by Jesse Hudgins
2023 is already half over and music has been thriving. Many records have been released this year, and many have been great. After listening to a lot of what this year has brought so far, I have five recommendations of records to check out.
Why Would I Watch by Hot Mulligan
Hot Mulligan has been on the up-swing for the past few years, becoming one the most popular post emo groups. The past few years have included great releases like their acoustic EPs and their EP I Won’t Reach Out To You. Why Would I Watch builds off everything we’ve gotten from the band and pushes them further in their career. The storytelling on the record is the most brutally honest and relatable the band has yet to offer, including themes like family, mental health, and reflecting on the past. Combine that with catchy and well-crafted instrumentals throughout the record, along with vocals from both singers, Tades and Chris, harmonizing to create some of the most beautiful and tragic songs.
Songs to listen to: “Betty,” “This Song Is Called It’s Called What’s It Called,” “And I Smoke,” and “It’s a Family Movie She Hates Her Dad”
Essential by The Bollweevils
Chicago punk legends The Bollweevils are back it with what I consider one of the best punk records this year. Essential offers up a mix of older and newer tunes while staying completely fresh in the process. The pacing of the record is one of its best aspects, with the album’s conversations going from self-harm to the political landscape, and then to a dance along theme of the band. I sense The Bollweevils really loved creating this record because their chemistry is absolutely on point in every single track. Each section within the band blends together perfectly, giving each song its own identity. If you’re a fan of classic punk or modern punk, this is an album that crosses generations.
Songs to listen to: “The Cutting Solution,” “Theme,” “Bottomless Pit,” and “Resistance”
Life Under the Gun by Militarie Gun
The newest release on this list, this album is described as melodic hardcore mixed with 90’s alt rock that gives listeners a fun time. This record is very honest with itself, meaning you can feel the love, heart, and soul that was put into it. And despite the fun time the record provides, it does have its deeper moments and is self-reflective. If you’re a fan of Rites of Spring, Embrace, and Third Eye Blind, I think you’ll enjoy listening. It seems to combine each element in a way that leaves the record uncluttered. Even though the band changes it up in the genres and vibes throughout, they don’t forget their hardcore roots. Each melody and riff, especially the riff on “Very High,” will leave you satisfied as each track builds upon the previous one as the record evolves in a very well done crescendo.
Songs to listen to: “Very High,” “Think Less,” “Never F***ed Up Once,” and “Life Under The Gun”
Always Cloudy by saturdays at your place
Emo started off on a high note this year thanks to saturdays at your place. Always Cloudy is a catchy modern day Midwest emo classic. Always Cloudy uses a combo of catchy riffs and vocals on top of instrumentals that are a staple to the emo genre. Lyrically, the EP touches on the future and reflecting on the past, feeling alienated, and false happiness. A highlight on this record is “tarot cards,” a song that could’ve been released in the height of the Midwest emo movement in the 2010s, but fits perfectly in the 2020s. One of my favorite aspects is the chanty pre chorus that leads into one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard this year. While it may only clock in at 18 minutes with 6 songs, the impact Always Cloudy leaves will stick with you.
Songs to listen to: “tarot cards,” “hospital bed,” “it’s always cloudy in kalamazoo,” and “eat me alive”
A New Tomorrow by Zulu
My current personal favorite record of this year is from a band who calls themselves “your new favorite hardcore band.” As you listen to A New Tomorrow, they put up a good case for why they might become your new favorite. Featuring numerous genres all in one record, such as hardcore, metal, spoken word, jazz, funk, and alternative, Zulu pushes the genre of hardcore into areas we haven’t yet heard. It can go from the heaviest thing you’ve heard to a very light piano medley with jazzy guitars and light drums. Not to be left out is that the band is conveying important messages about race all throughout the album, with every word given the right amount of action and emphasis that makes you feel every single bit of it flowing through you making you think. The music is harsh yet gorgeous in a way that the band will get in your face but allow you time to contemplate it and hear what they have to say. If you haven’t heard this record, I highly recommend it.
Songs to listen to: “Divine Intervention,” “Crème de Cassis by Aleisia Miller and Precious Tucker,” “We’re More Than This,” and “52 Fatal Strikes”