Favorite Music of 2017


Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life

I put Celebration Rock on my notable list in 2012. I don’t know what I was thinking – I love that album. This one is different – a bit slower, a little more studio-driven – but no less awesome. The title track is a fist pumper and songs like “Arc of Bar” are compelling in ways they hadn’t tried before.


The musical journey continues. Annie Clark delivers much of her latest statement with a wry deadpan, which in turn punctuates the poignancy in more stripped-down songs like “New York” and “Happy Birthday Johnny.”

Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm

Katie Crutchfield has made great albums, and then this one happened. I enjoy Ivy Tripp and Cerulean Blue, and find this one compelling in a way that goes beyond those. Maybe it’s the arrangements, or it could just be how much these songs stick with you. Doesn’t matter in the end.

Allison Crutchfield – Tourist in This Town

At the same time, Allison Crutchfield was breaking free of her sound from Swearin’ and throwing off any expectations. The result is a variety of sonic approaches wrapped around consistently well-written, abruptly honest songs.

Ted Leo – The Hanged Man

It’s so good to have Ted back. I love the sheer variety of styles and approaches on this record, with just enough of the punk to get you hopping on your toes.

New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions

I have to admit I do miss Dan Bejar on this record. But the new Destroyer album is very good, and the power-pop gems on this record are outstanding. Plus Neko Case singing, “For a fee, I’ll fight any foe” is pretty darn great.

The Dream Syndicate – How Did I Find Myself Here?

I admit I don’t have a long history with The Dream Syndicate, but the opportunity to see them live meant spending some time with the music. This is the “why haven’t I found you earlier?” entry of the list — this album is great, digging into their backlog is rewarding, and seeing them live was incredible.

Björk – Utopia

Björk may be talking about utopia, but she’s not done being angry if the lyrics are any indication. The flute is this album’s key instrument, set against an electronic soundscape that kept reminding me of Homogenic. She’s still making challenging, driving music – put on headphones and immerse yourself in it.


  • (Sandy) Alex G – Rocket
  • Alvvays – Antisocialites
  • Baths – Romaplasm
  • The Bats – The Deep Set
  • Beach Fossils – Somersault
  • Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys – Rot
  • British Sea Power – Let the Dancers Inherit the Party
  • Bully – Losing
  • Chastity Belt – I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone
  • Stef Chura – Messes
  • The Clientele – Music for the Age of Miracles
  • Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound
  • The Courtneys – II
  • Tim Cohen – Luck Man
  • Cymbals – Light in Your Mind
  • Destroyer – ken
  • Rose Elinor Dougall – Stellular
  • Gord Downie – Introduce Yerself
  • Mark Eitzel – Hey Mr Ferryman
  • Fazerdaze – Morningside
  • Foxygen – Hang
  • Fresh & Onlys – Wolf Lie Down
  • Froth – Outside (Briefly)
  • Fufanu – Sports
  • Future Islands – The Far Field
  • Duke Garwood – Garden of Ashes
  • Guided by Voices – How Do You Spell Heaven
  • Jesca Hoop – Memories Are Now
  • Japanese Breakfast – Sounds from Another Planet
  • Katie Ellen – Cowgirl Blues
  • LCD Soundsystem – american dream
  • Jason Loewenstein – Spooky Action
  • Luna – A Sentimental Education
  • Jessica Lea Mayfield – Sorry is Gone
  • Kevin Morby – City Music
  • The National – Sleep Well Beast
  • Sarah Bethe Nelson – Oh, Evolution
  • OCS – Memory of a Cut Off Head
  • Oh Sees – Orc
  • Overlake – Fall
  • Porcelain Raft – Microclimate
  • POW! – Crack an Egg
  • The Proper Ornaments – Foxhole
  • Protomartyr – Relatives in Descent
  • Pugwash – Silverlake
  • Radiator Hospital – Play the Song You Like
  • Rips – Rips
  • Rozwell Kid – Precious Art
  • The Sadies – Northern Passages
  • Ty Segall – Ty Segall
  • The Shins – Heartworms
  • Spoon – Hot Thoughts
  • Matthew Sweet – Tomorrow Forever
  • Taylor Upsahl – Unfamiliar Light
  • The Vagabon – Infinite Worlds
  • The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
  • Wire – Silver/Lead
  • Widowspeak – Expect the Best
  • Yalta Club – Hybris
  • Young Jesus – S/T

Best album from last year that I learned about this year

Jeff Rosenstock – WORRY.

We saw him play at Pitchfork and I was blown away by both the songs and the exuberant delivery. This album is also a revelation of well-crafted melodic punk rock.


Hüsker Dü – Savage Young Dü

A labor of fandom that unfortunately didn’t get released before Grant Hart passed away, this set chronicles the first few years of one of the most important bands in punk rock history. The songs help the listener understand how they went from formation to releasing five classic punk records (Zen Arcade, New Day Rising, Flip Your Wig, Candy Apple Grey, and Warehouse) in a 2½ year span.

The Year in Shows

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