12.21.2017

Favorite Albums of 2017


Click here for a Spotify playlist made by Mr. Matthew Osborne :) 

___________________________________________


50. Bedouine
Bedouine


___________________________________________



49. Twain
Rare Feeling



___________________________________________



48. Waxahatchee
Out in the Storm




___________________________________________



47. Alvvays
Antisocialites




___________________________________________



46. Destroyer
Ken




___________________________________________



45. Joey Bada$$
ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$




___________________________________________



44. Beach Fossils
Somersault




___________________________________________



43. Elder
Reflections of a Floating World




___________________________________________



42. David Bazan
Care




___________________________________________


41. Anna of the North
Lovers



___________________________________________



40. Eluvium
Shuffle Drones




___________________________________________



39. EX EYE
EX EYE




___________________________________________



38. The Courtneys
The Courtneys II




___________________________________________



37. Algiers
The Underside of Power



___________________________________________



36. Oddisee
The Iceberg



___________________________________________



35. Nubya Garcia
Nubya's 5ive




___________________________________________



34. Leif Vollebekk
Twin Solitude




___________________________________________



33. Justin Townes Earle
Kids in the Street




___________________________________________



32. Bibio
Phantom Brickworks




___________________________________________



31. Rapsody
Laila's Wisdom



___________________________________________



30. Alfa Mist
Antiphon




___________________________________________



29. Slowdive
Slowdive




___________________________________________





28. Julien Baker
Turn Out the Lights




___________________________________________



27. Ryan Adams
Prisoner




___________________________________________



26. Your Old Droog
PACKS




___________________________________________



25. Big Thief
Capacity




___________________________________________



24. Ill Considered
Ill Considered




___________________________________________



23. Bing & Ruth
No Home of the Mind



___________________________________________



22. Ariel Pink
Dedicated to Bobby Jameson




___________________________________________



21. milo
who told you to think??!!?!?!?!




___________________________________________



20. Broken Social Scene
Hug of Thunder




___________________________________________



19. Kendrick Lamar
DAMN.




___________________________________________



18. Colin Stetson
All This I Do For Glory



___________________________________________



17. Jay Som
Everybody Works




___________________________________________



16. Colter Wall
Colter Wall




___________________________________________



15. Richard Dawson
Peasant




___________________________________________



14. Phoebe Bridgers
Stranger in the Alps




___________________________________________



13. LCD Soundsystem
american dream




___________________________________________



12. Alex Cameron
Forced Witness



___________________________________________



11. Mac DeMarco
This Old Dog



___________________________________________



10. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Polygondwanaland




___________________________________________



9. Jaimie Branch
Fly or Die




___________________________________________



8. Sam Amidon
The Following Mountain




___________________________________________



7. Kelly Lee Owens
Kelly Lee Owens




___________________________________________



6. SZA
Ctrl




___________________________________________



5. The War on Drugs
A Deeper Understanding





___________________________________________



4. Loyle Carner
Yesterday's Gone



___________________________________________



3. Fleet Foxes
Crack-Up






___________________________________________



2. Somi
Petit Afrique






___________________________________________



1. Mount Eerie
A Crow Looked At Me

This feels an odd choice for #1. Really, I wish this record didn't exist at all. 

Phil Elverum has been making gorgeous, interesting music for over 20 years that I've had the pleasure to enjoy. But his newest batch of songs comes after the slow death of his beloved wife, Geneviève (she was a wonderful artist in her own right), who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015, shortly after giving birth to their only child.

After listening to this album a few times back in the spring, I shelved it for a long time. I only revisited it this week as I was putting together this list. More than any other record I've ever heard, it really made me reevaluate the nature of reviewing music, and art in general. It especially made me question the act of making this very list. How do you consume something like this? It seems unmerciful and callous. It feels wrong. It is not entertainment. It is not for me, the fan. No scrutiny or judgement can be leveled. No praise can either.

But what really is different about this piece of art than any other? Aren't they all tangible creations borne out of experience? Experiences that I do my best to relate to, but never fully can, really. I can't know what anyone is going through completely. So why do I ever rate albums like this? Why do I make a list to end out the year? It is really incredibly dumb. 

As for the album itself, it is 40 minutes of pure unadulterated devastation. There is only the piercing sadness of grief in the beginning stages. The slow, heavy, sinking realization that death is real and permanent. It's not fair, and life is too arbitrary and random to ground your anger and sadness anywhere. So instead you're left stranded, numb, and catatonic; crying on the side of logging roads in northwest Washington and leaving your doors and windows open, hoping against all logic and reason that someone you loved might come back. 

It feels almost voyeuristic to "enjoy" it. The music was written and recorded so close to the moment of trauma, that much of the experience of listening to it feels like a punch straight to the gut. But that is exactly why I found it to be so damn powerful and incredible. Phil admits on the first song that death is not for singing about or making into art. And it does feel strange to call this "art." Whatever it is, though, is brutal. It is a rejection of death and a complete surrender to it all at once. It impacted me more than any other music I heard this year. 

________________________________________________________


[Read past year-end lists here]