Think about this: Spoon, Phoenix, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, Wolf Parade and St. Vincent all released albums this year. If this were 8 or so years ago, the list would be written. Simple, done, poof, on to the next list.
However, those six albums are a fraction of a percent of the music that was released this year.
Throughout 2017, I had a running list of the albums I enjoyed, and the music I told myself I had to listen to. I barely made a dent in that second list. All that to say, a ton of great music was released this year. This list, while it doesn't cover enough of it, is full of my favorites — those albums that stuck with me during the constant cycle of noise.
Pile — "A Hairshirt of Purpose": The Boston rock band delivers a cathartic, punch-drunk, beautiful album. It has been lodged in my head since the first spin. A masterpiece.
Feist — "Pleasure": Leslie Feist (the singer behind the hit "1234," that you used to hear every day 10 years ago) goes back to her haunting lo-fi roots for the strongest, loneliest and most charming album of her career.
Kendrick Lamar — "DAMN.": The best rapper alive proves why he's the best rapper alive on this strikingly angry album. Once you're finished listening to it, all you can say is ... "damn."
Meat Wave — "The Incessant": An outlier for many I'm sure, but this Chicago band deserves all the praise it can get. Produced by Steve Albini, "The Incessant" is a bleak, essential portrait of the everyday. It doesn't hurt that it rocks, either.
Protomartyr — "Relatives in Descent": On this Detroit band's fourth album, Protomartyr turns in another set of dread-addled angular alternative rock. It's maddening how underrated the band is, because it's so, so good.
Slowdive — self-titled: A calmer, more meditative entry on this list, this shoegaze rock group doesn't miss a beat on its first album in 22 years.
SZA — "Ctrl": All hail our next queen. SZA seemingly came out of nowhere to "Ctrl" my head with her woozy, beautiful neo-soul. I can't wait to see what she does next.
St. Vincent — "MASSEDUCTION": I didn't know St. Vincent would be the next Madonna, but the sound and style suits her. "MASSEDUCTION" is the album I've been wanting her to make for years. It's grand, bombastic electro-pop-rock that isn't afraid to be vulnerable or sexy.
The Cool Kids — "Special Edition Grandmaster Deluxe": After nearly a decade, this hip-hop duo finally released a worthy follow-up to its great EP, "The Bake Sale." It's good to have The Cool Kids back.
Girlpool — "Powerplant": This year was full of glorious rock records from women. Girlpool's sophomore album is my pick for the catchiest and most excellent.
(Sandy) Alex G — "Rocket": More of a collage of styles, (Sandy) Alex G is refining his voice on this, his eighth full-length album. If he keeps it up, he'll be the next Beck, which I would be totally all right with.
Queens of the Stone Age — "Villains": Josh Homme and producer Mark Ronson teamed up to make a ridiculously fun, no-frills rock record. I didn't think it would work this well, but it did, and "Villains" rules.
Cloud Nothings — "Life Without Sound": Largely ignored on year-end lists because it came out in January, "Life Without Sound" is Cloud Nothings' tightest set yet. There's not a bad song on here, and frontman Dylan Baldi is only getting a stronger voice as he ages.
Mastodon — "Emperor of Sand": The metal band finally gets the mix of radio-ready rock and progressive riffs right on its seventh studio album. It's the mightiest Mastodon has sounded in years.
Father John Misty — "Pure Comedy": A maddening, annoying yet beautiful and hilarious record from the one alternative singer-songwriter who can laugh at himself and his surroundings. If everything ends with "Leaving LA," it'll be OK.
- Real Estate's "In Mind"
- Grizzly Bear's "Painted Ruins"
- Spoon's "Hot Thoughts"
- Alvvays' "Antisocialites"
- Wolf Parade's "Cry Cry Cry"
- Metz's "Strange Peace"
- Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile's "Lotta Sea Lice"
South Louisiana greats:
- Lost Bayou Ramblers' "Kalenda"
- Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers' "Top of the Mountain"
- Adam Dollar$' "w8t4it"
- Mouse On Tha Track's "Everything on Blossom"
- Plush Claw's "Doll Cannot Stand Alone b/w Apple Acre Crumbs"
- Feufollet's "Baby's on Fire + The Great Boudini"
- Loudness War's "Warm Fizz" and "The Miser"
- Shrugs' "self-titled" and "Fallen Into Wine"
- Rad Wagon's "Another Second"
- Joey Carbo's "Modern Myths"
- Arcade Fire
- LCD Soundsystem
- Hurray for the Riff Raff
- The War on Drugs
- The XX
- Sam Smith
- Ed Sheeran
- Harry Styles
- Fleet Foxes
- Taylor Swift
- Florida Georgia Line
- Kid Rock