Such a rich year for music, it was. Enjoy a list that's probably too long to maintain anyone's attention. Lots of new, lots of reissues, these are the releases from 2017 that carved out a special place somewhere inside of us at some point this year. Enjoy a Spotify playlist at the bottom of the list if you prefer to ingest these things audibly.
The confident debut from Syrian-American, Azniv Korkejian, is retro folk-rock and tracks like "One of These Days" and "Mind's Eye" are worn-in gems.
Molly Burch- Please Be Mine
Molly Burch's achingly beautiful vocals sing waltzing melodies with matrimonial guitar arrangements of loss and love on Please Be Mine that leave us longing for more from the budding young songwriter.
Shannon Lay- Living Water
Shannon Lay's quiet step away from her LA punk roots as the first artist signed to Kevin Morby's Mare Records imprint label with a slew of fierce and sedating lullabies.
Angel Olsen- Phases
Angel Olsen's release of B-sides and rarities taken from the My Woman recording sessions not only exhibits how elevated Olsen's songwriting has become in the last year, but also the profusion of unique tracks she has in her holster.
Julie Byrne- Not Even Happiness
Julie Byrne's hypnotizing folk is a fantastic slow creeper that elegantly draws you near with her cozy charm.
Aldous Harding- Party
Aldous Harding haunting vocals and bleak, melancholy acoustic plucking make for one of the year's most solemnly beautiful records.
Michael Nau- Some Twist
Nau widens his mastery of vintage tones and authentic creativity with genuine, irenic tracks that encompass country shuffle to western soul.
Jack Cooper- Sandgrown
On his first solo record away from Ultimate Painting, Cooper writes anthems to his fogged-in hometown becoming flyover territory. The record took Cooper back home for reflection on his childhood and answers the questions of his youth.
John Andrews & the Yawns- Bad Posture
John Andrews stays busy as a member of Quilt and Woods but luckily found time to release Bad Posture, his second full length from the soft-spoken, mellowed out ragtime, home recording phenom. The record was recorded in an 18th century house-turned-orphanage in Upstate New York and every creak and squeak can be felt through Andrews' rosewater ballads.
Cut Worms- Alien Sunset
What initially started as a demo submission to Jagjaguwar was quickly packaged and sent back out the door as Max Clarke's debut EP with the label. The demos were so special in their own right that the material deserved to be heard in its rawest and purest form. The results are a concoction redolent of Everly Brothers style twang and harmonies. Word is a Cut Worms full length formal LP is due out early 2018.
Hand Habits- Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void)
Meg Duffy has long been a catalytic sonic figure on guitar supporting a variety of artists, this year mostly as Kevin Morby's lead guit-shredder. Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void) is Meg's turn to express herself fully as a songwriter, singer, while still tearing us to pieces with her unblemished 6-string playing.
Floating Action- Is It Exquisite?
In the next chapter for the D.I.Y. recording, soulful mountain-dub songwriter, Seth Kauffman builds upon a long career of crafting intentional records disregarding all but the stuff that sounds good and feels even better.
Mac Demarco- This Old Dog
Mac Demarco's most mature record yet leaves behind adolescent antics for adulthood languishes and contemplations.
The War on Drugs- A Deeper Understanding
The War on Drugs reinforce their ability to leave no space unfilled with a sonic blanket of guitar harmonics and instrumental tones.
Hiss Golden Messenger- Hallelujah, Anyhow
M.C. Taylor's rootsy hometown feelgood tunes reach new heights on this year’s release. Like a gospel hymnal for the modern era, Taylor's songs are about thankfulness, respect for your neighbor, and loving honestly. The shirts hanging at his merch booth say "You Need Hiss Good Buddy," and dammit, truer words weren't spoken in 2017.
Fleet Foxes- Crack-Up
Fleet Foxes return with cavernous harmonies and echoing instrumentation after a 6 year hiatus occupied by college classes, a little solo touring, and beard trimming. Sure, Crack-Up possesses the quintessential Fleet Foxes ambiance, but the new songs hearken to a maturation and relationship repair through challenging arrangements and lyrics that show Pecknold has transcended the flannel-cloaked winter beard folk songs of past records.
Kevin Morby- City Music
Morby's most holistic release to date shows a slow-burning mastery of songwriting. City Music pays homage to Morby's favorite cities New York, Porto, and Kansas City though his words find truth in places just about anywhere.
Feist's return is one of high production that impeccably retains her raw and small-room feel.
Multi-Task builds upon aesthetics from the band’s first record with sharp, firecracker post-punk rippers made of quick, 90-degree bends in instrumental and vocal arrangements.
The Proper Ornaments- Foxhole
The Proper Ornaments expand from 1/2 of the Ultimate Painting chilled guitar swirls and laid back lyrics.
Doug Tuttle- Peace Potato
In Tuttle’s own words, he sought to create an “album to run like a problematic night of sleep, songs ending and shifting suddenly, twisting references to real world occurrences, songs sounding like dreams of other songs, sudden awakenings” and he was successful in his endeavor with this psych-pop instant classic.
Swarming Branch- Surreal Number
Swarming Branch's Surreal Number is a carousel of vibrant and quirky pop songs with challenging, quick-witted lyrics.
Wand's follow-up to Golem provided less garage rock and more structured and highly arranged psychedelic works.
Gun Outfit- Out of Range
Gun Outfit's Western expanse is rooted in literary references with dark, honky-tonk and folk tendencies simmering throughout.
The Mad Walls- Somewhere Anywhere
The Mad Walls debut comes out with a fuzzy fury that could be a declassified demo from early Velvets or something. The mini album dons art from lo-fi lord and savior Tim Presley whose black and white facia obscura sketch pinpoints the crackling rhythms of Somewhere Anywhere.
Shadowgraphs- Venomous Blossoms
Easily our favorite band from our hometown of Charlotte, NC, Shadowgraphs layed out their most qualified mind-bending psychedelic pop songs that range from Currents-era Tame Impala to Os Mutantes bossa nova.
Frankie & The Witch Fingers- Brain Telephone
In one of the most energetic records we heard all year, Frankie & The Witch Fingers burst at the seams with a funhouse maze of red-blooded Los Angeles garage rock psychedelia.
Here Lies Man- Here Lies Man
Here Lies Man deliver aggressive, tribal, heavy rock riff as powerful as the cover art image.
Plates of Cake- Let's Not Deprive Each Other
After a decent little hiatus, the Brooklyn band emerged with a slower, more country-tinted release of emotional hangover rock and roll songs.
Cate Le Bon- Rock Pool
Cate Le Bon revives tracks left off 2016’s Crab Day release whose fluttering and obscure pop melodies carry on organically and intricately.
Kacy & Clayton- The Siren's Song
Kacy & Clayton’s familial bond are expressed with lead guitar that delicately traces the Canadian harmonies with smooth, dusty refinement.
Gunn-Truscinski Duo- Bay Head
Steve Gunn’s latest studio jaunt with John Truscinski is as raw and casual as being in the jam space with the two.
Cale Tyson- Careless Soul
On his latest, Cale Tyson traded in the bolo tie for big strings and a production that’s better fitted for the Ryman than Broadway saloons.
The Weather Station- The Weather Station
The fourth installment from Tamara Lindeman’s songbook is her fiercest work exploring her affinity for unmasking the tender complexities of her emotions.
Andrew Combs- Canyons of My Mind
The Nashville songwriter’s third full length strives to leave behind a lasting legacy with environmentally conscious ballads atop resplendent string sections and vocals ripe with heartfelt sentiment.
Jake Xerxes Fussell- What In The Natural World
Jake Xerxes Fussell reworks Old Time classics from the public folklore collection in a cosmic style of clawhammer and fingerstyle picking that respectfully breathes new life into the age old songs.
Shadow Band- Wilderness of Love
Shadow Band gloomy Mexican Summer debut floats with melodies and tones like the energy of a spectre as it whisps through an eerie enchanted forest.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard & Mild High Club- Sketches of Brunswick East
King Gizzard's most "mild" release of jazzy psychedelic tracks. The record is one of five promised records by the band in 2017, a ridiculous feat for anyone. Cut during an Australian recess with Mild High Club's Alex Brettin, the stoned & soulful vibes of Mild High Club drove a slower pace for the Gizzard from their typical hyper-technical facemelters. The result is an indie rock cosmic jazz soufflé.
Midnight Sister- Saturn Over Sunset
Midnight Sister enter your bloodstream with hits of psych pop, skippy quirks, in a slick en vogue package fit for the big screen produced by Chet White (ex Girls).
Ariel Pink- Dedicated to Bobby Jameson
Ariel Pink returns with a characteristic cinematic freak pop treasure trove of bizarro multi-genre tracks.
The Babe Rainbow- The Babe Rainbow
The Babe Rainbow make blissful, light-headed 60s flower power psychedelic pop with an album cover that wiggles to the boogie itself.
Maston's Tulips exists somewhere between 70s Italian lounge and 60s surf film audio. The instrumentals invoke cinematic daydreaming of the perfect car chase or spaghetti western shootout.
Daniel Romano- Modern Pressure
The identify-shifting Canadian songwriter wields his nasaly Dylan warble and Hazlewood groan with hi-fi production qualities to transcend his leather-bound songbook storytelling.
Blank Range- Marooned With the Treasure
Blank Range, with the help of the great Brad Cook in Durham, record their polished full length that has the Nashville troupe buzzing like the seasoned country rockers they’ve becoming.
Twain- Rare Feeling
Twain’s debut as a solo artist exhibits his mastery of vebrado melodies riddled with heartache and soulful abandon.
Trummors’ New Mexico tumbleweed twang and mellow high-noon psychedelic shuffle is cool and breezy from cover to cover.
The duo’s syncopation of California folk harmonies are as soothing as the red dawn rolling back behind the hills of L.A.
A. Savage- Thawing Dawn
A. Savage of Parquet Courts’ dense prose lyrics of his first solo record sound more Austin than Brooklyn with subtle but indistinguishable nods to the cosmic country domain spliced with the aggression and punk that Courts fans will appreciate.
Los Angeles Police Department- Los Angeles Police Department
Ryan Pollie enlisted the Jonathan Rado touch to produce his record that’s lush with maturization anthems of growing into adulthood in 2017.
Ulrika Spacek- Modern English Decoration
Tight rhythms and droning psych guitar blasts fill the London outfit’s second record of dreamy krautrock.
Faith Healer- Try ;-)
Faith Healer return after a great 2015 release bringing brilliant producer and multi-instrumentalist Renny Wilson together with the effortlessly beautiful vocals of lead singer and ringleader Jessica Jalbert.
Ron Gallo- Heavy Meta
Ron Gallo brings his Philly grit to Nashville in one of the most fantastically rambunctious and hearty rock and roll records of the year.
The French psych pop krewe’s trenchant psych pop with jangly riffs that boldly run through the album.
Jock Gang- Cool
No-wave newcomers blast into the scene with Warhol obscurity and brazen creative independence.
Even A Tree Can Shed Tears
In the collection of hand-selected gems of 60s and 70s rare Japanese cuts, Light in the Attic piecemeal an audible monument to a criminally underappreciated history and culture.
Jackie Shane- Any Other Way
Jackie Shane, pioneer transgender soul singer in the 1960s South, has a persistent life story as liberating as her songs. "Tell her that I'm happy, tell her that I'm gay. Tell her that I won't have it any other way."
Wayfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares
Grammy-nominated Acid Nightmares is a compilation of singles recorded as the 60s ended and the LSD wore off and was replaced with heavy metal and harder drugs.
Follow the Sun
Mexican Sunmer assembled a quenching collection of rare Australian 60s and 70s surfy folk singles that float from high to low tide moods.
Sing It High, Sing It Low: Tumbleweed Records 1971-1973
Tumbleweed Records was the label created by two L.A. fleeing music producers who relocated to Denver, Colorado. The label went for broke after rejecting disco and classic rock for a freakier brand of folk and country. One half went on the produce Hotel California.
CAN- The Singles
With CAN losing drummer Jaki Liebezeit and bassist Holger Czukay, this compilation couldn't come at a better time to ease the loss of two of the worlds most prolific musical minds. Singles spans several years of hits never before compiled into one concise package.
William C. Beely- Gallivantin'
Gallivantin' is the 1971 record from Texas folk singer William C. Beely whose dusty ramblings saw the light again thanks to a Tompkins Square reissue.
The pansophical heads at Light In The Attic birthed a long overdue reissue/compilation of Los Angeles cult legends Acetone’s hits from the deep vault loaded with the bands bucolic harmonies and progressive musical offerings.
F.J. McMahon- Spirit of the Golden Juice
A reissue Of F.J. McMahon's folk rock hymnbook was also timed with the first public performance of the deep record in over 30 years with Quilt sitting in as the backing band in Los Angeles.
Link Wray- Link Wray
Link Wray's legendary debut record that needs no introduction finally got a reissue since it’s 1971 release date.
Philip Lewin- Am I Really Here All Alone?
Philip Lewin sang loner folk songs about struggles with relationships. Take a peek inside the heart of the afflicted songwriter.
Rick Deitrick- River Sun River
Rick Deitrick's solo instrumental acoustic guitar album is one of pure private mastery from his self-taught abilities and complete rejection of formal instruction. This record is as pure and whimsical as any instrumental album released in decades.
Eric Slick- Palisades
Eric Slick, Dr. Dog drummer, shares the first entry into his solo career with an exciting and confident indie rock exposition. However, our favorite track came after the record dropped; the benefit release “Secrets” with proceeds going to Beyond the Bars.
Dire Wolves- Excursions to Cloudland
The excursion turns out to be a long-player of smoldering psychedelic folky jazz improvisation.
The Homesick- Youth Hunt
This band of teenagers from Belgium explode out of the gate with high quality, high energy post-punk on their first release.
Kikagaku Moyo- Stone Garden
The resident purveyors of Japanese psychedelic rock unleashed an EP with heavy riffs and pounding rhythms reinforcing their position on the throne.
Brothers Andy and Edwin White released their most formal record, a droney long-player that perfectly condenses their live performances into a digestible entity.
With tours opening for Whitney and plenty of festival appearances under their belt, the Chicago garagey punks made a name for themselves in the ever-thriving and outwardly spreading Windy City music scene.
Gold Star- Big Blue
Loaded with gritty lyrics sung with a heavy heart, this quickly became one the finest alt-country leaning folk records of the year.
Karl Blau- Out Her Space
The transformative songwriter leaves his country identity for a country-funk, soul, and Afropop focused record.
Jaye Bartell- In a Time of Trouble A Wild Exultation
Jaye Bartell combines intelligent sanguine reflection with sophisticated, poignant musical arrangements.
Lean Year- Lean Year
The duo of Emile Rex and Rick Alverson create dense and moody folk songs whose hushed minimalism glows intimately.
Leah Senior- Leah Senior
The dark folk roots of Flightless Records' female folkster are explored in her sophomore release.
Sagamore- Charlemont Reef
After two EPs, the band is firing on all cylinders with magniloquent Afrobeat rhythms and multicultural grooves.
Saigon Supersound, Vol. 1
Sourced from 1965-75 South Vietnam, this collection of “youth music” is a snapshot of soul, psych, and funk from the capitalist, anti-communist lost regime.
You Need This: An Introduction To Black Saint & Soul Note (1975 to 1985)
From the BBE Record label, mid 70s to 80s rare free jazz from the Black Saint and Soul Note joint labels.
Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes From the Horn of Africa
A killer sample of synthy psych and traditional rhythms from 70s and 80s Somalia.
Hamad Kalkaba and The Golden Sounds
Per usual, the folks at Analog Africa do not disappoint with the release from the Cameroon artist’s traditional and funk catalog.
Pop Makossa (The Invasive Dance Beat of Cameroon 1976-1984)
More Cameroon funk and soul from the era of boogie.
Vincent Ahehehinnou- Best Woman
Again, the Analog Africa record label are the diggers of all diggers and this release of long and groovy tracks stayed on repeat.
Colter Wall- Colter Wall
The Texas outlaw country revivalist used a gravely voice and tanned-hide songwriting to extend the legacy left by Waylon and the boys.
Nikki Lane- Highway Queen
The Nashville country Queen uses her fierce nature and Southern charm in her songwriting that’s sharper and rowdier than her mainstream colleagues.
GospelbeacH- Another Summer of Love
These L.A. country-rock dudes write wholesome, relatable songs with a tie-dyed twang.
Faye Webster- Faye Webster
Webster employs pedal and fiddles in her uniquely hip alt-folk record that brings a casual country aesthetic to indie rock music.
The Kernal- Tennessee Sun
Initially drawn in by the bizarre album cover photo, we stuck around for the old-soul gentlemanly country songwriting.
Fetzer and Cullem Jr. are an inseparable instrumental duo writing the tightest, smoking hot licks in Nashville.
Rodinia- Ex Anima
Electronic krautrock for fans of Cluster, Neu!, and other greats from the mid-70s era of the genre.
Taking cues from labelmates King Gizzard, ORB use synths and driving riffs to make elaborate and palatable heavy rock.
The Crotches- Ein Ahot La Mifsaot
Hailing from Tel Aviv, these psychedelic rockers were nearly wiped out by bombings during wartime activities. Luckily, they were safe and able to make a record equally as moving for its cosmic, twangy psych arrangements as its social and political disposition.
Nightlands- I Can Feel the Night Around Me
The War on Drugs' Dave Hartley uses blankets of synth and vocal layers to create a warm, spacious atmosphere. The record was recorded in the War on Drugs' cold warehouse basement where the band stores their gear.
Mountain Movers- Mountain Movers
A great album from a band capable of blending gargantuan drone epics to tight garage rock without much stratification.
Art Feynman- Blast Off Through the Wicker
Evading being pinned by any specific genre, this record runs through Nigerian Highlife, minimal synth, experimental pop, and folky acoustics while staying cohesive to some gentle but freaky identity.
Petite League- Rips One Into the Night
Raw bubblegummy garage rock reminiscent of early 00s New York City bands.
The Murlocs- Old Locomotive
Exactly what you'd want expect from someone from the King Gizzard camp but with a more bluesy core.
Robert Sotelo- Cusp
Sotelo makes honest, natural, and intimate experimental pop and Cusp is a fine compilation of his dreamy songwriting.
Juniore- Ouh la la
French surf rock and psych pop with Francoise Hardy style vocals. Come on, that's a dream come true.
Lucille Furs- Lucille Furs
Baroque pop from the Windy City with mellow guitar swipes, sugary leads, and free-wheeling lyrics.
Bjorn Magnusson- Almost Transparent Blue
A loose, lo-fi, psychedelic pop record with stoned-out, velvety vocals and serrated guitar additives.
Hayden Pedigo- Greetings From Amarillo
Pedigo uses I nstrumental guitar work to paint a tribute to the Amarillo landscape.
Simon Joyner- Step Into the Earthquake
The prolific songwriter expresses his poetic and tongue-in-cheek lyricism through an uncompromising, clear eyed and countrified deep record.
Adam Torres- I Came To Sing The Song
Assembled from dark, introspective, and naturalistic songs withheld from 2016's Pearls to Swine sessions, Torres is peaceful and patient in his musical delivery.
Elvis Perkins- The Blackcoat's Daughter OST
A bleak and desolate soundscape as bleak and desolate as the suspenseful horror movie.
Anna St. Louis- First Songs
As the second Mare Records release, St. Louis transmits profound, bedroom folk songwriting properly described as "Patsy Cline singing over John Fahey."
Scott Gilmore- Subtle Vertigo
Wide, airy synths played over vintage drum machine beats make this a complex, jazzy experimental record that develops with each pass.
The big 10-inch box set of future jazzy funk from the bass wizard is all over the place in just the way anyone would expect and have come to admire with bubbly bass plucks and meowing sound bites.
Big Thief- Capacity
Adreinne Lenker, fancy guitar work, lyrics that tell her deeply emotional story wrought with bottom-of-the-heart emotion in every note played and word sung.
Rolling Blackouts Coast Fever- The French Press
Momentous, addictive ups and down guitar riffs fill this jovial EP.
Grizzly Bear- Painted Ruins
Unusual percussion and production brilliance guides an exploration in the boundaries of what a pop record can achieve.
Another long awaited follow up record came from Slowdive, the British shoegaze maestros who jump right back into form as a heartwrenching band without skipping a beat.
The Chicago dream pop outfit extend their catalog beyond the lo-if tape recording brand from their previous releases (which got a reissue this year) and ascend into clean, smooth sounding chill indie.
Circuit Des Yeux- Reaching For Indigo
Deep experimental folk born from a midnight convulsion that builds off Jackie Lynn country vibes, this record transcends into mystical and outré magic of stunning proportions.
Headroom- Head In The Clouds
Saturated with drone psychedelia, you barely get a moment to come up for air between the noisy experimental guitar structures though really it’s good enough to remain anaerobic.
A pulsating drone rock tableau from the French experimental trio. It’s repetiveness is hypnotizing.
Spirit Fest- Spirit Fest
These Tenniscoats and The Notwist members make intricate and innocent indie bedroom folk-pop.
The Imajinary Friends- The Imajinary Friends
The group breaks a 15 year hiatus with dizzying danceable instrumentation
The Myrrors- Hasta La Victoria
This record patiently gains momentum with driving Arizonian desert rock and Afhgani heady tunes.