23 Local Songs We Loved in ‘23

JME contributors pick their favorite songs made by Jacksonville-area artists this year

Press photos courtesy of the artists, graphix by Bonnie Zerr

This year, the Jacksonville Music Experience team reviewed more than 70 songs made by Jacksonville-area artists as part of our Local Spotlight series, and breathlessly covered the local scene with features like Songwriting School, Gearheads and more. 

For our marquee year-end list, we decided – somewhat arbitrarily – to share 23 local songs made in 2023. Of course, this being a list, it’s surface level stuff. Just an entrypoint. But we took it quite seriously. After an early blue-sky meeting, debates raged. Feet were dug firmly into the proverbial sand. Points and counterpoints. Hurt feelings and swift apologies. 

OK, that may be overstating it a bit, but it was truly a difficult task. The list we came up with covers a vast range of genres and styles. There are songs from artists on all points of their career arc. We feel it’s reflective of the city’s music scene – one that’s eclectic and dynamic.   

There’s a lot of good music being made in the 904. We invite you to dive deeper by visiting our Local Spotlight page, and – if you haven’t yet – sign up for our newsletter so you can listen along with us. 

Here’s to all of us living ‘til 2099, a year in which we’ll compile a list of 99 Local Songs We Loved in ‘99.

Without further ado, here’s a list of 23 local songs we loved in 2023 (in alphabetical order by artist name).–Matthew Shaw 

Bad Madonna – “Vicious Party Girl”

Recommended If You Like: The Breeders, Dehd, FEELS

On “Vicious Party Girl,” Jacksonville-based indie-rockers Bad Madonna draw on an underground 90’s chord structure and melodic voicing to land on a song that would rock in the last decade of the 20th century and definitely rocks now. Drive-y bass serves as a centerpiece for lyrics that drip with the kind of cynicism that one could tuck neatly into steel-toed Doc Martens.–Josué A. Cruz


Bobby Kid – “Seeds”

Recommended If You Like: Lucy Dacus, Snail Mail, Julia Jacklin

One of Jacksonville’s leading folk-rock bands, Bobby Kid released their first full-length album, Babyface, in the spring of ‘23. Front to back, it’s a strong offering. But, if I had to pick a favorite track, it’d be “Seeds.” With singer and guitarist Anna Lester’s earnest lyrics configuring a tumbleweed out of the emotional and mental baggage that two parties bring to a relationship, and the euphony of static-drenched guitars and racing cymbals, “Seeds” ignites an emotion that’s pleasing to the ears and heart.–Carissa Marques 


Bright Purpel – “La La”

Recommended If You Like: Anderson Paak, Chance the Rapper, Prince 

A joyful jam bordering on the pleasantly manic, “La La” by the duo of K.UTIE and Jeremy Ryan is an encouraging compass point aiming toward the present and future of new millennium soul and R&B. As Bright Purpel, the duo honors traditional instrumentation and production just as quickly as they forge ahead.–Daniel A. Brown 


Broadway Louie – “lookin’”

Recommended If You Like: Thee Sacred Souls, The Weeknd, Frank Ocean 

R&B singer Broadway Louie kicked off 2023 with a heater, and “lookin’” lit a fire under his album Magick that burned throughout the year. Released in February, the groovy, electric tune brought the spring/summer vibes early.--Mr. Al Pete


Corey Kilgannon – “Ode to the Seahorse Inn”

Recommended If You Like: Cass McCombs, Sufjan Stevens, Steve Gunn

A snapdragon apple with a razor blade in it, singer-songwriter Corey Kilgannon’s “Ode to the Seahorse Inn” is, on the surface, sweet, inviting and familiar, with mentions of local landmarks sure to catch the ear of Beaches residents. But the lyrics are sharp. They cut. And they hurt. This song will make you bleed; but in that antiquated way of bloodletting for health.–Josué A. Cruz 


Cosmic Link – “Let It Go”

Recommended If You Like: Erykah Badu, Grover Washington, Free Nationals

Every year when the Jags head to London, much is made about the potential for economic exchange between the two cities. Yet, the cultural exchange between Jax and the UK is already underway, as evidenced by the transatlantic future-soul project Cosmic Link. Made up of Jax singer and multi-instrumentalist Jay Myztroh and UK producer Ben Dubuisson, the duo mixes R&B, soul, funk and jazz with existential lyrics.–Matthew Shaw 


Ducats – “Surrender”

Recommended If You Like: Galaxie 500, Hotline TNT, The Jesus And Mary Chain

Ducats (pronounced duh-kits) made waves in the indie-garage scene with a series of singles in ‘23 that followed their 2022 debut full-length. “Surrender” uses hazy, shoegaze atmospherics as a foundation for singer-guitarist Trent Holton’s lyrics, which break down how beginnings and endings both exist in a cyclical act of surrender: “We don’t know from the start / exactly who we are / nonetheless everything’s amazing.”–Carissa Marques 


Ebonique – “Respectfully”

Recommended If You Like: Ari Lennox, Jill Scott, Yaya Bey

Two years after drawing a line in the sand and making a local splash with the throwback-R&B feels of Edge Control, her debut EP, Ebonique is still striving for R.E.S.P.E.C.T. On “Respectfully,” the soulful Duval R&B singer throws shade, but not spitefully. Over a stuttering trap beat and tasty electric-guitar motifs, she confidently deploys agile vocal runs, both bending notes and flicking away her detractors with equal ease.–Matthew Shaw 


Faze Wave – “Teenage Nightmare”

Recommended If You Like: Young the Giant, Bastille, Bleachers

One of two singles released in 2023 by Duval indie-rock vets Faze Wave, “Teenage Nightmare” expels youthful energy. Big cymbals and the double-patterned drums place the listener in a maze, and the lyrics serve as a guide: a perception of not knowing where, or most importantly, who you are.–Mr. Al Pete 


Glass Chapel – “Foreign Rain”

Recommended If You Like: Cold Cave, Nation of Language, Visage

Glass Chapel brings a taste of ‘80s-dark-wave flavor to the Jacksonville music scene. The post-punk trio released an alluringly alt-dance track, “Foreign Rain,” earlier this year and later dropped a remix with St. Augustine industrial project ISYA. Despite the dark sound, the lyrics point to “Foreign Rain” being more of a romantic track with verses like, “smelling in the ocean breeze is nice when you’re next to me.” Gothic soundscapes. Spooky synths and droning vocals. It makes my weird, little heart happy.–Carissa Marques


Jamison Willaims – “Mary Blair”

Recommended If You Like: Last Exit, Anthony Braxton, The Flying Luttenbachers

The undisputed ambassador of local free jazz, saxophonist Jamison Williams’ peripatetic life (currently calling Luxembourg home) is surely expressed in the explorations of “Mary Blair.” A multiphonic paean to the early 20th-century Disney illustrator, in both improvisation and sheer lung power, in 38 minutes Williams evokes a half century of extended saxophone techniques and ephemeral themes.–Daniel A. Brown


Kale That Raps –  “A HEARTBEAT.”

Recommended If You Like: Chance the Rapper, Saba, Digable Planets

Kale That Raps’ single “A HEARTBEAT.’ is mood music for listeners aspiring to forward momentum. Over a hopeful chord progression, and a steadfast beat, Kale flexes a diverse flow, offering listeners a piece of himself, and encouragement to find their own peace.–Mr. Al Pete 


Kearsten Monielle – “Butterfly”

Recommended If You Like: Nicole Wray, Adina Howard, Sade 

Duval singer Kearsten Monielle’s mid-tone melodies are refreshing. Her music is well defined and delivered with bold confidence. On “Butterfly,” Monielle eases out her feelings over a simple-but-catchy melody and airy production. It’s an atmosphere of love, sensual vibes and butterflies.–Mr. Al Pete 


King Peach – “Let Us Not”

Recommended If You Like: Dinosaur Jr., Built to Spill, Superchunk

Quite possibly the “feel bad hit” of the summer, “Let Us Not” from St. Augustine rockers King Peach might also be the sleeper jam of the year. Hooks galore, savvy guitar crunch mined in the veins of Dinosaur Jr. and Built to Spill, served up in a roaring ballad of elevating self-centeredness to the universal.–Daniel A. Brown


LANNDS – “Bonfire”

Recommended If You Like: Animal Collective, Barrie, Atlas Sound

I’ve been singing LANNDS singer-guitarist Rania Woodard’s hook from this earworm-y song almost every day since the song came out in March. Don’t come knockin’ at my door. I’m quite fond of singing it to my inbox whenever I receive an annoying email. Come for the one-liners, stay for the reverb-heavy brass and dynamic rhythms.–Hurley Winkler  


L.O.V.E. Culture – “Rap Song”

Recommended If You Like: Migos, Young Thug, Rick Ross

The best part of Jax hip-hop collective L.O.V.E. Culture’s “Rap Song” is that if you’re new to hip hop, you’ll miss the irony. “Rap Song” is a wry smile and a mischievous wink at the root of the genre. All the while, L.O.V.E. Culture serves the purpose of the town crier telling you the news right to your face and even if you don’t get it, you’re going to know the happenings.–Josué A. Cruz


Luci Lind – “Mistakes With The Bottle”

Recommended If You Like: Steve Lacy, Los Retros, Young Fathers 

Bedroom-pop singer and songwriter Luci Lind’s knack for mature, melodic earworms and chill production is on full display on the 2023 single, “Mistakes with the Bottle.” With a playfully sing-songy delivery over a lethargic bass groove, Lind sincerely and empathetically unpacks literal and figurative toxicity and the trauma experienced by all parties involved, singing, “I feel your pain / I hope you change / I hope you find your way.”–Matthew Shaw


Madison Hughes – “The Heartbreak Kid”

Recommended If You Like: Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood

Madison Hughes really proved herself as a musician this year, spreading her wings wide since she appeared on NBC’s The Voice. The Ponte Vedra Beach singer and guitarist is bringing classic Nashville country right back home to the 904 with this single. Cheeky lyrics delivered with an enviable rasp pair perfectly with the kind of jangly guitars that every country music fan is bound to adore.–Hurley Winkler


rickoLus – “New York”

Recommended If You Like: Tom Waits, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel 

The longing lyrics on rickoLus’ “New York” drip with delicious specificity that make me feel like I’m being let in on singer-songwriter Rick Colado’s own personal NYC experience. Even the instrumentals are packed with character: sweeping piano and strings are grounded by a plinky xylophone and a cherubic vocal swath of ahhs.–Hurley Winkler 


Seagate – “Mind Control”

Recommended If You Like: Osees, Broncho, Television

At just 21-years young, Seagate’s Sam Baglino is already a veteran of the city’s indie scene, covering a ton of ground in a short time span. The group’s late-2023 six-song EP, Tapes Volume 1, was recorded on mostly analog gear, with Seagate – who launched as a brooding, new-wave act – exploring a more primal and experimental sound.–Matthew Shaw 


Taylor Roberts – “Moanin’”

Recommended If You Like: Julian Lage, Wes Montgomery, George Benson

Fun fact: Jazz guitarist Taylor Roberts can take any song and turn it into your favorite song. It’s that simple and he’s that good. Roberts’ take on Art Blakey’s beloved classic “Moanin’” certainly presents a challenge. But Roberts does what he does best, unveiling a deft solo intro and kicking out the jam before the rest of the band joins in, making an old song feel new and worthy of all-time-fave consideration.–Josué A. Cruz


Teal Peel – “Sandy”

Recommended If You Like: Alex G, Kurt Vile, Big Thief 

The first time I heard “Sandy” by Jax indie-rock group Teal Peel, I had the uncanny feeling (and, admittedly, a rather main-character-syndrome feeling) that it may have been recorded just for me. It has every single musical thing I love: lyrics about the beach! Playful brass! Pretty harmonies! Pedal steel! Bah-dum-bah-dum-dums! Teal Peel, have y’all been reading my diary?–Hurley Winkler


Yaupon Holly – “No Aces”

Recommended If You Like: Osees, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Frankie and the Witch Fingers

When it comes to local psych-rockers Yaupon Holly, youth is absolutely not wasted on the young. “No Aces” is a showcase for the group’s ace rhythm section, double-helix guitars tackling each other with feedback and lead vocalist Jason Kerr splitting the difference between Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Edgar Broughton and Lemmy Kilmister. Even more remarkable is that they sustain this aggro-delic bludgeoning for nearly six minutes.–Daniel A. Brown


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