1. Alex Cameron-Forced Witness(Secretly Canadian)
Genre: Synthpop, New Wave, Sophisti-Pop, Heartland Rock
Using a backdrop of cheesy 80s inspired music Alex brought in a lyrical theme of creating a character that is so misogynistic, so perverted and so vile that it's hard to turn away. Much like a horrible accident you can't turn away from Alex dives deep into creepy internet stalking, pedophilia, sexual assault, homophobia, male insecurity and a deep rooted fear of getting found out for being all of these things which ends up creating a rich social commentary on all things disgusting people do. This album was perfect for this year of shifting social constructs and the exposure of all the deplorable things we all knew existed but were afraid to shed a light on until now. A perfect album for 2017 and a perfect album for the sea change that is currently happening.
2. Stabscotch-Uncanny Valley(Visual Disturbances)
Genre: Experimental Rock, Noise Rock, Avant Prog, Post-Hardcore, Brutal Prog, Avant Garde Metal
This was by far the most extreme, brutal, noisy and fucked up album on this list. There are so many twists and turns on this noise rock masterpiece it's hard to even remember it all. Every passage is a highlight. This album reflected every negative emotion I experienced in 2017 and did so in such a positive cathartic way that it comes out the other end almost as a healing tool in these awful times. If you are feeling bummed and can stand some tough love give this album a spin!
3. Wavves-You're Welcome(Ghost Ramp)
Genre: Indie Rock, Garage Rock, Pop Punk
Hands down the BEST indie rock album of the year. Literally every single song on this is great. Didn't ever have the desire to skip a track every single time I listened it it. Every song is catchy and unique in it's own way. There are dubby parts, old timey 50s parts, skate punk parts, noise pop parts. This thing was everything good about indie rock smashed together to make one hell of an album. I am SHOCKED that critics didn't get behind this one.
4. Mount Eerie-A Crow Looked At Me(P.W. Elverum & Sun, LTD)
Genre: Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk, Contemporary Folk, Slowcore
This is the saddest album on this list. This album made me cry a few times. This album perfectly encapsulates the fear of losing someone by listening to someone brutally and closely examine losing someone through the medium of minimal folk. Phil Elverum lost his wife last year to cancer and this album chronicles that loss in extremely personal ways and astute observations about the smallest things that remind him of her. This album wrenches empathy out of the listener and takes you basically inside his house to show you all the things his dead wife left behind, both physically and mentally. Not for the faint of heart.
5. Jlin-Black Origami(Planet Mu)
Genre: Footwork, IDM, Afro-House, Post Industrial
By far the best use of percussion samples of the year and possibly the last decade. She knows her way around all forms of percussion and uses that talent to great effect by incorporating African chanting samples and all manner of eastern tunings. This album was exciting and fresh and you couldn't predict the next sound around the corner if your life depended on it. The best electronic album of the year hands down!
6. Jesca Hoop-Memories Are Now(Sub Pop)
Genre: Indie Folk, Singer/Songwriter, Art Pop, Folk Pop
The best Indie Folk record of the year, the best female singer/songwriter album of the year. I couldn't get any of these songs out of my head this year. Every song was like a sledgehammer of excellence. Whether the song is a standout for lyrics or instrumentation or arrangement or all three, this album was hands down a masterpiece. I mean when you have the great Fiona Apple on your album and all she does is play harmonica it says something about the singular voice driving the ship and you better get on board with Jessca or get the hell out of the way.
7. Pissed Jeans-Why Love Now?(Sub Pop)
Genre: Noise Rock, Post-Hardcore, Punk Rock
More of the same socially conscious/destructive noisy punk rock from these white collar businessmen. This time around they got Lydia Lunch to produce and they ended up getting one of their best sounding records to date. Much in the same way the Alex Cameron album on this list deconstructs the shitty male psyche this one does the same by examining how easy it is to be a good male in this horrid male society. It examines the dirty lame fetishes some people have and turns a mirror onto those that have them. It makes fun of people for crying over needless things. The best track might be when they give feminist author Lindsay Hunter(Author of "Ugly Girls") the microphone and deliver one of the most scathing monologues I have ever heard.
8. Ariel Pink-Dedicated To Bobby Jameson(Mexican Summer)
Genre: Hypnagogic Pop, Psychedelic Pop, New Wave
The pre-release press about this album made me very weary. The press made it sound incredibly boring and that this was "the most honest lyrically he has ever been". This turned out to not be the case. Instead the weird songs on this album are even weirder and the normal songs are just extremely well constructed indie pop songs. This brings out the best in both sides of Ariel's songwriting and in some ways, in terms of maturity, this one is even better than Pom Pom(his last album).
9. The Garden-U Want The Scoop?(Epitaph/Burger)
Genre: Post-Punk, Experimental Rock, Experimental Hip Hop, Synth Punk
These guys continue to get weirder and weirder. They continue their slight flirtation with Hip Hop to great effect. The lyrics are extremely weird and hilarious. The song about dealing with getting traffic tickets(Have A Good Day Sir) is exceptional in the lyrical department. These guys make post-punk in their own weird little world and we are all better for it. To me these guys are carrying the same torch that Ween carried in the 90s.
Genre: Post-Punk, Post-Hardcore, Noise Rock, Hardcore Punk
Equal parts funny, angry, socio-political and catchy as all hell. If there ever was an heir to the Mclusky throne, these guys have the position. Filtering biting lyrics through the catchiest noise rock you'll ever hear proved to be a great tactic in creating one of the best albums of the year and possibly the best debut album put out by a new artist this year.
11. Los Angeles Police Department-Self Titled(Anti-)
Genre: Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Singer/Songwriter
This is a wonderful slightly symphonic indie pop record. Reminds me a lot of The Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev at the end of the 90s. Not much to say about this one other than it's the best indie pop album of the year.
12. Mutoid Man-War Moans(Sargent House)
Genre: Stoner Metal, Stoner Rock, Post-Hardcore, Sludge Metal
One of the craziest, funniest and all out intense metal/hard rock records of the year. This album sounds like Maynard from Tool fronting a way more metal influenced Queens Of The Stone Age. One thing to note about this record is no matter how intense and crazy it gets, the songwriters always kept their ear on melody and because of this made a standout metal record in 2017.
13. Quelle Chris-Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often(Mello Music Group)
Genre: Abstract Hip Hop, Jazz Rap, Experimental Hip Hop, Hardcore Hip Hop
My favorite Hip Hop album of the year. In a lot of ways Quelle borrowed Madlib's production style both from Madvillain and Quasimoto then slowed it all down and made an extremely forward thinking album. The rapping is very slow and unconventional, the beats are all narcoleptic and tripped out and this is what I wanted from Hip Hop in 2017. Something with thought, something interesting and something borrowed that ends up sounding completely original in the hands of Quelle.
14. Sequoyah Tiger-Parabolabandit(Morr Music)
Genre: Electronic Pop, Indie Pop, Experimental Pop, Progressive Pop
Is this the best pop album of 2017? Why yes it is! This Italian pop musician took the poppiest aspects of someone like Animal Collective and then dropped her assertive voice and creative melodies all over it to create one of the most interesting, innovative, yet easy to listen to albums of the year.
15. Red Axes-The Beach Goths(Garzen)
Genre: Post-Punk, Electronic
A veritable hodge-podge of influences and sounds. When people say "they used everything and the kitchen sink" about music, well this would be the perfect definition to show someone how that saying plays out. This is two guys who run an Australian record label recruiting a few friends and using their vast musical knowledge to carve out something that lands somewhere in between synthetic and organic. Electronic, experimental and rock all thrown in to create something very unorthodox yet completely catchy.
16. Dizzee Rascal-Raskit(Dirtee Stank/Island)
Genre: UK Hip Hop, Grime, Trap Rap
Oh my god the great rapper has returned! After a slew of awful chart topping pop rap albums that went straight to number 1 in England(and nowhere else) Dizzee stopped fucking around and managed to deliver a proper follow-up to Maths and English(that album was starting to show his pop aspirations). This is classic Dizzee with a bit of an update to modern production(do I unfortunately hear trap beats?). Even with some modern flourishes this album still ends up as one of the best Hip Hop albums of the year and a fine return to form for Dizzee himself. Let's just hope he stays in this direction.
17. Sondre Lerche-Pleasure(House Of Hassle)
Genre: Indietronica, Indie Pop, Neo Psychedelia
This sounds messy. It sounds dirty. It sounds frustrated and angry. Yet, this album is also firmly rooted in the sounds of the 80s. So, despite all its ugliness this thing is actually very catchy and fun. I really enjoyed the blown out sounds of a lot of the production on this one. I also really enjoyed how he played with smashing together electronic beats with analog instruments to create this beast. Apparently this album is a continuation of his breakup/divorce from his last album. It doesn't sound like he has cooled down at all from it and a lot of the lyrics are cynical and in parts downright nasty. This is not a negative, this is actually a huge positive which provides an excellent juxtaposition to the music swirling around the narrator.
18. Once And Future Band-Self Titled(Castle Face)
Genre: Neo Psychedelia, Progressive Rock, Progressive Pop, Smooth Jazz
At first completely cheesy, then completely intriguing and finally after a little while ridiculously addicting. This is a bunch of guys from Oakland who had been in a bunch of well respected bay area bands coming together to create a weird proggy/poppy somewhat Nilsson and Beatles and ELO influenced Pop Rock band. The lyrics and singing are always top notch with a wide range of both lyrical content and vocal acrobatics. The instrumentation is knotty and twisted but always with an ear toward melody. This, along with the new OCS record were the two oddest, yet musically successful albums that the label Castle Face put out this year.
19. Soulwax-From Deewee(PIAS)
Genre: Synthpop, Progressive Electronic
What happens when you get two of the catchiest electronic producers collaborating with the drummers of Sepultura, Turbowolf and The Big Pink? You get this ear worm of a record. Each track is like a dayglo version of early LFO(the Warp techno group not the boy band) where the drum programming is instead live drums or samples of live drums that consistently snap and crack in your face to create what is possibly the best dance album of 2017.
20. Neil Cicierega-Mouth Moods(Self Released)
Genre: Mashup, Pop, Musical Comedy, Novelty, Dance Pop, Satire
The king of Mashup returns and this time he gets even weirder. Want a weird Mashup of "Dear Prudence" the intro to the show "Dinosaurs" and Was(Not) Was's "Walk The Dinosaur"? Or how bout a mashup of Korn, Disturbed, a Larry King interview of Tim Allen, The theme to "Home Improvement", MIA, The Simpsons, Annie Lennox and Mungo Jerry? What about a weird ambient track of an echoed out Eminem continuously stating "HI! WHO? MY NAME IS! SLIIIIIIIIIIIM SHAAAAAAAAAAADY"? Does all that weirdness sound appealing to you? Well if so go to his site and download that shit for free. This album is so illegal in it's sampling it has to be given away to avoid about 100 lawsuits.
21. Benjamin Clementine-I Tell A Fly(Behind)
Genre: Art Pop, Progressive Pop, Baroque Pop, Chamber Jazz
A nice surprise for me. I hated his debut album. Sounded like a boring Nina Simone playing the shittiest children's classical piano recital. This though, this was an abrupt about face. This is like Nina Simone on acid mixed with flashes of something sort of like Tom Waits. This is that same piano recital if the refreshments were spiked with LSD. The originality of this album is staggering. It is a hard listen and a lot of people might be put off by it but I think it's a true work of art.
22. BNQT-Volume 1(Dualtone)
Genre: Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Neo Psychedelia
A wonderful supergroup consisting of members of Midlake, Band Of Horses, Grandaddy, Travis and Franz Ferdinand. This has a lot in common with The Travelling Wilburys so you are going to get a lot of fun rock n roll with not a whole lot of extra frills around the edges. This was the best outdoor BBQ album of 2017 by a longshot.
23. Meatbodies-Alice(In The Red)
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Garage Rock, Heavy Psych, Stoner Rock
I kind of viewed this album as the weirdo cousin to the Wavves album higher up on this list. Or I might compare it to an album that T.Rex might have made in 2017 had he not died. This is garage rock that really stretches beyond the garage. Their are little glimpses of stoner metal(Black Sabbath), Glam Rock(T.Rex, Bowie, Sparks) and Prog(King Crimson, Gentle Giant). This one is not to be missed.
Genre: Experimental Rock, Electronic, Post Industrial, Synth Punk
So Liars went from a 3 piece to a 2 piece and now it's just a solo venture for their frontman, Angus Andrew. Apparently he moved away from the US back to his homeland of Australia because of Trump(Don't blame him). He ended up creating one of the weirdest and most insular of all the Liars albums. He mostly abandoned the cold darkwave of the second to last one and instead embraced weirdo electronics to back his tiny(most under 3 minutes) nuggets of odd pop. This sounds like a really good Beck album if Beck happened to take a lot of downers. The lyrics are either totally obscure or slight twists on social issues. This is a nice return to form for Liars and I hope that he continues in the vein.
25. Mario Batkovic-Self Titled(Invada)
A beautiful piece of ambient manipulated accordian. Very peaceful yet also very engaging. Not a whole lot to say about this besides turn off all the lights and let this album wash over you.
26. A Giant Dog-Toy(Merge)
Genre: Garage Rock, Alternative Rock, Indie Rock
Amazing collection of classic rock inspired indie rock songs. Just imagine if Arcade Fire was influenced by ZZ Top, Thin Lizzy and Big Star and you might get close to the racket these guys produce.
27. The Regrettes-Feel Your Feelings Fool!(Warner Bros.)
Genre: Garage Rock, Indie Rock, Punk Rock, Power Pop
Some people found this band annoying but I consider this album one of the most criminally underrated albums to come out in a long time, not to mention a near perfect debut album. Some people complained that the production wasn't punky enough but I felt it set this band apart from the rest of the punk drivel by having that very production. The recording sounds fresh and crisp and new and it matches the doo-wop influenced riot grrl inspired pop punk inside.
28. Curtis Harding-Face Your Fear(Anti-)
Genre: Soul, Psychedelic Soul
Hands down the best soul album of 2017. It's the best because it stayed true to the classic conventions of 60s and 70s soul while adding just enough of a modern flavor to it to not be considered rehash.
29. Igorrr-Savage Sinuoid(Metal Blade)
Genre: Breakcore, Avant Garde Metal, Experimental, Baroque Music
I am going to come out and say this is the weirdest album on this list. Essentially this is a solo musician mashing up Metal, French accordian music(think Amelie soundtrack), Gypsy Punk, Break Beats and Baroque classical music. He takes these disparate elements and combines them in ways you can't even imagine. This one must be listened to. Words can't really describe how nuts this is. Give it a spin but I do have to warn you, you might hate it. But, you also might love it like I did.
30. Pokey LaFarge-Manic Revelations(Rounder)
Genre: New Orleans R&B, Jump Blues, Vaudeville Blues
Excellent approximation of old timey rock n roll. He hits on all the touch points of basically pre-1965 rock n roll. This guy knows his history and has an incredible old timey sounding voice to back up his old timey rock n roll sounds. This is authentic Americana through and through.
31. Wheeler Walker Jr-Ol' Wheeler(Pepper Hill)
Genre: Outlaw Country, Musical Parody, Americana, Neo-Traditionalist Country, Country Rock
Do you like filthy lyrics? Do you like filthy lyrics set to unassuming yet extremely well played country music(both traditional and pop). Do you really like REALLY filthy lyrics? Like basically pornographic lyrics? Well then Ol' Wheeler is just the medicine you need. Expertly played country by a stand up comedian who dons this character when he makes music. There is every horrible sexual based lyric you can think of on this thing. Even though it's basically comedy/parody music this is great stuff that cannot be ignored.
32. The Body & Full Of Hell-Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light(Thrill Jockey)
Genre: Power Electronics, Avant Garde Metal, Drone Metal, Sludge Metal, Powerviolence, Noise
Nasty doom/sludge metal paired with dirty abrasive electronic bursts of noise coupled with one vocalist who sounds like he is screaming from a deep dark void(The Body) and another vocalist who is more akin to screaming hardcoreish vocals. This was one of the most extreme releases of 2017 and something to be remembered.
33. Chris+++-Social Justice Whatever(Self Released)
Genre: Sound Collage, Vaporwave, Glitch, Pop, Electronic
This is the shittiest album on this list, this is the shittiest album on all 3 lists I put out this year. This music is pure trash. Chris mines the depths of the shittiest memes and just garbage of the internet and makes blown out lo-fi renditions of electronic musical fragments dragged through the mud and smooshed directly into your eardrum. This is trash but beautifully constructed trash that everyone should at least hear once in their lifetime.
34. MHYSA-Fantasii(Halcyon Veil)
Genre: Ambient Pop, UK Bass, Ambient
Finally a truly good "alternative R&B" album. The vocals stay firmly rooted in traditional R&B while everything around her is most certainly not, not even remotely. Her vocals bump up against abstract noise, ambient techno, trunk rattling bass and all other manner of crazy instrumentation and samples to create something that is truly worthy of "outsider R&B/weirdo R&B" tag. Don't believe what you hear about other stuff within the genre, this is the real deal.
35. Tim Heidecker-Too Dumb For Suicide:Tim Heidecker's Trump Songs(Jagjaguwar)
Genre: Musical Comedy, Singer/Songwriter, Pop Rock, Satire, Piano Rock, Comedy Rock, Folk Pop, Soft Rock
This is an album for those of us in pain. This is an album for which the terrifying news cycle is just too much. This is an album for all those who just want the orange nightmare to go away. This album helped us laugh through the tears. This is an album that takes Trump's diet and bathroom habits to task. This is an album that has a song sung from the point of view of Trump's personal pilot sacrificing himself and crashing the plane in hopes of killing Trump to help us all. This is an album that rips Mar-A-Lago a new asshole. This is the album we needed in 2017. Thank you Tim Heidecker, you King amongst mere mortals.
36. Feral Ohms-Self Titled(Silver Current)
Genre: Heavy Psych, Punk Rock, Garage Punk, Hard Rock
So we don't get to have Comets On Fire anymore, well that's ok as long as this band keeps churning out this crazy shit. This band is led by the singer of Comets On Fire and basically this is 70s proto punk with all the fat trimmed off and then you add blistering guitar solos over everything, the best guitar solos of the year, easily. This is pure rock n roll that will melt your face off!
37. Tonstartssbandht-Sorcerer(Mexican Summer)
Genre: Neo Psychedelia, Psychedelic Pop, Jam Band, Experimental Rock
This band used to be very experimental, loved them when they were that. Now, they are more of a jam band and I am totally ok with this new direction. This album is essentially 3 long jams, three VERY good long jams. This is total chillout music. Perfect for a drive, perfect for a drink outside almost perfect for any situation. This is jam band music done exceptionally right. Given this band's audience though I doubt any Phish fans will be jamming out to this, but they totally should!
38. Call Super-Arpo(Houndstooth)
Genre: IDM, Ambient Techno, Tech House
Another really nice album from good ol Call Super. This guy has been producing some of the most consistently good and considered techno music since he started a few years ago. This is more of the same, very organic sounding techno that comes across as both extremely mechanical and extremely organic at the same time. He makes great use out of instruments that don't see their way too much into tecno(clarinet, anyone?) which is such a refreshing thing to hear these days when it seems like techno albums are basically formulaic in their presentation and execution.
Genre: Progressive Pop, Baroque Pop, Glam Rock, Psychedelic Pop
Foxygen deliver a ridiculous album in "Hang". They indulge in all of their pop fantasies on this one, pop fantasies that exist firmly in the late 60s and early 70s. They explore all means of excessive pop tropes from the days of yore on this one. There are string sections, proggy time changes, vocal choirs, you name it if it came from the coked out brain of a musician in the 70s then it's on this wonderfully extravagant album!
40. Hurray For The Riff Raff-The Navigator(ATO)
Genre: Folk Rock, Latin Alternative, Alt-Country, Tex Mex
First off she has an amazing voice. Second off, she is an incredible songwriter who is able to blend social commentary and righteous melodies to a near perfected level. Third off, for this album she made an abrupt shift away from traditional roots country and folk to something much more modern and grounded to the current climate of rock. She touches on many things about her culture(Puerto Rican) on this album and this album in hindsight could almost be a rallying cry for the people of Puerto Rico who were destroyed by the Hurricane that blasted through their state. It just so happens to echo sadness and hope in many places. This is something to check out if you are interested at all in the humanity that can shine through on an album.
41. Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind-Super Natural(Hound Gawd!)
Genre: Rock n Roll, Garage Rock
Just really great, hard hitting, booze drinking ass kicking rock and roll. Sounds kind of like if the Stones(circa exile) got even crazier with drugs and jammed out with the best band Nick Cave ever assembled and then had a singer that's a cross between Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger and Tom Waits. If you like rock n roll you do not want to sleep on this one.
42. Dent May-Across The Multiverse(Carpark)
Genre: Indie Pop, Sunshine Pop, Psychedelic Pop, Disco
Indie pop great decides to keep going in that direction but injects just a little bit of that ol Disco into the mix. This was a great idea because every song has his incredible knack for writing a pop hook but this time it's all attached to the earworm qualities of Disco which makes everything just that little bit more dance oriented. Plus there is a great duet with Frankie Cosmos on the title track.
43. OCS-Memory Of A Cut Off Head(Castle Face)
Genre: Psychedelic Folk, Psychedelic Pop, Baroque Pop, Psychedelic Rock
"Seriously what is this?" Is what I first thought when I put this on. This can't be the man behind the blistering noise of The Coachwhips or the manic psyche rock of The Oh Sees. This is more akin to the Incredible String Band, The Kinks and Madrigal folk music than it is garage rock. This album had strings, this album had focused consideration and this album was perfectly constructed. This was one of the biggest surprises of the year and one of the best things John Dwyer has ever done.
44. Margo Price-All American Made(Third Man)
Genre: Contemporary Country, Americana, Honky Tonk
If there ever was a ceremony to crown the new Dolly Parton or Loretta Lynn than Margo would hands down get my vote. She is without a doubt the best new female voice country has seen in years. Her songwriting is so pointed and sharp yet also incredibly fun at the same time that you barely notice the bitter pill of biting social commentary she has handed you. It goes down that easy. "Pay Gap" should be the official anthem for the wage gap bullshit going on at this moment btw.
45. Chain And The Gang-Experimental Music(Radical Elite)
Genre: Garage Punk, Garage Rock
Probably the best garage rock album of 2017. Great melodies, great use of auxiliary instruments. This is the most fun I have heard Ian Svenonius in a long time, not since The Make Up has he sounded so loose and carefree. This is freewheeling garage rock that demands to be heard.
46. Sam Amidon-The Following Mountain(Nonesuch)
Genre: Contemporary Folk
Probably the quietest album on this list. This album has a wonderful fragile quality to it. It is one of the best full on folk albums this year and very beautiful. This one is for late nights alone out on a porch in the country or the mountains somewhere. Someplace where you can just let your thoughts drift off like the music dancing around your head.
47. Micah P. Hinson-Presents The Holy Strangers(Full Time Hobby)
Genre: Singer/Songwriter, Americana
A perfect distillation of Americana for 2017. Every rootsy element is tied to the past in some way and is handled with an elegance and respect the history deserves. This is music for the dust bowl and the metro.
48. Bjork-Utopia(One Little Indian)
Genre: Art Pop, Glitch Pop, Ambient Pop, Birdsong, Folktronica, Chamber Folk, Post Industrial
She ended up making the best album she has made since Vespertine. Finally breaking the spell of mediocrity, she puts Arca to good use on this one(unlike the last one). This album has all the elements of Bjork from her classic period(1995-2001) and adds lush strings and wonderfully placed "birdsong" samples to bring her creative voice to the forefront with challenging yet beautiful experimental pop. It doesn't hurt that this album explores love in a non-cheesy and extremely responsible way.
49. Colter Wall-Self Titled(Thirty Tigers)
Genre: Americana, Contemporary Folk, Country, Outlaw Country
No one quite got the dark country sound as right as much as Colter did this year. It was as if he studied all the gruff greats that came before him and had the poetry in lyrics to back up his hero worship. This is outlaw country at it's darkest and finest.
50. Children Of Alice-Self Titled(Warp)
Genre: Sound Collage, Library Music
A wonderful tribute to a deceased artist(Trish Keenan of Broadcast) by former bandmates presented as 4 long(ish) tracks of a library music sampled wonderland of sound. This is one for late nights and mind altering substances.