in a mood for. Even with their pedigree of favorite songwriters; Neko Case, Dan Bejar, AC Newman.... sometimes I just couldn't buckle up to their complex, powerpop brilliance right off the bat. However, this album is different. Not only have they switched labels, to Merge Records, but their sound is weirder, darker, and emotion resonates a bit more. The addition of saxophones from Zach Djanikian and production from Pete Hanlon make this a stand out effort. -Lindsay

Doug Paisley - Say What You Like CD/LP (Outside)
I've always been a fan of Doug's but this album is far more 70s "Laurel Canyon" and Dire Straits- than the standard folkiness of his other records. I'm really enjoying the new sonic terrain on this record and the production SOUNDS great.  O' Canada, you produce the best. -Lindsay

Hayden Pedigo - The Happiest Times I Ever Ignored (Mexican Summer)
The son of a truckstop preacher from Amarillo, TX, Hayden Pedigo grew up with musical influences such as John Fahey and Robbie Basho, which is evident while listening to The Happiest Times I Ever Ignored. The complex layers of experimental fingerstyle guitar on this record make it such a comfortable listen, like lying on a hammock on a warm summer day. The Happiest Times I Ever Ignored carries an expansiveness throughout the record that makes it easy to forget that this is a solo acoustic guitar album. At the same time, the delicate and beautiful stitched-together melodies of Pedigo's guitar will immediately put you at ease, leaving space for you to reflect and analyze your thoughts. -Jake

Slowdive - Everything Is Alive CD/LP (Dead Oceans)
A remarkable effort from a band 30+ years into their career. Slowdive are the only stalwarts of their genre who are still creating magic, touring and staying true to their sound. You’ll find the same shimmering guitars, urgent and melancholic melodies, and vocal interplay between Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell, but on Everything Is Alive, you’ll also hear a bit more experimenting with modular synths. This is both an album for the younger generation discovering shoegaze and slowcore, as well as for their longtime fans. What a rare gift! -Kimber

Soft Shoulder - It's All A Small World After (Gilgongo Records)
It's All A Small World After just dropped right before the year's end, and I couldn't be happier to have it. It's incredible! Sonically dense, too bright to look at, too sharp to touch and blisteringly hot. It is on repeat. Soft Shoulder forever! -Caleb

Sonic Youth - Live in Brooklyn 2011 (Silver Current)
This is a Sonic Youth live record, styled in a Trademark Of Quality style bootleg jacket, and... I think it's perfect. I love Sonic Youth, I love listening to bootleg live recordings, and I think this document captured a special moment in time perfectly. So happy to have this!  -Caleb

Stephen Steinbrink - Disappearing Coins (Western Vinyl)
Perhaps it’s because of Stephen’s connection to my hometown, but I can’t help but appreciate the rate of change and growth from album to album that amazingly still sounds completely and unmistakably “Stephen.” The songs have always been lovely and devastating but there is a level of discovery that must happen between each album, given just how fresh and exciting each new one sounds. -Dario

Tinariwen - Amatssou (Wedge)
This band broke out into a global audience in the early 2000s and it’s certainly not the first time they’ve shown up on our best-of list. In all those years and several albums later, they have maintained a sound that captures their story and the sound of their northern Malian desert home. Only now their sound is filtered through multiple world tours and collaborations with musicians from a variety of backgrounds. On Amatssou, producer and musician Daniel Lanois offers new textures and ideas to their music, but never lets it get too far from what makes this band so impactful. -Kimber

Vanishing Twin - Afternoon X (Fire Records)
We had this album in the store CD player for a really long time during construction this past year, and every single time it would play I would be taken back by how great it is. Listening through it again takes me right back to that place of anticipation and excitement for what was to come of the new rendition of the shop, but I am still taken back by the depth and beauty. I can't help but feel a kinship between their sound and Adventures In Stereo. -Caleb

Y La Bamba - Lucha (Tender Loving Empire)
I will always appreciate an artist’s willingness to just absolutely fuck up a perfectly good song in the effort to make something that sounds interesting and NEW! To my ear, Y La Bamba is good enough to break into the mainstream with catchy tunes, perfect performances and an alluring voice, singing songs in Spanish (who doesn’t love a song NOT sung in English?!) But, this is all done with some just absolute weird production choices tastefully sprinkled throughout these delightful tunes. The world is weird. I believe our pop music should reflect that. -Dario

Youth LagoonHeaven Is A Junkyard (Fat Possum)
It has been 8 years since 2015’s Savage Ballroom, and although Trevor Powers has released some solo LPs in the interim, the arrival of Heaven Is A Junkyard was highly anticipated. Just like every other Youth Lagoon album, Heaven is 10 tracks long, and infinitely repeatable. It is a beautifully mixed, catchy, and sometimes haunting album that adeptly straddles the line between bedroom pop and chamber pop. The album always seemed to find its way back to the store stereo, and quickly became a Stinkweeds classic. -Zach

Wednesday - Rat Saw God (Dead Oceans)
Potentially the most gutsy, chaotic, and meaningful album of this year, Wednesday's Rat Saw God tells a tale only they could tell. On their first four albums, Wednesday told their most pleasing stories, and on Rat Saw God, they gave us their most frightening, haunting ones. Part autobiographical and part fiction, the North Carolina’s small town anthology of songs takes place in a house that turned out to be a front for a mob, a parking lot where a death took place, Benadryl-conjured hallucinations, and other grim Appalachian tales. This record is refreshingly vulnerable and authentic, and it's uplifting to hear Wednesday trailblazing their own sound. It may be impossible to categorize this album into a specific genre, nevertheless, the panicked commentary on poverty, drug abuse, and various other zeitgeisty issues guarantees that Wednesday's Rat Saw God will be recognized as not only one of the most captivating but one of the most important works of this year. -Jake 


Film School Field (Felte)
Local Natives – Time Will Wait For No One (Loma Vista)
Wye OakEvery Day Like The Last (Merge)
Kassa Overall – Animals (Warp)
MapacheSwinging Stars (Mapache)
U.S. Girls Bless This Mess (4AD)
Yo La TengoThis Stupid World  (Matador)
Jalen Ngonda - Come Around And Love Me (Daphne)
Ryuichi Sakamoto12 (Milan Records)
Lankum False Lankum (Rough Trade)
Michael NauAccompany  (Karma Chief)
Alabaster DeplumeCome With Fierce Grace (International Anthem)
SquidO Monolith (Warp)
King Krule - Space Heavy (Matador)
SHAME Food For Worms  (Dead Oceans)
ProtomartyrFormal Growth In The Desert  (Domino)