I've really been enjoying Waxahatchee's progression over the last few albums of angsty introspective rock and roll, and I think this is her strongest to date. Her voice is totally engrossing and the backing band matches it so well, just a great thing that keeps giving.
Best of 2017: 50-41
-50: Waxahatchee - Out In The Storm
-49: Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me
This is a devastating, important piece of art that I never want to listen to again but was drawn to two or three times this year as an intentional effort to remind myself of how lucky I am and how fragile life is. Unlike Sufjan's death meditation of Carrie and Lowell, this is much more raw, immediate, and challenging. Listen on a strong day and marvel at our ability to persevere.
-48: Chad VanGaalen - Light Information
This has a similar appeal to me as Unknown Mortal Orchestra II (although a little more rock and a little less soul). A little trippy in production and experimental in nature, but without sacrificing the core hook of any of the songs.
-47: Susanne Sundfor - Music For People In Trouble
This is a gorgeous, cinematic affair out of Sweden that isn't afraid to experiment a little. Largely piano based, but the hints of steel guitar that shine through in the background add an irresistible layer. "Reincarnation" one of my favorite songs of the year.
-46: Teen Daze - Themes For Dying Earth
The first of two 2017 releases for Teen Daze (both excellent), this is a largely ambient, meditative adventure that stays sparse aside from a few collaborative tracks. If you're a fan of long, introspective songs with subtle changes, you can't do better than "Dream City", one of my most listened to songs this year.
-45: Perfume Genius - No Shape
Continuning the exellent precedent set by 2014's "Too Bright", this is a an alternatingly sensitive and explosive set of anthems with top-notch production and genuine mastery of message. More sunny than the last effort, but still aching.
-44: Strand of Oaks - Hard Love
While this is my least favorite Strand of Oaks record to date, it's a welcome presence and I think that it's still a bridge to wherever he's going that is really going to be something incredible. You never doubt for a second the reality of the songwriting or his intention- this is a visceral, moving album that just gets a little too fuzzed out for me at times to fully embrace.
-43: Joey Bada$$ - All Amerikkkan Bada$$
A more mature and politically motivated side of Joey Bada$$ comes through here in a super conscious boom-bap manifesto. Not a lot of "fun" on this, but it was made for this moment in time, which is not easily described as "fun".
-42: Bing & Ruth - No Home of the Mind
Stunning instrumental piano music that remains captivating and never abrasive or agressive. Welcomes intent listening or background listening, but definitely warrants listening in some capacity.
-41: The Wild Reeds - The World We Built
This trio has always had great harmonies and dynamic instrumentation- two things that don't always come hand in hand in the americana / indie folk scene, but this album has their strongest tracks to date. If you like it, they are every bit as dynamic live.