2017 was filled with amazing new music! From folk to hip-hop, there was something for everyone. Some of our staff put together a list of their favorite albums of 2017.
Ashley Paskill (Writer)
Lorde continues to amaze with her latest album. It provokes a lot of emotion and each song tells a story.
In a time of turmoil, this album inspires listeners to go out and make a difference in a world of need.
Wyclef Jean-Carnival III
Wyclef’s latest album is a continuation of his previous albums. The lyrics are much-needed in this time and he incorporates various aspects into one album.
Benyaro-One Step Ahead of Your Past
A lot of music these days tends to be fake with no real substance. Benyaro’s latest album is a beautiful exception to this.
Barry Manilow-This Is My Town
This album is a collection of songs about New York City, and as someone who loves The Big Apple, this album is incredible!
Geno Thackara (Writer)
Elbow – Little Fictions
There was a little guesswork in declaring this a peak of their career early at review time, but I’m still happy to stand by that statement eleven months later. The lead single “Magnificent (She Says)” has been the biggest musical pick-me-up of the year around my house, and the rest of it is almost as delightful.
Jeb Loy Nichols – Country Hustle
Gritty country blues and smooth R&B funk make surprisingly great bedfellows. Here we have a voice (literal and otherwise) compelling and honest without quite getting cynical enough to reach for the razor blades.
Aimee Mann – Mental Illness
The biggest sleeper of her career (and that’s really saying something). A helping of pull-no-punches depression comes out gloriously cathartic while keeping her gorgeous voice and staggering lyrical smarts intact.
Fhloston Paradigm – After….
This one may be hard to recommend to anyone who isn’t a fan of ambient/electronic trance already. Nonetheless, the latest offering from Philly’s own King Britt has a lovely immersive peace-and-Zen vibe that’s worth the effort.
Kwame Binea Shakedown – Roots Rock and Universal Love
The universal love is sincere but not preachy, while the roots rock is a party and a half. Among all the colorful and infectious releases of the year, this may be the most uplifting of the bunch.
Mandy McGee (Editor/Writer)
This album is just as sugar-coated as their debut album. It drips of 60s pop guitar and swirls with dreamy reverb. It is definitely on repeat rotation.
One of the most beautifully macabre albums of the year! It illustrates a disturbing but ultimately shared human experience. Very emotive and enthralling!!! She stepped up her EDM skills and she is still beautifully goth.
The Morelings-Same Century
Murky tones, dripping textures and warm fuzziness on your face as the reverb washes over you. I would consider them one of the best indie shoegaze bands in the Philly area.
One of the best shoegaze albums! Definitely one of the best comebacks, 22 years after their last album. It reminds me why I love shoegaze.
Blonde Redhead-3 O’Clock EP
9 albums in 23 years and they have not once disappointed me. They have an extensive library of ever-evolving weirdness and powerful songwriting. They started out more of a noise pop band and evolved to dream pop and now are experimenting with bigger sounds, like adding orchestral instruments.
Matt Kelchner (Writer)
oso oso-The Yunahon Mixtape
The sophomore effort from Long Island’s oso oso, the current musical outlet for former States Lines front man Jade Lilitri. Despite getting overlooked throughout much of the year, this album has all of the makings of growing into a cult classic.
Japandroids-Near to the Wild Heart of Life
The long-awaited follow up to 2012’s Celebration Rock, this late January release from the Canadian duo saw them take their signature garage sound to stadium rock levels.
After years of collaborating with many other big names, Sampha finally released his debut album. From start to finish, it’s a record full of earworms that demonstrate the wide creative range that Sampha is capable of.
Friendship-Shock Out Of Season
The honesty and sincerity that comes from each song on this album feels like you’re having a heart to heart conversation with a best friend. Beautiful arrangements fill each song alongside the brooding Matt Berninger-esque vocals.
Fire Is Motion-Still, I Try
A short, but sweet 5 song EP made up of some of the best folksy leaning indie rock to come out in quite some time. This has been on repeat for quite some time now and I’m eagerly awaiting a proper full length.
Shruti Pal (Writer)
WOLF ALICE-VISIONS OF A LIFE
In their return to glory, Wolf Alice challenges alternative music norms while finding mastery within the intersection of rock and shoegaze. (Listen: Don’t Delete The Kisses)
SUNDARA KARMA-YOUTH IS ONLY EVER FUN IN RETROSPECT
A favorite new act of 2017: Sundara Karma has packed their debut album with infectious anthems that encapsulate the energy of indie rock shows in British basements. (Listen: Explore)
MURA MASA – MURA MASA
Electronic music prodigy Mura Masa’s debut album showcases his versatility as a musician with intelligently crafted productions that are good for everything from the bedroom to the club. (Listen: Messy Love)
VULFPECK-MR FINISH LINE
Living up to the hype, Mr Finish Line reminds us that Vulfpeck are the funk heroes we need but do not deserve. Cherish them! (Listen: Business Casual)
In a year of R&B revival, Daniel Caeser comes out on top with his buttery voice, soulful melodies, and heart-wrenching lyrics. (Listen: We Find Love)
(Sandy) Alex G – Rocket
There’s probably not an album on here that I’ve played on repeat more than Rocket. This was my gateway into the long and varied discography of (Sandy) Alex G who frequently does away with any attempts to classify him into this genre or that. While remaining in the generic sense “indie,” it’s a special blend of alt-country and pop that makes Rocket one of his best albums yet.
Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness
“Natural Blue” shook me the first time I heard it all the way through and not in a way that’s bombastic or grandiose. It’s quiet and ponderous, conjuring up wistful feelings of travel and longing while not overstating the intention. The album itself follows suit with a mix of acoustic and ambient elements pairing perfectly together.
Drab Majesty – The Demonstration
The creation of the Deb Demure persona is one of the greatest gifts given to the overlooked genre of darkwave. While Xmal Deutschland and Clan of Xymox were some of the originators to give the genre legs, Deb, the creative force behind Drab Majesty has quickly become one of its most prominent voices with an album partially inspired by the Heaven’s Gate incident from the 90s that figures prominently in the standout, “39 by Design.”
The Courtneys – The Courtneys II
It wasn’t too long ago that I heard “90210” first pop up on one of my weekly playlists. Not long after, The Courtneys released their second self-titled follow-up that expands on the hook-laden jangle pop that so defined their standout single from their debut. Here there’s a more assured confidence and attitude that captures a punk essence with pop sensibility.
Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens
Not known for my love or familiarity with techno, few things surprised me more this year than discovering this self-titled debut from Kelly Lee Owens toward the very tail end of the year. That said, this debut defies the intensity often prescribed to techno, magnifying and stretching it out in parts to mold each track into expansive flirtations with ambient wisps and ethereal pop.