Happy Tuesday, WFNY!
Well, here we are. We made it. This is my final While We’re Waiting for 2017 (probably). Yes, I know December isn’t yet half over, but with the way the holidays fall along with my personal travel schedule, I won’t be available for the next two Tuesdays. So, since this is my final WWW of the year, there’s really only one thing I feel like talking about this morning, and that’s my favorite music of the year.
I’ve become well aware over the years that most people don’t particularly care to read about other people’s taste in music, and I get it. It’s why I long ago dropped the music talk from my WWWs with just a few exceptions here and there. But year-end is the time of lists and every year I love making my own personal list of the best music I listened to over the previous 12 months. Not only is it a fun exercise, but it also serves as a fun reminder of some music I forgot about over the year.
As always, I start with the caveat that this is not a list of the universal “best” music of the year. Instead, it’s my personal favorite music of the year. Just because I say something is amazing doesn’t mean anyone else will feel the same way.
As for my technique in making this list, throughout the year I keep a running list of every album I listen to. Then, when I set out to make my list, I first trim the list down to only the albums that left an impact on me in some way. There are plenty of albums I listen to just once and then never return to. Those are unlikely to make my list. From there, I start at the beginning and one at a time I place the albums on my list. I compare them one at a time, starting with the first album on the list. By the time I reach the end, I have a pretty solid list. I give it a quick glance to make sure the order makes sense to me, and fine-tune a few changes here and there. And that’s it.
This year I started with a list of 134 new albums that I listened to in 2017. That list got trimmed down to the 81 albums that left an impact on me. Overall, there weren’t any overarching themes to the year in music. 2017 was just strange. There weren’t a ton of albums that I really fell in love with. Instead, just a lot of albums that I really liked. I probably listened to more metal in 2017 than I have in a lot of recent years. It was a good year for thrash metal. Despite how much I liked Kendrick Lamar’s album, there wasn’t much else in rap that really excited me.
Anyway, without any more nonsense from me, here are my favorite albums of 2017:
81. The Orwells – Terrible Human Beings
80. The Menzingers – After The Party
79. Rata Negra – Oido Absoluto
78. The xx – I See You
77. The Shins – Heartworms
76. Weezer – Pacific Daydream
75. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
74. Allison Crutchfield – Tourist In This Town
73. Dropkick Murphys – 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory
72. Incubus – 8
71. Logic – Everybody
70. Surfer Blood – Snowdonia
69. Aye Nako – Silver Haze
68. EMA – Exile In The Outer Ring
67. Future & Young Thug – SUPER SLIMEY
66. Future – HNDRXX
65. Future – Future
64. Minus The Bear – VOIDS
63. Danzig – Black Laden Crown
62. Alison Kraus – Windy City
61. Thurston Moore – Rock N Roll Consciousness
60. Dirty Projectors – Dirty Projectors
59. The National – Sleep Well Beast
58. Greg Graffin – Millport
57. Billy Corgan – Ogilala
56. Boris – Dear
55. Blanck Mass – World Eater
54. Taylor Swift – reputation
53. Drake – More Life
52. LCD Soundsystem – american dream
51. The Black Angels – Death Song
50. Wavves – You’re Welcome
49. Priests – Nothing Feels Natural
48. AFI – AFI (The Blood Album)
47. Chuck Berry – CHUCK
46. Paramore – After Laughter
45. Chris Stapleton – From A Room Vol 1 and Vol 21
44. Wu-Tang Clan – The Saga Continues
43. Death From Above 1979 – Outrage! Is Now
42. Lorde – Melodrama
41. Steve Earle – So You Wannabe An Outlaw
40. At The Drive In – in.ter a.li.a
39. Metz – Strange Peace
38. Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?
37. The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
36. Deer Tick – Deer Tick Vol 1 and Vol 2
35. Anti-Flag – American Fall
34. White Reaper – The World’s Best American Band
33. Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life
32. Circa Survive – The Amulet
31. Mansions – Deserter
30. Rise Against – Wolves
29. Gorillaz – Humanz
28. Mark Lanegan – Gargoyle
27. Foo Fighters – Concrete and Gold
26. Sorority Noise – You’re Not As ____ As You Think
25. Ryan Adams – Prisoner
24. Slothrust – Show Me How You Want It To Be
23. Los Campesinos! – Sick Scenes
22. Sheer Mag – Need To Feel Your Love
21. Toadies – The Lower Side of Uptown
20. Algiers – The Underside of Power
Franklin James Fisher unleashes the full fury and passion of his voice on another very strong outing from this Atlanta, Georgia band.
19. Sleigh Bells – Kid Kruschev
Prior to Kid Kruschev, I had been worried that Sleigh Bells was growing stale. This EP, however, finds the band pushing in new directions and emphasizing Alexis Krauss’ vocals in new ways.
18. Rancid – Trouble Maker
Probably one of five favorite bands of all-time, Rancid continues to just do what they do best.
17. Quicksand – Interiors
A post-hardcore band that has been around since 1990, somehow I never got into them until this year, but Interiors was an album that stuck with me all year.
16. Code Orange – Forever
This hardcore band from Pittsburgh pushes the envelope on hardcore and is unrelenting in their sound. This album never lets up from start to finish.
(Video could be NSFW)
15. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?
Fans of Oasis have been feeling a void in their musical souls with the Gallagher brothers each doing their own thing. Noel finally delivers an album that lives up to the spirit of Oasis, though.
14. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
Never one for complacency, Vince Staples continues to evolve his sound and deliver one of the best rap albums of the year.
13. Beck – Colors
It’s been a really long time since I have enjoyed a Beck album. I assumed I would probably never like a Beck album again. I was wrong. Colors is an impressive output from one of the more prolific musicians of our era.
12. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand
Emperor of Sand was arguably the most polarizing album of Mastodon’s career, but you can count me in as someone who loved this album. And yes, I think “Show Yourself” is an incredible song and I don’t care what any other Mastodon fan thinks about it. I listened to this song on repeat all year long.
11. Expander – Endless Computer
I don’t even know how you begin to categorize Expander’s music into categories. It’s visceral, expansive, and intense without falling into any stereotypical hardcore tropes. It blurs the lines between punk and hardcore in cool and exciting ways.
10. Sinai Vessel – Brokenlegged
This North Carolina indie band makes the kind of emo-inspired indie rock that I’ve been missing in my life.
9. Bully – Losing
Lazy comparisons to Courtney Love notwithstanding, Bully channel the spirit of the early 90s rock scene with nothing but integrity and sincerity, and it just works.
8. Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound
Cleveland’s own Cloud Nothings returns with yet another impressive effort, this time allowing a little more room for the songs to breathe.
7. Power Trip – Nightmare Logic
Easily my favorite thrash album since I don’t even know when. Probably since Pantera was around. This album is pure power and probably one of the albums I listened to the most number of times in 2017.
6. Pallbearer – Heartless
One of the most beautiful heavy albums I’ve ever heard. There was a long stretch of time in 2017 where I thought this was going to be my favorite album of the year. In some ways, this is the one album I probably ranked a little too low. It’s just so good. Every song takes you a journey, eschewing traditional song structures and instead delivering narrative-based structure with a true beginning, middle, and end.
5. Queens of the Stone Age – Villains
A bit of a different sound for Josh Homme and crew. I’ll admit I was worried when I heard Mark Ronson was producing QOTSA’s next album, but strangely Ronson’s sensibilities kind of work. But no matter who is producing, it’s pretty hard to mess up Homme’s incredible hooks in his songs.
4. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
One of the greatest rappers of all time delivers one of the greatest rap albums of all time. DAMN. is honest and unapologetic in delivering Kendrick’s worldview to a host of fans who may not have otherwise ever looked at things through this context.
3. Converge – The Dusk In Us
This legendary hardcore band returns with their first album in five years, and their best in well over a decade. This band has been together more than 25 years and yet somehow they still deliver an album like this, fresh as ever and still sounding wholly unique to themselves. This album is a remarkable masterpiece.
2. Brand New – Science Fiction
Without getting into the subsequent sexual abuse allegations against Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey (not condoning anything, either…I debated a very long time whether to include this album on my list or not. It’s just that this list is only about the music itself. Please read more about the accusations against Lacey here and decide for yourself whether you want to listen to this album), this album blew me away from the moment I heard it and I didn’t stop listening to it until the allegations against Lacey came out. I’m still processing my feelings on it and whether or not I should listen to this album, but there’s no denying how incredible this music is.
1. Slowdive – Slowdive
This English shoegaze band formed in the late 80s and gained some modest success in the early 90s before going separate ways in 1995. The band reunited for some shows in 2014, and in 2017 they came back with a shoegaze album that feels every bit worth the wait. It’s not dated nor does it sound like a band trying to capitalize on nostalgia. This is an essential album and shows what happens when a band masters their own sound and crafts songs worthy of their own legacy. This was the one album in 2017 I always turned to when I need something to lift me up or get me through something. I’m so thankful they reunited to deliver us this album, one I’ll probably never stop listening to.
And there you have it, my favorite music of 2017. Feel free to share your favorite music in the comments, as I always love seeing what others are listening to and finding some things that I might have missed this year as well.
Seeing as how this is my final WWW of 2017, I want to thank everyone for yet another great year and say cheers to 2018!
- I know these were technically two separate albums, but it’s impossible for me to list them that way. Especially when you consider I almost always listen to both of them together sequentially. [↩]