Random Thoughts

2023 in Review

Finally getting around to writing this, as the condo drama in our life wrapping up really consumed the first part of this year (there will be a post about this soon too). But I still want to recap 2023, even though we are a good chunk into 2024 already.

Well that was a year, eh? Looking back at my 2022 in Review it’s clear that I was expecting 2023 to go a little differently. Not that it went poorly, but the big changes I was thinking were going to happen didn’t. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t happen, they’re just going to rollover into 2024.

Main thing that colored 2023 was our Condo fire that we still had to deal with THE ENTIRE YEAR. However, like I said, one of the reasons that my 2023 in review is SO late this year is that I’m writing this from the other side. So one of the biggest good things I thought would happen in 2023 (the condo being sold and out of our lives) actually just happened in 2024. And to be honest, it ended far better than we ever would have imagined, but boy did we have to go through two years of incredible stress and anxiety to get here. It’s something that has already made 2024 a win, and we’ve got a ways to go yet!

So very similarly to the end of 2022, I enter 2024 anticipating big changes, and thankfully one has already happened. We’ll see if more come down the pike here soon.

Other highlights of 2023:

  • Avery entered 3rd grade, Margot entered 1st grade, and they are both growing up far too fast. ??
  • Took the girls on their first international travel since 2019 (Mérida, Mexico) where we had some wonderful experiences (top one being swimming in a cenote).
  • Trips with friends to Wintery Wolverine, Various places in the summer, New York City in the Fall.
  • Playing a bunch of shows with my Halloween band Garbage Angel and getting into a real groove overall. Never anticipated this to be the music project of mine to gain momentum, but it’s been such a blast, and shows no sign of slowing!

Unfortunately, I still didn’t make much progress on that new album, but it is in the works still, and it is going to happen. Yet another thing to rollover into 2024!

Though there were certainly ups and downs again like 2022, I continue to be blessed with a wonderful family and so many wonderful friends. To more of that in 2024, and anything beyond that is just gravy!

But before I let 2023 go, gotta do my usual and sum up the various pop culture and art things I consumed. I’ll follow my typical structure and start with music, although this was another year where there weren’t really many albums, or even really all that many songs that blew me away. I still had plenty of tunes I liked, but felt quite disconnected from current music this year. By far my most interesting (to me) category is albums I should have been into earlier, as I had 3 in there that were some of my favorite albums of the year. However, I am nothing if not rigid about my year in review rules, so technically they don’t count.

Here’s links to my previous 18 years:

2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 20182017, 201620152014201320122011201020092008200720062005

Also, gotta give a shout out to my buddy and old Common Shiner bandfellow Michael Brooks for a couple new tunes he released under the moniker Jen Dressed Ridiculous. Both tunes released – Levity and Useless, are fantastic. Give them a listen!

On with the rankings!

Top 5 Albums

  1. The Japanese HouseIn the End it Always Does

Midway through the year I heard a few random tunes off of their EP – Swim Against the Tide and I really enjoyed them. Since they had a brand new album coming out, I thought what the heck. I absolutely fell in love with this album. It is so positive, beautiful, calming, and yet groovy and fun all at the same time. It’s like a music version of a post beach trip drive when you’ve got the window down and you’re looking out as the sun slowly sets. Just a deep cleansing breath of an album, and I’m sure will be on regular rotation for a long time for me.

2. Kimberly Akimbo (Original Broadway Soundtrack)

Saw this on Broadway when we traveled to NYC with some friends in October, and just fell in love with it. It’s hook-y, funny, heartbreaking, crude, and everything in between. And the girls have enjoyed singing along to the opening track and I’d love for them to see the show someday (though it’s probably a touch on the adult side for several more years).

3. PeteyUSA

My friend Calin introduced me to Petey back in the summer, and I enjoyed his stuff, but this new album that came out really crushed it for me. Calin said that some of the tunes sounded like Common Shiner, and I could totally see what he meant, though I’m not sure I could explain why. An unusual genre, but solid rocky/poppy/snarky type tunes that I dig.

4. Meg MyersTZIA

I’m not sure this album really makes my list most years, but I just didn’t have many albums to make the list. I love Meg Myers, and while I did enjoy this album quite a bit, it doesn’t really measure up to her album Take me to the Disco (my #3 album in 2018). That said there’s some strong emotionality and personal vulnerability she puts into this album that is commendable, and I still dig anything she does.

5. Illiterate LightSunburned

Another album that Calin introduced me to when we went and saw them live in Chicago in April. Paired with a (very cold) Cubs game earlier in the day, it made for a memorable and fun trip, and watching these guys tear up the Lincoln Hall stage was a blast. I’m not sure there’s any particular songs from the album that stuck with me, but I enjoy what they do, and they were part of a core memory from 2023.

honorable mentions

Matilda Mann – You Look Like You Can’t Swim, boygenius – the record

Theme Song of the Year

Me: Sunshine Baby – The Japanese House
Corinne: Honeybee – The Head & the Heart
Avery: You Need to Calm Down – Taylor Swift
Margot: Love Story – Taylor Swift

Top Albums I Should Have Been into Earlier

Few stand outs this year that had I heard them last year would have made my top 5 almost certainly:

The Maine – XOXO: From Love & Anxiety In Real Time (Catchy and fun as hell)
Stand Atlantic – f.e.a.r (Snotty big middle finger heavy rock)
JOSEPH – Good Luck, Kid

All fantastic albums for different reasons and they would have had top 5 slots if I wasn’t so rigid about my system.

Favorite Movies

Didn’t have a runaway favorite movie from this year, but you can see my reviews on Letterboxd (username fosterthemorgan). Here’s my top rated from the year:

No One Will Save You
Bullet Train
John Wick: Chapter 4
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Also a special nomination for a movie that is so bad it’s great:

New York Ninja

Worst Movie of the Year

As usual, with following along with How Did This Get Made, I watched many terrible movies. Worst one according to my Letterboxd ranking:

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

A Neil Diamond album over top of voiced over seagulls attempting to tell some sort of pompous story with shots of scenery, clearly all of which originated from an acid trip. Holy crap this movie sucks.

Favorite TV Shows

Favorite show of the year was almost certainly:

The Bear (Season 2)

although other ones I really enjoyed:

The Last of Us
Cunk on Earth
Ted Lasso (Season 3)

Favorite Podcast

For sure my favorite podcast I’ve gotten into this year is:

Knowledge Fight

It’s two (hilarious and very intelligent) guys from Chicago who essentially just follow Alex Jones’ various shows and efforts and both break down all of his nonsense to explain what’s happening in the far right these days, but they also give such lightness and silliness to subjects that would normally be infuriating at best, and terrifying at worst. I look forward to every new episode.

The 2022 MCAM (Morgan, Corinne, Avery, Margot) Mix

1: Skater Planet – Kimberly Akimbo (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

In New Jersey!

2: Danger! High Voltage – Electric Six

I realize this song is about 20 years old, but it was a big hit with the kids in 2023 and became one of our go to jams.

3: CHOKE – grandson

Dirty, heavy almost dubstep-y tune, but the girls loved it, and I did too. ?

4: Good Luck, Kid – JOSEPH

Such a fun, rock-y tune with the stellar vocals that JOSEPH always bring.

5: Dirty, Pretty, Beautiful – The Maine

One of my more listened to tracks all year. Just a great tune all around.

6: molotov [OK] – Stand Atlantic

Some real old school sweaty frantic punk rock here. And they sound like they’re saying “o-tay” which is what Avery used to say. ?

7: Sunshine Baby – The Japanese House

Gorgeous, bittersweet, yet like a deep breath of contentment all at the same time. Many times this past year I just wanted to live in this song.

8: OMGarden – Big Wild

Another one that the girls and I sang in the car throughout the whole year.


“Cuz I just wanna touch somebody
So they can be their own somebody
Breathe air in their lungs
Tell them they’re enough
Yea I just wanna touch somebody”

Such a beautiful sentiment that I feel deeply.

10: I’ll Wait – Petey

Tune that my friend Calin told me sounded like a Common Shiner song, which I can totally see and is maybe why I liked it so much.

11: Watch the World Burn – Falling in Reverse

A real journey of a tune, but embraces the kind of craziness I love.

12: Words Like Daggers – The Animal in Me

Rounding out the “Morgan only” section of the mix. This was a Vijay suggestion, and I really dig this whole album, although no particular tracks stuck with me all year. But this was the closest one that I liked the most.

13: dumb – Stand Atlantic

Another snotty middle finger song from Stand Atlantic, and man, I just love it.

14: Everything Goes On – Porter Robinson

Speaking of songs that feel like a deep breath, that is Porter Robinson’s specialty, and this random single he released in 2023 was no exception.

15: Face Towards the Sun – The Maine

This one both in tone and lyrics feels like my closing credits song, and it’s such a good one. Another top listened to track for me all year for some pretty specific emotional reasons. “Everything is exactly as it should be.”


So there we go, another year in the books, and another weird one at that. I definitely have high hopes for 2024 and 2025 (well, maybe not for the world at large, but for our family lives), so here’s hoping we’re in a better place next year, and with more great tunes, movies, tv shows, podcasts, friends, and experiences.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.