As each year draws to a close I always look back at the new music that soundtracked it. Here is a ranked list of my favorites. I don't claim that these are the best songs of the year, just the ones that were my favorites during a random week in December 2023 when I built this.

Top 35 Songs of 2023:

35. "Holding My Heart" by Paint Fumes (Dig! Records)

A power pop number with a little punk skuzz and a giant chorus. This is the formula for success.

34. "Willow, Pine and Oak" by Bonnie "Prince" Billy (Drag City Records)

Will Oldham is quiet and stunning as he divides humanity into three groups in this skeletal folk gem.

33. "Doctor" by Teenage Halloween (Don Giovanni Records)

It's probably the way the galloping drums lead into that shredded guitar solo that hooked me on this melodic slice of punk rock heaven.

32. "Do You Like Good Music?" by Young Francis Hi Fi (14th Floor Music / Dirty Water Records)

This is gloriously dumb punk & roll that makes you want to cut the sleeves off your jean jacket and sew on a Thin Lizzy backpatch.

31. "Trust Your Gut" by Worriers (Ernest Jenning Record Co.)

Lauren Denitzio can build an anthem for any emotion. Here's one I want to shout and jump and pump my fist to beside 100 sweaty friends in an all-ages space.

30. "Leech" by Dream Wife (Lucky Number)

Why castigate the slimy men who run the scene when castration is much more effective? In this song Dream Wife roar with power that cannot be stopped.

29. "I Should Have Known This Was A Stupid Idea" by The Photocopies (self-released)

A one-minute indie pop delight that slams us directly into a great chorus and sneaks in miles of melody.

28. "Too Late for an Early Grave" by The Reds, Pinks & Purples (Slumberland / Tough Love)

It may have taken Glenn Donaldson 50 years to be as melancholy and dreamy as Morrissey was as a teen, but you can't argue with this weary masterpiece about a never was.

27. "Ring The Bell" by The Uncouth (Insurgence Records / Contra Records)

Are you looking for an anti-government screed from a harmony-singing oi band to use as pump up music? Then boy do I have good news for you.

26. "What Are the Odds" by Death Valley Girls (Suicide Squeeze)

If this song comes on when I'm driving, there's a 100% chance I'm speeding. Maybe it's the motorik keyboard. Maybe it’s the way those undulating cosmic waves hit. Maybe it's the Maybelline.

25. "My Friends Are Having a Hard Time" by Militarie Gun (Loma Vista Recordings)

This one is a slow, pained cry that just drifts by on vibes, seemingly uninterested in genre entirely. You owe it to yourself to feel this one.

24. "New American" by Rancid (Hellcat Records)

A galloping street punk anthem about drunken stevedores with a folk guitar lead that will make you reel, sober or not. Welcome back!

23. "Brass Bell" by Screaming Females (Don Giovanni)

The band announced their breakup weeks ago, thankfully this is a good one to step out on. Those guitars just rip and shred at the fabric of this undulating rocker before ultimately climbing up to hit the jugular.

22. "Black Earth, WI" by Ratboys (Top Shelf)

Settle in for this amazing 8+ minute tracks that floats flawlessly. Stop screaming "Freebird" at shows and start streaming "Black Earth, WI."

21. "The Skateaway" by Danny the K (Rum Bar)

Power pop vet brings some bubblegum nostalgia and an undeniable hook. My heart never had a chance.

20. "Camp Don't Count" by The American Analog Set (Hometown Fantasy)

The way this track balances its expansive vision, indie rock swagger, and catchy pop chorus is perfection.

19. "Do You Wanna Go Out Tonight" by Cyanide Pills (Damaged Goods)

Jangly and propulsive punk rock that's 90% chorus and 100% earworm.

18. "Motorbike Libido (She Loves The Beatles)" by TV Party (Outro Records)

TV Party have created a cool and detached post-punk song to soundtrack your late-night shenanigans.

17. "Everything Dissolves" by Erik Voeks & The Ghosters (Hanky Panky Records)

Exquisitely constructed power pop can never go out of style. Please someone make another Gilmore Girls season so this can become famous.

16. "Won't Go Away" by The Whiffs (Dig! Records)

Someone deserves a Nobel Prize for the chiming melody in this snapping power pop wonder.

15. "Telephone" by Dropkick (Hurrah! / Sound Asleep / Rock Indiana)

It's jangling and chiming power-pop topped with a trucker hat and with dirt under its fingernails. Aka wonderful.

14. "Liked U Better" by Jeff Rosenstock (Polyvinyl Record Co.)

The lurching verses give way to a simple singalong chorus that couldn't be catchier. Warning: you're not ready for the guitar solo.

13. "Skyscraper" by Heidi Lynne Gluck (self-released)

A warm electric piano is bolstered by twinkling filigree and brilliant production that sounds better with every listen. Give it a try!

12. "Two Boyfriends" by The Ballet (Fika)

Somewhere there's a gay lo-fi synth-pop musical being hatched, and this song is going to going to slay. Until then just bop along and imagine the rest of the story in your head.

11. "Callin' Out" by Paint Fumes (Dig! Records)

Power-pop from that skinny tie era with a snapping buoyancy, a strong guitar solo, Cheap Trick-esque harmonies, and a catchy chorus. What else could you want?

10. "DGASAY" by Greg Wheeler & The Poly Mall Cops (High Dive Records)

Step into my garage for two minutes and enjoy this sloppy guitar-driven kiss off.

9. "Shot Through" by The Whiffs (Dig! Records)

The songcraft here is perfect. Listen as the verses grow and those guitar leads begin circling, rejoice as the chorus erupts in vocal harmonies, and then listen again for those drum fills. It's ace.

8. "Pontius Pilate's Home Movies" by The New Pornographers (Merge Records)

This one reminds us that there's no ceiling for this band. We're given so many intriguing little touches that require repeat listens married with a love-at-first-sight singalong chorus.

7. "The Town That Cursed Your Name" by The Reds, Pinks & Purples (Slumberland / Tough Love)

This effortlessly brilliant song is a jangly love potion with a bitter aftertaste. And I love it.

6. "Planes Fly Low" by Heidi Lynne Gluck (self-released)

The production on this is amazing. Every vocal line, instrument, and sound is created, recorded, and mixed to perfection. If this song were 20 minutes long it'd still be too short.

5. "Trees of Hell" by Bonnie "Prince" Billy (Drag City Records)

I grew up on Appalachian folk songs sung by my Grandmother. The best ones were somehow both comforting and terrifying. This one shakes me to my core.

4. "Hope is a Dangerous Little Thing" by The Menzingers (Epitaph)

Punk has aged into heartland rock and I'm not sad about that. This song is all chorus. It's stupid. And you can probably hear me shouting it in my car from two lanes away.

3. "Severance" by Heidi Lynne Gluck (self-released)

Critics like to talk about musicians' musicians. This surely puts Heidi Gluck higher up on that list. There's a quiet complexity in this one that feels so good. Just go live in this one for a while. You'll feel it.

2. "Paradise by Another Name" by Tough Age (Bobo Integral)

If serotonin had a sound, it'd be this one. This jangly indie-pop played at 100mph has no business including a bass line so catchy or drum fills so wonderful. Why is this so good?

1. "Sugar Rush" by Danny the K (Rum Bar)

From the ice cream-truck twinkles to the skipping rhyme to the sliding bass this one is pure saccharine bubblegum. It might not be the best song of the year, but it's certainly my favorite. Now stop reading and get to dancing.

It'd be nice if I somehow heared about every great release the day it came out, but sometimes I don't even hear about them the year they come out. So here are three songs from 2022 releases that were absolutely tops and would have been included on last year's list if I had only been hipper.

"When Your Life Is Not Over" by Tallies (Kanine Records)

Simply put there hasn't been a better dreamy and wistful dream pop song released in the last thirty years.

"You Aint Seen Nothing Yet" by The Chisel (Mendeku Diskak / Beach Impediment Records)

If it sounds a little familiar don't worry about it, that's just your body telling you that you're home. Oi oi oi!

"No Saturday Nites" by The Loyal Cheaters (Dead Beat Records)

This is what rock & roll swagger sounds like. If these guitars don't pump you up for a night out, just stay in.

And there we go. Are your favorite songs on my list? If not, let me know and maybe they'll make the addendum to my 2024 list. If you're the sort that likes numbers, my Top 35 Songs of 2023 list is built from any song released on any physical media in 2023 that I added to my library – if a song is good enough to be called your favourite, you definitely need to fork money over to the band and not just stream it. Additionally covers are excluded. As are songs released on retrospectives or reissues. With that criteria, there were 1,767 new songs to choose from this year.

I feature tracks 1-5 on Too Much Rock Podcast #677.

And while you're here, why not check out my Top 50 Albums of 2023 or my Favorite Local Releases of 2023.