WTJU Rock Best of 2023 – Annie De Blanco

1. Natalie Merchant – Keep Your Courage. Listening to this album made me realize how much I like songs that encourage one to keep going, despite, well, despair. David Bowie sang, ‘you’re not alone, you’re wonderful,’ as Ziggy Stardust and I’ve always loved that. Natalie Merchant does the same thing throughout this entire record. ‘Hold on, hold on,’ she commands in “Big Girls’, “Take my hand, come to me’ in ‘Come on Aphrodite.’ My current favourite track is Guardian Angel, but every song is wonderfully arranged with lots of violins and cello. Best album of the year for me. 

2. The Pretenders – Relentless. What a joy to have a new Pretenders album. ‘Let The Sun Come in,’ celebrates being older. “We don’t have to fade to black, let the sun shine in,’ And Just Let It Go, says just that, don’t hold onto things that really don’t matter. Let it go. 

3. Shana Cleveland – Manzanita – Cleveland is in the band La Luz which a lot of us like, but her solo albums are also really enjoyable. Ghosts and Faces in the Fire Light particularly stand out.

4. Sparks – The Girl is Crying in her Latte. Another fine album from Sparks, When You Leave is a fun track about staying at a party longer than your host would want, just for the hell of it.

5. The Rolling Stones – The Hackney Diamond – since much of this list is of performers well past their 60s, these guys can’t be excluded. Sweet Sounds of Heaven is an absolute classic. Play It Loud and don’t multitask while listening.

6. Allison Russell – The Returner. Her second album is as good as her first, Outside Child. Hard to select a stand out best track. They are all good.

Best discoveries of 2023.

1. Audiobooks. The group. Weird, weird, weird but at one point in the year I was playing them many times on every show. Friends in the Bubble Bath and Tryna Tryna Take Control in particular. 

2. Gabriels – check out You Tube of them singing at Glastonbury or anywhere. Talk about the voice of an angel. Blame was played a lot on my show.

Finally – absolutely daft but couldn’t resist playing:

Status Quo –  Safety Dance. Watch the video, see the joy from stage to audience. Sing a long. Do your funny kitchen dance. Let it go. 



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