Most year-end lists try to objectively let you know what the best albums of the year are, either in the industry as a whole or within a given genre. But we’re a podcast about how music affects each of us, so our list is more personal (forgive us, Lorde). These albums are ranked by how much we listened to them, what they meant to us, what they meant to the world, and how great we thought they were. If you disagree, that’s probably good. Make your own dang list. Here’s to a lot more great music in 2018! – Evan & Pat
We don’t listen to a ton of rap, but to ignore this album would be to ignore music in 2017. Kendrick’s latest album is a masterpiece. From the soulful opening number to the 3x platinum banger “HUMBLE.,” DAMN. weaves together poignant lyrics, a sonically-diverse backdrop, and Lamar’s killer delivery into a piece of work that grabs you by the ear and refuses to let go. Maybe we should listen to more rap.
Check out: “LOYALTY. (FEAT. RIHANNA)”
This debut album from Brooklyn’s Early Riser (past guest!) is a bit of fun a bit of introspection and ultimately inspiring. The combination of acoustic guitar, cello, and vocal harmonies are endearing and refreshing. Currents is an ardent album that’s passionate when it feels sad, and shining with positive vibes. It perfectly encapsulates existing in this generation, and we love it. It also includes one of our favorite lyrics: “Maybe this is the year, I’ll get a tattoo behind my ear.”
Check Out: “The Nevers”
Annie Clark is a virtuoso. Everything from the raging glitchy synths, fuzzy guitars, lyrics, and stark still life music videos build to paint a brutally honest and personal album. There are dancey songs about escapism and excess that are paired perfectly with ballads that capture the essence of the people you care about the most.
Check Out: “New York”
Leslie Feist is Canadian comfort music at its best. For those raised during indie’s heyday, Feist has become a constant and reassuring voice. Her latest album lives up to her past with its cinematic arrangements and emotive songwriting.
Check out: “A Man Is Not His Song”
A largely stripped down affair, Turn Out The Lights allows Baker’s voice to take center stage and it rattles you to the core. Most songs consist of only vocals, piano, and strings with no drums on the entire album. With an ability to convey her experience so acutely, this album has become an instant classic of “sad music.”
Check out: “Appointments”
On the surface, Precious Art is a goofy album with songs about eating Taco Bell and being turned into a dog. It also happens to be one of the most heartwarming this year. Rozwell Kid nail Thin Lizzy guitar solos in songs about Wendy’s and sing about boogers in a heartwarming love song. It’s an album that’ll get you singing along to every note. Come for the songs about wizards, stay for the delightful song about Michael Keaton.
Check Out: “Boomerang”
4. SZA – Ctrl.
SZA’s debut LP is able to artfully balance beautiful arrangements and ear-grabbing vocal parts with a swagger that’s enviable. All the while, she allows for moments of vulnerability to show through and gets a whole song about pussy in there. This album feels like the breakout success of the year and her recent performances on SNL and Fallon only seem to confirm that she’s not going anywhere.
Check out: “The Weekend”
This album is devoid of lyrics, and at first glance, the only semblance of meaning comes from the album title and the cryptic song titles. Endless Shimmering ranges from thunderous to delicate. Every sound feels deliberately placed, with all of the excess trimmed. This album is a wild ride that is relentlessly positive and in the end, leaves you with a smile on your face.
Check out: “Mullally”
Survival Pop makes punk personal. It’s a melodic exploration of relationships, anxieties, and discovering who you are. This album places sentimental memories of being young front and center and makes taking care of yourself something you’ll sing along to at the top of your lungs.
Check Out: “WTF is Sleep”
The debut from former Chumped bandmates Anika Pyle and Dan Frelly’s new band Katie Ellen, Cowgirl Blues is our favorite album of the year. At times a raucous affair while also being able to strip back to just vocals and guitar, one thing that never waivers is the sincerity and heart in Pyle’s voice and lyrics. Seeing Katie Ellen play the tiny backroom of a Brooklyn bar was one of our live music highlights of 2017 and they’ve put out an album to match the intimacy of that experience.
Check out: “Lucy Stone”