Best Music of 2017
Welcome to our yearly best of list. 2017 wasn't a standout year for popular music. It seems that as streaming chips away at musician's livelihoods, it's the scrappy bedroom rappers, dance music producers, indie rockers and jazz journeymen that are the ones carrying the torch forward. All these records are made to be listened to from start to finish. Support the album format and the musicians who are still trying to make art by buying their LPs! For easy picks in 2018, sign up for our Record of the Month Club
St. Vincent - Mass Seduction
There's a certain kind of hipster intelligence that St. Vincent has tapped into and it's a good mirror to what is happening in urban North America. The sounds and recording quality here are great and there are tons of great melodies too.
King Krule - The OOZ
King Krule is like if you mixed David Lynch with hip hop. Morphine inspired tempos, incredible english whit and rhyming. It all adds up to a kind of beat-cool smoking jacket album.
Princess Nokia - 1992
The 90s are officially the dominant trend of the late 2000s, especially with millenials and nowhere is that stronger than in hip hop. Princess Nokia basically raps about the past that she was too young to know, but it's fascinating to hear what things resonate with the younger generation.
LCD Soundsystem - American Dream
LCD have a formula and it works. American Dream is every bit as good as any of their records. Incredible sounding, deep at times, dancy at others.
MIKE - MAY GOD BLESS YOUR HUSTLE
A swirling kaleidoscope of hip hop j dilla style beats with recessed laid back rhyming.
Thurston Moore - Rock n Roll Consciousness
With the addition of James Sedwards on guitar, there's a new level of lyrical proficiency in the Thurston Moore band that brings some of the richest and rewarding songs of his long career.
Tyler, the Creator - Flower Boy
Tyler is the most interesting producer in hip hop. This album has great sounds ranging from 70s funk organ to modern cellphone blips and it's all stuck together like a calder mobile spinning and revolving in a beautiful space all its own.
Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
Forwards or backwards depending on who starts the rumours, this is a great album. Self-styled as this generation's Gil Scott-Heron he mostly succeeds. Now if he would just get Tyler to do his mastering, we'd have a lyrical and auditory classic.
The Jesus and Mary Chain - Damage and Joy
Under recognized influence on bands like Oasis and Foo Fighters, the Jesus and Mary Chain nailed their style from the beginning and it proves to have staying power 20 years later. So much better than any of the young bands who have copied them this year. Play it loud!
Chip Wickham - La Sombra
It's hard to tell if this was recording in 2017 or 1967 because it has that lo-fi Sun Ra / Dr. John small southern studio sound. But who cares, because this band is tight and the music is timeless melodic jazz.
Drugdealer - The End of Comedy
70s folk rock ballads done to a T. If you need something old that's new, this is a gem.
In this year of depressing news, it's important to remember the fun things in life and dancing is one that is far underrated. Yaeji is silly and sweet, but the hooks are hot and the complete lack of pretension is ever so refreshing. "when the sweaty walls are bangin, i don't fuck with family planning".
Baby Driver Soundtrack
Kevin Spacey's career may be in the process of being erased but nevertheless this is a great movie with one of the best soundtracks since Pulp Fiction. It never hits a wrong note and the timing is always on. Fun to the last drop.
Dirty Projectors - Dirty Projectors
A stunning sounding recording to really stretch out your system and the best Dirty Projectors record to date. This is bowie-level stuff.
Ryan Adams - Prisoner
A steamroller breakup album the likes of which we haven't heard in maybe 20 years. Incredible from start to finish. Love the guitar sound. If Bruce Springsteen made this record they'd say it was in his top 3.
Roots Magic - Last Kind Words
A supremely funky and engaging jazz record. Uplifitng and accessible, timeless and tribal. Even if you don't like jazz, or perhaps especially if you don't, you should put this on and feel good.
Colin Vallon, Patrice Moret & Julian Sartorius - Danse
A meandering jazz record which is both extremely laid back but also completely on point, similar to how the Koln Concert draws you in.
Laura Marling - Semper Femina (Live)
Laura Marling has an incredible voice. Think Joni Mitchell's sister. Unfortunately the studio recording of this album is squashed and killed by a moronic engineer, but luckily for us the 2CD package has a live version of the same tracks which is totally engaging.
White Reaper - Worlds Best American Band
70s stadium rock done right. If you like Steve Miller, KISS, or ELO and want to have a good time, just play this loud.
Young Dolph - Thinking Out Loud
Definitely X rated lyrics so not safe for the kids, but Young Dolph's powerful voice and clear delivery over halloween beats is something to experience. I have no idea if this is what it's really like inner city Memphis, but man it's intense.
Power Trip - Nightmare Logic
It's been 20 years since Metallica really rocked, so it's nice to see a younger band taking up the slack. Great guitar sound, high energy. For when you need to get some anger out at a really loud volume.
Alvvays - Antisocialites
Toronto natives. A great dream pop album suitable for reading, driving, kissing or after dinner drinks.
Delicate Steve - This is Steve
One of the most engaging instrumental albums in a long long time. You'd swear Steve's guitar was singing. Music along the lines of Beach Boys Surf's Up.
Ty Segall - Ty Segall
This guy makes too many albums but this is one of the best. Dense guitar driven rock where you can imagine the smoke machines going constantly.
Ray Davies - Americana
Veteran Kinks singer returns with a tribue to an America of his youth. English charm and wit meets Willie Nelson/Wilco song structures. It's a gem.
Stanton Moore - With You in Mind
About the finest tribute to Allain Toussaint that a modern band could conceivably accomplish. No hokey pandering here. These guys are playing these songs cause they want to groove themselves.
Rural Alberta Advantage - The Wild
If the Tragcially Hip had gone indie instead of mainstream, this is what they'd sound like. Smart, tight and weighty.
JD McPherson - Undivided Heart & Soul
A rare amalgamation of southern rock, rockabilly and a little soul thrown in for good measure. Love to see a duet with Jack White, these guys are sympatico.