Last Updated on 2024-01-08 by a-indie
In 2023, A-indie has been delivering information mainly through interviews and reviews of many bands and artists, and updating the “recommended new song playlist” based on the following three concepts.
-Only feature artists that we are interested in
-Cover Asian artists
-Learn about the roots of the artists
Through these activities, we received a lot of reactions from not only domestic but also overseas, and it was a very fruitful year.
We also want to continue to shine light on things that are not in the spotlight, and unravel the outline of things that are in the spotlight, and convey the diversity and richness of music.
In the music scene, there were also happy movements such as the headliners of Coachella, Bad Bunny and BLACKPINK, the global chart domination of NewJeans and YOASOBI, and Kenshi Yonezu’s “KICK BACK” being certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), especially the achievements of non-English-speaking, especially Asian music.
Therefore, for the annual single best of 2023, we have selected songs regardless of the global trend, whether in Asia or in Europe and America.
In recent times, when accessing the world’s music regardless of region has become easy, and listening to music on streaming services has become standard for all ages and genders, we think that personal criticism and ranking will have more value than relative criticism.
We hope you enjoy the annual single best of A-indie, and if we can add color and stimulation to your music life, we are happy. (Yuuki Takita)
Best songs 2023 playlist
The editorial team has carefully selected the 10 best songs of the year 2023 and created a playlist.
Why not take this opportunity to look back and see what songs you listened to in 2023 or recently?
yahyel – Highway
yahyel’s new album “”Loves & Cults”” is a work that expresses the essence of their music, which is “dialogue with others”.
Among them, “Highway” is a song that symbolizes their transformation from a project to a band.
Shun Ikegai’s vocals are small but powerful, and resonate like a prayer. He sings not to impose his own perspective or emotions, but to ask questions to the listeners.
This shows that he sees his own existence as a relative thing, and values his relationship with others.
On the other hand, the band’s music enhances Ikegai’s vocals, but also accelerates to the point where no one can catch up in the middle of the song, pursuing harmony and aesthetics as a band.
“Highway” is the result of yahyel’s daring challenge to explore their own identity and embody their ideal as a band. (Tomohiro Yabe)
Rnzx – huiha heiha
“huiha heiha” is a new song by Rnzx, a band from Aizawl, India, created by Rina Khawlhring and Zeli Khawlhring.
They are presumed to be members of Rnzx, but the official member composition is unknown, and on Instagram, they can be seen playing with four people, but there is little information beyond that.
Still, their music is a clear indie pop that captivates the listeners’ hearts.
Especially this “huiha heiha” seems to depict the refreshing scenery of Aizawl on a bossa nova rhythm. (Tomohiro Yabe)
tenbin O – Orphans
“Orphans” by tenbin O creates a nostalgic sound that reminds of pop songs, while incorporating elements of shoegaze and dream pop.
The lyrics, which mix Japanese and English, express the feelings of war victims and lonely people, and the whispering vocals emphasize those emotions.
In an interview, they said, “We don’t want to make music that strains our voices”, but that brought delicacy and depth to their music.
tenbin O’s “Orphans” became a special song that transcended the boundaries of genres. (Tomohiro Yabe)
South Penguin – empty
“empty” by South Penguin sings about the feelings of being torn between love and sadness on a tropical sound.
The band, formed around Akatsuka, has been making music influenced by new wave, despite the misfortune of losing all members except Akatsuka.
In an interview, they said they admired artists like Connan Mockasin and Talking Heads, but their music has an indescribable loneliness and anxiety that is different from those artists.
Isn’t this a work that realistically expresses the conflict of “wanting to fool around” and “can’t fool around”? (Tomohiro Yabe)
Nozomi Nobody – Sweet Dreams (Side-A)
|Sweet Dreams (Side-A)
Nozomi Nobody is a singer-songwriter who writes and composes her own songs, and plays guitar and vocals.
In the lead single “Sweet Dreams (Side-A)” from the EP “Dawn (Side-A)”, Nozomi Nobody’s vocals have both clarity and strength, and play a beautiful melody.
The lyrics, which depict her feelings for her past lover with the image of dreams and dawn, convey her sadness, affection, and intention to break up.
Ryosuke Yoshiki of THE NOVEMBERS played the drums, and the recording and mixing were done by Yui Kimijima of Tsubame Studio, giving the song rhythm and tension.
Nozomi Nobody herself also commented that she was able to make what she really wanted, and “Sweet Dreams (Side-A)” became the song that made her feel her core strength the most. (Tomohiro Yabe)
Lesssugär – trynafindyou
Personally, the band that I was most excited and passionate about listening to in 2023 in the Asian region was Lesssugär.
They are a young indie pop band from Thailand who just released their debut album “”internet teenage lover””.
Their high-quality electro sound that reminds me of Supercar after “”Futurama”” and their gentle vocals that speak like neon are truly world-class indie pop.
There are also bands like KIKI and The Kopycat that are active in Thailand, and I wonder if the indie scene will be more boosted by Thailand than by the Western countries in the future…?
This is a song that makes me feel such expectations. (Yuuki Takita)
Death Of Heather – Endless Emotions
|Death Of Heather
This is also a band from Thailand, and they are a four-piece dream pop / shoegaze band formed in Bangkok.
Their debut album “”Death of Heather”” released in 2020 had already attracted attention both domestically and internationally, but this is one of the songs included in their second album “”FOREVER”” that they released with full confidence, “Endless Emotions”.
In their previous work, they had songs filled with love for dream pop and shoegaze, but “Endless Emotions” is more aggressive and progressive, and it makes me feel the maturity of the band.
There are technical aspects, but what catches my ear is the thickness of the sound. This song is recommended to be listened to at maximum volume, with a blast. (Yuuki Takita)
Schoolgirl Byebye – 雨中一只傻傻鸟
|Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
I had not been able to access the Chinese indie scene very much in the Asian region, but meeting Schoolgirl Byebye in 2023 was one of the big harvests.
They are active in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, China, and some of you may already have a clue from their band name, but they are also followers of Number girl.
Their signature is the moody vocals derived from Chinese pop and the encounter with indie pop. I was fascinated by the soothing melody, the crisp tempo, and the floating sensation that was given by a different device than dream pop.
The perfect form of Chinese pop x indie pop is “雨中一只傻傻鸟”. (Yuuki Takita)
cero – Nemesis ネメシス(e o)
|Nemesis ネメシス(e o)
cero’s release of their original album “”e o”” for the first time in five years was one of the big news of 2023, and it made me feel that the Japanese indie scene in the 2020s and beyond had started to move in earnest.
Actually, “Nemesis ネメシス(e o)” is a song that was released as a single in 2021 as “Nemesis”, but it was arranged and included in the album as one song. When I listened to the album, I thought that this “Nemesis” must have been the starting point for creating “”e o”” and chose it.
No matter where I cut it, it plays a exquisite harmony, but the abnormality that contains something unique in all the elements that make up the song, such as the beat, the sound, and the vocals. And yet, the landing point is pop, so I’m at a loss. (Yuuki Takita)
Manic Sheep – Morning Fragment
FUJI ROCK also performed for two consecutive years, and they have also performed in Japan several times, so I think they are already recognized by the Japanese indie rock listeners, but Manic Sheep is a shoegaze band from Taiwan.
“Morning Fragment”, their new song since their single in 2019, is a new challenge and an evolutionary song for Manic Sheep, who have been trying to harmonize their songs with a graceful band sound and a gentle vocal.
The composition is based on the glossy singing voice of vocalist Chris, and the band sound is spun around it, and it can be said that they have broken and rebuilt the image of Manic Sheep so far.
I already praise their spirit, but they combined the vocal with the black music reference and steered the band sound, and succeeded brilliantly. I applaud Manic Sheep’s ability from the bottom of my heart. (Yuuki Takita)
Best song of the year so far
I am the editor-in-chief of BELONG Media and A-indie, and I have been writing the music blog Timeless Masterpieces, its predecessor, since 2010.
After writing for “only in dreams” hosted by Masafumi Goto, vocalist of ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, I studied music business at a music school.
I have been writing articles on Japanese and international music for more than 10 years.
In the past, I was in charge of garage rock, psychedelic rock, and Japanese indie rock at a music CD rental store with over 100,000 album titles.
With these experiences, I have published 26 issues of “BELONG Magazine,” a music magazine with the theme of “Roots Rock.
Currently, I write articles based on SEO strategies I learned at a web production company. I enjoy watching “Kaiun! Nandemo Kanteidan”.
Click here to see the articles I wrote so far.
Born 1991, freelance writer from Tomakomai, Hokkaido. Graduated from the same university as TEAM NACS.
I then entered a music college and majored in the writer’s course. There, I produced three music free newspapers and did everything from interviewing artists to editing.
With this background, I worked for a cross-music media company with free newspapers and web media, where I experienced writing review articles, editing and sales.
After leaving, I moved on to work as a clerk in a large record shop, where I also wrote disc review articles for their own media.
This was the start of his career as a freelance music writer.
Currently a businessman and music writer who dreams of holding an outdoor music festival in his home town of Tomakomai.
Loves cats, watching films and reading. Exploring curry and biryani with Nana Komatsu is his lifestyle.