SO MANY GOOD RECORDS OUT THIS YEAR!
We’ve picked our favorites…in no particular order. Come by the shop, hit up our online store, or give us a call to purchase any records from the list. The year isn’t over yet so I’m sure we’ll add something to this list, so check back often! Enjoy the records!
Jake Xerxes Fussell What in the Natural World (Paradise of Bachelors)
“Fussell has created a world of supernatural, natural and mundane forces on this record that gets better and better with each listen.” – Exclaim
“On his second outing, What in the Natural World, Fussell again mines the front half the of last century, unearthing a slightly shadier collection of deep cuts whose sources range from Colorado River lore (“Canyoneers”) to Virginia mining tales (“Pinnacle Mountain Silver Mine”) to the traditional English balladry compiled by American folklorist Francis James Child (“Lowe Bonnie”). More sparsely arranged than his debut, the songs of What in the Natural World often take on a moodier cast, though with Fussell’s hearty voice and affable picking style, there is still a spirit of friendly mirth in his delivery…Overall a more unsettling collection than his debut, Fussell still offers a unique experience and applies his distinctive take on Southern American music that is like no one else’s.” -AllMusic
Dent May Across the Multiverse (Carpark)
“A collection that’s at once futuristic and timeless, Across The Multiverse is sure to wow friends, family and followers alike.” -Magnet
“May can be schmaltzy, yes; but also needle-sharp.” -MOJO
“Across the Multiverse is one of the best pop albums to have been released in 2017.” -Pop Matters
Songhoy Blues Resistance (Fat Possum)
“Songhoy Blues have once again produced an album for all. The small-minded stamp of ‘world music’ does not apply here (or should anywhere really). This is quite simply a record for anyone ready to get down to some beautiful rhythms.” -Clash Music
“They hit a James Brown groove on Bamako, use fiddle on the Ali Farka-style Hometown, and let loose a children’s choir on One Colour, a delightful closer to a joyous, eclectic album.” -The Observer
The War on Drugs A Deeper Understanding (Atlantic)
“The obsessive studio work of Adam Granduciel creates a hermetic experience like no other. A Deeper Understanding is his most layered and meticulous album, a twilight world in which to lose yourself.” -Pitchfork BEST NEW MUSIC 8.7
“With much higher expectations weighing on the band, it’s produced a successor that shines up and builds on that breakthrough in every way.” -The AV Club
“Instead of trying to recreate the heightened catharsis of Lost In The Dream, A Deeper Understanding suggests a viable path forward from that turning point, a journey blown out to widescreen proportions that breathes new life into a familiar sound.” -Consequence of Sound
William Eggleston Musik (Secretly Canadian)
“Musik recalls, on occasion, the work of early electronic-music composers like Jean-Jacques Perrey, yet it also meanders in a way that’s challenging to describe. The Korg’s approximations of classical instruments are wobbly and surreal. This occasionally makes these songs frightening, in the same way that an Eggleston photograph can become frightening: something familiar is made odd. “The photographer hopes, in brief, to discover a tension so exact that it is peace,” Robert Adams wrote in the preface to “denver,” his pictorial survey of that city, published in 1977. The sentiment feels applicable here, too. Eggleston’s improvisations can be jarring, but the cumulative effect is nonetheless placating. It is beautiful music to think to.” -The New Yorker
Julien Baker Turn Out the Lights (Matador)
“These are songs that you feel more than listen to. Everyone has encountered some sort of mental illness, addiction or crisis of faith, whether in your life or another’s. Not only does Baker prove that you’re not alone, but she finds a way to make it better.” -No Ripcord
(Sandy) Alex G Rocket (Domino)
“In a sense, singer/songwriter Alex Giannascoli is the modern ideal for an indie rock throwback. The frequent comparisons with Elliott Smith or Sparklehorse are legitimate, but mostly regarding his recording process: Every production decision—whether double-tracking vocals or close-mic’ing the guitars—creates the assumption of intimacy, recalling an earlier time when instrumental or monetary limitations necessitated ingenuity. But he records on a laptop rather than a 4-track, and he was an early example of a songwriter leveraging a strong Bandcamp presence into a deal with a high-profile imprint, in his case, Domino. Beach Music, his first album for his new label, was a gorgeous and puzzling release that gained esteem throughout 2015, but it seemed determined to offer continuity with his scruffy early work rather than to serve as any kind of break out. Rocket, a record that first feels oddly soldered together, is in a sense the album that Beach Music wanted to be, the most comprehensive and accessible document of a diffuse catalog.” -Pitchfork
Black Angels Death Song (Partisan)
“Death Song isn’t a wild step in any new direction but instead a grindstone-polished showcase of what the group does best.” –MAGNET
“Death Song, their fifth full-length, is both unlike anything they’ve done before and also the most purely Black Angels album they have released.” –Paste Magazine
“…their fifth album marks a return to the threatening drones that made their first two so powerful.” – The Observer
“If you’re in the market for an album that will summon the dark atmospheres, Death Song certainly delivers the goods, and it demonstrates that the Black Angels slowly but surely improve each time they go into the studio.” -All Music
Thundercat Drunk (Brainfeeder)
“Each of his solo albums reflects that musical range, and Drunk (Brainfeeder) crams 23 songs and snippets into 51 minutes that evoke the sumptuous jazz-infused R&B of the ’70s, filtered through catchy melodies, undergirded by virtuoso musicianship and salted with conflicting emotions.” –Chicago Tribune
“Additional guests Kendrick, Pharrell, and Wiz Khalifa add to the star power, but the main attraction is Bruner’s singular combination of tremulous yet fluid bass and aching falsetto.” -Allmusic
JLIN Black Origami (Planet Mu)
“To fully understand the layers in Jlin’s work, it is first important to identify her music as part of a very specific scene. Its almighty rhythm-first tenet comes from the footwork dancers and producers of Chicago’s South Side, a tight-knit group practicing frenetic, improvised battles using high-speed adaptation of ghetto-house and hip-hop steps. The original music was so central to the movement, that when the time came, the genre was named after the dance — footwork — and sounded increasingly like what would have happened if drum’n’bass was invented in Chicago instead of London. (Which is maybe why two UK labels, Planet Mu and Hyperdub, have taken to spreading it throughout the world.)
And yet, while Jlin’s beats were undoubtedly raised on footwork and carry the scene’s central purpose, they expanded upon Chicago almost from the offset, broadening footwork’s creative perspective by contextualizing it in a global culture.” -NPR
Hayden Pedigo Greetings from Amarillo (Driftless Records)
“The Texas Panhandle is windy and flat and full of sky, material ripe for country songs and buried Cadillacs. Terry Allen did just that — the former anyway — in 1978: “As close as I’ll ever get to heaven / Is makin’ speed up old 87 / Of that hard Amarillo Highway.” The 23-year-old guitarist Hayden Pedigo’s new album, Greetings From Amarillo, is “a tribute to the landscape of Amarillo, Texas and the different spaces I’ve discovered here,” he says, including not just solo guitar but also ambient synth tracks. It’s also tribute to other heroes of the Panhandle, including Terry Allen, who closes out the album with his voicemail musings.
The album’s opening title track is a desert-swept waltz in 12 ringing strings, like a clavichord in overdrive. Pedigo doesn’t stray too far from the Robbie Basho influence of the promising guitar music he made as a teenager, but his technique and sense of melody have now coalesced into something his own. “Greetings From Amarillo” blooms like a field of Texas bluebonnets swaying on the side of the highway. Over four minutes, the delicate and lilting melody dips in and out of major and minor keys, swirling sand into a dancing dust devil.” -NPR
The Minneapolis Uranium Club All of Them Naturals EP (Fashionable Idiots)
“All of Them Naturals, their second EP, is Uranium Club indulging even more in such pranksterish qualities. The first two minutes of audio are pulled from the Nation of Ulysses handbook of sarcasm and myth-making, as a man with a vaguely British accent comments fictitiously on all the band has supposedly accomplished since its last record, from selling novelty pencils to distributing pamphlets for “pseudo-intellectual literature circles and swingers’ parties.” Uranium Club must know that people have been patiently waiting to hear more from them, and the final track of All of Them Naturalswinkingly plays into that: it’s a 30-second “excerpt” of another unreleased song.
In between, Uranium Club spits out some pretty damn catchy, no-frills punk rock. They have quickly garnered comparisons to Devo, particularly the twitchy neurosis of the early Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! era. It’s not unwarranted. Both bands share an affinity for guitar riffs so soaked in treble they could cut ear drums, and for attempting to shove as many starts and stops into a song as possible.” -Pitchfork
“It sounds like Wire but delivered with some Midwestern cheek. At times their 2015 album Human Exploration reminded me of Dow Jones and the Industrials with some Big Boys and DEVO vibes. Actually, it reminded me that the best punk rock comes from geeks in middle America.” -Noisy
Mount Eerie A Crow Looked at Me (Elverum)
“Written and recorded August 31st to Dec. 6th, 2016 in the same room where Geneviève died, using mostly her instruments, her guitar, her bass, her pick, her amp, her old family accordion, writing the words on her paper, looking out the same window.
Why share this much? Why open up like this? Why tell you, stranger, about these personal moments, the devastation and the hanging love? Our little family bubble was so sacred for so long. We carefully held it behind a curtain of privacy when we’d go out and do our art and music selves, too special to share, especially in our hyper-shared imbalanced times. Then we had a baby and this barrier felt even more important. (I still don’t want to tell you our daughter’s name.) Then in May 2015 they told us Geneviève had a surprise bad cancer, advanced pancreatic, and the ground opened up. What matters now? we thought. Then on July 9th 2016 she died at home and I belonged to nobody anymore. My internal moments felt like public property. The idea that I could have a self or personal preferences or songs eroded down into an absurd old idea leftover from a more self-indulgent time before I was a hospital-driver, a caregiver, a child-raiser, a griever. I am open now, and these songs poured out quickly in the fall, watching the days grey over and watching the neighbors across the alley tear down and rebuild their house. I make these songs and put them out into the world just to multiply my voice saying that I love her. I want it known.
“Death Is Real” could be the name of this album. These cold mechanics of sickness and loss are real and inescapable, and can bring an alienating, detached sharpness. But it is not the thing I want to remember. A crow did look at me. There is an echo of Geneviève that still rings, a reminder of the love and infinity beneath all of this obliteration. That’s why.” – Phil Elverum, Dec. 11th, 2016, Anacortes
Neil Young Hitchhiker (Reprise)
“Hitchhiker marks a pivotal moment in Neil Young’s ongoing series of archival releases: Instead of a live classic-songs set, this is a buried-treasure mother lode – 10 newly unearthed studio recordings, cut in one acoustic session, on August 11th, 1976. Young wasn’t exactly swept up in the country’s bicentennial spirit at the time; now grouped together rather than spread out over later records, the violence-drenched “Powderfinger,” “Captain Kennedy” and “Pocahontas” feel like pointed rejoinders to the whitewashed history offered up during America’s 200th birthday.
He’s in peak lonesome-guy mode on the never-released failed-relationship chronicle “Give Me Strength.” Another previously unheard song, “Hawaii,” is a spooky mysterious-stranger ballad. The take of the Nixon-sympathizing “Campaigner” here includes a newly relevant verse deleted from the version that appeared on Decade: “The speaker speaks, but the truth still leaks.” The major find is the scruffy title song, an unblinking depiction of fame, “neon lights and the endless nights,” paranoia and cocaine. Young eventually released it on 2010’s Le Noise, bathed in electric guitar and with a verse about being thankful for his kids. There was no one to comfort him in ’76: It’s a journey through the past, but far darker.” -RollingStone
Slowdive s/t (Dead Oceans)
“Since their inception, Slowdive’s music has always sort of felt familiar. That’s sort of what got them in trouble with critics the first time around, that their diffuse guitar heroics sounded so much like My Bloody Valentine and the rest of the so-called “scene that celebrates itself” that it wasn’t worth really digging into. But that thinking always missed the point. Even at their most out there, in their most experimental phases, their music was so great because it felt like something you’d heard before—a distant memory of rock records long since forgotten. As a stripped return to their earliest efforts, Slowdive may very well be their most comforting. It always feels good to come back home.” –SPIN
“The shoegaze legends return with their first album in 22 years, a precise and altogether gorgeous showcase of their peerless ability at production, mood, and songcraft.” -Pitchfork Best New Music
“So here’s the good and potentially semi-surprising news: Slowdive’s new album falls prey to none of the usual reunion drawbacks or stasis. Slowdive is as stunning a comeback record as I can recall in recent times. It’s on par with the band’s best work.” -Stereogum
Kendrick Lamar DAMN.
“Much like the recent A Tribe Called Quest record, Damn. is a brilliant combination of the timeless and the modern, the old school and the next-level. The most gifted rapper of a generation stomps into the Nineties and continues to blaze a trail forward.” –RollingStone
“DAMN. sees the rapper make a 180 degree turn from the sprawling jazz/funk/hip-hop odyssey of TPAB to deliver 14 taut, tough and wise cutting-edge examples of what’s possible in hip-hop today. … Essential stuff.” –Record Collector
“Three months in, DAMN. feels like our first Trump-era classic. It’s as bold and as hard and as hopeful as it is bursting with vitriol. It’s as distracting as it is inciting. It’s as cohesive as it is dense.” -Tiny Mix Tapes
“Lamar trusts every idea to stand on its own. When you’re making art this substantial, vital, and virtuosic, there’s no need to wrap a tidy bow around it.” -The A.V. Club
John Moreland Big Bad Luv (4AD)
“He beefs things and takes a full-band approach on Big Bad Luv, which contains almost as many hooks as it does Moreland’s hard-earned kernels of truth.” –American Songwriter
“Big Bad Luv can hold its own next to any of the great Americana-tinged rock ‘n’ roll records of the past, from Scarecrow to Full Moon Fever to Copperhead Road.” -Pop Matters
Don Bryant Don’t Give Up on Love (Fat Possum)
Best known as a staff songwriter under Willie Mitchell at Hi Records and as the husband of Hi star Ann Peebles, Don Bryant is also a fine, under-appreciated singer in his own right, having penned “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” for Peebles. Precious Soul is one of our all-time-favorite soul records…a Memphis classic that deserves a spot next to any of Otis Redding’s, Al Green’s, or Aretha’s records.
“More than 40 years after penning his biggest hit, Don Bryant is back in the game. Bryant — who sang in a gospel quartet before linking up with R&B bandleader Willie Mitchell and becoming a go-to songwriter at Memphis’ Hi Records — might be best known for writing the 1973 slow-cooker “I Can’t Stand The Rain” with singer Ann Peebles, whom he married shortly afterward. Now, at 74, he’s preparing to release a new album of original songs, Don’t Give Up On Love.” -NPR
Hiss Golden Messenger Hallelujah Anyhow (Merge)
“On Hallelujah Anyhow, he sounds more comfortable than ever before, and that’s saying something. Taylor’s songs are warm and well-worn. His band moves as a single organism. … Musically, Hallelujah Anyhow is a beautiful patchwork of styles.” -Paste
“Every song possesses passion and gravitas, making Hallelujah Anyhow a spiritual descendant of Van Morrison’s Veedon Fleece.” -The Observer
Kamasi Washington Harmony of Difference EP (Young Turks)
“But what ultimately binds Washington’s work together is his spiritual approach. As with The Epic, the title of this release and of the individual pieces suggests the scope of his ambition. The concept for Harmony and the video for “Truth” make clear that Washington is framing his work so that they’re in conversation with the biggest social issues facing the world. His music is both a challenge and a balm, the starting point of a conversation and a place you can go to meditate on what’s been said. Following on its massive and sometimes unwieldy predecessor, Harmony of Difference, a brief and concentrated blast of emotion, is a great place to catch up on what Washington has to say.” -Pitchfork
“It would be far too easy to dismiss this 30 minute collection as inferior to the lengthier debut, but for those who prefer their artistic statements on the concise side, it may yet prove to be the better summation of Washington’s substantial talents. There is a breadth of thoughtful, well played and considered music here that in many ways surpasses that more celebrated collection. Ignore the hype about a ‘saviour of jazz,’ my guess is that most readers of this site will not feel that jazz needed saving, but don’t ignore Washington’s achievements here. This is a fine album that even judged by the highest possible standards must rank among the year’s best, and as such is an unreserved recommendation.” -All About Jazz
Soul Slabs Vol. 1 (Colemine Records)
A selection of 22 tracks pulled from the 7-inch catalog of Colemine Records, a label steeped in modern groups recording deep funk and soul music, similar to Daptone Records.
Stay tuned for our list of BEST REISSUES of the year…it’s looooong.