My 2017 Top 20 Albums – Pure Comedy!

2017 was a nice year for music. There was enough new and enough returning music to satisfy any music fan. There were big releases from the likes of Taylor Swift and U2 and plenty of pleasant surprises. This is my list of my 20 favorite albums with a small blurb for my top ten albums. Hopefully you will find an album or artist you will like. You can also take a listen to the NPR Music Top 100 Songs playlist on Spotify.

  1. Pure Comedy – Father John Misty – Anyone who knows me is aware that J. Tillman is my favorite artist right now. His last three albums have been my favorites for the year and this one might be my favorite of all of them. A sardonic and reflective album that has deep lyrical complexity and meaning. In this time he is our songwriter. The title track itself is just a masterpiece. The album has a feeling of the Tumbleweed Connection era Elton John. There are so many references on this album a taxonomy of it’s connections may be a great project. Just amazing.
  2. A Deeper Understanding – War on Drugs – If J. Tillman is my favorite songwriter then War on Drugs is my current favorite band. The Philadelphia band is gritty, and garage. I love how working class this music is and how reflective it is of the area they are from. You can feel the dark, humid bar this album and band belongs in.
  3. Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice – I hope they keep this partnership up. The amplified effort is why duets can be so powerful. Years ago Aimee Mann and Michael Penn had similar chemistry and these two have the same power. Beautiful lyrics and their distinct voices are incredible.
  4. Margo Price – All-American Made – She had my favorite album last year and this one is just as good. The title track is just a heartbreaking song about being a woman in America as most of this album is. Margo is quickly becoming the voice of alt-country. Her sweet twang is only matched by the bite of her lyrics.
  5. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. – The number one album by all critical and fan measurements this is a revelation. I suspect this album will become generational in time. A takedown of our current political and social world and a personal story of the highest order. We are all just living in Lamar’s world. DNA. is my favorite song of the year.
  6. Lorde – Melodrama – Lorde is this generation’s Nirvana, there I said it. She is the millennial’s voice and she knows how to use it. This album will likely go down as an artifact on the promise and hopelessness of her generation. Songs like Green Light sound like anthems to no one but all of these songs are just a reflection of the time.
  7. St. Vincent – Massedcation – Most fans felt this was a step back. I say this was a giant leap forward. Of course she is one of the best guitarists alive but why stop there. She uses the guitar in genius ways to produce new sounds and feelings. She strips down her music to give a more mature sound that I think will age well.
  8. Future Islands – The Far Fields – Future Islands are one of my favorite pop outfits and they just continue to grow as a band. They continue their homage to 80s Synth and Pop but add an edge of darkness and shoegaze. I get they are likely limited in their audience but I think they have a bright future.
  9. SZA – CRTL – I had been hearing for years about SZA and this was her first album. This combination of R&B, Hip Hop, Jazz, Rock, Electronic, and Pop is a creative masterpiece. It is also very sexually charged at times, showing her personal sexual journey and serving as a clenched fist to empower women to own their own journey.
  10. Depeche Mode – Spirit – Depeche Mode still defies time and creative lapses. Where’s the Revolution is just another song in their songbook that reminds you why they are the grandfathers of 80s Synth. It’s at the same time dark and energetic and showcases all of the members of the band. Depeche Mode is on my Mount Rushmore of music.
  11. OMD – The Punishment of Luxury
  12. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
  13. Beck – Colors
  14. Alphaville – Strange Attractor
  15. Kahlid – American Teen
  16. Taylor Swift – Reputation
  17. Future – HNDRXX
  18. Drake – More Life
  19. Harry Styles – Harry Styles
  20. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

See everyone next year!

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