Saturday, January 06, 2018

Serious Radio: My Favorite Music of 2017

9. Broken Social Scene, "A Hug of Thunder"

Only the fifth studio album in 18 years from this Canadian rock band, "Hug of Thunder" showcases everything resplendent about the group. Pop-driven at times..... epic arena rock at others..... ditzy experimentalism in between. I love this band so much and hope they never stop swerving between sounds and confections.

8. Max Richter, "Out of the Dark Room"

Essentially a re-packaged anthology of his best work (mostly including soundtrack bits), composer Max Richter continues to create dreamy, melancholy and heartbreaking arrangements that speak to the mind and the soul.

7. The Arcade Fire, "Everything Now"

I didn't think I could admire an Arcade Fire album more than their previous few, but "Everything Now" is so full of vital moments and heart wrenching displays of personal reflection that it feels like their most personal work to date.

6. The Afghan Whigs, "In Spades"

After a decade away from each other, The Afghan Whigs have produced two stellar albums that echo back to their strained 90's melancholy and lead singer Greg Dulli's singular ability to make pained poetry out of a voice that sounds like he's making it up on the fly. "In Spades" may actually be better than "Do the Beast" from two years ago. More listens are needed.

5. Julie Byrne, "Not Even Happiness"

New York singer songwriter Julie Byrne came streaking out of the blue and her confident voice- at once forceful and lilting- stuck something deep inside me. One of two original female singer-songwriters on this list, I'd say American folk (and music in general) will only benefit from her mesmerizing future.

4. Do Make Say Think, "Stubborn Persistent Illusions" 

Canadian instrumental post-rock is certainly not everyone's favorite genre of music, but these guys make it seem so effortless. There's nothing groundbreaking to their sound here.....just good old fashioned, lengthy wall of sound that washes over one like a waterfall of audible bliss.

3. Phoebe Bridgers, Stranger In the Alps

Much has been made this year of artist Mount Eerie and his blisteringly honest debut that lays bares the whims of his soul after his wife's death. I'd rank Bridgers' debut as just as honest and crushing and scarred. I love this album and this singer so much.

2. The National, "Sleep Well Beast" 

Each and every lyric/melody in The National's latest masterpiece uncovers a feeling of yearning, sadness or supreme bliss. It's that good. Next to Radiohead, this is the best band in the world.

1. Grizzly Bear, "Painted Ruins"

Another album of pure perfection, Grizzly Bear's fifth release culminates into a shattering sound of driving drum lines, evolving melodies and abrasive shifts in tempo that keep you on the edge of your seat, as if the band is pretty damn sure they're making something legendary.

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