Upful LIFE Favorite Records of 2023… and More! Curated by B.Getz [Reviews/Playlists]

Dearly Beloveds! Welcome back to Upful LIFEs 7th annual year-end favorite records extravaganza. In 2023, music cats of all kinds offered up a significanly strong slate of new releases, making my distilling of the field a methodical, meticulous process –  with your humble narrator burning the midnight oil, once again agonizing over just who’s heat would make the cut.

This colossal compendium includes 23 original albums (LPs & EPs) reviewed, with another 23 terrific records recommended. Plus, a hefty slab of singles/B-sides, dope DJ sets/mixtapes, and smattering of official live releases.

  • Eligibility requires the music be released in 2023.
  • Spotify playlist embedded for everything available, + Souncloud playlist for DJ sets & mixes.
  • Cover art links to a Bandcamp page whenever applicable. If you find yourself digging a particular release, please consider purchasing the music to directly support the creators. 

Please remember, this is a collection of favorite records; most definitely not assigning “bests” or crowning any champs here. Per usual, the releases are not ranked in any form or fashion; the second set of albums could’ve just as easily been included in the first. I simply didn’t have the time or bandwidth to craft 46 individual record reviews.

This exhaustive endeavor is my annual passion project, and Upful LIFE is primarily a solo mission.  (Special thanks to this year’s lone outside contributor, the great Dalia Jakabuskas of MusicFestNews .)

Please consider supporting my work on this long-form year-end wrap up, & our monthly deep dives on The Upful LIFE PodcastThank you! – bg


Favorite Records 2023


Everything But the Girl – Fuse

From the mid-1980’s through the turn of the millennium, UK husband/wife duo Everything But the Girl forged their own genre-defying path from humble folk/jazz beginnings, through an era of gripping pop balladry, eventually exploding on decadent late night dancefloors that helped to define the ecstasy generation. First, 1996’s ephemeral Walking Wounded injected us with a new style, before  “Missing” (Todd Terry remix) completely leveled the global game. After Temperamental – 1999’s defiant, pensive, orgasmic clubland smokeshow – EBTG abruptly quit the music industry as a unit, ostensibly to focus on raising their family far beyond the glare of strobelight honeys. 

Somehow, they landed in my world in the late 1990’s, and despite their dormancy, the duo have been a fixture in my speakerbox like few other artists ever since. A reunion? They said it would never happen. And then, with one Tracey Thorn tweet, she declared indeed it shall.

Both artists pursued sporadic individual forays, yet again it would be 2020’s fateful pandemic restrictions in England that facilitated these loving life-partners finding their way back to music again – together – within their own domestication station. Over two years later, Thorn and Ben Watt shocked the world by resurrecting EBTG out of the blue, first with the aforementioned offhand tweet, followed by April’s magnificent comeback LP Fuse. What a return to form they did deliver, marrying a mentality that manifests music a bit more grownup, yet still the searing, sensual electronic thump we longed for. Fuse also incorporates wise, wistful pop songcraft in the EBTG tradition, the whole record baked with as much emotional energy one would expect from these two. On Fuse, the royal Tracey Thorn and resilient Ben Watt have proven that they have nothing left to lose, haven’t lost a step nor forgotten the past, the future is still the future, and to never say never. Fave cut: “Caution to the Wind.”



Say She She – Silver

With a smart, sensuous nod to Studio 54 icon Nile Rogers and his pioneering band Chic, Say She She blasted onto the scene with 2022’s debut LP Prism. Yet it was sophomore sensation Silver, released in September, that really turned hella heads on a swivel. Behold the glory of terrific trifecta Piya Malik, Sabrina Mileno Cunningham and Nya Gazelle Brown, an awesome assembly of lead singers whose style and grace are a welcome shot of swag to the jugular. 

Employing alternately-prismatic and intoxicating three-part harmonies, the vibrant vocal stylings are set atop lava-like disco-funk barnburners cooked up by the sultan-of-Seventies-steez – guitarist/producer/engineer Sergio Rios and his trusty hombres in ORGONE. With a relative quickness, Say She She tore up the charts, then swiftly hit the road and melted a million hearts on dancefloors around the globe. Many people are saying Silver is the Album of the Year, and although I don’t choose an annual champion per se, you can add this voice to that growing chorus of Say She She believers.



ECHT! – Sink-Along 

Among the most maniacal, mesmerizing bands I’ve come upon in as long as I can remember, intergalactic Brussels quartet ECHT! unleashed another haymaker with the phenomenal sophomore album Sink-Along, released in May on the Sdban Ultra label. Arriving on the heels of 2021’s sensational, shapeshifting debut LP INWANE, this latest satchel of smoldering bombtracks serve a leaner, meaner, yet equally-adventurous journey in sound design. The magic of ECHT’s music is in their righteous style of reverse engineering electronic genres with surgical precision and brilliant instrumental execution. Predictably. ECHT! leaves most peers in the proverbial dust with their seemingly-boundless brand of Belgian trap jazz.

Inspired by Jonwayne, J Dilla, Ivy Lab, and Aphex Twin, drummer Martin Méreau and guitarist Florent Jeunieaux are from the Mons region of Belgium, bassist Federico Pecoraro hails from Italy, and keyboardist Dorian Dumont, France. ECHT! means ‘vrai de vrai’ – ‘true’ or ‘real’ in Brusseleir (Brabantian dialect of Brussels); the moniker a smart reference to the fact that despite how mathematical and diabolical their art may appear to the ear, these transmissions are achieved live and direct, no digital alterations or computerized bastardization. 



Borahm Lee – Echoic Memory

After nearly two decades spent in collaborative/support roles with popular live-electronic projects like Break Science and Pretty Lights, keyboardist/producer/composer Borahm Lee finally blessed the people with his debut LP in 2023, titled Echoic Memory. With subtle nods to pioneers like David Axlerod and J Dilla, this 11-track excursion lands like a blissful continuous listening experience. Lee’s limitless musical vocabulary and harmonic knowledge really shine in an understated, intelligent fashion. Echoic Memory transports one to a warm, analog zone of liberating weightlessness and wide-open imagination. An unspoken stillness permeates the instrumental festivities, making for a proper chillout record ideal at any time of day or night. Fave cut: “Memorex”.

“Art can be a memory, an interpretation of a recollection. Filtered through time, thought and emotion, memories can be rekindled with creative intention. And then sometimes, our past can mysteriously resurface during a creative process.  While putting together this first solo album, I chose songs I made over the last few years that left an imprint on me, some of which I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I knew there was a deeper communion between this music and my life experiences, which I understood needed to be shared so that the story could continue or find stillness.”  (c) Borahm Lee, March 2023.



Black Thought & El Michels Affair – Glorious Game

Yet another year the people were treated to a cutty collaborative project from all-galaxy emcee Black Thought (The Roots); this time linking up with Leon Michels and his NYC-based collective El Michels Affair for the aptly-titled Glorious Game. The album represents Michels’ first full foray into traditional hip-hop production, incorporating unreleased joints from the Big Crown imprint’s voluminous archives. 

Ably-assisted by jazz/jam keyboard titan Marco Benevento, the El Michels Affair’s sample-yourself modus operandi mined the necessary instrumental atmospherics and dusty, sparse beats to brilliantly coalesce with Tariq Trotter’s peerless wordplay. The sum of these parts reveal a smoldering plate that exemplifies the elements that make both artists so revered in their respective lanes. Black Thought and members of EMA have performed together on late night television and festival sets, so there’s familiarity between the camps for some years. Still, the crucial artistic chemistry on display throughout Glorious Game is an impressive feat given that the album was conceived and recorded during pandemic times/restrictions. Fans can only hope this crew returns to the well once again to deliver even more of these flaming rations. 



Marya Stark – Weightless

Giving life to mystic worlds within stories, dances, and universes born of the heart, Marya Stark is a carrier of myth, mystery, and medicine. In September, she released her fifth solo LP, Weightless; an exquisite collection soft and vulnerable, human and dreamy. Stark’s trademark celestial tones swim and soar atop delicate, barebones arrangements, basking in the dark heart of the cello, courtesy of collaborator Barry Phillips. A baptism in surreality, summoned from the depths of political and cultural unrest. Unpacking paradoxes of longing and wonder, reclaiming creativity in a time of chaos, and elegantly side-stepping the oncoming apocalypse, Weightless is Marya’s latest in a string of stirring sonic ceremonies, another lucid excursion through the caverns of the soul. 

A definitive juxtaposition to the opulence of 2020’s Sapphire – yet equally compelling and complex – on Weightless Stark set an intention to hold people as they traversed an unfamiliar, ever-changing realm. Voice limber and wisdom in the words (“How Did the Song?”), Marya reveals a more transparent view of self (“Under My Skin”), leaning into lush string arrangements (“Cloudburst”), examining reflection and mortality (“Crucible”), playing with her own pentameter whilst masterfully-wielding sublime tension and release (“Weightless”).

  • Full Marya Stark feature HERE



Butcher Brown – Solar Music

Butcher Brown captured my heart and imagination last January on Jam Cruise 19 with the kind of magnetizing musical sorcery that has solidified their reputation as one of the most audacious ensembles orbiting the vast worlds of jazz, hip-hop, funk, R&B, soul, rock and psychedelia in existence today. Releasing ten genre-melding albums in as many years, in 2023 band forwarded their most dazzling, immersive work to date – Solar Music (Concord Music Group).

Over the course of 17 tracks plus three edits, Solar Music invites listeners down divergent alleyways and hidden passages exploring the outer limits of the band’s “everything under the sun” approach to music. Slices of cosmic jazz, danceable grooves, afro beats, new funk stylings and lyrical hip-hop populate the album with vibe assists from Charlie Hunter, Jay Prince, Braxton Cook, Pink Siifu, Nappy Nina, Michael Millions and Vanisha Gould. With so many moving parts, the album is a production marvel masterfully undertaken by Butcher Brown themselves.  Bandmates Marcus “Tennishu” Tenney (MC, lyricist, tenor sax, flute), DJ Harrison (keyboards), Corey Fonville (drums), Anthony Randazzo (bass, arranger) and Morgan Burrs (guitar) continue to color outside the lines on Solar Music organically crafting a contemporary work that feeds their inexhaustible curiosity for music for the benefit of us all. (by special guest contributor Dalia Jakabauskas)

  • check out Dalia’s interview with DJ Harrison here


Adam Deitch –Take Your Time 

Three decades deep into a legendary career, all-galaxy drummer/composer/producer Adam Deitch (Lettuce/Break Science) remains the ‘boy wonder’ to me. The Golden Wolf Records General is a master teacher, forward-thinker, loyal brother and ambitious dreamer. Every year he’s got multiple placements on this annual feature, because he’s as prolific across a plethora of passion projects as he is hard-working when hitting the road to tour the globe. 

Deitch is steadily accessing a flow-state stride with his ever-evolving solo electronic productions, as evidenced by latest full length effort TAKE YOUR TIME, a sample-based collage of clever chops and crucial collaborators. The album leans back heavy into Large Professor/ATCQ/Pete Rock golden-era hip-hop knock, with whiffs of Dilla Time and the occasional dreamy, psychedelic twist. Drum programming thumps with the trademark Deitch touch, making the speakerbox crackle n’ pop while keeping the party properly musical with pianos, woodwinds, guitar, horns, and other random acts of dopeness. 

Two auxiliary musicians directly contributed to TAKE YOUR TIME: keyboardist/producer Borahm Lee (from Pretty Lights, and Adam’s partner in electro-soul duo Break Science ), and synthesizer shaman/’Son of the P’ Deshawn DVibes Alexander (Christopher Kingfish Ingram, Watermelon Funk). In a stroke of ingenuity, Deitch sourced otherwise innocuous samples from numerous peers on social media – first distilling, then distorting, and ultimately detonating sounds from the likes of Shaun Martin (Snarky Puppy), Sonya Kitchell, Kenneth Crouse (KDTU), Jason Moran, Probcause, Michelle Sarah, Nigel Hall (Lettuce), and more. 



Polyrhythmics – Filter System

Celebrated Seattle-based instrumental jazz-funk squadron Polyrhythmics swagger back on the scene with another super-thorough effort in Filter System, the group’s seventh full-length LP, and first since 2020’s tremendous Man of the Future. A cohesive collection of cuts, the new record’s title reflects the band’s democratic songwriting process employed on this platter; a system which filters an abundance of their trademark succulent blend of funk, Afrobeat, film noir, psych-rock, dub reggae, and galaxies beyond. 

The narrative of this album can be (again) traced back to pandemic restrictions, without gigs to road test songs, the band was forced into finding new ways to write music. Enter the Filter System. Ten years deep into their collective journey, this project felt like something of a new beginning for these fellas. Filter System is filled with uptempo dance tunes, crunkadelic bangers, and dusty blunted safaris-in-sound; these boys bring deep grooves and party starters. To quote guitarist/co-founder Ben Bloom: “We have a love affair with making people move their bodies, and the music we’ve been creating lately absolutely reflects that.” Fave cut: “Twice Baked”



lespecial – Odd Times

Progtronic trio lespecial leans into the heavier side of its peculiar personality on Odd Times, released in the fall. A surly snapshot into the maniacal minds and musical evolution of three childhood friends and bandmates, making no bones about just where this squad feels most liberated and lethal. Conceived within the perilous pause of pandemic uncertainty, written collectively as a unit, recorded and produced with a pummeling potency, Odd Times is undeniably heavy metal music and lespecial’s most malevolent creation thus far. 

A bludgeoning listening experience packed with idiosyncratic instrumentals, Odd Times finds these three amigos, delivering a tornado of punishing blows for what feels like seemingly endless time, building a slew of imposing grooves into moving monoliths of melancholy and menace. “Lungs of the Planet”, “They Live”, and “Fear the Djinn” illuminate a unit hellbent on steamrolling your frontal lobe, waging a holy war to slay all the giants. Fave cut: “Lungs of the Planet.” [full album review]



pheel. – echo chamber

Making waves on the scene with a refreshing, subaqueous approach to psychedelic bass music, pheel. is among the brightest lights on the come up today. An East Coast expat who set up shop among Denver’s influential all:Lo Collective, pheel. (Phil Gallo) is definitively on some next-sh*t. The producer/DJ dials up some of the dopest drum patterns, blending boom-bap thump with oscillating bass, tectonic trap, gooey dub, and beyond, making feet move and asses wiggle with ease. After years of searing mixtapes and raucous remixes on Soundcloud, pheel. finally released a full-length platter in 2023 titled echo chamber, nine tracks chock-full of the elastic, bombastic bangers that first captured our attention over the past few years.



Starling Arrow – Cradle 

During the early stages of the pandemic restrictions, five women began meeting together on a weekly basis, commiserating by way of virtual video technology. Tina Malia, Marya Stark, Ayla Nereo, and Rising Appalachia sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith—songstresses long affiliated through conscious communities and the sounds from within—converged rather cosmically, seeking to root down through dialog, to learn, share, and sing through the struggle.

Through geographic miles of separation and the cacophony of societal divisions, the musicians began to alchemize the chaos of the ever-mutating world around them, then sowed the seeds of love and understanding into their prolific songwriting. On their unplanned debut album Cradle, this fab five – perfectly-christened as Starling Arrow – mines heavenly hymns from collaborative inspiration, instinctively directing the songs towards beauty sui generis—a gumbo of traditional folk, devotional, and contemporary styles. Ask the women what genre they’d consider the project, and you’ll hear everything from sentient indie-folk to an a cappella folk choir. [full album review]


Kercha – Red Light EP, Propaganda EP

Wonky dubstep scientist, spooky noir specialist, alchemic wizard Kercha returns with a pair of EPs so freaking sick they hang with releases boasting runtimes twice as long. Both Red Light and Propaganda find the Russian bad-mon manifesting even more diabolical detours into the sinister, stratospheric, and subterranean. I find Kercha’s approach to arrangement, sampling and syncopation reminiscent of Supermodified-era Amon Tobin, admittedly high praise yet I will stand defiantly on this business. 

Once again, across two 2023 EPs the demonaical producer digs into an arsenal of different synths and drum tones to deftly merge old school dubstep with infernal elements of UK garage, heavy bass, plus flourishes of techno textures, and sporadic jungle breaks. Summoning the darkness with ghostly fuzz, sonic oddities, unconventional samples, crafting a discombobulating blend of sparse soundscapes and subwoofer sex. Kercha’s crunkalogic concoctions are equal parts searing and surgical, firing up impregnabele thump powered by chest-cavity basslines, minimalist drum patterns, smart samples and subtle sardonic wit, all of it dancing to a decadent digi-dub wobble. This is the Siberian kitchen sink methodology straight out of a cabinet of calamities. 



Handmade Moments – END THE WARS

Riding waves of tragedy, tribulation, and triumph with focus, fearlessness, and determination, delicious duo Handmade Moments return to their rightful place on this annual aggregation of greatness. Hailing from New Orleans with roots in the Ozark Mountains, their fifth full-length LP across ten years is the aptly-titled END THE WARS, unapologetic protest music tailor made for the now frontier. Comprised of quirky, unicorn multi-instrumentalists/vocalists Ms. Anna Moss and Joel Ludford, Handmade Moments are a political band on and offstage; examining the dark psyche and sinister urges of Western society, confronting the ever-metastasizing climate crisis, slugging it out in the culture wars guided by unwavering progressive values, sounding the alarm with high art and defiant grace.

END THE WARS is highlighted by two special guest features: poet Chuck Perkins on album opener “One Time Thing”, and the Shook Twins sirens on the cheeky “High Class Woman.” Ten tracks chock-full of all things hip-hop folk and front-porch soul, a downhome document illuminated by city lights – yet still brimming with their trademark whimsical, countrified harmonies. Reminiscent of Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday, Anna’s stirring vocal stylings sashay, soothe, and soar; the compositions rich in a cavalcade of instrumentation native to Anna and Joel’s unicorn experiment – alto saxophone, bass clarinet, thumping sousaphone, melodramatic mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar, blues harp, and a whole lot more I’m sure. Toss in some competent beatboxing to the mix, and this here is a righteous recipe for the revolution. 

(Lookout for Anna Moss’s debut solo LP dropping March 2024!)



Lord Sko – United Palace

Washington Heights emcee on the come-up, Lord Sko breathes deep and talks to the drums on this throwback take on golden-era NYC boom-bap. This cat initially arrived on my radar thanks to the infallible co-sign of legendary record man Dante Ross, who’s seasoned ear for what’s really good is pretty much unparalleled in rap music history going back to the Daisy Age. While Lord Sko’s 2022 debut full-length Museum was certainly solid, United Palace – released this year – is a clear and present leveling up across the board. From lyrics spit to baritone flow to minimalist production, the kid came correct, while sending up his neighborhood and earning much respect. Both lead singles – “James Worthy Goggles” and “Finder’s Fee” had me thirsting for the full monty; in short order, Lord Sko plated the food proper; then my man sat down and ate good. 

There’s an earnest relatability to the rapper’s delinquent tales, and he doesn’t traffic in many of the dumb, violent tropes that toxify much of today’s popular hip-hop.  In fact, if one didn’t know this was 2023 and the kid was born in 2004, you might think you were listening to something Bobbito Garcia would have released on his Fondle ‘Em imprint at the turn of the millennium. Even NYC underground OG Kurious slides through on an interlude to pass the proverbial torch. Lord Sko’s witty wordplay and hazy shade of hustle make for a sophomore record full of dope quotables, killer cadences atop lofi beats with smoked-out samples. Enjoy this laconic joyride swerving through the dusted streets of Harlem world. 



Object Heavy – Love & Gravity

Love & Gravity is the dynamite new record from Object Heavy, the Emerald Triangle contingent thus far an underground phenomenon hailing from the ganja-farm hinterlands of Northern California. Mining the annals of R&B, classic soul, gospel, funk, and breakbeat rare-groove, on Love & Gravity, Object Heavy does well to plug into yesteryear, whilst still keeping the vibes contemporary and the music relevant in the band’s own style.  Produced by Kelly Finnegan (Monophonics), tracked at Transistor Sound Studio in the Bay Area, mixed by Finnegan and Sergio Rios (Orgone), and released on the venerable Color Red label. Teamwork makes the dreams twerk, and Love & Gravity embodies this band’s evolution and rejuvenation. Fans of the Daptone scene or Durand Jones & the Indications will be swiftly turned on by the melodious sounds of Object Heavy’s latest serving. [full album review]



Kali Uchis – Red Moon in Venus

The breathtaking Colombian-American vocalist Kali Uchis first landed on my radar with 2020’s magnificent Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios), a salacious sophomore breakthrough transmitted strictly in Spanish. Three years later arrives her titillating third album, Red Moon in Venus, a decadent, dreamy bi-lingual soiree that finds the singer digging deeper into her diary of paramours with trademark verve and a newfound vulnerability. A multitude of producers provide potent lo-fi stoner soul, sexy electronic thump leads the way, with gems like “I Wish You Roses”, “Worth the Wait”, and “Love Between…” subtly transporting the listener to another planet, traveling on a cumulus cloud of supple sensuality.  

A red moon is a relatively rare occurrence, as it requires a full moon in total lunar eclipse. Though when this magic of Mother Nature manifests, it’s a tacit reminder that perfect alignment is rare, but indeed possible; the burning crimson glare can act as a North Star to guide the heart and spirit. On Red Moon in Venus, Kali Uchis inhabits the seductress with melody, maturity, and grace, luxuriating within lovesick pop vignettes set atop lush soundscapes of psychedelic future-R&B.



Yoofee – Lost Papers EP, Seek & Move (Remixes)

Berlin-based wunderkind Yoofee – gov’t name Moses Yoofee Vester – has steadily wowed anybody paying a modicum of attention for several years now. A child prodigy pianist since the age of 4, he pilots an avant-garde jazz trio that is no doubt worth checking out. Yet it was Yoofee’s magnetic creations in electronic realms that first snatched my attention, specifically his haunting 2021 track “Czech Mystic.” He often operates in the deeper end of abyssal dubstep; though 2023’s 4-track scorcher Lost Papers sees the virtuosic technician diving feet first into the West London broken-beat sound first made popular two decades ago. 

On Lost Papers, released on Casablanca, Morocco label Casa Voyager, Yoofee injects this intelligent dance music of yesteryear with his own jazz-tinged contemporary verve. Embracing the UK jazz scene’s current-day cross pollination of live instrumentation and electronic experimentation, Yoofee dials up funky, stutter-step drum programming super-powered by bulbous analog basslines, soulful vocal samples, dishes chopped, diced, and drizzled with an abundance of Herbie synth-porn swagger. The sum of these parts is nothing short of sensational, and this cat is a certified genius. Since this exhilarating EP runs under 20 minutes, I threw in the ominously-orgasmic Seek & Move (Remixes) EP for good measure, to further illustrate the lava lurking out of this camp.



The Rumble feat. Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. – Live At The Maple Leaf

Fusing Mardi Gras Indian culture with swaggering Bayou funk in a defiant, delicious gumbo, The Rumble featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. is among the more exhilarating bands to bubble up from New Orleans onto the national landscape in some time. The group’s debut cannon blast, 2023’s Live at The Maple Leaf, is nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Regional Roots Music Album category. The electrifying concert encapsulates this ensemble’s multi-hued experience, simultaneously embodying a deep reverence for the city’s historic Black Masking rituals and ushering in a new chapter that reimagines those same treasured traditions. Recorded at the iconic Oak Street institution, Live at The Maple Leaf is a 14-track Uptown love letter to a half-century of New Orleans musical history that simultaneously embraces numerous other slices of Black American Music, past and present

The group is steadfast in its commitment to carrying on the Masking legacy of local trailblazers like Golden Eagles and Wild Magnolias, while also displaying an abundance of gratitude to the uniquely New Orleans character of funk innovators like The Meters and The Neville Brothers. This fresh endeavor delivers a youthful, updated spin on a beloved Bayou blend defined by spirited ancestral call-and-response chants, greasy Second Line grooves, blistering brass, menacing funk, jazzy detours, hip-hop cadences, and steamy R&B. This Crescent City concoction is punctuated by a palpable collective joy, a band of brethren celebrating the filial praxis of Black Masking and carnival culture. [full album review]



Viken Arman – Alone Together

French-Armenian world-house technician Viken Arman is cut from a shamanic cloth, an eccentric, intelligent adventurer who made his bones long ago. Earlier EPs and mixes leaned into melodic themes of his ethnic heritage, but on debut full length LP Alone Together the producer/multi-instrumentalist distilled his steez and boldly turned style. Inspired by Berlin’s torrid, cutting-edge underground club scene, Arman bottled up those frenetic feels and immersed himself in the lab; he focused on raw improvisation and surrendering to spontaneity, concocting compositions equal parts minimalist and mystic. This creative process birthed Alone Together’s nine cuts, each track a true-life testament to his own emotions within the music, the energy of the dancefloor, and a burning desire it reignited within Arman.

Conceptually, Alone Together links the mad science modus operandi of the late J Dilla, with the intergalactic space-jazz pioneered by the late Sun Ra; the surgical precision of DJ Premier juxtaposed with the unpredictability of jazz pianist Keith Jarrett; the meditative grooves of Ricardo Villalobos cross pollinate with the scent of French house sensuality. Creating exquisitely-layered excursions with an array of modular synths and an MPC, Arman cooks with organic drum textures, assertive basslines, sparse guitar phrasings, jazzy brass stabs, choice keyboard harmonics, and echoic vocal samples. Viken Arman even sees fit to channel both Charlie Parker and St. Germain with a sensational re-imagining of Bird & Dizzy Gillespie’ ‘Night in Tunisia”, the oscillating ostinado painted meticulously into a prismatic, pulsating bop.



Adam Deitch Quartet (AD4)- Roll The Tape

In November, the anachronistic Adam Deitch Quartet released their sensational sophomore LP Roll the Tape on the bandleader’s boutique imprint Golden Wolf Records. Ably-assisted by the virtuosic wizardry of Wil Blades on Hammond B3, plus Lettucefunk horn duo Ryan Zoidis (saxophones) and Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet), AD4 is a well-oiled wayback machine that delivers more of the swaggering soul-jazz we’ve come to expect from these cats. The entire ten-track record acts as a veritable love letter to late legend Idris Muhammed, a celebrated New York/New Orleans drummer and certified rare-groove breakbeat factory. Roll the Tape sits snugly adjacent to funkier sides of Lee Morgan, Sonny Stitt, and Jimmy Smith; there’s even a cheeky nod to Blue Note era Soulive. Each player pours up a double cup of brilliant ideas, showcasing their copious chops – however always serving the song. Six-string sensei (and Deitch’s one-time Uberjam bossman) John Scofield slides through for the second straight release, blessing Adam’s ode to his grandmother’s sauce – “Mushroom Gravy.”   



Sari Jordan – I Sing to the Moon

Characterized by raw honesty and a playful boldness, Sari Jordan’s voice commandeers ears with a confident, stated presence. The NOLA-based singer-songwriter’s debut EP I Sing To The Moon features a tasting menu of original music essentially ripped from Sari’s poignant and poetic diary entries over the past couple of years. The project is an amalgamation of Sari’s wide-ranging influences, her creations embodying elements of Lianne La Havas, Phoebe Bridgers, Billie Holiday, Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote, and Billie Eilish, in a succulent gumbo with Sari’s own gossamer, angelic style. 

The sum of these parts delivers a tender, folky neo-soul that aims an arrow directly at the heart. Sari’s supple songs make listeners want to give themselves a giant hug, and whisper sweetly things will be okay. I Sing To The Moon croons lullabies to a younger you. Reminds one of walking and talking with yourself; of tending to and rebounding from heartbreak. Each song affectionate and intentional, a cocktail of warmth, depth, and unfettered brightness. Fave Cut: “Ceasefire”.



Eric Hilton & Natalia Clavier – Corazón Kintsugi

One half of U.S. trip-hop pioneers Thievery Corporation, multi-instrumentalist/producer Eric Hilton returns to helm the boards on Corazón Kintsugi, a glorious grown n’ sexy pairing with elegant Argentinian vocalist Natalia Clavier (Adrian Quesada), released on the Montserrat House imprint.. The tantalizing singer and all-world musician/composer have collaborated with Thievery Corporation on numerous tracks over the years; on this latest commingling their sound art is ornate and the palpable chemistry organic. Playing every instrument on the album, Hilton whips up acerbic acid-jazz drizzled with flourishes of broken-beat electronica, turning down a feathery bed for Clavier to crawl inside and summon the ghost of Astrud Gilberto. Her exquisite vocals dance atop the sensual soundscapes, musings delicate and delectable delivered in sultry Spanish and Portuguese. 

Corazón Kintsugi swims in similar seas once serenaded by siren supreme Sade Adu, and Portishead’s melancholic empress Beth Gibbons. At times, the scent of seduction recalls Love Deluxe, I also sense slivers of Mezzanine, Milton Nascimento, and the Mary Jane Girls.. In addition to seemingly effortless voguish sophistication, this record unleashes lusty Latin-funk dancefloor barnburners driven by determined basslines, dubby smoked-out detours, 80’s fatback funk, and textbook nu-jazz boom-bap unabashedly mined from mineral-rich soil beneath the embryonic Eighteenth Street Lounge.   



More Recommended Records


Shafiq Husayn- So Gold


King Canyon – s/t



CleoSol – Gold, Heaven



Detox Unit – Liminal



Billy Iuso – 52hz



Break Science – Mecha Flora 

[full EP review]



 Moses Yoofee Trio – OCEAN 



Eddie Roberts & the Lucky Strokes – s/t


Peter Levin – Saturday Night & Sunday Morning vol.1



Ethno – Musicology vol.1


Karina Rykman – Joyride


Mike Dillon & Punkadelic – Inflorescence  



Towne & Stevens 



Movie Club – Great White



The Iceman Special – Zycordia



DJ Williams – Solider of Love 



Nik Greeley – Scatterbrain



Goopsteppa – Invisibility Cloak



Bedouin – Temple of Dreams



Soul Supreme – Poetic Justice 



Ivan Neville – Touch My Soul



Dimond Saints – Quantum Odyssey


Upful LIFE 2023 Spotify Playlist



Favorite Songs 2023


James Casey“New Bloom”

Caramelo Haze“Una Manana” 

ORGONE –  Lies & Games

John Michael Bradford & the VIBE feat. Tennishu“Romance Novel”

John Michael Bradford & the VIBE feat. Ivan Neville & Nigel Hall – “Payin’ Dues”

Chase & Status, Hedex“Liquor & Cigarettes” (feat. ArrDee)

Morillo – Siren & Seer – “Koto Love”

BT ALC Big Band“Egyptian Secrets” w/ Adam Deitch 

BT ALC Big Band – “Bring Forth Change” feat. (Eric “Benny” Bloom & Nigel Hall)

Joe-Armon Jones, Mala & Andreya Triana“Closer”  

Black Bear Beats – Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Capleton“Another One”

Skysia, Dillard – “Within Me” (Kadela remix)


Shaman’s Dream x Geometrae x Chris Berry  – “Prayers to the Flame”

SOMAH“Collie Field”

Tuck Ryan feat.Phoebe Collier“2AM”

DJ Harrison– “IGY” 

Thing“Got Any Jungle, Mate?”

Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band“Nothin’ But a G Thing”

Anna Moss“Gravy”

Gone Gone Beyond – “Revolution

Lab Group. feat. Ruku“Dripping”

JOSCH “Icarus in Motion” 


Kercha & Mindex “Unity”

Jackson Whalen feat. Jam Young“Bring it Back”

Sailor Jane“No Ordinary Love” 

Cool Cool Cool“Never Noticed” 

ZOIDIS“Throwback Jack”

Nubiyan Twist“So Mi Stay” 

Oteil Burbridge – “China Doll”  & “High Time” feat. Kofi Burrbidge

Tosca“Nobody Cares” (Sam lrl Dub)

Scary Pockets & Swatkins“What a Fool Believes”

5AM, ZONE Drums, Wax Future“Choose A Path”

The Du-Rites “Super Phunk”




DJ Sets/Mixes 2023



Peace Sine – Unison Festival Set 2023

VIKEN ARMAN (Live from The Basement) – Defected Broadcasting House

weselects – Cruise Control: Volume 02

SOOHAN – Envision 2023 Luna Stage

Leland River – Swerve Mix Series #10

NAUGHTY PRINCESS – Skinny Kitty Burn 2022

VEIL  Road To Hulaween – Guest Mix

aTYya – Saucy III. (R&B/Hip Hop/Downtempo DJ Mix) 

JUJU live at Envision Festival 2023

CASTANEA – 4.5.23 Salvage Station, Asheville

TIPPER Secret Dreams 2023

TALA SAGE – Low Grind – Exploratorium – Burning Man 2023

LITA LOTUS  – The Broken Beat Chronicles 003 

Skrillex b2b Fred Again b2b Four Tet – Madison Square Garden 2023 Live Set 

Labrynth – Street Ritual Mix Series

CHASE & STATUS | Boiler Room: London

SOUKii  – The Broken Beat Chronicles 004

FYFE – dub_*^//}{…||…}

MORiLLO – Wildbloom Mixtape 

ATISH – Robot Heart Residency – Oakland 2023

THOUGHT PROCESS – Live from Lightning in a Bottle 2023

Maria También– Stonehouse, Nevada City, CA 2023 (opening for Goldcap)

MZG – FUXWITHIT Guest Mix: 238

Katarakt  – LoFi House Mix | The Stoner House Edition VII

TF MARZ – Sunrise At The Grove, Shambhala 2023

EMANATE – Essentials Mix 1 (Journey Set)

Villain Era – Mix vol.1

Kruder & Dorfmeister – Live at Ancienne Belgique 30th Anniversary Show 2023



Live Releases


Four Tet – Live at Alexandra Palace London, 24th May 2023 

Neal Francis – Francis Comes Alive (Live)

Khruangbin  – Live at Sydney Opera House

John Coltrane with Eric Dolphy – Evenings at the Village Gate 1961

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours LIVE 1977

Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon at Wembley 1974

Jimi Hendrix Experience – Live at the Hollywood Bowl. August 18. 1967

Joe Marcinek Band – Dead Funk Summit

Jerry Garcia – Garcia Live vol.20  6.18.82

Grateful Dead – RFK Stadium, Washington, DC, 6/10/73 (Live)

Lettuce – Live In Amsterdam 


available via Bandcamp only

Lettuce – Live in Providence

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Live at Red Rocks 2022

HIVE MIND – 9.29.23 Live At The Eastern 

Greyhounds – Live on 29th Street Volume IV

Everything But The Girl – Walking Wounded Live | Forum Records



Curated by B.Getz

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Special thanks to Tiffany Clemons for the cover design