Best of 2017: 30-21

-30: The National - Sleep Well Beast

Me and this album kind of sailed past each other, which mostly just means I wasn't in the right place / mood for it. It's every bit as good as their last one, which I loved, and I wouldn't be surprised if I settle into this quite a bit next February and March. It's amazing how something can be so moody and still have a warmth that can fill a whole room. 

-29: Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.

On first listen, this album seems to eschew the lofty ambitions of To Pimp A Butterfly for something more raw and real. On further listens, the depth is still there and it's ultimately also more listenable in a casual session. Deserves every accolade it is bound to recieve, always looking forward to see what's next. 

-28: Mogwai - Every Country's Sun

I feel like recent Mogwai efforts have been a little too detached and cold for me, but this album opens itself up beautifully and experiments with some warmer tones. I didn't think about it the first few listens, but after learning that Dave Fridmann produced it, I can't unhear his hand in the mix. This is the Flaming Lips album I've been wanting for a decade, without the stunts and distracting nonsense that has marred their last few for me. This is a stellar album of sonic intent that is one of the most headphones-worthy of the year.

-27: Amber Coffman - City of No Reply

On her exit from the Dirty Projectors (and the relationship at the core of that band), Amber Coffman is alternatingly defiant and sorrowful, but always virbrant. She filters some of the best elements of that project through a lens that is distinctively more pop but still her own thing.

-26: Open Mike Eagle - Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

A stirring new collection of indie rap gems loosely structured around stories of the Chicago housing project he grew up visiting. His smoothest and most earnest to date. Standout tracks: Hymnal, Legendary Iron Hood

-25: Tift Merritt - Stitch of the World

Classic sweet and soulful Americana, a voice for the ages reminiscent of Patty Griffin or Dolly but with a little less twang. Produced with Sam Beam (Iron and Wine) who is featured on a few tracks, this really shines bright when the tempo picks up.

-24: Gunn-Truscinski Duo - Bay Head

Occasionally atmospheric but pretty straightforward instrumental guitar and drum jams. Gets a little noisy at times, like the best things do, but keeps it's heart in the right place. 

-23: Alvvays - Antisocialites

Beautiful, jangly dream pop with flawless execution. These guys are 2 for 2 now, but these songs are crisper and more interesting to me than the last one. Reminds me of that Hospitality album I was gaga over a few years ago, but a little less dour.

-22: Bonny Doon - Bonny Doon

This was a summer bbq staple - Detroit slacker vibe with a little twang, like the Donkeys crossed with Parquet Courts. Kind of all over the map genre-wise but it's a hell of a fun time either way. 

 

-21: Asgeir - Afterglow

How do you follow up the bestselling record ever for your home country? Asgeir avoids the sophomore slump with a hook-laden Icelandic pop masterpiece. He ditches some of the more organic guitar sound on this one and focuses on some more piano / electronic impulses, but his monstrous falsetto remains and the result is every bit as captivating.