It’s my favorite time of year, again. It’s not every day that people find it socially acceptable to do random “Media Lists” (which I have an affinity for). I don’t know what it is. I’ll admit it is slightly pretentious and “showy,” but I find it fun nonetheless. Now, for the only end of the year list I feel worthy writing on, music’s finest. As a precursor, this year had one amazing first half, in which the majority of my albums came from. I thought it so good in fact that the latter half would ruin everything, that was only slightly the case. In fact, the first half year gave forth a whopping 4 of my 5 selections.
That is not to say there weren’t any honorable contenders that hurt to exempt. No, the likes of Harry Styles’ classic sounding Self-Titled (which I get plenty of grief for enjoying), The Killers’ return to form Wonderful Wonderful, Vinyl Theater’s dependable Origami (not as experimental as you think), Bleacher’s quirky Gone Now, Ed Sheeran’s enjoyable ÷ (Divide), and Fleet Foxes’ extravagant Crack-Up (had I been slightly more artistic/cultured, I’d have felt worthy making this selection) were unfortunate casualties. Not only that, but had Lorde’s incredibly crafted Melodrama (debatably, the years finest) and Queens of the Stone Age’s classically fascinating Villains been less explicit and/or more positive, they’d have had a fighting chance to rank.
What I was looking for this year, and enjoyed thoroughly, were immsersive albums that had something to say. A musical uniformity felt throughout, a perspective on life perfectly captured, lessons that perhaps challenged or encouraged. These are characteristics in the following albums that made me fall in love with them. That is not to say they are perfect (mostly in regards to content), but they embody what I was looking for, and ultimately, what I enjoyed in the year 2017.
5. Foster the People – Sacred Hearts Club
One of the many fascinations of mine I’ve had this year, in which I was unable to pen any remarks on. Rest assured, however, that Sacred Hearts Club shows Foster putting every best foot forward. While thematically, Supermodel was far from a letdown. Still though, on a musical basis, their sophomore record left a few of their devotees in the dust. Sacred Hearts Club, however, could be accused of no such display. Not only were the likes of SHC and Pay The Man great holler-back tracks, but they also progressed in mature (and even slightly odd) new heights with the likes of Loyal Like Side and Nancy (believe me, it not only grows on you, it blooms). The continuation of disco callbacks (like Sit Next To Me) and insistence on meaningful lyrics (like the beautiful III) continues to put FTP on the top of my list, as well as those of their fans. Welcome back, boys!
Best Song (a perhaps tired, but still fun gimmick on these lists): Sit Next To Me
Worst Song: I Love My Friends (not to be confused with their previous Best Friends, a great highlight off Supermodel)
4. Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms
As I so frequently point out in a moment’s notice, the genre of Hard Rock (if you will) hasn’t really been to my liking for the past 10 or so years. All that seems to be up for debate with Creeper’s debut record, Eternity, In Your Arms. While the band in question had gathered a respectable following (in the smaller scene) long ago, they completely took me aback in this release. While slightly generic and garage band on the surface, clarity quickly reveals that neither accusation could stand. Creeper is one of the most metaphorical and extensive universe crafters I’ve come to find in music today. Nearly every LP, song, music video, and even social media post adds to the richness of their material. But don’t let that scare you, this well-crafted, head-banging, haunting, mature, and even (when viewed as a whole) altogether inspiring album stands on its own two feet.
Best Song: Down Below.
Worst Song: perhaps Room 309 for thematic reasons, but depending on your interpretation.
3. Khalid – American Teen
A grandiose epic for the 2017 adolescent, if ever there was one. It might sound like a pretentious and unnecessary feat, but when young Khalid Robinson’s creativity and vision is at the forefront, it’s impossible to ignore. This 19-year-old has been everywhere this year (along with his incredibly moody and restrained vocals), but nowhere as impressive as in his debut album. His mastery of old-school R&B and hints of Jazz, infused with the most eclectic and capturing modern styles is altogether inspired. While easily the most explicit album on my list (check out my review for details), the sheer length of the album more than compensates for the few bad eggs. Khalid’s style, vocals, and mature direction in this album took many this year by storm, and it was a shame only few in the Grammy Academy took notice (Bruno Mars again? C’mon, man!).
Best Song: Keep Me (but Location was featured everywhere for a reason)
Worst Song: Let’s Go, for content purposes, but the worst musically is easily Hopeless. By the time it comes around, it feels tired and familiar.
2. Paramore – After Laughter
If I could permit a tie, it would easily be for my top two selections. If I’m honest, this album wins “most views/streams” of my year. No joke, I can’t think of a week during summer in which I didn’t play it through completely at LEAST once. While Paramore has a leg up, what with them being among my all-time favorite bands. Still though, this 80’s synthetic change of pace nearly rocked my world, and I can’t get enough of it. Fun, zany, intricate, and even altogether sorrowful: this album slays in every regard. To make matters worse, this album has a constant thread of overcoming depression, jealousy, sick relationships, and our pasts, all which just resonate (as well as amuse, in typical Hayley Williams fashion). This may not sound or look like old Paramore, but the heart and foundation is altogether the same, but with some maturity thrown in for good measure.
Favorite Song: Hard Times. But I could name half the album as well.
Worst Song: The music ballad, No Friend, still doesn’t entirely work, but it has slightly grown on me.
1. The Maine – Lovely Little Lonely
A last-minute change up for me. I had Paramore secured as #1 since July, but things change when looking at a hindsight year. I can’t lie, the minimal length of this album makes the crude content of Bad Behavior a rather glaring frustration. But with that aside, this, I believe, will be the overall theme and sensation for me when looking a’back to 2017. This album just spoke to me in ways words nearly can’t describe. The themes of life’s beauty, hardship, and solitude were sobering and reflective. Not only that, this simple young and punk rocking band took these simple themes, and bathed them in a sensational, captivating, transporting, and nostalgic atmosphere, that all coincided with their previous music (especially that of their album American Candy). Yes, this album might need some editing/deleting for the youngsters, but as far as destination, mood, empathy, and even hopefulness is concerned, no album better related to these, nor myself, then that of Lovely Little Lonely.
Best Song: The Sound of Reverie and Don’t Come Down nearly tie, but the prior inches just barely past.
Worst: Bad Behavior for content purposes.
My hope and prayer is that 2017 was a blessed year for you, and that there were far greater things to dwell and worry on than merely music. But if you enjoy the stuff like I do, I’d be curious to know what were some of your favorite selections. Until then, let’s see what 2018 has in store…
P.S. Sia’s quirky and cheesy Christmas album is a downright blast. Don’t be a grinch, go check it out!