2023 was a great year of discovery for me, as the landscape of Korean artists around the world doing amazing work continues to grow and shift. Here are my seven favorite K-indie releases of the year.


lucy liyou dog dreams

Lucy Liyou : Dog Dreams

Lucy Liyou’s latest full-length album is a stunning tapestry of spoken word, minimalist instrumental compositions, lush electronic soundscapes, field recordings, and soulful vocals.

Liyou is firing on all cylinders on Dog Dreams, collaging compelling song fragments with intriguing poetry as gracefully as they conjure deeply beautiful synthy sound worlds. There’s a whole lot more I want to say, but I wouldn’t dare spoil the incredible journey for you: grab your nicest headphones and give this one your full attention.


hypnosis therapy psilocybin album cover

Hypnosis Therapy : Psilocybin

The rapper-producer duo of JJANGYOU and Jflow, known collectively as Hypnosis Therapy, delivers 10 tracks of tripped-out, high-energy flows and beats on their sophomore LP. The EDM tilt on most of the instrumentals is the perfect launchpad for JJANGYOU’s hypnotic raps as he deftly switches flows and vocal timbres. Every track is a hit, and every featured artist shines. This shit’s hard!


sumin SICHIMI album cover

SUMIN : SICHIMI

Star producer, vocalist, and songwriter SUMIN is one of my favorite artists working in any scene, period. SICHIMI, her longest solo release since 2019’s OO DA DA, is perhaps her best yet. If you are acquainted with SUMIN’s music you’ll be greeted with a lot of familiar elements that are hallmarks of her singular style: memorable melodies, shimmering sound design, and deep grooves are present here as they are in nearly every SUMIN track.

SICHIMI stands out to me as SUMIN’s most mature statement so far, a delightful genre-bending blend of ridiculously catchy songs performed and mixed to perfection. It’s some of the best K-R&B you’ll ever put your ears on, and it’s all done SUMIN’s way.


parannoul after the night live album cover

Parannoul : After the Night (Live)

You can feel the energy in the room on this live album as Korean shoegaze beacon Parannoul brings a solid band to play some of his most popular songs across his substantial discography. Parannoul makes highly emotional music and the live energy of these recordings serves to amplify all of the highs and lows these songs are made to make you feel.

The vocals are raw, the guitars screech and squeal, the drums are like a shot of adrenaline, and everything down to the crowd noise is compressed and distorted within an inch of its life in classic Parannoul fashion. A record that’s as immersive and cathartic as it is wild and fun.


heejin jang me and the glassbirds album cover

Heejin Jang : Me and the Glassbirds

Heejin Jang transports us to a dark parallel world in her electronic noise epic Me and the Glassbirds. A master of sound design and storytelling, Jang weaves a wordless narrative about a flock of glass birds that she creates using sound and subsequently destroys.

Every track is its own world of fascinating chirps, hums, and flutters; as elusive, hypnotic rhythms coalesce and dissipate. Familiar sounds such as piano samples and breakbeats appear as twisted, re-engineered versions of their former selves. Listeners who choose to take this record on will embark on a harrowing journey that is bleak, cold, and metallic, but also deeply beautiful.


Minhwi Lee Hometown to Come album cover

Minhwi Lee – Hometown to Come

I’ve been looking forward to a new solo project from singer, songwriter, and film composer Minhwi Lee since I discovered 2016’s Borrowed Tongue in high school. Hometown to Come is a return to her unique indie-pop aesthetic: lush, carefully composed instrumentals paired with Lee’s husky, pensive vocal tone.

These songs feel like they’re performed live-in-studio, and every track is incredibly intimate, nostalgic, and warm. Think something like George Harrison meets Ichiko Aoba meets Norah Jones. Magic.


카코포니 cacophony dipuc album cover

Cacophony (카코포니) : DUPIC

On DIPUC, the third studio album from Cacophony, the art pop singer-songwriter keeps up her practice of putting out highly thematic concept projects. If 2019’s Dream was about an unsuccessful love affair, DIPUC is about the trauma that can be inflicted by intimate relationships and the healing process that’s required.

Cacophony creates a truly epic collage through this album, referencing everything from K-ballad to indie rock to spoken word, and using a satisfying variety of acoustic and electronic sounds to construct absolutely gorgeous, cathartic instrumentals.

All of it is unified by her haunting voice and her unwavering commitment to her message. This is another one of those projects that defies category and genre (the best I can do would be art-pop if you’re looking for similar music), and it definitely deserves a one-sitting listen-through.