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Our 50 favorite albums of the year

For music fans, there’s always joy in discovery, and maybe some of our favorites will become yours.

Ally Rzesa/Globe Staff

Even as music and music listening move ever forward into the future, the idea of an album — a set of songs that collectively make an artistic statement — still matters. These are Globe music writers’ favorites of 2023, 50 long-players spanning pop, jazz, hip-hop, rock, country, world music, Americana, and even a few less-definable genres. Some of these artists fall outside the mainstream — not you, Rolling Stones! — but for music fans, there’s always joy in discovery, and maybe some of our favorites will become yours.

Zach BryanRob Grabowski/Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP

Zach Bryan, “Zach Bryan”

Oklahoma-born singer-songwriter Zach Bryan, whose ability to combine heartland-rock heft with country storytelling and a pinch of indie-rock scruffiness has made him an Americana standout, packs this self-titled album full of highlights like the freewheeling collaboration with soul duo The War & Treaty “Hey Driver” and the bereft “Jake’s Piano — Long Island.” Bryan will headline two nights at Gillette Stadium next summer; while a big part of his fourth album’s strength comes in part from its thoughtful, minimalist production, his songwriting is compelling enough to command tens of thousands into listening closely. (Maura Johnston)

Foo Fighters, “But Here We Are”


These rock ‘n’ roll mainstays delivered one of their most moving projects to date with “But Here We Are.” The band’s first project following the death of drummer and vocalist Taylor Hawkins serves as a gripping confessional of both devastating loss and admirable resilience. “Rescued,” the emotionally-fraught first single, contains lyrics that are made more melancholy by frontman Dave Grohl’s delivery. (Candace McDuffie)

Natural Information Society Community Ensemble with Ari Brown, “Since Time Is Gravity”

Like Boston, Chicago boasts a rich jazz and creative scene that is enhanced by intergenerational collaborations. A great example is this expanded version of the Natural Information Society, a band led by composer, bassist, and guimbri player Joshua Abrams. Drummer Mikel Patrick Avery and percussionist Hamid Drake make for an especially potent combination, and the disc shows that 79-year-old saxophonist Ari Brown is sounding as good as ever. (Noah Schaffer)



Noname, “Sundial”

The beats are so jazzy and gummy, the flow is so slick and effortless, and that’s when Noname knows she has your ear. Listening? Good! Because she has some thoughts. Thoughts on the world, thoughts on capitalism, thoughts on sexuality, thoughts on rappers, thoughts on herself. No matter where her lens is pointed, Noname layers her lines with scathing observations and questions born out of both curiosity and cynicism. “Why everybody love a good sad song, a dark album, like/tell me that your homie dead, your mama dead, your brother bled along the street/the corner where the Walgreens and White Castle is/Ooh-wee, yeah, we know that you miss him/and if you sing about his sister then we buying a ticket, for real.” (Julian Benbow)

Sam Burton, “Dear Departed”

Sam Burton’s second solo outing, down to its title, could be an exercise in artistic catharsis after love’s departure, but it is apparently not (specifically) that. It is, though, a serving of relentlessly slow-rolling, moody melancholia, sometimes flecked with Laurel Canyon folk, other times with echoes of vintage Glen Campbell, and with a good bit of country-soul vibe as well. And if you’re a sucker for strings, “Dear Departed” will scratch that itch; they’re everywhere, adding their delicious intensification throughout. The result is a record perfect for rainy-day listening. (Stuart Munro)


The Rolling StonesMichael Sohn/Associated Press

The Rolling Stones, “Hackney Diamonds”

The Stones surprised many folks with this volcanic new album, featuring their first batch of original songs in 18 years. It was worth the wait. Mick Jagger turned an incomprehensible 80 years old in July (and Keith Richards hits that peak on Dec. 18), yet they’re still a rock juggernaut. Jagger is at his provocative best in the aggressive “Whole Wide World” (“Let’s raise a glass, get up and dance, ‘cause life’s just hit and run”) and the antiwar “Live by the Sword.” Guests on the album include Elton John, Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, and Paul McCartney, but they never upstage the Stones (though Gaga comes close). The album has a contemporary zeal to it, but diehards will love their spare, poignant cover of Muddy Waters’s “Rolling Stone Blues,” from which the band took its name. (Steve Morse)

100 gecs, “10,000 gecs”

To call the sophomore album from hyperpop duo 100 gecs “eclectic” would be a grand understatement. Producers/vocalists Laura Les and Dylan Brady incorporate everything from riff-y alt-rock to bruising, blown-out nu-metal, irreverent ska, and what could (almost) pass for children’s music into a singularly zany headrush. Love it or hate it — and divisiveness is almost surely part of the point — it’s the most thrillingly weird 27 minutes you can spend with a record this year. (Ben Stas)

Butcher Brown, “Solar Music”

The Richmond, Va.-based jazz fusion outfit has crafted a sound that’s as sleek as it is studied. They can churn through percussion-driven spy jams (“Espionage”). They can pull Pink Siifu into a Blue Note session (“Eye Never Knew”). They’re more than just the child of Robert Glasper’s rap-jazz marriage. They’re fruit from the tree of Miles Davis and D’Angelo with an insatiable curiosity that leads them to push the bounds of two boundless genres. (Julian Benbow)


From left: Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, and Shahzad Ismaily.Ebru Yildiz

Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, Shahzad Ismaily, “Love in Exile”

The music that Aftab (vocals), Iyer (keyboards), and Ismaily (bass and synthesizers) create seems almost impossible to categorize — awash in weightless, shimmering textures and a ritualistic feel. Music this secretive could easily devolve in New Age mush, but Aftab’s melismatic singing, Iyer’s sonic colorings, and Ismaily’s elusive yet precise bass lines combine to produce something mysterious yet fully alive. Who cares how you label music that’s this captivating? (David Weininger)

Kenny Barron, “The Source”

Usually heard in a trio format, Kenny Barron, now 80, here delivered his first solo-piano disc in decades. The pieces — some by himself, some by others — are all familiar to him. But you can hear him taking risks at every turn, searching. “I know this tune,” he seems to be saying, “but what am I hearing today?” Every tune is a trip of discovery, for listener and player alike. (Jon Garelick)

Ronica and the Blazing Stars, “The Open Book Sessions”

Traditional quartet-style gospel singing is alive and well, as evidenced by the roof-shaking musical testimonies that can be heard at church programs. Often quartets go into the studio and come out with slick and sanitized records that don’t capture their live energy. So North Carolina singer Ronica Moorehouse and her Blazing Stars smartly cut this thrilling album live in the studio, and put the whole thing up on YouTube as well. (Noah Schaffer)


Buffalo NicholsSamer Ghani

Buffalo Nichols, “The Fatalist”

“Which aspects of ‘the Blues’ are essential? … Who gets to decide?” Carl Nichols, who performs and records as Buffalo Nichols, asks these questions, and gives one answer with “The Fatalist.” When he brings together his fingerpicked guitar or his frailed banjo with synthesizers, programming, loops and samples, he conjures a spectral version of the music that sounds both ancient and novel. And it sure does sound like the blues. (Stuart Munro)

Chappell Roan, “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess”

Lusty, catchy, and full of unbridled passion, the debut album from Missouri transplant Chappell Roan is a giddy chronicle of finding oneself. Roan is fearless as she embarks on her journey toward self-love, immersing herself in the sweaty, sticky, sometimes icky, totally vulnerable parts of being human while also unapologetically declaring her desires. Her penchant for writing instantly memorable choruses and ability to tie up songs in surprising ways gives her lyrics extra oomph and turns her story of self-actualization into a very grown-up take on a sing-along fable. (Maura Johnston)

Killer Mike, “Michael”

In June, the legendary emcee released his first solo album in 11 years. Killer Mike’s return to form felt refreshing and long overdue. “Michael” is a bold and personal tale that shows the levels of dynamism the rapper possesses. From the powerful reverie of “RUN” to the gripping vulnerability of “MOTHERLESS,” Killer Mike’s storytelling abilities feel as gripping as ever. On “TALK’N THAT [EXPLETIVE]!,” he reminds listeners why he’s the best to ever do it. (Candace McDuffie)

Margo PriceKen McGagh for The Boston Globe

Margo Price, “Strays”

“Sometimes my weakness is stronger than me,” one of Nashville’s sharpest songwriters sang on her second album, released in 2017. Six years later and newly “California sober,” she’s hit a personal high, with songs that veer into psychedelia (“Been to the Mountain”), piano balladry (“County Road”), and straight-up pop (“Radio”). “I knew I didn’t want us to have any bounds,” as she told the Globe. (James Sullivan)

Tomb Mold, “The Enduring Spirit”

The fourth full-length from Toronto metal band Tomb Mold harnesses the group’s blazing technicality to scale transcendent new heights. Fusing progressive song structures, jazz-inflected passages and atmospheric textural detail with the guttural vocals and breakneck tempos of death metal tradition, “Spirit” launches the band beyond the confines of an extreme music niche toward the consciousness of adventurous rock listeners of all stripes. (Ben Stas)

Eilen Jewell, “Get Behind the Wheel”

This Idaho-born individualist spent some formative years in Boston, where she developed her unique, folk-noir flavor and stretched out on gospel music in her side band the Sacred Shakers. She also did some fantastic tribute shows to Loretta Lynn. Jewell moved back to Idaho and has crafted such quirkily inspired albums as “Queen of the Minor Key” and “Sunshine Over Ghost Town.” This new one continues her often overlooked excellence, especially in the shimmering “Alive,” which she has said is “one for the poet raving in his rage.” She moves on to hypnotically bittersweet love songs and a quasi-hillbilly feel to her cover of “Could You Would You” by ‘60s band Them. (Steve Morse)

Jason IsbellTanner Pearson for The Boston Globe

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, “Weathervanes”

America’s best songwriter continues to go from strength to strength. His latest is a collection of hard-luck stories and tragic character studies — some fictional (“King of Oklahoma”), some real (“When We Were Close,” a searing elegy for Justin Townes Earle), all heartbreaking. Isbell never resorts to cliché or familiar tropes, and he and his longtime backing band — which also keeps getting better — bring the songs to life with fire and conviction. (David Weininger)

Aaron Diehl and the Knights, “Zodiac Suite”

This “lost” masterpiece by essential jazz pianist, composer, and arranger Mary Lou Williams (1910-81) is best known from Williams’s trio recording of the work. Thanks to Diehl (himself a formidable pianist and composer) and orchestral collective the Knights, we finally get Williams’s chamber orchestra version in all its glory — an exuberant multi-hued astrological excursion combining elements of jazz and classical that deserves to be considered with the extended works of Ellington, Mingus, and George Russell. (Jon Garelick)

Ghost Train Orchestra & Kronos Quartet, “Songs and Symphoniques: The Music of Moondog”

The marvelous well of music written by the composer Louis Thomas Hardin can be overshadowed by his eccentricities: Known as Moondog, he was blind, often homeless, and wore a Viking outfit. Boston’s Brian Carpenter and his bandmates in the Ghost Train Orchestra have rearranged some of the hundreds of Moondog compositions. Joined by the Kronos Quartet and guest vocalists that range from Boston native Marissa Nadler to Jarvis Cocker, they capture both the wit and beauty that made Moondog so unique. (Noah Schaffer)

Genesis OwusuBec Parsons

Genesis Owusu, “Struggler”

Before he began recording his second album, this Australian (by way of Ghana, his birthplace) performance artist wrote a short story as a guiding principle. It’s about a roach that keeps running, “trying not to get stepped on by God,” Owusu told the Globe in October. Fittingly, the new-wave-y future funk on the resulting album is chaotic, often aghast, and always thrilling. (James Sullivan)

Marnie Stern, “The Comeback Kid”

Master shredder Marnie Stern’s first album in a decade is a dazzling statement of how her commitment to kicking up a fuss against all odds hasn’t waned over the last 10 years. Stern’s thrashy arpeggios and jagged solos press up against her abstract lyrics in the mix, creating a joyful sonic onslaught that transforms couplets like “This is what we do we keep on dreaming/Even if what we want’s moving far away,” which she utters with determination on the churning “Til It’s Over,” into mantras for pushing through whatever muck might arise. (Maura Johnston)

Beauty School Dropout, “Ready to Eat”

This Los Angeles rock trio received the ultimate stamp of approval when they were signed by Blink-182′s Mark Hoppus under the label Verswire. Beauty School Dropout’s sophomore album, “Ready to Eat,” is saturated with anthems that address addiction, relationships, and everything in between. From the catchiness of the self-deprecating “FREAK” to the pop-punk pandemonium of “dying to be you,” this project was one of the most fun moments of 2023. (Candace McDuffie)

Stephen Marley

Stephen Marley, “Old Soul”

Stephen has sometimes been outshone by Bob Marley’s other sons Ziggy and Damian, but he steps up beautifully here. The album showcases a warm, acoustic-based sound with a stripped-down, chamber-reggae feel. It’s a thoughtful album, not a party record. The title track pays homage to Stephen’s dad (“Inside me your legacy lives on”) and adds to that in the contemplative “Winding Roads” (featuring Jack Johnson and Bob Weir & the Wolf Brothers) and an uplifting cover of his dad’s “I Shot the Sheriff,” with sterling, blues-guitar filigree from Eric Clapton. This is Stephen’s first studio album in 7 years and it’s an understated gem. (Steve Morse)

Curren$y and Jermaine Dupri, “For Motivational Use Only, Vol. 1″

The stoner aesthetic that Curren$y has carefully cultivated over two decades conveniently disguises the greater mission his catalog serves. The countless mixtapes and albums are a carefully curated tour through some of the names and styles that not only influenced him but the genre. He reached out to Dupri more as homage to the architect of SoSo Def Records, whose fingerprints go back beyond the Bad Boy era. Dupri returned the favor by using his uncanny ear for huge records, his undeniable craftsmanship, and decades of hip-hip knowledge to custom fit Curren$y with songs (“Essence Fest,” “Never Fall”) that can fill up a room but still stay rooted to the deliberately underground New Orleans rapper’s style. (Julian Benbow)

The Clientele, “I Am Not There Anymore”

In their 20-plus years as purveyors of shimmering, nostalgic dream-pop, The Clientele have never made an album quite like this year’s. At 19 tracks and just over an hour in length, it’s the band’s most expansive and ambitious to date. Electronic flourishes and alternately pensive and uneasy interludes dot the landscape amid their bedrock pop craftsmanship and the cryptic romanticism of leader Alasdair MacLean’s lyrics, coalescing into a dreamlike maze worth getting lost in. (Ben Stas)

boygeniusANNA KURTH/AFP via Getty Images

boygenius, “the record”

The inaugural full-length by the indie Voltron of Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and Phoebe Bridgers comes across as more direct and personal than boygenius’s 2018 proof-of-concept EP, with a clearer shape, direction, and determination. Their soft voices bleed into harmony on songs that carve out an open-hearted, yearning vulnerability and a palpable sense of presence with one another, the feeling that none of them could create these songs with anyone else, let alone by themselves. (Marc Hirsh)

Gretchen Parlato & Lionel Loueke, “Lean In”

Did any disc offer more pure pleasure, track by track, than this gem from the Benin-born guitarist Lionel Loueke and the American singer Gretchen Parlato? Singing in English, Portuguese, and the indigenous Fon of Benin, the two weave vocal and guitar lines supported by a variety of light percussive grooves, including the Carlos Pingarilho-Marcos Vasconcellos samba “Astronauta” and the joyous Afrobeat of Parlato’s “If I Knew.” (Jon Garelick)

Summer Dean, “The Biggest Life”

Late bloomer Summer Dean (she swapped out a career as a teacher for one in music when she was on the cusp of 40) makes unalloyed country music that sounds like it could have been made 50 years ago, while not sounding in the least like some sort of retro exercise. That goes for the songs she writes, too, superb combinations of word-play and hurtin’-cheatin’ (“She’s in His Arms, But I’m in the Palm of His Hand”) or Loretta-Lynn sass (“Clean Up Your Act If You Wanna Talk Dirty to Me”). Education’s loss is our gain. (Stuart Munro)

Mick FlanneryKeith Griner/Getty

Mick Flannery, “Goodtime Charlie”

It’s been 16 years since this exacting songwriter’s debut album, which was a song cycle. He’s currently working on a theatrical version of that record with help from Anais Mitchell (“Hadestown”). His eighth album, “Goodtime Charlie” — released here on the late John Prine’s label, Oh Boy, with songs that pass through Minnesota, Mobile, and LA — is indoctrinating American audiences to what Irish audiences already know: He’s class. (James Sullivan)

Kali Uchis, “Red Moon in Venus”

Colombian-American singer-songwriter Kali Uchis’s exploration of love is thorough yet gentle, its rich sonics and bewitchingly honest lyrics offering solace to anyone thinking about relationships, whether they have its pros or cons front of mind. Uchis’s widescreen view of R&B results in speaker-borne bliss even when she’s singing about sadness; the Sade-channeling “Blue” offers a soft landing space for a broken heart, and the clear-eyed “I Wish you Roses” twists and blossoms as Uchis comes to terms with saying goodbye. (Maura Johnston)

Slow Pulp, “Yard”

From gracing stages at The Gathering in Las Vegas to selling out venues in Europe, Slow Pulp rounded out a prosperous 2023 with the release of their second album. The Chicago-based quartet specializes in creating shoegazey anthems with an alternative edge. Their sound conjures up memories of ‘90s rock, with songs like “Doubt” exemplifying the group’s sonic simplicity. The title track serves as “Yard’s” sturdy epicenter, as frontwoman Emily Massey doubles down on past mistakes on sparse piano arrangements. (Candace McDuffie)

Danny BrownRick Kern/Getty Images for Tres Generaciones Tequila

Danny Brown, “Quaranta”

Danny Brown was staring down the barrel of 30 when he released “XXX” in 2011. If he sounded afraid of aging, he also seemed willing to try his best to catch a bullet with his teeth. Over 12 years, he’s expanded both his sonic universe and his outlook on time. “Quaranta” makes turning 40 sound like a minor miracle for Brown. He also realizes the futility of trying to cling to time. “We can wish all we want but this ain’t back in the day/Gotta move on, leave the past in the past, never know when it’s over ‘cause this life won’t last.” (Julian Benbow)

Susan Tedeschi, “Just Won’t Burn”

In this 25th-anniversary edition of Tedeschi’s breakthrough album, she reminds us of how she was able to soar out of the Boston suburb of Norwell to become a best new artist Grammy nominee. Today she is a bona fide star who fronts the Tedeschi Trucks Band with husband, Derek Trucks. This new edition of her debut still sounds fresh and passionate, and it’s enhanced by two excellent album outtakes and two live extended tracks by Tedeschi Trucks. It also boasts New England musicians such as Tom Hambridge, Tim Gearan, Annie Raines, and Tom West. A first-rate effort. (Steve Morse)

Kris Davis, “Diatom Ribbons Live at the Village Vanguard”

Davis, a star in progressive jazz circles, formed Diatom Ribbons in the late 2010s to embrace a particularly diverse swath of her influences. In these recordings from two nights at New York’s storied club, you can hear angular avant-gardism, deep grooves, sparse ballads, and blues, with some spoken-word excerpts added in. Maximalism has rarely sounded this visceral and tight, thanks to an A-list band that includes drummer Terry Lyne Carrington, turntabilist Val Jeanty, and guitarist Julian Lage. (David Weininger)

Caroline PolachekValentin Flauraud/Associated Press

Caroline Polachek, “Desire, I Want to Turn Into You”

Like an electronic St. Vincent, Polachek wings sharp keyboards, programmed beats, and ecstatically anguished vocals at the listener at odd angles while she makes both unambiguous romantic declarations and desperate pleas to reach across the uncanny emotional valleys separating us. With a full heart bursting through the mechanical whirs and digital whooshes, Polachek prostrates herself at the altar of love and sex while maintaining all the power in the exchange. Neat trick. (Marc Hirsh)

Slowdive, “Everything Is Alive”

Legends of the UK’s 1990s shoegaze scene, Slowdive reunited for a remarkable second act in the 2010s that continues with their lush and haunting fifth LP. Informed as much by the band’s skeletal first phase swan song “Pygmalion” as their landmark masterpiece “Souvlaki,” these eight songs drift forth in an enveloping, ethereal cloud of guitars, synths, and vocals from co-leads Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell that proves their powers undiminished with the years. (Ben Stas)

Lankum, “False Lankum”

This Irish quartet put their own artsy spin on ancient Celtic ballads while also penning their own haunting compositions that sound like they could be equally at home in the pub or the concert hall. The only thing wrong with this group is that they skipped New England on their last US tour. Oh well: To paraphrase Spinal Tap, Boston’s not a big Irish music town. (Noah Schaffer)

Joshua RedmanMatthew Healey for The Boston Globe

Joshua Redman, “where are we”

Joshua Redman’s first album with a vocalist may also be his most emotional, from his first dissonant tenor sax cry (quoting Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”) to singer Gabrielle Cavassa’s hushed take on the Jimmy McHugh-Harold Adamson standard “Where Are You?,” from Redman’s “After Minneapolis (face toward mo(u)rning)” to John Coltrane’s “Alabama.” Supporting players include pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Joe Sanders, and drummer Brian Blade. (Jon Garelick)

Mitski, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We”

On the song “I Don’t Like My Mind,” from Mitski Miyawaki’s seventh studio album, she embodies regret: “I don’t like being left alone in a room/With all its opinions about the things that I’ve done.” It’s a baroque, echo-y ballad that could have been a haunting AM radio hit in 1963. Except that Mitski’s songs are magnificently claustrophobic in a way that could only have been born of these times. (James Sullivan)

Logan Ledger, “Golden State”

Logan Ledger turns his gaze west on his sophomore outing, starting with the title song and on through “All the Wine in California,” “Midnight in L.A.,” and a stunning duet with Erin Rae, “Some Misty Morning.” There’s a bit more of a vintage California country sound in evidence as well, which means a little less of what Ledger labeled the “trance and western” of his debut. The constant is that voice; Ledger’s soaring croon is, once again, a force to be marveled at. (Stuart Munro)

Carly Rae Jepsen ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Carly Rae Jepsen, “The Loveliest Time”

In 2022 pop whisperer Carly Rae Jepsen released “The Loneliest Time,” which offered up charmingly earwormy meditations on life’s more solitary moments. In the tradition of her “Side B” collections that further illuminated previous albums like “Emotion” and “Dedicated,” this year brought its counterpart, an in-love-with-love collection that showcases her slippery soprano on heart-eyed tracks. “Come Over” is as fluttery as the butterflies Jepsen sings about in its first verse, while the shape-shifting “Psychedelic Switch” trips from a club’s dancefloor to its Krautrock-spinning anteroom before returning to Jepsen’s rightful place under the mirror ball. (Maura Johnston)

Victoria Monét,JAGUAR II”

This renowned songwriter — she’s penned hits for the likes of Ariana Grande, Brandy, and Blackpink — stood in the spotlight with her debut studio album “JAGUAR II.” The record’s viral single, “On My Mama,” features an interpolation of Chalie Boy’s “I Look Good” and shows off Monét’s proclivity for boastful quips. The talented performer proved that she can hold her own on the Lucky Daye duet “Smoke” and represent the ladies well on “Cadillac (A Pimp’s Anthem).” (Candace McDuffie)

Kenny Mason, “6″

Mason’s idea of Atlanta is a perpetually grayscale hellscape, and he occupies a space at the intersection of all its creative corners. He drifts in and out of brooding trap beats (“I Got”), hostile rage rock (“Back Home”), Three 6 Mafia-inspired soul flips (“Rich,” “Dracula”) pulling from influences without leaning on them. Oh … and he can rap. “I wanna show you the dark side, where none of the stars shine/Multiple straps, multiple star signs, multiple dogs flyin’/Totin a MAC, recording on Macs, the apples a cross-eyed.” (Julian Benbow)

James Hetfield of Metallica Christian Petersen/Getty

Metallica, “72 Seasons”

Say goodbye to some brain cells as Metallica powers up the volume and battles mental misery in lyrics that are all about struggling to find freedom amid the angst. This is one of the most full-force albums of their career — and a major improvement from their last studio album, “Hardwired … to Self-Destruct,” in 2016. Singer James Hetfield is back to wailing “Full speed or nothing!” — a phrase he first introduced 40 years ago on “Motorbreath.” The music also shows a more collaborative effort as guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo step up with songwriting credits, rather than just Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. The result is a relentless barrage of sound on explosive tracks like “Shadows Follow,” “Crown of Barbed Wire,” and the 11-minute “Inamorata.” (Steve Morse)

Sweeping Promises, “Good Living Is Coming for You”

Former Bostonians Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnug have only been releasing music as Sweeping Promises since 2020, but the duo’s distinctively not-quite-lo-fi production style and concisely catchy post-punk attack already sound timeless. Their latest outing offers up 10 irresistibly propulsive jams whose spiky bass lines and earworm choruses are instantly hard to shake — hooks that only sharpen further with each inevitable replay. (Ben Stas)

The Third Mind, “The Third Mind 2″

The second release from this supergroup (Dave Alvin, Jesse Sykes, Victor Krummacher, David Immerglück, and Michael Jerome) follows the same template as the first one did. That is: tap songs by various ‘60s luminaries (Fred Neil, Paul Butterfield, Gene Clark) and turn them into psychedelic freak-outs, all, to quote the album credits, “spontaneously arranged by the Third Mind.” As the lead-off song (an Electric Flag cover) puts it, “Groovin’ is easy, baby, if you know how.” (Stuart Munro)

Cécile McLorin SalvantKarolis Kaminskas

Cécile McLorin Salvant, “Mélusine”

Though the informing narrative for this song cycle is a 14th-century folk tale, and the languages sung include French, Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyòl, the music is grounded in acoustic jazz (and, OK, a bit of synth), with swing and Caribbean rhythms, and the fragrance of French chanson. This adventurous suite, from the preeminent jazz singer-composer of her generation, is as fun to listen to as it is conceptually daring. (Jon Garelick)

Yussef Dayes, “Black Classical Music”

Up against all the hand-fed playlists and algorithms, there’s still a distinct pleasure to be had from sinking into a cohesive full-length album guided by one creative mind. Clocking in at nearly 75 minutes — the length of so many overstuffed albums from the height of the CD era — this mostly instrumental soul-jazz-fusion debut from London drummer Dayes is (to borrow a phrase) all killer, no filler. (James Sullivan)

Petroloukas Halkias & Vasilis Kostas, “The Soul of Epirus Vol. II”

One of the great traditional music masters who calls Boston home is Vasilis Kostas, who plays the laouto, an eight-stringed, fretted Greek lute. Jazz fans may know him as a member of Danilo Pérez’s Global Messengers, but one of his most special projects is this series of duet records with 89-year-old Petroloukas Halkias. The clarinetist is the keeper of the songs of Epirus in northwest Greece, and the mournful sounds the two make together can likely resonate with anyone who made it through 2023. (Noah Schaffer)