Many of my favorite bands put out new music in 2017. But as the year wore on, I found myself moving away from the returns from Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes, two bands whose last records I adored, and towards a different set of artists. I became more and more intrigued by younger bands who wrote without inhibition, like Priests, Ratboys, Alvvays, Phoebe Bridgers, White Reaper, even Lorde’s sophomore album, and so many more. Even though my number one album still happens to be from a favorite artist of mine (maybe influenced by being able to see the record performed in full in an intimate space?), I appreciate the sheer diversity in sound and experience that made its way into my top ten albums of 2017.
Sleep Well Beast is the most complete album experience of 2017. The National create an opus of paranoia, heartbreak, and reconciliation brought together then melted apart by glitchy electronics, wild percussion, and Matt Berninger’s signature baritone. It’s an album that ranks near the top of the band’s discography and one that has comfortably landed into their live sets.
No pop album was catchier and sweeter in sound than the sophomore album from Alvvays. Molly Rankin writes subtly biting lyrics that correspond with shoegaze and saccharine sounds for one of the better listens from this year.
With the name adjustment came a doozy of a full-length for (Sandy) Alex G,. Rocket brings together his trademark muted songwriting with screamo outburst “Brick,” the auto-tuned “Sportstar,” and country/folkier songs like “Bobby” and “Powerful Man.”
As my personal pick for New Artist to Watch in last year’s jumble of year-end reviews, Moses Sumney finally delivered his first full length album to well-deserved praise. His voice soared above all others this year and his delicate music gave us a way to self-reflect at a time when silence and space is a rare commodity.
It says a lot about a band and their record when the first song heard by them was about the traumatic experience of having to put their cat down, and I was instantly drawn. Beyond “Elvis Is In The Freezer,” GN showcases really genuine and thoughtful lyrics and confident musicality from this young Chicago group.
6. Priests – Nothing Feels Natural
7. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
8. Sylvan Esso – What Now
9. Rostam – Half-Light
10. Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Navigator
Favorite Five Songs of 2017
Phoebe Bridgers – “Motion Sickness”
Jay Som – “The Bus Song”
Big Thief – “Mythological Beauty”
Julia Jacklin – “Pool Party”
St. Vincent – “New York”
Top 5 Shows of 2017
1. The National @ Basilica Hudson, Hudson NY (July 15, 2017)
2. LCD Soundsystem @ Brooklyn Steel, Brooklyn NY (April 10 + December 22, 2017)
3. Arcade Fire @ Grand Prospect Hall, Brooklyn NY (July 27, 2017)
4. The Mountain Goats @ Brooklyn Steel, Brooklyn NY (November 12, 2017)
5. Mavis Staples @ Central Park Summerstage, NYC (June 3, 2017)
Most-Anticipated for 2018: Superorganism