As has been my tradition for the past few years, I’ve shared with you my most listened-to music. This year, however; I also wanted to share the music I was most excited about—the music that gets lost in the data when you don’t adjust for Misophonia, or listening to music with friends, or just life and music happening around you in general.
My original intention was to make this a top 10 list, but because the appreciation of the record album is a dying art, and because most of the people that can remember appreciating such a thing are stuck reminiscing about the music they discovered in their 20s, I decided not to put a cap on it.
Like every year before it, 2017 was a fucking amazing year for new music. These are my favorite records that came out in 2017.
If you care to play along, I have compiled all of these albums in an Apple Music playlist.
Daniel Romano — Modern Pressure
Putting this list in any sort of order would simply be too difficult for me, but putting this record at the top is a no-brainer. In my opinion, Daniel Romano is simply making the best music these days. This Canadian punk rocker, turned indie, turned folk singer, turned country crooner, turned 60s psychedelia can do no wrong in my book. Go buy all of his records now.
The Drip — The Haunting Fear of Inevitability
This is my most listened to album of the year, likely because it immediately switches on to cover up all sound in the room in an emergency and only stops for breakdowns. Perhaps all that repetition made an impression on me. This is the first full-length release from this Washington state grindcore band. I haven’t delved into their back catalog of EPs, yet, but will likely do so in the next few weeks.
Dylan Earl — New Country to Be
This is the long-awaited full-length album (for me at least) from the Arkansas-based country crooner. His Blessing in Disguise EP is one of my favorite recordings of all time. This album is proof that there are still artists playing real country music and pushing the genre into interesting directions.
Belphegor — Totenritual
A friend turned me onto Belphegor about 6 years ago. This black metal trio from Austria has been cranking out records since I graduated from high school. They have a lot of back catalog I’ve been meaning to get to, but I keep getting stuck on this new release. It’s German. It’s evil. It’s awesome.
Willie Watson — Folk Singer Vol. 2
Willie Watson was a founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show, the band responsible for digging up Bob Dylan’s Wagon Wheel and making it a newgrass hit (cringe). I discovered him a few years ago when I saw him back up Gillian Weltch and Dave Rawlings. He almost completely stole the show with his high tenor voice, clawhammer banjo, and fiddling. Willie is a master at digging up obscure, old-time Americana music and really putting a unique, yet classic twist on it. This new one is heavy on the blues and features the Fairfield Four backing him up on a few tunes. Watson is charming as fuck, and even more talented.
David Rawlings — Poor David’s Almanac
Dave Rawlings was busy this year. He produced Willie Watson’s new record, while putting this one out. Rawlings is rarely without Gillian Weltch and Willie Watson. These three are the holy trinity of modern folk music. If you long for new Gillian Weltch music, this is where it happens.
The Sadies — Northern Passages
Sean Dean, bass player for The Sadies, is somewhat of an unsung inspiration to me. While The Sadies easily fit the mold of an alt country band, they do push well into the boundaries of indie rock and folk music. Dean is the player that showed me you don’t need to drag an electric bass around with you to make the rock work. I look up to The Sadies as kindred spirits. They are an epic backing band, but I really dig their quirky original music. This record is one of their best for that in my opinion.
Kacy & Clayton — The Siren’s Song
Kristyn and I learned about this folk duo when we saw them open for Daniel Romano. Admittedly, it took us a while to come around to the breathy singing, but the songs were so good, and the guitar picking so tasty, that it eventually grew on us. We were delighted when we found out they had made just as much of an impression on Jeff Tweedy that they had on us. He produced this album for them, and it is a pretty big departure from their usual schtick. The Siren’s Song is way off in 60s psychedelia land, and it suites them extremely well.
Ray Wylie Hubbard — Tell The Devil I’m Getting There as Fast as I Can
A local folk duo Kristyn and I like to go out and see turned me onto Ray Wylie Hubbard with their version of his campy hit, Snake Farm. His story-telling song writing style is quirky and clever. This new record is heavily steeped in Christian mythology. Very charming and fun.
Jeremy Pinnell — Ties of Blood And Affection
Kristyn happened upon Jeremy Pinnell a few years ago when he played at Berryessa Brewing Co.. They usually book local acts there, but he was passing through and wanted a pickup gig on his way up north. I missed the show, but Kristyn flipped her shit over him. I’ve been hooked ever since. We have been looking forward to this album in what feels like forever. It doesn’t disappoint. It has more of a Waylon Jennings vibe than the honky tonk/western swing vibe of OH/KY.
Converge — The Dusk In Us
Admittedly, I’m not much of an expert on metalcore. Converge is considered to be one of the pioneers of the genre. To my ear, The Dusk In Us is more reminiscent of late 80s progressive hardcore than modern metalcore. I get a bit of a DagNasty vibe, only without the cheesiness. This record is really powerful, and I hope more metalcore bands are listening to this.
Hell — Hell
When I first spun this, I was expecting an epic new chapter from the English forefathers of black metal. Nope. This Hell is a completely different band, and their self-titled debut is some of the best sludge core I’ve heard in years.
Matt & George and their Pleasant Valley Boys — Blue Grass Style
Is it tacky to put one of your own records on your top 10 list? Probably. As proud as I am of this record, I actually didn’t have much to do with putting it out. Real traditional bluegrass is a scarce commodity these days, and I was floored by what my friends Matt Dudman and George Goodell were able to piece together from our mishmash of obscure tunes by some of their old friends. This is my favorite bluegrass record of the year, and would still be if I didn’t know any of the people who made it.
John Moreland — Big Bad Luv
John Moreland is an up-and-comer on the outlaw-ish scene. I saw the video for his tune It Don’t Suit Me (Like Before) pop up somewhere at some point and immediately fell in love with it. He reminds me of an alt country version of Jeremy Pinnell. Really thoughtful stuff.
Origin — Unparalleled Universe
This was my introduction to Origin. I think this is the most technical technical death metal I have ever heard. It’s definitely more on the ridiculous end of the spectrum, but I think that’s what endears me to it. There is no reason to play such ridiculously fast licks other than the sheer fact that you can. I think I respect that.
Sam Outlaw — Tenderheart
Sam Outlaw’s follow up to 2015’s Angeleno is even more sappy and sentimental. I caught him at The Chapel on this tour and he totally killed it. The instrumentation and arrangements on Tenderheart are huge and powerful. Outlaw’s soft-spoken voice is a nice contrast to his shameless infatuation with loud 80s new country fashion. It also sums up his personality. I am a huge fan.
Aversions Crown — Xenocide
This one caught my attention with it’s epic video game esq. vibe. This Australian deathcore band is a highly capable, and. I don’t mean to belittle the intent with my video game reference. This album is just replete with big atmosphere and rich production. It’s very immersive and a joy to listen to.
Full of Hell — Trumpeting Ecstasy
Huge, energetic grindcore from Maryland, Trumpeting Ecstasy had me at the flaming nun face. This band is unapologetically ham-fisted with their delivery. Fast, aggressive, mean… This album delivers everything you might expect from a band called Full of Hell with fire shooting out of a nun’s face.
Father John Misty — Pure Comedy
Pure Comedy—the album, not just the song—is a long-winded rant set to an Elton John soundtrack. Josh Tillman has a lot to say, and I love it all. It’s grotesquely cynical and as charming as a classic Grant Lee Buffalo record. This record takes me back to mid 90s Mark.
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile — Lotta Sea Lice
My favorite song on the new Sadies record is sung by Kurt Vile. I didn’t know anything about him before that point. This record is a whole album of that song, and I love every minute of it.
Dori Freeman — Letters Never Read
Freeman’s second record is a nice slice of classic Americana. She gets old-timey with a solo vocal tune, a clawhammer banjo song; she does 70s style ballads; she does alt country; and she closes everything out New Orleans style. Her voice is smooth and laid back, the recording is clean and tight. There is something here for everyone, and if you are like me, her everything is really something.
Zao — Pyrrhic Victory
Another metalcore band that’s been around forever that I’m just getting around to. I’ve never really considered myself a metalcore fan, but I’m finding I have an affinity for these older bands. Perhapse I’m somewhat of a traditionalist. Pyrrhic Victory has a less technical vibe than most modern metalcore, and is somewhat reminiscent of the hardcore I grew up with in the late 80s.
Okay. I could go on longer, but I have to stop at some point. This should at least tide you over until Friday when the new releases come out! It’s been a slow few weeks ober the holidays. I’m hoping for something exciting this week.
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