Bad Copy


Kendra’s Best Albums of 2023 List

2023 was gentler to me that the prior few years. I also finally feel like I am coming back into my own after COVID and everything that came with the upset of the pandemic shifting how I lived my life. The enough. podcast went from ‘going well’ to ‘in Rolling Stone magazine’ in July which was nothing short of mind blowing. I finally took a leap and cut my career job from full-time to part-time and started going to grad school full-time to achieve a Masters in Social Work. I got all A’s in my first semester too (as a Type-A perfectionist, this pleases me in ways I can’t even explain in words). And just before Thanksgiving, while I was on one of my urban exploring excursions somewhere in the world snapping photos of derelict buildings while avoiding being seen, I found a small dog which had been left in the basement of an abandoned building. She was soaking wet from the pouring rain, her little hairs had started to dreadlock, and her nails were crazy long. My friend Kyle and I were able to eventually coax her into a blanket with some food help and, after a night where we hung out with her in our hotel and found out that she is actually super sweet, we took her to the city shelter in case someone was looking for her. A week later, when she was up for adoption, I drove through the night and crossed four state lines and brought her back to my house in Chicago where she’s snoozing on a pillow next to me as a type this, happy and two pounds fatter than the day I found her.

I tried my hand at going to some shows. I went to a few festivals. But I’m not back in the game like I used to be in 2019. And I often find myself asking people around me for band and artist recommendations because I have felt like that world has left me behind as it leapt forward (Honestly, if there’s a band I should listen to that you love, PLEASE let me know! :D). But I was able to easily put together an end of the year list this year, unlike last year where I had to remember what I even did with my days.

And so here it is… My best of 2023 list in an order that I believe is proper at this exact moment but could change rank at any time. So don’t take much stock in that part!

10.) Olivia Rodrigo – GUTS – Geffen Records

Look, her last album was a banger and this one is no different. Does it also help that I got obsessed with “bad idea, right?” right around the time I kept hanging out with a dude who would meet me to hang out when he’d get out of work after midnight when I was both in school trying to get my work turned in AND had to be somewhere daily at 8AM? Yes. That helped. No one calls it like it is like Olivia.

9.) PinkshiftsurakshaHopeless Records

The newest offering from Baltimore’s Pinkshift is a bit different than their LP, Love Me Forever. But it shows the band’s ability to grow and change and expand musically. They’re three very talented musicians especially for their age. They have toured through most of this year and I cannot wait to see what else they have in store for 2024.

8.) Wicked Bears – UnderwaterWiretap Records

When Wicked Bears put out their LP  very early on in this year, I wrote down a note in a spiral notebook which I hoped to find before the end of the year which reminded me that this album is one of the best of the year. I hoped that I felt the same months later. While I didn’t find the note, I remembered this solid af album and, of course, it still makes the list. Another great Wiretap release.

7.) Dollar SignsLegend Tripping – Self-Released

I knew my pals in Dollar Signs were going to self-release an album, but I didn’t understand why and why that self-release was so important until I sat down with Dylan and Arion during Fest this year and caught up. I’ve always loved this band and the people in it and it was so great to listen to the album knowing what the band has gone through as a band, as people, what we have all gone through collectively. I feel like this helped me not only love the album on a deeper level, but appreciate the relationships that I have made in music throughout the years that I have been sometimes hesitant to revisit.

6.) Watermelon – Self-Titled LPDirt Cult Records

The fact the Watermelon is a Chicago band and I have yet to see them live shows you how detached from shit I have been, as I mentioned in the intro. This band is exactly what I would construct if someone asked me to put together the perfect punk band. Their songs are fast and fun and they lean heavier on the rock over pop, which is exactly how I prefer it. I can’t wait to see them play. I promise you will see me at a show one day soon.

5.) SadlandsSelf-titled EP – Self-Released

When I received an email asking if the site would be down to premiere a new single from a new band featuring members of Ellen and the Degenerates, I automatically said yes. I listened to the song (and then the album) after I committed and my jaw hit the desk. Sadlands released their first few songs this fall and they are all bangers. I’m hoping for at least another EP next year, and maybe a few Midwestern tour dates (eh?? eh??).

4.) Dave HauseDrive It Like It’s Stolen – Blood Harmony Records

Oh Dave. I’ve been a fan for SO long, especially if you factor in The Loves Ones years. So, despite the major shift in sound from TLO to his solo work, I always enjoy when Dave releases an album. This year was another that I spent sober and there are songs on this album, like “Hazard Lights” and “Pedal Down,” that really speak to how I’ve felt over the last few years as I continued on that path. The last few Dave solo releases didn’t really stick with me the way that this one does. Very happy to keep this one in rotation all year long.

3.) The Iron RosesSelf-titled Album – Iodine Recordings

There is nothing better than when the band is good and it’s full of good people, a rarity these days. I met Nathan and Becky of The Iron Roses when they were both guests on enough. During the madness of our July episode (the one I mentioned above), they were both exceedingly vocal about supporting the survivors who came forward and speaking out against bands who continue to promote bands with abusers and rapists for their own personal gain. When they released their self-titled album later in the year, I felt like some of the songs were written about the toppling of certain bands in 2023. Meeting everyone from the band in person at Fest and taking a front row spot at both of their shows that weekend were highlights of my year for sure. This album has everything, so get into it.

2.) Scowl – Psychic Dance Routine EP – Flatspot Records

I didn’t think I liked hardcore and then I heard this album. I’m sure there are people out there who would tell me that they’re not hardcore or whatever. But hey, Scowl got me out to a hardcore show where I got kicked in the head twice and had a great time. I love the mix of the fast, vicious vocals and music suddenly subbed out for melodic crooning. They’re another band that I cannot wait to hear more from, especially since this EP is a bit of a journey from their traditional sound.

1.) Kesha – Gag Order – Kemosabe and RCA Records

If you’re a religious reader of my end of the year lists, you know that the #1 spot is always reserved for this woman. Kesha put out the album to end all albums this year, again a year where my podcast about assault in the music industry was so prevalent in my life. Gag Order is a rollercoaster ride of emotions and I didn’t stop listening to it since the day it was released. I also went to see her live in both Chicago and Milwaukee. Maybe I’m getting softer as a grow older, maybe I have just found music that speaks to me the way that others never has, but I cried basically the whole time. This album and the songs on it are a catharsis that I didn’t know that I needed from feelings that I could never put words to before. 200% would recommend. But bring Kleenex.

You Oughta Know is a collection of recommendations and picks from the Bad Copy staff. Visit Website

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