100 Favorite Albums & EPs of 2017

What would 2017 have been without music.

Here’s my 100 (woo!) favorite albums of 2017, some numbered, others not because it becomes pretty arbitrary at a certain point.

I listened to a lot of good stuff, so dig in, I think you’ll find something to enjoy in this big net. These albums were my favorite emotional outlet this year, a consistent source of escape and comfort or an oft-needed distraction.

Here’s a quick table of contents if you wanna skip ahead to the goodies.

100 – 81: EPs & Short Albums (Listed Alphabetically)

  • This classification is tenuous for sure, it’s just where I’ve flagged content that was under 10 songs. 

80 – 51: Albums – Honorable Mentions (Listed Alphabetically)

  • Yeah…this is that point where it becomes arbitrary so these are listed alphabetically.

50 – 1: Albums – Top 50 OMG (Ranked)

  • These rankings will move in a year, a week, hell they’ve shifted while compiling this dumb list. The TOP 50 all include song recommendations, and the *TOP 25* have a few thoughts added on. Writing about music is fun and I wish I had more time!

100 – 81: EPs & Short Albums (Listed Alphabetically)

BOSCO – b.

Denitia – Ceilings

Gabrielle Aplin – Avalon

HalfNoise – The Velvet Face

Half Waif – form/a

Julia Michaels – Nervous System

Fire Is Motion – Still, I Try

GRMLN – Discovery

Jelani Sei – LVNDR TWN

Maggie Rogers – Now That The Light is Fading

Middle Kids – Middle Kids

Monti – The Heaven

Nick Murphy – Missing Link

No Vacation – Intermission

Rina Sawayama – RINA

Rubblebucket – If U C My Enemies

Samantha Urbani – Policies of Power

Sigrid -Don’t Kill My Vibe

Soccer Mommy – Collection

Tara Carosielli – I Know You Hate Me


 80 – 51: Albums – Honorable Mentions (Listed Alphabetically)

Amber Coffman – City of No Reply

Baths – Romaplasm

Cayetana – New Kind of Normal

Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex

Free Throw – Bear Your Mind

Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins

Hundredth – RARE

Katie Ellen – Cowgirl Blues

Kommode – Analog Dance Music

Marika Hackman – I’m Not Your Man

Mura Masa – Mura Masa

Nervous Dater – Don’t Be A Stranger

Paramore – After Laughter

Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps

Prawn – Run

Red Love – Red Love

Richard Edwards – Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset

Rozwell Kid – Precious Art

Ryan Adams – Prisoner

Seaway – Vacation

Shout Out Louds – Ease My Mind

Sløtface – Try Not to Freak Out

Slowdive – Slowdive

Sorority Noise – You’re Not as ___ as You Think

Special Explosion – To Infinity

Syd – Fin

Sylvan Esso – What Now

TOPS – Sugar At The Gate

Wild Ones – Mirror Touch

Zola Jesus – Okovi


 50 – 26: Albums – Top 50 OMG (Ranked w. Song Recs)

50. Destroyer – ken

50 destroyer - ken

Rec. If You Like:
misleading band names, sensuous rock arrangements

“In the Morning”
“Tinseltown Swimming in Blood”

49. Allie X – CollXtion II

49 alli x - collxtion 2

Rec. If You Like:
attitude, wearing your pop heart on your pop sleeve

“Paper Love”
“Need You”
“That’s So us”

48. Hodera – First Things First

48 hodera - first things first

Rec. If You Like:
emo rock, foggy mornings, taking the day by storm

“Out Of Sync”
“North Dakota”
“Best Intentions”

47. Charly Bliss – Guppy

47 charly bliss - guppy

Rec. If You Like:
fun dips, energy drinks, brushing your teeth to prevent cavities


46. Noah Gundersen – WHITE NOISE

46 noah gundersen - white noise

Rec. If You Like:
country roads, a strong sense of adventure


45. Kelela – Take Me Apart

45 kelela - take me apart

Rec. If You Like:
R&B, writing in your journal, reusable grocery bags


44. Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds from Another Planet

44 japanese breakfast - soft sounds

Rec. If You Like:
soft-rock, being led by the hand, disney princesses  

“Road Head”
“The Body Is a Blade”

43. Kevin Morby – City Music

43 kevin morby - city music

Rec. If You Like:
your dad’s rock-n-roll, long t-shirts, eating cereal for dinner

“City Music”
“Tin Can”

42. Beach Fossils – Somersault

42 beach fossils - somersault

Rec. If You Like:
breathy vocals, string arrangements, parking your car in the shade 

“This Year”
“Social Jetlag”
“Down the Line”

41. IDLES – Brutalism

41 idles - brutalism

Rec. If You Like:
IDEAS, going to church, fireworks a week after the holiday

“Well Done”
“White Privilege”

40. Alex Lahey – I Love You Like a Brother

40 alex lahey - i love you like a brother

Rec. If You Like:
energetic pop rock, making new friends

“Every Day’s the Weekend”
“I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself”
“Awkward Exchange”

39. Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm

39 waxahatchee - out in the storm

Rec. If You Like:
honesty, watching trains roll by

“8 Ball”
“Brass Beam”

38. blis. – No One Loves You

38 blis - no one loves you

Rec. If You Like:
emo-rock with something to prove, strong coffee in the morning

“Stale Smoke”
“Take Me Home”

37. Sinai Vessel – Brokenlegged

37 sinai vessel - brokenlegged

Rec. If You Like:
propulsive rock, a reassuring pat on the back  


36. Hajk – Hajk

36 hajk - hajk

Rec. If You Like:
indie pop, ensembles, words you can’t pronounce

“Best Friend”
“My Enemy”

35. Stars – There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light

35 stars - there is no love

Rec. If You Like:
dad pop, escapism, earnestness

“Fluorescent Light”
“Real Thing”

34. Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound

34 cloud nothings - life without sound

Rec. If You Like:
visiting old friends, forgetting to shave, milkshakes 

“Internal World”
“Enter Entirely”
“Modern Act”

33. Allison Crutchfield – Tourist in This Town

33 allison crutchfield - tourist

Rec. If You Like:
getting it off your chest, learning new things

“Dean’s Room”
“Mile Away”

32. Partner – In Search of Lost Time

32 partner - in search of

Rec. If You Like:
dynamic duos, weed, mozart in that movie amadeus

“Comfort Zone”
“Daytime TV”
“Play the Field”

31. Anna Of The North – Lovers

31 anna of the n - lovers

Rec. If You Like:
electropop, sitting by the fire in the snow

“Moving On”

30. Knuckle Puck – Shapeshifter

30 knuckle puck - shapeshifter

Rec. If You Like:
pop-punk, vans off the wall, turning it up loud

“Double Helix”

29. Cataldo – Keepers

29 cataldo - keepers

Rec. If You Like:
pop rock, warby parker, podcasts

“Little Heartbeat”
“Between You And Me”

28. Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms

28 creeper - eternity

Rec. If You Like:
your older sister’s punk rock, jack skellington, the color purple

“Hiding With Boys”
“Winona Forever”

27. Julien Baker – Turn Out the Lights

27 julien baker - turn out the lights

Rec. If You Like:
crying yourself to sleep, poetry

“Hurt Less”

26. Yumi Zouma – Willowbank

26 yumi zouma - willowbank

Rec. If You Like:
dream pop, a soft breeze, wearing light jackets

“Other People”

25 – 1: Albums – THIS IS THE TOP 25!!

25. Hoops – Routines

25 hoops - routines

Rec. If You Like:
noodly indie rock, going to the beach, hats

“On Letting Go”
“The Way Luv Is”

Hoops’ debut album had a lot to live up to after last year’s fantastic self-titled EP and this atmospheric, echoey indie rock record didn’t disappoint. It’s a fruity cocktail of playful instrumentation, a wave of perfectly calibrated noise that lets small moments of synth or guitar reverb guide you through your listen. Hop in the car. Go for a walk. Enjoy Hoops’ dreamlike trip through a different world.

24. A Will Away – Here Again

24 a will away - here again

Rec. If You Like:
a quiet confidence, shopping at kohls

“Here Again”
“Into The Light”

This is the breeziest pop-punk album of the year, a tight, focused burst of youthful energy. There were days this year where I’d listen to it on repeat for hours, its short run time providing a catchy, optimistic layer to the day. These young dudes have a perfect understanding of melodic pop-punk songwriting and the ease with which this album goes down makes me feel young and alive.

23. HAIM – Something to Tell You

23 haim - something to tell you

Rec. If You Like:
singing in the shower, letting the music take you over

“Want You Back”
“Ready For You”
“You Never Knew”

What a shock: The coolest girls on the block spent years touring the coolest places on earth and came back even cooler. On their second album, HAIM adds more personality and boldness to their formula, often shifting their sound from more traditional guitar rock to create a record of perfect pop-rock production. The band’s sense of surprise is as strong as ever, from their vocal deliveries to their embrace of throwback sounds. SOMETHING TO TELL YOU already feels classic, and these sisters feel destined for the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.

22. White Reaper – The World’s Best American Band

22 white reaper - worlds best

Rec. If You Like:
jean jackets, high fives, guitar licks

“Judy French”
“Little Silver Cross”

On this album, White Reaper makes a very strong case for themselves as THE WORLD’S BEST AMERICAN BAND, especially if your prerequisites are screeching guitar licks, an arena-ready vocal delivery, and a joyful, infection rock and roll energy. There’s a casual coolness to these songs, which often explode from humble opens to huge shout-along choruses. Go for a drive, grab a beer with some buddies, throw on this record and enjoy the show.

21. Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder

20 broken social scene - hug of thunder

Rec. If You Like:
big bands making big music, thinking about your life

“Halfway Home”
“Hug of Thunder”
“Mouth Guards of The Apocalypse”

Broken Social Scene feels like part of my DNA. I have an intense familiarity and love for so much of their earlier work, and now HUG OF THUNDER, their first album in seven years, seems to be an immune response produced by my body to help improve a year that was shit in so many ways. YOU MIGHT EVEN SAY IT FEELS LIKE A HUG (of healing thunder). The songs are as large and powerful as ever, providing a shot of warm adrenaline to accompany you while maneuvering through the world. Put this in your first aid kit.

20. Sam O.B. – Positive Noise

19 sam ob - positive noise

Rec. If You Like:
electro pop, freeways, donkey kong country

“Common Ground”

Sam O.B.’s POSITIVE NOISE is a positive force. It’s a chameleon in album form, electronic pop music that regularly plays with expectations, somehow managing to feel both futuristic and reminiscent of past eras. And as a buddy pointed out, it always sounds at least a little bit like the Donkey Kong Country soundtrack. In a year of so much music sharing, it was particularly fun to have this album recommended to me before paying it forward with reckless abandon. It’s hard not to find something here to fall in love with, whether it be “Common Ground”’s danceable chorus or “Sirens’” subtle grooves.

19. Future Islands – The Far Field

21 future islands - far field

Rec. If You Like:
bass + synth combos, late night talk shows, your inlaws

“North Star”

This album is a perfectly weighted wool blanket, a gruff but big-hearted friend. It’s loveable but a little wild, kinda like Toothless in HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. Future Islands’ THE FAR FIELD is groovy background music with an upbeat playfulness that slowly makes you sit up and pay more attention. Along the way may find a sad emotional center under the cool exterior. Maybe you’ll find a Debbie Harry cameo (“Strangers”). You’ll definitely find a warm and catchy synth-rock record.

18. SZA – Ctrl

18 sza - ctrl

Rec. If You Like:
confident R&B, masterful vocals, epiphanies

“Drew Barrymore”
“Broken Clocks”

CTRL was released in early June and as I’m writing this in December there are still several promotional posters pasted throughout my neighborhood, fading on plywood walls and peeling off dumpsters. I just passed a large grouping about an hour ago while walking my dog. This random fact feels right and unavoidable considering how ubiquitous SZA’s record was this year. It’s been this magnetic force between so many groups in my life, prompting passionate discussions of CTRL’s playfulness and swagger with obsessed coworkers, strangers on the internet, random people at coffee shops, my wife. It’s a phenomenal record of R&B confidence and soul searching.

17. The Smith Street Band – More Scared of You Than You Are of Me

17 smith street - more scared

Rec. If You Like:
loud rock music, accents, saying the glass is half-full

“Song for You”

My personal liner notes to this album read: “Break glass in case of stagnation.” I love BIG, NOISY rock bands with shouty vocals and The Smith Street Band loves making just that type of music. MORE SCARED OF YOU knows that BIG, NOISY expressions are inherently cathartic and goddamn if this album doesn’t make you feel better about being alive. I didn’t have a big brother before hearing this album. It’s a drinking buddy, a midnight confidante. A constant build and explosion that keeps you from sitting still, even if your life isn’t where you want it to be.

16. Charli XCX – Number 1 Angel / Pop 2

Rec. If You Like:
pop stardom, auto-tune, lip gloss

“Roll With Me”
Bonus Single: “Boys”

Charli XCX is pushing the boundaries of pop music while simultaneously becoming a brand, a booster, and a collaborator with exquisite taste. Here, with production help from PC Music, Charli tackles traditional lyrical topics (drugs, money, cars) in such a coy and sonically inventive way that you’ll likely find yourself smiling from ear to ear while listening.

And that paragraph could describe just NUMBER 1 ANGEL, her first release of the year. I mean…you remember that scene at the end of SORCERER’S STONE where Gryffindor randomly wins the house cup with all those random points? That’s kinda how I felt when Charli XCX casually dropped POP 2, 2017’s second incredible mixtape collaboration. No one is playing with pop stardom like Charli and I hope we get an endless supply of content, especially if it’s this much fun.

15. Alex Cameron – Forced Witness

15 alex cameron - forced witness

Rec. If You Like:
the 80s but in a good way i think, driving fast in a shitty car

“Runnin’ Outta Luck”
“Marlon Brando”
“Politics of Love”

Alex Cameron is a musical jokester, but he’s more SNL character sketch than Weird Al disciple. He embodies dudes that are silly but earnest, whether they’re searching for love while bumbling through internet courtship (“Studmuffin96”) or struggling to transcend traditionally masculine emotions (“Marlon Brando”). Whether or not you respond to Alex’s attempt to be the Pop Star for the modern age, there’s no denying his knack for writing propulsive, tongue in cheek pop songs that never fail to reveal his peculiar worldview.

14. MUNA – About U

13 muna - about u

Rec. If You Like:
sexy album art, bff necklaces

“I Know A Place”
“End of Desire”

If MUNA inherited the earth we would be unstoppable. This trio’s electronic anthems of raw emotion could be our bible, and as soon as we achieved a utopian status on earth we’d blast ABOUT U into the heavens to convert the rest of the galaxy. Any interstellar listeners would no doubt adopt the album’s candid approach to love and sex, acceptance, insecurities, dreams and disappointments. If these goals are a little too lofty, at least we’d all enjoy some time on the dance floor.

13. Gordi – Reservoir

14 gordi - reservoir

Rec. If You Like:
thinking about space, listening to ocean waves crash

“All the Light We Cannot See”
“On My Side”
“Heaven I Know”
“Something Like This”

Gordi makes pop soundscapes that somehow seem to predate life on earth, that’s the only way to explain how primal my reaction is to this album. Listening to RESERVOIR must be like listening to the Voyager Golden Record. It’s a document of only the strongest emotions, blasting through the void of time, crystallizing into a gorgeous, captivating collection of songs. There’s so much beauty here, from Gordi’s vocal manipulations that build and fold to the simple acoustic guitar strums that explode into uplifting choruses.

12. The xx – I See You

12 xx - i see you

Rec. If You Like:
relationships that last, boom claps

“On Hold”
“I Dare You”

This was the first album of the year to really floor me, and it was a collection I routinely checked in on as 2017 progressed. The xx have perfected their style, and they’ve added a spaciousness to I SEE YOU that’s addicting with how easy it is to get lost in. Songs are bigger, poppier, but also more mysterious. If you’ve ever enjoyed this band in the past, you’ll love them here.

11. Bleachers – Gone Now

11 bleachers - gone now

Rec. If You Like:
summer, visiting friends in new places

“Don’t Take The Money”
“Everybody Lost Somebody”
“Let’s Get Married”

Jack Antonoff was put on this earth to make pop music. With GONE NOW, his second album as Bleachers, he presents perfect, sugary pop servings of escapism and hope and blasts them into the universe. It’s a fun ride, each song a new flavor of sounds.. I guess it’s worth noting that the single “Don’t Take The Money” was my Song Of The Summer? With my recommendations, I leaned hard into the album’s overt pop offerings, but there’s some crooners on here too.

10. Land of Talk – Life After Youth


Rec. If You Like:
female-fronted indie rock, hypnosis, tarot cards

“This Time”
“Word Made”

LIFE AFTER YOUTH has its feet planted firmly on the ground, anchored by powerful, percussive instrumentation and a patient confidence to its songwriting. This musical foundation lets singer Elizabeth Powell’s voice roam free, and she conjures up the most beautiful, spacious melodies while soaring above the clouds. Every song is a journey of epic proportions as vocals are interrupted by sudden drum beats or shift unexpectedly into moments of stillness.

9. Jens Lekman – Life Will See You Now

09 jens - life will see you now

Rec. If You Like:
rewarding google searches, picture books, sunshine

“To Know Your Mission”
“Hotwire the Ferris Wheel”
“What’s That Perfume That You Wear?”

This album was a revelation! I’d never heard Jens’ music before this year, so his knack for weaving personal stories and observations into blissful, worldly pop music provided the perfect introduction to his work and I dove in greedily, consuming not only this album but his past work. It’s a bit cannibalistic, but I’ve since done my best to absorb some of his personality quirks, specifically how he approaches the world so lovingly and optimistically. Jens has a clear love for Music, which led to an album that is fiercely Musical, shifting genres and subverting expectations at each turn. On the opening track “To Know Your Mission,” Jens mentions how his career in music (re: songwriting, storytelling, filtering the world) is his purpose in life, and I couldn’t agree more.

8. The Menzingers – After The Party

08 menzingers - after the party

Rec. If You Like:
bar bands, being proven wrong, crying but in a happy way

“Thick as Thieves”
“Midwestern States”
“Your Wild Years”

If you’d asked me last year about The Menzingers I’d have responded with a shrug. I had a casual awareness of the band and liked but rarely returned to their two previous albums. This year, however, they put out AFTER THE PARTY, a rock record that has inspired me, moved me to tears, and nearly made me lose my voice from repeatedly shouting along. Many of the songs on AFTER THE PARTY are about moments of transition, whether they be age, location, perspective, relationship status, belief, etc, etc, etc. It makes sense that it’s been such a solid shoulder to cry on during 2017, a year full of my own personal growth, heartache, and euphoria.

7. The Districts – Popular Manipulations

07 districts - popular manipulations

Rec. If You Like:
indie ROCK, instagram, vocal twang

“If Before I Wake”

POPULAR MANIPULATIONS often exists at the breaking point – songs like VIOLET and SALT are so percussive and heart-palpitating that you almost expect the four Districts Dudes to lose control. Or drop dead. Their understanding of balance and noise is beautiful to behold in its minor chorded, shouty state of existence. These songs are also tremendously catchy, joyful, and raw.

6. Sampha – Process

06 sampha - process

Rec. If You Like:
static electricity, charged emotions

“Blood on Me”
“Kora Sings”
“Reverse Faults”

After falling in love with a number of his terrific collaborations, I couldn’t wait to see where Sampha’s angelic voice would take me on his debut album. Hearing him apply his imagination to PROCESS’ various piano ballads, electronic breakdowns, and twinkling melodies was a perfectly curated journey through his personal sonic universe. Each planetary stop is immediately recognizable as Sampha’s creation and the level of detail present – the peaks and valleys, the expansive oceans of sound, sunlight and darkness – never fails to amaze.

5. Oso Oso – The Yunahon Mixtape

05 oso oso - yunahon

Rec. If You Like:
catchy emo-rock, stubbing your toe

All of them!
“Reindeer games”
“The secret spot”
“The plant mouth”

I read somewhere that what makes THE YUNAHON MIXTAPE so great is that every song on the album will be your favorite at one point. When I think about the days I spent dedicated to each specific song I’m inclined to agree. It’s an album so full of surprises – tempo changes, bursts of lyrical honesty, a perfect bit of harmony – that I sometimes get chills just thinking about it. I once gasped while listening to THE YUNAHON MIXTAPE. It somehow refracts light, creating a space where songs bleed together but a particular chorus will jump out of you like it’s the fiercest earworm in existence. Songs end. Songs continue. Sometimes they’re about sneakers, sometimes they’re about reindeer. Rest assured that they’re all great.

4. Jay Som – Everybody Works

04 jay som - everybody works

Rec. If You Like:
indie pop, driving through your home town, headphones

“The Bus Song”
“One More Time, Please”
“Everybody Works”

This is an independent film that deserves to make a billion dollars worldwide. With EVERYBODY WORKS, Melina Duterte crafted a domestic masterpiece, a record that I discovered (and returned to) while doing housework, a record my wife and I listened to while driving through my smoggy hometown on the way to take family pictures. It’s a record made entirely in Melina’s bedroom, the perfect location to capture whispered conversations and deeper thoughts that never even make it that far. There’s a song for you on here, guaranteed, and it will make you feel alive when you find it.

3. (The Year of Our) Lorde – Melodrama

03 lorde - melodrama

Rec. If You Like:
contemplation, listening to songs on repeat

“Green Light”
“The Louvre”

MELODRAMA is an album of summer bangers, winter mood pieces, springtime anthems. Oftentimes, each song is a perfect mixture of each. The day lead single “Green Light” was released, I puzzled over it repeatedly, trying to figure out why it worked on me and why I fell more in love with every listen. Lorde delivers every line on the album with confidence, personal flair, energy – she’s the closest thing we have to a character from THE WICKED + THE DIVINE. MELODRAMA is a confessional concept album, with a vision so specifically Lorde’s that it’s a miracle it manages to feel so universal. Amen.

2. The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

02 war on drugs - deeper understanding

Rec. If You Like:
feeling music in your chest, driving through the rain in an unfamiliar city 

“Holding On”
“In Chains”

This album is movement. It’s the windows down, hands coasting through the breeze. It’s bopping down the sidewalk as I walk the dog, commute to work, fall asleep. I’m not saying The War On Drugs made a pact with the devil, but they do have the uncanny ability of distilling the fluidity and repetition of life into flawless, sprawling rock songs – just listen to the lyrics, the soulful guitar solos, maybe get lost in the atmospheric echoes that envelop each track.

1. Los Campesinos! – Sick Scenes

01 los camp - sick scenes

Rec. If You Like:
licking a 9-volt battery, making matt happy, literally any other LC! albums 

“5 Flucloxacillin”
“Got Stendhal’s”
“Hung Empty”

I saw Los Campesinos! live for the first (and potentially last) time in 2017 and it was my overall musical highlight. I bought not one but two of their t-shirts. So as I type “this may be the farewell record from my favorite band,” please note I do so while knocking on every piece of wood available in the room. SICK SCENES would be a worthwhile conclusion to the Los Campesinos! saga, but my selfishness and curiosity yearns for a follow-up. The album is the perfect indie-rock alchemy, an explosive, nostalgic, and realistic mixture of emotional lyrics and charged emotion. I needed this record and it brought me joy, from the echoey opening salvo to the final existential shout: “What if this is how we die?”

Now get listening!!

2 thoughts on “100 Favorite Albums & EPs of 2017

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