1. Brockhampton – Saturation Trilogy
It’s impossible to consider Brockhampton’s three amazing albums released this year as anything other than a unit, especially considering that they are titled as installments of the same project, Saturation. Aside from representing the most beautiful mix of hip-hop and R&B of 2017, the trilogy stands for the best that millennial music could offer, and for the ever-enduring truth that great music can come from anywhere, at any time, and from anyone. Brockhampton are a motley crew of eccentrics who know what they want and relentlessly strive to get it; their uncompromising push toward unbridled expression is evident on each one of these three albums. Constantly surprising, and never boring, Brockhampton brought the best that music in 2017 had to offer, and their future looks blindingly bright.
Part I: “HEAT” “STAR” “FAKE”
Part II: “GUMMY” “JUNKY” “GAMBA”
Part III: “BOOGIE” “ALASKA” “SISTER/NATION”
2. The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
The War on Drugs engage in some dedicated Bruce Springsteen-worship for an hour, and the results are magical. There are songs in this album which honestly make me feel like I’m being transported to a paradise of sorts. A near-perfect album, every song on A Deeper Understanding is fantastic. The songs use soaring guitars and driving synths to give the listener the sensation of flight. Every time I finish this album, my first instinct is to immediately start it again.
Favourite Tracks: “Pain” “Holding On” “Strangest Thing”
3. Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva is a Mighty Long Time
Toward the end of the first disc of this double album, Big K.R.I.T. includes a skit which pokes fun at how quickly people will call a newly released album “classic”. 4eva is a Mighty Long Time is certainly the kind of record that presents such temptations. Fusing southern hip-hop with gospel music, it is ambitious, daring and, most of all, incredibly inspiring. This has got to be one of the most uplifting albums I’ve heard in a very long time.
Favourite Tracks: “Subenstein” “Get Up 2 Come Down” “Aux Cord”
4. Foxygen – Hang
Hang was one of the first albums I heard last year, and it’s been on repeat ever since. There simply isn’t a bad song here. Just eight mad, goofy, hilarious, touching, poignant and outrageous songs that mix glam rock and indie pop. I wish more people were talking about this album.
Favourite Tracks: “Follow the Leader” “Avalon” “Mrs. Adams”
5. Protomartyr – Relatives in Descent
This album is one of my favourites from 2017 simply because of the cohesion with which it opens and closes, but it accomplishes so much more. Fantastic songwriting, tight musicianship, and biting lyrics add up into the ideal post-punk package.
Favourite Tracks: “A Private Understanding” “The Chuckler” “Half-Sister”
6. Converge – The Dusk in Us
I’ve listened to my fair share of post-hardcore, but if there’s one album that has really sold me on the genre, it’s this one. The record is chock-full of well-written, ferocious, and teeth-gnashing songs that spoke to me like little else did in 2017.
Favourite Tracks: “Eye of the Quarrel” “The Dusk in Us” “Reptilian”
7. Rosalía – Los Ángeles
Nothing but vocals and flamenco guitar, this album makes the list simply because Rosalía has one of the best voices I’ve heard in the last ten years.
Favourite Tracks: “Si Tú Supieras Compañero” “De Plata” “Catalina”
8. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Intentionally frustrating, purposefully ironic, and rather pretentious, this album is still a brilliant, moving, and hilarious indictment of modern society’s faults.
Favourite Tracks: “Pure Comedy” “Total Entertainment Forever” “Ballad of the Dying Man”
9. Oxbow – Thin Black Duke
I have no idea what this album is about. The lyrics I found nearly unintelligible through some of the most eccentric vocals I’ve ever heard. Still, Oxbow’s incredible orchestral rock songwriting, coupled with said eccentric vocals creates a gorgeous, dark, unsettling, and euphoric musical experience.
Favourite Tracks: none that I can name, mainly for the reason stated above ㅡ just listen to the whole thing.
10. Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy
Tyler toned down his trademark aggression and callousness on this album, and came up with the second-most beautiful mix of hip-hop and R&B of 2017.
Favourite Tracks: “Foreword” “See You Again” “Garden Shed”
11. Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom
This album is obviously deeply influenced by Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. But it doesn’t matter, because Rapsody is such a compelling storyteller, as well as a brilliant lyricist. This album has something to say ㅡ and it says it loudly.
Favourite Tracks: “Laila’s Wisdom” “Power” “Pay Up”
12. Daniel Caesar – Freudian
This kid from Oshawa decides to mix together what sounds like some Frank Ocean worship with heavy gospel influence, and ends up releasing an unbelievably intimate and deeply intelligent album.
Favourite Tracks: “Get You” “Best Part” “We Find Love”
13. The National – Sleep Well Beast
Sleep Well Beast rises above sounding like any average depressing indie rock album by showcasing some of the best songwriting of the year.
Favourite Tracks: “Nobody Else Will Be There” “Day I Die” “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”
14. Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun
Chelsea brings a mixture of indie, gothic rock, and doom metal to scare the living daylights out of the listener.
Favourite Tracks: “16 Psyche” “The Culling” “Static Hum”
15. Ghostpoet – Dark Days + Canapés
British political spoken word against rock music, and wouldn’t you know, these tracks are better than most hip-hop or rock songs that came out throughout the entirety of 2017.
Favourite Tracks: “Trouble + Me” “Freakshow” “Immigrant Boogie”
16. Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
Indie rock may not be doing too well right now, but with bands like Grizzly Bear, it hasn’t breathed its last yet.
Favourite Tracks: “Mourning Sound” “Three Rings” “Sky Took Hold”
17. Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
I usually expect the best lyrics these days to come out of hip-hop, but Fleet Foxes makes an undeniable case to be considered among the best lyricists of today, regardless of genre. Oh, and the progressive folk music on this album is also stunning.
Favourite Tracks: “I Am All That I Need” “Third of May” “If You Need To, Keep Time on Me”
18. Alvvays – Antisocialites
Dream pop generally finds itself on a scale between sweet and boring. This album establishes itself firmly on the sweet end.
Favourite Tracks: “In Undertow” “Dreams Tonite” “Not My Baby”
19. Perfume Genius – No Shape
There really are no words to describe how beautiful this album is. The opener alone made my hairs stand on end.
Favourite Tracks: “Otherside” “Slip Away” “Wreath”
20. Xiu Xiu – Forget
Unsettling, eerie, creepy music that inexplicably made me want to dance multiple times throughout the duration of this album.
Favourite Tracks: “Wondering” “Jenny GoGo” “Forget”
21. Feist – Pleasure
This collection of beautiful and intimate tracks really stopped me in my tracks. Feist shows that she often doesn’t need much more than her voice, a guitar, and some emotionally raw lyrics to be absolutely compelling.
Favourite Tracks: “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You” “Lost Dreams” “Any Party”
22. Iglooghost – Neo Wax Bloom
Electronic music awash with color, texture, and speed; this is one hell of a rollercoaster ride!
Favourite Tracks: “Bug Thief,” “Solar Blade,” “Zen Champ”
23. Algiers – The Underside of Power
Algiers use their mixture of gospel and post-punk together with some very politically-charged lyrics to create a dark, depressive, and earth-shaking album.
Favourite Tracks: “The Underside of Power” “Cleveland”
24. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
I have to say, given Kendrick’s previous output, this album was frustrating and disappointing to me. That said, it’s still one of the better hip-hop albums of 2017 from one of the best artists in the genre.
Favourite Tracks: “DNA” “YAH” “DUCKWORTH”
25. Guerilla Toss – GT Ultra
This 30-minute dance-punk album is short, to the point, and doesn’t waste any time getting you on your feet either.
Favourite track: “Skull Pop”