It’s been 2018 for a little more than a week, and I have spent some time reflecting on the releases of 2017. I didn't think it was the best year for music, but there are still diamonds in the rough. With no further ado here are in my ten best albums of 2017!
1) Mac DeMarco: This Old Dog
Many long time Mac fans I know were not very into this album. However for me This Old Dog was easily the best album of the summer and as it turns out, the year. The slow and melodic jams littered throughout the album made it a regular listen for me. I’m not even that big of a fan of slower songs but Mac DeMarco added tons of small background things like claves to keep the music moving. In addition I really like the lyrical content. All and all given the amount of times I have listened to it and the song writing present I think this was the best album of the year. I really like the songs One Another, This Old Dog, and A Wolf Who Wears Sheep’s Clothes.
2) The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding
This album deserves both its spot in my top three and its Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album. Adam Granduciel’s songwriting and singing are fresh, moving, and reminiscent of 60’s rock. Tasteful reverb, powerful guitar solos, effects, and relatable lyrics all make this album something that I regularly listen to. I really like the song Pain and just the overall vibe and presence of the album when you are listening to it. I will definitely continue bumping this in 2018.
3) The Cloud Nothings: Life Without Sound
When their album Attack On Memory dropped in 2012 I instantly fell in love with their indie style. This band has transformed in many ways over the years always offering something new to the mix with each album. Dylan Baldi’s maturity as a songwriter is prevalent throughout this album, which leans much more toward pop than his previous two albums. He manages to combine his distinct “Baldi” sound with pop elements like more prevalent vocals. Although the band is back up to two guitars from one on the previous release Baldi’s signature voice cuts through the mix. Over all Life Without Sound is a great album and the more I listen to it the more I like it. I own two copies on vinyl (had to buy the special edition when it was on sale). Up to the Surface, Enter Entirely, and Sight Unseen are my personal favorite tracks from the album, I definitely recommend checking it out.
4) Kendrick Lamar: Damn.
I think a lot of us had unachievable expectations for this record because To Pimp a Butterfly had been so good; it was a masterpiece. Damn certainly is not as good of an album, but not everything can be a masterpiece. The lyrical content reigns supreme on this one but there is still good production on tracks like Fear and Lust. Kendrick has a lot to say about his continuous emotions and the struggles of being African American in America. My two favorite tracks from the album were Fear and Pride.
5) HOMESHAKE: Fresh Air
I really like HOMESHAKES’ style. He is very unique and a lot of his songs have catchy grooves that hook your attention. Call me up is a good example of HOMESHAKES typical sound. The “sad boy” sound with falsetto vocal and synth lines make it a song that will get stuck in your head. Other good songs on the album are “Every Single Thing” and “Khmlwugh”. Over all I really like the production on this album. It is different but it grooves. HOMESHAKE is making great music and has me eager to hear his future releases.
6) J.I.D: The Never Story
J.I.D is a relatively new artist releasing his debut LP off of J Cole’s label. My roommate turned me onto him over the summer and I must say he is one of the most promising young rappers I have heard. Often associating with Earth Gang in what is known as Spillage Village J.I.D has proven his versatility as a rapper. The Never Story hits hard with great tracks like Never and D/vision. I recommend checking this one out.
7) Real Estate: In Mind
Another album I was very into over the summer was In Mind. The album really clicked with me and I soon became hooked by the catchy guitar riffs and smooth indie sound. I was also able to see them perform live over the past year and they put on a great show. My favorite songs are Darling, Serve the Song, and Saturday.
8) Citizen: As You Please
Local (Toledo) music heroes, Citizen, released an impressive new LP this year. I think the band’s songwriting has developed a lot and I really like the way things are going. Jet and In the Middle of it All are some great songs off the album. I saw them play a sold out show at Frankies in Toledo this past weekend and all of the new songs they play sounded sweet. There are good dynamic contrasts throughout the album and I’ve listened to the whole thing several times.
9) Alex G: Rocket
Rocket is a cool album. As indicated by the red and white stripes on the album cover Rocket sounds distinctly “American”. The instrumentation and arrangements throughout the album have created something truly noteworthy. The album is great for both casual and in depth listens as it is both soothing and musically interesting. Bobby and County are a couple of the songs I liked most; they are all good. Alex G rocks.
10) Alvvays: Antisocialites
This album has been on a ton of top ten lists and I’m sure a lot of people think this is a low ranking. However, I honestly really don’t like the song “Dreams Tonite” which happens to be one of the albums singles. As a result the rest of the album is somewhat soured because the song everyone remembers the album from makes me cringe. On a positive note, Alvvays is an awesome band and they have a great album here with potential for a whole lot more. My favorite song off the album was “Forget About Life”.
Just for fun - 2017’s biggest disappointment? For me the biggest disappointment was Lotta Sea Lice which was a collab between Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett. I expected so much from such great artists but I found the album very boring.
Did you miss some of these albums? Check them all out in this playlist!