Welcome! Here are my favorite albums of the year. I separated them into top 20 non-punk albums and top 20 punk albums, because I’m a weirdo. When I was young back in Iowa, I found albums by word of mouth, zines, random purchases from mail-orders, going to every show I could and tape trading. Now that I’m almost 40 with zero social life, I basically scan blog sites all year and then pour over every best of list at the end of the year I can. I don’t plan on having kids so I should theoretically be able to do this until I’m 80. Just stop me from wearing a fedora.
20 Favorite (Non-Punk) Albums of 2017
20) Big Thief – “Capacity”
I liked this album, but it didn’t knock me out like it did other people. UNTIL, I saw a video of them playing live. Obviously, the singer/guitarist/frontperson is amazing. But the guitar player looks and acts like someone from Johnny Cash’s 1950’s if they were wired up with electrical shocks while being pleasantly tickled on the balls. I love people that jump into their music with complete abandon. As a YouTube commenter mentioned “He puts his whole nervous system into it.”
19) Cosmic Analog Ensemble – “Les Sourdes Oreilles”
The main guy here is from Kenya by way of Lebanon, but he sounds straight out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. I keep having to double-check to make sure this was really made in 2017. This is the soundtrack to getting your car washed in Nairobi in 1973, if the car was also filled with cash and cocaine and several Donny Brasco jackets.
18) Itchy-O – “From The Overflowing”
This is what Ministry would sound like if they were a marching band during the Day of the Dead. No joke. Watch the video.
17) War On Drugs – “A Deeper Understanding”
My first impression of this album was that it sounded like Tom Petty’s band if they didn’t like him, but then I got to the Crazy Horse-esque guitar solos and I was sold. He also gets points for being the only person in the history of music that tried to mimic Bob Dylan’s mid-to-late-70s voice.
16) Danish String Quarter – “Last Leaf”
I must be getting older, because I’ve started to get some of my choices from NPR. FUCK OFF. This is really good. It’s perfect for reading or for fans of musicians who all look like they could play Sabertooth’s brother in a new X-Men movie.
15) Daddy Issues – “Deep Dream”
I’m a sucker for all-girl or girl-lead 90s throwback grunge alt. Seriously, if it’s female and sounds like it got drunk to Veruca Salt I will listen to it.
14) Songhoy Blues – “Résistance”
You think you’re a badass? Trying being a desert blues band that still plays music in Mali in the face of a civil war and Sharia Law. And they have a song with Iggy Pop. This is like if Hendrix jammed with Fela Kuti. Your beard punk band ain’t shit.
13) Tyler Childers – “Purgatory”
To say I approach modern country with extreme caution is an understatement. 99% of it is basically the soundtrack to brain cells committing suicide. However, every once in a while, a magnificent ginger like Tyler Childers comes around and reminds me that this is the music of Hank and Johnny.
12) Trio Da Kali & Kronos Quartet
What can I say? I like xylophones.
11) La Santa Cecilia – “Amar Y Vivir”
If you haven’t noticed, I really like “world music”. That term is not very apt, since it can mean so many different places AND because these guys are from Los Angeles. But basically it’s really great Mexican music with a singer who can freakin’ BELT.
10) Thee Oh Sees – “Orc”
I’m not gonna lie, I bought this album because it is called “Orc” and has an Orc on the cover. My dork is showing. This ain’t no wussy Rush bullshit, though. This is straight psych-stoner rock with a kick.
9) The Courtneys – “II”
I love this album and this band but it almost didn’t make the list because they have a song called “Lost Boys” that’s about vampires and they go “You look just like you did in 1986” but “Lost Boys” came out in 1987 and it DRIVES ME CRAZY! I just have to keep telling myself that “1987” had too many syllables. Sigh.
8) Valerie June – “The Order Of Time”
How do people this talented exist? This one is for all those “They don’t make good music anymore” geezers. Her voice sounds like a (beautifully) nasally country singer but she spans the genres of rock, blues, R&B, soul and of course country. I want to be her friend. Do you think she’s interested in the Minneapolis comedy scene?
7) Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita – “Transparent Water”
I used to sleep to death metal every night but I got tired of subliminally thinking of eating rotting corpses all night. Since I switched to sleeping to this album, it’s all floating clouds and harps and the occasional corpse (it’s gonna take some time to filter out.) This album is incredible and so peaceful.
6) Mount Eerie – “A Crow Looked At Me”
Without question the saddest album I’ve ever heard in my life. The music speaks for itself. Beautiful and frankly hard to listen to.
4) Tica Douglas – “Our Lady Star of the Sea, Help And Protect Us”
I heard this album completely randomly. I don’t even remember where I found it. But it sounds like a less buzz-kill, female Elliott Smith or a non-obnoxious Sufjan Stevens if someone mercifully stole all his beep-boop-bop machines. Jam packed full of great tunes, this one!
4) Ifriqiyya Electrique – “Rûwâhîne”
These guys are Sufis from Tunisia. You know, “Whirling Dervishes”. You can tell. But there is such a dark, foreboding tone to the music that it actually sounds almost as scary as metal or industrial. At one point in this video, people are falling down from exhaustion and spinning around with some kind of plant in their mouth that is on fire, which makes late 90s raves look like “Duck Tales”. Step it up, JNCO people!
3) Cigarettes After Sex – “Cigarettes After Sex”
I gotta be honest. I usually hate anything that can be even remotely classified as “dream pop” or “shoegaze” or whatever they’re calling completely soulless music trying to be My Bloody Valentine these days. But this…this is amazing. It’s slow and spacey, sure. But it’s got MELODY and charm and a little bit of danger to it. And there is a little touch of almost surf guitar floating around in the back that I am just a sucker for. When’s the last time you heard a “dream pop” band with a line that goes “I know full well that you are the patron saint of sucking cock?”
2) Charly Bliss – “Guppy”
Female-lead 90s grunge alt!!! Do I even have to say anymore? This is so freaking catchy. It’s like Weezer if they were raised on Animaniacs.
1) King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “Flying Microtonal Banana”, “The Murder Of The Universe”, “Sketches Of East Brunswick”, “Polygondwanaland” and “Gumboot Soup”
Yes, these fuckers from Australia put out FIVE albums in 2017. And yes, I love them all…in this order: Flying Microtonal Banana (trippy krautrock), Sketches Of East Brunswick (trippy jazz/exotica), Polygondwanaland (trippy prog), Gumboot Soup (trippy B-sides) and The Murder Of The Universe (trippy stoner doom with unfortunate narration, but still good). I am sober so this is the closest I get to dancing around with the Cat In The Hat on mushrooms anymore.
HONORABLE MENTION/SHAMELESS PLUG:
Mike Brody – “Sell Me A Bridge”
20 Favorite Punk/Punk Adjacent Albums of 2017
What does “punk adjacent” mean? Back in the 90s most of us that were into punk just listened to anything as long as it sounded like it would be on a line-up with a punk band. Straight punk rock, ska, hardcore, noise-rock, you get the point. Basically my high school soundtrack to friendlessness.
20) Citric Dummies – “Tearing Out My Nails”
19) Converge – “The Dusk In Us”
I have a theory that I’ll never feel old until there are no NBA players older than me. As of right now, the only thing that stands between me and that is Vince Carter. So I’m gonna change that right now to “I won’t feel old until Converge starts putting out bad albums.”
18) Cheap Whine – “Cheap Whine”
Featuring members of Crusades and the Steve Adamyk Band. Not as good as Cheap Trick but way better than The Dirt Cheap Band.
17) Family Pet – “Family Pet”
Female-lead 90s grunge alt punk!!!
16) Institute – “Subordinate”
This one’s not for the mall punks. Equal parts catchy and gross, just like syphilis.
15) Chillers – “Chillers”
I don’t know what’s going on in Australia but they are killing it over there. I gotta start drinking koala juice. This shit rocks. It sounds like The Hives if you didn’t have to be embarrassed to listen to them in 2018.
14) Priests – “Nothing Feels Natural”
My main complaint with most post-punk is that it’s so drab and lifeless. Not Priests. They sound like Sleater-Kinney if they were punk and still angry and didn’t live in a Portlandia mansion.
13) Bloodclot – “Up In Arms”
It makes no sense, but I guess all it takes for a 95-year-old John Joseph (from Cro-Mags) to put out something good again was to get a band featuring ex-members of Danzig and Queens Of The Stone Age. Huh? This shit is hardcore as fuck.
12) Marvelous Mark – “Buzzin'”
Marvelous Mark (of Marvelous Darlings fame) is back with a solo outing and it’s power-pop punk Weezer music to die for!
11) Incendiary – “Thousand Mile Stare”
Once an Iowa boy raised on meat-head hardcore, always an Iowa boy who loves meat-head hardcore. Sounds like Zach De La Rocha from Rage if he were backed by a bunch of angry white boys.
10) Hex – “La Voisin”
I usually don’t think that British people are very good at doing American style hardcore, but this sounds like the scariest tea and crumpets ever.
9) Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys – “Rot”
HANDS DOWN WORST BAND NAME EVER. At least they’ll never be able to sell out.
8) Sciatic Nerve – “Sciatic Nerve”
Members of Swingin’ Utters, Western Addiction, Nothington and Cobra Skulls all decided to form a band that didn’t suck! Also, if you’ve been waiting for a 45 second video of an out of shape guy running around in a bird mascot head, this is for you!
7) The Eradicator – “The Eradicator”
Apparently this is a reference to an old 90s “Kids In The Hall” sketch. Very timely, fellas! (Fun band, though.)
6) Baywitch – “Hellaspawn”
Yes, it’s occurred to me that I might love surf music and surf punk so much because it reminds me of SpongeBob SquarePants.
5) His Electro Blue Voice – “Mental Hoops”
This is the second time I’ve mentioned Ministry in this list, but these guys sound like Ministry if they were playing amped up shoegaze without samples. Prove me wrong, jerkies!
4) Xetas – “The Tower”
Oh my god! A modern punk band that rocks and doesn’t sound like they’re trying to sound like John Cougar Mellecamp. (I’m looking at you, Menzingers. Barf.)
3) Hiccup – “Imaginary Enemies”
All the commenters on this video keep talking about how refreshing it is that everybody in this band appears older and plays pop punk. I don’t know their age, but I think the more accurate answer is they are old enough to remember when pop-punk meant the Descendents and the Queers and the Donnas. Get off my lawn!!!
2) Limp Wrist – “Facades”
Punk is dead? Not if you’re Limp Wrist. Being an aggressively in your face queercore in this day and age is still dangerous and man are they good. I’ll just pretend like those last three techno songs on the album don’t exist.
1) Sleaford Mods – “English Tapas”
Okay, I had an argument about whether I was going to put this in the punk or non-punk list. I finally decided that if it went in non-punk, that meant it was hip-hop and it would be pretty shitty hip-hop at that. But if it’s in the punk list then it’s post-punk and it’s fucking awesome. Honestly, call this whatever you want. The “singer” sounds like a really angry reject from a Guy Ritchie movie and the other guy literally just hits a button on a computer and steps back and drinks a beer. Literally! Everything in my head tells me this is bad, but I can’t stop listening to this album. It is just an ear worm that I can’t get away from and I love it.