Top Ten, 2023

By Weyes Blood

1. Gwenno, Live at Glastonbury

OK so Glastonbury is unbearably classic. The UK has managed to do a Woodstock-esque festival every year since 1971 (America sure as hell has not). When I awoke from my slumber, I stumbled out of my bus into a field and immediately heard echoes of the most ethereal Welsh music. I was tickled by how on-the-nose it all was, from the flag-waving faerie Brits to the crunchy granola sunshine people, and then this—this music that’s like, not American at all, just soaring through the air. I realized people full-stop were probably traumatized by that pagan, Stonehenge-ass shit I do so admire because it’s very REAL there, realer than any American could imagine, like, in the DNA, and I was just a tourist suckling at the teat of an ancient folklore reborn through Gwenno in the twenty-first century.

2. Lil Yachty, Let’s Start Here

Trolling cable TV for some true crime in a hotel room late one night I caught this Lil Yachty performance on Jimmy Kimmel that totally blew my gourd. At first, what seems like Pink Floyd fodder evolves into a truly playful mind-bender, especially around the track “WE SAW THE SUN!” where the strange synergy all links up, where Bob Ross’ sample lands so hard, where Lil Yachty transcends across the bands of genre, time, and space. But it also just sounds like he’s having fun. Rare.

3. Alex Cameron at Beneath the Underground Hour on Rated Z

Ian Svenonius (the last living mod) has a top-of-the-pops style live TV show Beneath the Underground Hour on Rated Z, and a flurry of old tube cameras surrounds the stage with characteristic harsh lighting while musicians lip sync. Anytime Svenonius has a thing, mods just crawl out of the catacombs of modern culture—they appear out of nowhere and suddenly it’s 1966 and we remember that beat. Alex Cameron showed up like a statue and lip syncs his heart out. I don’t think the cameras were recording to be honest. Time will tell.

4. Jockstrap, Live at Roskilde

I had gotten my lips wet at Block9 at Glastonbury and started my midlife club crisis, so by the time we got to Roskilde, we were so primed to see a band wrap all those sentiments into one. Jockstrap’s set was somewhere in between a DJ set, a songwriter set, and a ’90s R&B rub down—they got some extra sizzle sauce for sure. Great chords and beats and such an exciting new band.

5. Oneohtrix Point Never, Again

The master hath returned this year with a most heinous opus of light and twist, somewhere in between Jan Hammer at his most televised and ethereal orchestral ascension, Again is deeply emotive. I also love that you can’t tell how this album was made, what is a real instrument and what is NOT real. Daniel is a wizard like that.

6. The Lemon Twigs, Everything Harmony

Once upon a time in Long Island, there lived a dad who scrupulously raised two brothers to be the next greatest power pop sensation, and lo and behold they are, especially on this whimsical record of timeless songwriting. Nothing like the blood harmony of two brothers—love their distinctive personalities and how they shine through on their respective songs, and the overall lack of irony, an atemporal carnival of acoustic majesty, cult power pop through a beautiful modern lens.

7. Beck, Live at a Secret Aftershow

Seeing the real Beck show is so full on, the lights and the tracks, the nicotine and gravy. But seeing the band in a DIY context after the show was an extra special treat. Solid musicians shredding their asses off in a bar basement (he played “Beercan”!) while it was so cramped the mosh was just a weird heady struggle between pressed shoulders. Those jams proved their timelessness, and then Jon Hamm showed up and sang, which was also very DIY.

8. Jimmy Whispers, WWIII

Jimmy has been toiling in the underground for so long, he’s like a strange fixture of hidden talent and really shines on this beautiful, candid take on the inevitability of our demise. A true Italian-American boy from Chicago taking a stab at an esoteric anthem—can’t get much more classic than that.

9. DOMi & JD Beck, Live at C6 Fest

I was not prepared to have my face melted off by this jazz duo; these kids are so lousy with talent it makes you “question it all.” I’m a secret jazz gal with Weather Report on steady repeat in my heart and to see the kinds of chords and moments these two were pulling together was such a heady revelation.

10. Caroline Polachek, Live at Fuji Rock

I was standing side of stage, getting ready to sing with Caroline, as we’ve been doing “Butterfly Net” together as of late, and I finally got to hear full strength the track “Fly to You” off her behemoth album Desire, I Want to Turn Into You and it caught me off guard... I was launched into a Jodie Foster Contact-like pod through a wormhole of early aughts angst, and then a backing track of Grimes came in (which is so Grimes, to be basically exclusively a digital presence) and all of a sudden I knew deeply in my heart that it was the future. Audience went wild too.

Weyes Blood is the project of L.A.-based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Natalie Mering. With a deep love of recorded music in all its forms and an underlying pop sensibility, Mering is a modern yet timeless songwriter and musician tackling humanity’s ills with a rich sonic palette. She has five critically acclaimed studio albums under her belt that explore themes of shared myths, ideological chaos, doubt, and hope. Her breakout album, 2019’s Titanic Rising, brought these ideas to a larger audience and grew further with the success of her latest release, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow (2022). In support of the new record, Mering’s 2023 “In Holy Flux Tour” sold out in North America and Europe, and saw her first international appearances in Brazil and Japan, with performances in Mexico and South America.

Image: Weyes Blood at Glastonbury, 2023 | Neelam Kahn Vela

Read Top Ten, 2023 by Erika Balsom
Read Top Ten, 2023 by Claire Bishop
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Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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