Music

Steven Hyden’s Favorite Albums of 2017

Whenever I post one of these things I feel obligated to point out the following:

1) Ranking albums is dumb …
I can’t really justify ranking one album I like as my 47th favorite album of the year and another album I like as my 34th favorite album of the year. If I tried to count my specific degrees of like for each record, I would sound insane. When you make a list, you wind up making a lot of stuff up.

2) … but it’s kind of fun …
As long as we don’t take this exercise too seriously, and remember this is all based on personal taste and not really about declaring These Albums As The Best As A Statement Of Fact. My list is unabashedly personal and not an attempt to reflect what mattered most in the culture overall this year.

3) … because it’s really about discovering an album or two (or possibly more!) that you might not have known about otherwise.
It’s the spirit of sharing, my brothers and sisters! And also the spirit of me forcing my music taste on to strangers at the end of another year. Thank you for indulging me.

MY TOP 11 THROUGH 50 ALBUMS
That thing I said earlier about not knowing the difference between my 47th favorite album and my 34th favorite album is mostly true. Albums 11 through 50 are just records I liked a lot, though not enough to get into the Top 10. I kind of like them all equally. However, I will say that albums 11 through 20 had a slightly better shot of landing in one of the spots from seven to 10. None of these albums had a realistic show of making the top six, however.
50. Ryan Adams, Prisoner
49. Thundercat, Drunk
48. Destroyer, ken
47. Robert Plant, Carry Fire
46. Rozwell Kid, Precious Art
45. Wolf Alice, Visions Of A Life
44. John Moreland, Big Bad Luv
43. Kevin Morby, City Music
42. (Sandy) Alex G, Rocket
41. Queens Of The Stone Age, Villains
40. Chris Stapleton, From A Room: Vol. 1
39. Fleet Foxes, Crack-Up
38. Gunn-Truscinski Duo, Bay Head
37. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
36. Jeremy Enigk, Ghosts
35. Cloakroom, Time Well
34. Old Crow Medicine Show, 50 Years Of Blonde On Blonde
33. Grizzly Bear, Painted Ruins
32. The Menzingers, After The Party
31. Strand Of Oaks, Hard Love
30. Phoebe Bridgers, Stranger In The Alps
29. Japanese Breakfast, Soft Sounds From Another Planet
28. Sheer Mag, Need To Feel Your Love
27. Hurray For The Riff Raff, The Navigator
26. Japandroids, Near To The Wild Heart Of Life
25. Girlpool, Powerplant
24. Liam Gallagher, As You Were
23. Jay Som, Everybody Works
22. Thunder Dreamer, Capture
21. Jen Cloher, Jen Cloher
20. Wild Pink, Wild Pink
19. Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile, Lotta Sea Lice
18. Oso Oso, The Yunahon Mixtape
17. The National, Sleep Well Beast
16. Manchester Orchestra, A Black Mile To The Surface
15. Alvvays, Antisocialites
14. Charly Bliss, Guppy
13. Alex Lahey, I Love You Like A Brother
12. Craig Finn, We All Want The Same Things
11. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, The French Press

MY TOP 10
Like I said earlier, four of these albums could easily be swapped out for albums in the 11 through 20 slots. The records in the sixth, fifth, and fourth slots I feel pretty passionate about, however, and the albums in the third, second, and first slots are the LPs I would save in a fire if all the music released in 2017 was in a burning building.

10. Oneohtrix Point Never, Good Time Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
While I enjoyed the intense Safdie Brothers’ crime film, it doesn’t compare with the movie of the mind that is conjured by Daniel Lopatin’s relentless electronic score. On the album, a dense web of undulating synths and jarring white noise is occasionally punctuated by explosive soundbites from the film. But Lopatin’s deeply unsettling psychedelic trance music evokes its own rich cinematic vibe, creating the same disorienting despair in the listener that is felt by Robert Pattinson’s character in the movie. And then comes the closing song, “The Pure And The Damned,” a demented space-age supper-club ballad crooned with creepy tenderness by Iggy Pop, who imagines a dream world where one is free to “pet the crocodiles.” On this sublimely queasy album, Pop’s sentiment qualifies as heartwarming.

9. White Reaper, The World’s Best American Band
This Louisville band cites Kiss and Muhammad Ali as inspirations. I would also add: Cheap beer, cool old cars, awesome jackets, and anything else that involves bad attitudes, laughs, and blowing stuff up. At a time when even the best rock bands lack a certain swagger, it was refreshing to see a bunch of young kids from the south shoot their mouths off and almost back it up. The World’s Best American Band surely ranks at this year’s best rawk record, where the riffs and rhythms and basically being an all-around rad dude are of paramount importance.

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