I made a deliberate decision to jump start 2023 by listening to the first great alternative songs new to January.
That’s what you’re going to hear below. While the first couple weeks of the year always seem to be catchup mode on Best Of lists for the year before, you will 100% fall in love with the new music already dropping in 2023.
Let’s have a listen!
Alternative songs new for your January playlist
Each of these songs shot out of the cannon in the first four weeks of the new year.
I haven’t finished listening to all the indie songs new to January, but these are the ones that caught my immediate attention. Each tune comes with a link to buy the song or album and support the artist. Make that a new year’s resolution in 2023! Support independent musicians by paying them for their art!
1. “Dark Moon” – GRMLN (Dark Moon)
We were just four days into the new year when Yoodoo Park of Kyoto, Japan, released Dark Moon and its tasty title track. Park’s GRMLN has been at this for a decade and doesn’t find these dream pop guitar lines by accident. I didn’t hear an entire album of these hooks on Dark Moon but the title track is one of the promising alternative songs new to January 2023.
Listen to more of Dark Moon and buy a copy from GRMLN at Bandcamp.
HEY! – Check out my very favorite songs of the Year 2022
2. “Mile Marker 29” – The Bad Ends (The Power and the Glory)
You know who you don’t hear a lot about in the year 2023? REM drummer Billy Berry.
Bill’s been taking it easy – the royalty checks probably still clear. After a health scare in the 90’s, Berry has been hay farming outside Athens the last 25 years. A chance meeting with Mike Mantione lead to new band The Bad Ends and Berry’s return to music. Have a listen to “Mile Marker 29.”
Order your copy of The Power and the Glory from Bandcamp.
3. “Falling Apart” – The Rills (After Taste EP)
The Rills have a super dancy Franz Ferdinand thing happening.
It was especially clear on “Landslide,” which The Rills released last fall. Two weeks ago, they dropped “Falling Apart.” The Rills’ second EP, depending on where you get your info, will be available in February.
Get your copy of the After Taste EP here.
4. fine. – “New Skin/Good Life” (Love, Death, Dreams and the Sleep Between)
What I really dig about Boston’s fine. is this grade school choir sound they’ve perfected.
Bubblegum pop songs by Alice Kat and Liam James Marsh will wake you from your winter doldrums and get you dancing again. Although I’m including fine. in my January list of tunes…Love, Death, Dreams came out three days before Christmas, so sue me. Hit play and fall in love!
Buy Love, Death, Dreams and the Sleep Between from Subjangle.
5. “Ethel” – The Murder Capital (Gigi’s Recovery)
The Murder Capital don’t care if search to find the melodies in Gigi’s Recovery. But the Dubliners are also so good at what they do, they can’t keep the hooks from bursting through the dissonance.
You’ll hear TMC winking at James Murphy’s masterpiece “All My Friends” in their drooping cacophony, “Ethel.” It’s a slow build, so don’t give up on this one.
They come to Kilby Court in April!
Get ready for The Murder Capital’s SLC show and buy Gigi’s Recovery.
6. “Past Tense” – The Spooky Boys (single)
Let me tell you what I know about The Spooky Boys, which is close to nothing. They’re billed as “Portland’s premier indie/surf rock group featuring jangly dripping wet guitars, relentless driving rhythm, and insatiable catchy melodies.” Admittedly I didn’t know “jangly wet guitars” was a thing, nor that The Spooky Boys were Portland’s exemplar.
I DO KNOW superior power pop when I hear it. So check out one of the best indie songs new to 2023, “Past Tense.”
Buy “Past Tense” at the Spooky Boys’ website.
7. “White Shirt” – Priestgate (One Shade Darker EP)
If Priestgate look miserable, their single “White Shirt” is a delirious balance of pop sugar and darker 80’s Cure vibes. I’m looking forward to hearing Priestgate’s second EP due on March 3. I have to say I love the rhythm and vocal desperation of “White Shirt.”
Pre-order One Shade Darker at Bandcamp.
8. “Huge New Her” – Fucked Up (One Day)
I get it, a band with a name and sound like Toronto’s FU is not going to appeal to everyone reading this post, and that’s a shame.
The arrangements and (honestly) melodies underneath Damian Abraham’s vocals are second to none. It is remarkable hardcore guitar rock. Hang with it for two minutes and think about what songs like “Huge New Her” would sound like with actual singing.
My FU collection goes back, if not to their origin, to their remarkable David Comes to Life. Abraham sang a bit more on David than on One Day. So, for context, a bonus track: “The Other Shoe” from 2011’s landmark David Comes to Life.
Here’s how to get Fucked Up (heh).
This year’s One Day is at Merge Records while 2014’s Glass Boys is at Matador Records. You can sample and buy dozens of other FU releases, including David Comes to Life, from Bandcamp.
Okay, do you trust me now to hear my favorite albums of 2022? They’re right here!
9. “Cuchillos” – LISASINSON (Un Año De Cambios)
On no planet was I going to suggest a batch of my favorite alternative songs new to January without some of the best Spanish-language indie pop (*makes note to subscribe to Rosetta Stone). “Cuchillos” is the fourth single from LISASINSON’s pending full length. I’ve already started following Elefant Records to make sure I don’t miss the album by the Valencia, Spain art students.
Buy “Cuchillos” or the upcoming album Un Año De Cambios from Elefant Records.
10. “Skeleton Boy” – Strange Neighbors (Party of None EP)
Let’s stick with the power pop sound. I bet Strange Neighbors are a fun show. Just look at them, having fun with a camera like good self-entertaining kids. The Party of None EP came out two weeks ago, and I recommend you download and inject one of the indie songs new to January that will get your party started.
Strange Neighbors’ Party of None awaits at Bandcamp.
11. “Palm Trees” – Fran (Leaving)
This month Chicago singer-songwriter Maria Jacobson released her second album, Leaving. It’s sweeping acoustic folk with song titles like “Winter” and “God.” Those feel like difficult motifs to live up to. Much of this rests on Fran’s voice and lyrics, like Weyes Blood striped bare of the chamber orchestra.
Buy Leaving from Fran’s website.
If you like Fran (above) and alt country generally, check out my favorite albums last year!
12. “Still Life” – R. Ring (War Poems, We Rested)
Kelley Deal, Kim’s twin and most famous sister, delivers on R. Ring with partner Mike Montgomery.
Deal is involved in a ton of stuff in addition to R. Ring, including Breeders reboots and Protomartyr. I love Kelley’s comeback story, the Breeders’ icy cool baked into R. Ring and her indie rock confidence. Check out the payoff halfway through War Poems’ lead, “Still Life.”
Get War Poems, We Rested from Bandcamp. Buy some of Kelley’s scarves at her website.
13. “Hungry Mouth” – appleseeds! (single)
I confess, another 2022 song but – come onnnn! — Denmark’s appleseeds! dropped this song on December 31. You were probably already asleep, so it’s officially one of the alternative songs new to January in my book. Too Good to be True Records indicates appleseeds! will release æblefrø on February 3.
Check out “Hungry Mouth” and get set for what promises to be an album of jangle pop perfection!.
“Hungry Mouth” is one of the top indie songs new to January and the album æblefrø will be full of them!.
14. “Joiner” – Blondshell (Blondshell)
Sabrina Teitelbaum is LA’s Blondshell, who writes about her toxic relationships with a candor that couldn’t care less. Dark indie rock echoing influences like PJ Harvey and Courtney Love. Some of it is sexualized, some of it is just dysfunctional emotion like “Sepsis.”
Blondshell comes out April 7. Pre-order your copy from Teitelbaum’s website.
15. “Anglepoise” – The Happy Somethings (A Gathering of Sorts)
Let’s finish this list with 90 seconds of fist-pumping guitar rock. England’s The Happy Somethings roll the rhythm from Bow Wow Wow’s “I Love Candy” under bubblegum guitar fuzz and twee Bangles vocals.
You’ll be singing “Anglepoise” all day, and you’re welcome.
Anglepoise was released January 1 and is still one of the catchiest alternative songs new to January and the New Year!