2023 gives thanks to seats filling, and pockets emptying. After nine years of separation, Tom Delonge and blink-182 reunited for a Coachella headliner— and aliens… might exist? The group embarked on a world tour to celebrate the occasion, and in typical blink fashion, invited some of the scene’s best up-and-comers like: Wallows, Rise Against!, and Turnstile. It feels like everyone hit the road this past summer.

While on the topic of reunions, Flyleaf and Lacey Sturm got back to the stage for Blue Ridge Rock Fest; this was not on my bingo card. The festival’s line-up consists of bangers like: Knocked Loose, Slipknot, Coheed and Cambria, Polyphia, Suicidal Tendencies, and many more. It’s understandable if the nostalgic break-out magic has overstayed its welcome, but these things are worth celebrating— Swifties I’m looking at y’all.

With that in mind, 23’ marked the ten-year anniversary of Citizen’s first full length release, Youth. The summer experience couldn’t have been more incomplete without attending their commemorative tour. Alongside this gesture, the band performed songs off, Calling the dogs, which is set to release this October. If you’re lonely, wins the category for best single in my library. 

With new sounds come new experiences, and that’s what bands like Movements and The Story So Far have done. Movements’ latest feat, RUCKUS!, flew the group away from their spoken word performance style, and invigorated them within the seams of up-beat bubbly comradery. So Far doesn’t stagger on their nostalgic wash core that 2018’s, Proper Dose invited; “Big Blind” is the group’s first release in those five years, and they’ve been killing it on the road since then. 

Knuckle Puck and Neck Deep are the pop-punk engineers ready to set a new standard. Their summer releases have only shown a glimpse of their capabilities; Knuckle Puck’s, Losing What We Love, will explore darker realities in contrast to their usual MO. Nick Cassanto on Kerrang! says, “It feels like we’re in a bit of a losing battle with the state of the world, but in the past, we’d say, ‘Oh, but it’s all okay!’ Now we’re saying, ‘No, we should be panicking.’ This record feels like more of an expression than a motivational speech.” “Take Me With You”, by Neck Deep, establishes similar lyrical themes: “Goodbye, hellish sack, converting trash, black cliff.” World ending scenarios provide meaningful lyrical content, so the downturn of events that set off these contemporary acts aren’t distasteful to say the least. 

Knocked Loose filled the vacant extremities between metal and visual cognition by releasing a two-song ep/music video, Upon Loss. To add to the incredible feat, they headlined Lollapalooza with The 1975. To add even more, Demi Lovato’s Revamped, comes the idea of hopefully collaborating with the Louisville hammers. Last week premiered a highly anticipated release. This record reminded me that punk still holds a plethora of nuances. It’s no task to see how catharsis and rock n’ roll are a match made in heaven. This release doesn’t rely on a singular ethos to solidify the artist’s identity, and that’s an important trait for today’s music. This release is jumpy, hopeful, yet unafraid to rip the seams and spill everything within. She’s brutal, reluctant to hold back, all while wearing her inspirations on her sleeve. In case it’s not obvious who I’m talking about, it’s Olivia Rodrigo, and she has GUTS

HUNNY added a lot of amp to the summer with the individual song releases from their upcoming album, new panel heaven. HUNNY’s best kept secret is Jason Yarger maintaining his signature voice. Solo and action —> reaction reconvene with the settling euphoric dust that Homesick EP delivered. I couldn’t be any more excited for the HUNNY boys and would be reluctant to not have them nominated for a tiny desk. 

Though it shouldn’t be held as such, not enough words can describe this next part’s urgency: everything is alive is Slowdive’s reunion release— I’m telling you ’23 is heavyweight. The charming, intimate electronica rock band is generating momentum once again. I haven’t had a full listen yet— but it could be everything except a let-down. 2023 has delivered a mountain of talking points causing an alternative atmosphere to seep into our audible senses once again. 

Mitski Miyawaki’s The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We has appeared— and after a couple of listens I can firmly say our girl is sad af. Though snippets and interviews showed how this release would contrast 2022’s Laurel Hell; this album’s bombastic choir approach and relinquishing strings maximize Miyawaki’s emotional prose. Mitski has quarreled with stories about demise in relationships— if not all her career; but there’s an unturned scab with a line like, “Sometimes a drink feels like family”, And I can’t help but want to leave it alone. This album is filled with highs, though some of its darker tones can disassemble its momentum (it’s arguable that’s the point)— and I’m all here for it.

I’ll end with these thoughts: It’s been a good run heading into the fall. There’ve been so many talking points thanks to the aforementioned artists and so many more I could spiel about. 2023 grants a joyful comfortability, and though I wish I could say more, I’ll leave with— ‘If you’re listening. Woah, Oh, oh, oh!’