2017 has been a very different year in contrast to 2016. Last year came plagued with the deaths of some of the biggest legends in the history of popular music. We’ve been mostly spared this time around, maybe because there’s darker cloud hovering over us following the election. There’s also been fewer high profile releases, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it has allowed for smaller releases to shine a little brighter. Run the Jewels dropped their third and possibly best record right at the tail end of 2015, after the bulk of year end lists were old news. Hurray For the Riff Raff made a major artistic leap with The Navigator. Slowdive put out their first album in over two decades and it’s another masterpiece. We got another massive collection of songs from The Magnetic Fields. Two of grime’s very best talents came through with some of their best work. And Arca dropped one of the strangest, most beautiful records you’ll ever hear.

Here below, you’ll find a random number of alphabetically ordered records released in the first half of 2017 that have left a lasting impression on me.


Adam Torres
I Came To Sing the Song

Breathtaking folk as sung by an angel.



Afghan Whigs
In Spades

Greg Dulli’s continuous reign as one of the world’s greatest rock vocalists.




Algiers
The Underside of Power

Soul music for a future apocalypse.




Animal Collective
The Painters EP

Animal Collective covers “Jimmy Mack”. Need I say more?




Arca
Arca

An extraterrestrial opera from a disturbing yet seductively beautiful place.




Ariel Pink & Weyes Blood
Myths 002

An unusually perfect match of the oddball outsider and otherworldly siren.




Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche
Pas pire pop, I Love You So Much

A funky post-rock/krautrock hybrid that defies categorization.




Big Thief
Capacity

The sound of intimate reflection.




Chicano Batman
Freedom is Free

Psychedelic Latin rhythms tied to contemporary social issues.




Christopher Paul Stelling
Itinerant Arias

Timeless folk weathering the burden of life.




Cigarettes After Sex
Cigarettes After Sex

Late in the night, in a dimly lit room, drifting off into a haze with a lover.




D.A. Stern
Aloha Hola

Perfected jangle pop songs about everyday life.




Daniel Romano
Modern Pressure

Romano continues to refine his cosmopolitan psychedelic pop country sound.




Deep State
Thought Garden

A high energy pursuit for explanations of how we got here.




Dirty Projectors
Dirty Projectors

Left on his own, Dave Longstreth shifts gears and reflects on the breakup while soaking up contemporary alt-r&b sounds.




Do Make Say Think
Stubborn Persistent Illusions

Do Make Say Think remain one of post-rock’s most overlooked giants.




The Drums
Abysmal Thoughts

Leave it to The Drums to make broken-heartedness sound like such a joy.




Ex Eye
Ex Eye

The combined forces of Colin Stetson, Greg Fox, Shahzad Ismaily and Toby Summerfield create a jazz record so heavy that it’s metal.




Father John Misty
Pure Comedy

Channeling a bit of Nilsson, Tillman remains indie rock’s clever funnyman, even if this record is a bit top heavy.




Fleet Foxes
Crack-Up

The long-anticipated follow-up of Helplessness Blues is a strong continuation of the band’s epic anthemic prog-folk.




Flotation Toy Warning
The Machine That Made Us

It took them over a decade, but Flotation Toy Warning finally released another album of their unique psych pop.




Fred Thomas
Changer

A masterful, witty collection of predominantly spoken songs from the former leader of Saturday Looks Good to Me and City Center.




Future Islands
The Far Field

Not a big stylistic leap, The Far Field keeps Future Islands in their comfort zone, which is no problem at all.




Girlpool
Power Plant

Sounding like a modern indie version of The Roches, Girlpool improves on their second record.




Grandaddy
The Last Place

A very welcome return for one of the all time great indie psych pop groups.




Greg Ashley
Pictures of Saint Paul Street

Former psych rocker allows a stripped down singer songwriter approach to showcase his great lyrical capabilities, heavily influenced by the likes of Cohen and Reed.




Heather Trost
Agistri

The sound of a mysterious, colorful dream, plus the Harry Nilsson cover is incredible.



Hurray for the Riff Raff
The Navigator

Hurray for the Riff Raff explores her past roots and takes a giant leap to the forefront of the greatest contemporary songwriters.




Jacaszek
KWIATY

Jacaszek explores a mysterious electronic world that evolves within each second.




Jake Xerxes Fussell
What in the Natural World

Country music with a hell of a soul.




Jane Weaver
Modern Kosmology

Jane Weaver’s British psych folktronica is an intoxicating melancholia.




Jeff Tweedy
Together At Last

Jeff Tweedy plays stripped down Wilco covers.




Jesca Hoop
Memories Are Now

An incredibly lovely folk album with some unexpected turns away from traditional sounds.




The Jesus and Mary Chain
Damage and Joy

The best thing the highly influential noise rock band has done since Automatic.




Joan of Arc
He’s Got the Whole This Land Is Your Land in His Hands

It’s a Joan of Arc album, so it’s not for everybody but it’s also one of the most fun records they’ve ever recorded.




Kendrick Lamar
DAMN.

It’s not the funky masterpiece that TPAB was, but keeps Kendrick in a league of his own as one of the premiere voices of his time.




Landlady
The World Is A Loud Place

Imagine Randy Newman caught in a swirling whirlwind of proggy psychedlia.




Les Amazones d’Afrique
République Amazone

The work of a Malian supergroup featuring Kandia Kouyaté, Angélique Kidjo, Mamani Keita, Rokia Koné, Mariam Doumbia (of Amadou & Mariam), Nneka, Mariam Koné, Massan Coulibaly, Madina N’Diaye, Madiaré Dramé, Mouneissa Tandina and Pamela Badjogo.




Mac Demarco
This Old Dog

Mac steps away from the dreamy synths that helped define previous records, but his strong songwriting remains intact.




The Magnetic Fields
50 Song Memoir

Stephin Merritt’s latest prolific act takes us on a tour of the first 50 years of his life.




Marika Hackman
I’m Not Your Man

Hackman’s first album with Sub Pop sounds like a fresh take on Liz Phair’s best work.




Mount Eerie
A Crow Looked at Me

Where Nick Cave’s Skeleton Tree felt like an attempt to come to terms and overcome tragic loss, A Crow Looked at Me is pure human sadness and misery.




Near Northeast
True Mirror

Sweet folk rock with an unassuming adventurous spirit.




The New Pornographers
Whiteout Conditions

With Dan Bejar missing, AC Newman proves as capable as ever at writing infectious indie rock tunes.




Perfume Genius
No Shape

Following up Too Bright was a tough task, but Perfume Genius’ latest record picks up right where that record left off. The balance between tender fragility and fearless exploration is a perfect complement for his lyrical themes.




Phoenix
Ti Amo

The catchiest indie band alive further embraces their love for 80s synth pop.




Priests
Nothing Feels Natural

With the arrival of our reality tv president, we were promised an American punk revival. Priests came through with a record along the lines of Wire and Bikini Kill.




Run The Jewels
Run The Jewels 3

Dropping right at the tail end of 2016, Killer Mike and El-P third Run The Jewels record improves upon the first two without changing too much.




Sinkane
Life & Livin’ It

Sinkane’s synthesis of afro-funk, krautrock, jazz, and prog grows more seamless on Life & Livin’ It, resulting in one of the year’s feel good records,




Slowdive
Slowdive

Over two decades since Pygmallion, the shoegaze greats sound as fresh as ever.




Stormzy
Gang Signs & prayer

Stormzy’s debut album announces the arrival of the next great UK MC with an unpredictable and fearless collection of perfectly produced tracks.




Sufjan Stevens / Nico Muhly / Bryce Dessner / James McAlister
Planetarium

Sufjan may never return to the 50 states project, but on Planetarium he takes on the entire galaxy for one of the most beautiful records he’s ever recorded.




Sun Kil Moon
Common as Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood

Mark Kozelek remains prolific as ever with his first double album, growing more adventurous if also less focused.




Tim Darcy
Saturday Night

Ought frontman goes solo for a Jonathan Richman type combo of raw rock & roll and witty lyrics.




Timber Timbre
Sincerely, Future Pollution

Timber Timber’s experimental noir sound gets a little bit funkier.




Wiley
Godfather

The original grime MCs have come back in 2017, hitting with some of their best work ever. Wiley is no exception.




Xiu Xiu
FORGET

Possibly Xiu Xiu’s most danceable record without sacrificing any of the uneasy tension.