Friday, December 29, 2017

Top Twentysomething Albums of 2017

It's that time of the year again.

Like I did in 20102011201220132014, 2015, and 2016, I'm providing my top choices of albums that came out this year. 

If there are other albums you would recommend that came out in 2017, please let me know in the comments section.

1. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound

Not a big surprise here. Isbell put out another fine album this year. Unlike the previous album, this one showcased more rockers, which I thoroughly enjoy. Isbell and his comrades need to plug in the electric guitars more often and turn it up to eleven. "Hope the High Road" is one of my favorite songs of this year, and it effectively sums up my sentiments about the shit show that was the election and this past year. "White Man's World" is provocative exploration of white privilege. 

I am a bit flummoxed by the title of the album, however. Perhaps it was a juke move to get on the ballot of the CMT awards? I doubt it. Regardless, he has the poetic license to name the album whatever he wants, but I have these candidates for a better album title: Fire in Her Eyes, One Great Burden, One Fate, or Hope the High Road.

Favorite Songs: "Hope the High Road," "White Man's World," "Something to Love," and "Anxiety"

2. Benjamin Booker, Witness

This year I discovered Benjamin Booker. I'm late to the party. I like his mix of rock, R&B, and punk sensibilities. I need to get his debut album. 

Favorite Songs: "Motivation," "Truth is Heavy," "Overtime," and "All Was Well"

3. Father John Misty, Pure Comedy

I really got into this dude's music this year. The video of "Pure Comedy" has to be one of the highlights of the musical year. It reminds me of Twain's Letters from the Earth, and that's a huge compliment from me. That's one of my favorite Twain books. At times the album seems like Mr. Misty pontificating to musical tracks, but I like his pontificating. It's an album that when you sit down to or have on in the car on a road trip, it gets you trippy. In a good way. 

"Where did they find these goons elected to rule them? What makes these clowns they idolize so remarkable? These mammals are hell-bent on fashioning new Gods."

"I hate to say it, but each other's all we got." 

Favorite Songs: "Pure Comedy," "Total Entertainment Forever," "When the God of Love Returns There'll Be Hell to Pay," and "In Twenty Years or So"

4. Queens of the Stone Age, Villains

Man, Sirius XM's The Spectrum played the Hell out of "The Way You Used to Do" this year. I know it's a good song and all, but there are many other solid songs on the new Queens... album. If you like guitar-driven rock, this is worth your time. 

Favorite Songs: "The Evil Has Landed," "Feet Don't Fail Me Now," "Head Like a Haunted House," and "Domesticated Animals"

5. The War on Drugs, A Deeper Understanding

I had read critical praise for this band here and there over the years, but I didn't pay much attention to it. Then I took the dive and bought the band's new album. I got hooked. There's a hypnotic quality to the band's songs. They just suck you in.  

Favorite Songs: "Nothing to Find," "Holding On, "Up All Night," and "In Chains" 

6. JD McPherson, Undivided Heart and Soul

Now that's a great album cover if anyone cares about album art anymore. McPherson has a old-time rock-n-roll vibe to his work. What a great voice. What was missing from this album were the horns. His previous album featured horns in a good way. Regardless, this is a strong album that I happily listen to. 

Favorite Songs: "Let's Get Out of Here While We're Young," "Under the Spell of City Lights," "Style (Is a Losing Game)," and "Desperate Love"

7. Deer Tick, Vol. 2

Deer Tick came out with two albums this year. Vol. 2 is the more rock-oriented offering, the mustard of the two. This band is one of the more underrated groups playing right now. You need to buy their albums. Depending on the day, I could easily flip Vol. 1 for Vol. 2 in the rankings. 

Favorite Songs: "Jumpstarting," "Sloppy," "Tiny Fortunes," and "S.M.F."

8. North Mississippi Allstars, Prayer for Peace

After World Boogie is Coming, I didn't know what to expect from NMAS. This is another solid offering from the guys who provide healthy doses of rock/blues. Like Benjamin Booker's "Witness," "Prayer for Peace" weighs in on race relations. 

Favorite Songs: "Red Rooster," "Prayer for Peace," "You Got to Move," and "long Haired Doney"

9. Deer Tick, Vol. 1

Vol. 2 is the more folk-oriented offering of the two albums. 

Favorite Songs: "Doomed from the Start," "Hope Is Big," "Cocktail," and "Sea of Clouds" 

10. Son Volt, Notes of Blue

I think I have unrealistic expectations for Son Volt, aka Jay Farrar and other dudes he plays with. I found Honky Tonk disappointing, and considering the greatness of the band's earlier albums such as Trace and Swing Wide Tremelo, I cast a hypercritical eye on the new releases. 

I bought this album when it came out, listened to it a few times, and then didn't revisit until I drove up to Iowa to visit my dad. I decided to give it a second chance and realized it's a good album.

Favorite Songs: "Back Against the Wall," "Sinking Down," "Lost Souls," and "Cherokee St." 

11. Eric Bibb, Migration Blues

In a time in which a narcissistic, fact-challenged, pathological liar claims that he's going to build a wall to stop the illegal immigration that has actually declined, Migration Blues was a needed tonic. This is traditional blues fare we should be thankful for. 

Favorite Songs: "Delta Getaway," "Diego's Blues," "Masters of War," and "Postcard from Booker"

12. Matthew Ryan, Hustle Up Starlings

I dig this artist's scratchy voice and singer-songwriter bent. I had never heard of this guy before I read on some blog post that he had a new album out. The album is a mix of acoustic numbers and straightforward rock-n-roll. 

Favorite Songs: "It's a Delicate Waltz," "Battle-Born," "Close Your Eyes," and "Summer Never Ends" 

13. Trombone Shorty, Parking Lot Symphony

You know the deal. Trombone Shorty melds jazz, R&B, and rock to please your ears. I don't think it's the strongest of his albums, but it's enjoyable. 

Favorite Songs: "Tripped Out Slim," "Where It At?," "Laveau Dirge No. 1," and "Here Come the Girls" 

14. Turnpike Troubadours, A Long Way from Your Heart

This band keeps putting out strong after strong albums. I don't know if top 40 country stations play this band's songs because, in general, top 40 country sucks. The current "Nashville sound" is crap. Feces. Fertilizer. Merde. Unimaginative Shit.

Favorite Songs: "Oklahoma Stars," "The Housefire," "The Hard Way," and "Something to Hold on To"

15. Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears, Backlash

I like this guy's work. His songs often get selected when my iPod is doing its shuffle. He and his mates mix rock with horns. This album seems to be more guitar-oriented. 

Favorite Songs: "Global," "PTP," "Shadow People," and "Prison"

16. Foo Fighters, Concrete and Gold

I really enjoyed the band's previous album and the HBO series that corresponded with it. If you like hard rock, check out this new offering. 

Favorite Songs: "La Dee Da," "Run," "The Sky is Neighborhood," and "Make It Right"

17. Blitzen Trapper, Wild and Reckless

The band billed this as a dystopian album of sorts. I need to listen to the lyrics more carefully to suss that out. From what I recall, darkness lurks. 

Favorite Songs: "When I'm Dying," "Dance with Me," "Joanna," and "Baby Won't You Turn Me 

18. Margo Price, All American Made

This Illinois native is one of the few country musicians to speak out against MoscowDon. Good for her. 

Even better is that she has crafted a strong album that is worth your time. 

The title song and "Pay Gap" are great. 

Favorite Songs: "All American Made," "Pay Gap," "A Little Pain," and "Wild Women"

19. Prophets of Rage, self-titled

It's good to hear Chuck D doing his thing again. 

These songs could be political. 

Favorite Songs: "Living on the 110," "Hands Up," "Unfuck the World," and "Radical Eyes"

20. Weezer, Pacific Daydream

That was quick. This band that made its name in the 90s just had an album out last year. How productive. If you like Weezer, you'll like this album. 

I like Weezer. 

Favorite Songs: "Feels Like Summer," "Weekend Woman," "Any Friend of Diane's," and "Happy Hour"

Honorable Mentions

Bash & Pop, Anything Could Happen

Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Lotta Sea Lice

Fleet Foxes, Crack-Up

Josh Ritter, Gathering

Justin Townes Earle, Kids in the Street

The Secret Sisters, You Don't Own Me Anymore

Supersonic Blues Machine, Californiasoul

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