These Are The 2023 Albums That Dads Really Want
Since the middle of the 20th century, dads have loved to mess with speakers, figure out how much bass and treble something should have, and be general know-it-alls in all things sonic. Luckily, for us, the 21st-century renaissance of vinyl records has only validated this mania. And that means, if there’s a dad in your life, and he refers to a record player as a “turntable” and tends to linger in the vinyl section of any store, always, that means said dad wants a record for the holidays, or really, anytime.
2023 was a great year for great records, both musically, and in terms of collectors’ items. Fatherly gathered all of its eclectic taste-makers together for a concise 2023 record list, to give you a sense of what we would want in the way of fresh wax this year, and what we can’t stop listening to ourselves. We even asked one indie record store owner to weigh in with his picks, because that’s how serious we are about great music. From old friends to new albums from great bands, here’s The Fatherly Tunrtable’s guide to the best records from 2023 to buy as gifts, buy for your family, or buy for yourself.
Cat Power Sings Bob Dylan
Dylan’s 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert is one of those heralded performances that is the kind of thing that you hope aliens judging the merits of the human race listen to. The quiet acoustic perfection (an unmatched “Visions of Johanna”) the raucous introduction of Dylan’s first electric backing (The Band, then called The Hawks crushing “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”), the range and intimacy of the concert framing the songwriting perfection of Dylan. This performance may have cemented him as the greatest songwriter of all time. It most assuredly cemented the spot of a must-have live album on the shelves of all lovers of music — and not something any old band could try to recreate.
Cat Power isn’t any old band. The nom de plume for the indie rock superstar Charlyn Marie “Chan” Marshall has been haunting us with so many perfect original songs since the mid-90s (“Stay”, “I Don’t Blame You”, “Nude As The News” to name three that live rent-free for me) and have shown a knack for absolutely brilliant covers with two full albums (The Covers Record and Covers) that do so much more than play songs that please the masses. So her performance of Dylan’s Royal Albert Hall Concert, will, undoubtedly, bring these songs to a new generation of listeners, but for those of us who cherish the concert, it also gives us another way to revisit. She’s inviting us to have another listen with her reverential take on one great live show. Her voice is restrained, rich, and perfect; the arrangements with the band are a bit clean, but attention-grabbing no less, the rhythm of the concert unfolding matching the excitement of ‘66. Will you feel the urge to listen to the original again once you spin it? Yes. That’s not a knock on this album — it’s what Marshall is inviting us to do. And it’s worth adding this record to your collection, an album to sit beside Dylan’s original like a friend paying respects. — Tyghe Trimble
Matt Berry- Simplicity (KMP)
Matt Berry’s Simplicity (KMP)
You may know him as the hilarious vampire Laszlo in What We Do In the Shadows, but as a musician, Matt Berry is so much more than that. His latest effort is a full-on jazz album, which will feel like the soundtrack to your most productive, funky day, ever. To be clear, this album is barely like some of the folk-ish rock he’s released in the past few years, but that’s also kind of the point. Right now, Matt Berry’s reputation might be that of a comedic English actor, but trust us, in the next decade, the cool kids will know him for his eclectic records. This record actually makes us think he can do any genre. What’s next? A classic album? Rap? Nothing would surprise us at this point. — Ryan Britt
De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising
Three Feet High and Rising
For their debut album, De La Soul boldly dared to swim upstream to a unique offering that received critical acclaim on its release. And, nearly 35 years later, 3 Feet High is still considered a hip-hop classic. Amidst the rise of gangsta rap in the late 1980s, De La sampled heavily from funk and soul tracks like many of their peers but developed a signature sound by also pulling sounds from psychedelic rock and children’s music. What results are genre-bending singles like in “The Magic Number,” where De La utilizes a sample of Johnny Cash’s “Five Feet High and Rising” to channel a groovy School House Rock vibe. The album art adds to the mystique of 3 Feet High, as even though the group didn’t consider themself hippies, they were styled as such by their label due to their progressive instrumentals and avant-garde lyrical style. As a result, 3 Feet High and Rising is an album whose visuals beg for prominent display with its bold colors, cartoonish flowers, and psychedelic layout. This 2023 reissue is a must-have for any self-respecting record collector — Christian Dashiell
The Beatles, (New) Red and Blue Box Sets
The Beatles (Blue 2023 Reissue)
Did we really do another reissue of the famous Beatles compilation albums? If your goal is to educate your kid on the history of rock, the short answer is yes. Somewhat infamously, if you only have the UK versions of all the Beatles studio albums, you’ll be missing several very famous singles or EP-only releases like “Penny Lane” or “Hey Jude.” Yes, yes, you can get these tracks digitally, or by just walking around in the world, but actually owning these epic records is the best way to reclaim this immortal music. Also, if you’re not careful, a lot of “new” Beatles vinyl floating around has really low audio quality, simply because a ton of the vinyl reissues from the past decade were oddly taken from the CDs. Any Beatles reissues from the past five years or so are automatically way better than anything before that for that fact alone. And, thus far, the new box set of the “Red” and “Blue” albums hits the sweet spot between being only for collectors, and just being a great set of records for anyone. — Ryan Britt
The National —Laugh Track
The National: Laugh Track
Somewhat surprisingly, after dropping a new studio album in the spring, The First Two Pages of Frankenstein, The National dropped yet another full record of new songs in September. In nearly every way, Laugh Track is the better of the two records with moodier tracks that feel closer to their older albums like Boxer or Alligator. Yes, there are a ton of collaborations on this record, which seems to be a strange tic of recent National offerings, but unlike with Frankenstein, these guest musicians aren’t distracting. From start to finish, Laugh Track is the best National album since Sleep Well Beast, which pushes the sad dads of rock into even sadder realms. Come for the catch songs like “Weird Goodbyes” with Bon Iver, but stay for the mesmerizing anthems like “Smoke Detector.” — Ryan Britt.
Otis Redding — Otis Forever
Otis Forever: The Albums & Singles 1968-1970
Otis Redding died in 1967 at the age of 26. It’s a fact that, 56 years later is impossible to swallow, given the influence Redding had on music. “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” his only single to reach number one was released the year after his plane crashed into a lake, and was followed by four albums: The Dock Of the Bay (1968), The Immortal Otis Redding (1968), Love Man (1969), and Tell the Truth (1970) make up probably the richest, most fully formed posthumous collection of albums ever. It’s hard to imagine a world without his songs, starting with “Sweet Lorene,” “Hard To Handle,” “You Made A Man Outta Me,” and of course, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.” What musician brings more soul to their music, their voice? (As Jay Z says in “Otis,” his and Kanye West’s send-up to the singer, “Sounds so soulful, don’t you agree?”) The new Otis Forever box set includes it all — the ‘68-’70 albums and singles that you might have heard in the background throughout life, but deserves laying the needle down, letting it blast through the speakers and bringing the whole family into the story of a legend. – Tyghe Trimble
Yard Act – The Overload
Yard Act: Overload
The kids love the Yard Act. Yes, this punk/post-punk/rock band with progressive anti-establishment lyrics is hip right now, with the fantastic song 100% Endurance re-recorded and still receiving buzz, a new album around the corner, sold-out shows, and one particularly rad music video with David Thewlis (all our favorite Dark Arts teacher) waking up on a park bench hungover in the middle of an alien invasion. But also, my kids, younger kids aged 6 and 12, love Yard Act. They like them because few bands today can put forth such catchy hooks that are both fun to sing and incredibly enjoyable sardonic catchphrases to shout. “It appears I have become rich! It appears we have no shame!” is one phrase heard shouted in my house thanks to the band. Or “Take the money, take the money, take the money and run!” (you can sense a theme here). Is this a not-so-subtle way to indoctrinate my kids? Not so much. Better yet they’re learning the fact that messages — messages kids their age probably don’t actually relate to in any way — can become powerful with a catchy tune. This, kids, is why Dad likes rock ‘n’ roll. — Tyghe Trimble
The Replacements – Tim (Let It Bleed Edition)
Replacements: Tim Let It Bleed Edition
The Replacements are a band that knows how to rock, hard. The punk band out of Minnesota, lead by the loud, sometimes mumbled, always brilliant lyrics of Paul Westerberg can hold a sound that is a controlled verge-of-disaster that then delivers a sweet poppy resolution, a refrain over the noise. Their music, like us, is human — barely just holding it together. Few albums capture this better than their 1985 release Tim. But the production has always made it controversial. There are many stubborn defenders of Tim’s production. Sure it sounded flat and distant, but who are we to doubt Ramone’s expertise? He was producing a punk record.
But! Then this new mix came out (from the great Ed Stasium), not so much a remaster as a recreation. This is the sound of a Replacements album that, as we defenders always could hear through the noise, is a legendary album — a rock classic, a GOAT, that should never have been such the subject of debate. This new mix constitutes four CDs and one LP. There’s the new production of Time on LP in and on CD; a CD remastered version of the original (you’re not going to listen to it much at this point, but I love that it was included if anything just for comparison alone); a third CD packed with alternate takes and demos; and a fourth containing the legendary show from January 11th, 1986 at the Cabaret Metro in Chicago. Bootlegged, yes, but it’s also never sounded like this official press. It’s exactly what you’re hoping for in all its ramshackle, devastating beauty. – The Editors (This nominee was submitted by Chaz Martenstein, owner of Bull City Records)
boygenius — The Record
boygenuis- THE RECORD
For anyone who has recently bought their daughter a guitar, you owe it to yourself and your family to get the excellent record from super-group boygenuis. While the presence of alt-rock impresario Phoebe Bridgers might make you think this is simply another of her records, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus are just as vital. In all ways, boygenuis is their own band, a kind of rock group that is slightly hard to define without saying annoying things like: “What if the Cranberries could do metal?” Because we’re dads, recommending boygenuis as the greatest record of the year (it might be) could sound a little like dudes who are trying way too hard to like the YA books their tween reads. But, here’s the thing: boygenuis is legitimately one of the best rock bands out there right now, and their demographic is everyone. Of all the records on this list, we feel this one might be the best one for dads and daughters to bond with over a shared love of great music. If their recent electric appearance on SNL didn’t convince you that this trio has the rock magic, their album will. For completists, the band also released a 4-track companion EP called The Rest. But, we want so much more than this. Here’s hoping The Record is just the beginning. The world needs more bands like this. — Ryan Britt.