Top Michigan Albums of 2023 That You Need to Hear

2023-12-09

Greta Van Fleet posing with a blue sky in the background.

Greta Van Fleet – Author Anne Erickson, Photo via Neil Krug

The year is winding down, and looking back at 2023, it was really choc-full of good music. I’ve already released Audio Ink Radio’s list of the best rock and metal albums and singles of the year. But, what about local, independent music? From Greta Van Fleet (not indie, but local) to Cavalcade, read on for a collection of top Michigan albums for 2023 that you need to hear, in alphabetical order.

Top Michigan Albums 2023:

The Aimcriers, “Maybe Everything”

Grand Ledge’s The Aimcriers released a fresh album this year in “Maybe Everything,” which brims with imaginative alternative country-inspired songs. Tracks such as “All Away,” “Half the Story” and “You Know It’s Real” blend alternative country and folk rock, to offer an edgy sort of alt-country style.

Cavalcade, “Evergreens”

If you’re a metal fan, then you have to get Cavalcade on your radar, if they aren’t there yet. Start with the Lansing metal band’s latest album, a double album called “Evergreens.” The set offers a bevy of heavy genres, all which somehow mesh perfectly together, from horror-punk to grunge to sludge and more.

Greta Van Fleet, “Starcatcher”

You may have heard of a little band called Greta Van Fleet out of Frankenmuth. Of course, I’m kidding. Greta Van Fleet has put Frankenmuth on the map, as the band’s Led Zeppelin-like sound has really caught on with the masses. It’s made these guys become one of the biggest rock bands in the modern movement. The band’s latest album, “Starcatcher,” is refreshing because it’s a set of retro-sounding rock that’s made to be listened to as an album. In an age of singles-driven releases, that’s something special.

Jim Alfredson, “Family Business”

Famed Michigan organist Jim Alfredson released an excellent new album this year, called “Family Business.” The record features complex and thrilling compositions, all centered around Alfredson’s Hammond organ playing. Stylistically, it covers the gamut, from jazz to blues to soul.

Lucius Fox, “Medicea Sidera”

Kalamazoo’s Lucius Fox craft a raw, real, riff-heavy form of hard rock and metal that’s very contagious. What’s extra special is that all this great music comes from a two-piece. Their new album, “Medicea Sidera,” dropped in December, so it’s an end-of-the-year treat.

May Erlewine, “The Real Thing”

Traverse City folk singer-songwriter May Erlewine always creates special music. That’s even more apparent on her latest album, “The Real Thing.” This release, well, is the real deal, as it really captures Erlewine’s energetic live show feel, her delicate vocals and, of course, her imaginative songwriting.

Of Virtue, “Omen”

Of Virtue are one of the most buzzed-about metalcore bands out of Michigan right now. It’s something they’ve been working towards for years. The band released “Omen” this year, which marked their follow-up to 2019’s “What Defines You,” via Arising Empire. The album is an emotional one, plus it’s got its heavy moments, which is always a good thing.

Pop Evil, “Skeletons”

Pop Evil are one of the biggest mainstream rock names out of Michigan, and they’ve been an entity for more than two decades at this point. While the band’s lineup has changed, what hasn’t is their bread-and-butter, super hard rock sound, which you’ll find on their new album, “Skeletons.” This release really shows off frontman Leigh Kakaty’s swagger and pipes.

Seth Bernard, “Unrest and Rest”

Longstanding Michigan singer-songwriter Seth Bernard released “Unrest and Rest” this year. Thematically, this album is full of twists and turns that keep the listener on their toes. The Earthwork Music collective founder really shines on here, which is expected, and the album also features some great Michigan musicians, making this a true Mitten effort.

Upon Wings, “Distant Memory”

Okay, this isn’t an album, it’s a single. But, Upon Wings, which is my band, released three original songs this year (plus an original Christmas single), so that’s enough to count as an EP, right? Towards the end of 2022, Upon Wings released their “Last Love” EP. Then, this year, we followed it up with the pop-oriented singles “Deal Breaker” and “Bad Habit,” as well as the heavy metal song “Distant Memory.” The latter features a guitar solo from Lita Ford guitarist Patrick Kennison.

The Wild Honey Collective, “Chicory” EP

Lansing’s The Wild Honey Collective released a seven track mini-album this year, featuring music from the sessions for their upcoming “The Wild Honey Collective Volume 3” LP. “Chicory” is backed with only good vibes, offering folk-inspired acoustic music with psychedelic roots and some twang. Tommy McCord of the band is also the co-founder of Lansing’s GTG Records.

Bonus: Centenary is a much-anticipated album of 2024

Detroit death metal band Centenary released “Death…The Final Frontier” via CDN Records in 2021. Now, they’re in the process of working on their next album. “Death…The Final Frontier” was a metal highlight in 2021, offering gritty, razor-sharp songs with Stockholm-style death metal. That said, their upcoming release is very anticipated.

Find Audio Ink Radio’s list of the best rock and metal albums of the year here¬†and best songs of the year here.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Alternative, Features, Local Music Beat, Music, Rock