THE LIST. The List. Everyone has one, so what’s the point?
This past year, I feel like it’s impossible to not have some kind of ranking for what you’re the biggest nerd about, whether it be films, books, comics, TV, etc. It’s everyone’s chance to sound like a know-it-all critic to your friends who look at you (but will never admit to it) to know what’s the best of the best regarding that specific medium; that whatever that person is gonna say is of the highest caliber regarding something they love and you can tell from that twinkle in their eye as they tell you (I work at a bookstore, so believe me, I can spot that look instantaneously now). This is that list, and I am that nerd.
Without further ado, here is part one of two ranking my favorite records of 2017 (and if you haven’t already, also take a look back at my honorable mentions list featuring another 15 records from this year):
#30 Album: Blanck Mass – World Eater
World Eater is a harsh noise and dance record odyssey by way of vaporwave and IDM musician Benjamin John Power, who’s one half of the U.K. drone duo Fuck Buttons. If you can translate this entire sentence to me i’ll give you a cookie*
#29 Album: Guerilla Toss – GT Ultra
Acid dance funk goodness.
#28 Album: Liars – TFCF
Now just the solo effort of founding member Angus Andrew, TFCF (Theme From Crying Fountain) feels like a solo endeavor in the best possible way, in that it allows Andrew’s songwriting light shine brighter than ever. The eccentric and scattered TFCF exhibits this perfectly.
#27 Album: Joey Bada$$ – All-Amerikkkan Bada$$
Hip-hop’s boy wonder grows up. Instead of rapping about being one of the best rappers in the game right now, Bada$$ takes a poignant stand on current-day America with All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, including topics like Donald Trump, racism, and Black Lives Matter, in the process becoming one of the best rappers around right now.
#26 Album: Xiu Xiu – Forget
Forget may be one of the most engaging and accessible releases from Xiu Xiu’s extensive output, and this latest record is all the better for it. The record is morbid, macabre indie-pop that awes as much as it disturbs.
#25 Album: Princess Nokia – 1992 Deluxe
Princess Nokia hails from the Bronx with Afro-Puerto Rican descent, and on her full-length debut, 1992 Deluxe, she raps over beats that sound like they wouldn’t be out of place on 36 Chambers or Illmatic, containing lyrics such as, “Only read Marvel Comics because the characters look like me/Woman characters aren’t given roles that make them look too sexually.”
#24 Album: Little Dragon – Season High
Season High is literally everything you could want in a Little Dragon album and then some. Filled with sugary hooks, sexy grooves, and a nocturnal dance feel, it becomes their best work since Ritual Union and demands several replays.
#23 Album: Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
Grizzly Bear just aren’t capable of making a bad album. They’ve probably tried to. Hell, maybe this one was their okay-guys-let’s-phone-it-in record, because I know tensions were strained among the band during the recording of Painted Ruins, but nope. Still amazing. Beautiful harmonies and melodies are still there. Grizzly Bear continue to write deeply affecting and transcendent indie anthems. Also, it’s just all amazing too.
#22 Album: Open Mike Eagle – Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
Native Chicagoan and rising underground hip-hop legend Open Mike Eagle returns with a painfully realistic and introspective record about the world at large, one’s self worth, and whether if, at the end of the day, we really have any power to change the ugliness around us. If you were to look up the definition of conscious hip-hop, Brick Body Kids Still Daydream would be what you find.
#21 Album: Protomartyr – Relatives In Descent
It only makes sense that the only rock band to make a protest record this year (or what could be viewed as one) was Protomaryr. The Detroit post-punk band is now four for four with Relatives In Descent, landing them in the “can do no wrong” territory.
#20 Album: Jlin – Black Origami
How do you follow up a record and a status as being one of the best and most vital voices of the footwork genre you helped popularize? Well, if you’re Jlin, you make a record that’s even more bold in it’s experimentation, as well as forward-thinking in it’s production. You will not hear another dance record like this all year, or ever again for that matter; Black Origami is of another world.
#19 Album: Sampha – Process
Your favorite feature of other musician’s songs now has his own record out, and you can love the whole thing, Sampha Sissay’s debut, Process, is phenomenal experimental R&B that has the perfect balance of songs for making love to, or crying alone to.
#18 Album: Aldous Harding – Party
My first exposure to Aldous Harding was seeing her open for Deerhunter last October. Being completely unfamiliar with her prior to the set, I was blown away by her awkward yet earnest as hell style of indie folk that I experienced during her set. I fell even more in love when I heard the record that proceeded, Party. I adore what I’ve been given so far and cannot wait to see where Harding goes from here.
#17 Album: (Sandy) Alex G – Rocket
While Rocket is (Sandy) Alex G’s most scatterbrained record, it’s also his best work to date. It’s a super haunting record that further pushes G’s stylistic limits and really shows the range of his talent and songwriting prowess, as he hops around from hip-hop, country, and indie successfully. And, of course, it’s all presented through his warped, sun-bleached lens.
#16 Album: Mount Kimbie – Love What Survives
Mount Kimbie have always been good at creating soundscape worlds with each of their records. But it’s the dark, visceral Love What Survives that feels the most like them, coming off more like a band rather than a production duo. Through enlisting amazing collaborators, including some that have worked with them previously (King Krule) as well as newcomers (James Blake, Micha Levi), this new project feels nothing like their previous two records. Whereas their last record’s sound was heavily indebted to a jazz-influenced side of dance music, Love What Survives straight up sounds like Kimbie’s own version of post-punk music. It’s anxious, tense, and one of the most captivating records of the year, as well as one I returned to more than most others.
Well, that’s the first half! Come back in seven for the cream of the 2017 musical crop with numbers 15 to the coveted top spot.
Also, are you unfamiliar with all of the music here? Well, stop complaining, dummy, and instead listen to the handy playlist that resides below, containing two songs from each of the albums listed here.
— Dan Fiorio, Music Blogger