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What I Listened to in 2017

Every year, I jot down my favorite albums, movies, and books. This was a great year for music and below are the albums that meant the most to me. In other words, these are the albums I listened to the most that came out this year and why you might like them too. 

Swallowed in Leaves by Morgan Crooks (2017)
American Dream by LCD Soundsystem. LCD Soundsystem is a band lurking on the fringe of my awareness for many years. A mix of casual indie drone and dance music, this band struck me as something to appreciate in theory more than practice. That changes with this album. Apparently the product of a specific request by the late David Bowie, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem put together this collection to reflect what happened last year and this. The results are staggering. I think what impressed me first is the degree of FREEDOM in this album. The happy hybrid between indie rock noise and dance music grooves produces one epic and heart-rending moment after another. This didn't stop being my favorite album of the year from the second I first heard it. Standouts: oh baby, how do you sleep?, and tonite.

DAMN. By Kendrick Lamar. I like music to make me feel something. Music that makes me understand what I didn't know I was already feeling. That describes this latest and best album by Kendrick Lamar. From the first spoken line to the last, DAMN. describes loss, confusion, and grief of a person wholly unprepared feel any of that. Kendrick's gift is making the specific feel unviersal and the universal sound like it hand-crafted to make you dance your pain away. Standouts: DNA., FEEL., and FEAR.

Masseduction by St. Vincent. St. Vincent has had a few appearances on my year-end lists. This might be my favorite album of hers. Thundering, funky, raw, and triumphant, this is an album that can only be produced by someone at the absolute peak of their creative talents. That peculiar voice of Ann Clark is pitched one half step lower than you might think it would be, a half step ahead of where you expect it, and ready to puncture whatever cheery illusion you just thought up. Come for the danceable rhythms, stay for the poetry. Standouts: Masseduction, Pills, and Happy Birthday, Johnny.

Science Fiction by Brand New. Indie rock crafted with an eye towards rock opera epiphanies and self-flagellating ballads. None of these songs settle into easy patterns. All of them find some way of melting faces. But whether talking about manic depression, failed relationships, bigotry, or loss of control, these songs describe a society slowly sliding into the sea. Standouts: Lit Me Up, Can't Get It Out, and the quiet fury of Could Never Be Heaven.

Eternity, In Your Arms by Creeper. The best album of 2002 was accidentally put in a vault and released this year. I was never big into emo-rock but this album makes me a believer. It's the tunes and the emotional complexity of the lyrics. Unafraid of bleak topics and searing drama, Creeper has five or six songs I had trouble prying out of my brain. Standouts: Black Rain, Down Below, and Winona Forever.

Other notable albums were: The Underside of Power by Algiers, A Crow Looked at Me by Mount Eerie, and Painted Ruins by Grizzly Bear.


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