Student and staff 2023 top music recap 

Graphics by Carleen Loney @shloneys / The Concordian

To close off 2023, students and staff share their music highlights from the past year. 

Every year, we are blessed with new music releases, visits from various artists hosting concerts and showcases in Montreal, and countless music-based events throughout the seasons. Last year was no exception. Concordia students and staff at The Concordian share the music they most interacted with in 2023 before we collectively jump towards the music 2024 has to offer. 

Aidan Matthews, a photography student in his last semester, got to spend two nights at the Bell Centre as part of the photo team for Drake’s It’s All A Blur Tour after getting the call the morning of the first show. “Watching Drake come down the steps to ‘Look What You’ve Done’ gave me goosebumps both times,” he says. 

Matthews had been listening to Drake since high school so it was a real full-circle moment and a key music memory of his year. Otherwise, 2023 was a year when he became bored with a lot of the music he was listening to. “I listened to less rap than in previous years,” Matthews adds. The Pinegrove Shuffle trend on TikTok pointed him to Pinegrove, who became one of his most listened-to bands in 2023. Matthews also listened to a lot more pop, folk and alternative with artists like Zach Bryan, Del Water Gap, Toro Y Moi, and Caroline Polachek.

Another photography student, Simaiya Shirley, primarily listened to indie and alternative-based artists. She wanted to release pent-up rage and leave room for love, which translated to the music she engaged with in 2023. Recent releases she gravitated toward include Billie Marten’s Drop Cherries, Feist’s Multitudes and This is Why by Paramore. These projects and others from past years have all become musical crutches for Shirley and are still artists that she consistently returns to for belonging and guidance.

Graduate student in Women, Gender and Sexuality studies Akira De Carlos comments on how “Loading” by James Blake was definitely their song of the past year. “James Blake is probably my favourite artist of all time and 2023 was very much a ‘damage in repair’ year for me, so ‘Loading’ felt very reflective of that,” they share. De Carlos rode their bike a lot to that song and it always hit, because it felt like a very transitional but powerful song and 2023 was just that kind of year for them. The graduate student has always loved James Blake for the emotion he evokes in them and this song was another good example of raw vulnerability which reflected De Carlos’ “in my healing” era of 2023. “I knew I was setting myself up for greatness but I wasn’t quite there yet and ‘Loading’ feels exactly that,” they add.

As for studio arts student Viva Egoyan-Rokeby, their most exciting new music moment of 2023 was seeing post-punk and noise rock band Model/Actriz live in Montreal last spring. That show was most definitely memorable for them and they are still looking forward to any future music project. Although Egoyan-Rokeby mostly listens to older music, 2023 was a year in which they branched out into listening to newer stuff from their favourite genres. “Some notable new-ish artists I discovered this year were Aurat, which is a Pakistani American darkwave/coldwave band, Second Still (more coldwave), and De Ambassade (even more coldwave, but Swedish this time),” they share. Last year was also a huge PJ Harvey year for them.

The Concordian’s video editor Jacqueline Lisbona’s favourite music moment of 2023 was the Morgan Wallen concert back in September. She’s a huge country music fan and it was one of the best concerts she’s ever been to. “I also loved ending off 2023 with Tate McRae’s Think Later album because it really helped me get through the last push of exam studying and I love her music so much,” Lisbona says. Her favourite tracks on the album include “stay done” and “grave.”

News editor Emma Megelas’ music highlight was the day Bad Bunny’s new album, Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana, came out as a complete surprise to everyone. “It was the best day of my life and I had no idea what to expect,” Megelas says. That album resonated with her 2023 so much she got to discover new parts of herself, grow in new ways and just be present without any expectations of what would happen next and that album is the perfect description of her 2023. Megelas definitely sees herself bringing Bad Bunny over to 2024.
As for myself, I always seem to surpass the amount of music I listen to each year and find new music gems. I’m also immensely grateful to have been able to attend performances overseas in 2023 from some of my top listened-to artists like Yves Tumor and Kendrick Lamar on stage during NxWorries at Primavera Sound Festival, and incredible live shows in Montreal such as Yaeji and James Blake. New artists on my radar in 2023 included Swiss rapper Makala, and French composer and singer Chassol. My rotation in terms of favourite 2023 album releases were Sampha’s Lahai, Kelela’s Raven and The Rat Road by SBTRKT. I thoroughly am looking forward to all upcoming 2024 music moments.

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