Best of 2017: 70-61

-70: Francois and the Atlas Mountains - Solide Mirage

Everyone's favorite French afrobeat indie folk band is back, this time with a more laid back, dreamy sound. At times reminiscent of a vibe put forth by Architecture In Helsinki- but mostly just some kind of zany grooving french stuff. 

-69: Delicate Steve - This is Steve

Studio guitar whiz Steve Marion gets out the fuzzbox and plays a pretty silly set of instrumental head-nodders. Lots of riffs that wouldn't be out of place on a Ween album. I kind of wish it WAS a Ween album.

-68: Valerie June - The Order of Time

Until this album, she felt kind of like a character to me. A little anachronistic in style, which I can appreciate, but you can only occupy that spot for so long before people get used to it and need something deeper. This feels like that to me- a genuine, real americana record with all of the soulful touches but without feeling like deliberate throwback. 

-67: Benjamin Clementine - I Tell A Fly

This is another dense, head spinning opera of an album that feels like a grander statement than his previous one, at the cost of being a little less listenable. It's still one of the more interesting things I listened to this year, and it isn't outright abrasive ever, just a little bit much to comprehend at times. 

-66: Kamasi Washington - Harmony of Difference

This is an excellent counterpoint to "The Epic"- a tight set of tracks (nearly an EP) that never stray too far into themselves but expand on the sounds he established in the 2015 behemoth (aside from the 13 minute long closer). Largely a smooth lull with only bursts of frenetic energy, this is great listening for any scenario. 

-65: Susto - & I'm Fine Today

I'm still trying to feel these guys out- they have a pretty interesting take on surfer / stoner alt-country rock and the things I'm not sure about were mostly put to rest when I saw them live at Pickathon. They are earnest, but fun in the way that Diarrhea Planet is (lyrically), and they have some hooky songs here. These guys are young, I'm excited to see where they take it. 

-64: Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band - Dreaming in the Non-Dream

This is a jammy, largely instrumental set of psychedelic rock. Highlight is the journey of the 11 minute album opener. 

-63: Cloud Nothings - Life Without Sound

Cloud Nothings are one of my favorite straight-up rock bands. A beautiful balance of raw power and headiness, soaring guitars and blasting beats. 

-62: (Sandy) Alex G - Rocket

This is a hard one to pin down. I love everything about it, mostly, but the route the songs take seem to defy recollection to me. They are full of earworms but they stop and start abruptly and take odd turns. This is kind of americana in the vein of Radical Face or the Microphones- introspective, and heavily produced / intentionally crafted without feeling too forced. I just don't know how to listen to it yet, but once I figure that out this is going to get a lot more plays. 

-61: Woods - Love Is Love

A lot of people liked City Sun Eater in the River of Light, but it didn't sink in with me. This (short!) new offering feels like the Woods I need, I just wish it was a little longer. Here's hoping for more in the coming year.