Now I'm not going to lie, keep up with new music this year was a challenge. So much stuff was released that there was no way I could keep up with it all and after a while I stopped trying to. Even with that being said, this year's list of top records is the longest I've put together possibly ever. And it might have been longer, but after much deliberation and thought, I narrowed things down to my Top 40 Records of 2017.
My music listening habits changed a bit in 2017. Part of this was cause by issues with the CD player in my car (yes I still buy CDs), my decision to bite the bullet and invest in the family plan of Spotify Premium ($15 of the best dollars I spend ever month), then there was the FM transmitter that stopped working preventing me from listening to streaming music in the car (I listen to a lot of music in the car) and the nicer FM transmitter that I bought to replace it, and then there was my unconscious desire to listen to more older music (as highlighted by my Spotify listening habits this year). Some of this last part I'm sure has a lot to do with my age (getting older sucks) and some has to do with the fact that this was a pretty rough year for me personally and turning to things you know provides comfort. That's not to say that there weren't records that immediately hit me like a ton of bricks, because pretty much the entire top 11 helped keep me going just as much as those old records that I cherish. So when I first started mentally putting this list together a couple of months ago I was actually surprised how many different releases kept coming to mind. And as time went on, the list kept growing because there was a shitload of great records released in 2017. Sure this is a sentiment that I bring up every year but it's true. There is great music being made each and every year, you just have to go and find it. And thanks to the internet, finding music now is 1000 times easier than it was when I was in high school.
I would be remiss if I didn't talk about some of the losses we faced in 2017. Music legends from the early days of rock 'n' roll like Chuck Berry and Fats Domino, '70s teen heartthrobs like David Cassidy, soul legends like Al Jarreau, Joni Sledge, and Charles Bradley, punk and alt rock pioneers like Grant Hart, Chuck Mosley, and Chris Cornell, a founding member of AC/DC in Malcolm Young, and Tom Petty. And that's just a few. Each one of these artists that we lost touch people through their words and their music and all will be missed.
This list consists of the 40 best records, albums, and EPs that 2017 had to offer. Herein you will find punk indie, rock, alt country, folk, and a few things that are all of this and more. Each and every single one of these artists put their hearts and souls into this work and every record on this list is not only worth your time but deserves your attention and support. As with previous years lists, I have broken this into posts with 10 records each and a list of honorable mentions.
30-21, 20-11, 10-1, Honorable Mentions
40. Horse of the Other World by See Through Dresses
BandCamp, Tine Engines, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
See Through Dresses sophomore full-length is a fuzz drenched piece of shoegaxery post-punk goodness. Horse of the Other World is a brilliant mix of Joy Division's pulsating basslines and Lush's lush soundscapes while still feeling new and modern. The dueling vocals of Sara Bertuldo on guitar ans synths and Mathew Carroll on guitar create deep layers that bring something new to the table with each listen. Plus they are super nice folks.
39. Corner by football, etc.
BandCamp, Community Records, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify
Football, etc.'s third full-length Corner effortlessly fuses elements of melodic indie rock with poppy emo. The result is a collection of 10 earnest and emotional mid-tempo melodic numbers that feel timeless, new, and familiar all at the same time.
38. Clocking In / Clocking Out by TV Crime
BandCamp, Drunken Sailor Records
TV Crime's sophomore EP is just plain fun. And honestly fun doesn't do this record justice. Mixing elements of '70s punk, '50s rock 'n' roll, glam rock, and pub rock, TV Crime have stumbled onto something special. My only complaint is that this record is so short. Two songs of this quality are just not enough! Please make more records!!!
37. Never a Dull Movement by Kid You Not
BandCamp, Deep Elm Records, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
Kid You Not's full-length debut is a blast of high energy, melodic punk rock in the vein of Latterman, Red City Radio, Iron Chic, and Dillinger Four. The songs have intensity, heart, and honest introspection and observations. In other words, this freaking rules!
36. Hush by Kindling
BandCamp, 6131 Records, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
In just three years, Kindling have churned out five EPs, one split, and two full-lengths, Hush being the second. In that time the five-piece from Massachusetts have nearly perfected the shoegaze sub-genre. This record is drive by distortion and fuzz, while still bringing the melody and pop sensibilities. The vocals are a breathy and soothing blend of harmonies brought to life by Gretchen Williams and Stephen Pierce and very reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine. Mike LeSuer really summed up this album's aura perfectly in his review for Post-Trash --
As the musical zeitgeist debates the merits of rebranding and the limits of artistic integrity, Easthampton’s Kindling slumps into the lecture hall inexcusably late, earphones in, hair unkempt, and tosses their backpack into an empty seat in the nosebleeds, likely partaking from a grungy relation of shoegaze that wrought Beach House. Despite a slight improvement in recording technology since their 2014 debut, the five-piece has been busy cranking out new iterations of the same basic formula over the span of four EPs and a full length, presently following up January’s No Generation EP with more spitfire noise pop in the form of LP number two, Hush.
This is a must for fans of Slowdive, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and the aforementioned My Bloody Valentine.
35. New Magnetic by Holy Hands
BandCamp, Atomic Action Records
Holy Hands is a new post hardcore band from the northeast. The band's full-length debut New Magnetic is a high energy blast of melody, ferocity, and heart that include anthems, ballads, and everything in-between. This is how post hardcore should be done.
34. Desolation Monday by SteveO & The Crippling Addictions
BandCamp, Say-10 Records, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
SteveO & The Crippling Addictions' debut Desolation Monday is a fun romp of punk-via-classic-rock anthems that will have you dancing and singing along. This record is a must for fans of SteveO's former band The Holy Mess, The Hold Steady, Nothington, and for the more adventurous Tom Petty fans.
33. Survival Pop by Worriers
BandCamp, SideOneDummy Records, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
Worriers' Survival Pop perfectly blends elements of punk, power pop, indie rock, emo, and folk with piercing and powerful lyrics resulting in a powerhouse of a record. The brainchild of Lauren Denitzio, this is a record of cathartic optimism after a fall, expressing the rage of the moment with the hope for the future.
32. Big Bad Luv by John Moreland
Port Merchandise, 4AD, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
John Moreland's fourth full-length album (and seventh when counting his records with the Black Gold Band and the Dust Bowl Souls) Big Bad Luv is his fullest and most robust pure country record to date. Driving the record are Moreland's unmistakable lyrics and heart-wrenching vocals but this time around they are back by a full band. In many ways this record is closer to the country and blues of his solo debut Earthbound Blues than the sparse folk of In The Throes and High On Tulsa Heat.
31. Anything Could Happen by Bash & Pop
BandCamp, Fat Possum Records, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify
One The Replacements' reunion tours ran their course, bassist Tommy Stinson resumed his solo career releasing a single and an EP in 2015 before starting on his next full-length. During that process a full band came together with a sound very reminiscent of Stinson's first post-Replacements project Bash & Pop. Anything Could Happen, the first Bash & Pop record in 25 years, is a blast of power pop rock and pretty much exactly what one would expect from a former member of The Replacements. These songs are catchy, dripping with hooks, and infectious as all get out.