What a year for music. From alternative country to hip hop, pop to rock, there was always something great to listen to. Here were some of my favorite records of 2017:
1. Prisoner by Ryan Adams
This is one of the only albums that truly brought me to tears in 2017. It’s beautiful and tragic, both musically and lyrically. Ryan Adams is my favorite singer-songwriter and I honestly believe this to be his best record to date. From the opening organ on the first single, Do You Still Love Me?, to the distorted fadeout on We Disappear, there isn’t an average song on this album. It’s perfect.
2. Damn by Kendrick Lamar
2017 was a great year for hip hop and Kendrick Lamar reigned king once again. I’m sure the pressure was on after dropping 2015’s jazz rap masterpiece To Pimp A Butterfly and Lamar didn’t fold. While I don’t think his fourth record quite holds up to his third, it’s pretty damn close (no pun intended). Here we have a brilliant mix of timeless and futuristic conscious rap. There’s a classic feel to it, but at the same time you can hear Lamar paving the way for the future of the genre. And he does it by sounding so effortless.
3. Melodrama by Lorde
I remember hearing Lorde’s first single, Royals, for the first time and instantly wanting to hear the rest of the album. Pure Heroine tied us over for four years before Lorde released her sophomore record, co-executive produced by genius Jack Antonoff in his home studio. The maturation in these four short years is blatantly obvious, especially lyrically. There are no filler tracks on this album. It’s pop heaven from start to finish.
4. Sleep Well Beast by The National
The National is one of the best band’s on the planet right now and their last four records have been virtuosity flawless. I don’t know why, but whenever one of their songs come on, I crave a glass of red wine. Needless to say, this album helped put me to sleep on multiple occasion this past autumn. And that’s a compliment.
5. 4:44 by JAY-Z
2017 witnessed the return of Hova, who released his best record in a decade. This is, by far, Carter’s most brave, emotional, mature, personal and vulnerable album to date as he invites us into a poetic and jazz-infused apology to his wife, Queen Bey.
6. Songs Of Experience by U2
In my opinion, U2 made a major comeback in 2017 with their best record since 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind. This followup and companion to 2014’s Songs Of Innocence was originally planned for a 2016 release date, but after the shift of global politics in a more conservative direction, the band decided to reassess the tone of the album. The end result is a collection of intimate love songs full of hope for a better future.
7. Makes Me Sick by New Found Glory
I’ve been a sucker for a good pop-punk record since Green Day’s Dookie and although I don’t listen to a heap of bands in that genre anymore, there are a few I still follow closely. New Found Glory is one of those bands. This time, they’ve teamed up with one of my favorite punk rock producers, Aaron Sprinkle. Makes Me Sick delivers on every level and is a ton of fun.
8. Everything Now by Arcade Fire
Every Arcade Fire record is slightly less awesome than the one before, but since they started with a masterpiece, it’s going to be a while (hopefully never) before they actually put a bad one out. Like 2013’s Reflektor, this is an Arcade Fire album you could and should move to.
9. Colors by Beck
I’ve been a huge Beck fan since 1996, so I was ecstatic when he finally won ‘Album Of The Year’ at the Grammys for 2014’s Morning Phase. For Colors, he switched gears once again from folk rock to experimental pop. The only thing I would change about this record is the release date. It would have made a perfect summer album.
10. Reputation by Taylor Swift
I wasn’t really much of a Taylor Swift fan until 1989 and although I agree with most critics and fans that this album is inferior to her synth-pop debut, I didn’t even come close to hating it. Also produced by Jack Antonoff, this record shows a maturity as well, especially musically. Since the album dropped two months ago, there hasn’t been a couple days that have gone by where I haven’t had End Game [feat. Ed Sheeran and Future] stuck in my head. And that’s a good thing.