The Nifty Fifty

The Nifty Fifty 2023

Across 2023, I playlisted over 2,500 tracks, and shot nearly 400 sets by over 300 different artists. I loved it all, but I thought I’d have a crack at pulling together the fifty artists who gave me the most musical joy, made me mash the repeat button the most, or who just plain blew my brain. These are fifty of the most exciting artists I was lucky enough to encounter across 2023.

🎵 Obviously, there’s a playlist to go along with all this. Listen to it here 🎵


What I said about… FLORIDA MAN’s track ‘Florida Man Marries Bikini Clad Bride In The Back Of A Pick-Up Truck Before They Cavort In A Mud Hole‘:

“You’ll come for the meme-based titles, but you’ll stay for the warmth, the deep humanity, the humour, and the wicked-ripping songs.”

49: Lipstereo

What I said about… Lipstereo’s track ‘Rabbit‘:

“Tight as a coiled spring, Lipstereo’s high-tension guitars propel them along on a fizzing wave of crackle and hum, paranoid but happy. Dizzying and unrelentingly energetic, this is attention-grabbing stuff from a band picking up more and more momentum.”


What I said about… PENI PARKER’s debut EP:

“Peni Parker slays like an avenging angel, and her debut EP carves a swathe through its enemies. An explosion of dystopian nightmares and future shocks.”

47: The Toothpicks

What I said about… The Toothpicks’ show at The Metro Social:

“The Toothpicks’ biggest show to date sounds suitably huge, giant bricks of off-axis art-rock falling off the ceiling and crashing all around us. Mind-alteringly talented to start with, tonight’s set rips the fixtures off the building, a wild party of unhinged skill roaring through the air around us.”


What I said about… DOWNGIRL’s track ‘Boys‘:

“With another merciless hook to the chin, fast and ruthless, it’s another solid blow landed from a band that’s truly fighting fit right now.”

45: Human Noise

What I said about… Human Noise’s show at Ramblin’ Rascal:

“Human Noise have been releasing complicated new tracks as easily as breathing over the last few months. Each one has been excellent, but each one has also been a bit of an intellectual challenge – mainly on account of their cheerful messing about with time signatures, most often somewhere in the fives and sevens. Hearing them all in one set is enough to sprain the brain. You badly want to dance but you end up just dancing badly, as your mind rebels at rhythms patently designed to make you trip over your own feet. This is – clearly – as utterly brilliant as it sounds.”

44: The Great Awake

What I said about… The Great Awake’s track ‘A Shitty Midlife Crisis‘:

“Just one of the excellent set of scrappy, poppy punk on their “Quit” album, this one in particular hits (me) like a scalpel on a vein. Take this track as a warning, youngsters – hell, I guess this is growing up.”

43: Cry Club

What I said about… Cry Club’s show at Crowbar:

“If every band in the world played with the sheer visceral joy that Cry Club did, the world would be a better place. This is physical, emotional, and technical, plus the songs absolutely bop too. Leaves you bouncing out of your skin, a jellied mess of giddy and sugary glee.”


What I said about… GRXCE’s show at Crowbar:

“GRXCE have such depth in their quality, well-managed and impeccably trained. Every song that takes to the field is light on its feet and deadly in its finish. A beautiful, beautiful game.”

41: Turpentine Babycino

What I said about… Turpentine Babycino’s track ‘Calamity”:

“Only on their second release – but with two of the most exciting tracks around to their name – Turpentine Babycino blow into the room carrying bags and bags of both promise and tune with them.”

40: West Thebarton

What I said about… West Thebarton’s show at The Lansdowne:

“For those aware of West Thebarton and have priors with them, they haven’t just kept their energy and ferocity, they’ve built on it. For those coming to them for the first time, it’ll knock your eyes out of their sockets. This is a towering set, built out of complicated steel girders that promptly explode into a million pieces. Fearsome but friendly, and as fun as all hell.”

39: Platonic Sex

What I said about… Platonic Sex’s track ‘Melon‘:

With a squirrelly guitar line to add some zing to the pound and thrust of the song, we get a fully carbonated fizz of a track from Platonic Sex. Without any one of its parts, it’d be dull or menaingless – smashed all together though, it’s a heady brew of head-nodding heft and swivel-eyed lunacy.”

38: Adam Newling

What I said about… Adam Newling’s SXSW Sydney show at The Rolling Stone Courtyard:

“Adam Newling’s full-throated stories fill the ears, heat for the blood and the soul. Capable of both tip-toeing past quietly or stomping the bloody floor out, it’s just one riot of joy after another.”

37: The Terrys

What I said about… The Terrys’ show at The House Of Music & Booze:

“It’s unclear how The Terrys managed to squeeze a full-on festival crowd into The House Of Music & Booze on a Sunday night but here we are, sweating into pools on the floor, singing our lungs out, and damn near dying of happiness. Whether I make it out of here alive or not, it’s entirely possible I won’t care at all.”

36: Great Job!

What I said about… Great Job!’s show at Label:

“Great Job! tick literally all the boxes – wit, melody, smarts, roaring, and occasional screaming about your dumbass boyfriend. There’s enough clever songwriting here to keep our brains wired, but it’s matched with enough madcap performance to make us exhausted. Right there, that’s a potent and batshit cocktail.”

35: Allegra Neve

I didn’t actually write anything about Allegra Neve this year, but:

Allegra Neve’s set knocked me totally sideways last year, so it was a pleasure to hear the haunting ‘Rewind’ when it was released in July. Subtle and spooky, wild and witchy, it’s made of clanking chains and unspoken dread and I love it. Cross yourself in the dark, and pray for more next year.


What I said about… CLEWS’ track ‘Can’t Be Real‘:

“A beautful, torn song, the latest from CLEWS is a jewel shining in a dark sky. Haunting and ethereal but with very real emotional heft, this is a delight of a release.”


What I said about… THE RIOT’s EP ‘Happy Tears‘:

“THE RIOT’s ‘Happy Tears’ EP collects the full scope of the project, the oxymoron of the title reflecting its extensive spectrum. Its twists and turns through hip-hop, EDM, punk, and avant-garde noise experiment, it’s by turns beautiful, bruising, and bonkers. One of the more interesting, danceable, challenging, just plain raw acts of recent years.”

32: Gut Health

What I said about… Gut Health’s track ‘Uh Oh‘:

“Giddily out of sorts, this is as disorienting as it is danceable, as mind-melting as it is a must-listen. Mind your heads, folks – Gut Health are aiming high.”

31: Velociraptor

What I said about… Velociraptor’s track ‘Leaving Hollywood‘:

“Strutting back into view after way too long, much-loved cult movie heroes Velociraptor return with a sharply noir gem, a reminder of their songwriting chops and a teaser for (fingers crossed) an album next year. Few returns are as welcome.”

30: The Rockefeller Frequency

What I said about… The Rockefeller Frequency’s track ‘This Modern Life‘:

“The Rockefeller Frequency have never been short of sharp shocks, but their latest is a masterpiece of razor-edged fury. It’s a freshly-whetted blade to the carotid of both you and everyone near you, controlled ferocity and brilliantly merciless.”

29: Brixton Alley

What I said about… Brixton Alley’s show at The Great Club:

“I’ve been waiting a while to find out if Brixton Alley’s blistering energy on record translates to the stage and now my eyeballs hurt, my eyebrows are singed, and my neck may be irreparably sprained. Even more than the gift-wrapped promise of the records, this set tears important bits off of your body without you feeling it, or caring at all. A riot of joy, an invitation to run away from everything that’s dark, a sprint towards blinding, giddy light.”

28: Underwurld Surfers

What I said about… Underwurld Surfers’ track ‘Lonely, Sometimes‘:

“Just the second track out in the world from Underwurld Surfers over recent months but both this and its predecessor make crater-sized impacts. Face-melting, rapid-cut bars pair with guitars so huge and distorted it’s hard to make out the shapes, an instantly addictive track from instantly fascinating artists.”

27: Molly Millington

What I said about… Molly Millington’s track ‘Me & My Denial‘:

“Sparsely mad, with a bass part that rolls up and down the walls like the blobs in a lava lamp, ‘Me & My Denial’ is taken from Molly Millington’s excellent ‘5 Stages’ EP. All the tracks contain glorious surprises in the melodies, but none make you quite as deliriously happy as the high notes in this chorus. Madcap, wonky, and brilliant.”

26: Sophisticated Dingo

What I said about… Sophisticated Dingo’s track ‘VCR‘:

“The throttles are wide open again on Sophisticated Dingo’s latest, another high-velocity object tearing through the air. Exquisitely engineered, sleekly propulsive, and with enough lift under its wings to take it into space, it slices across the sky.”

25: Hugs

What I said about… Hugs’ track ‘Reanimator‘:

“There’s so much muscle in this music, yet so much sadness rippling through it. It’s basically one more masterclass in intensity from Hugs, soaring high on wings that nonetheless carry the weight of the world along with them.”

24: Trophy Eyes

I didn’t actually write anything about Trophy Eyes this year, but:

Trophy Eyes should make it into the top half of any end of year list, for any number of reasons. For me though, it was because of ‘People Like You’, a towering, rampaging, slobbering kill-beast of a song, that destroyed me many, many times over this year.

23: Neighbourhood Void

What I said about… Neighbourhood Void’s track ‘Sink Or Swim‘:

“Neighbourhood Void are in the zone right now, barrelling through a fertile creative patch that’s producing one shiny guitar gem after another. Their latest is chock full of modern existential dread and anxiety, a little monster of a track, bouncing wildly in the dark.”

22: Royal Chant

What I said about… Royal Chant’s track ‘Fevers And Sweat‘:

“Wearied but determined, Royal Chant’s latest still takes one step after another, somehow finding the strength to raise its head and scream at the skies. It sounds like it’s had a rough run – but it’s still got one hell of a night out left in it.”

21: Beddy Rays

What I said about… Beddy Rays’ track ‘Too Much (Is Too Much)‘:

“Beddy Rays’ latest drives another cattle-prod right into the pleasure centres, launching them back onto the trail with a sunny jolt of joy. Beer-stained and bubbling over, there’s no sign of the fun stopping anytime soon 🤩”


What I said about… FVNERAL’s show at The Lansdowne:

“FVNERAL raise the hairs on my arms, equal chills of pleasure and dread. There is such courage in these songs, a determination to stand against headwinds and catastrophe and to stand tall and proud in their face, so much so that – with barely a raised voice – it’s brutally humbling. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be over there, shivering a bit.”

19: Final Girls

What I said about… Final Girls’ show at Crowbar:

“Final Girls leave nothing in the dressing room – it all ends up splayed out on the field, spent and broken. At times it’s fearsome, but overall this is a set of explosive joy, occasionally brutal but always ruthlessly danceable. They deserve your attention.”

18: Georgia Mulligan

What I said about… Georgia Mulligan’s track ‘Paper‘:

“Georgia Mulligan’s latest track may start with a brief stretch to warm up its muscles but it soon explodes into noisy motion. It is occasionally persuaded to take a breath but it inevitably ends up scampering around madly before barrelling off into the distance.”

17: Alex Lahey

What I said about… Alex Lahey’s track ‘The Sky Is Melting‘:

“A Californian golden hour lights this deeply contented track, happily stuffed to the gills with nature and, I’m guessing, fistfuls of edibles. A normal everyday tale of getting high as a paper kite in the desert to Michael Bolton – but make it epic enough for a sea of swaying phone lights.”

16: Raging Hormones

What I said about… Raging Hormone’s show at Crowbar:

“If you live in Sydney, waiting to see a Raging Hormones show is a bit like waiting for Santa – you’re not totally certain that something this good is possible, but by crikey it just makes your day when it lands. This is a set to light up the sky and make you believe in magic.”


What I said about… JACOTÉNE’s track ‘Don’t Let Him Say Goodbye (Demo)‘:

“It’s just one knockout blow after another from JACOTÉNE, and this latest demo drop leaves you just as bruised and dizzy as the rest. Literally and metaphorically stunning.”

14: Radio Free Alice

What I said about… Radio Free Alice’s show at The Duke Of Enmore:

“Radio Free Alice open up their residency at The Duke with a regal set of guitar-y jewels, Strokes and Smiths and Bloc Parties colliding into a mass of rock-ribbed, danceable fun. Sharp and arty, delivered in stabbing thrusts.”

13: Amends

What I said about… Amends’s show at The Burdekin:

“I don’t know what Amends have been lifting but tonight’s set is a notch more muscular than ever. Full (not secret) disclosure: I come to any Amends show already thinking they’re one of the best bands in the country, but jeepers… this set’s off the chart, even from that base.”

12: Body Type

What I said about… Body Type’s track ‘Weekend‘:

“As Body Type’s new album inches closer, we are treated to another box of delight, stuffed to overflowing with giant melodies and vibes of the best-night-ever variety. If anyone’s thought of a more lively thing to say to someone than ‘you make me feel like a weekend’ then I’ve yet to hear it.”

11: Clowns

What I said about… Clowns’ track ‘THANKS 4 NOTHING‘:

“The third Clowns track to escape from its cage before their ‘Endless’ LP drops, it’s another relentless barrage of rage doused in irresistibly fizzing song. A moshpit-melting instant classic.”

10: Phoebe Go

What I said about… Phoebe Go’s show at The Vanguard:

“Phoebe Go proves the rule: any art, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic. Just, wow.”

9: Teenage Joans

What I said about… Teenage Joans’ SXSW Sydney show at Civic Underground:

“Rocket fuel and sugar and good times power Teenage Joans’ fizzy brilliance, a soaring bag of mayhem and delight. You’ll see few bands who’ll fly higher or burn brighter.”

8: Jack R. Reilly

What I said about… Jack R. Reilly’s track ‘Best Guess‘:

“With one of the all-time great opening lines, ‘Best Guess’ is both beautifully crafted and craftily beautiful. It might sound as bright as a spring morning sunrise but its wit is savage, a fearsome set of teeth hidden behind a shy smile.”

7: Middle Kids

What I said about… Middle Kids’s track ‘Dramamine‘:

“A glorious return to the fray from Middle Kids, ‘Dramamine’ drenches you in late-day sunshine, loping beats and trilling guitars filling the air with flecks of magical light.”

6: The Buoys

What I said about… The Buoys’ track ‘I Want You‘:

“The Buoys return to the fray with a hair-shaker for the ages, a track so full of vim it’s spilling over the sides and pooling on the floor. One of the best tracks they’ve written – and hoo yeah, that’s saying something.”

5: C.O.F.F.I.N

What I said about… C.O.F.F.I.N’s show at Label:

“C.O.F.F.I.N have come back home to Brookvale tonight and hell, it feels like home with this cheerfully insane crowd – most of whom may have known most of the band since they were knee-high. The band seem delighted too – whether that’s because they know full well they’ve put out one of the undisputed albums of the year, because they’re obviously one of the very best live bands in Australia, or because they’re sneakily jamming in one of the gigs of the year right at the death is unclear. No-one here cares. We’re too busy dying of the heat and the fun.”

4: Barkaa

What I said about… Barkaa’s track ‘Division‘:

“The week’s silence is long over, replaced with the fearsome poetry of rage. Barkaa’s blistering, paint-searing fury burns the air, fire unleashed from her lungs to sear everyone else’s: “fuck your constitution, you can keep it for them rednecks – and every time you look at us I hope it makes you fuckers sweat.”

3: Teen Jesus & The Jean Teasers

What I said about… Teen Jesus & The Jean Teasers’ SXSW Sydney show at The Lansdowne:

“There are few finer than Teen Jesus & The Jean Teasers. This set comes in the wake of their debut album release and there’s such a sense of the journey this band have been on. What a ride it’s been. What promise they still hold. WHAT a band.”

2: The Belair Lipbombs

What I said about… The Belair Lipbombs’ show at Waywards:

“The Belair Lip Bombs’s glorious set rings like a struck bell tonight, bags and bags of inventive song and wicked times. Shy and retiring in posture but massive and life-affirming in effect, every song is pure delight. Plaintive vocals, pounding rhythms, spidery guitar lines, giddy bass runs… seriously, what the hell else do you need?”


I’ve been delighted and electrified and excited by so many artists this year, but no other act has done it as consistently as Oscar The Wild.

Back in March, they released ‘Pinch Me Please‘, which started a barrelling ride leading up to their EP release in November, an eight month long pleasure cruise soundtracked by songwriting so bright and piercing it’s hard to look at without eye protection. By the time it got to the ‘She’ll Be Right‘ EP, they’d gone from a band I guessed I might as well check out to a band I couldn’t imagine living without.

Stuffed to the gills with giddy fun and sharp humour, there’s just the right level of salt in amongst the sugar, nuzzling up against your hand before biting it clean off. A fun, fabulous band that absolutely thrilled me in 2023, and one I’ll be impatiently waiting to hear more from in the coming year.

To every artist on this list and not, to all the photographers whose talent I envy daily, to everyone I see at shows, and to everyone who dives into music with wide eyes and open hearts, thanks for another blazing year. I fucking love you lot.

All photos by me, except:

  • Oscar The Wild by @mayahsalter
  • Gut Health by @soft_edges
  • Underwurld Surfers by @bbycino_____
  • No credit found (let me know!) for:
    • Jacotene
    • Trophy Eyes
    • The Rockefeller Frequency
    • THE RIOT
    • Lipstereo