2017 :: TOP ALBUMS – 30 THROUGH 02


In a year when it seems like the safety of the free world could rest on a single tweet, a mere 140 characters, I thought there could be no better writing theme for this list this year than that. Each review (except for the top spots) are limited to the length of a tweet. I have tried to capture the essence and strengths of each album in that format. I think it actually worked surprisingly well. Enjoy!

30

The Magnetic Fields

50 SONG MEMOIR

50 songs of garden-fresh musical exploration. 50 songs of sardonically droll observation. One man’s autobiographical remembrance.

. . . . . .

29

Kelela

TAKE ME APART

Kelela grinds her way through 14 sexy, heady songs that marry Bjork and Janet to create something holistically new and totally refreshing.

. . . . . .

28

Julie Byrne

NOT EVEN HAPPINESS

This album is a potent metaphysical balm. Its sparse organic beauty conveys a sense of simple, fleeting elegance. Nick Drake would be proud.

. . . . . .

27

Milo

WHO TOLD YOU TO THINK??!!?!?!?!

Packed with complex ideas, hard-hitting beats and evocative instrumentation, this is a thinking man’s flag-raising for true hip hop. Real.

. . . . . .

26

Thundercat

DRUNK

This is “Cucko for Cocoa Puffs” RnB. Or spaced-out soul? Post-fusion jazz, maybe? Gonzo yacht? Alt? However you slice it, it’s all good.

. . . . . .

25

Priests

NOTHING FEELS NATURAL

“Nothing” is cocksure DC surf punk that bludgeons complacency with no quarter. Howling, seething, acute.

. . . . . .

24

Chalotte Gainsbourg

REST

Dark, personal, grief-laden and cinematic, Gainsbourg gives us pop at its most artistic on “Rest.”

. . . . . .

23

Run the Jewels

RUN THE JEWELS 3

“3” stands as an avengers’ angry polemic, punctuated by urgent beats and razor-sharp production. This is an act of bona fide rap resistance.

. . . . . .

22

Broken Social Scene

HUG OF THUNDER

In a society awash in uncertainty and hypocrisy, “Hug of Thunder” stands as an assertion, an emotional fist in the air. It’s going to be OK.

. . . . . .

21

Mount Eerie

A CROW LOOKED AT ME

Cancer took Phil Elverum’s wife last year. “Crow” explores her memory, death and his life after. Personal doesn’t describe it. Harrowing.

. . . . . .

20

Girlpool

POWERPLANT

“Powerplant” fuses strains of Pinback, Pavement and Throwing Muses to create an album at once very fresh yet still comfortingly familiar.

. . . . . .

19

Andy Shauf

THE PARTY

Like a lost classic from the great songwriters of the 70s, “The Party” paints a gallery of portraits, robustly rendered and richly realized.

. . . . . .

18

The Weather Station

THE WEATHER STATION

Tamara Lindeman gives us crystal clear, honest, muscular songwriting that would make Carole King sit up and listen.

. . . . . .

17

Big Thief

CAPACITY

Winding melody leads us through 11 examples of folk rock at its most ferociously personal and viciously winsome.

. . . . . .

16

Moses Sumney

AROMANTICISM

Sumney floats and croons his way through 11 glittering meditations on modern love and isolation. Cosmic beauty in a disposable world.

. . . . . .

15

Brand New

SCIENCE FICTION

An album both majestically monumental and gnashingly intimate, “Science Fiction” is Brand New’s brilliant crown of indie rock sovereignty.

. . . . . .

14

Valerie June

THE ORDER OF TIME

A royal, regal march through rootsy, dusty places of the heart, “Order” defines a new authenticity, replete with honest expression.

. . . . . .

13

John Moreland

BIG BAD LUV

The musings of a true American troubadour with a heart of crumbling asphalt and a soul of sweet honeysuckle on a cool summer’s night.

. . . . . .

12

Jay Som

EVERYBODY WORKS

Songs of personal revelation, brilliant production and undeniable hooks add up to fuzzy pop gold on the genre-bending “Everybody Works.”

. . . . . .

11

The XX

I SEE YOU

Both expansive and intimate, minimal and lush, “I See You” is a commanding release of rare equilibrium. Emotional electronic perfection.

. . . . . .

10

Jamiroquai

AUTOMATON

“Automaton” arrives to remind us that Jamiroquai are kings of their rare blend. Jazz, disco and funk swirl into a sweet, muscular melange.

. . . . . .

09

Kamasi Washington

HARMONY OF DIFFERENCE

Like a lost companion piece to Oliver Nelson’s 1961 hard bop classic “Blues and the Abstract Truth,” “Harmony” is a new jazz masterwork.

. . . . . .

08

Julien Baker

TURN OUT THE LIGHTS

This is an act of cathartic communion. Baker delivers devastating, sparse, intimate hymns that wrestle with faith, vulnerability and hope.

. . . . . .

07

Perfume Genius

NO SHAPE

“No Shape” stands apart as a new kind of protest album, bathing the listener in power, transcendence and above all, a unique baroque beauty.

. . . . . .

06

Queens of the Stone Age

VILLAINS

Mark Ronson joins the party and the Queens end up in bed with Bowie and Iggy snarling somewhere in Berlin. Hooky, glammy, groovy AF.

. . . . . .

05

Esmerine

MECHANICS OF DOMINION

Carefully crafted neu-chamber music. “Mechanics” walks the line between subtlety and squall, march and creep. Masterful, emotional, vivid.

. . . . . .

04

Slowdive

SLOWDIVE

Like plunging headlong into life-giving waters after wandering in a shoegaze wasteland for 22 long years. This. Is. Simply. Beautiful.

. . . . . .

03

Ibeyi

ASH

Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díaz create a triumphant meditation on spirituality, divinity, identity and civil rights. Fierce, radiant, forceful.

. . . . . .

02

LCD Soundsystem

AMERICAN DREAM

Reunions are rarely this perfect… Never this transparent. Murphy updates a “Remain in Light” vibe to find a brilliant, poignant maturity.

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