Well, here we are. The dumpster fire that was 2017 has come and gone. Thank god. But, as crappy of a year that it was, 2017 yielded some AWESOME music. Some of which will remain in my top 50, permanently. Because the year dragged on forever, I forgot some of these albums came out in 2017! This was a very hard list to curate, but here goes nothing:
10. Drab Majesty – “The Demonstration”
This “band” is fucking awesome (it’s actually one person AND a side project). If you are a fan of The Cure, Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus, just go listen to this record immediately. Seriously, stop reading this and go listen, I’ll wait… It’s good, right?! This album may have been higher on my list had I not just discovered it like a week ago. The album dropped January 20, 2017. I wish I had a whole year with this album, because it’s good. Favorite songs: Dot in the Sky, 39 by Design, the second half of Not Just a Name, and Cold Souls.
09. Power Trip – “Nightmare Logic”
Those that know me well, know that I love metal. All types too. I’m like the Bubba Gump of metal. I just dig it all. I never thought in a million years a throw back thrash band from LA would make it to my top 10 list. But, cue Power Trip. Honestly, I hadn’t heard of this album until really late too. When the internet starts buzzing about a band I usually don’t bite, but thankfully I did on this one. These guys live up to the hype. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think this album came out in the late 80s because they are SO true to the trash sound that was coming out of the Bay Area and Tampa during that era. If you like old Slayer, Anthrax or old Metallica, you’ll probably dig these guys. Favorite Songs: Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe), Firing Squad, If Not Us Then Who.
08. Portugal. The Man – “Woodstock”My relationship with this band is weird. I feel like I listen to these guys hardcore for a year and then I forget about them for two or three albums and then they come out with another album and BOOM, back at the top of my rotation. Like, I played the fuck out of American Ghetto. I played the fuck out of Evil Friends. And now, I’m playing the fuck out of Woodstock. I guess arguably, those might be their best albums and that’s why they stick out like a sore thumb. I could see this album going right next to any albums by Foster The People, good MGMT or Cage The Elephant. Naturally, everyone and their brother are playing Feel It Still, but if you look passed the single, this record is super solid. Favorite Songs: Number One, Easy Tiger, Feel It Still (of course), Rich Friends, Keep On.
07. REZZ – “Mass Manipulation”
This was a SUPER awesome find this year! Now, truth be told, I heard REZZ’s Ep “The Silence is Deafening” first, AND had it not been for the yearly Bonnaroo playlist, I would have never stumbled upon her at all. First off, when I saw she was on Mau5trap, DeadMau5′ label, I was kind of already sold. But, naturally, I needed a closer look. I was hooked immediately. REZZ’s music has all the things I desire in techno/EDM, dark synths or samples and a fat fucking bass line to keep the groove going…this chick delivers. This album has turned into my go to driving album. If I’m ever like “what should I listen to” for more than five minutes, I put on REZZ. Seeing her live at Bonnaroo definitely helped my love for her too. She rocked that stage and had more people into it than I think even SHE thought she would have. It was a great experience. If you are a fan of darker techno to the likes of NIN, slow My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, mixed with DeadMau5 or Gesaffelstein, you will definitely dig this. Can’t wait to see her again! Favorite Tracks: Diluted Brains, DRUGS!, Green Gusher.
06. Mastodon – “Emperor of Sand”
Oh, Mastodon. How I love thee. Actually, Mastodon is a weird band for me. Similarly to Portugal. The Man, I go in and out of being super into this band. For instance, I LOVE Leviathan and Blood Mountain, but I wasn’t super into Crack the Skye when it came out. (Now, many years later, it’s one of my favorites.) I saw them on the tour for CTS and it was a snooze fest. The next few records by them slipped under my radar to be honest. Once again, since then some tunes off Hunter and Once More ‘Round The Sun have become some of my favorites by the band. In comes Emperor of Sand. This album came out at the perfect time this year. We were doing some renovations on our house and I needed new, heavy music for painting and putting up drywall; this album was the winner. This album definitely put me back in the Mastodon headspace. I have since revisited all the old albums in all their glory. As for the album, it sounds like a Mastodon album, if you like Mastodon, you’ll probably like it. Favorite Tracks: Sultan’s Curse, Precious Stones, Word to the Wise, Jaguar God.
05. Royal Blood – “How Did We Get So Dark?”
Jesus christ, this band is so good. I remember when these guys first came on the scene. I was telling my friends “you should keep your eyes on these guys, they’re gonna be fucking big”. Well, I was right. HDWGSD is their second full-length album and god damn, I’m glad this came out because I was in dire need of some new tunes. I had been rocking their S/T album non-stop since it came out in 2014. And, honestly, this album is a perfect continuation of their previous album. If these two keep this formula up going forward, I’ll continue to be a fan for many years to come. It is amazing that a two-piece can pull off some of the shit these guys do. I haven’t yet, but I will buy this on vinyl, which in and of itself should illustrate how much I have and will listen to this record. If you are a fan of QOTSA, EODM, Jack White or any of the bands associated with these bands/artists, just get this record, it’s worth it. Favorite Tracks: Lights Out, I Only Lie When I Love You, Where Are You Now?, Hook, Line & Sinker.
04. Black Map – “In Droves”
Just like Mastodon’s album mentioned previously, Black Map’s newest album “In Droves” was a record that got me through a LOT of home renovations over the summer of 2017. I don’t even remember how I stumbled upon this band, but they have since turned into one of my favorite bands. I had the luxury of finally seeing them on tour when they were passing through Memphis this year. It was definitely an experience, to say the least, for two reasons: they opened for 10 Years (which whom they are 1000% a better band than) and there was pretty much a tornado after they played. Now don’t get me wrong, the tornado saved me from having to watch 10 Years, but the weather also made driving home terrifying. I guess if you are gonna go out, going after seeing one of your favorite bands is as good as ever a time to go. (I just said go a lot, sorry.) I would love to see my play count for this record because it is right up there with some of my favorite records that have had as many “spins” in five to ten years that this one has had in less than one. I REALLY like this album. Black Map is one of the tightest bands I have ever seen live and to boot, they are cool as fuck in person. I can’t wait to see these guys again (maybe if I’m lucky they will do a fucking tour with He Is Legend!). Favorite Tracks: Foxglove (for the bass tone alone), Ruin, Octavia, No Color, Just My Luck. (Seriously, this whole album is fucking rad just go listen.)
03. Sylvan Esso – “What Now”
There are few bands on this list that truly move me like Sylvan Esso, and, the same could be said for their sophomore album “What Now”. Sylvan Esso is another one of those bands that I can’t pinpoint exactly when I got into them, or how for that matter, but I know I have been hooked ever since. I loved all the songs on their self-titled album but the song that really made me a believer was the song “Could It Be,” specifically when the low synth notes come in about half way through the track. I thought “what maniacs decided to go with THAT low of a note?!…” those maniacs were Nick and Amelia. When the band announced they would have a new record in 2017, I was stoked, and terrified. Would the record hold up compared to their first album? Well, the answer is definitely YES. We heard a few of the new songs (specifically “Kick Jump Twist”) at SlossFest in 2016 and we couldn’t fucking wait to hear this on an album. Then “Radio” came out and blew our minds, then “Die Young” came out and blew our minds. (Maybe not in that order, btw. I can’t keep 2016-2017 straight.) Plain and simple this record, and band, is amazing. We had the opportunity to see them front row at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and it was one of my most memorable concerts ever. Nick and Amelia, you make me a better, happier person. You are my spirit animal. Thank you for all you do. Favorite Tracks: The Glow, Die Young, Radio, Kick Jump Twist.
02. He Is Legend – “few”
Hands down, He Is Legend are my favorite band, period. I have been hooked on this band since their “first” full-length “I Am Hollywood” in 2004. (I think, technically, the 90125 record is a full-length album, but it’s pretty short so I don’t count it.) This band was the first band of that era that was MY band. None of my friends knew who they were, they weren’t recommended by a website or magazine, they were something I discovered alone. Since then, I have played their albums to exhaustion and then played them again. few is no different. This release originally started as an Indiegogo campaign as a way to get out from under a record label. They had been under a label for years and they wanted to produce the recording without strings attached. They funded it and recorded one of my favorite records of the year AND of all-time. This album firmly cements them as a rock band, not the metal-core band they have necessarily been packaged as. Per one of my other blog posts, I go into grave detail about my history with this band so I will spare you here. Similarly to other releases on this list, this was another album for BLASTING during our home remodel; this album was played the most comparatively. He Is Legend never cease to amaze me. Every time I think “they can’t top this one,” they top their previous record. Each album has a definitive sound, but they can still stand together as a collective work. 2017 was a great year for me and this band because I FINALLY got to see them live, twice. I will not forget this year until I die. It really made 2017 better having this album in my life, real talk. Just go buy it. Favorite Tracks: All of them. Seriously.
01. Father John Misty – “Pure Comedy”
I don’t even know where to start with this album. It’s fucking perfect. It is an awesome third record, an awesome recording, awesome arrangement, awesome song-writing, the works. Throw in the timely manner of the content written about in the lyrics and you have my favorite record of 2017 (and to be honest, maybe ever). Father John Misty is a marvel of mine. I don’t know if my generation has many renaissance men, but FJM is one of them, for sure. His song writing abilities alone are haunting and to top it off, he is only getting better with each release. Pure Comedy is definitely an album that can be enjoyed as a collective work, but still stands on both feet as singles as well. I have listened to this album to nausea but I NEVER get sick of it. It’s a perfect record. And, seeing it live is even better. Josh Tillman’s band grown in size since the last record, but each person added to his live band makes his performances THAT much tighter and fuller. I have still yet to see him have a bad show, and I’m up to six shows personally and countless online. This album definitely has slow moments (I’m looking at you “Leaving LA”) but none that take you out of the experience of the album. I wish I could compare this album to something released before, but it really stands by itself. It is truly a culmination of all I want in an album. I have been quoted as saying “I’m glad I’m alive right now because if I was born in the future or in the past I would not have experienced Father John Misty in his prime”. Seeing him at the Ryman Auditorium AND Red Rocks has seriously made 2017 the best musical year of my life. This is a buy for sure. I have it digitally, on CD and the deluxe version on vinyl. Just get it. Favorite Tracks: All of them. This is like picking your favorite kids. Just listen to the whole album on 11.
The National – “Sleep Well Beast”
It an album by The National, it’s fucking good. Had it been “Trouble Will Find Me,” it would have been my number three, but this album just isn’t quite there for me. I listened to this release a lot but not nearly as much as the others on this list. But, I did get this release one vinyl for Christmas, so maybe it will make it’s way up the list. Favorite Tracks: Nobody Else Will Be There, Day I Die, Guilty Party.
Noah Gundersen – “WHITE NOISE”
This is another one that I played a lot, but not as much as some of the others on this list. Although, I think my favorite tracks from this album might be in my top ten songs by Noah Gundersen. Noah’s music is so fucking good. Like, EVERY release blows my fucking mind. Talent just flows through him and his family. They constantly blow my mind. Favorite Tracks: The Sound, HEAVY METALS, BAD DESIRE.
St. Vincent – “MASSEDUCATION”
Sadly, I didn’t give this album the time it deserved this year. We got it on vinyl through Vinyl Me, Please and we haven’t stop listening to it. Los Ageless and New York are definitely the stand outs but this is a super solid record as a whole. Annie’s last album was an great follow-up to her album with David Byrne and MASSEDUCATION is a great sophomore album in St. Vincent’s second wave. Highly recommended. Favorite Tracks: Masseducation, Los Ageless, New York.
So gang, in conclusion, as shitty of a year 2017 was, it yielded some pretty rad music. Here’s to hoping that albums coming in 2018 can hold a candle to the proverbial ass of last year’s releases. I’d love to hear your opinions on the topic. What were your favorite albums of 2017? Let me know in the comment section below. I may have missed some! Until next time, go listen to good music! – JF