We’ve finally arrived at the end of the year; a year in which every lone week felt like it’s own self-contained 365 days. If there was any ray of light in a year filled with nuclear tension, lies, and the loss of respect for many in the entertainment community, it was the great art that 2017 has brought us — particularly in music. This Thanksgiving weekend, before we get to the legitimate two course meal of my 30 album year-end list (albums 30-16 go up next Friday, and 15-1 the week after), I’m serving this hors d’oeuvre, and talking about some of my favorite albums of the year… that unfortunately didn’t make my year-end list for 2017.
Doing this accomplishes a couple things:
1. It gives me an excuse to talk about my favorite records of the year a little earlier.
2. It makes my year-end list shorter than it has to be.
3. It generates hype for what will actually make the final 30.
4. You can get mad at me early for not having your favorite albums in my definitive list.
Hope you all have a good weekend spending time and appreciating the ones you love, and, of course, spinning these albums.
Uniform – Wake In Fright (Sacred Bones)
Living up to the hype of their previous EP releases and live shows, Uniform’s full-length debut is a nasty, guttural no wave/industrial music wasteland that will take you by the throat and squeeze the life out with no remorse. Also, big ups to these dudes for landing themselves on the soundtrack to the new season of Twin Peaks this year.
Foxygen – Hang
A marvelous return to form for two of psychedelic pop’s brightest sons. Hang has all the charm and then some of their early releases, with strong hooks, bright song structures, hilarious lyrics, and some beautiful arrangements to boot.
SZA – Ctrl
There’s a reason why SZA has been dominating a lot of the music press this year, and it’s simply because she’s amazing. She’s been making waves in her genre of neo-soul/R&B, becoming one of the brightest faces of Top Dawg Entertainment (which is saying a lot), and selling out gigs all over 2017. A star in the making with a damn near impeccable debut record.
Oh Sees – Orc
Oh Sees dropped the “Thee” from their name, but are still making the ever great, badass psych-punk they’re known for on Orc.
Daniele Luppi and Parquet Courts – Milano
Simple Maths: Danielle Luppi + Parquet Courts with an exponent of Karen O = cat nip for Daniel Fiorio’s ears and musical taste.
Lou The Human – Humaniac
For those uninitiated to Lou, I would basically describe him as a white kid from New York who obviously grew up listening to a lot of Eminem, Danny Brown, and Tyler, The Creator, and is without a doubt one of my favorite new voices in hip-hop. Do. Not. Sleep. On. Him.
Gorillaz – Humanz
It’s a new Gorillaz record.
What’s not to like?
What? Are you a communist or a Trump supporter or something?
Tera Melos – Trash Generator
Math rock’s favorite sons come back with more math-y rock goodness that could come from nowhere else but Sacramento, CA.
Tops – Sugar at the Gate
Sugar at the Gate is meticulously constructed, blissed-out dream pop that is irresistible. Tops’ follow-up to their breakthrough from a couple years back, Watching You Staring, is not only a worthy successor to a great record, but an expansion on the ideas and potential they presented before.
Alvvays – Antisocialites
Literally just take everything I said above about Tops’ new record and switch out Tops’s Picture You Staring with Alvvays’ self-titled debut from 2014.
Death From Above – Outrage Is Now!
My go-to, turn-off-your-brain rock band, Death From Above, came through this year with my favorite dumb rock record of the year. It’s got bass, drums, distortion, and songs about being horny and frustrated. Blast it and jump around your house. No shame; I won’t tell anyone.
Dirty Projectors – Dirty Projectors
Dave Longsteth may have lost his band and his girlfriend, but not his knack for writing amazing songs.
Uncommon Nasa – Written At Night
Written At Night is one of the year’s best records in the genre of conscious hip-hop, and comes courtesy of one of the best acts to come around in the genre in recent memory. Written at Night is a record packed with brutal honesty, quick wit, and killer beats.
Fleet Foxes – Crack Up
One of the most anticipated records of the year for me came from one of the most beloved acts of the late 2000s, and it was well worth the wait. Crack Up is an amazing collection of beautifully written indie folk. If possible, it basically seems as though Robin Pecknold and Co. have become even stronger songwriters in their time away, because this record is all at once densely layered and blindingly gorgeous.
LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
Welcome back, old friend.
Wow, 15 albums… now on to 30 more. See you all next week for part 1 of my best of 2017 list (numbers 30-16).
Also, below you can find yourself a playlist with two tracks from every record presented here. Feast your ears on the mix, and hopefully you’ll find some new music!
See ya in a week.
— Dan Fiorio, Music Blogger