Goodbye, 2017. Hello, 2018. We welcome the New Year with all its Resolutions and Things to Come. But, before we turn completely away from the year that’s now passed, let’s have a listen to some of the stellar Albums of 2017.
This list of 30 Albums spans the genres of Post-Modern Rock, Indie Pop, Electro Pop, Dark Wave, Indie Rock, Ambient Pop, Neo-Folk, and Alt-Country. It starts with my most played Artist of 2017, Paul Weller, then on to Laura Marling, who had one of my favorite Songs of the year, and then it’s my most played Album since its release, Liam Gallagher’s As You Were. There’s 27 more to go, and after reading a 3-sentence mini-review of each album you can listen to a Top 30 Albums of 2017 Playlist below, either on Spotify, or YouTube.
Lyriquediscorde’s Top 30 Albums of 2017
1. A Kind Revolution by Paul Weller
2017 was the year I saw Paul Weller live for the first time, it was the year of Weller Wednesday, and of finding the love of my life who re-introduced me to the Mod Father’s Music. Complex and Ever-Changing, much like the man himself, A Kind Revolution offers harmonic hope in a time full of political and social dissent and disagreement. “The Cranes Are Back” (my favorite track on the album) gifts us a promise of recovery and rebuilding, “Woo Sé Mama” makes us want to dance, and his new baby daughter’s namesake, “Nova”, showcases Weller’s ability to cross genres and surprise his listener.
Favorite Tracks: “The Cranes Are Back”, “Nova”, and “Satellite Kid”
2. Semper Femina by Laura Marling
I’ve always been a fan of Laura Marling, and not just because we share a first name. This Album, by far, is Marling at her best, taking her storytelling skills a step further in the development of a Concept Album centered around Women and their friendships with each other. This was a year of change for me as I reevaluated my some of my closest female friendships, also it was one of loss as I let go of toxic friendships for good – I really needed this Album this year.
Favorite Tracks: “Nothing, Not Nearly”, “Wild Fire”, and “Next Time”
3. As You Were by Liam Gallagher
I never imagined a Gallagher would be in my Top 5 of anything, especially not Liam, but then 2017 happened and his Album As You Were came out, and every time I listened to it I loved it more. Also, a surprise to me is that I prefer As You Were to Noel’s new High Flying Birds release (it didn’t even make this list). Age has changed Liam, or maybe age has changed my perspective, either way, I can’t seem to get enough of this one, the tracks range from melodic to rock with a Britpop sheen, and lyrically (despite some criticism I’ve read) the songs are feel honest and humble (surprisingly), and “read” like a life-so-far biography; I do so wish I’d gotten to see him play live at The Wiltern this year.
Favorite Tracks: “Paper Crown”, “For What It’s Worth”, and “Greedy Soul”
by St. Vincent
I was slow to the table where St. Vincent was concerned, even though so many of my fellow Music Obsessives raved about Annie Clark/St. Vincent, and then Masseducation came out. More electro-clash/indie pop than her off-beat guitar heavy predecessors, this Album convinced me of Annie’s genius and explained why she is often referred to as the “Female Bowie”. The storytelling is out of this world, unfolding as if the skin has been peeled back to show raw true feelings, both joyful and full of pain.
Favorite Tracks: “New York”, “Hang On Me”, and “Los Ageless”
5. Self-Titled by Cigarettes After Sex
Ever since a Fellow Blogger and Friend introduced me to Greg Gonzalez’ Brooklyn Sonic-deliciousness, Cigarettes After Sex, I’ve been longing for more. This Album was deliriously anticipated and did not disappoint one bit. Greg had me at Track One (“k”), and never let go, inhaling and exhaling Ambient Indie Pop that is highly addictive, seductive, and impossible to quit.
Favorite Tracks: “K.”, “Truly”, and “Apocalypse”
6. Self-Titled by Slowdive
Shoegaze meets Dream Pop meets Ambient Pop, with a little bit of Dark Wave thrown in, is what this unexpected new Album (first release in 22 years) from Slowdive is made of. The Songs’ gorgeous distortion and ethereal sounds transcends the “reunion curse” that plagues many beloved bands who come back together and subsequently release Music that disappoints – but not this time Honestly, Slowdive sounds better on this Album than on any of their past creations, and with each new listen, this Album affixes itself more to my Music-Obsessing heart.
Favorite: “Star Roving”, “Don’t Know Why”, and “No Longer Making Time”
7. No Shape by Perfume Genius
Mike Hadreas’ magical creation of Perfume Genius feels like a Sonic merge of 70’s Disco, Early New Wave, and Alternative Pop – think Blondie meets Shirley Manson meets St. Vincent, with Andy Bell sewing them all up and producing them into one sound. I have been a fan of Hadreas since I first heard his Song “Queen” on the First Season of the TV Series Mr. Robot, and have not stopped listening to Perfume Genius since. This New Album is everything I wanted and more, bringing together so many of the Musical genres I love, all finely tuned into story-told Songs that sound magical and mystical, and, at times, a little alien.
Favorite Tracks: “Slip Away”, “Just Like Love”, and “Die 4 You”
8. Silver Eye by Goldfrapp
I was slightly disappointed with this album when I first listened and reviewed it, but after months of picking it up, spinning it, and selecting Songs from it for Playlists, my initial qualms have dissipated and disappeared. Butch Vig/Garbage/Shirley Manson still come heavily to my mind when I listen, especially to the song “Ocean”, and “Become the One” and “Anymore” take me into a synthetic state of bliss which makes me want to dance. This is one of those Albums that just gets better with each listen.
Favorite Tracks: “Ocean”, “Everything Is Never Enough”, and “Become the One”
9. Pussycat by Juliana Hatfield
Juliana is one of my all-time favorite songwriters, an Artist I discovered back in the late 80’s/early 90’s when she was part of Blake Babies, and have loved ever since. At times the Songs on Pussycat are confessional and slightly self-deprecating, a songwriting style she’s carried with her, but at other times there is an anger and outrage to the world around, and people in power, especially predatory men. Even in her angriest moments though she still keeps her signature sound of a jangly guitar and vulnerable vocals intact, making every moment – even the angry ones – play out sincere, melodic, and beautiful.
Favorite Tracks: “I Wanna Be Your Disease”, “You’re Breaking My Heart”, and “Good Enough for Me”
10. Losing by Bully
The 90’s feel like they returned with Losing, and Bully (Alicia Bognanno) reminds me of a cross between Sonic Youth, Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr., and Riot Grrl bands. That said, lyrically the Album is 100% now. Bognanno’s Chicago roots, and relocated Nashville now, add a quality to the Songs overall that is unique, adding Pop melody sensibilities to a Punk-meets-Grunge attitude.
Favorite Tracks: “Kills To Be Resistant”, “Blame”, and “You Could Be Wrong”
11. Sleep Well Beast by The National
in 2016, The National ruled my world, their Songs reflecting so many of the inner conflicts, confusion, and roller-coaster whip of emotion I was experiencing. In 2017, with Sleep Well Beast, I held some distance, partially because of the way my life had changed, and partially because I wasn’t bleeding feelings anymore. But, as one of the Tracks on this Album Sings, “I’ll Still Destroy You”, and The National still does, in the very best of ways.
Favorite Tracks: “Born to Beg”, “I’ll Still Destroy You”, and “Nobody Else Will Be There”
12. Visions Of a Life by Wolf Alice
Sophomore Albums are hard, disappointment is almost always the pitfall that a Band falls into, especially if, like Wolf Alice, their debut is a hit. I feel like Ellie Rowsell and Wolf Alice know it and played with it a bit, especially with Loud and Angry “Yuk Foo” (with the repeated lyrics “I don’t give a shit”) – I almost wish they had opened with this Track. Other Songs, such as “Beautifully Unconventional”, harken a Brit Pop meets Indie Rock sound, think Jack White circa White Stripes getting it on with Ian Brown of the Stone Roses. Visions of a Life feels like Dream Pop meets Grunge (back to that 90’s influence again), with an underlying bite, lyrically, and in Rowsell’s vocals – compelling stuff.
Favorite Tracks: “Planet Hunter”, “Heavenward”, and “Yuk Foo”
13. The Other Side Of You by Aimee Lay
Aimee Lay’s Album, The Other Side Of You is the last Album that I got Music-Obsessed with, in 2017, last, but not at all least, as I fell hard and fast for it at first listen. Reminiscent of Hope Sandoval and Mazzy Star, also Isabel Monteiro, and her Band Drugstore. Dream-Pop meets Indie-Pop meets Shoegaze-distortion doused with sprinkles of Garage on top of it all. Aimee’s voice is stunning, mysterious, and cinematic, turn up songs like “Heavy Clue After Clue” and can’t you see scenes from a film in your head (think desert, late at night, indie thriller).
Favorite Tracks: “Cosmic Exchange”, “Heavy Clue After Clue”, and “Psychedelic Morning”
14. don’t smile at me by Billie Eilish
The last time a legitimate teenager wrote and sang about the teenage experience in a raw and realistic kind of way was Lorde and her Debut Album. Billie Eilish, along with 19-year-old brother Finneas O’Connell, wrote and produced don’t smile at me, which is the Music equivalent to the 90’s short-lived TV Series, My So-Called Life, in regards to real, sometimes painfully so, look at teenagers and teenage life. The Tracks on this EP cross-genres between R&B, Jazz, Big Band/40’s (See “my boy”), and Indie Pop, all weaved together with an electronic buzz and whir. At times the Songs are dark lyrically, especially “bellyache”, at other times they are empowering and strong; all are sung with Billie’s gorgeous voice, full of range, warmth, and unique tone.
Favorite Tracks: “bellyache”, “COPYCAT”, and “idontwannabeyouanymore”
15. Mental Illness by Aimee Mann
Mental Illness is the kind of Aimee Mann Album that I love, a stitched together set of Sung short stories that unfold like an anthology of cinematic tales, similar to her earlier Albums, Lost in Space and The Forgotten Arm. This collection is set in Los Angeles, set in the city of so many cracked souls and broken lives who mostly keep their eyes pointed up to the sky, still believing there’s something more. After my first listen, once I got to the last Song, I wanted more of the story.
Favorite Tracks: “You Never Loved Me”, “Lies of Summer”, and “Patient Zero”
16. Out In the Storm by Waxahatchee
Katie Crutchfield’s (Waxahatchee) fourth Album is my favorite Album. A manic-panic urgency in this “break-up” Album that gets better and better with each and every listen. The introspection and “extraspection” (think emotional meet-ups between your introverted self and your extraverted self – or maybe that’s just me), this Album will have you singing-a-long loudly while you sort your issues out.
Favorite Tracks: “Sparks Fly”, “A Little More”, and “Never Been Wrong”
17. Everything Now by Arcade Fire
Oh my stars, this Album is a grower, one of those sets of Songs that at first fall slightly unnoticed, lingering, and singing, just out of reach. But, then I kept playing it and playing it more, and then it hit me like a semi-truck on an all-night drive through the desert, with a driver that is falling asleep – in a good way. The Album has not been well-received, it seems, but perhaps they just haven’t listened enough; after 5 listens Everything Now stole my heart (and ears).
Favorite Songs: “Creature Comfort”, “Everything Now”, and “Electric Blue”
18. Humanz by Gorillaz – Deluxe
This was one of a few “grower” Albums on my list of 30 Albums. It took about a half a dozen listens before Humanz started to sink in and stick with me, though there were a few first-listen-favorites that had me enthralled (see “Charger, with the fabulous Grace Jones, and “Andromeda”). I keep coming back to this Album feeling like a giant Mix Tape of Sound and Style that lift and fall in a way that just works, also, Humanz is best played loud.
Favorite Songs: “Charger” (featuring Grace Jones), “Andromeda” (featuring D.R.A.M.), and “Strobelite” (featuring Peven Everett)
19. English Tapes by Sleaford Mods
In April my boyfriend and I went to see Sleaford Mods at the Echoplex, and we were both blown away. The Album quickly became a favorite, and one I played often in the car, especially when in the throes of Los Angeles traffic. Jason Williamson’s vocal stylings, which are like a brilliant mash-up of spoken word, slam poetry, and rap, blow me away, both on this Album, and live (if you get the chance, go see them live).
Favorite Songs: “B.H.S”., “Moptop”, and “Carlton Touts
20. Savage (Songs from a Broken World) by Gary Numan
I had no idea what to expect from a new Gary Numan Album, especially since I’d not listened to his Music since his late 70’s brilliant New Wave Release, The Pleasure Principle (I have a lot of Albums to catch up on). Savage is a Post-Modern New Wave-Industrial thing of Sonic Beauty, full of passion, emotion, evocative storytelling, darkwave sensibilities, and an underlying beat you can dance to. This is the unexpected, underrated, surprise of the year, and this list.
Favorite Songs: “Bed of Thorns”, “The End of Things”, and “Broken”
21. Damage and Joy by The Jesus And Mary Chain
Damage and Joy was one of my most anticipated New Albums of the year, and despite some trepidation (high anticipation can lead to disappointment and regret), the Album turned out to be everything I was hoping for, starting strong with a Song that reminds me of a mix of The Dandy Warhol’s’ hit “Bohemian Like You” and Love And Rockets’ “So Alive”. Brothers Jim and William Reid were quoted as saying they “buried the hatchet” this past year, and the brilliance of this Album is proof of that. There are so many favorite Tracks on here – see “All Things Pass” and especially the electronically-fused”Simian Split” without losing their quintessential sonic sound (see the Darklands’ sounding “War On Peace”). Track 7, “Los Feliz (Blues and Greens)” is by far my favorite, the nod to Los Angeles, the layers of sound, and the lyrical story told within.
Favorite Songs: “Los Feliz (Blues and Greens)”, “Song for a Secret, “Amputation”, and “All Things Pass”
22. Melodrama by Lorde
It felt like years between Albums for Lorde, and I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of Melodrama, drinking in the Pre-Album Singles as they came out, anticipating more and more. Lorde beat that so-called “Sophomore Slump”, with an Album of Songs that showed how she has grown as an Artist, and as an individual. I love the more “grown-up” Lyrics, the reminders of Kate Bush, Florence Welch, and at times, Madonna and Robyn – Melodramatic Dance Music with an Edge, that’s what this Album has felt like to me from the very first listen.
Favorite Songs: “Sober”, “Green Light”, and “Writer in the Dark”
23. Prisoner by Ryan Adams
The first Ryan Adams Album that I did not immediately fall head-over-heels for, Prisoner is still one of my favorites of the year, and a definite “grower” to me. The Songs feel denser than previous Ryan songs, sonically complex, but with a lyrical distance that I’m not used to with his music. That said, with time and with some leaning in, and repeat listens, the Songs and the Storytelling made their way in. “To Be Without You” is the most immediately accessible of the bunch, but the others are a bit more hard to get, though I do believe they are worth the time, the re-listens, and the “throw the album on, get in the car, and drive” effort taken to get this album under my skin.
Favorite Songs: “Do You Still Love Me?”, “To Be Without You”, and “Shiver and Shake”
24. 6 Feet Beneath the Moon by King Krule
I feel like King Krule is an Artist I kept hearing about, so much so that I swore I’d heard the Rap/Jazz Fusion/Punk Archy Ivan Marshall before. But, I hadn’t, not until the end of the year when the Song “Easy Easy” got played repeatedly in my car (part of a Playlist my teenage daughter made and played more-than-often). I dove in deeper and started to play 6 Feet Beneath the Moon in its entirety, more-than-often, in my car. wowed by the dynamics and style-shifts of this young (age 23) Artist/Producer.
Favorite Songs: “Easy Easy”, “Baby Blue”, and “A Lizard State”
25. Apricot Princess by Rex Orange County
Another Artist that my daughter introduced to me, in the car, as part of one of her Playlists, Alex O’Connor (a.k.a. Rex Orange County) is a Poetic Songwriter who weaves stories that make you feel like you are right there, in his day-to-day, living life, merging R&B and Contemporary Jazz with Indie Electronica. Alex is from Haslemere, a suburb in the southern county of Surrey, and went to the BRIT School at sixteen, where he began writing music. Calling himself Rex Orange County threw me off, at first, as “Orange County” is where I grew up – also a suburb, but even though he’s from nowhere near there, I feel like I’ve been where he did start from, because Lyrically these Songs are like seeing the world through his eyes.
Favorite Songs: “4 Seasons”, “Happiness”, and “Never Enough”
26. Kill For Love by Chromatics
The more I listen the more I love Kill For Love, and the more I feel lost in it, the kind of swirling in sound kind of lost, the kind of lost that stories are created in, and mysteries become clear in. Some of the Tracks on here send chills throughout my body, and tears to my eyes (see: “Into the Black), and others make me want to wander into the Double R Diner in “Twin Peaks”, or take a road trip with Sailor and Lula in Wild At Heart (I was so glad when Lynch used the Chromatics in his new installment of “Twin Peaks”). Darkwave meets Shoegaze at its best here – doesn’t it make you want to swing and sway?
Favorite Songs: “Into the Black”, “Kill For Love” and “These Streets Will Never Look the Same”
27. A Deeper Understanding by The War On Drugs
I keep waiting to open my eyes and find myself in the midst of a movie when I listen to “Strangest Things”, closing my eyes and letting this cinematic collection of Songs take me in. There is something so perfect here, every sound in its right place, and lyric a page-turning, every note played with intent – and yet, the “perfection” does not take away the raw and real feeling of Adam Granduciel’s (a.k.a.) The War On Drugs fourth release emanates. If you listen close the song-told-stories that unravel are mostly about loss and longing, but there is such warmth and honesty in the Music I just feel wrapped up in it – blissfully.
Favorite Songs: “Strangest Thing”, “In Chains”, and “You Don’t Have to Go”
28. Self-Titled by Harry Styles
No, I was never a fan of One Direction, but that did not matter when it came to giving Harry Styles (former member of One Direction) solo work a spin, with an open mind, and open ears. First and foremost, I was taken back by songwriting and storytelling, especially on songs like “Sign of the Times” and “Ever Since New York”, and the Seventies Folk-Pop style (think solo Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Harry Nilsson) that is underlying in many of the Album’s Tracks. Though I prefer the more “ballady” of Tracks, there are some high energy, dance-with-an-edge Songs, too, that will probably make their way onto my 2018 workout Playlist.
Favorite Songs: “Ever Since New York”, “Sign of the Times”, and “From the Dining Table”
29. Dropped Again by Brick + Mortar
Another Band/Album discovered via my daughter, who saw Brick + Mortar as an opening band at a show in San Diego. Brick + Mortar have been spreading more than Music, they also believe in spreading messages of empathy, positivity, and self-motivation (they popped balloons of “good feelings” at the show my daughter discovered them at; she came home with “find a lizard” from the good feelings balloons). Dropped Again is a collection of mostly previously recorded Songs, released now after Brick + Mortar acquired ownership of the songs Masters, with two new Songs added to the mix.
Favorites Songs: “A Hollow Tune”, “Move to the Ocean”, and “Staying Gold”
30. Sugar at the Gate by TOPS
TOPS and their album Sugar at the Gate are categorized as “Indie Electronic”, though I think this Album transcends the label, adding in Dream Pop, Indie Jazz, Indie Pop, and straight-forward Pop into the mix weaved together by their Electronic style. This Album is so catchy, sometimes reminiscent of 60’s Girl Groups, sometimes channeling 90’s Alternative Music such as Sonic Youth and The Breeders, and then at other times still it is Indie Pop babies such as Beach House, Camera Obscura, Best Coast, and Ariel Pink. To me, this was the Album that most felt like Summer this year.
Favorite Songs: “Marigold & Gray”, “Petals”, and “Dayglow Bimbo”