2017 was the year for musical breakthroughs, and if the rest of the year wasn’t that good, the music it birthed gave us something else to hold on to. I found myself gripping onto certain albums for weeks on end, using the anticipation of others as a tactic to keep myself alive, at least until I could hear the end result. In some cases, I was lucky enough to hear some of these songs live and thank the musicians myself. In no particular order, here is a list of my Top 10 favorite albums from this year. Albums that got me through some of the hardest times of my life, and albums that gave me something sweet to look back on.
“DAMN.” by Kendrick Lamar
It comes as no surprise that DAMN. is on any “album of the year” list. Kendrick has seven Grammy nominations this year, and for good reason. I remember when this album first came out, and looking back now, it sets the mood for the end of the school year/start of summer. There had been rumors that he was going to release an album that week, but nobody was entirely sure. I was working on some homework around 11:30 p.m., when I decided to go to Kendrick’s Spotify page and listen to To Pimp A Butterfly. I saw that there was a new album and genuinely felt the same excitement of waking up on Christmas morning as a kid. That moment in DNA when the beat switches had me in complete awe. In the following weeks, DAMN. was all I listened to. I stayed up until 3 in the morning just to watch a livestream of his set at Coachella. Kendrick sets a new bar for himself, while simultaneously topping his previous albums in a manner that leaves you thinking, “Is it possible for him to top this one?” I admire the way he approached getting personal and changing his style at the same time. If 2017 had a soundtrack, DAMN. would no doubt be a part of it.
“Forever” by Code Orange
As the categories for the Grammys seem to blend together more and more each year, leaving barely enough room for any alternative nominations, there are still bands that make the slight cut. But that isn’t to say it’s easy. Code Orange’s Grammy nomination for Forever is well deserved and a huge accomplishment for the hardcore/metal community. Forever is one of the most aggressive and committed albums to come out of 2017. Listening to it gives you a feeling of empowerment that cannot be replicated in the slightest. Its sharp lyrics and chaotic guitar pair together to give you a visual representation of the world they have created. A go-to album for when you need to channel your inner rage or get ready for the day Forever is an underrated masterpiece.
“As You Please” by Citizen
It isn’t very often that I have had an album or other work of art arrive at what seemingly is the perfect time in my life. However, the few times that it has happened felt like divine intervention. The arrival of Citizen’s As You Please is definitely not an understatement in this instance. This was the album that I didn’t know I needed until each lyric covered me gently like a blanket. I understood what each song was about and was able to quickly make a connection from my life to the album. Each song has its own meaning for me, and in doing so, has helped me navigate my way through a journey of healing and self-reflection. When it came out, there were multiple things in my life weighing on me, and for once, things made sense. It felt like everything was coming full circle. This effect was put into motion when I was able to see Citizen in November. As I stood against the stage, singing every word to every song, I could feel a change in my universe. As tacky as that sounds, there is no other way for me to explain it. Alt-rock at its finest, Citizen has matured in sound and created an album that is so beautiful, and it should not be taken for granted.
“You’re Not As ____ As You Think” by Sorority Noise
Words cannot begin to describe the weight this album has lifted off of my shoulders. Sorority Noise has crafted an album that is so raw and emotional, it’s almost uncomfortable in the best possible way. This is another one of those “divine intervention” albums, but it didn’t really take shape for me until a while after it came out. Through lead singer Cameron Boucher’s words, I was able to start a healing process that I am ultimately still going through. When this album took on another meaning for me, I had dreamt about meeting Cameron and telling him in person how much it meant to me and had helped me. I was fortunate enough to meet him on Sorority Noise’s tour with Citizen. All of the things I had wanted to say I was able to tell him, and the genuineness and kindness I felt in return filled me to the brim. As I hugged him and thanked him one last time, I felt nothing but happiness and relief. An album about death, self-reflection and navigating your way through life, it is a definite listen.
“A Black Mile To The Surface” by Manchester Orchestra
Manchester Orchestra has never failed to put out a thoughtful, brilliant album, but never have they put out an album like A Black Mile To The Surface. You can hear how much the band has matured, from the delicate lyrics to the melodic guitar that weaves through each song as you listen. For me, this album sheds a golden light on the summer and ultimately makes me want to go hiking, as simple as that sounds. One thing that is exact — that is how electrifying it makes you feel. Each song comes together to form a wave of mood swings, from the lightness of “The Sunshine” to the deep end turn of “The Wolf.” To put it into words, this album feels like a best friend, a companion, something to never leave your side. It will definitely leave an everlasting impression on you.
“This Old Dog” by Mac DeMarco
There are many words to describe Mac DeMarco, and “serious” isn’t usually one of them. However, with This Old Dog, there isn’t any other way to put it. Perhaps his music has remained a constant wave of seriousness, while he convinces us otherwise with his personality and stage antics. There are many elements to this album that give you fun-serious vibe, take the music video for “This Old Dog” or the way the keyboard dances throughout the album. Nothing can compare to seeing Mac DeMarco live, though. This is one of those cases, where hearing the songs live instantly made the album better and completely sold me — not to mention meeting Mac. To see him completely calm and cool before the show to making bizarre noises and crowd surfing was definitely the eye opener I didn’t know I wanted. All of this together creates an energetic feel to an album that ultimately deserves every bit of credit it gets — and more.
Greatest Hits–Remo Drive
To be from the same state as Remo Drive is something that I am very proud of, as silly as that may sound. I have watched this band start small and continually grow bigger and bigger, remaining humble throughout it all. Greatest Hits is an emo-punk staple, a wonderful contribution to the community. This album represents summer and the time shared with some of the most important people in my life. A highlight would be seeing Remo Drive in July with two of my best friends. As we screamed every lyric and jumped around with 100 other people, I felt a part of something that I had never felt before. If anything, this band and album serve as a constant reminder that no matter where you are from, you can do what you want and achieve what may seem impossible. Supporting local music has never been more rewarding and refreshing at the same time.
“Rocket” by (Sandy) Alex G
When I calculated what my most listened to albums, songs, genres, etc. of 2017 were on Spotify, Alex G came up in every single category. In fact, three of the five most listened to songs were from Alex G, and two were off of Rocket. It has been a soundtrack to my life for a while now, accompanying me in my endless homework sessions, on my way to school and every time I draw or paint. The fact that he can change so much through each album yet remain the same with lyrics and melodies is remarkable. With songs that radiate indie-country vibes and indie-rock sounds, it is hard not to get hooked. His other albums are not to be overlooked, however; rather, they are to be listened to as thoroughly as Rocket. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: (Sandy) Alex G is a pure genius.
“Smidley” by Smidley
I cannot even begin to explain how much of an impact this album has had on me. It is the sound of summer and my album for June. Listening to it now, I get nothing but warm fuzzy feelings and memories of the night I got to see songs from this album performed. The night holds a special place in my heart, along with the album. Smidley is the solo project of Foxing frontman Conor Murphy. What I find absolutely cool is a simple idea that this is his own thing, and while his work in Foxing is beyond important, Smidley should not by any means be overlooked. Each song connects to a certain part of me and fits perfectly with recent events in my life. That is my favorite thing about this album. I can go back to listen to it and find new things to love each time. I make new connections each time I listen, and it makes me feel whole. Out of all the musicians I have met, Conor has been my favorite. Not because of how famous he is or any other factor like that, but because of how genuine and gentle he was. I was able to have an actual conversation with him, and I felt that he actually cared about what I was saying to him. It felt amazing to tell him, “Hey! I love this! You did this! I’m so proud of you!” and feel the energy radiate from him. To make it even better, the whole band radiated an electric energy that felt magical. The way they danced and moved made its way into you. But my favorite memory is the way Conor’s glittery star hair barrettes sparkled in the lights. All of these feelings and memories come flooding back in an instant wave of nostalgia each time I listen, reminding me of one of the sweetest days of my summer.
“Flower Boy” by Tyler, The Creator
I don’t think I have ever heard an album as colorful as Flower Boy. I also don’t think I have ever anticipated an album as much as this one. As soon as I heard the news and release date, I knew that I had to hang on despite the hard things I was going through. Tyler, The Creator’s other albums have been nothing short of brilliant — and that’s an understatement. Naturally, I had high expectations for this album, which were met and exceeded. I remember going out as soon as I got the chance and buying a CD copy from Target. It was very important to me that I contributed to supporting one of my favorite artists, who had created something so beautiful. Tyler has said that the album is best when listened to in a car with your friends, driving during a sunset. And judging from experience, he is absolutely right. There is no doubt in my mind that it hasn’t been given the credit it deserves. Almost everyone I know has heard it and praises it. If Tyler didn’t think he had a wide fanbase then, he definitely has one now. This album represents summer and rain and sunshine and all the seasons and months combined. To put it simply, Tyler has managed to run a clothing line, a carnival/music festival, a collab with Converse, create a show for Adult Swim, star in a documentary series for Vice, and, make a fantastic, genius, brilliant album.
The OOZ–King Krule
Horse Jumper Of Love–Horse Jumper Of Love
Come Over When You’re Sober–Lil Peep
Everybody Works–Jay Som
Pure Comedy–Father John Misty
Created In The Image Of Suffering–King Woman
A Hairshirt Of Purpose–Pile
Turn Out The Lights–Julien Baker
A Crow Looked At Me–Mount Eerie
Plastic Cough–Great Grandpa
Heatwave–Trapped Under Ice
Big Fish Theory–Vince Staples
Loss Memory–Coma Cinema
Swear I’m Good At This–Diet Cig